When the Southwest Conference broke up, I never thought I'd be writing about any of the teams that didn't join the Big 12 ever again. They were like your high school friend who didn't go to college. You'd bump into him every now and again, but you no longer had anything really to talk about.
But when Raycom ponies up the money for a preview, you put it out there. So consider this the Raycom Southwest Conference football preview-of-the-weak week, and I'm Dave Rowe. Quality and content be damned.
TCU was one of the 3 religious schools of the SWC. Everyone knows what Baylor stands for, or more accurately, what Baylor stands against. SMU was always Dallas Methodist whose loose interpretation of scripture was based on the notion that printing money was a better use of paper. TCU is affiliated with the Christian Church that denies that there is any one denomination or church. They also have open communion allowing any hungry and penitent fan to request free hotdogs from any concession in Amon Carter.
Dutch Meyer inserted TCU football into the national consciousness. Meyer won the national championship in 1938 with an innovative passing offense and a quarterback named Davey O'Brien. Hitler and Goering attended TCU practices, and then unleashed what they learned on Europe the next year. Blitzkrieg is German for 'double wing.'
Then nothing happened for like 40 years.
Jim Wacker briefly resurrected TCU in the mid-80s. After learning that some players were taking money for services rendered, he naively turned the program in to the NCAA and got donkey punched. Nice job by the NCAA at a time when the OU football team was better armed than Hezbollah, and Manucher Ghorbanifar was a backup DB for the Sooners. Unbeleeevable.
Before leaving for Branson to become a Tim Conway impersonator, former coach Pat Sullivan signed a guy named LaDainian Tomlinson. New coach Dennis Franchione came up with a winning formula: LT + defense = teh wins. He left and was replaced by his defensive coordinator, Gary Patterson. Which brings us to the present.
First of all, where the f*ck did Patterson learn to coach defense? His resume reads like a Red Bull promotional tour. UC Davis? The Oregon Lightning Bolts? He figured out that there are a lot of 5'11"/6'0" 215 lb fast guys playing high school ball in Texas, and you could fill a two deep with them. You listening, Art Briles?
Patterson is an intense dude going so far as to squirt a stream of blood from his eye when angered. TCU fans have naturally embraced this. He also plays the guitar and has entertained fans at various pep rallies although he does tire of the constant Deep Purple requests.
TCU went 11-2 last year losing only to Utah and BYU proving that the football gods like the cut of Joseph Smith's jib.
TCU has to replace QBs coach Dick Winder who finally retired. He now spends his days playing Stratego with Carl Reese wondering why Reese continually slams his miners into Winder's front lines. Winder had a knack for getting his second team QB ready to play.
Starting at QB this year will be redshirt freshman Andy Dalton. So what do we know about this 6'3" 220 pound ginger nut? He played at Katy where they have a saying, "Three things happen when you pass, and all of them are bad." He had a good enough arm to get Katy away from what they did best.
Look for sophomore Marcus Jackson to also get some snaps at QB. He led TCU to victory over Baylor last year when starter Jeff Ballard was injured. So? Most Div 1 QBs have a victory over Baylor on their resume. I even have it on my resume along with my proficiency in Microsoft Office and my death being a great honor to the Huron.
Junior Aaron Brown will see if he can carry the full load at running back after splitting carries the past two seasons. He's a receiving threat as well catching 34 passes last year. Some feel he's underrated, but I think he's right where he should be. A solid back for a Top 25 team.
Not much to speak of at wide receiver. Returning starter is Donald Massey, new starter is Ervin Dickerson. Let's pretend he's Eric Dickerson's son so there will be at least something compelling about him.
I've already talked about the line. They only gave up 15 sacks last year, and TCU finished 9th in the country in rushing.
Dick Bumpas is Patterson's defensive coordinator. When not unleashing his hounds on his neighbor's Christmas turkey, he's unleashing his players on hapless offensive coordinators in the Mountain West. He runs a 4-2-5 that uses approximately 23 safeties meant to confuse opponents because he who hesitates is tackled for a loss.
Although their nocturnal activities have frightened more than one guest at the team hotel, these guys aren't cockroaches. Except for starting weak safety David Roach. He has somehow reached a robust 215 while subsisting only on an omnivorous diet of cafeteria crumbs, and he always tries to scamper under a refrigerator whenever the lights come on in the film room. All Mountain West Senior Brian Bonner is back at strong safety. The top four cornerbacks are pretty much all the same guy. Don't believe me? Try to match the player with his height and weight:
1. Nick Sanders
2. Rafael Priest
3. Torrey Stewart
4. Alex Ibiloye
A. 5'11" 175
B. 5'10" 163
C. 6'0" 170
D. 5'10" 174
Yeah, I don't care either.
The stars on the defense are senior ends Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz. And because it's already been said in every TCU preview thus far, I'll say it again. They are arguably the best pair of DEs in the country. Blake is a converted running back who missed 5 practices and 1 scrimmage this August while he went AWOL to his home in Aransas Pass. Patterson coaxed him back with a handful of bleached sand dollars and a plastic shovel and pail. Projectd DT starter James Vess was suspended for the year so he'll be replaced by freshman coed Kelly Griffin. Her MySpace page says she is really excited about the opportunity, but she hopes her football pants don't make her look fat. The other DT is one of two starters from Comfort on TCU's roster. Seriously?
The top 3 linebacker return from last year's team. The MLB is Jason Phillips, a former high school quarterback from Waller. Like Dwight Kirkpatrick or something. Senior SLB David Hawthorne calls the defensive front, and his backup, Robert Henson, has over 130 tackles the past two seasons. Both can run.
It's an exciting time to be a TCU fan. The Horned Frogs are arguably the 2nd best team in the state (suck it, Aggies). Attendance is up, the facilities are being upgraded and the city of Fort Worth has historically rallied behind the team. If TCU can make it to the BCS this year, it will be unbeleeevable.