The Horned Frogs of TCU. The Aggies of Texas. Two storied programs.
TCU started playing football in 1896. They have claimed two national championships (1936 and 1938) and fifteen conference championships in their history.
Under coach Gary Patterson, they have finished in the top ten three out of the last four years and in the top 20 six times since 2002, while playing in bowl games nine out of the last ten years.
A&M started playing ball in 1894. They have claimed one national championship (1939) and eighteen conference championships in their history and have been to six bowls since 2000. With a slew of starters returning, the Aggie faithful are looking forward a breakout season in 2010 to emerge from their recent malaise.
These two schools played each other for years as rivals in the old SWC, meeting first way back in 1897.
The Aggies held a commanding lead in the series at 56-29-7 which was discontinued when the SWC disbanded in 1996. The series was pretty close until the last two decades, when A&M dominated by winning the last 24 games.
Since 1996, they have only played once, an A&M victory in the now disbanded Galleryfurniture.com bowl. Somewhat fittingly, it was both the Astrodome's last college bowl game and R.C. Slocum’s last game as an Aggie coach.
The SWC folded for many reasons, including rampant recruiting and payola scandals. Another reason, however, was the argument that the big guns in the conference had outpaced the little guys from a competitive standpoint. A&M’s domination of the TCU series was always cited as a case in point.
That was then, this is now.
With the resurgence of the TCU program over the last decade, the time has come to restart the series.
As shown last year when A&M re-initiated its annual game against old SWC foe Arkansas, fan interest is definitely there for these traditional rivalries.
People like being able to drive a reasonable distance to see an away game, the players on the field often have ties stemming back to their high school playing days, and a general sense of excitement and tradition is evident in rivalry games like this. It's what college football is all about.
Since both A&M and TCU had to resort to scheduling a 1-AA team this year to fill out their respective schedules, it’s obvious that this could be done pretty easily from a logistical standpoint.
Arguments against the renewal are twofold.
One, that playing TCU would hurt A&M recruiting. Two, playing a quality foe in non conference play will make it harder for either to reach the BCS Promised Land.
Let’s address both of these concerns.
With regards to recruiting…
News flash: TCU and A&M already compete against each other.
The two team's playing each other will not make that huge of an impact on a kid's decision. It will more likely be based on factors like how well they mesh with the coach, how well they think they’ll fit in with the team, if they will have a legitimate shot to start, and the overall success (not just one game) of the program.
So I’m not sure how playing each other would negatively impact this…after all, all of the other schools in the Big 12 South that A&M plays for certainly recruit in Texas also, and the Frogs are certainly competing against powerful teams like Baylor and SMU, which are on their current schedule.
I would think that by reigniting the rivalry and creating some excitement, both teams would benefit. The prospective recruits will see an important game, with sold out stadiums in College Station or Fort Worth. There would be extensive TV and other media coverage and other associated hoopla.
Big rivalry games draw more kids. So it would help the two schools when they recruit against the 10 other D-I programs (seven from Texas and three from Oklahoma) that are local to the area and actively recruiting.
It would also help to publicize the programs nationally, thus helping to insulate their in-state recruiting against out of area poachers, and on the flip side, also increasing the national reach of each program.
Because, rest assured, a TCU and A&M rivalry would be prominently featured and garner a national broadcast by the networks, given the Frogs recent success and A&M status as a power program in a BCS conference.
When it comes to the BCS and out of conference scheduling, it’s true that some schools have taken the easy road by scheduling Patty Cake U. and Fluffernutter State for their out of conference games. Last year, for example, Texas had four lay downs and Alabama three lay downs (out of four) for their out of conference schedules
However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Schools such as Oklahoma and USC have shown that you can schedule quality and still get into the BCS. A quality win will, after all, improve your rankings in both the human and computer polls.
A&M and TCU each currently have one quality game and three cupcakes scheduled for 2010. One more quality game won’t kill em', and they’ll each still have two glorified scrimmages to fatten up on.
So it’s time for the Aggies and the Frogs to renew their gridiron battles. It would be good for both schools, both fan bases, and Texas football. It would lead to entertaining games and improve both teams overall recruiting and BCS standings.
Let’s get it on.