Looking back on the college football season through the eyes of a TCU fan, I’m blown away by the power of character and integrity in the game. The way the players, teams and institutions carry themselves factors strongly into both public perception and results on the field. Those that point fingers, display cockiness and break rules eventually get what’s coming their way.
We saw the media scrutinize controversial Heisman Trophy winner and Auburn quarterback Cam Newton for weeks and weeks. Assuming money changed hands for Newton to attend Auburn, it’s too bad “Pony Excess” didn’t come out earlier to teach administrators and boosters a lesson. Not surprisingly, the NCAA showed its inability to be conclusive or satisfy the public in investigating the issue.
We saw Ohio State head football coach Jim Tressel lose five players from his Buckeyes for next season’s first five games for violating NCAA rules. We then saw remarkable hypocrisy in the NCAA’s ruling, which allowed those players to compete in the Sugar Bowl.
The nation saw an Oregon team fight off its mistakes from last season to make it to the BCS National Championship after losing to Boise State last year. That game was complete with Oregon’s LeGarrette Blount maliciously punching a Boise player in the face after the game, showing Blount’s true character.
Best of all, we saw Ohio State President Gordon Gee stun the nation with his audacious elitism, lack of sensitivity to a Catholic charitable organization and utter absence of knowledge regarding college football by calling TCU and Boise State’s competition “Little Sisters of the Poor.”
My hat’s off to Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck for staying at the Cardinal when he could be the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. Luck undeniably increased his draft stock in winning the Orange Bowl with MVP honors. Although his move didn’t convince former head coach Jim Harbaugh to stay at Stanford, Luck will be able to earn his degree and continue to prepare for the NFL for another year.
TCU doesn’t get a whole lot of prima donnas like Pryor, Blount or Newton. TCU fields hard-working men who follow their coaches’ guidance and who believe in something bigger than themselves.
TCU’s Bart Johnson was never a blue-chip recruit out of Brownwood High because of his size, but Johnson has displayed an incomparable work ethic to get himself where he is today.
Johnson caught the first touchdown of the Rose Bowl, held the extra points and caught a key onside kick at the end of the game to help secure a Horned Frog victory.
Although senior quarterback Andy Dalton looks more the part at first glance, he certainly didn’t become the starting quarterback during his freshman year by default.
Though Dalton is far too humble to point it out himself, head football coach Gary Patterson spoke on his behalf on the Dan Patrick radio show last week. When Patrick asked Patterson about the move to the Big East Conference, Patterson suggested that Dalton might have received more attention from national quarterback awards if TCU’s games were more widely broadcast.
When it comes to the leadership of TCU administrators, a Venn diagram of Patterson, Director of Athletics Chris Del Conte and Chancellor Victor Boschini would undeniably intersect at classiness, perseverance and success. Although Boschini doesn’t speak on behalf of athletics outside of major events, it’s unique to TCU to hear the head football coach and athletics director credit the head of the university for athletic successes as much as they do.
As the Frogs “climb the mountain,” TCU football players, staff and fans ought to be careful to maintain our class and humility. As the age old saying goes, “power corrupts.” TCU has gained a considerable amount of power, both as a football team and a university. Regardless of which athletes lead TCU in this new era of nationwide respect and credibility, to move on admirably, we mustn’t lose our strength of character or integrity.
John Andrew Willis is a senior
Spanish major from Dallas.