Nov. 14, 2003
By Brian Litvack
TCU is trying to be "that guy". The Horned Frogs have steadily climbed up the rankings and may soon fill the role of a modern day college football Cinderella and jump into the BCS mix.
It's a great storyline. Unfortunately, nobody seems to care. While TCU is focusing on what's happening on the field, money is the focus of the BCS bowl debate for almost everyone else.
If TCU finishes the season undefeated, it's possible that the Horned Frogs will take home a large pile of cash (around $13.5 million) by being selected to compete in a BCS bowl game.
A non-BCS school has never cashed a big bowl paycheck. These schools, dubbed mid-majors, have been crying foul for years. They argue that the non-BCS conferences are cut out of any opportunity to compete in the major bowls and are left out of the $118 million dollar BCS payout.
BCS supporters retort that the system is fair for all schools. All a non BCS-school has to do is prove itself by playing a competitive schedule and coming out unscathed.
Well, TCU may have cracked the BCS code with a different method. Their BCS formula is as follows:
1) Play a schedule that is as difficult as Maurice Clarett's current slate of classes
2) Have a penchant for eking out victories over weak opponents
3) Have the good fortune of watching everyone else in the top 10 collect losses
4) Put up an intriguing 0 in the loss column
This recipe somehow slides TCU right into the No. 6 spot in the BCS standings. Any team that finishes in the top six of the BCS standings is guaranteed a spot in a BCS bowl.
So the big question remaining (money aside) is do the Horned Frogs actually warrant mentioning in the same breath as Oklahoma, LSU and Ohio State? Would they have a prayer of competing with these football powerhouses?
TCU's schedule, ranked 87th overall, is as tough as a grade-school wimp. The Horned Frogs' most impressive wins are against Louisville (when a UL game-tying FG attempt hit the post as time expired) and South Florida. South Florida? It sounds like the Miami Hurricanes minor league operation.
They're not exactly blowing opponents away either. They've won five games by a mere three points and two others by a touchdown.
TCU does have two victories over BCS conference teams, though. They just happen to be two of the worst teams in BCS conferences - Vanderbilt (1-9) and Arizona (2-8).
TCU apparently has a reputation of having one of the top defenses in the nation. But after allowing 83 points in their last two games, that theory holds as much water as a pasta strainer.
The bottom line is that TCU is lucky rather than BCS-worthy. They don't deserve to step on the same grass as a Michigan, Texas or Georgia.
The Horned Frogs should not be given the benefit of the doubt just because they're undefeated. If they had one loss, they would garner as much press as Boise State. But since they are undefeated, they have yet to be proven guilty. But this isn't the American legal system. There is no good until proven bad clause in college football.
If you really believe they are the best team in the country and are intrigued to find out if this is reality then you should go to the video store. Rent The Matrix, eat the green pill, and stop watching college football.
For those who argue TCU has done everything it could by winning all of its games and therefore belongs in the BCS, go back to the video store. Rent a Disney fairy tale.
If the Horned Frogs or any other mid-major wants to go to a major bowl game, then they should beat some quality opponents. It's that simple. Mid-major Troy State has road games against Kansas State, Minnesota, Virginia and Nebraska this season. That's a schedule that would get TCU someplace (probably to 0-4).
Now for the fun part. Here are some interesting scenarios that aren't that far-fetched:
A blowout win ruins their season
TCU may go into its season finale November 29 at SMU (0-10) ranked sixth in the BCS. Even if they win, there is a good chance the Horned Frogs would drop points in the BCS standings thanks to computer polls and strength of schedule components. This may bump them out of the sixth spot and a BCS bowl guarantee. That's right, it would be the most costly win in the history of football. Something is very wrong when a game-canceling meteor shower is better than a blowout victory.
The bigger he is the harder he falls
If the Horned Frogs lose to conference foe Southern Miss, they not only blow their chances at millions, they will also probably lose the Conference USA crown. TCU would then play for peanuts at the New Orleans Bowl or GMAC Mobile Bowl.
Uh, we really need a playoff now
IF TCU runs the table, earns a bid and then pulls off an upset over a Georgia or a Florida State, do they then get to claim a share of a national championship?
TCU falls out of the top six, but still is selected by the BCS as an at-large team. This would take away leverage and bargaining power from the mid-majors, as well as end those silly congressional hearings about the exclusivity of the BCS.
So now we've come to the conclusion that there is no way to make sense of this college football landscape. So why not stop scrutinizing every single BCS possibility and be thankful that we'll have some great games to watch on New Year's day? Hopefully, a TCU drubbing won't be one of them.
Gary Patterson's Horned Frogs would automatically earn a BCS bid with a top-six finish.