Fall 2003
Lost empires, forgotten kings
Unforgettable professors
Q & A with Eric Hyman
Taking death out of the equation
Alma Matters
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Riff Ram
Class Notes
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Back Issues

TCU Magazine "Purpectives"

Hey, Bud, where are the fans?

Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy '76 asks the 46,000-seat question.

Without help from the Psychic Hotline or some rookie subbing for Miss Cleo, I can safely predict what will happen in Fort Worth come Nov. 17.

On that Monday morning, in a campus office on Stadium Drive, a telephone will ring.

"How 'bout those Frogs!" the caller will say, or somesuch. "So when's the next game?" The answer will be: "Uh, that was the last home game."

Happens every fall lately. Another barnburner of a Horned Frogs football team tears its way up the national Top 20.

And most of Fort Worth and Texas don't catch on until it's too late.

By Nov. 17, you won't be able to see the Frogs without a passport for eastern travel. TCU's last three games will be in Dallas, in the Gulf region of Mississippi and at some bowl site, ideally either Memphis, Tenn., for the Liberty Bowl or maybe New Orleans for the national championship.

I have no idea why the Metroplex doesn't pick up on TCU in September or October. It's not like the Rangers or Cowboys are doing anything important.

Of all the puzzles in Texas sports, this is among the most chronically confounding.

TCU is not the only local team to reach the pinnacle of college football last fall -- a major conference championship. The University of North Texas also won its championship.

Of the 11 Division I conferences, two of the champions came from Fort Worth and Denton. By my math, that means that 18 percent of the nation's football hardware came to this part of Texas.

Yet local sports fans -- and also the Dallas-driven sports reporters and radio hosts --seem more interested in monitoring the Syracuse game or the latest pronouncement from Dirk Nowitzki.

At their championship games last fall, TCU and UNT drew 44,647 fans.

For both games. Total.

In a region of five million people, in what is supposed to be the most football-crazy state in America, with trophies on the line, neither TCU nor UNT could sell enough tickets to fill more than two-thirds of their stadiums.

And don't give me that old line about how Texas and Texas A&M are the most popular college football teams here and how their TV games are unbeatable competition. Neither the Longhorns nor the Aggies played the day the Horned Frogs won their third conference championship in four years.

For a few grand moments last fall in the sunshine of a perfect afternoon, the Frogs conjured up memories of Jim Swink and Davey O'Brien, or at least of LaDainian Tomlinson. They drove 80 yards in the closing minutes, led by teen-ager Lonta Hobbs, to score a do-or-die touchdown for a share of the Conference USA championship and a trip to an honest-to-gosh bowl game with a long tradition, the Liberty Bowl.

Silly me. I figured a TCU championship might have rated a lead report on the 10 o'clock sports. Maybe even a news report from the scene of TCU-area revelry.


What was the No. 1 sports story in the Metroplex that night?

The Mavericks. For a routine regular-season game.

No. 2: the Stars. Surely, I figured, the Frogs would be No. 3.


TCU ranked behind ... Oklahoma State?

One of the TV stations even covered Miami and the other national college games before TCU. "Oh, and by the way, there's a champion right here."

Another station did manage to show two play highlights.

Imagine how the North Texas fans felt. The Mean Green won a trip to the New Orleans Bowl and still got stuffed into the end of the TV newscast, right before Pet of the Week.

I've got a suggestion for TCU and the other regional college football programs: Work together.

Coordinate schedules to avoid competing for casual sports fans' walk-up ticket sales -- and for TV time. Team up to promote buying tickets and encourage TV news coverage for all the good college football teams in the Metroplex.

And I've got a suggestion for Fort Worth folks: Come see the Horned Frogs early this fall. The first three home games will be Sept. 6, Sept. 20 and Oct. 4.

After that, half the chances will be gone to see TCU at home in what might be a very historic Horned Frogs season.

By November, you'll be glad you were here.

Adapted from a column in the Star-Telegram. Comment at tcumagazine@tcu.edu.