During the 1930s, the TCU football program made great strides to accomplish what was considered the greatest decade in Horned Frog football until the Gary Patterson Era of football that brought the program back to its glory days.
There are many similarities between the 1930s and what the TCU football program has accomplished today, and it starts with the Frogs fight for national recognition. The Rose Bowl was a factor in TCU’s campaign for respect in the 1930s. In 1932 the Frogs went undefeated, however Pittsburgh was invited to play in the Rose Bowl over TCU. The Rose Bowl was the only recognized college bowl game at the time, so the Frogs ended its season without a postseason game but ranked fourth in the nation.
Respect began to grow a couple of years in 1935, when TCU won its first national title and yet again the Rose Bowl played a role. SMU lost to Stanford in Pasadena, which opened the door for TCU, who beat LSU in the Orange Bowl, to win the national title. This proved the Frogs had gained national respect by gaining a first place ranking, even after losing to SMU 20-14 earlier in the year.
The Frogs reached the pinnacle of national respect in 1938, when Davey O’Brien earned the Heisman Trophy and TCU was ranked as the national champion despite not being the only undefeated team in the country.
The thirties were a golden age for TCU, and the past few years have shown similar patterns in the Frogs fight for national exposure. Over the past few years the Frogs have worked to achieve national respect, and by being one of only two teams to be ranked in the top ten consecutively in the past three years, the Frogs have regained this national exposure.
In 2008, the Frogs found its way back into the nationally ranked spotlight, ending the season No. 7 after defeating fellow non-automatic qualifying opponent Boise State. Last year, the undefeated Horned Frogs played Boise State again, this time on bigger turf in the Fiesta Bowl. While both teams were undefeated, they were selected to play each other rather than play one of the other four undefeated programs.
Nearly 70 years later the Rose Bowl still plays a role in the success of the Horned Frog football team.
This New Year’s Day, the Frogs strengthen its national exposure by joining the ranks as one of only five teams outside the Big 10 and Pac 10 to ever play in the “Granddaddy of them all.” But, TCU needs more than just an appearance to further prove itself on a national level. The Frogs need to defeat Wisconsin, and prove that they can play with the larger conferences.
The current decade of TCU football seems to mirror the Frogs 1930s glory years. This season the Frogs don’t have a chance for the national title, and did not win the Heisman Trophy, but they are coming off of their second consecutive undefeated regular season, and its second consecutive BCS bowl appearance. The Frogs are on their way to making the 2010s, a decade to remember.
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