|TCU Horned Frogs football|
|Athletic director||Chris Del Conte|
|Head coach||Gary Patterson|
|Home stadium||Amon Carter Stadium|
|Location||Fort Worth, Texas|
|Past conferences||Mountain West (2005-11)|
Conf. USA (2001-04)
Texas IAA (1914-20)
|Postseason bowl record||13–14–1|
|Claimed national titles||2|
|Colors||Purple and white|
|Fight song||TCU Fight|
The TCU Horned Frogs football team is the intercollegiate football team of Texas Christian University. TCU played as a member of the Mountain West Conference in the NCAA's Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, but has moved to the Big 12 Conference for the 2012 season. TCU began playing football in 1896 and has a share in the split national championship of 1935 and were outright national champions in 1938. TCU has one Heisman Trophy winner, Davey O'Brien, and has had seven former players inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
TCU was reckoned as a major power in college football throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, when it was a member of the now-defunct Southwest Conference. TCU suffered setbacks in the program in the 1960s, but has seen a recent resurgence under current head coach Gary Patterson. TCU has finished in the AP Poll's Top 10 seven times in the past ten years.
Early Years (1897–1922)
TCU's first year of football was 1896, when it still went by the name AddRan Male & Female College. TCU won its first game ever played by beating Toby’s Business College to the score of 8–6, apparently not having to use any substitutes. TCU finished its first ever season with a record of 12–0–0.[clarification needed]
In 1920, TCU won its first conference title as a member of the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association (TIAA). The Horned Frogs' 9–1–0 record earned them a spot in the Fort Worth Classic, also known as the Dixie Bowl, against Centre College. Although the game was played in Fort Worth, Centre won the game 63–7.
Early Southwest Conference years (1923–1933)
In 1923, TCU endured a 5-game winning streak during its first year in the SWC, but it earned a 2–1–0 conference record and a 5–4–0 overall record. One loss that year was a 40–21 decision against TCU's emerging rival, the SMU Mustangs, who went 9–0 en route to a conference championship. The next year, TCU finished second place in the conference with a 5–1 SWC record and another 5–2 overall record.
After two great seasons, the Horned Frogs righted the ship. Prior to 1923 TCU had had a revolving door of coaches, with no coaching the football for more than two years. Following entrance to the SWC, the school established a high degree of stability, employing just four coaches over the next 43 years, and would not hit last place again until 1953. Under those four coaches (Bell, Schmidt, Meyer, and Martin, the Frogs accumulated a record of 262–165–30.
Matty Bell, who began coaching the Frogs in 1923, had his best year in 1928, his last year as coach. That year's only losses came at home 7–6 to the Baylor Bears and to Texas by a score of 6–0. That year the Frogs finished in second place in the conference at 8–2–0 overall and 3–2 in conference play.
The 1929 season saw the arrival of Coach Francis Schmidt and TCU's first SWC title. The title was won in the last game of the year on November 30, 1929 against SMU. Coming into the game TCU led SMU in the conference standings. TCU had 4 wins, while SMU's conference record was 3–0–1. Since this was the last conference game of the year for both teams, TCU could win its first SWC title with a win or a tie. The first half of the game was scoreless, but in the third quarter Weldon “Speedy” Mason tacked on 40 yards to a 16-yard pass from SMU quarterback Bob Gilbert. After the extra point, the Mustangs led 7–0. TCU would not score until its second time on the SMU] 1-yard line in the fourth quarter. That is when TCU quarterback Howard Grubbs ran behind All-SWC fullback Harlos Green and Mike Brumbelow for the game-tying score. The Frogs left plenty of time on the clock for SMU to answer their score, but Grubbs, now playing defense, intercepted Gilbert's pass. TCU then ran the clock out to force the tie and to win its first SWC title.
The Dutch Meyer era (1934–1952)
1935 began the first year for TCU coach Dutch Meyer. That year TCU and SMU again met to decide not only the SWC title but the first trip to the Rose Bowl for a team from the SWC. Grantland Rice of the New York Sun called it the "Game of the Century" and reported the following:
In a TCU Stadium that seated 30,000 spectators, over 36,000 wildly excited Texans and visitors from every corner of the map packed, jammed, and fought their way into every square foot of standing and seating space to see one of the greatest football games ever played…this tense, keyed up crowd even leaped the wire fences from the top of automobiles…”
SMU scored the first 14 points of the game. TCU, led by All-American quarterback Sammy Baugh, tied the game at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Then, with seven minutes left in the game SMU, on a 4th and 4 on the Frogs' 37 yard-line, lined up to punt. Quarterback Bob Finley threw a 50-yard pass to running back Bobby Wilson who made what is described as a “jumping, twisting catch that swept him over the line for the touchdown.” TCU would lose the game 20–14, but would be invited to play the LSU Tigers in the 1936 Sugar Bowl, where the Frogs would be victorious 3–2 at messy and muddy Tulane Tulane Stadium.
Even with the loss to SMU, who later lost to Stanford in the 1936 Rose Bowl, TCU claims 1935 as a national championship year. Dan Jenkins states that one of the first statistical national polls was created by Frank G. Dickinson in 1924. By 1935 there were several other polls, and “…only one of them was big and caught on big and rivaled Dickinson. This was the Paul O. Williamson System out of New Orleans. It quickly gained nation-wide respect and a large syndicated circulation.” The Williamson System awarded TCU a shared championship with LSU in 1935, the year before the first sportswriter poll by the Associated Press. The Dickinson poll awarded SMU the national title, and several smaller polls designated the University of Minnesota and Princeton University as their champions
Meyer led TCU to a win in the inaugural Cotton Bowl Classic in 1937. A year later, TCU would go undefeated in 1938 behind TCU’s only Heisman Trophy winner—quarterback Davey O'Brien. That year the Frogs' closest game came against the University of Arkansas where they beat the Razorbacks 21–14 in Fort Worth. They were invited to the 1939 Sugar Bowl and beat the Carnegie Tech Tartans from Pittsburgh by a score of 15–7 in front of more than 50,000 spectators.
Meyer coached TCU from 1934 to 1952, compiling a record of 109-79-13. He also won seven Southwest Conference titles.
The Abe Martin era (1953–1966)
When Dutch Meyer retired, his backfield assistant, Abe Martin, became head coach at TCU. One of his three tries at a SWC title came in 1958. The Frogs only losses were to Iowa by a score of 0–17 and at #18 SMU, 13–20. The 1958 season ended in a scoreless tie against the Air Force Falcons in the 1959 Cotton Bowl Classic. Martin-led TCU teams amassed a 4–1–1 record in bowl games. The lone win came in the 1957 Cotton Bowl Classic against a Jim Brown-led Syracuse team in front of 68,000 spectators. A blocked extra-point attempt was the difference in the game and allowed the Horned Frogs to win 28–27.
Pittman/F.A. Dry Era (1967–1982)
After TCU won the 1959 SWC championship, the Horned Frogs did not earn another share of the conference title for twenty years. During this time, TCU played the role of the underdog. In 1961, Bill Van Fleet of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram called the Horned Frogs' 6–0 win at then-No. 1 Texas, "the season's greatest upset of the year." In 1965, TCU traveled to El Paso to play in the Sun Bowl against UTEP; the Frogs won 13–12. The state of football at TCU eventually declined and in the 1980s to 1983 the Frogs never won more than two games in three seasons.
Jim Wacker (1983–1991) and NCAA Probation
TCU would have a successful year in 1984 under coach Jim Wacker. That year TCU leaned on All-American running back Kenneth Davis. The Frogs would be invited to the Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston for their bowl invitation in 1984 to play the West Virginia Mountaineers. The Frogs would lose against the Mountaineers 31–14. TCU wouldn't attend another bowl game until the 1994 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana, which they lost, 20–10, to the Virginia Cavaliers.
In 1986, the NCAA placed TCU on three year probation. They found that 6 boosters provided football recruits and football players with cash and other forms of payment. The final penalty of the NCAA was to ban TCU from post-season play for one season, a forfeiture of TV revenue for the 1983 and 1984 seasons, only 10 scholarships for the 1987–88 academic year and only 15 scholarships for the 1988–89 season. The NCAA said it would have given TCU a harsher penalty: a three-year ban from postseason play, a three-year television appearance ban and no new scholarships for two years. In the NCAA's public release they imposed a reduced penalty because TCU self-reported the violations, suspended the players in question, fully cooperated with the enforcement committee and presented a lack of previous infractions.
The Pat Sullivan era (1992-1997)
In 1992, his first year as head coach, Sullivan introduced a new arched TCU logo. This change to the uniforms was part of a broader plan by Sullivan and the school to replace the expectation of losing with a new look and attitude. Since its introduction the arched TCU has become the preferred and most popular of the school's logos.
In 1992 Sullivan's team finished 2-8-1, but one of their victories was a 28-14 triumph over the Texas Longhorns, which was a major accomplishment for the program at that time.
The 1993 team continued to show signs of improvement, finishing 4-7.
1994 was Sullivan's best year. In the final game of that season, Sullivan led TCU to a 24-17 victory over Texas Tech before a crowd of 43,000 at Amon Carter Stadium. That victory propelled the Frogs to a 7-5 record and a share of the Southwest Conference title. It was the first the Southwest Conference title for TCU since 1959.
After 1994, the team regressed: the Frogs went 6-5 in 1995, the last year of the Southwest Conference. TCU struggled even more during Sullivan's final two seasons, when the team competed in the Western Athletic Conference. They finished 4-7 in 1996, and a disastrous 1-10 campaign in 1997 led to Sullivan's firing.
One of Coach Sullivan's greatest contributions to TCU was the recruitment of future NFL star running back LaDainian Tomlinson to Fort Worth.
Dennis Franchione (1998–2000)
Under Dennis Franchione, and with the help of Tomlinson, TCU defeated the USC Trojans in the 1998 Sun Bowl. In the three years Coach Franchione was at TCU, his bowl record was 2–0 and he accumulated three WAC Championships. Franchione coached the entire 2000 regular season, but left for the head coaching position at the University of Alabama before the 2000 Mobile Alabama Bowl.
The Gary Patterson era (2000–present)
Defensive Coordinator Gary Patterson took over as head coach for the bowl game in 2000. In 2001 TCU left the WAC for Conference USA (C-USA). TCU would only stay in C-USA for four years before accepting an invitation to join the newly formed Mountain West Conference (MWC).
Patterson led the Horned Frogs to five conference championships. In 2002, TCU shared the C-USA title with Cincinnati. In 2005, TCU won the MWC title their first year in the league, and the Frogs claimed additional conference crowns in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Patterson has had a winning season every year except 2004, and TCU has gone to a bowl game every year except 2004.
In a return to the Poinsettia Bowl in 2008 the perpetually underrated #11 Frogs defeated unbeaten #9 Boise State 17–16. Boise State was the second to last unbeaten team in the nation in 2008 besides the Utah Utes. TCU's Poinsettia Bowl victory helped them finish the 2008 season ranked #7 in the country.
In 2009, TCU again attained national prominence with its second undefeated regular season (12–0) since Dutch Meyer led the Frogs to perfection in 1938. They lost in the 2010 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, 17–10, to the Boise State Broncos, on January 4, 2010—their first major-bowl appearance since the 1959 Cotton Bowl.
In the following year, the Horned Frogs capped their second consecutive perfect regular season with a win in their first Rose Bowl, a 21–19 victory over Big 10 co-champion Wisconsin on New Year's Day, 2011. This capped off only the second undefeated and untied season in school history.
After going 11-2 and winning the Mountain West title again in 2011, the Horned Frogs played Louisiana Tech in the Poinsettia Bowl. TCU won 31-24 in a somewhat lackluster performance after narrowly (and somewhat controversially) missing their third BCS Bowl bid in a row. TCU finished 16th in the final BCS rankings, two slots below the cutoff for a non-AQ team to get a BCS bid. The win allowed Patterson to tie Meyer as the winningest coach in TCU history. On October 10, 2011, the TCU Board of Trustees approved an invitation to join the Big 12 Conference, and entered that conference on July 1, 2012. The move to the Big 12 is a return "home" in a sense for the Horned Frogs, as they renew many of their in-state rivalries from the old Southwest Conference. Before the move to the Big 12, the Horned Frogs had been reckoned as one of the closest things to a major football power in a mid-major conference.
Amon G. Carter Stadium, the Horned Frogs' home field since 1929, concluded large renovations prior to the 2012 season. It features a new press box, suites, club seats and improved fan amenities in many areas – new and more comfortable seating, wider concourses, new and improved restrooms and concessions areas, handicap accessible accommodations, elevators and escalators to move patrons among levels, and new lighting. The stadium was used during the 2011 season while being renovated.
The Horned Frogs played their first game in the renovated stadium on September 8, 2012 and routed Grambling 56-0. The win was also Patterson's 110th win with the Horned Frogs, making him the winningest coach in TCU history.
The Horned Frogs have played their home football games at Amon G. Carter Stadium, located on the campus of TCU, since 1930.
Named for the famous Fort Worth newspaper magnate who made the original donation to finance the stadium, Amon Carter opened in 1930 with an original seating capacity of 22,000. The first game played in the stadium was in October, a 70-6 TCU victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks. Renovations in 1947 and 1955 added additional seating and an upper deck, which increased capacity to roughly 45,000. The stadium remained in this configuration until 2010, when a major renovation reduced the entire stadium to its original lower bowl, before erecting a new stadium on the same site. The design of the current Amon Carter stadium was influenced heavily by the surrounding architecture of Fort Worth, with emphasis on Art Deco style. The Frogs will open the new stadium in time for the 2012 season.
Amon Carter stadium features a natural grass field and a seating capacity of roughly 45,000. Standing-room only concourses allow capacity to exceed this number when ticket demand exceeds seating availability. The 2012-2012 renovation added a 54 ft. video board over the North endzone, with a smaller videoboard located in the Southeast corner. The attendance record at Amon Carter stadium was set on November 14, 2009, when the No. 4 ranked Horned Frogs beat the No. 16 ranked University of Utah Utes 55-28.
Before Amon Carter stadium, the Horned Frogs played their home games on campus at Clark Field, located at the current site of Mary Couts Burnett Library.
TCU's school colors are purple and white. Historically, black has also featured prominently in the school's uniforms. As early as 1935 the football team wore black leather helmets with a purple stripe, or occasionally purple helmets with a black stripe. Jerseys were purple with white numbers were, worn with beige or khaki pants.
Beginning with the introduction of plastic helmets in the 1946 TCU dropped black from their uniforms and introduced a new purple helmet with a white stripe. The team's pants remained khaki colored until the 1950s, when they were changed to white.
During this period the exact shade of TCU purple varied wildly depending on the uniforms worn, though a royal purple was most common. In 1971 the school hired Jim Pittman as its head coach. Pittman had been an assistant at the University of Texas when the Longhorns had changed their color from orange to burnt orange, and wanted to do something similar at TCU. Pittman chose to introduce a very pale shade of lilac into the TCU uniforms, and the team quickly became known as the "Lavender Hill Mob." These uniforms are often regarded as the worst in TCU's history. TCU returned to a royal purple in 1974 following Pittman's premature and tragic death on the sidelines.
Beginning in 1998, TCU began once again incorporating black into the uniforms. The practice was started by Coach Franchione, who introduced a new helmet with black facemask, and purple jerseys with black pants. In 2012 the school debuted helmets which featured a black stripe in addition to the black facemask, reflecting the helmets worn during the TCU championship years of the 1930s.
TCU was the last school in college football to wear leather helmets, switching to hard plastic helmets in 1946. Prior to 1946 the TCU football team wore either black helmets with a purple stripe, or purple helmets with a black stripe. Since the introduction of plastic TCU helmet has gone through a number of designs.
In the 1950s TCU wore a purple helmet with white stripe down the middle. In 1954 a gray facemask was introduced, and in 1958 white numbers were added to the sides of the helmet.
In 1965 a new helmet was introduced featuring a purple shell and a white stylized Horned Frog on the side. A different, fiercer Horned Frog design was used for the 1966 helmets, featuring just the Frog's head. In 1967 the school used a pattern similar to that of Texas A&M.
In 1977 the school introduced a "Flying TCU" logo, which remained on the helmets until 1991, and remains popular with the school and especially students today. In 1992 Head Coach Pat Sullivan introduced an arched TCU design, which eventually became the official logo of the school. This logo has been featured on every TCU helmet, with slight variations, ever since.
Championships and Bowl Games
National Championships (2)
TCU holds two national championships in football, one from 1935 and the other from 1938. In 1935, TCU spent most of the season ranked No. 1 in the country before losing a regular season game to then No. 2 ranked SMU in the "Game of the Century." SMU went on to lose to Stanford in the Rose Bowl, while TCU went on to beat LSU in the Sugar Bowl. Since the Associated Press and wire services didn't award national championships until 1936, TCU recognizes a statistical poll created by Paul O. Williamson who awarded his national title to LSU and TCU for the 1935 season. The 1938 team was undefeated and was the consensus #1 team in the Associated Press Poll.
Conference Championships (17)
TCU has won a combined 17 conference championships in 5 different conferences