“Right now we’re on the menu.”

The mid-major football program that I root for to break into the next level is TCU.  Gary Patterson is this sane, rational man who recognizes that the best way for a program like his to make it big is to push as hard on the field as possible with the idea that with time the payoff will come.  Along those lines, he’s also smart enough to recognize that the current BCS format is better for schools like his who can’t match the resources and depth of schools that come from the top of the Big Ten or SEC and wouldn’t likely survive the grind of a multi-round playoff format.

But that’s only half of the picture.  Breaking the college football glass ceiling also involves the financial side, as Orrin Hatch is so fond of reminding us.  About that, it turns out that TCU’s athletic director is as grounded as his football coach is.

“There are teams in the Big 12 that are nowhere near where we are athletically,” Del Conte said, just getting started. “We could have been Baylor.”

That TCU isn’t, is why they matter going into the 2010 season. There is no whining anymore. The school didn’t deserve to be in the Big 12. Back in the mid-1990s it relied on the likes of Texas or Texas A&M fans coming to town to sell out home games. Now when critics point out they can’t even sell out their own 44,000-seat stadium, Frogs everywhere point out it used to be a lot worse.

Do you want 17,000 folks watching a horrible team or 38,000 watching a conference champion?

“Missing out on the Big 12 gave us an opportunity,” Del Conte said. “That’s the best thing that happened to us. Now we can regroup. Back then if our program was where it is today, we would have been in [the Big 12].”

There’s something ironic on the horizon if TCU manages to pull off the big one this season and make it to the BCS title game.  On the one hand, it probably seals the deal for the Mountain West to be recognized and accepted as an AQ BCS conference.  On the other hand, it makes TCU an attractive target for a bigger conference.

It’s all about getting in again: Getting into the BCS. If the Mountain West keeps performing at current levels, its champion will be guaranteed a BCS bowl in 2012 and 2013. At least.

It’s also about getting into a new conference, if it comes to that. As conference realignment looms, TCU has positioned itself nicely. It has been mentioned prominently as a candidate to join the league that once spurned it, the Big 12. If the Big 12 lost Missouri and/or Colorado, TCU would have to be at the top of the list. There aren’t many other viable candidates.

“Everyone is vulnerable because of the landscape,” Del Conte said. “There are tectonic plates around the world. You don’t know when an earthquake is going to happen. That’s what happened with college football. You’re always going to have shift.”

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11 Comments

Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major

11 responses to ““Right now we’re on the menu.”

  1. Jordan

    The TCU folks definitely get it, that’s for sure.

    I’m just not sure why the Mountain West doesn’t go ahead and pull the trigger and bring over Boise State and lets say a Fresno State and push hard for BCS AQ. I know they can earn it through time by on field performance, but doing that I believe would force the BCS’ hand.

  2. kckd

    Is that “payoff” or “playoff”?

  3. Dog in Fla

    Mid-major in some but not all things. Here’s a shot of the TCU cheerleaders (all of whom appear to be Geology majors) in a tectonic shift pose, which is the opening movement for their BCS drill, there’s a whole lot of quaking going on…

  4. NM

    Sept. 2005: Boise State travels to SEC country to prove they can play with a big boy team in its own house. A thrashing from Georgia results.

    Jan. 2008: Undefeated Hawaii makes a BCS bowl and is set to shock the world by taking down an SEC team in the Sugar Bowl. A thrashing from Georgia results.

    Jan. 2011: Undefeated TCU becomes the first team from a non-AQ conference to play for a BCS National Championship. Results TBD, but… maybe we should all be TCU fans until then.

    • Phocion

      So, you’re pointing out that Georgia won two home games? Good for them.

      But didn’t TCU beat Clemson at Clemson this year? And didn’t Clemson play in a BCS conference championship game?

      Hmm…what are we to make of that?

      • NM

        Well, I don’t think playing Hawaii in New Orleans counts as a home game. I was there… with a ton of Hawaiians. Great atmosphere.

        I was just saying, in two recent examples of mid-majors looking to storm the BCS, Georgia happened to be the team defending the castle… and hoping history would repeat itself this year in Glendale.

        • Phocion

          Ah…thought that was the Sugar Bowl in the Georgia Dome.

          Nonetheless, we SEC types think that we are Kings of that castle so any other conference champs losing to an SEC representative* should be as expected.

          In slightly more recent history, last year, BSU beat Pac10 champ Oregon to open the season and TCU beat ACC runner-up Clemson at Clemson. So let’s also give credit where credit is due.

          * when the SEC team actually cares about the result of the bowl game rather than not giving a flip because they lost their chance to play for the crystal knick-knack in their last game.

          • The Realist

            How could you forget the 2005 Sugar Bowl? That one is permanently etched in my memory as the confirmation of what the 2005 Auburn game taught me:

            WillieMart was a bad choice… and punt safe causes cancer.

  5. Hoshney

    Yes, I am sure TCU loves going undefeated and not make the BCS Title game.