Around the Horned with Brian Estridge

Nov. 7, 2005

Tonight we welcome the Colorado State Rams to Amon Carter Stadium for what is being billed as the first conference championship game of the 2005 season. A win and the Horned Frogs will secure their first outright conference championship since 1958. As we get set for kickoff, I have to believe that this game is exactly what the then-TCU administration and Craig Thompson, the Mountain West Conference Commissioner, had in mind when they decided to form this partnership.

From the Mountain West's perspective TCU was the perfect addition. League expansion should always add to the top and the addition of TCU was just that. From our side, the success that TCU has experienced on the football field is just a part of the story.

It is also the people, the relationships and the healthy rivalries that are just what TCU needed at this time in our history.

From day one it has felt like home for the Frogs. It also presented us with a chance to belong, to be part of a family, and more importantly a chance to be a part of something as special as reforming the BCS.

As this relationship grows, so grows the national reputation of the Mountain West. It's the ideal combination. The MWC helps the Frogs get closer to that elusive BCS membership thanks to the other member schools and their accomplishments on the field. The Frogs, in turn, help enhance the already growing national reputation and exposure of the Mountain West and become the final piece of the puzzle for the league to become an automatic BCS qualifier.

Now don't get confused by some of the coach speak from around the league. The other conference schools are glad TCU is a member. After all, if it weren't for the Horned Frogs, there would be no Mountain West representative in the top 25, there would be no interest from bowl games east of the Rocky Mountains in having a MWC team, and there might not be much talk of the BCS owing anything to the Mountain West.

But thanks to TCU all of that exists. And the other MWC coaches know that. I am chalking it up to coach speak not criticism, envy not jealousy, that we have heard from some of the league mentors.

Do take note of one thing though, not once have we heard any of that from Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick. He knows that in this profession and with the state of college football today, it could easily be his Rams sitting with the bulls-eye on their backs, not the Frogs.

He has experienced that before, so he is not going to stoop to the level of criticizing the Frogs, their talent or their ability to win week in and week out. He is not going to publicly pull against the Frogs versus teams other than his own. Now, don't get me wrong. He is going to do everything in his power to beat the Frogs tonight, but in the end he knows that the magical season that TCU is experiencing is good for the league as a whole.

And I, for one, also believe the rest of the conference coaches know that deep down as well. Some of them just have a difficult time expressing it. Tonight, the new kid on the block meets the long time class of the league. It's the bright young coach versus the experienced veteran. It pits two teams and two coaches who have tremendous respect for one another. I can think of no better way for the Frogs' first year in the Mountain West to be decided than against the storied program that Lubick has built at Colorado State.

Enjoy tonight's conference championship game! I know I will.

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