A picture perfect fall evening greeted me as I drove to Ft. Worth and the campus of Texas Christian University. The fifth-ranked Horned Frogs were hosting Big 12 foe West Virginia in a primetime Thursday night tilt. It was my first time visiting TCU to see a game and the thing that struck me, as I walked through the campus was one word — pristine. The architecture and the design of the buildings was awe-inspiring, and the landscaping and maintenance perfect — nothing seemed out-of-place. TCU is one of the smaller Power 5 schools in terms of enrollment, with only 9,725 students.
The tailgating outside Amon Carter stadium was well underway. I was quite surprised at just how many fans made the trip from West Virginia. The Mountaineer fans were all jazzed up, and hoping to see their team pull the upset. This wasn’t a hated rival, TCU fans were openly inviting Mountaineer fans into their tailgate parties, and several were taking pictures together. This is one of the things, that I just love about the college football experience.
TCU FOOTBALL BEGINS
TCU played their first ever football game in 1896 when the school was known as AddRan Male & Female College. They defeated Toby’s Business College 8-6. In 1920, TCU won its first-ever conference title, going 9-1 in the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association. In 1923 TCU joined the mighty Southwest Conference. In 1929, Francis Schmidt was hired as head coach and he immediately led TCU to the SWC title. The Horned Frogs left the Southwest Conference after the 1995 season when it was disbanded. They moved into the Western Athletic Conference where they spent five seasons, before joining Conference USA and Mountain West. In 2011 the Frogs joined the Big 12 Conference.
DUTCH MEYER – Since 1934 only seven head coaches, have walked the sidelines, starting with Dutch Meyer who took over the TCU program in 1934. It didn’t take him long to win. In 1935 the Frogs met SMU for the right to go to the Rose Bowl. The media, touted this game as the “Game of the Century,” and a writer from the New York Sun said, “In a stadium that seated 30,000 spectators, over 36,000 wildly excited Texans and visitors from every corner of the map packed, jammed, and fought their way into every square foot of standing and seating space to see one of the greatest football games ever played…this tense, keyed up crowd even leaped the wire fences from the top of automobiles.” On that day, SMU defeated TCU 20-14, but SMU would lose to Stanford in the Rose Bowl, while TCU defeated LSU 3-2 in the Sugar Bowl. TCU would win the first of two national titles under Meyer. He would lead the team to two national titles in 1935 and 1938, as well as a win in the first Cotton Bowl in 1937. The 1938 championship team featured Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback Davey O’Brien. O’Brien led the team to an undefeated 11-0 season, that featured a 15-7 win over Carnegie Tech in the Sugar Bowl. He coached for 18 years and is the longest tenured coach in team history. During that time Meyer also served as the school’s basketball coach for three years, and was the head baseball coach for 11 seasons!
GARY PATTERSON – Gary Patterson served as the Horned Frogs defensive coordinator under Dennis Francione. He was named the head coach for the 2001 season, and he immediately put his stamp on the program, injecting the frogs with a tough no-nonsense approach that resonated with his players. The Horned Frogs have won or shared six conference titles under Patterson. The success of the program, caught the eye of the Big 12, who added TCU as a conference member in 2012. He has led TCU to wins in the Rose Bowl and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, as well as a Fiesta Bowl appearance. He has 140 wins at TCU, more than any other coach in program history.
NCAA LEVIES PENALTIES
In 1986, the NCAA placed TCU on probation for three-years. The NCAA discovered six boosters had provided football recruits and players with cash and other forms of payment. TCU was banned from post-season play for one season, forfeited TV revenue for the 1983 and 1984 seasons, and limited to only 10 scholarships for the 1987–88 academic year and 15 scholarships for the 1988–89 season.
AMON G. CARTER STADIUM
I have to say that I have been in over 70 college venues, and this stadium ranks in my top three! The stadium is spacious, has great sightlines from all seats. The concourses are open and have many areas from which you can stand and watch the game. Everywhere you look inside and outside the stadium, has some sort of plaque or picture telling you about the history of the football team. The stadium was extensively remodeled in 2012 and in a style, that matches the rest of the university buildings. The 45,00 seat stadium, sits in the middle of campus.
FUN FACTS ABOUT TCU FOOTBALL
- TCU was the last school in college football to wear leather helmets, switching to hard plastic helmets in 1946.
- TCU has won or shared 18 conference titles.
- Three players have had their jerseys retired, they are No. 5 LaDainian Tomlinson, No. 8 Davey O’Brien, and No. 45 Sammy Baugh.
- The College football Hall of Fame features 11 Horned Frogs.
SMU – TCU and Southern Methodist University (SMU) are both located in the Dallas area. The two schools have met 92 times in what’s called the “Battle of the iron skillet.” The Mustangs lead the series 45-40-7.
BAYLOR – The Baylor vs. TCU rivalry dates back to 1899, and has become even more intense since the Frogs joined the Big 12. The series is also one of the most evenly matched rivalries in the country — Baylor leads the series by a single game with a 52–51–7 record.
TEXAS TECH – Texas Tech and TCU played their first game in 1926. Prior to Texas Tech joining the SWC, a traveling trophy was exchanged between the Horned Frogs and Red Raiders. The trophy was of a miniature saddle, and the game between the teams became known as “The West Texas Championship.”
Trevone Boykin put on his superman cape in leading the Horned Frogs to a dominating performance over West Virginia. The Heisman Trophy hopeful leapt over defenders, threw from the hip, and eluded defenders all night long. When the dust had settled he had thrown for 388 yards and three TDs, and he added 84 rushing yards. Mountaineer head coach Dana Holgorsen was so impressed, he was seen giving the quarterback a high-five after a scramble along the Mountaineers sideline. Boykin broke the school record for total offense at 12,041 yards, breaking the previous record held by Andy Dalton, the current Cincinnati Bengals quarterback who led TCU to an undefeated season and Rose Bowl victory.
Josh Doctson also shined for the Frogs with 11 catches for 183 yards and two TDs. The defense played by far their best game of the season limiting West Virginia to just 327 yards and ten points. The win moved the Frogs to 8-0 on the season.
Try Dutch’s for Burgers and Beer – We typically don’t add restaurant recommendations to my gameday stories, but in this case I have to. We were walking down University Avenue and stopped at Dutch’s for a pre-game warm-up. After seeing the food being brought out, and looking at the menu, we decided to come back after the game. We did, and we both thought our food was outstanding. We found out that Dutch’s was named the Best Burger in the Dallas Metroplex, and one of the burgers we tried had been named one of the 10 best burgers in Texas by Texas Monthly magazine. If you make it to TCU, you have to go to Dutch’s.
Step Two – Texas A&M. Coming Thursday