Gil LeBreton

Jim Schlossnagle, here to stay, has earned every TCU cent

TCU baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle has led the Frogs to three straight College World Series.
TCU baseball coach Jim Schlossnagle has led the Frogs to three straight College World Series. AP

The news made Page 5 of our sports section one day last week.

But the ripples resounded from Louisville to … well … Austin.

Jim Schlossnagle’s TCU baseball team was already in College Station, preparing to play Texas A&M in the NCAA Super Regional, when word began to circulate about his contract extension.

Confirmation of the new agreement was both highly stealthy and very timely. And typically TCU, under the watch of Chancellor Victor Boschini and athletic director Chris Del Conte.

Late Sunday night, though, after the Horned Frogs had defeated the Aggies to earn a trip to the College World Series for the third consecutive year, Del Conte was in a much better mood to talk about the previous week’s headlines.

“What — you think that Brinks truck just happened by?” Del Conte said of the Schlossnagle extension.

He was still laughing when I asked him how much of a coincidence was it that a coaching job had recently opened at a school a few hours down Interstate 35.

Del Conte giggled again and said, “Hey, I was born at night, but not last night.”

There was a time, frankly, not all that long ago, when I thought the job of Texas Longhorns head coach, 77-year-old Augie Garrido’s old job, would inevitably be Schlossnagle’s one day. After all, Schlossnagle’s TCU program has supplanted Garrido’s as the most successful in the state. TCU recruiting classes have annually been finishing ahead of Texas’. More TCU alumni are starring in the major leagues.

Texas also could throw more salary dollars at Schlossnagle than TCU can. Garrido’s final annual salary was reported to be $1,072,500.

Somewhere along the way, however, maybe somewhere between Omaha and the oak-lined TCU neighborhood that Schloss and his wife Kami live in, the 45-year-old Schlossnagle realized that everything he wanted in coaching was already within reach.

He’ll leave Thursday with his team for their third Omaha trip in a row and fourth in seven seasons.

“It’s unbelievable,” Del Conte reflected. “Think of what he’s done for our baseball program, just to see where we’ve come from and the culture he’s built.”

Del Conte contends that a contract extension was coming, anyway, even before the Garrido news.

Two weeks ago Louisville gave its coach, Dan McDonnell, a 10-year, $10.6 million contract that will make him college baseball’s newest highest paid coach.

“When the landscape starts to change,” Del Conte said, “our job is to make sure our guys stay, and the landscape changed when Louisville gave its coach that raise.

“Gary Patterson and Schloss have taken us to new heights. My job is to make sure they stay at TCU.”

As the Frogs bounced from league to league after the breakup of the Southwest Conference, two sports were able to grab a solid, successful foothold. Football and baseball became part of the “TCU brand,” Del Conte said. They were the programs, as much as any, where TCU felt it could convince the Big 12 that the Frogs would be able to compete.

One Fiesta Bowl, Rose Bowl and Peach Bowl and four College World Series later, Del Conte was right.

So he paid the man.

Like he said, he wasn’t born last week.

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