Since it dumped millions into athletics more than a decade ago, TCU has done everything it said it could - and would - meaning there is one item left on its to-do list: Win a national title in a big-time sport.
With all due respect to equestrian, that doesn’t quite cut it as big-time.
Driving around TCU’s campus, and seeing the facility upgrades continuing at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, it has become rather apparent the school is just about on the same plane as every other major Division I college athletic department. It has every toy possible, and nearly every advantage a school could want ... save for its own exclusive TV deal with ESPN.
In a sense, they did it.
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“What is left? For us to win championships,” TCU director of athletics Chris Del Conte told me.
That’s what everyone says, but in college athletics that expectation is often unrealistic. Sometimes schools simply do not have the means to win a title. It was unrealistic at TCU for a long while but now is indeed an attainable goal. They are ready, and can, win a national championship. It is simply a matter of doing it.
This ascension is still one of the most remarkable in college athletics in the last 25 years.
TCU slowly worked its way up to a Power 5 conference, and then quickly moved up within the Big 12. The school was not merely content to be in the club but wants to have a voice in it.
“(Championships) are the ultimate goal and our job is to provide all of the tools we can in order to do that,” Del Conte said. “I don’t think you ever feel like you made it, but that’s just because of competition. Our expectation is just to compete at the highest level for championships, and every coach here is driven by that.”
Assuming the flood waters that have soaked North Texas this month recede, TCU’s baseball team will begin its run at a national title today in the NCAA tournament at a baseball stadium that is undergoing another round of upgrades. The football team will be a preseason Top 5 team when the ‘15 season begins after it won a share of the Big 12 last season and finished third in the final AP rankings.
“We talk about it all the time - what do we need to do to win championships?” Del Conte said. “I really do think we are close. I remember after we got into the Big 12 and listening to our coaches I thought, ‘We got this.’ (Football coach Gary Patterson) was in our head coaches’ meeting and he said, ‘Every (conference) move we made we have been successful. It’s not our starting 22 I’m worried about - it’s our depth.’ That was his message, and it was the same for all of us.”
When TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012 the transition was thought to be a five-year process. It took roughly three years before most teams looked like they could compete, and win. As a result, expectations are justifiably up, and now it’s simply a matter of winning the whole thing.
Mac Engel, 817-390-7760