TCU fans have been shouting for years now that the Horned Frogs program has reached a level of relevance close to that of the "big boys." For the most part, its been similar to shouting down a well. Despite all the talk about the on-field results (15-3 in the Big 12, 23-3 overall, over the past two seasons), and the improvement in recruiting (247 Sports' Composite rankings have TCU listed as having the No. 22 recruiting class for 2016) people, especially Longhorns and Aggies, generally scoff when Frog fans start to talk about TCU's relevance, or ignore it altogether.
If nothing else has changed the perception, maybe this will: Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie have now been targeted by the two "premier" schools in the state of Texas, Texas A&M and Texas, respectively, and have told them both, "no thanks."
Not only did they say no thanks, but they said no thanks to what would have been promotions and pay raises. Early in December, the University of Texas and Charlie Strong offered Sonny Cumbie a 3-year deal at $1.3 million per to be their offensive coordinator, which would have been a significant salary increase, as well as a major jump in responsibilities (play calling, etc.). He thought long and hard about it, as he should have, and eventually made the decision to remain in Fort Worth.
It was a signal of how bad things were at Texas, but also a signal of stable conditions and a rising power in TCU.
Today, it was the same song, different verse, with Texas A&M and Doug Meacham. There are inconsistencies among the multiple reports as to how far down the road Meacham and A&M were, with some saying there were a few conversations, and others saying the contract was ready to be signed, but the fact of the matter is this: at the end of it all, Meacham decided to stay with TCU, likely eschewing a promotion, as there were rumors he was offered an associate head coach title as well.
We're already seeing the spin with Texas A&M just like we did with Texas, but don't let any of that fool you. This is a new era of college football in Texas, one in which the Longhorns and Aggies no longer sit atop the mountain. Will they continue to pull in big name recruits? Sure, but if you've been paying attention, you've noticed that it's far less of a lock now than it was six or seven years ago. TCU, Baylor, and Houston have all scooped up big names that have had interest in the Horns and Ags, and things aren't slowing down.
This is a sign of parity in college football, where non-traditional powers are rising up annually to make noise in the NY6 Bowls, it's a sign of what a great place TCU, and Fort Worth, is to be; it's a testament to what Gary Patterson, with the unwavering support and open pocketbook of Chris Del Conte and Victor Boschini, has built on Hell's Half Acre; and it's a vote of confidence in where the TCU Football program is headed, despite the graduation of their brightest stars. TCU no longer rebuilds after a double-digit win campaign, they reload. And while there will certainly be growing pains, apparently Cumbie and Meacham believe they have the players to make another serious run at a title in the fall.
Coaches notice when a program is floundering, and they definitely notice when it closely resembles a large, steel trash receptacle that is being consumed by white-hot flames. They also know when they have a good thing going, and that's been made clear by the decisions, and words, of the two coordinators. Take a look at what Cumbie had to say after turning down UT:
Fort Worth and the people of TCU have been unbelievable to our family, they've opened their arms to us, loved us really well. The people at TCU have made it really clear they want us there.Why not TCU? I believe in Coach Patterson, the foundation of things he's done here.
After years of shouting "WE'RE TEXAS" or "WE'RE A&M", all the noise has become just that, noise. As droves of people begin to realize that Texas and A&M are no longer the inherent choice for students and fans alike, those shouts fall on deaf ears more and more. And while there are still scores of kids who grow up dreaming of wearing burnt orange or maroon and white, when it comes time to sign on the dotted line, there are scores more who want to win. And, as they have proven time and time again, the TCUs and Baylors of the world don't need five star recruits to do just that. And now that those programs are signing the big names? Look out.
This isn't a death knell for UT or A&M, by any means, but it's certainly a wake up call. The two signature programs in the state aren't the end all, be all powers they once were, and without significant changes in how they do business, they may struggle to regain that position. The Longhorns and Aggies can't just rely on money-whipping whoever they want anymore, and that they swung and missed at both of TCU's co-offensive coordinators signals loud and clear that the Frogs are going to be here for a while.