With a dramatic 5-4 victory over Oklahoma on Friday night, the TCU Baseball team clinched the 2015 Big 12 Regular Season Championship. The title marked the first undisputed Regular Season Big 12 Championship for TCU since joining the league in 2012. It also marked the 94th Regular Season Conference Championship in TCU Athletics history, adding to a rich collection of hardware.
As we all know, TCU has a long and storied history when it comes to athletic conference membership. The University was founded in Thorpe Springs, Texas as the AddRan Male and Female College in 1873 before moving to Waco in 1895. Just one year later, the University fielded athletic teams for the first time, as football and baseball teams competed under the AddRan name. From 1896-1908, the AddRan Male and Female College competed as an independent program, unaffiliated with any collegiate athletic conference. In 1902, the AddRan name was replaced with "Texas Christian University."
With the formation of the Big Ten Conference in 1896 and the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association (which would later evolve into the Big Eight then Big 12 Conference) in 1907, TCU athletic administrators were itching to find a home in an athletic conference. The solution came in the form of the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association, which TCU joined in 1914. The TIAA was founded in 1909 and made up of TCU and six other universities from the Lone Star State: Southwestern University, Austin College, the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, Baylor University, and Trinity University.
The TCU football team captured the University's first conference championship in 1920, winning the TIAA title after finishing the regular season with a perfect 9-0 record. Following the University's inaugural championship season, TCU left the TIAA in an effort to join the Southwest Conference. After two seasons of independence, TCU was invited to join the Southwest Conference in 1923, beginning a 72-year relationship.
As a member of the SWC, TCU faced mixed athletic success. In 72 seasons, the University won 34 Regular Season Championships and seven Conference Tournament Championships across seven different varsity sports. The TCU Men's Basketball program led the way with 10 SWC titles during the University's time in the league. Football was right behind with nine, and Baseball won seven. The Men's Tennis program captured five Regular Season titles and seven Conference Tournament titles.
When Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech left the Southwest Conference to join forces with the Big Eight Conference to create the Big 12, TCU was left out in the cold. The first stop for TCU on their long journey back home was the Western Athletic Conference. In just five seasons as a member of the WAC, TCU was able to capture 14 Regular Season Conference Championships and four Conference Tournament Championships.
While in the WAC, Gary Patterson captured his first Conference Championship in 2000, the TCU Women's Basketball program won their first league title in program history in 2001, and the Men's Tennis program dominated - winning three Conference Tournaments in five years. TCU's time in the WAC also saw the last Conference Championship of any kind for the Men's Basketball program, as the Frogs captured the 1998 WAC Regular Season title.
Next up for TCU was a four-year stint in Conference USA. As a member of the league, TCU captured another 17 Regular Season and four Conference Tournament Championships. Men's Golf and Men's Swimming and Diving dominated during the early 2000s, as both programs won WAC titles every year from 2002-2005. Jim Schlossnagle led the TCU Baseball team to 2004 and 2005 C-USA Tournament Championships, the first postseason league titles in the program's history. 2002 was the year of the Lady Frog in the WAC as Women's Basketball, Women's Golf, Women's Swimming and Diving, Women's Tennis, and Women's Indoor Track and Field all won league Championships.
TCU then moved to the Mountain West Conference in 2005, beginning the University's most successful stint in an athletic conference to date. In just seven seasons as a member of the MWC, TCU won 26 Regular Season and 10 Conference Tournament Championships, an average of about five titles per year. TCU Baseball won the Mountain West Regular Season Championship every single season that the Frogs were in the league. Throw on four Conference Tournament titles and that's 11 titles for Jim Schlossnagle in seven seasons. The Football program added four more MWC titles, and the TCU Tennis programs dominated as the Men's and Women's team won 12 total league titles in seven seasons.
TCU's success in the Mountain West helped lead the Frogs to the Big 12 Conference. Since joining the league in 2012, TCU has captured three different titles - the 2014 Baseball Tournament Championship, 2014 Football Co-Championship, and 2015 Baseball Regular Season Championship.
Jim Schlossnagle's Unparalleled Success
By capturing his eighth Regular Season Conference Championship on Friday night, Jim Schlossnagle tied long-time Men's Golf Head Coach Bill Montigel for most Regular Season league titles at TCU. However, Schlossnagle achieved this feat in less than half the time. In just 12 seasons at TCU, Schlossnagle has won his Conference Championship eight times. Schlossnagle led TCU to the Mountain West Championship every single season that the University was a member of the league.
It can be argued that of every coach in TCU Athletics history, Schlossnagle has accomplished the most in the least amount of time. In addition to his eight league titles, Schloss has taken the Frogs to the NCAA Tournament 10 times (next week that number will be 11). In the 106 seasons prior to his arrival at TCU, the program had been to the NCAA Tournament just twice. In that same span, TCU won their conference just seven times. And let's not forget the two College World Series appearances under Schlossnagle, either. The ten best finishes in TCU Baseball history all belong to Jim Schlossnagle.
From the inception of the MLB First-Year Players Draft in 1965 until 2003, TCU had 65 total players selected. During Schlossnagle's tenure, that number has almost doubled, with 61 players drafted since his arrival in Fort Worth. Five of Schloss's former players are currently on MLB rosters and 15 more are in the Minor Leagues.
If Schlossnagle isn't the greatest coach in TCU Athletics history, he is at least in the top five. Bill Montigel's eight Men's Golf Championships and 26 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances can't be discredited. Nor can the job that Gary Patterson has done with the Football program, winning 20 different Head Coach of the Year Awards in 16 seasons. Legendary Men's Tennis coach Bernard "Tut" Bartzen won five conference championships and eight conference tournaments during his 24 years in Fort Worth. Last but certainly not least, Dutch Meyer, TCU's own Renaissance Man, won five conference championships and two National Championships while serving as the Head Coach for the Football, Baseball, and Men's Basketball programs while also serving as TCU's Athletic Director.
Schlossnagle will have a chance to tie another all-time TCU record this week at the Big 12 Baseball Tournament in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Schloss currently has seven Conference Tournament titles, second only to Tut Bartzen and his eight Men's Tennis crowns. Former Women's Basketball coach Jeff Mittie captured three Tournament titles during his time at TCU, but no other Head Coach in any sport in the University's history has captured more than two. With a Big 12 Tournament victory this weekend, Schlossnagle will be tied for both the most Regular Season and Conference Tournament Championships of any coach in TCU Athletics history.
There is still history to be written in 2015. The Baseball team is entering the Big 12 Tournament as the league's #1 overall seed. As one of just three teams in the entire country with single-digit losses, the Frogs look like they're heading toward another National Seed and the chance to host both the NCAA Regionals, and potentially the Super Regionals. Jim Schlossnagle has already cemented his legacy as one of the greatest coaches to ever don a TCU uniform, and he certainly has the chance to expand that legacy this Postseason.