TCU is in a highly unique position in the college football world, because in a world dominated by conference rivalries, TCU's conference hopping has left them without much in the way of annual rivalry games. With Baylor's Art Briles coming out strongly against renewing the TCU series and Texas Tech being unwilling to commit to a long term agreement, TCU is left with SMU- who has managed one win in the series in the last 11 years. So who are TCU's rivals now, who will be in the future, what and with the Big East looming next year will we ever see any of these folks again? Every week of football season in "Unrivaled" I'll look at another team- past, present or future and evaluate the state of the series with TCU from the perspective of history, hatred and future outlook.
We'll be starting with this week's opponent, the Air Force Falcons, after the jump!
Gary Patterson has a deep respect for service academies and has made a special effort to schedule them, to the point where at least one of the three has been on the schedule every year of his coaching tenure here (2012 will be the first without). This fondness for scheduling the service academies has led TCU fans to the always awkward prospect of having to root against a service academy, who only Notre Dame (and possibly Colorado State) can bring themselves to hate. However, out of TCU's history with the three service academies only one team played the frogs before 2000, and only one academy can claim a victory over the Horned Frogs: The Air Force Falcons. TCU's first encounter with the boys from Colorado Springs was in the 1959 Cotton Bowl where the sides played to a doubtlessly thrill-a-minute 0-0 tie. A series in the late 80s was split 1-1, and the teams sharing the Mega-WAC resulted in only one game played between the sides- One game that would spoil one of the greatest seasons in Air Force football history, as the 1998 Falcons would defeat every other team on the schedule.
Then came TCU's Mountain West invitation and the renewal of the series in 2005, and when the Falcons were fielding their weakest team of the Mountain West era. A 48-10 beatdown followed in Colorado Springs, which led to the unfortunate and controversial comments of Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry who, instead of simply praising TCU's team speed, went into detail on what he felt might be the reason behind that speed
"It was very obvious to me the other day that the other team (TCU) had a lot more African American players than we did and they ran a lot faster than we did." "Their (TCU's) defense had 11 African-American kids on their team and they were a very good defensive football team. So that's exactly what I was talking about."
These are the sort of comments that do not indicate that employment will continue for long, but Fisher DeBerry was an Air Force coaching legend and as a result stayed on for another season after this, losing to the speedy frogs once again 38-14. Though Troy Calhoun did defeat the frogs the next season, two more blowouts of the Falcons sandwiched the 2009 nailbiter and though this years game looks to be filled with intrigue there is not much reciprocal interest in continuing the series in the future. The Mountain West schedule gives Air Force precious few non-conference games, two of them are taken up every year by Air Force's real rivals: Army and Navy, and then the Academy generally likes to have a FCS team and an exceedingly high profile team (Oklahoma last year, Notre Dame this year, Michigan in 2012- The elite of the elite). With no real opportunity to schedule the falcons in the future, no real hatred between the fanbases (again, service academy) and a fairly lopsided history in the series (TCU is 7-2-1 all time) Air Force looks exceedingly unlikely to become TCU's missing rival. After Saturday, go Falcons!