Mac Engel

How TCU wound up on national TV against awful Kansas

TCU Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson is trying to convince his players not to overlook 1-5 Kansas.
TCU Horned Frogs head coach Gary Patterson is trying to convince his players not to overlook 1-5 Kansas.

TCU fans have itched for a quality night game at Amon G. Carter Stadium, and TV delivered one half of that wish.

But why in the holy name of criminally stupid would a major network deliberately schedule for its prime-time slot a game where the home team is favored by 39 points? C-SPAN offers more suspense than Kansas at TCU.

Fox is praying that Kansas at TCU holds to form, and maybe the network can finish third for the night. Or, if you don’t believe in Santa Claus, Fox going with KU at TCU is also a nice, crisp white flag.

The Kansas Jayhawks (1-5) are the least-good team in Power 5 football and have not been a part of a Fox national telecast since it won the Orange Bowl (yes, that actually happened) in 2008. This team should not be playing a game at 7 p.m. on national TV. A strong case can be made the Kansas Jayhawks should not be on any TV.

The Big 12, nor any conference, has much say in these schedules. Once a conference sells the broadcast rights, TV calls the shots.

This is how the magic of TCU-KU on national TV happens: ESPN and Fox have deals worked with the Big 12, and rotate who picks what games for the 11 a.m, 2:30/3 p.m. and 6:30p.m./7 p.m. slots.

Fox picked first and selected No. 9 Oklahoma at Kansas State for the 3 p.m. slot. You will notice that Fox’s top team of announcers, Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt, will be working that game in Manhattan.

ESPN then selected No. 10 Oklahoma State at Texas for 11 a.m.

That left Fox, which looked at the evening’s TV landscape, to ask, “What the hell?” It grabbed Kansas at No. 4 TCU for the 7 p.m. slot.

It wasn’t about to go with No. 23 West Virginia at winless Baylor. So the network went with the No. 4-ranked team.

Figure this: No. 11 USC plays at No. 13 Notre Dame at 6:30 p.m. on NBC and No. 19 Michigan plays at No. 2 Penn State at 6:30 p.m. on ABC.

Even had Fox selected the OU-KSU game for the prime time broadcast, there was no way the Big 12 could compete with games involving USC-Notre Dame and Penn State-Michigan at the same time. Fox simply went with the safe play of winning the mid-day slate of games.

And Fox hopes that, perhaps, TCU’s 2017 game against KU plays out the way the previous meetings have gone since the Horned Frogs joined the Big 12.

In the previous five meetings between the two teams, the total margin is 35 points. And TCU has won the last three games by four points, six points and one point.

KU always stinks. But the Jayhawks always manage to make TCU coach Gary Patterson wipe his glasses and re-adjust his khakis a few thousand times.

During his weekly press conference on Tuesday, GP did his best to convince the media, fans and his players that Horned Frogs v. Jayhawks is a real game not only worth playing but watching.

He said things like:

“They’ve got guys on their staff that know us real well.”


“Every game past this point is a tough one.”

No it’s not. It’s Kansas.

“The whole town, they know they played us close, they’re all ramped up.”

Lawrence, Kansas, does not care. The Jayhawks’ average announced attendance is 26,404.

“In this day and age if you don’t take everyone seriously you’re in trouble.

Again. Not true. It’s Kansas.

“The Iowa State game (against Kansas last week) was a mudslide. You can’t take anything out of that ballgame. Except one team won and one team lost.”

Iowa State didn’t seem to have any trouble in the conditions and won, 45-0.

TCU-Kansas won’t be close because the Jayhawks are a Jayjoke. This game has no business being played in prime time on a major network, but the Horned Frogs fans who want a night game got one.

It should be a great atmosphere at Amon G. Carter Stadium to watch SC play Notre Dame on a TV in the parking lot.

Mac Engel: @macengelprof

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