Now that you all have had a 24 hour cycle to offer up your thoughts on the first annual TCU Big 12 Football schedule, here are my own COMPLETELY NON-CONTROVERSIAL and CONFLICT FREE opinions on the matter.
- Another opening week bye? HATE THIS HACKER/scheduler CRAP! You're really going to make us wait to kick off the most anticipated regular season in TCU history? DIE!!! Sure, last time we had to grudgingly sit out the first weekend we never lost a game and made it to a BCS bowl, but you'd have hoped for a little more mercy in year one of the Big 12. Our only other bye week comes late in the season before the UT game in late November. Looks like our first run through the Big 12 is going to be the ultimate test of our team depth.
- Opening with Kansas. This is basically one notch up from opening with Grambling State, except it's on the road. The positives of the situation are that, as the state of affairs at Kansas are currently pretty abysmal and even if Charlie Weis is able to work some sort of miracle in Lawrence, it ain't happenin' in week one. This is much preferred to the initially leaked schedule which had up opening at Oklahoma State, even taking into account their depletion on offense. Also, this will be the only Big 12 intra-Conference game on that weekend - and the first of the season- which means all your attention are belong to us. Giving TCU a solo-showcase to kick off their Big 12 membership in a nearly can't lose game? The Big 12, everybody! They really like us!
- The back half of September. Not so friendly as Virginia rolls into town September 22 and the Frogs travel to ever-tricky SMU the following weekend. You've probably forgotten, but Virginia, after knocking off the barnacles left over from the Al Groh era, rallied under Mike London and made their final game against Virginia Tech this past year count as a defacto divisional championship. Yeah, they got their clocks cleaned, but for a program that has almost always been an afterthought in the ACC, that marks a significant improvement. I haven't studied their roster one iota to judge the dropoff, but it's fair to believe they won't be as easy of an out as they were during the Frogs' trip to Charlottesville. And then, of course, SMU brings with it its own set of issues and, even in a year like this one where TCU ultimately had the more successful season, you can't count out the June Jones and his frustrating Ponies. TCU SHOULD enter the second month of the season 4-0 and 1-0 in the Conference, but it's not entirely impossible to see 3-1 in our future. 2-2 is just a tragic thought and I won't even go to there.
- Hate Week, lite. When the first clearly incorrect version of the TCU schedule leaked, the football gods had us playing SMU, Baylor and Tech in consecutive weeks. At least for me, the anticipation of this caused long-lasting damage to my aorta and I went ahead and picked up a defibrillator at CVS for the occasion. Fortunately the schedule makers tossed in a nice Iowa State treat to break up the tension, but even though CVS has a generous return policy, with Baylor and Tech still going back to back I'm not so sure I'm ready to get my money back. Given, Baylor SHOULD take at least a half-giant step back this year without Griffin, and Tech is breaking in its second DC in as many years and, despite Tuberville's recruiting prowess can't seem to get their shit together, so neither of those games should be as treacherous as they could be. That said, hate does strange things to football teams and tossing those two at us back to back will be a very, very significant test for these Frogs in year 1. As fate would have it, the outcome of both games could largely fall at the feet of our Big 12 two-steppin' partner, the West Virginia Mountaineers. Baylor travels to Morgantown to kick off Big 12 play, albeit with an off week sandwiched between that one and TCU's trip down I-35 and Tech gets them at home the week immediately before traveling to FW. If the Mountaineers can wear down both teams with their sped up, high flying attack, this would bode well for the Frogs in both matchups. Tech also plays OU immediately before WVU thus furthering the inherent truth that even God hates Lubbock, TX and wishes its dwellers no happiness of any kind. He's a just God, but at least he has his priorities in order.
- Lopsided schedule. Take a look at it. It almost PERFECTLY lines up with how the Big 12 will be projected to finish this year, sans TCU, but in reverse order. In order of schedule, reverse order of finish: Kansas, ISU, Baylor, Tech, OSU, WVU, KSU, UT and OU. Other than perhaps flipping ISU and Baylor/Tech, and perhaps WVU/KSU its eerie. On the one hand this is nice because it allows the Frogs to ease into the upgraded competition the Big 12 will bring and allow our team to improve at a steady rate. On the other, you're getting UT and OU at one should be the peaks of their respective seasons, albeit we'll be peaking as well. If you had to pick your poison you'd probably want to flip a few games and toss a bye week in there, but even the most optimistic among us never thought it was going to be a cakewalk.
- Tech the day after my birthday. It's a personal one, but holy crap this will be the least enjoyable birthday celebration ever. Or the drunkest. Or both. Yeah, probably both.
- Greatest Post-Thanksgiving Stretch ever. Going back through the schedules, here is who we have played AFTER Thanksgiving in the past decade, excluding bowls: Memphis, SMU, Tulane, Air Force, SDSU, UNM twice and UNLV. This year it's Texas and Oklahoma. Oh. My. Goodness. Lyle pointed out the initial confusion yesterday - the UT game is listed as being on the Saturday following Thanksgiving when all signs have pointed to it being ON Thanksgiving. My thinking on the matter is that, since they were releasing a mass schedule, they simply listed the games on a weekly basis for ease of dispersal since the majority will fall on Saturday and then will announce the weekday games later. I feel pretty confident that this game will be on Thanksgiving night as originally announced. But if playing Texas and OU back to back is going to give you nightmares between now and then, take two things into consideration: One, TCU has a bye week between Kansas State coming to FW and the trip to Austin, so that's plenty of time to prepare for what should be the most anticipated regular season TCU game in many of our lifetimes. Yes, Texas gets a bye week also, but shhhhhh. The second is, if this game is moved to Thanksgiving night, that gives the Frogs a couple of extra days to rest and prepare for the season finale against OU. And while you may say, "2 days, shmoo days," as another LATER MOUNTAIN WEST, THANKS FOR THE LACK OF MEMORIES reminder, whereas you usually had to negate an added day off for travel in the MWC, all the Frogs will lose here is a one hour plane ride. So it really will be like two full days off. However, perhaps the most interesting thing about the OU game is the one right before it for the Sooners: Bedlam against OSU, their traditional season ender. Yes, OU has a better team and, hellbent on revenge for this year's beatdown, should roll the Pokes, but, like any big rivalry game, emotions run high and the comedown can be draining. Of course, TCU will be equally drained after Texas, but at least the Sooners won't be playing with a full deck, either.
- Did the SMU Rivalry officially die with this release? Look, I'll always hate SMU. I'll hate them a lot. I'll hate them until they die. But, looking at this schedule, where do they fall on the "MUST SEE" list? If you had to pick 5 games to see this season, and five games only, would they crack the list? For instance, I received a wedding invitation this weekend for a friend from high school that falls on the day of the SMU game, and I didn't bat an eye giving my "yes" reply. Let's rank the games, shall we? Tier 1, in order: UT, OU, Tech. These will never leave that rotation, whether because of history, prestige or simply hate. Tier 1.5: Baylor, although they get Tier 1 status this year for the revenge factor and will really be on a rotating basis between one and two. Tier 2, in order: West Virginia, Oklahoma State, SMU, Kansas State and Virginia. Tier 3, in order: Kansas, but only because of where it falls on the schedule, and Iowa State. Tier one billion: Grambling State. So, that's DEFINITELY 5 games I'm more interested in than SMU, more like 6 and possibly 7 or 8. Yes, depending on the expectations when Kansas State and Virginia come to town, it's entirely possible that SMU gets 9th priority on my list. And I'm not sure when or why that ever changes. No chance they ever jump UT, OU, Tech or Baylor. Those games will be untouchable on the hateicipation scale And West Virginia will likely always be competitive and a threat for the Conference title. OSU and Kansas State are minor, but only compared to those top 5, and neither team looks like they're turning into Kansas anytime soon. But that's not even including the Kansas State hate generated from Rivalsgate a few years ago, plus the fact that GP will always have that one circled, being his alma mater and all. So you might even elevate that one above OSU. And in the future our non-con schedule includes LSU and Arkansas. So, uh, yeah Ponies, even when we go 9-1 against you for the next decade, you can keep the Skillet because we never really wanted it anyway.
I've run out of time on this post for now as I have a plane to catch, but seeing as how I'm going to Vegas I'll tie this up with a related story. The initial O/U for TCU wins this season is set at 9.5, with the oddsmakers putting the over at even odds and sticking 20 points of juice on the under (for the non-gambler, this means they expect us to win fewer than 10 games and therefore make you pay extra for the privilege of betting that way). So with that said, I'm tempted to call the season 9-3 and be done with it, seeing as how Vegas is typically correct in such matters. But let's take a closer look:
- Grambling State - in the bag
- SMU - Two years in a row? Sarah Palin has better odds at a follow up tryst with Glen Rice than SMU has at winning this game.
- Virginia - One of the trickier games on the schedule. Can't get caught looking ahead to Big 12 play.
- Kansas - Weis probably shouldn't even leave the pregame meal, and the Kansas kitchen staff should probably bring out the old Mangino feedbags.
- Iowa State - tricky tricky tricky, especially given the timing, but getting them in FW shifts the odds in our favor.
- Baylor - schedule sets up well for them with the bye week, but no Griffin=no Baylor.
- Tech - I'm going to seriously hate this game SOOOOOOOO much, but Tech under Tuberville just isn't the same. They're clearly good for at least one, "SERIOUSLY!?!?" upset a year, but I don't think it happens in FW.
- Oklahoma State - At Boone's place, which isn't going to be easy. The initial reaction is that they'll be breaking in a new offense, but keep in mind this game will be at mid-season when they'll have been able to work out all the kinks. Plus, hidden behind Weeden to Blackmon was a sneaky good defense holding things together. Mike Gundy is one of the most underrated coaches in the country. I'm calling it for TCU, but I don't love it.
- WVU - I have way more fear about this one than you guys, mainly because of our secondary play this year. If those guys don't step up, it could look a lot like the Baylor game from this year with TCU being forced to play catch up. Being in Morgantown doesn't help matters either. A hesitant win.
- Kansas State - Again, tough timing on the schedule, and it's possible we get caught looking ahead to Texas. KSU will always be better than you think they are.
- UT - We probably won't talk about this game between now and then or anything. I can't get into it yet.
- OU - I'm... so... scared.
Ok, so I'm going to cop out and not call the wins and losses yet. That said, if manage to make it through September 4-0, I think 9-3 is a given and 10-2 is even more likely. We have a great team and are positioned about as well as you can be for this move, but so many things can happen during the season to throw things off the rails. It's not going to be a Mountain West cakewalk. Regardless, I couldn't be more excited for this thing to start. If only we didn't have that week 1 bye...