Shortly after TCU head football coach Gary Patterson announced that Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill is his starting quarterback, he also made sure the world knows just how much of a daunting challenge the Week 1 opponent poses.
“This is a good team,” he said.
How good? Well, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits are not listed among the college football resource, sports-reference.com.
“They beat Kansas,” GP said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
Oh ... well ... that changes everything.
SDSU is a member of the FCS Missouri Valley Football Conference, and the Jacks finished 8-4 overall with a 5-3 conference record in 2015. Yes, the Jacks did beat Kansas. So did every other team last season.
The Jacks are not a joke - they are a decent FCS team. In the Dakotas, the team to avoid is not SDSU but rather NDSU. North Dakota State is the monster. Gary knew better than to try NDSU.
Patterson is no different than any other Power 5 coach right now who is trying to create interest among his football players for their Money Games; the home (power) team pays the small school a giant-six figure check in return for a win. Some people choose to call The Money Game a Guarantee Game - a guaranteed check in return for a guaranteed win.
Every so often a team from the FCS (formerly I-AA) level collects a big check and and the win, but when SDSU travels to TCU on Saturday, Sept. 3 that will not be happening.
Even with only eight seniors, this does not figure to be an exciting Money Game for TCU.
Media and fans all hate money games for the obvious reasons - they are boring - but they are a part of the college football season. The Money Game is a glorified practice but coaches all know the routine.
The non-Power Five, and all FCS, teams need money games to cover the costs of a season, and sometimes for the operating expenses of an athletic department.
Every power team plays one to as many as three Money Games per season, depending how desperate the head coach is to make a bowl game. Scheduling these games can be easy, or a major pain.
One of the least recognized attributes of Patterson’s regime at TCU is his ability to attract FCS teams for a money game. Cash talks but so does hospitality and to follow the code of the money game.
The unwritten rule is, “We’re coming to your place and we know blowouts are part of often part of the equation, but do not hurt our guys.”
Since TCU has become a national brand in football, Money Games have been one sided but the losing team usually leaves intact. That’s the biggest priority for the losing coach; he wants to leave the game with his best players healthy for the rest of the season.
If the games are blowouts and the first stringers are staying in for extended periods for the power team, it can create a bad perception for the head coach and often hinder his efforts to schedule future Money Games. It can also drive up the price tag for the power team.
For about the last 10 years, TCU has scheduled at least one Money Game per season. At least according to the people in the TCU athletic department, scheduling these Money Games for Patterson has mostly been an easy task because he does not play his starters for prolonged periods; he takes his foot off the gas and lets the underclassmen play once the game is gone.
Quarterback Kenny Hill will start in his TCU debut against South Dakota State, but do not expect him to play the full 60 minutes. Backup Foster Sawyer should see plenty of action to finish up TCU’s only Money Game of the season.
And then we can look forward to the real game.