The state of Texas boasts five Power Five schools, and a handful of other universities that make noise nationally on a season by season basis. And while the tradition state powers of the University of Texas and Texas A&M, the two largest schools in the state and the flagship universities of Texas, like to fight over which one runs the state in recruiting and cash flow, at least one writer things they are wasting time chasing each other.
In his state-by-state rankings released Monday, CBS Sports’ Ben Kercheval laid claim that the best football program in Texas is not either of those schools, or any of the public universities in the state. In fact, it was the smallest of the Power Five schools that laid claim to that title - and the most recent invite to the big boy table - TCU.
According to Kercheval, TCU barely edged out Texas A&M and Sam Houston State for top program, due to the stability at the top and for holding the most recent title of any of the contenders.
TCU gets the nod over Texas A&M -- though Sam Houston State got a long look as well. (Seriously.) The Frogs have been in rebuilding mode, but Patterson is a program staple and won a share of the Big 12 title in 2014.
The Frogs and Baylor shared that Big 12 title, you might remember, though only TCU ended the season with a BCS Bowl win. TCU somehow won 11 games the following season (slogging through one of the most horrendous injury stretches seen in recent college football) before falling below .500 a season later as they replaced some of the most dynamic players to come through Fort Worth on both sides of the ball. But most seem to think last year was an aberration, not a warning sign, and hence the respect of the national media in this particular poll.
It also helps that the only other program in the state to have won anything meaningful recently is Baylor, a program that has spend the last year and a half answering for things off the field, not on, and is being held very much in a wait and see mode under the new regime.
For what it’s worth, Texas’ last Big 12 title was in 2009 and last BCS win was the Fiesta Bowl a year prior. Texas Tech last won their division in 2008, but doesn’t have an outright title since... the 70’s?... and not much in the name of BCS Bowl wins. The Aggies had a double digit win season in their first year as a member of the SEC, thanks mostly to Johnny Manziel, a year in which they won the Cotton Bowl as well. Prior to that, 1998 was the last time they won at least ten games. Let that sink in for a minute.
It’s worth mentioning that Houston has four 10+ win seasons in the 2000’s, Sam Houston State has consistently been one of the best teams in the FCS since the turn of the century, and even SMU had a decent five year stretch under June Jones.
That makes it pretty easy to anoint the Frogs, who have ten double-digit win seasons under Gary Patterson, six conference titles, are 2-1 in BCS Bowls since 2010, and are 25-20 since entering the Big 12 Conference. Sadly, that’s enough to make them the best team in Texas, which says a lot about the current state of football programs in Texas.
Which, it should be noted, means that the reigning best team in Texas is Kansas State, who beat the Frogs, Horns, Red Raiders, Bears, and Aggies a season ago. None of Texas’ Power Five teams finished the season ranked in the top 25, a distinction that Gary Patterson rightfully called ‘embarrassing’.
You can see the state-by-state rankings and entire article here. And make your predictions as to who will actually run the state in 2017 in the comments!