Everyone knows that blue chip recruits are the lifeblood of any top notch college football program. Get enough of those four and five star kids annually and your program will compete each and every year. And you can safely bet your mortgage season after season that the usual suspects will be found at the top of the recruit ranking lists such as Rivals.com. No shock this past season it was Alabama leading the pack, followed by LSU, Ohio State and Florida State. In fact, Bama’s Nick Saban has enticed the number one ranked recruiting class to Tuscaloosa each of the last four years. That’s how power house programs are made. But as there is with most everything, there’s an alternative way to get things done. For that I give you the currently No. 5 ranked TCU Horned Frogs. What was their 2014 recruiting class rank you ask? That would be 5oth – as in halfway to a hundred.
Now if you have followed Frog football for any amount of time you know this isn’t a new occurrence. Listen, my little tiny private school in Ft. Worth is never going to be able to recruit head-to-head with the likes of the Crimson Tide, Seminoles or Buckeyes. But that doesn’t mean David can’t take down Goliath where it matters most – of the football field. The Frogs are living proof that talent can be “coached up.” And there’s nobody better in the business at doing that than TCU’s head man Gary Patterson.
If you just go back five years to 2010, the TCU incoming recruits were nationally ranked as follows: 2013 – 30th, 2012 – 37th, 2011 – 26th and 2010 – 46th. That of course allows a lot of room for other programs to be deemed superior when it comes to quality of athletes brought into their programs. Those consistently ranked higher than the Frogs (in addition to the “big boys”) include programs such as Purdue, Virginia, North Carolina, Texas Tech. Pitt, Vanderbilt and Cal. Think any of those programs would like to change places with the Frogs? You betcha they would.
Of course not all programs ranked at the top of the lists have had the success of programs such as Alabama and Florida State. A prime example of a recent underachiever around these parts would be the Longhorns, who’ve had a top three recruiting class in three of the last five years, but have only managed a combined record of 36-26 during that time. Not terrible, but the results on the field are hardly equivalent to their recruiting success. Of course the common generalization on Mack Brown the last few years was that he was a great recruiter but couldn’t coach any more.
We should see soon enough if Charlie Strong can get Texas back in the mix for national attention for performance on the field in addition to recruiting. With the nation’s largest athletic department budget, unequaled facilities and an enormous and affluent alumni base, the UT faithful will have continued patience only up to a point. TCU, on the other hand, can only dream about having the recruiting advantages that UT has at it’s disposal, yet Patterson continues to impress both the tiny Frog alumni base as well as the members of the football selection committee.
So what’s my point to all this? Just that Gary Patterson is one heck of a football coach and all of us Frogs are lucky to have him at the helm. But then again we already knew that.