Monday, August 15, 2011

Top Moments of the GP Era: #10

TCU was one of the most unlikely 8-0 teams when Louisville came to Fort Worth for a Wednesday night game against the Frogs on November 5, 2003. They had defeated their first eight foes by a total of just 76 points, including four games decided by just 3 points apiece. Nevertheless, they were one of just two unbeaten teams left in the country at the time (OU was the other), and were ranked 13th in the country.

There was quite a bit of buzz around campus and town about this game, because it was seen as a chance for TCU to show the nation, via ESPN, that they did belong in the conversation for a potential BCS berth. The critics, of which there were many in 2003, pointed to narrow margins of victory against some less-than-stellar opponents like Tulane and UAB. But the prevailing thought was that perhpas a victory over 7-1 Louisville (who was just outside of the Top 25) in front of a rowdy crowd would help sway public opinion. Nearly all of the school's night classes were cancelled, and most students even skipped class all day. I begrudgingly went to my geology lab that afternoon in anticipation of a much hinted-at pop quiz, which failed to materialize. The anticipation level for this game wasn't near that of many games since, but at the time many people were calling this game the biggest in school history since the glory days of the '30s.

When the game finally began, the Frogs stormed out of the gate- grabbing a 14-3 lead in the first quarter on a 7-yard run by Cory Rodgers and a 30-yard pass from Brandon Hassell to Quentily Harmon. Further amping up the crowd was the hit that TCU corner Tyrone Sanders laid on Louisville's do-everything freshman Michael Bush. Sanders, all 173 pounds of him, knocked the 6-3, 247lb Bush out...and I mean OUT. I had two friends drive into town for this game- one a Texas fan and the other a Tennessee fan, both of whom marvelled at the electricity in the air at Amon Carter Stadium that night for a midweek game.

But in the second half, Louisville QB Stefan LeFors got scary good. He looked like Steve Young, evading the pass rush and finding an open receiver downfield at the last possible moment time after time. He rallied the Cardinals to tie the game at 21-21 early in the 3rd quarter, but the Frogs answered with a 44-yard field goal by Nick Browne to make it 24-21. After Louisville's Nate Smith missed a field goal, Kenny Hayter punched it in from one yard out to give the Frogs a seemingly comfortable-again lead of 31-21. But LeFors kept coming, scoring himself on a 9-yard run to make it 31-28 with 6:39 remaining.

Try as they might to put the ballgame away, the Frogs kept giving Louisville more chances. LeFors drove them into field goal range again on his next possession, only to see Smith miss a second time. The Frogs took as much time as they could off the clock, but gave the Cardinals the ball at their own 20 with 55 second remaining and no timeouts. In a stunningly horrifying sequence, LeFors completed 3 passes for 58 yards to get the Cardinals to the TCU 27 yard line with just 3 seconds remaining. Nate Smith then came on to redeem himself, as his 44-yard field goal would get the Cardinals to overtime (where it felt like they'd win in) if it were good. The snap was good, the hold was good, the kick was right down the middle, and then...


Off of the crossbar! Frogs win!!!! In the student section, I was immediately raised up off my feet by the delirious pandemonium. I'm pretty sure I landed on my head on a medal bleacher, but I can't be completely certain and I know I didn't care- it was a pretty raucous celebration. The Frogs had passed another test, were 9-0 and with the BCS squarely in their sights. There have definitely been bigger wins in the years since, but I don't know how many specific moments can match the ridiculous amount of elation that followed that missed field goal.

Relevance at Last: How Texas A&M Could Impact TCU's Place in the College Football World.

I think you get the connection.
Hint: the Ags are the ones being rejected

I haven't read the comments section of shortnkerley's initial posting on the topic because I would prefer to have original thoughts in this post, but I have a feeling with yesterday's announcement a lot of those thoughts may be irrelevant anyway. Since I assume all of you get your college football information exclusively from Spitblood, andwe haven't had a posting on the topic since Friday, here is what happened over the weekend: aggy officials leaked that they were going to join the SEC, possibly as soon as 2012, and that it was likely Missouri, Florida State and Clemson were going to follow suit. Immediately, Missouri officials denied these reports, not because they didn't want the SEC, but more likely because the last time they came out and said they wanted to join a different Conference they were kicked to the curb. FORESHADOWING!!! Shortly after that, Florida State officials said that they, too, were not in any imminent talks to join the SEC. I don't recall hearing any word from Clemson, but that is probably because Clemson wants to join the SEC even more than aggy, so they were probably so busy pleasuring themselves they didn't have time to respond.

Regardless, aggy was under the impression that they were a lock for the best Conference in college football.

Unfortunately - or fortunately, for those who like humorous situations at the expense of others - the ags overlooked the TINY fact that in order to join a new Conference you have to, you know, actually be INVITED. Which, of course, we now know they were not. Basically, the SEC couldn't come to a quick resolution as to who would be the 14th team to balance out the Conference. Florida wouldn't want Florida State, USC wouldn't want Clemson, Georgia wouldn't want Georgia Tech, OU enjoys the status quo and would likely prefer the Pac 12 and I'm not sure what Missouri brings to the table at all. One name floated about was Louisville, but, again, what do they bring to the table? Aggy's roll was also slowed when they didn't really think things through in regards to "The Big 12 isn't exactly going to let you walk out the door without any penalty." So for the time being, the SEC is "satisfied with their current alignment," but recognizes that future opportunities may arise where it would be advantageous to add another institution and that guidelines for addition would be discussed. Basically it sounds like every failed sexual experience you can or cannot remember from your college years . "I'm interested, but you're going to have to show me how much you really want to get into my pants," with the end result typically being you going home alone. In other words, I'm not sure the continued optimism out of College Station is completely warranted.

Obviously, aggy is going to do everything in their power to eventually join the SEC, no matter how foolish - read: financially retarded - those requirements are. And to be honest, why wouldn't they? Right now the aggys are basically just Baylor with a larger fan base and an enviable collection of dead canines. Whatever miniscule bit of leverage they may have thought they had in the Bevo 12 is completely shot as long as the SEC plays hard to get. I think's Andy Staples put it the best when he said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "If you hated your boss and you got offered a lateral position at a new company but with a substantial pay increase, wouldn't YOU take it?" aggy may not ever win the SEC, but it's not like they've been tearing up the Big 12, either. As an outside observer my biggest concern is that I think aggy needs their relationship with Texas to remain relevant far more than they seem to think they do, and by moving to the SEC that game would be threatened. Case in point: In the last 25 games between the two schools, aggy holds a 13-12 advantage, yet Texas is about 50,000 times more important in the college football world. Of course this could suggest that they are so far in UT's shadow all rational thought goes out the window, but I think it shows that if aggy can beat their long time rival, who also happens to be the biggest college football program in America, head to head on a regular basis and still remain irrelevant, who is going to care if they do the same to LSU or Arkansas? But those dog worshippers are so delusional I don't expect I'd find a sympathetic ear in their parts.

Of course, we non-Big 12 fans REALLY want aggy to jump ship, not because we care about their standing in the college football world, but because it would perhaps mean the end of the Big 12 altogether, or at least knock that Conference down a buttload of pegs. Let's be honest - when the mentioned options for replacements are BYU, Houston and Air Force, in that order, that basically just sounds like what the Mountain West has been since 2005 but with a better TV contract, albeit with only two good teams. You'll notice the conspicuous absence of TCU in that list, which, as GP put it, "shows me that they aren't interested in good football." Love that man!
Big 12 loyalists will tell you that the Conference would try and sell a major program such as Notre Dame on being in a league with UT and OU, but considering they basically slammed the door on the Big Ten - a Conference with more money, a better resume and makes a lot more sense geographically - you have to have a pretty good laugh at that suggestion. Notre Dame could've arguably been the UT of that Conference from an influence perspective, so why on earth would they go and be a lapdog?

But, let's say this does happen eventually, that the the SEC does come up with a team to pick off from another Conference to balance things out and aggy joins up. What does this mean for the rest of college football, and more specifically, us and our chosen Conference, The Big East? For the sake of my argument, let's say Florida State winds up being the other team. This realignment would take the third most lucrative property out of the SEC and, arguably, the second most lucrative property out of the ACC behind Virginia Tech, and perhaps the first from a money perspective. As a result, the Big 12's new TV deal would be in SEVERE jeopardy. UT would be fine because of the LHN -although it should be pointed out that no cable providers in the state of Texas have yet to add it to their programming - but I think it's obvious that keeping the Big 12 intact would be in their best interest. I mean, who wouldn't want their own BCS Conference to lord over? I think the Big 12 would survive with adding the teams mentioned above, as long as they can keep OU from flirting with the Pac 12. Air Force and Houston have nowhere to go but up so they're in in a heartbeat, and BYU is probably already regretting their hasty decision to go Indie. This would also get the Conference back to their namesake and re-introduce the lucrative Championship game. And, to be completely honest, by adding those Mormon eyes and if Houston can remain serviceable, this 12 team configuration without aggy might not be that much worse than the current 10 with them, although I'm not entirely sure how sustainable it would be.

As is my custom, I've now written 1000+ words without getting to the entire point of the post, so, as I teased earlier, what does this mean for TCU? I honestly believe that, if the SEC decides to expand, it will rob the ACC and if it isn't Florida State it will be Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Clemson or maybe even Maryland. So that Conference is going to have to make a grab, and the likely outlet would be the Big East. As things currently stand, quite a few of our future Conference mates would jump at the opportunity, if only for the money and exposure. West Virginia, Rutgers and Syracuse would be targets, and perhaps even Pitt and Louisville.

But don't underestimate Big East Chief John Marianatto, the Dark Horse in all of this.

We're all aware that the Conference held off on accepting a television offer from ESPN because it is believed that NBC is going to go HARD after locking up the Conference. Hard to the tune of $18-$20 million per school... which, for you mathematicians out there, would make a Big East deal worth around $5-$7 million more per school than what the ACC currently has in place. Doesn't that give the BE the upper hand in negotiations and, more importantly, put us on the offensive instead of defensive? If it is Florida State and the ACC comes to poach WVU, why wouldn't we say, "OK, you can do that, Mountaineers... or you can stay and play in a Conference with Virginia Tech, Boston College and the U!" Seriously, if the ACC is weakened, and there's more money in the Big East, wouldn't those schools at least have to give the idea some SERIOUS thought to returning to the fold? Other than for Virginia Tech, the ACC hasn't exactly been football gangbusters. And that would solve a TON of problems the Big East currently faces, namely a dearth of top tier teams and a Conference title game. Adding East Carolina, UCF and Villanova is nice, but recapturing the three teams listed above is a game changer. Like, an "Undefeated SEC Champion vs. the undefeated Big East Champion, no matter what happens elsewhere" auto-bid for the Title game every year game changer.

You might say, "But, that would completely bloat the Basketball Conference." And you'd be right. But wouldn't this be a great opportunity to split the Conference between Football and Basketball schools, rather than have the basketball schools completely break away as has long been threatened? Just for reference, here is what it would look like during Roundball season:

Girly Division: Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, St. Johns, Depaul, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall, Boston College, Virginia Tech.

Big Football Man Balls Division: Cincy, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, TCU, Rutgers, South Florida, Louisville, Syracuse, Miami, Connecticut.

Of course that's an 8/12 split, so two of the new guys would have to go in the Girly Division, and I'd probably vote BC, for no real reason at all other than they are the North-Easternmost team and I'd rather not have Boston trash in our division, and Virginia Tech for the geography thing as well. As indicated above, the Conferences are pretty much equal as far as historical talent, which I realize is completely arbitrary and subjective on a yearly basis, but hey, it's all we have. Regardless, they all made the tourney last year, so they are clearly in a better place than most.

As for how scheduling would work out, I'm not entirely sure, but I'll just take a guess. Right now the teams play 18 Conference games a year, which with 16 teams means each team plays every other team once and three selected teams twice, typically a historical rival or top ranked team that creates the most TV eyes. In a typical Conference with two divisions, each team plays every other team twice, and then fills in the rest with one offs against the other division. Clearly in this case crossover would not work as divisional play would take up all 18 games on the slate, which shouldn't be a huge deal, but likely would be as you'd lose great rivalries between Georgetown, Villanova, St John's and Cuse, UConn, Pitt. But to be completely honest, if the TV money is right for adding those three teams and the history is that important, I think the 20 Conference heads are smart enough to figure out how to slot non-division rivals into some non-con games. It'd be an obstacle to overcome, yes, but it isn't unrealistically difficult to fix.

I didn't address this earlier because I wanted to show the potential contrast, but I suppose the big question is if the Big 12 DID come calling - which is extremely unlikely - why wouldn't we go? Well, the answer should be pretty clear by now.

As for the ACC, well they'd be the new Big East, robbing the poor - CUSA - to hopefully bolster their resume, likely Memphis, East Carolina and UCF. I'm assuming you neither care about the future of the ACC nor CUSA, so I won't elaborate from there.

Basically, if aggy is able to join the SEC they will get what they've always desired: A little relevance. Of course, 99% of this relevance would be derived simply from the fact that their move would completely change the undercurrent of the NCAA as we presently know it, but if you aren't going to make noise on the field, I suppose making noise off of it is the next best thing. And really, if aggy getting a ticket to the SEC means the Big 12's road to failure is essentially paved and the Big East immediately becomes a top 3 Conference, I'll give those weirdos their day in the sun everytime.

But, just in case you aren't convinced, perhaps this will help: "Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2012 Sunbelt Conference Champions and New Orleans Bowl participants, The Baylor Bears!"

And if THAT doesn't convince you...

"Hello, Commissioner Marianatto?"


"Hey, this is Texas Tech University Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt and boy, do I have an offer for you... Commissioner Marianatto? .... Commissioner Marianatto?"

“He’s like Scarface crossed with Mr. Rogers”

I'll be interested to hear what people thought about last night's episode of Breaking Bad. It was the type of slow-moving episode that a lot of people would describe as "boring", but those people, like Jesse, simply do not get it. I loved the suspense and mystery of not knowing Mike & Gus' intentions and oh my goodness did we get some pay-off in the final few minutes! I won't spoil it for those of you that haven't watched yet, but I think I finally actually hate Walter White. I still want things to work out for him, but even when the universe decides to throw him a bone, his stubborn pride gets in the way. Sounds like the end is in sight, though, as AMC has renewed the show for a 5th and final season, which will consist of 16 episodes that will start production in early 2012.

Season 4, Episode 5: "Shotgun"

Morning Dump

Pachall Plays Well in TCU Scrimmage - College Fantasy Football Insider

Silly Big 12 Talk - Tulsa World