Monday, April 30, 2012

Construction update

There has been a lot of nervous chatter recently about the progress, or the perceived lack there of, on the stadium.  A lot of people, most of whom I know happen to have zero experience with major construction projects, expressed worry that the stadium wouldn't be ready in time for next season.

As you can see in the photo above, which was provided by the TCU Frog Club facebook page, shows the very last row of seating being put in place this morning at 9:25am.  That gives them 131 days to put in seats, finish out the restroom and concession stands, etc. 

Big 12 Orientation, Week 2: Iowa State Football.

You see that?  That's the sight of Oklahoma State's 2011 season dying.

ISU At-A-Glance:
  • 492–584–47 Overall Record
  • 0 National Titles
  • 2 Conference Titles (Both Big 8)
  • 1 Division Title
  • 10 Bowl appearances, 3-7 record.
  • Play in Jack Trice Stadium, Capacity 55,000
School Mascot:  A weird tornado/bird/man thing.

History with TCU:  The Frogs and Cyclones have met three times on the football field, with TCU taking all three matchups.  The first two were in the latter half of the 20th century, with some mediocre TCU teams beating up on two even mediocre-er ISU squads.  The most recent meeting you may all remember a bit more clearly as it came in the 2005 Houston Bowl, a game TCU won 27-24, otherwise known as the time Peter Lococo was not known as Lochoko.  This was also the year that TCU potentially could've received a BCS at large bid, had the current non-BCS qualifications been in place.  Fuckin' SMU, man.  The most vivid memories I have of this game are Michael DePriest's COMICALLY wide open 84 yard TD reception to put the Frogs ahead, as well as Robert Merrill's fumble on the 1 yard line, negating a scoring drive that would've taken Lococo's 44 yard game winner out of the equation.  This was also my first vivid memory of attending a TCU football game where alcohol was readily available, an enlightening experience, indeed.  I highly doubt that TCU/ISU will turn into some sort of barn burning rivalry, but there is definitely some history there and a good reason for the Cyclones to be fired up to finally take out the Frogs.  

Recent History:  Iowa State is certainly one of the more polarizing teams in the Big 12 when you check their results.  Case in point:  This year's Iowa State team started the season 3-0 in non conference, but were then absolutely run out of the stadium by their first four Big 12 opponents in Texas, Baylor, Missouri and aggy.  In their next three games they would dismantle Texas Tech and Kansas and cap things off by taking out eventual Big 12 champ and presumed national title game participant Oklahoma State in a game they had no business winning.  From there?  Dominated by Oklahoma, beaten by KSU and failed to show up in their bowl game against Rutgers to finish 6-7.  It's unclear how this makes sense, but when you look back, this is simply the Iowa State way under much-loved Coach Paul Rhoads.   Seriously, check the 2009 season:  Destroyed by a bad Iowa team early, beat a good Nebraska team late.  Even in 2010 when they would finish 5-7, they beat a ranked UT team in Austin and played ranked Nebraska close.  Paul Rhoads is commonly hyped by the talking heads as the next big thing in the NCAA, but he's overall a below .500 coach with two of his three seasons ending with more losses than wins.  For his efforts?  a 10 year, $20 million deal.  Hmmm...

2012 Outlook:  Iowa State may have locked up Paul Rhoads prematurely, because with all the depth he has returning I can't imagine he would've left these Cyclones had a job offer rolled in.  He returns both of his QBs from last season, including the awesomely named Steele Jantzen, his leading rusher including Dallas' own Jared Barnett, and several of his top receivers.  Of course, the caveat here is that this same crew only managed to score 22 points per game last season, but with another year under their belts, you'd have to think the prospects are looking good.  Even still, the Cyclones aren't going to be picked by anyone to win their first Big 12 title since the league was formed.  The defense just isn't there - barely cracked the top 100 last year - and the Conference is just too good.   ISU did luck out with a 7-5 home/road split of games this season, but those home games include Oklahoma, Kansas State and West Virginia, three teams they aren't beating anywhere. 6-6 looks like a generous ceiling for this team.

Miscellania:  Iowa State's rivalry with Kansas State has perhaps my favorite of all rivalry names in Farmageddon.  That's really the only interesting thing about Iowa State Football.


Bats wake up, big week ahead

After getting by Manhattan 2-1 on Friday night in a game where the Frogs somehow created a victory out of 4 base hits in 10 innings, the offense finally came out of their season-long slumber on Saturday and Sunday- completing the sweep of the Jaspers with wins of 12-5 and 11-0.  In those two games, they collected a total of 29 base hits and raised their team batting average 9 points up to .253.  The three wins improve the Frogs' record to 26-15 on the year and got coach Jim Schlossnagle across the 450-win plateau for his career.

The sweep also gives TCU some much-needed momentum as they enter a pivotal week of games to be played at Lupton.  On Tuesday they play host to Oklahoma, a team that has absolutely had the Frogs' number recently.  The Sooners, 28-16 overall and 58th in the latest RPI rankings, have beaten TCU eight straight times dating back to 2007.  Getting that monkey off their back and an RPI-boosting win on Tuesday would be a major score for this young team.

As big as the OU game is in regard to confidence and possible NCAA seeding, this weekend's home series against New Mexico could make or break TCU's chances of winning a 7th consecutive MWC regular season title.  The Lobos, who took 2 of 3 from the Frogs in Albuquerque in late March, currently hold a one-game lead over TCU in the conference standings.  Both teams are 5-1 in games against the teams they have remaining on the conference slate after this series, so the conference crown could be decided in Fort Worth this weekend.

Coach Schlossnagle has his monthly radio show tonight on KTCU, live from Buffalo Brothers.  If you get a chance to listen, please share any newsworthy comments he makes in our comments section.  He pulled Stefan Crichton early in yesterday's game against Manhattan, so perhaps Crichton will be available to toss a few innings against the Sooners tomorrow night.
 

Big 12 Orientation, Week 2: Iowa State


Week 2 of our orientation course for TCU's entry to the Big 12 will focus on another of the teams that the Frogs will be conference mates with for the first time starting in 2012: the Iowa State Cyclones.  Founded in 1858, the school has been known by several different names.  It was originally the Iowa Agricultural College and Model Farm, and later Iowa State College of Agricultural and Mechanical Arts.  Today, the full name of the school is Iowa State University of Science and Technology, but most people just call it Iowa State.  It has an enrollment of 29,887 and an endowment of $612 million.  It ranks 97th on the US News & World Report list of best colleges in America.

As an athletic department, the Cyclones (so named because of a terrible tornado outbreak in 1895) ranked 60th in last year's NACDA Director's Cup standings, having finished as high as 34th and as low as 123rd over the past decade.  They are the model of consistency as far as conference alignment goes: they were members of the Big 8 from its founding in 1907 (as the Big 6) until 1996, when they became charter members of the Big 12.  Hell, TCU's been in more conferences just since 2000!

Honestly, I don't know much about Iowa State fans.  Judging from my one experience with them, at the 2005 Houston Bowl, they like to wear jean shorts a lot and call soda "pop".  Here are a few videos to get us all better acquainted with the Cyclones and their fans, and be sure to share your first impressions of ISU in the comments section:


Morning Dump

Baseball:

TCU takes Manhattan in three-game sweep Star-Telegram


Frogs complete sweep with 11-0 win Sunday gofrogs.com


Other Sports:

Dramatic finish gives TCU Mountain West women's tennis title gofrogs.com

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Broughton and Brock sign NFL contracts

You can add Braylon Broughton and Logan Brock to the list of Horned Frogs moving on to the NFL.  After the draft came to a close yesterday, Brock signed a free agent contract with the Houston Texans and Broughton signed with the Saints- where he'll join fellow Frog David Hawthorne.  Hopefully a few more TCU players latch on with NFL teams in the coming days.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

McCoy to Chicago in the 7th Round


Late surprise! Greg McCoy was taken by the Bears in the 7th Round, #220 overall.  If anyone else is taken, I'll have to update you later because I'm going to enjoy the lovely weather outside with a few beers.

Tank drafted by Buffalo in 5th round


Tank Carder is the newest Buffalo Bill.  He was just selected with the 12th pick in the 5th round, and the 147th overall selection.  Congratulations, Tank!

Frogs win in extra innings


Jason Coats' RBI single finally delivered a 2-1 victory for TCU over Manhattan in the 10th inning, but the glaring fact that the game-winner was just the 4th base hit of the night for the Frogs makes one even more thankful that the ever-steady pitching staff and continually-improving defense were there to bail this team out once again last night.  

True freshman Preston Morrison, the third different Horned Frog to fill the Friday night starter role this season, struck out 4 and spread 6 hits in his 7+ innings of 1-run work.  Junior reliever Kevin Allen came on to retire the last 8 batters of the game, allowing just one base runner in an effort that gave him his 3rd victory of the year.

On defense, the Frogs played 10 innings of error-free ball- and a sensational play in the top of the final inning helped erase Manhattan's scoring threat.  Brance Rivera caught a one-out line drive in right field, and threw behind the runner to double him off as he tried to get back to first base- ending the inning and setting up the eventual TCU game-winning rally.

Taylor Sewitt, the Manhattan starter, came into the game with a 3.79 ERA and an opposing batters' average of .257.  Last night, he went 9 full innings allowing 1 run on just 3 base hits.  I suppose a win is a win- and a win over a team with an RPI of #186 is definitely better than a loss to to that same team, but this is the kind of offensive output that isn't going to cut it in the postseason.

Hopefully the pitching and defense continue with a rejuvenated offensive performance in the rest of this  series, which continues this afternoon at 4:00pm.  

Elsewhere...

-The men's and women's tennis teams will both be playing in the semifinals of the MWC Tournament today.  The men, who took down UNLV 4-1 in yesterday's quarterfinals, take on top-seeded Boise State at noon.  The women, who had a first round bye due to their regular-season title, take on Wyoming at 4:00pm.

-The men's 4x100 relay team, featuring Skye Dawson, ran a 40.89 to qualify for the finals at the Penn Relays.  The team is rounded out by Charles Silmon, O.J. Stoneham and Mark Barnes.  Junior Cameron Tabor finished 3rd in shotput and 7th in discus.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Big 12 Orientation: West Virginia's famous alumni

West Virginia has over 170,000 living alumni, so some of them are bound to be famous.  Let's take a look at some of the well-known figures you might just bump into at a future TCU-WVU game:

-Jerry West.  The Olympic gold medalist, NBA Hall of Famer and supposed model for the league's logo was a two-time consensus All-American with the Mountaineers and as a junior in 1959 was named the NCAA Tournament's Most Outstanding Player despite having not played for the championship team.  Later in his career as a basketball executive, he left the Lakers organization to become the GM of the Memphis Grizzlies...and immediately traded Pau Gasol to the Lakers for just about nothing. 

-Cheryl Hines.  She didn't actually graduate, but Hines briefly attended WVU before going on to achieve fame playing Cheryl David on Curb Your Enthusiasm.  Am I the only one that always kinda thought she was hot?

-Chuck Howley.  Taking a cue from his fellow WVU alum Jerry West, Howley was named the MVP of Super Bowl V despite the Colts defeating the Cowboys with a last-second field goal.  Before his Ring of Honor career with America's Team, Howley lettered in five sports at WVU- football, track, wrestling, diving and gymnastics.  Howley represents one end of West Virginia football's impact on the Dallas Cowboys.  We'll get to the other in a bit...

-Chris Sarandon.  If the last name looks familiar, it's because he used to be married to Susan Sarandon...whom I never understand some people's infatuation with.  After earning a degree in performing arts from WVU, Chris went on to have a Hollywood career made notable mainly by two roles.  He was the voice of Jack Skellington in Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas and was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Al Pacino's pre-op transsexual "wife" in the incredibly under-appreciated Dog Day Afternoon

-Pacman Jones.  Before his rain-making days and becoming the personification of Jerry Jones' ineptitude as Cowboys general manager, Jones was a darn good corner and ridiculously awesome kick- and punt-returner for the Mountaineers, earning All-Big East honors in both 2003 and 2004.

-Don Knotts.  I guess you couldn't actually run into him, seeing as he passed away in 2006.  But goofy as he was, I'm sure most WVU alumni and West Virginians are proud to call Knotts one of their own.  The Morgantown native was most known for his roles on The Andy Griffith Show and Three's Company, but let's not forget he was also in Cannonball Run II and Gus

-Billy Mays.  Joining Knotts in the gone-but-not-forgotten group of WVU alumni is celebrity pitch-man Billy Mays.  Before he was extolling the virtues of products like OxiClean and Orange Glo, Mays was a walk-on linebacker for the Mountaineer football team.

-Mike Vanderjagt.  Despite being statistically the most accurate kicker in NFL history, I'll always remember him as being a complete failure with the Cowboys in 2006 and for being a prime example of a kicker not knowing his place on a team when he publicly called out Peyton Manning while with the Colts.  Did you know, though, that before transferring to be WVU's kicker in 1991 & 1992, that he was a quarterback at Michigan State?

There are plenty of other fairly famous former WVU athletes that are worthy of mention- Tommy and Terry Bowden, Steve Slaton, Pat White, current WVU basketball coach and drunk driving enthusiast Bob Huggins, Marc Bulger, four-time Super Bowl loser Darryl Talley, former WVU & Michigan and current Arizona football coach Rich Rodriguez, and current WVU athletic director and father of Andrew Luck, Oliver Luck.



Daily Discussion: The NBA Playoffs

Western Conference Finals?  Eh...probably not
The abbreviated 66-game NBA regular season came to a close last night, and with the playoffs starting tomorrow it's time to drive a wedge between our readers and contributors who might otherwise exist harmoniously with our shared love of the Horned Frogs.

In case you haven't had a chance to get acquainted with this year's bracket, you can peruse that sucker by clicking here.   The defending champion Mavericks, who even the staunchest MFFLs would admit are a shadow of last year's squad, stumbled down the stretch and ended up as the #7 seed in the west.  They'll face Oklahoma City in a rematch of last year's Western Conference Finals starting tomorrow night.

For our friends from down south of the border (which is somewhere near New Braunfels), the Spurs are right where they were a year ago with home-court advantage all the way through the Western Conference Playoffs.  The smart-ass in me wants to draw parallels to how they blew it in the first round to #8 seed Memphis a year ago, but the reasonable basketball observer in me knows that this is a much deeper Spurs team and this year's #8, Utah, pales in comparison to last year's very underrated Grizz.

Here's where you, the regular Spit Blood reader who is normally too shy to comment on posts, come in.  What do you take of the Mavs' chances as they try to defend their first title?  I doubt many out there are picking them to go all the way again- but how far do you think they can make it?  How realistically has Poppovich put the Spurs in position to win #5? Who do you think will come out of each confernece, and do you expect any first round upsets?

Morning Dump

Baseball:

TCU faces Manhattan as homestand continues Star-Telegram

Frogs welcome Manhattan for three-game set gofrogs.com


Football:

TCU fans running out of time to leave their mark Star-Telegram


Other Sports:

Field duo shines for Frogs on first day of Penn Relays gofrogs.com

Men's Tennis opens MWC Tournament vs. UNLV at noon gofrogs.com

TCU's Tan named MWC Tennis' Female Freshman of the Year gofrogs.com

TCU's Chappell named MWC Tennis' Male Freshman of the Year gofrogs.com


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Big 12 Orientation: West Virginia's other sports

If there is one sport that the Big 12's newcomers will dominate, it's rifle.  I don't have the motivation to go researching whether or not any of the legacy schools offer it as a sport, but the new kids on the Big 12 block have 16 combined national titles.  The first fourteen of those were won by West Virginia starting in 1983 and most recently in 2009, and TCU has captured the hardware in 2010 and again in 2012.  The big difference in this rivalry is that TCU is winning championships with an all-female team. 

The WVU women's basketball team jumps from one highly-competitive conference, and should be able to keep its head above water once in the Big 12.  They've been to the NCAA Tounrament 8 times in their history, including 5 of the past 6 years- this year they were eliminated in the second round by eventual champ Baylor.  Current coach Mike Carey will be in his 12th year at the helm next season, and has only registered one non-winning season in his time in Morgantown.

The Mountaineers have had a smattering of success in a few other lower-profile sports, but the only other oddity is that they will be the only school in the Big 12 that offers men's soccer.  Because of this, their soccer team will be a part of the MAC starting next year.

Where will Tank go?

The so-called draft experts are fore the most part predicting that only one Frog will be drafted this year- Tank Carder. So with the event that your wife or girlfriend will never comprehend why it's entertaining starting tonight, let's take a look at where the prognosticators think Tank will end up being drafted:

-ESPN: 5th Round, #142 overall to Jacksonville

-Fox Sports: 5th Round, #147 overall to Buffalo

-Draftsite.com: 5th Round, #156 overall to Cincinnati

-Walterfootball.com: 5th Round, #144 overall to Buffalo

-Opposingviews.com: 4th Round, #134 overall to Minnesota

-Draftek.com: 4th Round, #105 overall to Buffalo

-NFLsoup.com: Undrafted


If any other Frog has a chance to sneak up into the draft, it is Braylon Broughton.  Here are a few of the predictions for where he'll go, if at all:

-Opposingviews.com: 7th Round, #242 overall to the New York Jets



Morning Dump


Football:

TCU tackling new challenges in the Big 12 ESPN


Track & Field:

Charles Silmon earns 2nd straight MWC Track & Field Athlete of the Week honor gofrogs.com

Horned Frogs set for 118th Penn Relays gofrogs.com


Athletic Department:

Chris Del Conte's Notes on a Scorecard gofrogs.com
-22,000 season tickets sold!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Big 12 Orientation: West Virginia Baseball

Yes, that is really their baseball stadium

WVU At-A-Glance: 
-Program founded: 1892
-All time record: 1,955-1,358-18 (as of the end of 2011)
-12 NCAA Tournament appearances
-11 All-Americans
-20 MLB players

History with TCU: The Mountaineers and Horned Frogs have never met on the baseball diamond, so the Frogs' first trip to play WVU at Hawley Field just might be their first-ever trip to The Mountain State- although I'm not sure.  TCU's website claims the Frogs are 2-0 all-time against Marshall with no mention of where the games were played, although Marshall's site has no mention of the Thundering Herd ever having played TCU.  Trust me- if you think reading this paragraph wasted your time, just remember that I spent time trying to research this crap.

Recent History: In 2011, Mountaineer head coach Greg Van Zant won his 500th career game, with all of them coming at West Virginia.  While that is a great milestone to have achieved, the fact that it came in his 17th season says quite a bit about the state of Mountaineer baseball.  The most games they've won in a season under Van Zant is 37, twice: in 1998 and 2009.  That '09 squad actually finished 3rd in the Big East, but failed to garner an at-large NCAA berth due to their RPI of nearly 100.  Their lone NCAA Tournament appearance came when they won the Big East tournament in 1996, after which they made a decent run in the Atlantic Regional hosted by Clemson.  Van Zant has coached two 2nd Team All-Americans in his time at the helm in Morgantown: pitcher Chris Enochs in 1997 and shortstop Jedd Gyorko in 2010.  Gyorko, who is playing for the Double-A San Antonio Missions in the Padres' organization, is one of five former Mountaineers playing professionally right now.  David Carpenter, a right-handed reliever for the Astros, is the lone WVU alum currently in the big leagues.

Outlook for entering the Big 12: As noted by a columnist from the area, West Virginia baseball's entry into the Big 12 is going to make TCU basketball seem like a natural fit in the league.   The Mountaineers are 17-24 overall this year and just 5-10 in the Big East, which is not exactly known as a baseball hotbed.  As you can see by the photo of Hawley Field above, their facilities have a long way to go to even be considered "bad" by Big 12 standards.  Their most recent three-game home series, against arch-rival Pittsburgh, drew a TOTAL of 1,633 fans.  WVU AD Oliver Luck, a former Texas resident who knows how big baseball is in these parts and how big an uphill climb this program faces, has eased some scholarship limitations that some feel have held the Mountaineers back in recent years.  Their overall team ERA of 6.57 this year doesn't bode well for next year, but it should be noted that their entire starting batting order (including three guys hitting above .300) are eligible to return.



Horned Frog work breaks


The only halfway decent national host that ESPN Radio has to offer, Scott Van Pelt, will have TCU's own Andy Dalton on his show today live at 1:30pm Texas time.  You can listen online by clicking here.  SVP's usual schtick is to casually mention a popular hangout from a college town to act cool, so you have to wonder if he's reading about The Cellar or The Oui via the google right now in preparation for the interview.

Also, Chris Del Conte is hosting another of his live chats today at 3:00pm.  You can take part in it at that time or just submit your question now by clicking here.  If you can sift through the ceaseless complaining of our fanbase over the new seating arrangement at football games and get CDC to mention Spit Blood, well, that'd just be super.

I've got meetings most of this afternoon, so if you listen to the Dalton interview or read the Del Conte live chat, let the rest of us know what we missed in the comments section.


Thomas named one of the NBA's dirtiest

Get your blood pressure medication and excuses for being late to work ready: it's just about NBA Playoff time.  Since you're sure to develop a deep-seated hatred for at least one player in the coming weeks, the folks at SI.com thought they'd give you a glimpse at who might be the most likely target of your unhealthy resentment by releasing a list of the dirtiest players in the NBA- as voted on by the players themselves. 

Coming in at #8 on the list is TCU's own Kurt Thomas, who unfortunately will not be punctuating his 17th NBA season with a trip to the playoffs as the Portland Trailblazers have had quite the disappointing season after being everyone's pick to upset the eventual champs last spring.

Be on the lookout for more NBA Playoff fun here on Spit Blood as the tournament begins and TNT slowly melts your brain by playing the exact same promo for the same soon-to-be-canceled drama 1,000 times per game.  We'll have plenty of daily discussions as the playoffs progress, and we can at least temporarily forget our common ground as Frog fans as we ruin friendships over our arbitrary allegiances to separate groupings of selfish, entitled millionaire mercenaries.

Big 12 Orientation: West Virginia Basketball Continued...

Sir Wesley briefly mentioned the "Pittsnogle Era" in his earlier post, but I think we'd be doing a disservice to our readers if we didn't give you a couple of lovely photos to remind you just exactly how tacky, disgusting and back-woodsy that hillbilly really was.  After all, it's Spitblood, and there's nothing I like to do more than insult our opponents in any way, shape or form possible.  So here are a few disgusting Pittsnogle nuggets for your viewing (dis)pleasure...


Pittsnogle Dumb-face.  Notice the beady eyes that seem abnormally close together.  That's what happens when your mother is your aunt and your father is also both your nephew and your great uncle.  


Squinty, smiley, and still very, very ugly.  Does everyone look this goofy when they're happy, or is it strictly an inbred West Virginia phenomenon?  Also, it's his dentures that cause his mouth to take that shape when attempting to smile.  Most likely a result of years of meth abuse with the White Family.  


After college, he went on the the D-League in you guessed it...Albuquerque.  Remember what I said about meth earlier?  Well, how long do you think it took before he got on the phone with these 2 guys? 

But really, none of these pictures do much justice for Mr. Pittsnogle and I don't think they're really a fair portrayal of who the guy really is.  These are all basketball photos, and we know how people can be when they are in the heat of battle and the camera might catch them at the wrong time.  So let's be fair.  Here are a look at some of his wedding photos...


With the bride...


Don't know who that is, but lovely mustache...


Family photo.

So there you have it.  The REAL face of West Virginia Basketball.




Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Big 12 Orientation, Week 1: West Virginia Basketball

Yeah...

WVU At-A-Glance:
  • Program Founded - 1904
  • Overall Record - 1,621 - 1,005
  • Two Final Four Appearances (1959, 2010)
  • Three Elite Eight Appearances
  • Eight Sweet 16 Appearances
  • 25 NCAA Bids
  • 13 Conference Tourney Championships
  • 14 Conference Regular Season Championships
  • A partridge
  • A peartree
History with TCU:  I'll be honest - I did as much digging as I was interested in doing and couldn't come up with anything, meaning the two teams have never played or, if they did, the internet is not familiar with it.  Let us know in the comments.  However, dating back to his time at Cincinnati, Huggy has established a pretty decent personal rapport with TCU, taking out the Frogs three times in three meetings.  

Recent History:  Since the return of native son Bob Huggins in 2007, WVU has experienced success not seen around those parts since the days of Jerry West.  Not that WVU was bad; in fact, they were far from it, winning the 2007 NIT Tournament and reaching the dance two of three years before he arrived on campus - the Pittsnogle Era, you'll recall.  But it's fair to say that Huggins has put wind in the sails of his home state team since he DWI'd his way back to Morgantown.  In his five years, the Mountaineers have reached the tourney each season, including the Sweet 16 twice and the Final Four once.  In comparison, TCU has reached the NCAA Tournament seven times in the past... ever.  So it's clear Huggins knows what he's doing.  This most recent year, the Mountaineers complained of youth and a lack of a consistent star... and still made the NCAA Tourney.  Missouri has put together a nice little run recently and aggy occasionally makes things interesting, but WVU has built a program under Huggins.  I'd rather go four rounds with aggy and Mizzou over two with WVU, but that's our future.  Seriously, good luck, Trent.

2012 Outlook:  Where TCU is clearly looking at their future in the Big 12 with that same wide eyed expression a deer has right before being blown to bits by a semi-truck, the Mountaineers could arguably be looking at their situation as a breath of fresh air.  Yes, the Big 12 is most certainly big boy basketball, and was one of the toughest Conferences in the nation last season, but after running the 15 team gauntlet that is the Big East year after year, only having 9 teams on the slate, two of them being Texas Tech and TCU, can't be nearly as daunting.  The 2011-2012 WVU team finished with a 19-14 record, good enough for eighth place in the Big East.  After receiving a first round bye in the BE tourney, Huggins' crew were dismissed in the second round by Connecticut.  From there the team would receive a 10 seed in the NCAA Tourney but fail to get off the bus, losing to Gonzaga by 20+ points.  The Mountaineers lose their two top scorers from last season in Kevin Jones and Truck Bryant who were averaging nearly 35 points of offense per game.  However, of their remaining four top scorers, three were freshmen.  The remaining three members of the team that averaged double digit minutes per game?  Also freshmen.  I'm sensing a trend.  The 2012 team will only have one senior projected to start in Forward Kelicli, meaning if these guys live up to the reputation Huggy Bear has built, they could be scary good for the forseeable future. I'm not kidding Trent, get out while you still can.

Miscellania:  You may not have noticed a casually tossed in reference to a DUI in an above paragraph, but it's worth noting.  Much like WVU Head Football Coach Dana Holgorsen, Bob Huggins also likes to get his swerve on.  Unlike WVU Head Football Coach Dana Holgorsen, Bob Huggins likes to get his swerve on and go for a midnight drive.  This wasn't the direct cause for his ouster from Cincinnati, but it's heavily suggested that it was the beginning of the end; the DUI came before his final season in southern Ohio, the back half of two underachieving campaigns, and was likely used as an excuse to achieve a coach who had outstayed his welcome.  I certainly recall a certain game in Fort Worth during the Santee Years, sitting behind the Cincy bench and hurling off-color commentary at Huggins regarding his driving record, comments that were met with an equally off color response from what I was told was Huggins' wife.  Of course, the Frogs lost the game, so it doesn't matter, but it's the only anecdote I have. 

Oh, except for this one, for Mavs ears only:  Huggins coached Kansas State star Michael Beasley for one year in Manhattan before bouncing to WVU.  Beasley was probably going to leave anyway for the NBA, but having Huggins skip town made that decision official.  Beasley was then selected with the 2nd overall pick by the Miami Heat.  At the time, Beasley was seen as a no brainer selection, but as it turns out he also lacked brains and was a pretty serious flop for the Heat.  It looked like water under the bridge for Miami once they dispatched Beasley and brought in Lebron and Bosh, but the Mavs proved that, for at least one year, team matters more than individuals.  But, had Beasley stayed in school, two of the next three picks in that draft?  Kevin Love, perhaps the best power forward playing the game today, and Russell Westbrook, who has been a huge difference maker in Oklahoma City.  Put either of those guys in Miami instead of Beasley alongside Lebron and Wade and who knows what Dallas' trophy case looks like?  So, Thanks Huggy, for hiding Beasley's short comings for at least that one year and making him a hot propsect.  

And for those who quit reading a while ago, I leave you with this:


Seriously Trent, bring your 'A' game.



Daily Discussion: Pachall's future

Will 2012 be La Manga's swan song in Fort Worth?
Since the NFL Draft moved its first round to prime time on Thursday night in 2010, Frog fans have eagerly awaited hearing the name of one of their own called out by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Two years ago it was Jerry Hughes going to the Colts at #31, and last year the Bengals eventually decided against trading back up into the first round and instead picked Andy Dalton with pick #35 on Friday evening.  This year, Tank Carder is generally considered the top draft prospect coming out of TCU, and he's not expected to be selected until the middle rounds

Could we be back to watching for a Frog to go in Round 1 next year?  There are a few talented seniors to be on this year's roster that would love to be in such a lucrative position...but what about Casey Pachall?  The NFL world has been very impressed by what Dalton was able to do as a rookie in Cincinnati, so how interested will they be in the guy who has already begun to break his records?

It's certainly a long time between now and the 2013 NFL Draft, but Scout.com has already compiled a list of the top prospects at each position that will have the option of declaring after this next season.  They have Pachall listed as the 9th best quarterback prospect, and project him as a second-round pick.  If he improves upon his first season as a starter against the tougher opposition of the Big 12, it's not beyond imagination that he could leap-frog a few of the guys ahead of him on that list and be faced with the choice to leave early for big first-round money.

There are a lot of variables that would go into such a decision- how Casey performs this fall, how scouts evaluate that performance, the state of the team going forward from 2012 into 2013, his relationship with the coaching staff, his personal financial situation and on and on.  No one could say for sure what will take place over the next year, but what are your thoughts on Pachall potentially leaving school early after his junior year?

TCU-A&M preview

After having a second win streak snapped at 9 games this season, the Frogs will try to start another one in search of that elusive double-digit streak when they begin an 8-game home stand against Texas A&M at 6:30pm tonight at Lupton Stadium.  They'll also be looking for a third consecutive win over the Aggies (after beating them 4-2 last year in College Station and 6-1 two years ago in Fort Worth) and another RPI boost as the Aggies come to town ranked 18th in that regard.

If you're headed to the game tonight, get ready to get a healthy dose of "TCU is pitching their ace against us" from the dunces in maroon & white.  This has been the handy excuse for Big 12 teams losing to TCU in midweek games over the years, despite the fact that it's not the way Schlossnagle operates his team.  True freshman Brandon Finnegan will be on the mound for the Frogs tonight, making his seventh career start- and his first since March 25.  Since then, he's thrown 9⅔ scoreless innings in relief while contributing to the strong TCU bullpen effort that's been there all season- they now have a collective 2.24 ERA.

The Maroon Mormons come to Fort Worth tonight riding a five-game losing streak, including a midweek home game to Rice last Tuesday in which the Owls pitched....one of their usual midweek guys.  Two weeks prior, they lost to UT-Arlington when the Mavericks pitched...one of their usual midweek guys.

A&M head coach Rob Childress hasn't announced his starter for tonight just yet, but his usual Tuesday guy as of late has been Gandy Stubblefield, an awkwardly-named freshman right-hander from Lukfin who carries with him a 3.86 ERA and has not pitched to a decision as of yet this year.  If Childress' Tuesday pitching pattern holds tonight, you can expect to see five or six pitchers from his staff that pitches to 2.93 cumulative ERA.

One of the big questions for tonight's game will be the availability of Aggie first baseman Jacob House.  The senior from Mansfield had a streak of 107 consecutive starts snapped this past weekend when he was held out against Baylor due to a bruised foot.  He's batting .331 on the year and leads the team with 5 home runs and 36 RBIs, so his absence would definitely be felt if he's not able to go.  They do have three other regulars hitting above .300, though, led by junior outfielder Tyler Naquin- who is hitting a blistering .408 and leads the team in just about every category that House doesn't.

It looks like it should be beautiful weather for tonight's game, with a forecast of clear skies and a temperature in the low 80s at first pitch.  There are still some general admission seats available if you want to head out to Lupton- otherwise you can watch the game on The Mtn (if you have it), listen on KTCU, or keep tabs on it via twitter by following @TCU_Baseball


Morning Dump

Baseball:

TCU not taking struggling A&M for granted Star-Telegram

Frogs kick off home stand against Aggies gofrogs.com


Football:

Big 12 opener vs. TCU best scenario for Weis, Kansas Star-Telegram

Rookie Reflections: Colin Jones 49ers.com

Tank Carder & Braylon Broughton both ranked in list of draft-eligible OLBs Boston Herald

Monday, April 23, 2012

Big 12 Orientation, Week 1: West Virginia Football.

This is West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen.  He likes to get fucking DRUNK.

WVU At-A-Glance:  
  • Overall record of 701-457-45.  
  • 0 National Titles.
  • Have won 15 Conference Championships between the Southern Conference and the Big East, most recently last season.  
  • 31 Bowl appearances with an overall record of 14-17.  
  • Boast one of two Division 1 rosters only featuring players lacking adequate dental care.  The other?  Colgate, shockingly.
School Mascot:  A coal covered miner smoking a rock of crystal meth with a fistful of green stamps and a stomachful of fatherless children.  Think Rowdy, but less smiley, more frowny.

History with TCU:  The two teams met once in the 1984 Bluebonnet Bowl with WVU pulling out a 31-14 victory.  You remember, the one where TCU stud RB Kenneth Davis was held to just 19 yards rushing and TCU's defense gave up over 500 yards of total offense.  A game like that would make Gary Patterson the second TCU head man sent to a premature grave on the sidelines, but fortunately no coaches were harmed during the making of that rout.  A performance like that would be utterly unrecognizable from the teams GP has cultivated over the years.  The score was 31-7 at halftime with TCU adding a stat-padding TD in the third quarter to make the margin closer than it looked.  Unless TCU's current players - none of whom were born when this game took place - hold bizarre, 28 year old grudges against non-rivals, I think it's fair to say "REMEMBER 1984" isnt' going to be GP's war cry this season.

Recent History:  When we last saw the West Virginia Mountaineers they were in the midst of blowing up the scoreboard in the Orange Bowl against Clemson to the tune of 70-33, capping a 10-3 season.  You read that correctly.  Outside of a very curious scalping from Syracuse, things could not have gone much better under first year head man Dana Holgorsen, even though he wasn't prepared to wear the headset last year.  You'll recall the WVU Coaching fiasco:  After foolishly hiring ex-coach Bill Stewart in a knee jerk, feel good move, WVU football had become a bit stagnant, so Holgorsen was brought in as OC/Coach in waiting before this past season to spice things up.  The only problem?  Stewart wasn't on board, and to show his dissatisfaction, began asking local media members to dig up dirt regarding Holgorsen's late night casino exploits in order to discredit his new assistant.  Unfortunately for Country Bill, this whole plan backfired miserably and resulted in his premature ousting.  In the long run this was a good move because you can't imagine WVU would've had the success they did with Stewart and Holgorsen at each other's throats; in the short run it made WVU look every bit as dysfunctional as the residents of the state the university calls home.  The program has flirted with national prominence throughout their existence but ever since Rich Rodriguez took control of the program in 2001 they've mostly stuck to the national spotlight, notching six Big East titles and 3 BCS bids, all victories.  In fact, in Rodriguez' last year they were one win away from playing for a national title before falling to then-lowly rival Pitt in a move known around these parts as "SMUitis2005"  Let's just say the Mountaineers are a much, much better fit with the winning tradition of the Big 12 than aggy ever was.

WVU 2012 Outlook:  When the last impression you have a team is of them putting up 70 points and nearly 600 yards on a team in a BCS bowl game and realize that both the QB and leading WR from that game are both returning, that's kinda spooky as an opponent.  Yes, Geno Smith - by many accounts the most talented QB in the Big 12 next season - and Tavon Austin will be back in Morgantown for year one, as will leading rusher Dustin Garrison and overall team leading receiver Steadman Bailey. While learning a new system on the fly, last year's offense ranked 6th in overall passing yards at 346.8 yards per game and 13th in points scored at 37.6, so having 8 total pieces back and an extra year under their belts is troubling, to say the least.  Defensively, the Mountaineers aren't going to put too many scares into anyone, returning  7 starters from a unit that gave up 27 points per game last year, but in a Big 12 league where the object is simply to score a bit more than the other team, they should fit in just fine.  Oklahoma will be the favorite, but you'd have to imagine WVU is 1B to their 1A with the Frogs being a slightly lagging 2.  The Mountaineers have a favorable schedule as well, getting Oklahoma, Kansas State and TCU in Morgantown with an early October trip to Austin being the biggest road hurdle unless you count OSU, which you really shouldn't.  My favorite part of their schedule, though?  In the "must win" scenario of scheduling a homecoming game, the Mountaineers chose, you guessed it, the Baylor Bears.  Well played, WVU, well played.  Many have marked their calendars for the first weekend in December and the TCU/OU game for deciding the Big 12 title; truth be told, WVU may have had their say in the matter well before then.  

Miscellania:  You might be familiar with Dana Holgorsen's on-field reputation- he is of the Hal Mumme/Mike Leach "Air Raid" tree starting at Valdosta State and riding the rails with Leach at Tech before jumping to Houston and then Oklahoma State.  You also might be familiar with Holgo's off-field rep, namely the events at the Mardi Gras Casino last spring where he apparently stayed up past his bedtime and he was not interested in hitting the sack, resulting in a forced removal.  Come on, pigs - you can't interrupt a hot roll!!  But it gets better;  in the ultimate act of shitting where you eat, non-Petrino division, Holgorsen was reportedly banned from the bar at the hotel where he was living in Morgantown.  If you can't drink in the confines of your home home, where CAN you drink? And it gets worse as Holgorsen reportedly had five previous alcohol related run-ins with Johnny Law prior to that, including one when he was coaching Houston but was in town for a game, although most of them are casino related.  Seriously, Rain Man, get your act together.  It would appear that Holgorsen has grew up a bit after he was given the keys to the castle, but you have to imagine given the tenuous circumstances under which he was given control, Andrew Luck's dad was a bit concerned with his hiring choice.  That shows you just how little faith they had in Bill Stewart.  Also, WVU once employed Bobby Bowden before he foghorn leghorned his way down to Tallahassee.  The more you know....

Big 12 Orientation, Week 1: West Virginia


In the weeks leading up to TCU's official move to the Big 12, on July 1, we'll be introducing you to each of the Frogs new (and old/new) conference rivals by dedicating a week to each of them.  Over the course of the week, we'll bring you up to date on many aspects of each university- including their athletic teams, their fanbase and anything else we feel like you'll need to know before the Frogs begin playing them on an annual basis.

We start with the other newcomer to the conference, the West Fuckin' Virginia Mountaineers.  WVU, unlike many of the other flagship state universities in the Big 12 that have  "U" said last in conversational references to the school, is correct.  West Virginia University was founded in 1867 and has always been located in Morgantown, WV.  It has a student body of about 29,000 and has an endowment of $405 million.  It has produced 25 Rhodes Scholars and ranks #164 on the US News & World Report list of best colleges in America.

Athletically, the Mountaineers ranked 40th in last year's NACDA Directors' Cup standings, and have placed as high as #37 (in 2009-10).  The Big 12 will be their fourth conference home, having previously been a member of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in the 1920s, the Southern Conference in the 1950s and '60s and the Big East since 1991.  They have spent much of their existence, at least on the football side, as independents. 

As a fan base, Mountaineer fans have quite the reputation of being wild, crazy and inhospitable to outsiders.  Their most notable traditions include their human Mountaineer mascot, the carpet roll to introduce their basketball team to the court, and of course- burning couches. 

Stick around for plenty more about West Virginia as the week goes on, but first a video to give you a first impression:




TCU-San Diego State recap

I couldn't find a photo from the series, so this one will have to do




The rebound that TCU has been on in the second half of the season continued with this weekend, despite the Frogs having a second win streak snapped at nine game.  The 2-1 series win over San Diego State came on the same field that the MWC Tournament will be played on in May.  Now that they've improved their overall record to 23-14 and seen their RPI continue to inch forward, that tournament may not be the difference between another NCAA Tournament berth and sitting home- but that will depend on how they can close out the regular season, starting with a very important non-conference game against A&M tomorrow night at Lupton.

 Neither Andrew Mitchell nor Stefan Crichton had their strongest outings of the season, but there is still good news in the starting pitching rotation.  As the weeks go on it becomes more and more apparent that Preston Morrison is the best newcomer on this year's team.  In Saturday's win, Morrison tossed 7 full innings, giving up just 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 7 while not walking a batter.  For the season, he is now 6-0 with a 1.35 ERA with the second-most innings pitched on the team.  Opposing batters are hitting just .197 against him, and he has walked just 6 batters all season- compared with 40 strike outs.

Offensively, the Frogs hammered out 27 hits over the weekend (7 of them for extra bases) to improve their team batting average just a bit up to .249.  They were led by senior Jason Coats, who went 6-for-13 on the weekend with 2 doubles and 4 total runs batted in- at least one in all three contests.

Up next is a sold-out Tuesday night home game against Texas A&M, who comes in with a record of 28-12 and an RPI of #18- meaning the Frogs can earn some much-needed respect from both the computers and human poll voters with a win over the Aggies.

Morning Dump

Baseball:

San Diego State snaps TCU's win streak Star-Telegram

Rally falls short in 5-3 loss to SDSU gofrogs.com


Golf:

TCU women repeat as MWC Champions, Sanna Nuutinen wins individual title gofrogs.com

Johan De Beer earns Top 5 finish at Boilermaker Invitational gofrogs.com

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Happy San Jacinto Day

It was on this day in 1836 that Sam Houston and his Texas Army launched a severely deadly 18-minute attack on Santa Anna's Mexican troops at San Jacinto, providing the decisive blow in Texas' fight for independence.  If Ed K were still around, I'm sure he'd tell you all in his condescending way that April 21st is actually insignificant for some reason, but the rest of us can celebrate with some 'Q and a Lone Star or four.

Elsewhere, the TCU baseball team pushed their winning streak to eight games last night with a 6-1 road win over San Diego State.  Freshman Brandon Finnegan picked up his second win of the season as he combined with Justin Scharf and Kevin Allen on 4⅔ scoreless innings from the bullpen.  Jason Coats led the way offensively by going 3 for 5 with 2 RBI, and Kyle Von Tungeln tied a school record by drawing 5 walks.  With the win, the Frogs pull ahead of New Mexico (who is playing a non-conference series this weekend) for first place in the Mountain West.  Game 2 is tonight at 8:00pm Texas time, with freshman Preston Morrison slated to make the start on the mound.


Stefan Stevenson of the Star-Telegram checked in on Tank Carder as the former Rose Bowl Defensive MVP prepares for next weekend's NFL Draft.  The big take away from that article? Tank has gained 20 pounds of muscle, and is up to 240. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

An exciting announcement

I got caught up doing actual work at work this afternoon, so I'm sorry to report that I won't have a full preview of TCU's big road baseball series against San Diego State. I did, though, finally sign up for the twitter. I'm planning on getting drunk this weekend, so it likely won't be long before I join the likes of Anthony Weiner, Courtney Love or Mike Bacsik in twitter infamy.

I've already got 7 followers, which makes me feel fairly popular, but you can join their ranks by following me @Lyle_MF_Lanley.

Happy Weekend. Go Frogs.

Big Twelve 101

On July 1st, TCU will officially become a member of the Big Twelve. This will reunite the Frogs with a few long-lost conference brethren as well as connect them with a few relative strangers. We'll spend the next 72 days putting you all through a bit of an orientation session to get you ready for the teams- and fanbases- that we'll be dealing with in the new conference. We'll take it school by school, giving you a week to learn all about each new rival. First up next week: West Virginia.

Morning Dump

Football:
TCU has sold 15,700 season tickets with a goal of 30,000 Star-Telegram


Baseball:

Frogs hope to continue hot streak out west
Star-Telegram

TCU heads to San Diego for key conference series gofrogs.com


Basketball:

In terms of landing basketball coaches, SMU thumped TCU Star-Telegram


Other TCU-related news:

TCU official says Big 12 expansion remains a possibility San Antonio Express-News

Armed Forces Bowl returns to TCU campus on December 29th NBC DFW

Schmidt scholarship to boost TCU history department San Antonio Express-News

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Spring Questions revisited: #1

There were a few critics of my choice to make offensive line the #1 question facing the Horned Frogs as they prepared for spring practice. I understand where they were coming from, seeing as the O-Line has been a team strength for a long time and I think we all have confidence that Eddie Williamson is going to find some warriors to control the line of scrimmage. But until he's found those warriors, the entire TCU offense- which has enormous potential with all of the returning backs and receivers- hinges on developing the next great set of "big uglies".

The good news is that, of any position group, the offensive line appears to have gelled the most this spring. Center James Fry and right guard Blaize Foltz, both seniors and returning starters, anchor the interior where they'll be joined by junior left guard John Wooldridge. On the outside, sophomore Tayo Fabuluje appears to have earned the starting job at right tackle and junior James Dunbar looks to be the starting left tackle. It should be noted that Dunbar was also the starting left tackle at this time last year before eventually losing that job to Jeff Olson while battling some academic issues- but for the most part, this starting five appears to be solid.

The even better news is that one of the names we heard Patterson praising the most this spring is a back up offensive lineman. Junior Eric Tausch, seen in the photo above playing center, was mentioned frequently for having had an outstanding spring. He was already seen as a quality understudy for Fry in the middle of the line, but also filled in admirably for Fabuluje at right tackle when the BYU transfer missed a few practices due to some travel complications at the end of spring break. That versatility is likely to pay off with significant playing time this fall.

In terms of depth on the line, Patterson stated "We get five starters plus Tausch. That gives us six. I told you we have to get to eight.”

Two strong candidates to fill those other two slots missed at least a portion of the spring-sophomore Michael Thompson and redshirt freshman Bobby Thompson- no relation. Both are big and were recruits that excited the coaching staff upon signing with TCU, and Michael played very well as a freshman last fall before succumbing to a knee injury.

While both of the Thompsons continue to get healthy, guys like senior Trevius Jones, sophomore Nykiren Wellingotn and redshirt freshmen Carter Wall, Brady Foltz and Jamelle Naff got a chance to show their merit. There wasn't much coming out of Patterson in regards to these guys, so the depth of the O-line may remain a question for a bit long- but overall, this was a very productive spring for the guys up front.

High Speed Chase! Live!



Is your money on peaceful resolution, or bloody shoot-out?

Daily Discussion Question: Trent Johnson vs. Larry Brown.

If Brown wears that sweater on the sidelines in Dallas, I redact my skepticism.

By now you're likely aware that Larry Brown is probably going to be the next head coach at SMU.  I say probably because no contract has been signed and when we're talking about SMU coaches it's not like anyone on the current payroll has had a job offer pulled at the 11th hour or anything.  But, barring a relatively shocking turn of events, the 72 year old Brown is going to break back into the college basketball coaching ranks nearly 25 years after he broke out.  SMU targeted Brown fairly early and, after realizing their gobs of money weren't going to buy anyone better, finally tendered an offer over a month after starting their entire search.

So now that both TCU and SMU have made overpaying, questionable hires to upgrade their basketball programs, naturally the question becomes:  Who made the better hire?  lyle and I offered up our opinions last week regarding the hiring of Trent Johnson, but what should we make of SMU's hiring of Brown?

Personally, I'd give the hiring edge here to SMU if only because Brown is a big name and Johnson brings absolutely 0 WOW factor on the surface, but I don't think the gap is as wide as you might think.  You can't argue against Brown's credentials - the man won a National title at Kansas , has coached in 3 Final Fours and never missed the Dance during his 7 years in Lawrence and at UCLA.  Of course, those come with caveats as he left Kansas chock full of recruiting violations and his success at UCLA was later vacated, but it's not like SMU's entire athletic department nearly spontaneously combusted due to cheating the NCAA, so I'm sure they'll be fine. And besides that, I'm sure he's spent his 25 years away from the game viciously studying the NCAA rule book in order to not repeat his past mistakes.

You also can't argue Brown's commitment to the job; after all, he's 72 years old and has only held 13 jobs in 40 years, so based on that track record I'm sure he's planning to retire older and grayer at SMU.  He's clearly never used his current job as a springboard to something better and I'm sure the reports that he's been attempting to leverage the SMU offer into an NBA GM position are completely unfounded based on his history.  At an average of a whopping 3 years per job, it'd be unfair to say he has wandering eyes.

But perhaps the most interesting thing about SMU's hiring of Brown is the thing that is reportedly holding up consummation of the deal - Brown is working on hiring a current NCAA head coach as his coach in waiting as well as a crack team of assistants and recruiters.  Now, clearly this is the only way to handle the situation - Brown is old, Brown is likely giving SMU two years of his time TOPS, and Brown hasn't recruited in 25 years so he's going to need a fresh perspective/legs to do the heavy lifting.  In fact, it could be argued that Brown hasn't recruited much at all;  He was only an NCAA coach for 7 years and his time was spent at UCLA and Kansas, two historically great basketball programs that mostly recruit themselves.  Recruiting basketball at SMU is perhaps even harder than recruiting basketball at TCU.  Is a 72 year old man who has spent the last 25 years out of the NCAA going to be up for the task?  Clearly SMU doesn't think so.

The name reportedly being tossed around for his CIW is current Illinois State Head Coach Tim Jankovich.  Despite never really having his name called for a bigger job opening in the past, Jankovich is probably a pretty good hire;  He has had success at Illinois State, a school with zero basketball tradition, and he once was the head man at UNT, so he's at least familiar with the area.  Brown is also reportedly looking to hire Jerrance Howard, an ace recruiter left behind when Bruce Weber was fired at Illinois.  But here's my question:  If SMU is going to bring a coach in waiting on board, knowing that Brown isn't in it for the long haul, why pay Brown $2 million annually in order to hire a coach that wasn't on your radar in the first place and probably wouldn't be on your radar otherwise?  Or, on the flip side, knowing that he is going to eventually be your coach whether you like it or not, just hire him outright?  I suppose this is a chicken or the egg argument in that would SMU be able to attract these proposed coaches without Brown's name being attached to it, but lets' be realistic.  SMU isn't an attractive gig, but I guarantee you that for the amount of money SMU has been tossing around, a guy like Jankovich would listen for even half of what they're reportedly offering Brown.  If Jankovich is your end game, why not nip it in the bud and spend the money elsewhere?  It'd be a cutthroat, dick move, but come on, this is SMU we're talking about!  Integrity was never going to enter the equation.

But maybe this is the problem:  Didn't SMU kind of handcuff themselves by making it publicly known that they were willing to offer $2 million a year to coach their basketball team?  And, with that knowledge, wouldn't you have to be an absolute idiot to take the job for a cent less than that, no matter who you are? So, after striking out with the hot names like Tommy Amaker, Buzz Williams, etc, didn't SMU pretty much have to hire a name coach in order to appease the boosters who were ponying up that salary? It pretty much became Larry Brown or bust and, while he's going to make an immediate splash just because of his resume, his long term impact seems remarkably overstated.  As much as SMU thinks that a Coach puts butts in the seats and changes their fortunes, unless he's successful immediately, that won't be the case for Larry Brown.  June Jones, the most successful SMU coach in 30 years, still can't do it and, despite being comfortable financially, tried to bolt just last year for a mid-tier Pac 12 job.  If Brown has a rough first season and the fans don't come out, you can probably kiss him goodbye, and then where are you?

Until proven otherwise, Trent Johnson is an uninspiring hire.  He doesn't ignite the fan base, he's run off all of Christian's assistants putting TCU's recruiting class in jeopardy despite recruiting being a major knock on him and the current team hasn't exactly sounded thrilled with the hire.   But, as much as Larry Brown's coaching acumen has rightfully been lauded, check his track record - he's left over half the teams he has coached worse off than when he started.  His most recent gig with the Charlotte Bobcats ended after he started the season 9-19 with a team that was so incredibly tuned out even the incompetentest of incompetent GMs, Michael Jordan, recognized it.  So while success with Trent Johnson is by no means guaranteed, and probably a little unlikely, it's also possible that Larry Brown could leave SMU just as he found them as well, if not worse.  The man knows his basketball, that much is for certain, but as a 72 year old can he relate to an NCAA athlete who may not have been born the last time he was in the college ranks?

So with that said, would you rather be paying Trent Johnson $1.3 million a year knowing that he has built a program at Nevada, was the last coach to take Stanford to the NCAA Tournament and will be around five years from now? Or pay Larry Brown $2 million for a couple of years all for the right to hire Illinois State's head coach down the road?  You'll probably still say take a chance with Brown, but it's not as clear cut as you think, is it?

Opinions, give them to us.

Morning Dump

Football:

Tennis:

Golf:

Track:

Basketball:

Athletic Department:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spring Questions revisited: #2

There are a lot of reasons why safety was the #2 question facing the Frogs heading into spring practice. For one, the secondary was not quite a team strength for the team last fall, despite the improvement they showed toward the end of the season. Secondly, it's no secret that the three safeties in GP's 4-2-5 play a vital role in determining whether or not the scheme will succeed. Then, if you look at TCU's current roster of safeties, you'll see no seniors and only 2 juniors- meaning this is a very young unit at such an important position.

Sophomore Jonathan Anderson, who really started to shine at the end of last year, was the projected starter at weak safety heading into spring. Many fans were speculating that he would become a star in the secondary and possibly a leader for the defense. This may be another situation where Patterson is simply trying to motivate a young player to fulfill his potential, but the coach did not have much praise for Anderson's (or his back up, junior Trenton Thomas') spring performance:

"I am not happy with that position (weak safety) yet at all by either one of them. I'm glad we have three more safeties and (redshirt freshman) Quincy (Aldridge) will be back (from injuiry) so you'll have four more safeties."

There was definitely more praise to go around at free safety, but it's not quite clear who will be starting at that position this fall. Former cornerback and junior Elisha Olabode entered the spring as the #1 free, followed by highly-touted redshirt freshman Chris Hackett. At one point, Patterson stated that Hackett had moved ahead of Olabode- but we're not sure if that was temporary or not. He did say that both were starting to fill the role of "QB of the defense" that free safety is supposed to be. Geoff Hooker, a sophomore former walk-on, also drew praise from Patterson and should get playing time this fall- whether it is at free or one of the other safety spots.

Sophomore Sam Carter entered the spring as the tentative starter at strong safety, and appears to have held that position despite a strong push by fellow sophomore Antonio Graves, who has finally landed at strong safety after several position changes on both sides of the ball. Redshirt freshmen James Bailey and Jamie Byrd look to be their main competition for playing time.

In the end, I'd put safety as one of the pre-spring questions to which we did not get a definitive answer. Maybe that's because they have a new (old) position coach after Chad Glasgow came back over from Tech and they are still being evaluated by him. Maybe the competition is too stiff to have declared outright starters at the three positions...maybe the overall performance of the safeties was so lackluster that no one really shined. Or maybe this is just the result of a super-secretive head coach who is being intentionally vague with the information he supplies to the public. Either way, safety will definitely be high on the list of questions over the summer.