Big 12 media days: This season is personal for TCU, players say
- This season 24%
- Next season 38%
- 2-4 seasons 38%
- 5-10 seasons 0%
- 11+ seasons 0%
37 total votes.
DALLAS — Texas Christian chooses a phrase to motivate its football team each year. Coaches repeat it to players, and players repeat it to each other. They wear it on a wristband as a constant reminder.
TCU made it clear Monday at Big 12 media days that the team doesn’t want to slip unnoticed into the conference this season — it wants to own it. As TCU ventures into unknown territory as one of two new Big 12 members, the team has a mantra to match: “Make it personal.”
The Horned Frogs haven’t commanded much respect from around the country, junior quarterback Casey Pachall said, so the team plans to internalize the rest of the country’s doubts and neutralize them with its play on the field.
Because, after all, being doubted is nothing new for TCU.
“Every time you go in, people give you expectations,” senior offensive guard Blaize Foltz said. “This year, we get the underdog role again. I think that’s always something we’re comfortable with.”
After the Southwest Conference split up, the Horned Frogs bounced from the WAC to Conference USA to the Mountain West in search of a new home, all the while seeking to prove themselves.
TCU battled annually with Boise State for at-large BCS bids and produced pro talent, such as LaDainian Tomlinson and Andy Dalton, before receiving an offer from the Big East to join a major conference. But after the realignment shakeup last season, the Big 12 convinced TCU to renege on its Big East deal and instead help the heartland conference regain stability.
This season, TCU is on the precipice of national acceptance, providing the Horned Frogs show they have what it takes.
“We always have something to prove,” junior defensive end Stansly Maponga said. “Now we have a chance to show the nation what we’re made of.”
And people are very curious about what, exactly, TCU is made of.
Most of the questions lobbed at TCU players Monday asked if the Horned Frogs think they’re ready for the new league, if they’re prepared for the faster pace and high-scoring offenses, if they’re up to the challenge of maintaining success.
TCU is no stranger to the conference’s level of competition. Since the 2004 season, the Horned Frogs have scheduled Big 12 foes nine times — Baylor four times, OU and Texas twice each, and Texas Tech once.
“Baylor last year kind of gave us a preview,” senior offensive guard Blaize Foltz said. “You can tell it’s a little bit faster — something we’ve got to get used to.”
After playing musical chairs for almost two decades, TCU is getting pretty good at adapting to a new conference by this point, mostly because the team focuses on preparation above all else, Pachall said.
“We are confident we could overcome any team we face — all we have to do is prepare each week,” he said. “No matter who it is, no matter how talented they are or athletic, it depends on us and whether we prepare correctly.”
The Horned Frogs know what they’re up against. The Big 12 is bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic than TCU’s former conference foes, players said.
They’ve played opponents on that level and won in the past, but they’ve heard people say they can’t do so on a weekly basis in a league like the Big 12.
TCU coach Gary Patterson was hesitant to say, before the season even starts, whether his team’s success would seamlessly translate to its new home.
“I’ve always believed that you have to play two years; you’ve got to play everybody there, and they’ve got to come play you, and you kind of have a road map of what to do,” Patterson said.
However, the Horned Frogs’ new neighbors — especially ones like OU who have felt TCU’s sting in the past — say they have no choice but to take TCU seriously from the start.
“They have to have our attention,” OU senior quarterback Landry Jones said. “If anyone takes them lightly, they’re foolish.”
So are the Horned Frogs ready for the Big 12? Their response — repeated over and over again without deviation, much like their mantra — is to tell the world to wait and see.