Thursday, February 9, 2012
Introducing TCU to its home in the Big 12
By Andrea Adelson and David Ubben
The Horned Frogs move to the Big 12 next season, an AQ conference with a perfect geographic fit.
We'll cap our moving week by introducing a new team to the big stage: TCU, welcome to the Big 12.
Our former Southwest Conference teams surely remember the Horned Frogs, but it's time to get everyone acquainted. To help me out, we've got College Nation blogger Andrea Adelson.
David Ubben: Andrea, you've been around this program the last year or so. Most fans won't have to travel far when they make it to the newly renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium, but what can they expect for a game-day experience?
Andrea Adelson: TCU might not have a stadium as big as Texas or Oklahoma, but fans sure get loud and provide a really good home-field advantage. The Horned Frogs have won 26 of their last 27 home games, and coach Gary Patterson has lost only seven times there in his 11 seasons as head coach. The newly renovated stadium should provide even more of a home-field advantage as the student section has now been reconfigured to run goal line to goal line behind the opponent bench. Students typically get dressed up all in purple and there is one spirit organization known as the HyperFrogs that leads chants throughout the game to get everybody fired up. Word is that playing a full slate of Big 12 competition is going to spur even more excitement at games and lead to many more sellouts.
DU: I'm excited to see it. I've done baseball and basketball at TCU, but I've never been to a football game. I'll have to end that this year. I'm definitely buying the idea that TCU's attendance issues have been accentuated by some less-than-stellar opponents. I'm not impressed by the home record, though.
The Horned Frogs already have their hand signal ready, a signature of Texas teams from that old Southwest Conference, but what's this move, getting reacquainted with some old friends, mean to TCU?
AA: It means everything, David. TCU was so desperate to get into an automatic qualifying conference, it agreed back in 2010 to join the Big East and then tried to tell everybody that geography did not matter and making the move was the perfect fit. The truth is, TCU always had designs on the Big 12, but the league had no interest in the Horned Frogs. Maybe that is because they were viewed as the pesky little brother that needed to be kept locked in his room. But the shifting sands of realignment made it increasingly obvious that TCU was the no-brainer choice to join the Big 12. It is no wonder TCU jumped ship for a conference closer to home without ever having played a down of football in the Big East. The Horned Frogs have finally achieved the goal set when the Southwest Conference broke up -- and it took only three (and a half) league homes to get there.
DU: Yeah, people want to knock TCU for conference jumping, but how can you not when the non-AQ leagues are shifting as much as they have in the past couple of decades. There's no doubt about it: TCU is home. I was at the news conference when they announced the move, and I've never seen so many people in suits wearing enormous smiles.
Big 12 fans may know TCU's combo of quarterback Casey Pachall and receiver Josh Boyce, but who are a few names Big 12 fans should keep an eye out for in 2012?
Ed Wesley and Waymon James are part of TCU's deep running back corps.
AA: TCU has a three-headed running back trio in Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker and Waymon James, and all three return for this season. The three nearly split their carries evenly in 2011 -- each getting over 100 -- and combined for 2,337 yards and 24 touchdown runs. On the defensive side of the ball, watch for DE Stansly Maponga, a first-team Mountain West selection who really blossomed in his sophomore season. Maponga had nine sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles and will be expected to anchor what should be a solid defensive line. I am also going to be intrigued to see how receiver Brandon Carter does in his sophomore season. He did play as a true freshman and had 352 yards and three touchdowns, but bigger things will be expected. He was one of the big gets in the 2011 recruiting class, a four-star prospect out of Euless, Texas.
DU: OU fans may remember Brandon Carter. He was almost a Sooner, but they wanted him to play corner. Safe to say he's feeling good about his decision now.
Time to put you on the spot, AA: Forecast the Horned Frogs' first year in the Big 12. Win total, conference record, bowl game and Big 12 finish.
AA: Without knowing the actual schedule, as in home games and away games, I am going to say at least eight wins and a finish in the top four. So that would project out to Alamo or Insight, and of course that depends on who else is eligible to be selected.
DU: Yeah, the Big 12 isn't really making this one easy on us.
I like what TCU's got coming back. This is a team that could run the table outside of the Big 12, but they may hit a few speed bumps in the transition. I'll say TCU wins nine games, finishes fourth in the Big 12 and heads to the Insight Bowl. Not a bad debut for a program that could see its success sky-rocket in years to come.