Defending TCU

by Jason Carter | 11/13/03 6:00am

To the Editor:

As a TCU alumnus ('97), we Frog fans have become accustomed to the ridicule and condescension of fans of teams from BCS conferences, but I think animosity from the Ivy League, (regarding Adam Small's Nov. 12 sports column "What's BCS With No 'C'?") must be a first. Keep in mind that TCU, much like Dartmouth, is a small private school that maintains a strong academic reputation (not Ivy League, but strong nonetheless). However, unlike Dartmouth and her Ivy brethren, TCU decided not to abandon the pursuit of excellence in major college athletics, deeming such pursuit beneficial to the overall academic mission of the university.

In light of this, I find it interesting that a fan of an Ivy League school would be so adamantly offended by the presence of a school like TCU among the nations elite in football. Despite the overwhelming disadvantages facing TCU as a small private university (no financial windfall from automatic conference representation in BCS bowl games, difficulty in recruiting top athletes due to inability to sit at the table with BCS teams, sacrificing fan support to play weeknight games for the sake of TV exposure, etc.), TCU manages to field a team that, even Mr. Small admits, is a legitimate top 25 program, and has been so consistently over the last 5 years (unlike many other non-BCS "flash-in-the-pans" like Tulane and NIU).

Mr. Small is correct in stating that TCU has played the weakest schedule among the top ranked programs but incorrect in stating we have only played one team from a BCS conference (we beat Vanderbilt 30-14, about the same margin of victory as Georgia and Florida over Vandy). Nonetheless, TCU has won despite playing most of the season without its top quarterback and top three tailbacks, not to mention significant injuries to several key defensive personnel. And although TCU "hasn't played anybody" this year, TCU has played and beaten top BCS programs in the recent past, including a Carson Palmer-led USC team in the 1998 Sun Bowl (with TCU having, frankly, a one-dimensional mediocre team), 2000 Big 10 co-champ Northwestern in Evanston, and kept eventual national champion runner-up Nebraska within two scores in Lincoln in 2001, holding them to their lowest rushing total all year. This year TCU will end the season with its third 10-win season in four years.

So despite Mr. Small's protest to the contrary, TCU is not a joke and not a rare flash-in-the pan. And, in my utterly biased opinion, TCU should be lauded for its ability to maintain a competitive program without sacrificing the academic quality of the institution. TCU has not run from the challenge of fielding a competitive football team in a viscious world of large state schools who would like to see TCU go away. Can Dartmouth and her Ivy League brethren say the same?