The announcement on Monday that TCU would be hosting one of the NCAA’s baseball regionals serves as a point of inspiration throughout the school’s athletic department, as well as a warning.
Now is the time to get your expectations up.
That the announcement came at the same venue that is the school’s pride and joy — the football stadium, which has not had many reasons to celebrate in the past two years — was slightly ironic. TCU needed the baseball team to get a big roar at the football stadium.
Thinly veiled shots withstanding, both Sunday and Monday were wonderful moments for an athletic department that needed one. TCU has poured cash into its baseball team, as well as the other sports, and Sunday’s win in the Big 12 title game, and Monday’s announcement are the type of residual this department needs for morale as much as anything else.
“Absolutely,” TCU director of athletics Chris Del Conte said. “This is a big thing for us. We’ve been so good for so long and for us to have this, we needed it.”
When TCU was added to the Big 12, baseball was the one sport that most people felt could hang immediately. By winning the Big 12 tournament on Sunday in Oklahoma City to earn this school’s first Big 12 title in any sport, and then being named one of the national seeds, Jim Schlossnagle’s team proved both his team, and this department, are worthy.
“A relief? You could say that,” he said. “Programs are going to hit a speed bump. I didn’t want to go backwards. I wanted to flip it around. We have created expectations here.”
This sounds like a certain purple and white football team.
With the exception of a basketball team that only in two years will have the facilities not to be ashamed of, there is no reason why every sport can’t win a conference title sooner rather than later. TCU’s baseball team did it, and in the second-best league in the country.
If you think this is a bit of a dig at the football team, you would be correct.
Since before TCU was added to the Big 12, head coach Gary Patterson warned the purple masses that this was going to take time, and that he needed two years — one to play at home and on the road versus conference teams — to have an idea, as well as to update recruiting.
It was a perfectly fair and reasonable request. Those two years are up. Anything after this, and the fandom that so adores him will tire of anything perceived as an excuse, and then the complaining will begin. If you listen hard enough, it’s already happening. Reason or logic never have a place when it comes to the blind, and often times idiotic, passion of college sports.
I asked Del Conte whether, with the success of the baseball team winning TCU’s first Big 12 title, it’s a signal to the rest of the teams that this type of success is expected.
“It’s kind of like breaking the four-minute mile,” Del Conte said. “Once it’s done, it’s done. It’s a special feeling. Now we can go and do it in all of them.”
He is not saying this will happen today, but now they know they can.
It should be noted Del Conte is granting a pass to men’s basketball, which next season will play in a glorified high school gym as Daniel-Meyer Coliseum is renovated and updated. The program that Trent Johnson took over was in such an impossible situation in the Big 12 that to judge him now would be silly and stupid.
Equating the success of a baseball team to that of the football team is not perfectly analogous, but both teams were the class of their previous league — the Mountain West Conference.
Both entered the Big 12 with others expecting they could compete immediately. Depending on your definition of success, both had their moments; football’s best moments were, unfortunately, all on the road. One home win over Kansas doesn’t count.
It is agreed, across the board, that TCU fans and the school enjoy their place in the Big 12 more than running the show in the Mountain West. Being relevant with college sports’ A-listers is more fun than beating up its weaklings.
Two years have passed since TCU joined the Big 12, and now the school has the type of trophy to know it can win in this league, and the league.
It’s time for the others (i.e. football) to follow suit, and for everybody involved to get your expectations up.
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