At 54, the former TCU cheerleader who launched the “Horned Frog” hand sign now shows it very carefully.
Chad Schrotel lives in suburban Waco, surrounded by Baylor Bears fans not only at work and church but even in his own home.
“I get hoots and hollers everywhere, and even in Sunday school everybody razzes me,” said Schrotel, leader of a 1980 cheer squad that devised the hand sign before a summer cheerleading camp.
His wife and two of his sons graduated from Baylor, the school now lobbying college football officials for a Rose or Sugar Bowl playoff spot based on a last-second 61-58 victory over the Horned Frogs earlier this season.
“We’re hoping everybody wins and both teams go,” Schrotel said by phone this week.
“That would be awesome here.”
Schrotel and the other TCU cheerleaders had been experimenting to find a hand sign like Texas’ “Hook ’em ’Horns,” a tradition devised before a 1955 game where the Longhorns failed to “hook” the Horned Frogs.
“We were all saying, ‘We don’t have a sign, everybody has a sign, we need a sign,’ ” Schrotel said.
“We just started contorting our hands to make something like the horns on a horned frog.”
Yes, those are horns TCU fans are making with their first two fingers.
Not ears, not a horned lizard’s foot, not a peace sign.
“It’s the two prominent horns on his head,” Schrotel said.
“I love it. I love seeing kids put up the Horned Frog.”
For years, I’ve wondered if Schrotel and the cheerleaders were inspired by a 1970s TCU logo showing a onrushing Horned Frog with an outstretched claw-like foot, like something out of Godzilla.
Defensive tackle and artist Marshall Harris, later a pro football tackle and now a Fort Worth artist, designed the full-frontal Frog and other 1970s emblems including the “Flying Tee” TCU emblem.
Schrotel recognized the artwork immediately and that it was Harris’.
“I remember that logo from Marshall like it was yesterday, and it’s still a great logo,” Schrotel said.
“If you look at the frog, you see the big horns on top of his head, and that’s the look we wanted. But I can’t say that logo had a direct influence.”
The most important tip to making the Horned Frog sign is to tuck the fingers down, he said.
“It’s supposed to be down and tight, not like rabbit ears,” he said.
He’s a season-ticket holder, but hasn’t been to a game this fall because two of his sons were getting married.
“But I did go to the Rose Bowl,” he said, referring to TCU’s breakthrough 2011 victory over Wisconsin to finish an undefeated season.
“It was an incredible moment. When I was [at TCU] the highlight was when we tied Arkansas and Lou Holtz came into the locker room to say, ‘Great game.’ ”
He’ll be at TCU’s bowl or playoff games, he said.
He’ll see thousands holding up his Frog.