January 29, 2023

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It shouldn’t take Hypnotoad sorcery to get you to respect TCU

TCU’s Max Duggan carries the ball against the Kansas State Wildcats in the second half of the Big 12 Football Championship at AT&T Stadium on December 3, 2022 in Arlington, Texas.

TCU’s Max Duggan carries the ball against the Kansas State Wildcats in the second half of the Big 12 Football Championship at AT&T Stadium on December 3, 2022 in Arlington, Texas.
Image: Getty Images

If the College Football Playoff committee does its job correctly, the TCU Horned Frogs will be the first school from Texas to make the cut for the CFP. While it’s not a shock considering the Toads and Baylor Bears have been the two best programs in the Lone Star State for the past decade, they were 5-7 last year, Gary Patterson got fired, and Max Duggan isn’t some Heisman frontrunner who came with Sonny Dykes from his last job.

The Big 12 championship game was basically a reenactment of the Frogs’ favorite hits, only they didn’t pull a W out of an orifice. Losing to Kansas State the way they could have — down double digits in the fourth quarter and folding over like they have nothing else to prove — but didn’t is exactly why this team deserves a bid.

Duggan led eight- and 10-play drives in the final quarter, which included a two-point conversion to tie the contest and force overtime, and TCU once again showed its uncanny resiliency. Only this time, they were on the losing side. The Wildcats stuffed a fourth-and-short attempt in the first possession of overtime, and made the field goal for its first outright Big 12 title since 2003.

I don’t think Dykes’ team could get through an SEC schedule undefeated, but that’s not what this is about. If you’re a Power 5 program and only lose in the conference title game, no two-loss team should take your spot.

Who the hell knows how they’ll fare against Georgia or Michigan, yet I want to see if the knack for drunken, batshit crazy, don’t-you-dare-turn-off-this-game games carries over. We thought the surprise school in the CFP was going to be USC before the season, during the year, and even last week. The Trojans have the prestige, uniforms, fanbase, and everything nice to fit in with the cool kids, and not get blowback.

Nobody would complain if it was Lincoln Riley getting the benefit of the doubt after a near perfect run through a similarly competent conference. We think of the Trojans as this offensive juggernaut, which they are. However, TCU has a higher scoring offense (by percentage points but still) and a better defense.

We need to start treating the Frogs like the Aggies or Longhorns. Since TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012, they have more double-digit win seasons (four) than Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech combined (TWO TOTAL). Baylor is the only Texas-based, Power 5 program that’s had more 10-plus win campaigns (five) than TCU in the past decade, so, yeah, if you’re bitching about them possibly making the playoff over Alabama, stop.

Nobody is saying the Toads would top the Tide. But if the only reason you think TCU should be exempt from a spot is that their colors don’t look right on a field with Michigan, Georgia, or Ohio State, get used to it.

It might not be purple and black in next season’s CFP, but TCU is just the latest of many non-traditional programs that have been able to compete with the sports’ bluebloods. And they deserve just as much respect as the next 12-1 Power 5 school.