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Star-Telegram.com

TCU-Baylor rivalry grows bitter between fans

Posted Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011

By Stefan Stevenson

sstevenson@star-telegram.com

Jeff Olson shook off the question, but his smile gave a different answer.

TCU's left tackle downplayed the ever-growing rivalry with Baylor and insisted that he hadn't paid much attention to the brewing nastiness between the fans.

"It's fun, but you really try not to get wrapped up in it," Olson said. "We try to stay back and let the fans talk. Fans are always going to talk no matter who is playing. We really try to stay out of it. At the end of the day it's just going to be us versus them, so why give them bulletin-board material."

Although both fan bases try to claim the high road, and many fans from both camps are voices of reason on their respective message boards, there is also plenty of venom thrown around.

The animosity exploded when Baylor was asked to join the Big 12 Conference when the Southwest Conference imploded in the mid-1990s. Horned Frogs fans felt shunned, while their team lived a drifter's life, moving from Conference USA to the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West.

But something happened during those vagabond years: TCU started winning. And winning a lot under Gary Patterson. The Frogs' success has flipped the dynamics and seems to have created an inferiority complex among Bears fans, similar to what Frogs fans were feeling a decade ago when they were left for dead.

Patterson and Baylor's Art Briles have tried to stay above the fray, but recent comments from Patterson (he compared Baylor to a "caged animal" because of its hatred for TCU) have set Bears message boards on fire. Here's a sampling of some of the milder posts on Baylorfans.com:

FishThtSvdWaco: For the record, I don't hate Gary Patterson, and I absolutely don't hate TCU. Rather I look at Patterson with the disdain... We understand Patterson, but we don't want to be him. And we certainly don't want him in our social circles. That's not hate, that's disregard. There is a world of difference.

Bearof1901: The TCU coach and fans obsession with us is getting down right creepy... must be how UT fans feel about Aggy.

eastdallasloco: i never hated tcu in my life until the past couple of years. ... we just need to beat them fri.

Briles isn't interested in dissecting the genesis of the feud. He downplayed the rivalry last year before TCU beat Baylor 45-10 in Fort Worth and did again Monday during his press conference.

"We're not going to look at TCU and say this is our game, because if we look down the road, every game is a big game and we have a lot of Big 12 Conference games staring us in the face," Briles said. "Is it an opportunity to play a team that won the Rose Bowl and been Mountain West champions? The word opportunity bothers me, it always has. I think we can accomplish something by having a good game Friday night."

The disagreements run so deep that both schools claim a 50-49-7 advantage in the series. Both sports information departments say the discrepancy probably dates back decades.

Patterson shrugged off the acrimony as typical fandom.

"Anywhere we've gone on the road we were hated," Patterson said.

"We were hated at Utah, we were hated at Clemson. If I hated everybody that I played the rest of my life and they hated me then you wouldn't have any friends. For one week you have to go after it and then I'm going to cheer for Baylor. Just like I do for SMU, Texas, A&M and all the rest of them."

Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin said the Bears were too hyped for last year's meeting with the Frogs. He's confident -- despite Friday's nationally televised game being the season opener -- that the Bears have their emotions in check.

"I think last year we were highly motivated, extremely hyped and that was our downfall," Griffin said. "This year I think it's more assured confidence getting ready for that game. We were way too hyped for that game, and it set us up for that letdown. I think last year's game was a wakeup call. I could thank TCU, because after that game it made us a better team.

"It will be a good stage for both teams. We're looking forward to it. There's not much more you can say about it. Our fans are looking for some excitement and a victory and their fans are looking for some excitement and a victory. We're ready to go out and play."

So are the message boards.

Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760

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