A couple of guys who chronicle the national college football scene for big-time websites entertained me last week with a who-cares-if-it’s-only-May sudden rush of opinions.
Does anybody at this point actually care about a “post-spring 2013 season Top 25 poll?”
Well, yes. Me.
Thank you, Dennis Dodd of CBSsports.com and Andy Staples of SI.com. I enjoyed your work.
And these Top 25 polls in May also prompted a Friday call to TCU’s Gary Patterson, which is never a bad thing.
Patterson, however, laughed when I broke the news to him that in one of those polls TCU is ranked as the best team in the Big 12 for this fall, and in the other poll it’s only the toughness of the schedule that keeps him out of the No. 1 conference spot.
“It is May, right?” he answered. “But even if we’re a bit early with all this, it comes down to the same old thing. It’s my job to prove you guys right or wrong. Wrong if you pick us last and right if you pick us up high.
“But me, right now, I’d be looking at Oklahoma State in our conference. Got those two good quarterbacks.”
Patterson, however, also didn’t attempt to low-ball Frogdom expectations for the fall.
“Do we have a chance to be up there? Yes,” he asked and answered. “Some good luck would need to happen, with injuries and all that, and if so, we’re capable of being top four in our conference.”
If nothing else, it’s been a quiet start to 2013 for TCU, with five months so far of nothing but National Signing Day, more recruiting for the future and spring practice. Football stuff only.
A year ago, as the Frogs awaited their Big 12 debut, there had already been a massive upheaval after a campus drug bust in February took down four football players.
It was merely a sign of more bad things to come. When fall practice opened in August, injuries began to wreck the depth, and the injuries continued to pile up. Worst of all, stud quarterback Casey Pachall went on an off-the-field stupidity binge, and was kicked off the team and withdrew from school in October.
Playing as many as 16 true freshmen at times, the Frogs limped in with a 4-5 conference record.
But the defense, despite being ripe with youth, appeared to be the Big 12’s best unit by the end of the season.
“You would think with as young as we had to go last season, and with how so many of our young guys stepped up, there would be a payoff down the road,” said Patterson.
Down the road is this coming season.
“But we still will have only about six or seven seniors [taking major snaps], so it’s going to be a young team again,” he added.
At the moment, the Big 12 has no major top-five-in-the-nation contenders. It’s a wide-open conference. Outside of Kansas, and maybe Iowa State, the other eight schools have some kind of shot.
But with the Big 12 so balanced, two major questions hang heavy on University Drive.
Second, the schedule.
It is interesting that Patterson has not officially selected Pachall his starter, which could lead to all sorts of speculation, starting with the issue of Pachall’s past problems.
Is the head coach not happy about something with Pachall after his return in the spring to both school and the team?
No, answered Patterson. Actually, he’s very pleased with Trevone Boykin.
“I’m telling you, Trevone had a great spring, and was much improved from last season,” the head coach replied. “I’m not holding out on [selecting] Casey for any reason. I wouldn’t lead [Boykin] on like that.”
The ineptness of the offense in TCU’s awful bowl loss to Michigan State in December had seemed to seal Boykin’s fate and pave the way for Pachall.
“We had to put Trevone in a tough situation last season, and I liked the way he worked at it, but I really liked the improvements I saw this spring,” Patterson said.
Pachall, of course, figures to still be the starter, but it sounds like Patterson has plans for Trevone.
Then there’s the Frogs’ schedule:
Open the season Aug. 31 in Arlington against LSU. That one, of course, will be watched closely nationwide. (Speaking of early, the Las Vegas line has the Tigers as a 6 1/2-point favorite.)
In conference play, the Frogs must deal with road games against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State.
“Plus,” Patterson quickly added, “on the road in Lubbock, on a Thursday night in early September, and the Texas Tech fans will be all into that one. Then we also go to Ames, and nobody like to play [Iowa State] up there.”
Again this season, TCU has only four home conference games because of a return trip to Stillwater. It’s some strange arrangement the Frogs accepted — gladly, by the way — as part of being admitted into the Big 12 and playing the old Texas A&M conference schedule.
Take LSU, then throw in five conference road games, and Patterson said, “If you are going to win a conference, win a national championship, do something big, like we always have as a team goal, then you’ve got to play this kind of schedule.
“Starting right off with LSU, that’s what I call a stretch game. I like one stretch game in nonconference. With the game at the end of August, I’ll say this: LSU gets the kids’ attention that first day of fall camp [July 31]. They get focused in a hurry.”
One of those Top 25 May polls last week had TCU ranked No. 15 in the country, best among Big 12 schools, and logically listed Pachall as the key to the Frogs’ year.
The other one had TCU at No. 19, behind Texas (No. 13), K-State (No. 14) and Oklahoma (No. 15) but in the comments said TCU would be the favorite for the Big 12 if not for LSU and conference road games at Norman, Manhattan and Stillwater.
But as Patterson quickly noted Friday, what about Lubbock, what about Ames?
I found all this to be good entertainment. Even in May.