Vince Lombardi once said, “Football’s not everything, it’s the only thing.”
As far as life in Texas goes, he may just be right.
Football is sacred in the Lone Star state—from the high school level to the 10 D-I programs to “America’s team,” the Dallas Cowboys.
In writing the national bestseller Friday Night Lights, author H.G. Bissinger followed an Odessa high school team, the Permian Panthers, through their 1988 season. Bissinger was both amazed and appalled by the ardor of the football-crazed town.
While Bissinger's negative impression doesn’t necessarily represent the state as a whole, the passion evident in Odessa in 1988 still reigns supreme.
Texas kids dream of playing under the lights in big-time high school football. Those select few who are able enough dream of playing for the University of Texas at Austin—and with good reason.
Since 1893, the UT football program has amassed an 806-313-33 record with four National Championships, including one in the 2005 season. UT’s illustrious history includes 93 All-Americans, two Heisman trophy winners (Earl Campbell, 1977, and Ricky Williams, 1998), a Hall-of-Fame coach (Darrell Royal), and even 19 Academic All-Americans.
If a Texas high school football player has a choice, he goes to UT or maybe A&M. Those two schools offer the best opportunity for exposure—and thus the best opportunity to parlay college success into an NFL career.
In the event that a Texas player isn’t recruited by UT or A&M, he may defect to Oklahoma State or Missouri, or settle for Texas Tech, Houston...or just maybe Texas Christian University.
TCU is a small, private, Christian school in Fort Worth with just over 7,000 undergraduate students—making it one of the smallest schools in Division I, about one-fifth the size of UT.
Adhering to the motto Disciplina est Facultas (Knowledge is Power), Texas Christian University seeks to “educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community.”
The TCU mascot—the horned frog—derives from an indigenous reptile, the horned lizard, which is known for its ability to evade predators by using its sharp, protruding scales. This horned lizard is said to be sacred in some southwest Native American Cultures.
But back to the football team...
TCU has a regional rivalry with Southern Methodist University called the “Battle for the Iron Skillet,” which has no significance outside the fact that the winner indeed wins an iron skillet. As far as football goes between UT and TCU, there is really no comparison—even in the mascot name—between the Longhorns and the Horned Frogs.
The list of UT’s famous All-Americans includes Williams, Campbell, Vince Young, Roy Williams, Derrick Johnson, Nathan Vasher, Cedric Benson, Quentin Jammer, Casey Hampton, Kenneth Sims, and Leonard Davis, to name a few.
The only people that stand out on the Horned Frogs’ list are two quarterbacks from the 1940s (Sammy Baugh and Davey O’Brien) and LaDainian Tomlinson.
Overall, the matchup this weekend in Austin between the 19th-ranked Horned Frogs and the 7th-ranked Longhorns seemed like a classic mismatch—the BCS power would vanquish the up-and-coming mid-major, and all would be right in the world of college football.
But this TCU team seemed determined to reverse the trend.
Said TCU starting safety David Roach, “We expect to win. I don't feel like we're the underdogs. We're both good teams. We're both ranked teams. I would say it's a pretty important game for both teams.”
While some might’ve viewed this statement as a little too bold, the Horned Frogs did notch wins at Oklahoma in 2005 and against old rival Texas Tech in ’06.
Sunday Afternoon Quarterback certainly thought TCU was in a great position to pounce on the exposed Longhorns offense, which squeaked out a victory Arkansas State last weekend.
The TCU defense, led by senior defensive end Tommy Blake, shut out a Big 12 school en route to a 27-0 victory. Although that Big 12 school was Baylor, it’s still somewhat impressive.
In any event, the game promised a defensive struggle—and the first half ended with TCU up 10-0. TCU scored their first touchdown on a 45-yard interception by Torrey Stewart, and a Roach INT set up the field goal.
But it wasn't meant to be for the Horned Frogs.
Texas came back to tie the game heading into the fourth quarter...which was when the wheels fell off TCU.
Return man Quinton Cunigan fumbled a kickoff return deep in his own territory, setting up a Vondrell McGee touchdown run. After a Texas field goal and a TCU three-and-out, a botched punt snap led to a Longhorns fumble recovery and touchdown by Brandon Foster, putting the game out of reach at 27-10.
The loss ensures TCU relative anonymity as it makes a run at another 10-win season. We probably won’t see the Horned Frogs again until they show up in the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl or the Meineke Car Care Bowl—but Sunday Afternoon Quarterback believes TCU’s time will come.
Eventually, the Horned Frogs will slay the dragon. In fact, they play LSU in 2013.
Or would that be thinking a little too far ahead?
— Freshman quarterback Jake Locker and Washington looked good in upsetting #22 Boise State, delivering the Broncos their first loss in 14 games.
Washington’s success, combined with Ohio State’s inability to rack up big points against an inferior Akron Zips team, makes next week’s matchup in the Pacific Northwest much more intriguing. Although many thought '08 would be the breakout year for the Huskies, Tyrone Willingham's team has shown some promise in the present.
— While Notre Dame might feel a little down about losing their first two games by a combined score of 64-13, things are looking up. They play another hapless 0-2 team next weekend—the Michigan Wolverines!
— Oregon took a leaf out of Boise State’s book by running the Statue of Liberty with Jonathan Stewart. Even more impressive, Oregon ran a brilliantly designed Statue of Liberty fake, which had the Michigan defenders running around the field like chickens with their heads cut off.
The Ducks must be a legitimate threat in the Pac-10, because I refuse to believe Michigan is that bad. This is just a hunch, but after Michael Hart’s “GuaranSheed” of a victory next week at Notre Dame, he'll back it up with 200+ yards. Let’s just see if QB Ryan Mallet shows up for the injured Chad Henne.
—Boy, did Virginia Tech look inferior out there against LSU. Quarterback Sean Glennon was so ineffective that he finally got sacked for true freshman Tyrod Taylor. You know Glennon was bad when Frank Beamer had go with an 18-year old against the best defense in the country.
So I said Tech’s defense was pretty good before the season started. Apparently, that’s just against the ECU’s and NC State’s of the world. Talk about your paper champions.
On another note, backup LSU QB Ryan Perrilloux looks really, really good. I wonder if Les Miles has the stones to switch out his fifth-year senior captain quarterback if he's ineffective against, say, Florida.
—Speaking of Virginia Tech, the ACC is struggling. In addition to Tech’s junior varsity performance in Death Valley, Florida State had some major issues with Alabama-Birmingham, Miami was blown out by the dominant Oklahoma offense, and the defending champs (Wake Forest) are 0-2.
At least there’s Georgia Tech, which is probably celebrating the fact that Reggie Ball finally exhausted his eligibility.
—UCLA has trouble stopping the pass, as it let sophomore Brigham Young quarterback Max Hall throw for 389 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-17 victory.
—No matter what, the Ol’ Ball Coach always gets the upper hand. Period.
Washington University (MO) Watch: The Bears, lead by Gabe Murphy and Tim Machan, moved to 2-0 on the season with a 34-3 victory over Westminster (MO).
—Courtesy of deepsouthsports.net, a photo that insults both “the most honest man you’ll ever meet,” Nick Saban, and Lloyd Carr of the Michigan Wolverines.
—Prodigious sophomore quarterback Matt Stafford likes to spoon with backup Georgia QBs...incoming recruits beware.
—The Kansas State advertising department took it back to the 80s with their new promotional video.
—Kansas coach Mark Mangino really, really hates end zone celebrations.
—New York Jets center and former Ohio State All-American Nick Mangold has a 315-pound little (!) sister who's good enough to play football in college.
—Speaking of Ohio State, “gloat wear” will be arriving soon in Columbus. Should the Buckeyes fans buy Green and Yellow-inspired t-shirts too?
—A magazine called Pro Cheerleader Magazine will soon be released to the public. I got to say, today was a good day.
Sunday Afternoon Quarterback will be in Nashville, TN, to see Vanderbilt play Ole Miss. Vandy may or may not win, but they’ll certainly show some good old-fashioned Southern Hospitality.