Patterson, players talk upcoming season, new league at media day
TCU head coach Gary Patterson and players Casey Pachall, Stansly Maponga, Ross Forrest and Blaize Foltz made their first official Big 12 debut Monday during Day 1 of the conference's media days at the Westin Galleria in Dallas. Here are a few highlights from the day:
A 'long journey'
One of the general themes surrounding TCU Monday was its trek from a Southwest Conference exile to a member of the Big 12, a 15-year journey that spanned three conferences (four if you count the Big East) and countles renovations to the Frogs' facilities.
"If you look at what we had to accomplish, and the facilities, we were walking a mile and a half to practice 15 years ago when L.T. (Ladanian Tomlinson) was our starting running back," Patterson said. "Now, our practice fields are right outside."
Chuck Neinas, the former interim Big 12 commissioner who was at the head of the conferencen last Fall when it extended an invite to TCU, traced the beginnings of the Frogs' development into a BCS-caliber program back to that same late-90s Dennis Franchione era when Patterson was an assistant coach.
"Everybody has to have a stroke of good luck," Neinas said. "Coach Fran was there, and he stumbled upon a running back out of Waco (Tomlinson) and beat Southern California in the bowl game. They've taken off from there, haven't they?"
Another cornerstone moment along the TCU's journey that was brought up a couple times Monday was the Frogs' 17-10 win at then-No.7 Oklahoma in 2005, which was only the second (of now three) loss at home for the Sooners in the Bob Stoops era.
"It was a starting point," Patterson said. "I think that turned some people's heads, but we had not learned about being a winning program."
It showed the next week when the Frogs lost to SMU, who went 5-6 that year. Seven years and two BCS bowl appearances later, TCU seemingly has arrived to the destination its fan base sought to be in 1996 when the Southwest Conference split. Still, the Frogs have to keep progressing, Patterson said.
"You have to learn from history," Patterson said. "But the bottom line to it is you can't look back too long. When you're sitting on the side of the mountain, you don't rest."
Already a boost in recruiting
Patterson was quick to remind reporters Monday the Frogs have heavily targetd Big 12 prospects for nearly a decade, but that they've just recently started to wrangle in some more of those recruits since joining the conference in October.
"We've had kids that we've recruited that we couldn't get on campus now start coming on campus," Patterson said.
Not all of that has been due to the league change, but also to the winning TCU's done on the national scene the past few years, and of course the recent upgrades to othe Frogs' facilities, which haven't been limited to the stadium, Patterson said. TCU moved into a new 20,000-square-foot, multi-level weight room this spring, and recently finished a brand new underwater therapy/hot tub room.
"Now, (recruits) are seeing what kind of locker room we have, they see the indoor, they see the new stadium, they see the kind of crowds we have," Patterson said. "How is that going to affect us over the next three to five years? I think that's important."
Two-a-days in the heat
Texas temperatures routinely spike into triple-digits in the summer and usually peak the highest in August, when on most days you can see (and certainly feel) the heat hanging hazily in the air.
The Frogs don't plan on avoiding it.
TCU plans on starting two-a-days Aug. 6 and will have a session from 4-6 p.m. when temperatures are typically the highest, Patterson said.
"We've always been a group that's kind of attacked (the heat)," Patterson said. "We haven't shied away, even in the Texas heat. We go 4-6 because that's when you're gonig to have to play."
One aspect of the practice schedule that's a bit different this year is the number of one-a-days. TCU will be one of just four schools in the country to open the season a week late when it hosts Grambling State Sept. 8. That means the Frogs will have (as usual) two weeks of two-a-days, but instead get an extra week of one-a-days, which start the week classes begin, Patterson said.
Around the league
Oklahoma running back Dominique Whaley has been "completely cleared," coach Bob Stoops said. Whaley, a senior walk-on, was the Sooners' starter until a knee injury against Kansas State sidelined him for the year...Kansas State coach Bill Snyder was quick to brush off a question regarding the Penn State sanctions handed down Monday morning. "We're here...about Kansas State University, about the young people that play the game for us and it's about the Big 12 Conference," Snyder said. "The rest of it, I'm not interested in."...In other KSU news, preseason all-Big 12 receiver Tyler Lockett, who suffered an injury last year, has "recovered fully," Snyder said...Texas Tech linebacker Terrance Bullitt didn't shy away when asked about the TCU addition to the Big 12. "We'll see how they do when they have to play good teams every week," Bullitt said. The Red Raiders, 5-7 last year, travel to Fort Worth Oct. 20.
"You'd be foolish to take them lightly," -- Landry Jones, Oklahoma quarterback, on how the Sooners will be preparing for TCU
"I knew coming into it, right when he left, I already had the mindset that I didn't want to be like Andy, I didn't want to be Andy," -- Casey Pachall, TCU quarterback, on following in the footsteps of all-American Andy Dalton last season.
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