Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Boise Can't Have Their Cake and Eat it Too...

Not. Gonna. Happen.

...and they sure are butt hurt about it. For those who missed it, the MWC ruled that Boise can't wear their blue pants and blue jerseys at the same time during any MWC home games this year, meaning the tackiest jersey combination east of Oregon will cease to exist in college football. This came as somewhat of a shock to me, since the MWC and Craig Thompson have pretty much coddled Boise State since their entrance to the conference has been announced, and they have given the middle finger to TCU in most regards since their plans to leave were announced. I personally don't think this makes jack shit of a difference as to how the games are played, but it's great to see how up in arms all the potato farmers have gotten over the fact that they cant wear their blue on blue on a synthetic blue field which is painted exactly to match their jerseys. So, to all the Boise fans bitching and moaning about having to alter your wardrobe at home games, I say to you this- quit crying and get the fuck over it.

Look, your field is probably the tackiest, most amateur gimmick in all of college football. Actually, remove the word "probably" from that previous sentence, because nothing even comes close. Georgia has between the hedges, OU has that nerdy band leader sprint out hat routine (whatever the fuck you wanna call it), Ohio State dots the "i", Aggies play dress up and praise male cheerleaders. Lots of teams have their "thing" that is seen as tradition and even somewhat cool in some circles, but there's no tradition in a school having a fake blue field, especially when you've been D1, FBS, or whatever the hell it's called since the G.W. Bush administration. The fact that the MWC is letting you keep that bitch slap to the face of college athletics and not making you strip it and put in something that resembles grass should make you happy. Quit crying like children because you cant wear blue on blue on blue for conference home games. You already got a home game that shouldn't be yours, so it won't kill you to throw some white pants on or, God forbid, put on a potentially even tackier combination of highlighter orange on orange when TCU rolls to town in November.

Wear this. It's just as ugly, I promise.

Chris Petersen, who I've generally respected as a coach over the years, despite the miss-spelling of Peterson, had this to say on the topic-

“I thought it was ridiculous,” Petersen said. “… That’s our colors. That’s who we are. That’s who our fans have wanted us to be since I’ve been at Boise State. That’s what it’s been through and through.”

Funny you should say that, coach, because I'm pretty sure if grass could talk, it would echo the same sentiments about Boise State when they decided to lather some blue spray paint over a perfectly fine field turf. I imagine it would read something like this:

When asked what Grass thought about the synthetic blue surface Boise State has installed on the football field, Grass said "I thought it was ridiculous. Green is our color. That's who we are. That's what our fans have wanted since I've been on this Earth. That's what it's been through and through. Oh, and who or what the fuck is a Boise State?"

That's right, coach, before you get upset at the fact that we are making you change JERSEYS, remember that your school has decided to change GRASS. Also, plenty of Boise fans are now crying about how teams that wear green get to wear green on their green fields. Spoiler alert, dumb shits, grass is GREEN, so those teams that decided years ago to have green jerseys just gained themselves a competitive advantage. Also, I don't see any green teams designing their field turf to mimic their uniform colors. The only 2 teams in the world doing that are you and Eastern Washington and their bright red abomination field. Eastern Washington. You guys want to be uttered in the same breath as Eastern Washington? Shouldn't you be trying to get past that stigma as a gimmick program by now? You're so close.

If you're not ready to get rid of the blue field, let's start with baby steps. How about getting rid of the track around your field? There isn't much that screams FCS more than a track around your field. Well, except maybe a blue field. You're a big boy team now, so maybe your appearance should reflect that. I know I didn't wear "Football is Life, The Rest is Just Details" shirts, Umbro shorts, and black Nike socks to high school. I knew better, because I didn't want to look like a fucking idiot.

Consider what the MWC is doing to you to be a blessing. Just wear some hideous combination of blue and orange and go on beating nobodies at home until TCU shows up. Seriously, during this illustrious win streak, what home wins can you hang your hat on? Oregon? That's it. You'll have a chance to validate yourselves this year, so you better capitalize, because to an outsider that streak looks pretty unimpressive. Like I said, that field is no help, but playing a bunch of cupcakes is the real reason you don't lose there. I just hate the field because it's tacky and an offense to football and grass alike. They should've told you to rip up that eyesore and put in some real grass or green field turf and start acting like you belong. When you were an up and comer, flooding my ESPN weeknight games, I would adjust the picture on my TV every time I saw you because I thought, surely nobody is tacky enough to have a blue football field. I was wrong. Now grow up, get rid of it, and play football like the grown ups do.

I realized this started as a post about their incessant bitching of having to wear different jerseys on their home field, but let's face it: when discussing Boise, especially at home, the hate always turns back to how awful that field is. Maybe if their kicker had been staring down at green grass when practicing his kicks every day, it wouldn't have mind fucked him so hard when he looked down and saw green at Nevada.

Deja Vu?

Given the football related foliage currently littering the sporting landscape, by all logic I should feel pretty good right now. I should feel good about the NFL lockout coming to the most anticlimactic of ends. I should feel good about free agency beginning yesterday. I should feel good about training camps beginning today. I should feel even better about college football teams reporting for two-a-days in mere weeks. And I should be over the moon that we are quickly approaching the 30 day mark for the first Frogs game. The fact that we're getting our first helping a day earlier than 99% of the college football world has not gone overlooked, either.

But I don't feel good. At all.

Now, by nature, I'm a bit of a pessimistic fan. This is not to be confused with fair weather because I always support my teams until the end, but, for example, I gave up on the Mavericks at least 87 times over the course of the playoffs and, despite the ring, trophy and parade, I'm still not sure I've entirely let my guard down. It's my nature and I've learned to accept it and, fortunately, a lot of times my negative hunches are incorrect.

But there's a thought that has been in the back of my mind the past few months that I absolutely cannot shake. I want to, but I just can't. It's already clouded my desire to attend the Baylor game in person by making me feel like I'd be far more comfortable curled up on my couch, alone, in the dark, with a half empty bottle of Jameson.

I wish it weren't true, but here it is - The 2011 TCU Football team, at least on paper, looks eerily similiar to the 2011 TCU Baseball team. And that is a terrible, terrible thing.

It's an apples to oranges comparison, yes, but the more I think about the inner-connectivity, the more I connect the individual dots, the more glum my outlook on this season becomes. Consider the base similarities:
  • The TCU Baseball team was coming off their greatest season ever, a run to third place in the College World Series. The TCU Football team will be coming off of, arguably, their greatest season ever with a Rose Bowl victory and a final ranking of #2 in the nation.
  • TCU's Baseball team was stocked with multiple highly ranked recruiting classes and could not capitalize on their talent advantage. TCU's Football team will just now begin to see the benefits of recent multiple highly ranked recruiting classes and if they can capitalize.
  • On paper, the 2011 TCU Baseball team looked better than the 2010 version, despite losing their unquestioned leader. Ok, so saying the same thing about this year's football team compared to last would be a stretch, but you can't deny that they have the talent, despite losing their unquestioned leaders on BOTH sides of the ball.
  • The TCU Baseball team had two consecutive unprecedented years followed by a setback. The TCU Football team has had two consecutive unprecedented years...
All of those things scare me, however I think the second one is what scares me the most, and it directly correlates to the first, which directly correlates to the third, which basically makes having four bullet points kind of superfluous. Hey, it's a slow day and we needed to fill some space.

Recently I was asked what I was most excited about this upcoming season and, without much hesitation, I said seeing how the newest version of a Gary Patterson TCU team is going to look. Gary will always find the hidden gems other teams overlook and turn them into defensive superstars, but now that he is able to sign big name recruits, how will he handle the outsized personalities that accompany the majority of them? Will they be able to swallow their pride and accept a position change if he demands it? Will they be able to ride the bench until they earn a spot, something most of them have never had to do in their lives? I have no doubt that if anyone is ready for this challenge it is Gary Patterson, but I think we all have to be a little wary of the future.

Think back to this baseball season. Yes, injuries to the weekend rotation were essentially what torpedoed this team late in the season. Yes, losing your closer before the season even began was a cruel twist of fate. But I think we're fooling ourselves if we try and suggest the loss the loss and subsequent inability to find a replacement for Bryan Holaday wasn't as big as either of those things. Or bigger. And I'm not talking about his bat - although, admittedly, it was very missed - I'm talking about his presence in the locker room.

I don't know the personalities of the TCU Baseball team the same way I know - or at least think I know - a lot of the ones on the Football team. But, it was pretty evident that when the going got tough for those guys this spring and summer, the tough never got going. You need a guy a like Holaday - a guy I once gushed, in a hyperbolic moment, as being the greatest leader of a TCU sports team ever - to grab everyone by the balls and tell them to grow the fuck up. That guy seemingly never developed this year, and you saw the end result.

Patterson always uses the term paper tigers, and that pretty much aptly describes last year's baseball team. They were #1 on paper to begin the season and never truly played like it. Like I said, I'm not dismissing what happened on the injury front, but that doesn't explain what happened on offense. Even with someone with the courage of Swift Boat Captain John Kerry as their leader, a team with that much ability should never lose to an elimination game at home to an Oral Roberts team they had blasted twice in the same season in the same stadium. Especially when perennial sail-deflator Oklahoma was bounced from the tournament already and all that stood between you and the World Series was Dallas Baptist and an upstart and overrated Cal team who would be coming to your house. I'm not saying that if someone had stepped up to fill that leadership role we'd be on the crest of celebrating a World Series Championship right now, but I do think we'd be looking back on the season with a much different attitude.

I've already covered the topic of Casey, the Creator in an earlier post and I have no desire to do that again. But it begs the question - is he going to be the leader that his predecessor was? Patterson said it himself at the Coaches' Dinner that the QB HAS to be the one to take the reins of an inexperienced team and mold them to his personality. It's a huge load to place on his shoulders. Will he do it?

And think about on defense - losing Tejay Johnson could be an even bigger loss than Dalton in that department. Tejay, apart from having next level ability, was the coach on the field, the guy who whipped everyone into shape and channeled focus. More importantly though, he was the unquestioned leader on that side of the ball and, given his clear overload of character, a guy who everyone did and wanted to look up to. Who is going to be that guy this year? Tank Carder should do fine up front, but in the secondary, who is going to be that guy? If it's not Greg McCoy, Johnny Fobbs or Tekkerin Cuba it's going to have to be someone with very few snaps under their belt, which could turn problematic if this team has any lingering ego issues come September.

Basically, the biggest theme running through what I'm trying to get across is that, will the new generation of Gary Patterson Fuckstompers have a sense of entitlement like the baseball team may have had last year? Coming off of a College World Series where they were the adopted home team, and then getting all of the pre-season hype, may have worked its way into the fabric of the team a little bit. All we kept hearing was, "If we can just get to Regionals..." which is the sign of a team who may have bought into their clippings somewhat and believed their rightful place was back in the CWS. They weren't ranked #1 heading into the year as a shot in the dark, a lot of people truly believed it, including all of us. I'm afraid they may have believed it a little too much as well.

The football team isn't going to be mentioned in many unbiased National Title discussions, but they are going to be ranked in the top 15 when the polls are released. Some of the guys probably have a hard time remembering TCU before the 2008 season, and I'd be willing to bet no more than you can count on one hand could tell you much about what went on in the interim between Baugh and Patterson. So, yes, they'd be forgiven for believing this is how it always is and will be at TCU. But, of course, therein lies the danger because what happens when this young team inevitably loses their first game? Will they fall apart and start pointing fingers? Or will they, like the Dalton/Tejay teams before them, be able to view the season on a game by game basis and take it one step at a time? Patterson has always been one of the best at weeding out the caustic personalities on a team, but I bet he'd admit he's had help in the locker room along the way. Let's hope a positive influence surfaces sooner rather than later.

Geez, between this and my UT post from last week, I've been a bit of a wet blanket lately, and for that I apologize. This genuinely has nothing to do with the infamous Casey Pachall Party Boy pictures because, my goodness, if flash photography made a Facebook page when we were in college we would've all been TOTALLY outed for the hooligans that we were. But I've just been thinking about these, admittedly, broad similarities throughout the off season and, combined with the general negative fan outlook, this has me extremely nervous about the first two weeks of next year. Feel free to talk me off the ledge in the comments. I'm begging you.

Scouting the 2011 opponents: Air Force

Two years ago, Air Force nearly de-railed TCU's undefeated run to the Fiesta Bowl when they came within an onside kick of completing a miraculous comeback before finally falling to the Frogs, 20-17, in frigid conditions in Colorado Springs. Two years before that, the Falcons beat the Frogs by that same 20-17 margin in a Thursday night game also in Colorado Springs. The point is, Air Force plays TCU very tough at home, and the Frogs will have their hands full on their trip to play the Falcons in Week 2.

On offense, Air Force returns three starters on the line that will power their ultra-dangerous triple-option attack- led by senior quarterback Tim Jefferson and senior tailback Asher Clark. Fullback is a vital position in their scheme, and departed star Jared Tew will be replaced by junior Wesley Cobb- but also keep an eye on true freshman Tyrone Sauls.

Any team that runs the ball so much on offense has to be strong defensively, and the Falcons are just that. They return eight starters from a unit that allowed the fewest points in the MWC a year ago and the fourth-fewest yards. All three starting linebackers are back, and all three are seniors. Jordan Waiwaiole is in the middle, and led the team with 96 tackles last year.

Dave Campbell's Texas Football picked the Frogs to finish the regular season 10-2, with the trip to Colorado Springs as one of those two L's. How do you feel about the Frogs' September 10th conference opener? Is it one of the games causing you some concern going into the season, or do you see the Frogs breaking the recent trend of razor-close games against Air Force on the road?

Morning Dump


Josh Boyce Star-Telegram

Tank Carder Star-Telegram

Coach Patterson Star-Telegram