Sure, we hear it all the time from coaches across the college landscape any time a job opens up: ‘why would I leave? I am happy here. Such and such has everything I could want.’
Only to see them cut ties and take off for a better opportunity.
And while those platitudes were shared to some degree by TCU Basketball head coach Jamie Dixon, it felt different coming from a person that played his college ball in Fort Worth and is in the middle of one of the most impressive resurrections in modern college sports history.
Dixon was asked, of course, about the rumors when he met with the media Thursday morning. After clarifying that he has made it a policy to not talk about other jobs, as “there is always someone trying to get the job”, he reflected on what UCLA meant to him as a young player, as well as what it means to be at TCU now.
“I think everybody has a different perspective, but for me, I grew up in it. It was probably my first entry into basketball because they were so good when I was a little kid. So in my mind, that’s where basketball started. So it is what it is.”
While UCLA hoops will always hold a special place in Coach Dixon’s heart - he was born in 1965, meaning that his earliest memories could include up to eight NCAA Championships during the John Wooden era - he seems happy to be back where he made his bones as a player, too. “I’m just so happy about being here, thankful for the situation I have. The best AD, the best Chancellor, and the family is happy, so why would I be thinking about anything else?”
Remember, when Dixon agreed to return to TCU and Fort Worth, it was with several stipulations - chartered flights (something UCLA does not currently do), a big budget for assistants, and a continued investment in the basketball program. To this point, he has gotten everything he has asked for and more, playing in a beautifully renovated facility, having the funds to keep high-profile assistants like Ryan Miller and bring on guys like Scott Cross, and selling out season tickets for the past two seasons. Fan support can still be hit or miss - the long breaks for students at Thanksgiving and Christmas don’t help - but he believes that what is growing in Fort Worth has the potential to be truly special. “TCU is at a point, we have our own group, our own fans, we’re sold out. We have some challenges - the long breaks are unique - you’re talking about half of preseason in just those two breaks. We are sold out, there’s interest, the following is there. People are captivated by the team, the way we play - I certainly feel that. I think the tradition is coming for those November/December games - it’s building. I think the conference games will certainly be packed.”
Dixon has built a special team this season and is the midst of building a truly special program. Highly ranked recruits like freshmen Kaden Archie and Kendric Davis, as well as signees PJ Fuller, Francisco Farabello (both top 100 players), and Diante Smith, put the Frogs in position to be an elite team a season from now - if not sooner. The Bruins don’t have nearly the roster the Frogs do today, nor in the immediate future - the Frogs have just two seniors on the roster currently and could bring back a loaded unit for the next run. And while So Cal is a big draw for recruiting, so is DFW - though of course LA has the added draw of family for Dixon.
While the Frog faithful should pay close attention to the UCLA job search, I think it’s a relatively safe bet that Jamie Dixon finishes what he started in Fort Worth. Something that he warned his players he would be doing the other day. “They were joking about it, so I said ‘you’re stuck with me, so don’t even use that as an excuse.’”
No excuses for TCU Basketball. They have a game to win.
The Frogs open conference play Saturday against Baylor, with a 3:00pm tip-off.