Chris del Conte lumbered up the steps leading to the Baylor visitor’s locker room Friday night when he saw head coach Gary Patterson’s wife, Kelsey, sitting in a chair next to the door, waiting on her husband, tears welling up in her eyes.
The two hugged briefly, exchanged a few words, then went back into a state a silent shock, neither of them knowing what to feel.
TCU lost 50-48 to Baylor Friday night, snapping the Frogs’ 25-game regular season winning streak. The streak, which before Friday had been the longest in the nation, dates back – way back – to Nov. 11th, 2008 when the TCU lost at Utah 13-10.
Back before del Conte was named TCU athletic director. Back before Casey Pachall had signed with the Frogs. Back before the six true freshmen who saw action Friday night had even finished their sophomore year of high school.
Losing has become a foreign phenomenon for a TCU program used to doing nothing but win.
After beating Boise State 17-13 in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl, the Frogs ran the table in 2009 before losing to the Broncos in the Fiesta Bowl. Seven months later, they’d get back to business, though, beating Oregon State at Cowboys Stadium in the 2010 opener. From there, they’d sweep yet another regular season slate before reaching their pinnacle as a program last January when they beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.
All in all, TCU entered Waco Friday night with a 36-3 record since 2008.
So how do you react to something that hasn’t happened in nearly three years?
Even Patterson admitted Friday night’s result wasn’t what he is accustomed to.
“I’m used to winning and stopping people,” Patterson said.
But throwing a pity party isn’t what TCU is about, he said.
“Our guys aren’t looking up for sympathy,” Patterson said. “We’re not one of those kinds of programs. That’s not what TCU does.”
Going forward has to be the Frogs’ top priority Patterson said, especially with a conference road game against a tough Air Force team scheduled for Saturday.
“We have to find a way in this next ball to game to play with the same emotion and come out and win our first conference game on the road,” Patterson said. “We’re going to have to get ready.”
Patterson said he expects the Air Force game to be another dogfight, similar to Friday night’s game in Waco.
“It’s going to be another come-over-the-hill, Custer-type adventure,” Patterson said. “That’s what happens when you win a Rose Bowl and you haven’t lost a ballgame in two or three years. Everybody wants their best shot.”
Senior tight end Logan Brock, who had two touchdowns against the Bears and was on the team that lost to Utah in 2008, said TCU missed their chance against Baylor, something they can’t do against the Falcons Saturday.
“We had two weeks to prepare for (Baylor) and we couldn’t quite get it done,” Brock said. “We got one week for (Air Force) so we need to re-gather and get it done.”