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A year full of woes: TCU sports’ top ten worst moments of 2019

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There were plenty of bright spots in 2019, so let’s get the bad ones out of the way first.

NCAA Football: Texas Christian at Oklahoma Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

It doesn’t matter who you cheer for, college sports can make you dance with joy one day and want to pull out your hair the next. That’s part of the beauty of the NCAA. Nevertheless, to say that 2019 was a rollercoaster of emotions for TCU fans would be an understatement. It wasn’t all bad, but when it was, it hurt deep.

With that being said, let’s take a look at the ten worst sports moments of 2019 for the purple and white.

10.) The Bane of their existence: Men’s basketball blows 15-point lead at the MGM Resorts Main Event, Frogs’ superstar misses game-winning free throws

When you’re picked last in the Big 12, you have to take wins when you can get them. Up by 15 with 7:39 left to go against Clemson in late November, TCU felt all but certain that they would be getting an early-season power 5 win in the opening round of the MGM Resorts Main Event.

Well, you know what they say: “It’s not over ‘til the fat lady sings.” Unfortunately for the Frogs, the fat lady had yet to sing when they gave up a 15-0 run to end regulation and put the Tigers back in the game. To make matters worse, Desmond Bane, a preseason All-Big 12 First Team selection, missed two free throws with four seconds left to send the game to overtime.

Six lead changes in overtime later, Clemson was walking away with a 62-60 win, and TCU was scratching their heads as to how they could have suffered their first loss of the season in such an embarrassing fashion.

9.) Volleyball embarrassed in final match of season

After a pretty disappointing season (keep reading for more on that topic), TCU Volleyball gained some confidence when they dominated the first three rounds of the NIVC (basically the volleyball version of the CBI). The Frogs won nine of the first 11 postseason sets they played in, earning a spot in the NIVC semifinals against Georgia Tech.

TCU kept the first two sets against the Yellow Jackets close, bringing the match score to a 1-1 tie. Then, imagine what would happen if an actual horned frog encountered a swarm of a dozen yellow jackets. That only partially describes how badly TCU played in the third set.

The Frogs finished the set with a miserable 0.045 hitting clip, while the Yellow Jackets hit a resounding 0.727 percent. Behind just four kills, TCU put up only eight points, their lowest total in a period in years (by a wide margin).

Georgia Tech would go on to win the fourth set, ending TCU’s season.

8.) That Hurts: refs award Sooners of mythical first down against Frogs that receives national scrutiny

With TCU down just four to ninth-ranked Oklahoma late in the fourth quarter, Frog fans around the country had hope they had never expected to have when their team headed up to Norman—hope of a win. This was seemingly lost when quarterback Max Duggan threw an interception with 1:35 left to play.

Nevertheless, with Oklahoma needing a first down to seal TCU’s doom, the Frogs stopped quarterback Jalen Hurts short on 3rd-and-1 to force a punt. At least, that’s what they, and thousands around the country, thought.

After a long review, the officials ruled that Hurts had gained the first, allowing the Sooners to end the game. Two weeks later, Oklahoma was given the fourth spot in the 2019 College Football Playoff.

The call was scrutinized by analysts, reporters, players, and schools around the country. Sure, TCU would’ve had to find life on offense that they had not found all night, but a chance is a chance, and the Frogs didn’t even get that.

7.) Is that Pete Carroll? Cumbie dials up a pass play for Olonilua against SMU that fails miserably

Especially with “Beast Mode’s” recent return to Seattle, everyone remembers when Pete Carroll called a pass play in the final moments of Super Bowl 49 instead of giving it to one of the most dominant rushers in NFL history—Marshawn Lynch. The pass was picked off, keeping the Seahawks from winning back-to-back Lombardi Trophies. Regardless of which way you look at it, the decision doesn’t make sense, and Carroll will forever be criticized for it.

TCU saw their own version of this infamous play when rival SMU came to town. Down seven late in the fourth quarter, the Frogs found themselves deep in the red zone, looking to tie the game. On fourth-and-1, offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie decided to go for it. With running back Sewo Olonilua, who squats over 700 pounds, lined up in the wildcat, Cumbie elected to throw.

The Mustangs read the play perfectly, sacking Olonilua to force a turnover on downs. Everyone at Amon G. Carter Stadium wondered, “What was Cumbie thinking?” as TCU would go on to lose the game 41-38.

6.) What happened? Volleyball’s preseason hype amounts to basically nothing, finish near bottom of Big 12

After outside hitter élan McCall became a household name in Fort Worth with her fantastic rookie campaign (2018 All-Big 12 First Team), TCU fans got excited about volleyball again. Along with McCall, the Frogs would be returning five starters and adding the No. 6 recruiting class in the country (according to PrepVolleyball.com) in 2019.

Nevertheless, things were rough from the get-go for the Frogs. McCall missed the first 10 matches of the season with a nagging leg injury, and when she did return, she was only able to show flashes of her former brilliance.

This threw TCU off-balance offensively, and the Frogs would win just four games in conference play. Outmatched by the majority of the league, TCU won just 18 of the 58 sets they played in Big 12 action. All in all, it wasn’t the season that Fort Worth expected. At least it can only go up from here, I think.

5.) Duggan called “out,” Frogs fall to Baylor in 3OT

No one in Fort Worth likes Baylor, so when the Bears came to Amon G. Carter Stadium undefeated at 9-0, Frog fans relished at the chance to ruin Waco’s perfect year.

The game was a defensive battle, with each team nailing three field goals in regulation to send the contest to overtime. The game only got crazier from there, with the catch of a lifetime from receiver Te’Vailance Hunt giving TCU a score on fourth down in the first overtime.

Minutes later, the Frogs found themselves needing a score to stay alive in the third overtime. Needing a big play, Duggan said, “I’ll do it myself.” The young QB juked and spun his way around seemingly every Baylor defender, finding the endzone to keep TCU alive. However, upon review, it was deemed that Duggan had stepped out at the three. Though it was close, many around the country felt that there wasn’t the indisputable video evidence needed to call the play back. Regardless, the Frogs would fail to score from there, and the Bears remained undefeated.

4.) Burned out? Baseball misses Omaha for second-straight year

There isn’t too much to say about this one other than that TCU baseball has failed to live up to expectations now two years in a row. After seeing their team get selected for the College World Series each year from 2014 to 2017, TCU fans were shocked to see that the Frogs missed out on Omaha in 2018.

TCU looked to be back on track with big wins over No. 1 Vanderbilt and Texas early in 2019. Nevertheless, the Frogs finished with a losing record in conference play for the second-straight year, and the NCAA Regionals would be as far as they would get.

3.) Men’s and women’s basketball snubbed from NCAA tournament on back-to-back days

With the entrance of head coach Jamie Dixon came a bigger buzz around basketball at TCU. In his first season, the Frogs got a bid for the NIT and went on to win the tournament, giving them a sort of national prominence that hadn’t been seen in years. The following year saw further improvement and an NCAA tournament bid.

Riding newfound confidence in 2018, both men’s and women’s basketball found themselves at the brink of reaching the Big Dance at the end of the season. Each team had seen big wins (coincidentally both against Iowa State) and close losses. Heading into their respective Big 12 tournaments, most analysts said that at least one win would secure an NCAA tournament bid for the Frogs.

The women’s team was the first to go down. After narrowly falling to Texas in the first round of the Big 12 tournament, the Frogs were among the first group of teams to miss the NCAA tournament. After coming so close, a WNIT bid was a hard pill to swallow, though TCU did make it to the semifinal round.

The men’s team came next. Unlike the women, Dixon’s squad had defeated Oklahoma State 73-70 in the first round of the Big 12 tournament, which seemed to lock up a spot for a team that ranked 52nd in NET and RPI. Nevertheless, the NIT, no longer a welcome sight, was all TCU would come away with, as they were the third team left out of the NCAA tournament field.

2.) Football loses to SMU for first time since 2011

This game was so bad that it made this list twice. For years, the rivalry between TCU and SMU had seemed more like a free win for the Frogs than a bitter matchup. This could not have been farther from the truth this season.

Behind new additions in former Longhorn quarterback Shane Buechele and West Virginia receiver Reggie Roberson Jr., the Mustangs had more swagger than usual when they made it to Fort Worth. SMU went up 14-0 before TCU knew what had happened and never looked back.

The lowlights of the game included Olonilua’s pass attempt, safety Innis Gaines getting burned miserably on a wheel route, and defensive end Shameik Blackshear throwing an SMU helmet halfway across the field.

As Duggan’s pass sailed past the outstretched arms of running back Darius Anderson to put the nails in the coffin for TCU, the unexpected and seemingly impossible became a very harsh reality for the Frogs.

1.) Football falls to West Virginia at home, misses bowl eligibility

Despite the ups and downs of TCU’s football season, reaching a bowl game had seemed like a given for the Frogs all season. I mean, TCU had played in a bowl in 16 of Gary Patterson’s 18 years as head coach.

With games against Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and West Virginia left, the Frogs needed to win two of the three matchups to reach the postseason. After pulling out a tight 33-31 victory over the Red Raiders in Lubbock, TCU saw a bowl game as all but accomplished, as West Virginia was sitting with the bottom feeders of the Big 12.

Nevertheless, the Frogs dropped a close one in Norman before clashing with a surprisingly hungry West Virginia team on Thanksgiving weekend. Despite the fact that TCU had everything to play for, they got out-played, kind of. The Frogs outgained the Mountaineers 297-244 in total yards, but turnovers and missed opportunities got the better of TCU.

West Virginia won 20-17 to end the final season for TCU legends like Jalen Reagor and Jeff Gladney with nothing to show for it. Thanks to guys like Max Duggan and Taye Barber, potential is there for TCU football, but it remains unsure as to whether or not the Frogs can pick up the pieces in 2020.