And just like that, the chip on TCU football’s shoulders just got even bigger.
The Horned Frogs already had enough motivation heading into last weekend after hardly any of the national media gave them a chance vs. No. 4 Ohio State at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Granted, TCU did fall short in 40-28 loss, but not until after taking a lead into the third quarter and trailing by just five points well into the fourth. No moral victories, but that’s far from the blowout many forecasted.
Now, just five days later, Gary Patterson and the Frogs are right back in full-force “prove them wrong” mode.
If the urgency going forward into Big 12 play isn’t already enough generate the extra boost for TCU, a CBS Sports article published on Wednesday might just be the catalyst to send them over the edge. That’s at least what one would imagine, after the Frogs were dubbed a “roster of rejects” in the headline.
Hours later, Patterson, Jerry Hughes and Ty Slanina were just several of the notable TCU football names that had clapped back on social media at the story documenting the number of players on the Frogs’ roster who were never pursued by the Longhorns in the recruiting process.
There is no reason to degrade an athlete or any person for any reason let alone a click!— Gary Patterson (@TCUCoachP) September 19, 2018
Roster of rejects? You aren’t a “reject” if you’re recruited to play for the #1 football program in the state of Texas. https://t.co/G4T4XH03N8— Ty Slanina (@TySlanina) September 20, 2018
And of course, a sea of fans — some of the Frogs and some with their loyalties lying elsewhere — were quick to join the party on social media in due time.
A day later, the firestorm has finally settled down a bit, though #RosterOfRejects is already a hashtag that is quickly spreading throughout the TCU circle. Heck, for all we know, this could shape of to be the 2018 equivalent of the the infamous “Little Sisters of the Poor” comments made by former Ohio State president Gordon Gee back in 2010.
So, for a moment, at least, let’s all take a step back and dissect what happened on Wednesday that agitated so many folks in Fort Worth and beyond. Was CBS attempting to take a jab at the Frogs, or was it more a good idea at the time gone bad?
For what it’s worth, Barton Simmons makes some factual points in the story — that TCU has many playmakers on its roster who were never offered by one of the biggest brands in college football down on the Forty Acres. Look no further than senior defensive end Ben Banogu and senior linebacker Ty Summers, both of who were 2-star recruits out of high school. Today, they’re two of the most fearsome defensive stars in the Big 12 — something nobody would have expected from them circa 2014.
So yes, TCU may not recruit like the Longhorns, who consistently land the 5-star prospects and haul in recruiting classes that are ranked among the highest in the nation. The Frogs have never landed a single 5-star prospect in the modern era — though freshman quarterback Justin Rogers was briefly bumped to a 5-star status by 247Sports last fall before returning to 4-star status come the early signing period.
Let’s not forget, however, that Patterson prides himself on recognizing and developing undervalued talent. Remember that quote he offered up at Big 12 media days?
“That [star] rating is your rating, not mine. If I’m bringing them in I think they’re a pretty good player.”
Quite frankly, Patterson has come out on top with his unconventional method, at least compared to Texas. Look no further than the Frogs’ 120-point combined scoring edge over the Longhorns in the last four meetings between the two. That will tell you all that you need to know.
Ultimately, it boils down to this.
Yes, TCU has capitalized on players who weren’t necessarily being chased by every single blue-chip program in the nation. Classifying those players — let alone the entire roster — as “rejects,” however, is an extremely poor choice of words.
As touched on earlier, Texas may be one of the most valuable brands in all of college football. But just because one wasn’t recruited by the Longhorns doesn’t suddenly make one irrelevant. Heck, TCU has posted three top 10 finishes in the last four seasons and has seen playoff hopes stay alive deep into year in all three of those instances. The last time the Longhorns were in the hunt for a national title — the 2009 season — TCU wasn’t even in the Big 12, and yet was still on the brink of cracking the BCS National Title game.
Yes. It’s been that long since Texas was truly ‘relevant’ in the same capacity as Oklahoma, Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson today. And yet we’re calling the players who didn’t get offers from Texas the rejects? There’s an argument to be had that not being recruited by the Frogs would be a bigger disappointment than failing to hear from the folks sporting burnt orange.
It’s a slippery slope, one that extends far beyond Fort Worth. Take former Oklahoma quarterback and 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield — perhaps the best passer and most fiery competitor the Big 12 has ever seen take the field. The Lake Travis High School product grew up just miles away from the University of Texas, and yet was never recruited once by the Longhorns.
“I was born and raised in Austin and they didn’t recruit me,” Mayfield told reporters in February. “I was 15 miles from their campus. I can’t stand them.”
So, are we going to label Mayfield as “reject” in that case? Certainly he took a long path to becoming the prolific passer that he was for the Sooners, including a fall-out at Texas Tech after starting as a walk-on freshman in 2013. Still, any reasonable person would agree that it would be absurd label him in that regard.
And let’s bring things back to TCU. Did we forget that there is not one, but two former 4-star recruits — current starter Shawn Robinson and freshman Justin Rogers — in the Frogs’ quarterback room? Did we forget that wide receiver Jalen Reagor and running back Sewo Olonilua, among many others, also came to Fort Worth as 4-star prospects? These are guys that had offers to schools including Oklahoma, LSU, Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State, USC, and yes — Texas (at least for Robinson), when you compile it all together.
Yes. I hate to break it to you. There have, in fact, been players Texas wanted who ultimately chose to play under Patterson.
And yet we’re calling the Frogs a “roster of rejects”? When looking at the profiles of some of TCU’s top stars, it becomes clear rather quickly that the statement isn’t even factually accurate. As much as Patterson prides himself on undervalued talent, it’s not as if the Frogs are finishing way out in left field every February when the recruiting rankings become final. The last three years for the Frogs? 21, 25, 28. Not elite, but a trend may teams would take in a heartbeat.
We could keep going on and on about this all day long. That said, I’ll leave it at this. Nobody is perfect. Odds are, nobody was attempting to belittle the Frogs, at least judging from the complimentary things that were said within the CBS story. But let’s be mindful of definitions when it comes to using a word such as “reject.”
After all, would we be calling using that word if the schools were flipped in this article? I’ll go ahead and say no.
The bar is high across all of college football. TCU or Texas, Alabama or Kansas, countless players dream of taking their talents to the next level. Only so many of the thousands of young men who come out of high school every year are afforded that opportunity — one that can lead to great things in life, with enough hard work and determination.
Take it from Coach P: There truly is no reason to degrade an athlete, or any person, who are given a chance that only the most talented and diligent individuals are afforded. Worth is determined by more than just the name of a school on the front of a jersey. And let’s not forget that — ever.