TCU Horned Frogs And Success

Just like most of the college football fans around the state of Texas, where football is almost a religion, I was stunned at the news of a campus drug bust that netted four TCU football players on the Fort Worth campus. For me the news broke on Wednesday morning, the morning after the “American Lovefest” or Valentine’s day and also the morning after even more athletic success for Frog nation as the men’s basketball team had just upset the number 11 ranked UNLV Runnin Rebs’ in Mountain West Conference action. The victory had ignited a celebration in Daniel Myer coliseum not witnessed in quite some time…………………………………….

As I watched the sports news on the Dallas/Fort Worth channels that evening it was clear that the spoils of reaching the “big time” as we know it today had reached the faith-based campus of Texas Christian University. “Big Time” is not new to TCU but it had been since the late 50’s, when the likes of Bob Lilly was the pride of the Frogs and the legendary coach, Abe Martin, was at the helm, that the football team had experienced anything like the success that they have known over the last four or five years. But as with the case of so many of the elite football powers across the country success also has a price tag. That tag is usually and unfortunately some kind of scandal…………

It has truly been very satisfying watching the re-emergence of the Horned Frogs among those same elites. Their brand has consistently been a major chatter point among the media giants such as ESPN during the last four football seasons. Then when they conquered the highly regarded Wisconsin Badgers in the “Granddaddy of them all” Rose Bowl in January of 2011 and were handed the final ranking of number 2 in the nation, it just seemed as if everything in Cowtown was well and good. Those of us who had watched and enjoyed the performances on and off the field of boys in purple were delighted that the underdogs had proven themselves on the gridiron and not in the press rooms………………..

But Wednesday morning was a jolt for those of us welcoming big time football back to this area. The question that continued to be asked among those covering this news event was: will this tarnish the reputation of the TCU football team? I will quickly say that I seriously doubt it will tarnish anything and it shouldn’t. For one thing, if the Frogs continue their on-field success, this will be forgotten by the end of the first victory next season. Whether it should or shouldn’t, I can attest to the fact that winning solves lots of problems and blocks bad memories…………………

The inquiry has also been made as to whether Coach Gary Patterson should be held accountable for any of this. For me Coach Patterson gets a pass in regard to this behavior unless more information surfaces that can, without question, show that he knew or at least was suspicious of this activity. My opinion about Coach Patterson’s responsibility is that he needs to understand that he now has a well-respected football program that has shown its ability to achieve in the biggest of arenas. It has gotten there because his recruiting has improved to the point that it can now attract those kids who have and will continue to perform at the highest of levels on the gridiron. These kids do this because they have shown that they are willing to play with reckless abandon and take those, all or nothing risks on the field that when successful, can bring about championship results. The manner in which these kids play the game is all too often the way they live life. They are not afraid to take risks in hopes of bringing good fortune into their lives through money or other noteworthy accomplishments. The four players arrested took those risks and failed. So as for Coach Patterson, as his program continues to appeal to those daredevil types, he will be required to pay closer attention to how they choose to live their lives…………….

How many times have we seen successful programs face this same type behavior. During the 2006 season after the Texas Longhorns had won the national championship it seemed that hardly a week went by where there wasn’t an article in all the major sports pages about another football player being arrested for theft, drugs, or some other violation of the law. That spring after the National Championship game in Pasadena, one of the Longhorns most talented players and a player with seemingly unlimited potential, Ramonce Taylor from Temple, had to be eliminated from the Longhorn team and UT because of this same behavior. He was a sophomore with so much promise…………………….

There are plenty of examples across the country but it is all the more disheartening when it hits close to home and involves kids recruited out of the state of Texas where there seems to be an infinite amount of talent. I can remember back in the 1970’s at Oklahoma, bad behavior was so rampant that it became the norm in Norman. And those teams won at a record setting clip until scandal or near scandal required the university regents to take action. In the 1980’s, the program at Texas A&M that made the headlines pretty often and they too were, more than likely, on the verge of a national championship until the university had no other choice than to put a stop to some of the questionable behavior so as to protect their integrity. Following the 1990 football season where the Colorado Buffaloes had been crowned national champions, there was one right after another of the off-field antics that gained national recognition and not for the better. Just look at the problems that the University of Miami Hurricanes has had to overcome and how long it is taking that program, once the most successful in the land, to rebound. They are still in the process. …………………….

In fact very few highly successful football programs under the scrutiny of the NCAA has escaped without at least having their business investigated. In many cases it costs the coach his job, (Jim Tressel at Ohio State) or it puts the coach in a position that is indefensible. But what I will say about all of the coaches at these elite universities, including Gary Patterson, is that they are really good football coaches. They have expectations, far beyond my grasp, to succeed and succeed year after year. To do this they have to recruit and sign the risk-takers, those who can turn a program around in a year or guarantee that success year after year. So who can blame them for pursuing these talented kids and hoping that their off the field behavior matches their on the field heroics ………………………………………

I predict that TCU will rebound quite handsomely simply because they continue to improve their recruiting. They now are able to keep many of those kids from those ultra-successful high school programs around the Dallas/Fort Worth area at home. They now are winning the signatures of kids who had at one point committed verbally to the likes of the University of Oklahoma……………………………

Just a reminder Coach Patterson of the risks that you are now taking by signing the risk-takers themselves. Keep up the good work. And to TCU don’t worry about the credibility thing: we all pull for those kids in the program who do things right. And I am one of those people who still believes that the good guy does win………………RC

About Ronnie Clifton

Ronnie Clifton was a Texas Football Coach for 29 years. In addition to football, Clifton also served as the head coach in basketball and both girls and boys track. “I loved being involved in and playing sports as a kid, and I soaked up every ounce of available information about any sporting event; I also love to write. What better combo for me than becoming the writer of a sports blog?”
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>