Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Little Guy

Given that we are under a month to the spring game, lets talk some freakin football! I have always heard that we are one of the smallest schools that play Division I football, but I was never really sure where we ranked on that list. Turns out we are the 14th smallest school in Div I. So, how do we rank in that group of 20 smallest schools over the past decade? Well here it is. I have listed them from smallest to largest based on undergraduate attendance. The second number is their record since 2000, third is the number of bowls plus bowl records, and last is their record in BCS games.

  1. Tulsa: 3,048; 57-57 (5 Bowls, 3-2 Record) 0 BCS Appearances
  2. Rice: 3,102; 46-72 (2 Bowls, 1-1 Record) 0 BCS Appearances
  3. Air Force: 4,000; 68-54 (5 Bowls, 2-3 Record) 0 BCS Appearances
  4. Navy: 4,400; 64-63 (7 Bowls, 3-4 Record) 0 BCS Appearances
  5. Wake Forest: 4,476; 61-60 (4 Bowls, 3-1 Record) 0 BCS Appearances
  6. Army: 4,487; 11-127 (0 Bowls) 0 BCS Appearances
  7. SMU: 6,000; 34-84 (1 Bowl, 1-0 Record) 0 BCS Appearances
  8. Duke: 6,496; 19-97 (0 Bowls) 0 BCS Appearances
  9. Tulane: 6,749; 43-76 (1 Bowl, 1-0 Record) 0 BCS Appearances
  10. Troy: 7,970 - Troy entered Div I in 2002 so I didn't include them
  11. Louisiana Monroe: 8,140; 36-79 (0 Bowls) 0 BCS Appearances
  12. Notre Dame: 8,371; 70-52 (6 Bowls, 1-5 Record) 3 BCS Appearances (0-3 Record)
  13. North Western: 8,684; 54-67 (5 Bowls, 0-5 Records) 0 BCS Appearances
  14. TCU: 8,749; 95-30 (9 Bowls, 5-4 Record) 1 BCS Appearance (0-1 Record)
  15. Boston College: 9,060; 88-40 (10 Bowls, 8-2 Record) 0 BCS Appearances
  16. Miami: 10,370; 92-33 (10 Bowls, 6-4 Record) 4 BCS Appearances (3-1 Record)
  17. Louisiana Tech: 11,289; 52-67 (2 Bowls, 1-1 Record) 0 BCS Appearances
  18. Idaho: 11,947; 27-79 (1 Bowl, 1-0 Record) 0 BCS Appearances
  19. Vandy: 12,093; 34-83 (1 Bowl, 1-0 Record) 0 BCS Appearances
  20. Georgia Tech: 12,966; 81-47 (10 Bowls, 3-7 Record) 1 BCS Appearance (0-1 Record)
Not to bad for the Frogs ehh? The little old school on the hill can play some foolsball. It should also be known that were number 7 in over all winning percentage this past decade as well (full list here). Where is Boise in this mix? They are #26 with 19,667; 112-17 (9 Bowls, 5-4 Record) 2 BCS Appearances (2-0 Record)

*All these numbers come from Wikipedia (so who knows if they are right) and College Football Data Warehouse

The Hollow Men: 2009-2010 TCU Men's Basketball.

...This is the way the (season) ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

And so we reach the end of the road.

Alright, sure, we haven’t TECHNICALLY reached the end of the road. The Frogs still have a quarterfinal game to play against BYU tonight in the MWC Tourney, but considering the Frogs have lost both meetings to the Cougars this season by a combined 50 points, including a season ending 30 point home loss after leading by 14, I wouldn’t get your hopes up. Greg Hill can say all he wants about the post season being a “new” season, but let’s cut the bullshit, Greg. Your team is terrible and doesn’t deserve to take the floor with half the teams in your own conference. You should've make it work at Purdue.

And the sad part is, in basketball, the MWC is perhaps even more unbalanced than in football. You have the good - BYU, New Mexico; the serviceable – UNLV, SDSU and Utah (most years); and then everyone else is just plain awful. AWFUL. Like, nauseatingly bad. TCU should have no problems cracking the top three, or even the top six. But we don't. And I don't know how we ever will. .

Yesterday Air Force won the TCU Invitiation 8/9 seed play- in game by 19 points over Wyoming. To put this win in perspective, Air Force entered the game with a 9-20 record and only one conference win – ironically over Wyoming. To put it in even better perspective, TCU enters the tournament with 5 conference wins… and four of them came against these two teams. New Mexico must be absolutely TREMBLING in their Nike’s over the prospect of facing the mighty Falcons.

TCU is 1-4 all time in the MWC tournament, with their one win coming in the 2007 version of the tournament against New Mexico in the play-in game. Neil P hangs his hat on that signature victory, hopes that you don't notice him still hanging around the program that he ruined much like a fat prom date hangs around the appetizer table, and politely asks you to stop making fun of his son.

The Frogs have found very creative ways to lose these tournament games though. In that same 2007 tournament, in the very next game, they were blasted by 13 points against BYU despite the good will generated from that opening victory. The following season, they lost to eventual champion UNLV, but only by one point in the opening round on a last second three-point play, despite hitting a tournament record SEVENTEEN three pointers. Not sure how a team can be that accurate from the outside, yet so poor from inside the arc, but the Frogs showed us how. Then last year the Frogs lost in the opening round to eventual champion Utah on a last second three pointer. The fourth loss came in TCU’s first year in the league against Colorado State in the opening round match.

But, let’s try and see a bright side in all of this. Let’s pretend that the conference tournament really IS a new season, everyone is on level ground for the one automatic bid, and anything can happen. For instance, if you adhere to the Wade Phillips coaching philosophy, by advancing past the play in game, TCU is actually 1-0 in tournament play. So Go Frogs.

If you look at the previous tournaments, TCU twice took the eventual champion to the wire, despite being swept by them in the regular season. In fact, just last year, TCU faced Utah in the final game of the regular season and was blasted. But for some reason that team, despite only winning one more game than this year’s squad and having roughly the same players plus Kevin Langford, was a lot more inspiring and I remember being genuinely excited about catching the game against Utah. And even though we lost, I remember feeling pretty good about it, and pretty great about this year’s prospects.

And then they actually played the games, and all hope was lost.

Forget what I said about trying to put a positive spin on this – this game will be over in the first half, just like the last two have been. TCU has never beaten BYU in 14 tries since joining the MWC. And you can’t tell me that BYU has better athletes – despite being one of the best players in the conference, no one should fear a grown man with the name Jimmer under any circumstances. There’s just something surrounding the TCU basketball program that won’t allow us to break through. I could take the easy road here and blame Neil, but that stink is only lingering now rather than ransacking my nostrils as it did last year, so I can’t really take that route. Perhaps it’s the curse of Billy Tubbs? After all, we did run the man off despite his on-court success and entertaining as hell coaching technique. Boston fans had the curse of the Bambino to blame for nearly 100 years of post-season failure. If this is the case, we’ve got a LOT of lean years ahead. I think this will be a blog post worth some research in the off-season…

The Frogs are just a strange team to watch – the best comparison I can make are the New Jersey Nets this season. Alright, perhaps that’s a harsh assessment; after all, the Nets are fighting to become the worst team in NBA history and Neil’s tenure was far more reprehensible than Christian’s has been to this point. But there are similarities. For instance, both teams have talent, and both teams are occasionally able to streamline that talent and put together some good runs (see: TCU leading BYU by 14 at one point, Tech by nearly 20 at one point, taking New Mexico to the wire in Albuquerque; New Jersey blasting the Mavs in the first quarter last night, sweeping a playoff-bound Charlotte team. Ok, that last one was a stretch), but nine times out of ten, they fall flat on their faces by the end of games. The Frogs losing a step this year after graduating Kevin Langford who was the heart and soul of the team for the past several years wasn’t a huge surprise; on the other hand, Zvonko Buljan’s regression this year was shocking. Both team’s had fairly recent success – The Nets in the early aughts with Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter; the Frogs as recently as the NIT run with Marcus Shropshire and Corey Santee – but have recently fallen off due to coaching changes and overall organizational apathy, although New Jersey, with their ownership in turmoil, their move to Brooklyn in doubt, derailing any chance they may have had in landing LeBron this summer, and the fact that they, you know, have to play in New Jersey, have a few more built in disadvantages to blame than the Frogs.

So what should we really expect tonight out of TCU? I think this team has pretty much thrown in the towel on the season. We’ve beaten one team with a winning record all year (Colorado State). We lost to Northern Colorado. We needed three overtimes to put away Texas State. We haven’t put together a win streak since January 6th (Rice/Air Force) so even if we pulled the upset of the year in the conference, there’s little chance it’d last past the second round. Don’t get me wrong, a win tonight would inch us closer to the season being an “ abysmal failure” rather than the current “epic failure,” but if I were a betting man and you gave me TCU and 15 points, I’d put my current mortgage on BYU then take out a second lien on my house and double down.

BYU is hands down the worst possible draw TCU could’ve had in the opening round of the tournament. For whatever reason we match up worse against them than any other team in the conference. But, if there's a victory to be taken way from this defeat, it's this: They may whip us on the court in Las Vegas, but we’d whip them in enjoying all that Vegas truly has to offer everytime. And those are the victories in life that really matter.

As for the rest of the tournament, here is the schedule:

2:00PM #1 UNM vs #9 AFA

UNM won season series 2-0.

4:30 PM #4 SDSU vs #5 CSU

SDSU won season series 2-0.

10:30 PM #3 UNLV vs. #6 Utah

Utah won season series 2-0.

There doesn’t look to be a whole lot of drama in the first round as none of the teams split their season series. The most intriguing matchup is easily the late game with UNLV and Utah with lower seeded Utah beating UNLV both times they played this season. UNLV has the home court advantage, as they do every year in the tournament, so don’t put it past them to pull this one out, but don’t be shocked if Utah upsets the Rebels for a third time. If TCU manages to sneak past BYU, they’d play the winner of this game on Friday afternoon. If that situation manages to manifest itself, I will write a 10,000 word dissertation tonight previewing it, then hop the first flight to Vegas I can find. But I’m not cancelling my lunch plans.

The smart money is on a New Mexico vs. BYU final on Saturday which, if it lived up to the two epic matches during the season, would be must watch TV for college basketball fans everywhere… except for those who don’t have the mtn. Which is everyone. So nevermind. Even though both games during the season were won by the Lobos, considering the last one ended with New Mexico Coach Steve Alford calling a BYU player an asshole in the hand shake line, not to mention wrecked BYU's 21 game home win streak, I definitely wouldn’t count out the Cougars. The total margin of victory for both games was only six points.

The best case scenario for the conference though? A final with UNLV coming out of the lower half of the bracket and SDSU coming out of the top with the Aztecs pulling the upset in a close game. Don’t get me wrong, New Mexico getting a 3-seed and having a presumed geographic advantage (San Jose, Salt Lake City) in the NCAA setting up a deep run would be great for the conference. But right now we’re just a three bid league, with UNLV probably not being a 100% sure thing. A run to the conference final would surely lock them in while SDSU, having been in the bracket watch most of the season, probably needs a run through the entire tournament to make the final 64. With the Pac-10 having a down year in basketball and probably only getting their tournament winner in, the Mountain West has a chance to become more reputable than a major conference in yet another sport. Plus, a fourth team means more dollarz dollarz for the MWC and who doesn’t want that?

As for the Frogs, the game tonight DOES interfere with new episodes of The Office and 30 Rock, but just in case you’re a sadist and into cruel and unusual punishment, your last chance to catch the 2009-2010 team is at 8:00PM central on the mtn. I’ll be honest, I’m probably not reprogramming my DVR in order to watch it, but for those of you who do, even if you’re fatigued after a long work day and don’t want to commit to an eight o’clock tip, the game will be well in hand in time for you to make your usual 9:30 bedtime.


Morning Dump

Forget Billy Gillispie; TCU has the right guy in Jim Christian Star-Telegram

TCU men get their shot at redemption

Frogs square off against BYU in quarterfinals of MWC tournament

TCU-BYU preview
Yahoo! Sports

Power rankings
Yahoo! Sports

Bench could give BYU a huge postseason boost Deseret News