TCU has done an excellent job scheduling their out of conference, Power Five opponents, lining up some big names and exciting locales for the next decade plus. With the announcement earlier this month that athletic director Chris Del Conte had lined up a future home and home with North Carolina, we thought it would be a good time to take a look at what’s coming down the pipe and who we would like to see.
How would you grade TCU’s out of conference scheduling overall?
Hawk: I’d put it at about an A-, top tier, but with a few niggling issues that hold it back from being the best in the country. Being locked into a home and home with a non-P5 team is an anchor for the schedule, and I’m not a big fan of the annual FCS exhibition system. Beyond that, we’ve been scheduling at least one P5 opponent every year since before I was born, and that’s the way I like it.
Jamie: I’d give it a B+. TCU gets high marks for scheduling big teams like Arkansas, Ohio State, Cal, LSU, etc., but I need to ding them for always having an FCS team on the schedule. I understand it to an extent, because you need a game or two sometimes to work out the kinks, but with the Big 12 down like it is, it damages an already damaged SOS. Of course, we could also debate how important strength of schedule is to the College Football Playoff Committee, and let that be our guide, but I’d rather not get into that here.
Chris: I’d give it an A- based on what we have right now. TCU has done a good job of lining up some P5 opponents including Arkansas, Ohio State, Colorado, Stanford, and North Carolina. Personally, I don’t understand scheduling so far in advance because who knows what teams will look like in 2027? Either way, the Frogs have done a good job of trying to set up matchups with big-time programs that should look good on the schedule.
Melissa: I give it an A, as TCU has done a great job of lining up exciting power five matchups for the next several years. Not only are the teams/programs really solid, but they are located in great destinations for fans. I am of the belief that SMU is on the way up under Chad Morris, so continuing that rivalry is fine by me (for now), and while I hate playing the FCS schools as a general rule, I understand why they continue to remain a part of the preseason.
Which major non-conference game are you most looking forward to and why?
Hawk: I love the Arkansas series, and would happily extend it to a four or six game arrangement. There’s so much interesting history there, and it makes us oldies feel like football season has really begun. Also, though all fanbases have their superfanatics, there’s something special about playing a team where you’re reasonably sure that almost every fan is at least a little unhinged.
Jamie: Ohio State. From the “Little Sisters of the Poor” comment by Gordon Gee prior to the Rose Bowl, to jumping TCU in 2014, I have great disdain for the Buckeyes.
Chris: Ohio State is at the top of my list for the same reasons Jamie mentioned. However, being from Northern California, the future Stanford and Cal series also pique my interest.
Melissa: Ohio State, unless it gets changed to a one-off at Jerry World. Watching the Frogs play in the Horseshoe is definitely a bucket list type experience for me. Other than that, I’m with Chris - being from Nor Cal, I can’t wait for the Stanford and Cal series.
Do you want to see the Frogs continue to schedule FCS schools for one game per year?
Hawk: This is a tough one, because the economic reality is that a team needs 7 home games a year, and with our current scheduling arrangement we’re only guaranteed six out of the 11 constants of the schedule: 9 conference games (5:4, alternating home and away), 1 P5 OOC game/SMU one of which is at home and one away each year. So, to make the numbers work, you need an opponent that’s willing to play in Fort Worth without requiring a home game in return, and generally the best way to do that is dipping into the FCS ranks. I’d personally prefer hosting a Texas State, Louisiana-Monroe or similar Sun Belt/CUSA foe, but I’m all right with the FCS arrangement for now.
Jamie: No, because of the reason I stated above. Plus, it’s hard enough to get TCU fans in the dang stadium, why give people another excuse for staying home?
Chris: Honestly, I don’t have a problem with it, so long as we schedule good FCS teams like South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits were a good team that had a solid season including a win over North Dakota State. I won’t ding us for playing good FCS opponents as opposed to bad FBS teams like North Texas and Texas State. But, if we replaced it with another P5 game to increase our SOS, then I would be for switching.
Melissa: I don’t love playing the FCS schools, but, like I said earlier, I get it. My hope is that we schedule more SDSUs and other top-tier lower level program, of which there are several in the state, instead of the really bad ones. Ultimately, I would prefer we switch that date out with a middle-tier FBS school, but I don’t see that happening regularly any time soon.
If you could add one home and home series to TCU’s future schedule, who would you choose?
Hawk: Texas A&M, welcome back to Fort Worth. Your days of avoiding good TCU teams are over, and I’m taking two shots at ending the streak that is the lone surviving relic of the bad old days. Also they’d bring the band and a trip to Kyle Field would be included- I might have to make the trip back to the States to be there for that one.
Jamie: It would have to be Texas A&M, for all the reasons Hawk said. If not Aggie, then I WANT BAMA.
Chris: I would say LSU. Playing them at AT&T Stadium was my first game as a student and was one of the most exciting experiences I have had and I would love to see us play them again. Considering the recruiting inroads we have made into the Boot, beating LSU twice would provide us with some even more solid recruiting pitches.
Melissa: Notre Dame. I grew up watching the Irish on Saturday mornings as a young kid (my friends were watching cartoons and I was watching college football - it explains so much), so seeing my Frogs score under Touchdown Jesus would probably cause me to sports cry.
If it was an option, would you replace the annual Iron Skillet Battle against SMU, and what would you replace it with? Is there a secondary OOC rival the Frogs should be playing regularly?
Hawk: Yep, no question. I’m not against playing the Skillet game, but I think the current agreement needs to expire and be redrawn into a more beneficial arrangement. At the moment, SMU brings next to nothing to the table except the history- they don’t bring their own fans, they rarely bring a competitive team, they’re a consistent drag on our strength of schedule and they don’t really bring out our fans more than other opponents. I don’t want to be one of those P5 elitist folks that we used to rail against, but we could at least offer OOC opponents a date in front of metroplex recruits and a team that would be good enough to boost the strength of schedule. SMU gives us none of that, so it’s time to start scheduling them like they schedule every other P5 team they play: 2 games in Fort Worth, 1 game in Dallas. That frees up the need for an FCS opponent every year, and means that the Frogs can either schedule an extra P5 opponent, or perhaps even renew acquaintances with a team like Utah, Boise State, BYU or Southern Miss for a home and home or 2 for 1 as well.
Jamie: If it was replaced with a P5 school, then yes. I am, however, coming around on the SMU matchup. With Chad Morris sticking around despite pursuits from Baylor (and who knows who else), SMU has a chance to rise up and be a decent opponent. Plus, it’s an easily-accessible game for TCU fans in the Metroplex, regardless of where it’s being played.
As for a secondary rival, I wouldn’t mind seeing us strike something back up with Utah. I loved those games when we were in the Mountain West, and even traveled up to Salt Lake City once to see us play the Utes. That’s an away game that I’d try to get to every time.
Chris: I agree with both Hawk and Jamie on this one. In terms of the rivalry, I would love to keep it around and I believe playing them annually keeps some good program history alive. However, I also would want to see it go to a 2-for-1 arrangement where we get 2 home games for every 1 they get. Although they are on the rise, they won’t be able to recruit at our level and we also have a lot more to lose if we lost to a non-P5 team. In terms of a secondary rival, I would love to see us bring on Boise State or extend this Arkansas agreement to be permanent.
Melissa: I am a big believer in Chad Morris. If he sticks around in Dallas for another three years, that program could become a mid-major power. I like the idea of playing twice every four years, and throwing in a Utah/BYU/Boise State/A&M/etc in between. That way every four year class gets a home and home, but TCU retains some flexibility and can bring back some old rivalries from the MWC days.
How many of these big games do you think you’ll be attending?
Hawk: None! . . . Dang, I made myself sad.
Jamie: As many as I possibly could.
Chris: Hopefully all of the home games. Maybe go to the games at Cal and Stanford and visit family back home.
Melissa: I’ve started the tradition in the last couple seasons to treat myself to one fun TCU away trip a year. All of these games really appeal to me, and I hope to get to all of them - especially the two in the Bay Area, of course.
There are rumblings that the Ohio State home and home will be replaced with a one of at Jerry World as part of the opening weekend kickoff in 2018. How do you feel about that game in particular, and about playing at AT&T Stadium in general?
Hawk: I really don’t like neutral site games, so this rumor is quite distressing to hear. When we built up the new stadium, CDC said “We didn’t spend millions of dollars upgrading the stadium to play in Cowboy Stadium” and I’m in 100% agreement on that. It screws over the season ticket holders, who would not only be paying for 6 games instead of 7 (and one of those being the requisite FCS game), but would be missing out on an absolute marquee opponent. It screws over the schedule, as we’d suddenly be without a P5 opponent for 2019- which is not only a TCU tradition, but now a Big 12 requirement- and any talk of playing at Ohio State when they didn’t come to Fort Worth is just insulting. We have a contract for Ohio State to play in Fort Worth, and I’d fight like hell to keep it that way, no matter how much money ESPN tries to dangle in front of the university. Playing at AT&T Stadium is okay only if it’s taking the place of an FCS date, not a marquee home game.
Jamie: It sucks, because we all want to see teams like OSU come to the Carter, and we all want to see the Frogs go play in the Horseshoe. Unfortunately, when we find ourselves in these situations, it’s hard not to acquiesce to the other school’s request. Ohio State is having to rethink future schedules because the Big 10 moved to nine conference games instead of eight, and this helps free them up one of those years.
Also, it’s a good way for Ohio State to ensure that they’re playing on the “biggest stage” in Texas for recruiting purposes.
But the long and short of it is this: There’s a buyout clause in scheduling agreements like this that allows a school to back out of the series altogether, for a cost. So ask yourself, would you rather see us play Ohio State once at Jerry World, or not at all? I’ll take the game in Jerry World.
Chris: There are certain stipulations I would like to be able to get if that were to happen, some of which might be out of both schools’ control. If we played them on opening weekend at Jerry World, College GameDay would likely come to Fort Worth, and I would want them to come to campus instead of Sundance Square. Also, we would need to have a 2019 backup plan. One I have possibly heard is a Shamrock Series matchup or general neutral site game with Notre Dame. Although I would love to have games at the Carter and at the Horseshoe, like Jamie said, I’d rather play them at a neutral site than not at all.
Melissa: I hate these marquee matchups at AT&T when they involve a local team. Jerry World is an unbelievable stadium, but it’s a subpar collegiate environment. I want to see the Buckeyes in Amon G Carter and I want to see the Frogs in the ‘Shoe, and not see both teams lose the cache of playing great teams on their home turf. That being said, it’s going to come down to eyeballs, dollars, and ESPN - so we are probably not going to see OSU in Fort Worth.