TCU's slogan for the coming season, #ProveThemRight, took on a little extra meaning this afternoon as the Frogs were picked to finish first in the conference in the Big 12 media preseason poll.
Just a year after being in to voted seventh place, TCU will open the season as the team to beat, coming off their 12-1 season and first conference (co) championship in football. Led by conference preseason offensive player of the year Trevone Boykin, TCU will have the highest expectations upon them they have faced since the dawn of the modern era when they open play against Minnesota 49 days from today. Fellow 'One True Champion' Baylor has had recent media momentum behind them, as many pundits have picked them over the Frogs when it comes to order of finish. But amongst the media members who cover the league - and those who got their ballots in on time - TCU was the runaway favorite, garnering 32 of the 42 first place votes. The Bears were the only other team with a first place vote, netting ten.
While the Frogs return a veteran proven QB, basically every other squad will be breaking in a new player behind center, or hoping for the kind of dramatic turnaround Boykin had a year ago. BU QB Seth Russell is highly thought of as a dual threat prospect, and took several snaps last season in relief of the now graduated Bryce Petty, but his lack of experience against high level competition probably hurt his team in this particular poll. BU will certainly take this as a slight, and it may give them more motivation heading in to a season where they expect to nab a third consecutive Big 12 title and their first BCS win - as well as fight off the Frogs for a coveted spot in the final four.
Oklahoma was picked third, with 312 votes, nearly 100 behind TCU and trailing Baylor by 72. Kansas was picked to finish last, and weren't within striking distance of ninth place finisher Iowa State, despite the buzz surrounding the program under new coach Clint Bowen. Kansas State had the biggest slide, picked seventh entering 2015 after a predicted third place finish last summer. The Frogs were the biggest gainer, with their six spot jump.
As a reference, the 2014 poll had Oklahoma finishing first with 47 first place votes to second place Baylor's nine; in 2013, Oklahoma State received 15 first place votes, OU eight, the Frogs nine, Texas eight, Baylor two, and K State one. Baylor and TCU shared the 2014 title while OU finished fourth; the Bears won in 2013 and OSU was in the middle of the pack. Just in case that gives you cause for concern, the last time the polls were accurate - predicting OU and Nebraska to win their respective divisions - the Frogs went undefeated and won the Rose Bowl. So that has to be a good omen, right?
The full poll is below:
2015 Big 12 Football Media Preseason Poll
first-place votes in parentheses