NCF Nation: Cowboys Classic

1. As a guy with Texas roots who was coaching at Louisiana Tech, Sonny Dykes didn’t seem as if he would be the right fit at California, and that’s before the subject of his spread offense even came up. But as Pac-12 blogger Ted Miller explains on the ESPNU College Football Podcast posting today, Dykes, who ran the offense for Mike Stoops at Arizona, wanted back into the conference. He likes the perspective in which the West Coast holds college football. I bet Dykes fits in just fine.

2. Three cheers for the plus-one’s ability to force the big-name schools to play one another. For the past three months, one intersectional game after another has been announced. The demand for schedule strength convinced Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez to send the Badgers to play Alabama in the 2015 Cowboys Classic. That will make six times in eight seasons that the Crimson Tide has opened in a “preseason bowl.” Alabama coach Nick Saban understood the value of these games from the start.

3. The decision by the NCAA Board of Directors to suspend two rules that would have deregulated recruiting is a victory for common sense. The special committee rewriting the NCAA Manual pushed the deregulation through without hearing from football coaches. All of the NCAA hierarchy has heard the coaches now. Ignoring coaches is a longstanding tradition of NCAA policy. For years, it was the progressive thing to do. Coaches fought change. But this deregulation, which would have set off an arms race in recruiting, went too far. Kudos to the NCAA for figuring that out before the rules went into effect.
TCU knows how to win season openers against BCS opponents. Another big challenge looms in the kickoff to 2010 when the Horned Frogs play Oregon State in the Cowboys Classic on Sept 4.

The Horned Frogs are undefeated in their past five season openers. Four of those came against BCS teams. One came in a huge upset over No. 7 Oklahoma, 17-10 in 2005.

But this season has the most riding on it. TCU figures to enter the game ranked in the preseason Top 10 after returning 16 starters from a 12-1 team that made the Fiesta Bowl. Expectations are sky high, and a loss to start off the year would kill any slim chance they have of busting into the BCS national title game.

“The thing that I would say is the team that does win ends up with a great jump start,” TCU coach Gary Patterson said on a joint conference call with Oregon State coach Mike Riley on Tuesday.

Still, Patterson likes to tamp down expectations, saying the results of 2009 are wiped out regardless of how many players they have returning. The players “know in our pyramid you have to start at the bottom and work your way up,” Patterson said.

For Oregon State, there are risks, too, especially since the non-conference schedule already featured a game at Boise State before the school was approached in the spring about playing TCU at Cowboys Stadium in a primetime game on ESPN.

“You learn more about yourself in a game like this than other games you might play,” Riley said. “For us, it’s really important for the development of the identity of this team. That’s why for me, it’s daunting, but it’s great for the Beavers to be involved in a game like this.”