Friday, January 21, 2011
It has become a TCU tradition lately to be one of the last teams in the country to finalize the next season's football schedule. But as we look ahead to the 2011 football season, the schedule is as incomplete as Scott Tolzein's two-point conversion pass attempt. It's as if Ben Roethlisberger has gone to the bathroom with all of our autumn travel & wedding plans (fall weddings: a rant for another day...) and his body guards won't let us check on them.
As of last summer, we knew that the Frogs still had one slot open in their non-conference slate for 2011. When BYU left the conference, it left the MWC with just eight teams for this fall and opened up an additional OOC slot (because each team would play just seven conference games). Then as we're all well aware, Tech decided to drop their game in Fort Worth. Regardless of how you feel about the Red Raiders' decision, it leaves TCU with an eye-opening THREE empty dates in the non-conference schedule for the season that will begin in about eight months. For those of you not in the know, the two non-conference games currently on the schedule are a home game against SMU and a trip to Waco to play Baylor
It's a pretty safe bet that Chris Del Conte and the rest of the TCU Athletic Department are furiously working the phones looking for opponents to fill those openings. The question is, will they find quality games like Clemson and Oregon State...or I-AA cupcakes like UC-Davis and Tennessee Tech?
As if that weren't enough, Boise State is attempting to get their game against TCU in Fort Worth moved to the blue turf of their home stadium. They apparently have the support of the athletic directors of the Mountain West, and the school presidents of the conference (minus TCU) will make the final decision in the next week. If they are successful in doing so- and you have to wonder what motivation the other schools of the conference would have to vote in TCU's favor- it would leave the Frogs with just FOUR home games for this fall.
Wow, it's not as if I was looking forward to tailgating for the Tech & Boise games or anything! And as difficult as it will be for Del Conte & company to fill three OOC dates, losing the Boise home game would make it even more difficult because it increases the need to convince teams- on short notice- to come to Fort Worth to ensure a full six-game home slate.
Given the way TCU (and just about everyone else these days) generally schedules one I-AA home game a year, you can expect that at least one of these openings will be against a team from that level. I'm not going to debate the merits of this scheduling practice, but I would prefer that if TCU schedules a I-AA team that it at least be one with a bit of a novelty factor to sell tickets. Think about hosting Harvard or Yale for the satisfaction that would come from pummeling those eggheads or Grambling, Southern or some other school whose band would rock Amon G. Carter at halftime. Texas Southern, who would definitely fit that Grambling/Southern dynamic, is rumored to be a possibility.
But when you've got a program that has it's sights set on reaching the top of the rankings like TCU does, you can't fill every slot on your dance card with teams that would seem to validate the idiocy of people like Gordon Gee or Rod Gilmore. TCU has got to find games against quality opponents that will challenge our players and garner respect among critics.
A few teams that are rumored to also be seeking 2011 opponents include: California, Florida State, Navy, Cincinnati, Clemson, Kansas, Purdue, Boston College, NC State and Idaho. Which of these teams would be willing to come play in Fort Worth this fall? I don't know, but it sure seems like Clemson should owe the Frogs a return game- right?
Two other options rumored to be under consideration:
-BYU. As much as I'd rather TCU give the Cougars the ex-girlfriend treatment and act as if they don't exist even when in the same room, having three open dates this late in the game definitely qualifies as desperate times.
-Compromise with Boise State. The Broncos have long complained about the difficulty they've had bringing in quality non-conference opponents to their home stadium. Perhaps they would allow the lone intra-conference game against TCU to remain in Fort Worth if the Frogs agree to a future OOC game on the blue turf?
Clearly, this issue will be a top priority for Del Conte over the next few weeks. We'll try to keep you as up to date as we can.
Posted by Lyle Lanley at Friday, January 21, 2011