Baseball is finally back in Fort Worth, which means everything is right and beautiful on TCU’s campus again.
It also means that just like Punxsutawney Phil’s shadow predicts winter, we’re about to see a prediction of TCU football.
Yes, it’s all just a coincidence most likely, but there have been uncanny similarities between TCU baseball and TCU football for the past few years. As TCU baseball rises, falls and surprises, the football team has gone through a similar route.
Take 2009, for instance. In that year, TCU baseball was getting a little respect as a constantly good mid-major team. A coach, who had been there since the early 2000s, was constantly leading his team to the top of the Mountain West Conference, but hadn’t received the post-season success he wanted. So, in 2009, TCU won the Mountain West, finally hosted a regional and won, leading them to their first-ever Super Regional appearance, although the Frogs would fall short on the big stage.
In 2009, TCU football, lead by a coach that was there from the early 2000s, was constantly at the top of the Mountain West, but never got recognition in a big bowl game. After winning the Mountain West, the Frogs got placed in their first BCS bowl, but fell short on the big stage, losing in the Fiesta Bowl, their first-ever BCS appearance.
Sure, sure. Just a coincidence. Surely, that mirror imagery was never repeated, right?
Well then, welcome to 2010, another banner year for the Frogs baseball team. After winning another Mountain West title, the Frogs were given another regional, where they dominated en route to a Super Regional, where they were victorious in Austin, one of the most revered college baseball stages in the nation. After being told they had no chance of beating a college baseball power, the Frogs not only beat the establishment, but they ultimately found success in the College World Series, and finished in the Top 5, the best finish in school history, as Jim Schlossnagle was considered a new superstar on the college baseball coaching front.
In football that year, the Frogs won the Mountain West, dominated en route to the Rose Bowl, and were victorious against the Wisconsin Badgers, an established college football power. TCU won in Pasadena, one of the most revered stages in college football lore. They finished in the Top 5, the best finish in modern school history, as Gary Patterson was recognized as a new superstar on the college football coaching front.
Okay, so maybe there's something to TCU being good at the same time. Maybe that has some merit. Surely there's no correlation between *disappointing* years, right?
Au contraire. In 2011, with high expectations, TCU baseball entered the season highly ranked. However, their superstar, Matt Purke, was injured and his presence was missed as the Frogs would disappoint in the post-season, despite winning the Mountain West.
In football, TCU entered the season with high expectations after winning the Rose Bowl, entering the season in the Top 15. However, without superstar linebacker Tanner Brock - also injured - the Frogs disappointed in the postseason, playing a lackluster bowl game against Louisiana Tech in a year where they won the Mountain West.
Similarly in 2012, TCU did alright. In their final year of the Mountain West, the Frogs won some, lost some and did well in a year where they weren’t anticipated to do much. However, wins against Texas teams were the factor in them getting to the post-season, where they saw some success, but ultimately were extinguished in the Super Regionals.
In football, TCU did alright for their first Big 12 year, winning late against Texas teams that helped shape their post-season game, in which they were ultimately extinguished in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Okay, okay. So they can be great together, and they can be not-so-great together. But surely, it's not fully correlated, right?
Well, in 2013, when TCU was expected to compete fairly well against Big 12 competition, the team could not score anything on the offense to save their lives, despite having one of the best pitching staffs in the nation. Several games were lost close, with Brandon Finnegan being a poster child of the team, putting out an ERA under 2, yet going 0-7 on the season. The Frogs didn’t even qualify for post-season play.
Over in football... TCU couldn’t score to save their lives, despite having one of the best defenses in the nation. The Horned Frogs lost several games close, and didn’t even qualify for post-season play.
Fine, so they can be bad together too. There can't be a way that they keep mirroring each other though, right? Like, getting new coaches at the same time and rapidly improving or something like that?
Yeah, there's yet again another obvious comparison.
In 2014, Jim Schlossnagle made a change. He brought on a new hitting coach, Bill Mosiello, and a new assistant coach, Kirk Saarloos, to help get the Frogs offense going and improve the team overall. TCU bounced back immediately, shocking everyone as they won a share of the Big 12 title via the Big 12 tournament. The Frogs dominated in the post-season, going 5-1 in the Regional and Super Regional to get to Omaha for the second time.
In football, Gary Patterson hired two new coaches, Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, to help get the Frogs offense going and improve the team overall. TCU bounced back immediately, won a share of the Big 12 title, dominated Ole Miss in the post-season 42-3 and won their second ever NY6/BCS game.
YOU. DON’T. SAY.
So what about 2015? That football season was so unpredictable and so wild, no one could have seen it coming, right?
Well.... in baseball, a much celebrated team with a near-perfect home performance used a potent offense to have a Top 10 finish in the nation, including at least one nail biting finish against a Texas opponent down the stretch, although the team had a surprisingly bad series against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. They made it back into national glory by winning a Regional and Super Regional and going to Omaha, but they needed some crazy things to happen first.
So, of course, in football, a highly potent offense had a near-perfect home performance (one day TCU will properly blow out Kansas…), led by the high-flying circus of the offense. The Frogs finished in the Top 10, thanks at least a nail-biting wins (including one over a team from the state of Texas), and finished the post-season with some crazy overtime finishes. They also, unfortunately, had the blemish of getting a bad game against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Their post-season was filled with excitement though, including the insane Alamo Bowl, in which the Frogs had an “insurmountable” deficit, saw an opponent make several mistakes and won the game in overtime.
WHERE, OH WHERE, COULD TCU FOOTBALL HAVE LEARNED TO WIN A POST-SEASON GAME THEY WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO BY CAPITALIZING ON MISTAKES AND WINNING IN EXTRA TIME? MAYBE THE INSANITY OF THE NORTH CAROLINA STATE GAME FOR TCU BASEBALL?
Is it a coincidence? Maybe. Probably. An extreme one, but just as Punxsutawney Phil is our “expert” when it comes to knowing what to expect for winter, TCU baseball has become the "expert" on telling just almost exactly what will happen in TCU football.
If the trend continues, we're about to see something delightful on the diamond this season as TCU enters with a lot of new faces and promise. Wonder what other TCU team can be described the same way...
Perhaps it’s just another good reason to pay close attention to this baseball season.