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
  • Jones uses his attitude to lead Polar Bears

    When you look around the football field come August, you’ll see plenty of new faces for the Fairmont Senior Polar Bears. But there will be at least one very familiar face.
    TJ Jones is one of just a handful of seniors on this year’s Fairmont Senior team, and he’s hoping to go out on top.

    July 24, 2014

  • WVU, N.C. State to meet in football

    Following a trend of creating non-conference games against regional opponents, West Virginia University has reached agreement with North Carolina State to play a home-and-home football series in 2018 and 2019.
    The Mountaineers are scheduled to play N.C. State in Raleigh on Sept. 15, 2018, and then play host to the Wolfpack on Sept. 14, 2019.

    July 24, 2014

  • HERTZEL COLUMN: ‘Cheating pays’ remark should draw attention

    When Bob Bowlsby, the outspoken commissioner of the Big 12, presented his opening-day picture of the future of college sports in Dallas for the annual media day gathering, his bleak comments were not unexpected.

    July 24, 2014

  • FSU football season tickets available

    Season ticket packages and VIP parking for the 2014 Fairmont State University football season are now available for purchase.
    Several options are available, including the opportunity to purchase a piece of Fairmont State history.

    July 24, 2014

  • Pirates jump on Haren early, top Dodgers, 6-1

    Josh Harrison had two hits with two RBIs and the Pittsburgh Pirates jumped on Dan Haren early in a 6-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
    Harrison’s two-run double down the left field line capped a four-run outburst in the first against Haren (8-8).

    July 24, 2014

  • Berner, Hess lead W.Va. Open

    Threatening weather did not strike Wednesday, and it was a cool, breezy start to the 81st West Virginia Open played on the Cobb Course at The Resort at Glade Springs.
     

    July 23, 2014

  • WVU, Tennessee finalize 2018 meeting

    West Virginia University and Tennessee have finalized their season-opening, Sept. 1, 2018, meeting in Charlotte, N.C., at Bank of America Stadium.
    Both teams will receive $2.5 million for the game and have a chance to earn up to $3.2 million with ticket incentives.
    Each team will buy 12,500 tickets and set aside 2,000 of its allotment for students.
    The game, played on the home field of the Carolina Panthers of the NFL, is being put on by the Charlotte Sports Federation.

    July 23, 2014

  • Holgorsen’s program hits turning point

    You can almost sense, as you watch West Virginia University football coach Dana Holgorsen sit before the gathered Big 12 media contingent answering questions in the Omni Hotel in Arlington, Texas, that he senses his program has reached a turning point.

    July 23, 2014

  • Fleming, Billy.jpg WVU’s Fleming signs contract with Yankees

     Second baseman Billy Fleming of the West Virginia University baseball team has signed a professional contract with the New York Yankees, foregoing his upcoming senior season.
    “Ever since I was a little kid, it’s been my dream to play professional baseball,” Fleming said. “It is still surreal that I get to chase my dream, but I am ready to get after it. I loved my three years at WVU and want to thank all the coaches that made it possible for me to achieve my dream.”

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Big 12 Media Days Foo_time(1).jpg Trickett’s play key factor for Mountaineers’ success

     In the end, it comes down to the quarterback.
    Always has with Dana Holgorsen, always will.
    Quarterback is the offense with the West Virginia University coach. When he does well, the team wins – almost always.
    When he does poorly, the team doesn’t stand much of a chance.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
NDN Sports
House Ads
NCAA Breaking News
NCAA Photos