The normally quiet postgame scene outside TCU's locker room was much more chaotic the night Kansas State played in Fort Worth. A crowd of recruits and families filled the hallway, waiting to chat with coaches and players.
TCU had just lost to Kansas State, but the Horned Frogs were still winners, because they were able to lure top recruits to the campus by playing the No. 2 team in the country.
While not all of the players who came for the game Nov. 10 had TCU at the top of their list, the school's entrance into the Big 12 has accomplished what coach Gary Patterson said was half the fight.
"We've had kids that we've recruited but we couldn't get them on campus now come on campus, now looking, seeing what kind of new locker room we have, they see the new indoor [practice facility], they see the new stadium, they see the kind of crowds we have," Patterson said at the Big 12 Media Days in July.
Frisco Centennial High School cornerback Ranthony Texada has committed to TCU and has been a constant at Horned Frogs home games this season. He agreed with Patterson that big-time, Big 12 games bring recruits to Fort Worth to experience Horned Frogs football.
Not only did he love the atmosphere of TCU's blackout against K-State, but Texada said the experience also was made more enjoyable by having so many recruits around.
"Playing in the big-time conference and being close to home where my parents can come to the games, it was a good fit for me," Texada said.
Texada, rated a three-star recruit by Rivals.com, committed in July after getting 19 offers from schools including Baylor, Iowa State and SMU.
Eason Fromayan, an offensive lineman from Alpharetta, Ga., withdrew a commitment to Cincinnati in July to immediately pledge to TCU.
"With all the talk of super conferences and all the realignment, I wanted to be in a top-tier conference," he said. "The Big 12 brings TCU a huge amount of national attention, especially on the East Coast, where people have the perception of it being a relatively unknown school. Now people here can watch them play Texas, K-State, West Virginia and other well-known teams."
Arlington Bowie defensive back Steve Wesley picked TCU for the chance to lock down pass-happy offenses like Baylor and West Virginia.
"I wanted to be with the big dogs," he said.
TCU has 14 commitments, with five of them from Tarrant County. However, the true grading on this class remains to be seen because several blue-chip prospects still remain undecided with TCU high on their list, such as Dallas Kimball defensive tackle Justin Manning and Waco defensive tackle Andrew Billings.
ESPN recruiting analyst Jeremy Crabtree said not to expect TCU to break from what built its success over the past decade, including bringing in lower-rated recruits and coaching them up into NFL-caliber prospects.
Now, however, Patterson has a much easier pitch to the four- and five-star players in Texas.
"High-profile recruits all want to play in big-time football games," Crabtree said. "They want to play in those Saturday night atmospheres where a national TV audience is watching them, and obviously you get that kind of exposure in the Big 12. Those are things all recruits crave and, no knock on their previous conference, but it's something that coach Patterson and his staff weren't able to pull out and sell kids on. But now they're able to sell that and with the opportunity for some kids to play close to home -- it's an appealing formula."