Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New locker room coming along

Earlier this afternoon, TCU Media Relations director Mark Cohen (@tcusid) tweeted this picture of the progress being made on the football team's new locker room.  My guess is that, when they're finished, there won't be a program anywhere else in the country that can snub their noses at the flush accommodations provided to TCU football players. 

Big 12 Orientation, Week 9: UT-Austin Basketball.


UT-Au Basketball At-A-Glance:

  • Team Founded in 1906.
  • 1638-962 Overall Record.
  • 0 Natty Titles.
  • 3 Final Fours (1943, 1947, 2003).
  • 7 Elite Eight Appearances.
  • 10 Sweet Sixteen Appearances.
  • 28 NCAA Tournament Berths.
  • 0 Big 12 Tourney Titles.
  • 3 Big 12 Regular Season Titles.
  • 1 Squandered Kevin Durant Opportunity.
History with TCU:  The Horns and Frogs have met 161 times with the Horns winning 99 of those matchups.  Believe it or not, UT hasn't done TCU any scheduling favors in basketball either, with the only post-SWC meeting happening in 2008, an 8 point UT win.  That's all I got.

Famous Ex-Longhorns:
  • Durant, but not his fake glasses.
  • TJ Ford, back before he was a walking insurance claim.
  • Lamarcus Aldridge, Portlandia's Own.
  • Meh.
Recent History:  UT used to be good at basketball, but for whatever reason Rick Barnes has never been able to put it all together, with his only Final Four appearance coming in 2003 during the TJ Ford era.  Now we have their downturn to think for Baylor's rise.  Also, cheating.  LOTS of cheating.  However, to his credit the team has never missed the NCAA's since he arrived on campus in 1998, most recently bowing out in round 1.  That's been a bit of a common thread for his teams:  In the 13 times UT has gone to the Dance with Barnes, only 5 times have they survived opening weekend.  Clearly we'd kill for that kind of consistency, but UT has the arrogant attitude that they should win every sport no matter the circumstance, so Barnes' days could be numbered.  Stay tuned.

2012 Outlook:  Last year's UT squad managed a 20-14 overall record and an even 9-9 split in Conference, good enough for 6th place in the Big 12.  They were then dismissed by 6 seed Cincinnati in the opening round of the East Regional of the NCAA Tournament.  The team was young with only 2 Seniors, but after watching Kentucky win the whole thing with freshmen, you can't really use that as an excuse anymore.  That said, it's a positive for the Longhorns that they only lose 2 Seniors to graduation, although losing leading scorer J'Covan Brown as an early entrant to the NBA draft certainly hurts.  However, they do return guards Sheldon Brown and Myck Kabongo, both true freshmen last year who will have a full year under their belts.  Hopefully they will learn to share the ball a little more because being ranked 200+ in assists won't cut it without a star player.  Both were members of Rivals 8th ranked recruiting class for 2011, along with 4 others and combined with this past year's 11th ranked unit, UT could be dangerous.   If they play to their potential, good things could happen, but, come on, this is UT we're talking about! They NEVER play to their potential!  It's why we love them.   The Conference will be Baylor and Kansas' to lose, and TCU's to REALLY lose.

Miscellania:  Have you ever seen someone at precisely the moment of retirement?  Do you want to?  WATCH!

Jersey # changes

The official roster on gofrogs.com has been updated today, and you might want to pay attention unless you want to be one of those fans who has to thumb through their game programs after every play to figure out which players were involved. First the returning players who have changed jersey numbers:

-Taylo Fabuluje: # 59 (was #69).  The sophomore transfer from BYU that is expected to start at left tackle subtracted 10 from his old number, and will now join right tackle James Dunbar (#56) in bookending the offensive line with numbers in the 50s.

-Cliff Murphy: # 43 (was #98).  Murphy hasn't seen much playing time in his first few years on campus,  so perhaps switching to Tank Carder's old number will be a fortuitous move.  It might look a little odd at defensive end, but then again #43 doesn't really look normal anywhere and look how well it worked for Tank!

-Geoff Hooker: # 30 (was #16).  Hooker, who got more and more playing time on special teams as last season wore on, now has a more traditional number for a safety.  He'll be sharing 30 with senior running back Aundre Dean this season.

-Jamelle Naff: # 77 (was #76).  A year older and one number better, huh?  Naff, a redshirt freshman who will provide depth on the interior of the offensive line, switched back to the number he wore at Del City High School in the Oklahoma City area.

-Chris Kim: # 32 (was #36).  Kim, a junior walk-on safety who has appeared in just one game in his career, has perhaps the most perplexing jersey number change.  He switches from #36- a number that was suddenly solely his after Deryck Gildon's departure- to #32, which he'll share with Waymon James.  That means he can't serve on any special teams unit (such as kick return) that James is as well.

Here are the jersey numbers being worn by the incoming freshmen and other newcomers:

# 4 Jordan Moore.  Asking to share a jersey number with the star quarterback? Bold move!  But he was granted his request, so maybe the coaching staff likes what they've seen so far from the safety from Georgia.

# 6 Deante' Grey.  The speedy wide receiver (he was a state finalist in the 100m) from Houston Westside will be sharing a jersey number with junior safety Elisha Olabode. 

# 7 Kolby Listenbee. The former QB from Arlington Bowie enrolled early and wore this number during spring practice, when it would appear that he earned himself some playing time for this fall.

# 9 Josh Doctson. After transferring in from Wyoming, Doctson wore #87 during spring practice.  He now changes to a number he'll share with redshirt freshman safety Jamie Byrd, but he'll have to sit out a year before hitting the field in a game for TCU.

# 18 Keivon Gamble. Expected to compete for playing time at corner immediately, this JUCO transfer took Quentily Harmon's number when he enrolled in the spring.

#20 Aaron Green.  The transfer running back from Nebraska, who will have to sit out this year before being eligible to play as a sophomore at TCU in 2013, will tack a 0 behind the #2 he wore in Lincoln and at Madison High in San Antonio.  

# 21 Zach Jackson.  The other part of the Peach Tree State safety duo the Frogs inked in February, Jackson took #21 since his high school number (#45) has been retired by TCU.

# 23 BJ Catalon.  Expect to see a lot of this number in the fall.  The early enrollee should get the ball quite a bit wearing Aaron Brown's old number after Ed Wesley's departure.

# 31 Derrick Kindred.  He'll have to share it with senior punter Cale Patterson for a year, but then Kindred can create his own legacy with #31.

# 33 Jaden Oberkrom.  He's expected to compete for the starting place kicker job, so #33 will likely be a number that evokes a wide range of emotions from Frog fans. 

# 37 Ethan Perry.  This wasn't a popular number to be seen trotting onto the field last year, and that won't change now.  Nothing against Perry...we just hope the Frogs aren't having to punt very often!

# 40 James McFarland.  Were you still wondering whether he'd play LB or DE?  This should clear that up for you.

# 46 AJ Hilliard.  What a great number for what we expect to be the next big thing at LB for the Frogs- it worked pretty well for David Hawthorne, didn't it?  And it'll provide a measure of continuity for Hilliard, since he wore it at Klein Oak too.

#47 Paul "PJ Dawson.  The JUCO transfer, who will be eligible immediately, was also given a classically awkward number like so many of the highly-successful TCU linebackers under Patterson. 

# 69 Aviante Collins.  This was the number given to Tayo Fabuluje last fall, and now a year later he's starting at left tackle.  Is this a good omen for Collins?

# 74 Halapoulivaati Vaitai.  This is the same number he wore playing tackle at Haltom High.  Don't worry about pronouncing his name- you can just call him "Big V"

# 76 Chad Childs.  A four-year starter at La Grange, Childs is expected to be a force on the interior of the offensive line in coming years.  Wearing Jake Kirkpatrick's number ought to give him some motivation.

# 83 Gerren Ballard.  Good, solid number for this intriguingly athletic tight end prospect.

# 87 Griffin Gilbert.  He wore #7 as a high school senior at Lake Travis, but for now at least they'll slap an 8 in front of that as they figure out whether he'll play wide receiver or tight end.

# 94 Joey Hunt.  Thought you'd miss seeing #94 in the middle of the defensive line this year?  I'm not saying Hunt will replace DJ Yendrey, but he may just get some PT as a true freshman.

# 95 Devonte Fields.  He wore #18 at Arlington Martin, but #95 seems much more fitting for the NFL-caliber defensive end he's expected to blossom into quickly.

# 98 Josh Carraway.  He's a bit undersized but crazy athletic and tenacious for a defensive end...just like Jerry Hughes...who also wore #98.  I like it.

# 99 Terrell Lathan.  He arrived on campus at 6'5" and 260lbs.  He needs a big number!

Of course, this round of jersey number assignments did not include incoming freshman running back LeDarius Anthony, who has not enrolled just yet.  There are still some prime jersey numbers not claimed by anyone- like #'s 1, 13, 22, 26, 34, 35, 36, 48, 62, 78 and 79.  Anthony, along with any incoming walk-on's as well as guys that are currently sharing numbers, will have those to choose from. 

Daily Discussion: Playoff Format

Slowly but surely, the things we dreamed about in years past are starting to come to fruition. The Frogs got their long-deserved spot in the Big 12, people carry around computers in their pockets and Julia Louis-Dreyfuss finally found a watchable post-Seinfeld role.  Flying cars still seem like they're a ways off, but a college football playoff seems as if it is coming sooner than later.

One problem, though: the powers that be can't decide on a format. Unfortunately, most of the folks who actually have a say in this discussion are focused on dollar signs instead of what would be best for college football as a whole.

The Big Ten and Pac 12, due to their long-time affiliation with the Rose Bowl, would prefer a plus-one format that would preserve the traditional bowl schedule.  In that scenario, two teams would be chosen to play in a national title game after the bowl games.  While I'm sure there would be provisions to allow Notre Dame or teams from other conferences to play for the title if they deserved a shot, this seems to me like it is just cutting the number of conferences on the inside of the championship eligibility criterion from six in the current BCS to four.  That would ostensibly make the Big Ten champ vs. the Pac 12 champ in the Rose Bowl one national semifinal, and the Big 12 champ vs. the SEC champ in the recently proposed "Champions Bowl" the other.  I know TCU would be on the inside of this system, but I still think it reeks of the kind of exclusivity that limits the full potential of college football nationwide.

If the Big 12 and SEC had their way, though, there would be a true four-team playoff with conference affiliation- and conference championship status- having no bearing on who is chosen to participate.  While this "open" format could be spun as being fair to everyone, the intent is not nearly as altruistic.  The folks in SEC country, of course, believe that their 10th or 11th place team could beat any other conference's champion with their freshmen and a few swoopy-haired and bourbon-breathed frat boys out of the bleachers.  They'd like nothing more than an all-SEC field, but would likely settle for 2-3 SEC teams getting in any given year.  I understand that they want to look out for their own bottom line, but I'd also hope that people who had risen to positions of such power could also have the ability to think a little more globally.  It's hard to argue against the four best teams being included in the playoff field, but doesn't that make the conference championships (not to mention the regular season) fairly pointless?  And aren't those championship games the reason for expanding conference to twelve or more teams in the first place? 

As a college football fan that just wants to watch as many highly-compelling games as possible during the season, I'd like to see a four (and maybe eventually eight) team playoff featuring only conference champions.  I fully understand that the second-place team in the SEC is probably a better title contender than, say, the champion of the Pac 12 in a down year.  I also understand that a championship-caliber TCU team could potentially finish 2nd in the Big 12 and be left out.  If that were to happen, I'm sure I'd be mad.  But I think there is something to the thought of protecting the integrity of the regular season and the sanctity of a conference championship.  Limiting the playoff field to only conference championships not only makes every game count the way they have under the old bowl structure and the BCS, it's also much healthier for college football as a whole.  Providing access to a potential championship to more teams will equal increased fan support at a higher number of schools which will in turn provide more scholarships for young student-athletes.  Isn't that the real purpose of this whole thing?

So let's say you're suddenly given the role of college football playoff czar.  How would you set it up? How many teams would be involved?  How would you preserve the bowl games, if at all?  Which of the playoff formats favored by the real-life power brokers is most appealing to you?

Morning Dump

LT retires:

Coaches and players admire Tomlinson for worth ethic, character Star-Telegram

Tomlinson leaves a lasting legacy in Fort Worth and San Diego Star-Telegram

Tomlinson's greatest gifts still giving San Diego Union-Tribune

Tomlinson: "I feel like I'm graduating" Washington Post

Tomlinson, one of the best backs in NFL history, officially retires New York Daily News

Where does LT rank among the all-time great running backs? Los Angeles Times

Other sports:

Big 12 represents new challenge for TCU women's hoops Star-Telegram

TCU rifle signs trio of new shooters gofrogs.com

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