Hello everyone! Jamie gave me a great introduction earlier in the week, and I appreciate all the kind words and interactions in the comments. I am looking forward to hopefully proving my mettle here with you all, as well as Baylor and Tech trolls (who we can only hope follow me over from my SpitBlood days).
We are just a couple weeks from opening kickoff, and as such, it seems like every media outlet that covers CFB has or is about to release their initial Top 25. Thankfully, for the first time in my CFB fandom, these polls don't count, and the BCS won't release theirs until October, when you know, we might actually know some facts about the teams in it. But, that doesn't mean I'm not scouring the internet looking for every poll possible to see just who believes in TCU and who the haters are. For the most part, the Frogs seem to fall just outside the Top 25, in the late 20's or early 30's. But, the mothership released a poll earlier this week, where TCU just made the cut, at 25. This poll was compiled from the opinions of 13 ESPN personalities - you can see the full list here - and boasts that they sourced their intel from such royalty as Phil Steele, as well as CFB 'experts' Travis Haney and Brock Huard. They also, in true ESPN fashion, created a new algorithm called FPI, or Football Power Index, which determines strengths and weaknesses for all three elements of each team to determine each team's odds in each game. You can follow the previous link for more specifics on that, if you like. The panel is a who's who of ESPN talent, featuring Scott Van Pelt and Danny Kanell, both of whom I find insightful and balanced. Unfortunately, it also lists Colin Cowherd and David Pollack, two people who in my opinion manufacture controversy for controversy's sake and are terribly biased and ignorant in their general reporting. But, that's just my opinion.
It's worth checking out for how visually stunning the layout is, but is it reliable otherwise? Jake Trotter wrote the TCU article, and in it, he praises the variety of the new TCU offense (using a very unique gatorade analogy courtesy of Coach P). There is plenty of hype for transfer Matt Joeckel, whom all the pundits seem to love, but can't seem to put away Trevone Boykin for the starting job at this point in camp. Joeckel looks like the prototypical QB, and like most Frog fans, I want to see him win the job to that Boykin can use his incredible gifts all over the field, but for all his experience running an up-tempo offense at A&M, I've heard through from some Aggie friends that he has a slowish delivery and doesn't move all that well. So that might explain why he has yet to wrest the job away from the other five (FIVE??!!!) QB's competing for the starting job this fall. That also could just be bitter Aggie talking, as they have no sure thing behind center with his departure.
Phil Steele calls attention to the 15 returning starters, which is a huge number and seems to be the payout for two very tough seasons to open life in the Big 12. We all are well aware of everything that went in to TCU being a very young team the past two years, but all the experience that was forced upon all that youth should pay dividends for Patterson and his staff, on both sides of the ball. Steele calls TCU his most improved team in the country, and I'm sure most Frog fans are thinking "well, we couldn't be any worse".
Expectedly, the ranking is based upon what the defense is expected to be (everyone say "even without Fields", which is reasonable considering we were pretty okay without him for the majority of last season), and how dynamic the back end can be with Sam Carter and a host of young, fast, and dynamic toys GP and Bumpas have to let loose on the opposition. The offense is of course the wild card - it's new, it's unknown, but if it works, boy is it explosive - and most everyone seems to assume that Joeckel will be the man with the keys and Boykin will be freed up to wreak havoc as a wide receiver or possibly in an H Back type role.
The FPI is given for TCU against two marque opponents - the Frogs are given a 30.4% chance of upsetting title favorites OU and a 54.8% chance of beating WVU on the road for a second time, which Huard calls to low taking in to account the Mountaineers brutal schedule leading up to November 1st. How WVU is considered the Frog's second toughest foe escapes me, especially with a trip to Waco and their new, supposedly tarpless stadium on the docket, but Morgantown in November is no picnic either.
So, that's a lot of words to answer a simple question - is TCU worthy of a place in the top 25 heading in to year three of playing with the big boys? I'm going to very slowly remove my purple tinted glasses and make a bold prediction - NO. We aren't. Not yet at least. So I think we will finish in the Top 25? I would say the odds are in our favor for that to happen. I fully expect the Frogs to return to a bowl game this season, after a year's absence. I fully expect better than a four win season. I also expect to win some conference home games and finally defend the Carter when it actually matters. I expect to score more than 25 ppg and average more than five yards a play. All that being said, I don't expect it overnight. Until we name a QB, and heck, until we line up for that first snap on August 30th, I am trying to temper my enthusiasm.