The Times West Virginian

Sports

November 2, 2013

HERTZEL COLUMN: TCU new kid but from same neighborhood

MORGANTOWN — They are the new kids on the block, and like so many kids who move into a new neighborhood, they have run into the bullies.

A year and a half ago, West Virginia University and TCU were finishing up being bullies of their own, establishing a national name and respect, for in the end no one looks at what conference you play in, only whether you are a winner or a loser.

Ask anyone who has the better program, Indiana of the Big 10 or Louisville of whatever the hell that conference is being called these days now that everyone who was anyone has spread themselves across the football landscape.

I suspect you won’t get many votes for the Big 10 team.

WVU, of course, came into the Big 12 brash and bold, winning five in a row and looking as if it was going make the likes of Texas and Oklahoma and their big reps and bigger budgets eat dirt, but by the time the season ended WVU would find itself nothing more than a 7-6 team with a bowl loss to – of all teams – Syracuse.

TCU, like WVU, won seven games, but somehow came out of it with a lot more respect than did the Mountaineers, who sent the heart and, more important, the soul of that 7-6 team off to the NFL and had a bare cupboard prepared to replace them.

You almost could feel those teams out of the Southwest celebrating each WVU defeat through the second half of last season and the first eight games this year, each one seemingly saying “No outsider’s coming in here and showing us up.”

It was different with TCU, for while is a teaching and research institution associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and with an enrollment of about 8,200, it was one from the same neighborhood.

Being located in Fort Worth, most of its players and fans could agree on rooting for the Dallas Cowboys and didn’t know a whole lot about the Pittsburgh Steelers, like us West Virginians do, or of the Miami Dolphins, in whose territory a good many WVU stars through all the ages had grown up.

Unlike West Virginia, TCU brought with it the prestige of having won a couple of national championships, and the fact they were won nearly 70 years ago dimmed the memory of them but not the glory.

Their early heroes were as western as Hopalong Cassidy or Roy Rogers, beginning with the Hall of Famer Sammy Baugh, who must have been a pretty good passer to have acquired the nickname of “Slingin’ Sammy Baugh,” but he was so much more than that.

He came out of an era where players played both ways and was a pretty good defensive back and a great punter, retiring with the best average ever recorded in the NFL at 45.1 yards per punt.

Baugh was so “Texas” that in 1941 he starred in a 12-week serial as “Texas Ranger Tom King,” the episodes running in theaters with Saturday matinees. His co-star was Duncan Renaldo, who went on to television fame a decade and half later as the Cisco Kid.

And Baugh must have been pretty good as an actor, for Robert Duvall patterned his role of Gus McCrae in the television series “Lonesome Dove,” particularly his arm movements, after visiting Baugh at his Texas home in 1988.

The glory days of TCU live on today through the award given the top college quarterback, that being called the Davey O’Brien Award, and when you look at what he did going from Baugh’s backup to a national championship and TCU’s only Heisman Trophy winner you understand why.

O’Brien did everything for that team, setting the NCAA record for most combined passes and rushes in a season while being named to 13 All-America teams.

O’Brien was from Dallas, Baugh from Texas … and all of that gave TCU instant membership into the club, while WVU was an outsider, having little in common with Texas or Oklahoma.

This is not to take anything away from the rich football history West Virginia has compiled. It’s just that it did it without a drawl, playing Pitt and Penn State and Maryland and Syracuse and Virginia Tech … good teams, proud teams, but teams that have nothing to do with the land that makes up the Big 12.

West Virginia is coal country, Texas and Oklahoma oil country, and that just doesn’t give much to bring your cultures together.

Now you have the two schools going against each other with their seasons very much at stake, the winner taking a big step toward qualifying for a bowl and the loser putting itself back there with Iowa State and Kansas among the have-nots the Big 12.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • Tori Postlewait front.jpg East’s Postlewait, North’s Latocha toss no-hitters

    Tori Postlewait made a deal with her great-uncle, Kenny Carpenter, before her freshman season.
    If the Bees’ pitcher tossed a no-hitter, Carpenter promised to give her $20.
    Well, it took four years, but it’s finally time for Postlewait’s great-uncle to pay up.

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • East tennis splits with Polar Bears

    Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont split a pair of tennis matches Thursday, with Fairmont Senior winning the boys’ match and East Fairmont taking the girls’ competition.
    In the Bees’ 6-1 girls’ victory, Cara Laswell took second singles, 8-2. Erica Gorman won third singles, 8-1. And Carrington Reese won fourth singles, 8-3.

    April 18, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: Under pressure, NCAA decides to change rules

    At first glance, it appears that they do not go hand-in-hand, a pair of rules changes the NCAA’s Legislative Council approved this week, sending them off for what seems to be smooth sailing toward becoming rules.

    April 18, 2014

  • McCutchen, Alvarez lead Pirates over Brewers

    Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.

    April 18, 2014

  • Means, WVU baseball shut out Oklahoma

    Junior left-hander John Means of the WVU baseball team threw eight shutout innings and the Mountaineers had a five-run first inning en route to a 7-0 victory over Oklahoma on Thursday evening at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
    The Mountaineers (18-15, 3-6 Big 12) broke a six-game Big 12 losing streak after being swept by TCU and Oklahoma State in back-to-back weekends. WVU had 16 hits and did not make an error for the second-straight game.

    April 18, 2014

  • FURFARI COLUMN: Dr. Graber disagrees with Gee’s stance on Turnbull firing

    Dr. Stephen Graber, an associate professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is among the latest WVU teachers to deplore Oliver Luck’s firing of veteran wrestling coach Craig Turnbull.
    He raised some significant questions about that issue last Monday in a meeting of the WVU Faculty Senate.

    April 18, 2014

  • University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins

    The mercy rule has been a familiar part of North Marion’s softball season.
    Through the first seven games, the Huskies regularly pounded their opponents with stingy defense, sharp pitching and timely hitting. Rarely did a game go all seven innings for the previously undefeated team.

    April 17, 2014

  • Huggins signs junior college guard

    Coach Bob Huggins completed his 2014-15 West Virginia University recruiting class on Wednesday and deemed it a success after receiving a signed letter of intent from junior college guard Tarik Phillip.
    Phillip joins Jevon Carter of Maywood, Ill., and Daxter Miles of Baltimore’s Dunbar High and out of Notre Dame Prep in Massachusetts in the 2014-15 recruiting class.

    April 17, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: WVU gymnast hopes to stick her final landing

    The reaction, one suspects, was the same as most people who see either a picture of West Virginia University gymnast Hope Sloanhoffer or meet her for the first time in person — a quick double take, maybe even stumbling over the first few words of an introduction.

    April 17, 2014

  • Pirates shut out by Reds’ Cueto, 4-0

    Johnny Cueto was on his game, and the only thing that the Pirates could do was watch.
    Cueto pitched his third career shutout against the team that beat him in the NL wild card game, and Joey Votto hit a two-run homer that led the Cincinnati Reds over the Pirates 4-0 Wednesday for their first winning series this season.

    April 17, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos