Perhaps it is somewhat fitting that I am one of the last to tell my story of how I became a TCU fan because I consider myself part of a new wave of TCU fans. The Rose Bowl seemed to usher in a new, baby boomer-type era of TCU fans, which I certainly consider myself a part of. I am a little bit embarrassed to admit this, but the first TCU sporting event that I ever watched was the 2011 Rose Bowl Game. Before you start hurling tomatoes in my direction, let me explain...
I was originally born in Overland Park, Kansas, but my family moved to Austin when I was six years old. It didn't take long for me to grow to despise the University of Texas, for reasons that we can discuss later. As the diehard sports fan that I am, I turned back to my Kansas roots at an early age. Despite spending most of my adolescent life in Austin, I have always considered myself a Kansan. After all, it is my birth state, and most of my family is from there, lives there now, or both.
I jumped behind the Chiefs and Royals early, but where I really developed my passion for sports was through Kansas Jayhawks basketball. My mom graduated from KU in 1988, the same year that the school won a National Championship behind Danny Manning and Larry Brown. Growing up, Kansas basketball was huge in our house. I credit my intense love of college basketball to my mom and the countless hours that we spent watching games together as I grew up. (My dad graduated from Kansas State in 1989, but he wasn't fast enough to convert me into a Wildcat.)
Anybody that knows me understands how passionate I am about things that I like, and Kansas basketball was no exception. I celebrated as the Jayhawks won the Big 12 year after year (somehow that streak is still going...), and I took it personally every time they choked in the NCAA Tournament to some random team I had never heard of - looking at you, Bucknell...
Getting to meet Bill Self after a Kansas vs. Texas game in Austin was one of my highlights of high school.
Anyway, because of this, it only seemed natural that I too would attend the University of Kansas. Throughout high school, I had aspirations of attending KU and graduating from their prestigious William Allen White School of Journalism. During my junior year of high school, I half-heartedly visited Rice, Texas, and Texas A&M, knowing that those other options were all going to be in the rear view mirror soon enough. I visited KU with my mom in mid-November and was all but ready to sign my life away to become a Jayhawk.
I had one final college visit to attend, at a small, private school in Fort Worth that I knew almost nothing about. Even though I grew up less than three hours away, I had never actually heard of TCU until my junior year of high school. Thinking back, this seems almost impossible. I really don't know how I didn't know about TCU sooner - maybe it was being in the Austin media market, maybe it was my focus on college basketball over football, or maybe it was because TCU hadn't really emerged on the national stage quite yet.
I remember my first visit to the TCU campus like it was yesterday. My parents and I arrived in Fort Worth on the night of Sunday, December 5, 2010. I was attending a "Monday at TCU" event the very next day, so we wanted to explore the campus the night before. As we turned on to Stadium Drive, we were met with a huge crowd of people, all decked out in purple and filing into the Daniel Meyer-Coliseum. We stopped to let some people pass, and out of nowhere the TCU marching band appeared and trumpeted their way into the DMC.
The three of us had no idea what was going on. We knew there wasn't a home TCU basketball game that night, so we were all very confused by what event was happening on campus. We continued to drive around for a bit before heading to the hotel room. After we settled in, I started looking for something to watch on TV, and one of the first things I found was Gary Patterson being interviewed during the Bowl Selection Show. At that moment, everything clicked and I realized that we had just missed getting to see one of the most historic days for the university - the announcement of TCU's inclusion in the Rose Bowl Game.
This might be hard to believe, but I wasn't a huge college football fan growing up. I guess I credit that to Kansas' ineptitude on the gridiron (aside from 2008), but I was always 100% focused on college basketball. To this day, I am so disappointed that we didn't think to stop and go inside to see the Rose Bowl announcement live.
The very next day, everything I thought I knew about my future was flipped on its head. I fell in love with TCU almost immediately. The students and staff that we met during my visit here were so energetic and so full of TCU pride - more so than usual because of the Rose Bowl announcement the night before. Unlike my visit at Kansas, I felt like the TCU community truly valued me and truly wanted me to attend this university. As the day progressed, I felt more and more like this was going to be my home for the next four years. The last event of the day was a dinner at the Dee J. Kelly Center. I jokingly told my parents that if I got to take a picture with SuperFrog, TCU would be my choice. As we approached the dining room, the doors flew open and - no kidding - out came SuperFrog. I guess you can say that the rest is history.
Here's the iconic picture that "sealed the deal" for me to come to TCU.
After I enrolled at TCU, my love for college basketball continued, however, I developed a completely new perspective on the game. Thanks to schools like Bradley, Bucknell, Northern Iowa, VCU, and everyone else who upset Kansas in the Big Dance as I was growing up, I always hated the underdogs. But once I got a taste of TCU basketball, I embraced that role. My first and only season of Mountain West basketball included home upsets over #18 New Mexico and #11 UNLV. I got to storm the court twice during my first year at TCU. The underdog role turned out to be pretty fun after all.
For me, college basketball stopped being all about winning. The endless stressing and worrying about wins and losses, rankings, seeding, and everything else was replaced with having fun with friends, supporting my classmates, and embodying what it meant to be a loyal to a university. At the end of the day, what is the point of being a fan if you're not having fun?
I was so excited when TCU announced that the university was moving to the Big East Conference. I couldn't wait to host the likes of Syracuse, Louisville, Georgetown, and Connecticut. That same excitement was multiplied ten-fold when we jumped ship and joined the Big 12. I couldn't believe that TCU was going to get to compete in the same conference that I followed so closely year in and year out as a kid.
The night of February 6, 2013 is one that I will likely never forget. TCU was hosting the 5th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks in the first meeting between the schools since I enrolled at TCU. Before the game, I had a friend from high school ask what that was going to be like, to have a team that I followed so closely growing up come play against the school that I was attending. I said to him that it was like inviting my girlfriend over to dinner at my wife's house. (I don't have a girlfriend or a wife, but I imagine that is a pretty fitting analogy.) As we all know, the wife won out.
As silly as it may sound, that game was loaded with symbolism for me personally, and I think it really solidified my decision to attend TCU. It put to rest any feelings of what could have been if I had decided to go to Kansas instead. For the program, it was also the first Big 12 win in school history and it really served to prove that while things were going to be rough, at the end of the day, we'd be alright.
As I sit here writing this today, I am about a month away from graduating from this amazing institution with dual degrees in Finance and Sports Broadcasting. My time here has flown by and quite honestly, I don't want to leave. (Victory lap, anyone?)
Reflecting on my time here, I'd like to think that I used my background as a Kansas basketball fan to positively impact the TCU basketball program. I jumped at the opportunity to help build the university's first ever Men's Basketball Student Section two years ago, and I take a lot of pride in the foundation that we have established.
I also take a lot of pride in the work that I have done for Frogs O' War this season. I have had several people tell me that they started paying attention to the program for the first time this year as the result of our coverage on FOW. The way I see it, if I can get just one person to watch or attend a game and experience the same fun and excitement that I have experienced over the last four years, then I feel like I've done my job.
I want to finish by extending a sincere thank you to everyone who reads our content, comments on our posts, and shares our information. I am always blown away by how amazing the TCU community is, and interacting with everyone about Horned Frog basketball (and sports in general) is a blast.
Oh, and one last thing... Go Frogs.