Mac Engel

Breaking into top tier all that is left for TCU football

Coaches hate preseason polls, and Gary Patterson may not be a huge fan of his team’s No. 2 ranking, but we love them almost as much as the TCU athletic department.

If you have ever wondered how much a ranking is worth, wonder no more.

According to a source, when TCU was announced as the No. 2 team in the preseason rankings, the company that handles the advertising for TCU’s broadcasting — IMG — increased the price of some spots by 500 hundred percent.

Remember, it’s about the kids.

Of the many considerable achievements Patterson and TCU have accomplished, the last rung on the ladder is to break into the elite echelon of college football’s cool kid’s club. It is theirs for the taking, and yet I have no idea how this thing is going to go down in the highly political, and sometimes inane process of college football rankings.

Know this, as the No. 2 team if they don’t make the playoffs, it’s on them and this season is a bust.

Of the many considerable achievements Patterson and TCU have accomplished this century, the last one may be the hardest — convincing others they are on the same plane as Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State and the SEC West.

It was GP himself who readily admitted before the regular-season finale last season against Iowa State that he had a feeling it somehow was going to break wrong. He was right, and TCU wound up in the Peach Bowl. Gary thought that way not because he is a doom-and-gloom cynic, but rather because he’s been around and he knows the score in college football.

As easy as it is to envision another TCU Big 12 title and an invite into the Final Four College Football playoff, it is just as realistic to expect that the Horned Frogs are going to get popped once or twice and land in the Petco Dog Poop Bowl.

The older generation of TCU football is jaded enough to expect the latter, while the young hip crowd is bullish on the Final Four.

“You just have to keep winning, keep winning and keep recruiting better players,” Patterson said after practice on Monday where he expressed pleasure with his offense and frustration with his defense.

The No. 2 ranking is a wonderful sales tool, and quite profitable, but the expectation has created a sense of almost unease disbelief around the entire school. TCU is ahead of Nick Saban and Alabama. TCU is ahead of Florida State. TCU is ahead of USC, Notre Dame and every other member of college football royalty but one — Ohio State.

Expectations are great until you have to prove them. If they can just get to the Final Four, they will become Oregon without school owner Phil Knight’s money, a cute team that broke into the top tier.

TCU has done this before. It wasn’t that long ago TCU was trying to become the next Boise State.

And this is not the first time TCU has entered a season with a high national ranking and expectations. In 2010, TCU was No. 6 in the preseason polls. The team went undefeated, won the Rose Bowl, and finished second behind national champion Auburn.

But that was different. That was in the Mountain West, which in hindsight even the most passionate TCU defender will now readily admit, “OK, you all were right, the schedule was weak.”

Doing it in the Big 12, even against a Texas team that insists on not finding a good quarterback, is just different. It is doable, but it’s just going to be harder.

With the exception of but one quarter in Waco, everything went right for TCU last year. A lot of it went right for TCU because the team was just that good, but all of that has to happen again in 2015. It has to happen in Norman. In Stillwater. In Manhattan. And in the Twilight Zone —Lubbock.

And it all has to happen this time with everybody expecting the Frogs to be perfect.

Given all TCU has accomplished under GP, taking the current Vegas line of TCU winning it all at 15/2 is not stupid money.

“I really like this group. They are really good people,” he said. “There are days you don’t like them, just like there are days they don’t like me. As a general rule, they have done an unbelievable job.”

Given how college football has treated programs such as these in the past — mostly with disdain — Ohio State, Alabama are always the safer plays.

As the No. 2 team in the country, TCU is in line to break in. It’s theirs for the taking.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog

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