Before I start the first of the two newcomers, I am going to attempt to provide a point of comparison between our conference and the former conferences of the two others with power rankings where I can. Now it seems pretty objective, but considering how much conferences have changed membership in the past two years, it might not be great. Think about it. In 2010-11, our conference success was based off of having Colorado and Nebraska around. Likewise in 11-12, Missouri and A&M contributed to some sort of mathematical formula, and Boise State figured into the equation in the MWC. I digress. I will let the readers decide how to adjust the new members' success into 2012-13 with the facts at hand. Enough about this extra info, let's get on to our new Facebook friend: TCU.
What may appear to be an all-time high from an outside perspective, TCU fans everywhere hope this is not the peak of the mountain top.
There’s no doubt that the 2010-11 season will go down as one of the all time greatest in TCU history, aside from the two national championship seasons the school can point to. The ‘10-‘11 year was just another year of the BCS failing. Warning, a personal one-line rant is about to occur. For me, the simplest biggest problem with the BCS is that it allows the opportunity for more than 1 team to end the year undefeated. There, I’m done. Anyway, the Ft. Worth Frogs did just that finishing up 13-0, including 3 wins over BCS AQ teams. The obvious cherry on the top was winning the "granddaddy of the all" over the top 10 ranked Wisconsin Badgers, in classic Gary Patterson fashion: some good hardcore smash-mouth defensive football. Of course it doesn't hurt to have the eventual rookie of the Month (October 2012) and Pro-Bowl selection Andy Dalton at QB either. What likely hurt the Frogs’ NCG case along the way, was that week after week they exposed possible contenders into frauds. In week 10, TCU and Utah lined up trying to imitate the epic showdowns of recent history, but instead in a #3 vs #5 match-up TCU dismantled the Utes 47-7 handing Utah their first loss on the season, making them 8-1, but that quickly turned out to be a 3 loss season as their season closed. Similarly, BYU who had in 2008 and 2009 been 10 and 11 win teams ended up fluttering to a 7-6 team. Had 2010-11 been a 12-0 TCU team, and Utah a 11-1 team and BYU a 10-2 team, I think the Frogs would have been playing Cam Newton.
2011-12, 11-2 MWC: 5th ranked conference, Big 12 2nd
So certainly with Andy Dalton moving on to the NFL, as well as graduating a number of key defensive personelle, TCU was going to struggle. Ironically, the only two losses on the year would be an 0-2 mark to the two closest hated private former SWC foes: Baylor and SMU by a combined total of 9pts. Both games would turn out thrillers of games. In fact the season-opener against Baylor would be regarded as one of the best games of the entire college football season for 2011 nation wide. The SMU loss, unfortunately dropped at home, was an overtime affair. Of course for every action is an equal and opposite reaction, as TCU would win in equally exciting fashion over (now independent) BYU and the replacement team Boise State by 11pts, ruining the Bronco’s quest for a shot at a NCG. Not bad for a defense that dropped all the way down to the #32 slot from the #1 spot held a year before. Oh yea, and the loss of Andy Dalton? There’s this Casey Paschal, he isn’t too bad himself.
As we look forward to the inagural Big 12 season for the Frogs, I struggle with pegging them beyond a 9 win team given their off-season issues they've had to deal with. At the close of last year's bowl season I would have been higher on that. However that's not to say I don't think in the near future they can be a legitimate National Title contender. They've shown they can do that before, and now that they have location, fertile recruiting in the back yard, program prestige, coaching style, facilities, conference prestige and the new cash flow to help support all of the aforementioned items all bottled up into one package to tout. In addition to that QB like Casey Paschal as a Junior, and Patterson being able to assemble a defense, I say look out in 2013-14, for the Frogs to contend for the conference title.
2010-11, 12-22 MWC: Conference RPI 4th, Big 12 3rd
Ever since the announcement of the Horned Frogs being added to the conference, we've all heard how horrible their basketball program is. However, in all fairness, I don't think the talking heads have ever pointed out just how good of a conference the MWC is in basketball. Think about it: The Jimmer year for one, San Diego State got a 2 seed, UNLV is UNLV, New Mexico is New Mexico, and Air Force while not exactly strong this particular year, was a coaching Launching pad for Jeff Bzdelik. So needless to say, the MWC was no slouch. In 2010-11, TCU started out with a workable 11-8 record, but when the heart of the conference docket got rolling, they folded. TCU ended their conference schedule on a 13 game losing streak. They were able to at the least go 1-1 on their way out the door at the conference tournament.
2011-12, 18-15 MWC: Conference RPI 5th, Big 12 3rd
The 11-12 season was a definite "it can only go up from here" campaign. With such drastic results to close out the previous season, the Frogs were able to save face. In this season they got to 11 wins sooner, starting 11-5. They closed out the regular season going 6-8 with a 7-7 conference record. A quick loss in the conference tournament landed them in the CBI where they went 1-1. Considering where they came from, no one could deny the coaching staff had found some success, but the administration saw it as not enough as they let go Jim Christian in favor for former LSU coach Trent Johnson.
Fair or unfair, the Administration knew it was time for an upgrade on the court (both figurative and literally*) moving into the Big 12 . There's no doubt that Johnson has his work cut out for him, as the roster didn't look too full this year. In this case, I think it's safe to say they will likely fall into the 10th slot in the pre-season polls. Billy Clyde and Travis Ford rejoice.
*editor's note: I think their arena looks like they stole our new court and plopped it in
the Roundhouse Koch Arena.
I'm sure there are RPIs for the women's side too, but if I don't care that much about it, I'm guessing the less fanatical K-state fan cares less about it, so I'll spare you that and be brief. What I can see, is that TCU's program isn't bad at all, but the pedigree of the Big 12 is such that they could sustain their success and be the 7th ranked team in the conference. In short, here's what the past two years looked like:
2010-11, Started 6-6, with a loss to Iowa State, but found a mid-season 8 game win streak on their way to a 22-11 overall record, losing in the first round of the WNIT to Oral Roberts.
2011-12, Showed a decline as 4-5 was the starting point, and a meeting with Oklahoma that went in the favor of the Sooners. From there on out there's not a lot worth talking about as the final talley ended up 16-14 on the year. This type of downhill side will not be good enough for a 7th place finish. So the Lady Frogs will have to be careful, as they too could find themselves at the bottom of the conference.
Again, here with Baseball I tried to find a conference ranking system only briefly checking Baseball America's website. I could not find one, so I can't really compare conference to conference, but I don't feel uncomfortable saying there's no reason TCU can't compete for the conference title in year one. From what I can tell they have a consistent staff with the exception of a new Assistant Head Coach Captain Kirk. They also had regularly scheduled some of our conference members anyway, so scouting is familiar. So here's a brief look at the baseball program's past two years:
2011, 43-19 MWC Regular Season Champs, NCAA regionals Played Baylor, Kansas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the season.
2012, 40-22, NCAA Super Regionals Played Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State.
I think you get what I'm probably going to say here if you've read every word of the write-up to this point. But yea, I did not look for some sort of volleyball RPI by conference. I doubt that's a worthy endeavor, so here are the raw numbers for the fall of 2010 and 2011.
2010, 15-16 record.
2011, 25-7 record, but no NCAA tournament appearance.
These figures are really hard to extrapolate, as there was a significant improvement from 2010 to 11. There's a reason to believe that they probably don't finish worse than 7th in the Big 12, but that's certainly shooting from the hip.