New names, same goals on TCU pyramid

FORT WORTH, Texas — Inside TCU's team meeting room, an all-white triangle awaits some new colors come fall.

Well, one new color if the 2012 season goes TCU's way.

At the bottom sits the small things like keeping teammates accountable. Maybe its a rep in practice or on the bench press. He wants chemistry and a family atmosphere, as well as a good attitude.

Do that, and you've established the bottom rung of Gary Patterson's famed pyramid. The white base earns a full purple coat.

Above it comes a call to prepare in game weeks, a demand for mental toughness and a tradition of physical play that TCU has built its program upon.

Players sign the outside to show a promise of commitment to what the pyramid imposes.

This year, though, things are a little different.

The names of TCU's nonconference opponents — Grambling, SMU and Virginia — sit below a demand for the Horned Frogs to "Leave No Doubt."

Around Fort Worth, Patterson's Pyramid is a well-known commodity. Across the Big 12, though, get to know it well. You might not see it in person, but TCU's opponents will see its results. And in the past, they've been excellent.

If TCU suffers a loss, the purple triangle gets an ugly white block in the middle.

At the top sits a call: Go to a BCS bowl game and win.

TCU accomplished that in the 2010 season. Above that, though, sits one final goal: "#1 National Champions."

TCU strung together a 13-0 season in 2010 after beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, but was denied a chance to play for the title by the BCS.

After returning home, Patterson couldn't rob his team of what it had achieved. It did everything it could.

Patterson colored in the top triangle to cheers and framed the all-purple pyramid, hanging it outside his office in the football facility.

In conference play, though, there's a new list of teams — certainly one that's welcomed. It's tougher. TCU's slogan for 2012 — it's hanging above the pyramid in purple print — is "Make It Personal."

Protecting home turf in conference play takes up the next level of the pyramid with a list of each opponent who will suit up at a rebuilt Amon G. Carter Stadium.

Teams that win big do it on the road. Conference road games take up the higher block on the pyramid.

Simple postseason goals — get to a bowl game, win and earn a top-25 postseason ranking — make up the block before the biggest goals.

The time to achieve those will come in September. For now, TCU is working on the building blocks while the pyramid remains white.

"We’ve got a long ways to go to get where we want to get to. The only way we’re going to get there is hard work, keep our nose down, understand we play one game at a time, just like we always have on the pyramid," Patterson said.

"But the top and the bottom have never changed."

TCU's means to reach the top, though?

Thanks to a new league home, they're more than they've ever been for Patterson.