FORT WORTH, Texas -- For the first time in 48 years, since former quarterback Sonny Gibbs tossed the pigskin, the TCU Horned Frogs, represented by senior quarterback Andy Dalton, grace the cover of this week's Sports Illustrated.
Uh-oh, at 10-0 that's bad timing for a cover jinx.
"Well," TCU coach Gary Patterson said, "you'd have to say that for all of them."
Very true. Dalton shares the cover with the Auburn quarterback Cam Newton and Oregon running back LaMichael James (of Texarkana). In order, that would be your No. 3-ranked team in the BCS standings, No. 2 and No. 1. One of those players and their team -- if all finish the regular season undefeated -- will be left out of the national championship game when the big BCS computer spits out its final rankings on Dec. 5.
The magazine's featured article deals with college football's lack of a playoff system.
After all, without a playoff, how does anyone truly know which one of these top teams -- and include Boise State among them -- is actually the best?
"You don't," said Patterson, who has never come out in favor of a playoff system and won't until he sees a clear-cut and fair plan for all. "But, for the Boise States and TCUs of the world, when you talk about a playoff, you also have to talk [about if there] is a formula that we'd get an easier chance to get into that playoff than we have now getting into a BCS game.
"When somebody shows me an easier path because of the kind of team you have to get into, whether it's a playoff or BCS system, whatever it is, until then, I have to support the system that we have."
As long as TCU wins its final two games, that system could leave an undefeated Boise State team out of the BCS all together. However, because the major conferences all seem to be experiencing down seasons and conferences like the Big 12 will likely send just one and not two teams to the BCS, the Broncos will likely get in if unbeaten. Still, there's no guarantee.
The system that we have also often forces coaches to publicly plead their cases in hopes of swaying voters that they're more deserving of a national title game appearance than the other guy. As of today, TCU would seemingly need either Oregon or Auburn to lose. Even if one does, a great debate will ensue whether a once-beaten major-conference team is more deserving than an undefeated TCU or Boise.
Patterson said he will stump for his Frogs, but only if they complete the regular season on Nov. 27 with a 12-0 record for the second consecutive season.
"Like I've told people, I'll evaluate, I'll look at however many unbeaten teams are left and if I think that we belong -- and I'd be a little bit biased probably like every head coach would be -- but, I've always been pretty honest about how we do things," Patterson said. "And I'll say that I think we can [compete for the national championship] or I'll say we can't and we'll go from there.
"I can tell you this much, I've told people you never want to get to a national championship game if you don't have a team that doesn't belong in there. I don't think there's any coach in America that wants to play in that ballgame that when they get there, they can't compete."
Bet the house that Patterson believes right now that his Frogs most surely can compete.