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College Football Spotlight

The Great Debate

November 16, 2003|Jim Rhode; Jim Barrero

TEXAS CHRISTIAN IS IN POSITION TO GAIN A BERTH IN ONE OF FOUR BCS BOWL GAMES. BUT, CONSIDERING THEIR SCHEDULE, ARE THE HORNED FROGS WORTHY OF PLAYING IN ONE?

POINT: Since the NCAA has increased its absurd number of bowl games to accommodate almost as many teams (56) as it has in its 65-team basketball tournament, why shouldn't Texas Christian have an equal opportunity to advance to the Elite Eight in both sports? The Horned Frogs aren't strangers to college football's elite status, having won national championships in 1935 and 1938 when led by two of the game's most-storied quarterbacks, Slingin' Sammy Baugh and Davey O'Brien. TCU also hooked horns with Texas for supremacy in the Southwest Conference in the 1950s. And remember the 1998 Sun Bowl, when the Horned Frogs steamrollered a Chris Claiborne-led USC defense for 314 rushing yards in a 28-19 victory? Yes, much of the luster came off the TCU program while it wallowed in mediocrity in the '60s, '70s and '80s. And yes, Conference USA has been a shelter for college football transients. But it shouldn't be guilt by association for TCU. Those LaDainian Tomlinson-led TCU teams in 1999 and 2000 could have made a run for BCS glory as a member of any of the superconferences, and this season's Horned Frogs have improved by leaps and bounds in recent games. If Clemson, West Virginia and Tennessee can have their way with Florida State, Virginia Tech and Miami, then I've got to believe that little 'ol TCU can hang with the BCS Beastie Boys.

-- Jim Rhode

COUNTERPOINT: Texas Christian is a nice little story, but do the Horned Frogs deserve to be sitting at the same table with college football's elite? Not a chance. OK, so TCU is 10-0. But against whom exactly? Among the Frogs' triumphs are five victories by three points apiece over Tulane, Alabama Birmingham, Louisville, South Florida and Arizona (in overtime no less, 13-10). Yes, this is the same Arizona team that gave up 59 points to LSU and Purdue, 52 to Oregon State and even lost to listless UCLA -- amazingly by three points. That tells you all you need to know. Another of TCU's victories is a 62-55 shootout over Houston. But 55 points to Houston? The Cougars lost to Michigan, 50-3. Topping off the TCU fairy tale of the tape is that the Frogs (or Frauds perhaps?) feature two-thirds of the service academy teams on their schedule, including 0-11 Army. Don't worry, TCU really gets to prove itself in its regular-season finale against Southern Methodist -- that's 0-11 Southern Methodist for those of you keeping score. Even twice daily nutritional supplements can't bulk up this strength of schedule.

-- Jim Barrero

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