One year after entering into the Big 12, it seems that the conference is embracing – and respecting – TCU on the gridiron.
Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said that within the first year of joining the conference, TCU has proven itself as a worthy member. Bowlsby praised the renovations to Amon G. Carter Stadium, as well as TCU’s ability to sell out tickets on a regular basis.
TCU set a new school record earlier this month by selling 31,425 season tickets for football, marking the fourth straight year that the university has set a record for season tickets purchased.
Bowlsby also praised the coaching style of head football coach Gary Patterson, noting that his program will be a “worthy member for years to come.”
The coaching style of Patterson, along with the strength of TCU’s football program, was a much talked-about topic at the Big 12 Media Days, with general consensus showing reverence and respect to TCU’s football team.
“[TCU] has been recognized nationally over the last few years before they came into our conference and I think that held to be true,” Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said. “They’re well coached, certainly deserving to be in this league.”
Oklahoma State wide receiver Josh Stewart, a preseason All-Big 12 selection, agreed with his coach, noting the return of Casey Pachall as a major reason to call the Frogs one of the most talented teams in the Big 12.
Pachall and the offense weren’t the team’s main facet praised, however. Universally, TCU was respected for its defense, which finished first in total defense in the Big 12 in its debut season.
Gabe Ikard, an All-Big 12 selection as an offensive lineman for the Oklahoma Sooners, said he considered TCU’s defensive line to be the best defensive line in the league. Baylor offensive lineman Cyril Richardson, another All-Big 12 selection, said he anticipates watching extra amounts of film in preparation for the TCU game, in order to be prepared for TCU’s defense.
The defense, already well-known with the players, was revered by the head coaches of the league.
“They’re very fine defensive ball players, against us and against everybody else in the conference. I don’t think that’ll change,” Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder said.
Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads, Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops and West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen echoed Snyder’s thoughts, all saying TCU deserved to be in the conference.
Other head coaches, such as Baylor’s Art Briles, did not comment directly on the defense, but praised the Horned Frogs regardless.
“I know what they did one Saturday night in Waco,” Briles said, speaking about TCU’s 49-21 victory over Baylor in Waco last season. “That’s about the only comment I can have. Perception-wise on my part, [they were] a 10 out of 10 on the night they played us.”
Despite the praise, all Horned Frog player representatives said they think TCU still has something to prove to the Big 12. Until a championship comes to the TCU locker room, no Frog feels satisfied in the Big 12, they said.
“We didn’t go 13-0 [last season],” safety Sam Carter said. “Winning a few games doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win the conference and a national championship.”
TCU will begin its fight for a championship Aug. 31 when the team starts off against LSU in Cowboys Stadium. The team’s first conference game is Sept. 12 in Lubbock as the Frogs play the Texas Tech Red Raiders.