This is the first of a four part series where we exchange five questions with Ben Findley, who covers TCU for SBNation's Mountain West Connection. This week we take a look at the impact the Rose Bowl will have on both TCU's and Wisconsin's football programs. You can find my answers to MWC's questions here. The series will run every Thursday until the Rose Bowl.
B5Q: Obviously there has been a lot of talk about TCU and the BCS this year. Do you feel like TCU is better than either Oregon or Auburn? Had one of those two teams lost, do you think the Frogs would have made it to the BCS National Championship Game?
MWC: The most exciting thing to me about TCU being in the "on-deck circle" for the BCS National Championship Game was that Oregon and Auburn were fortuitous matchups for the Frogs. I've said all season long that TCU's 4-2-5 speed defense is perfectly suited for an offense like Oregon or Auburn that wants to spread the field horizontally, and that the Frogs would have a harder time matching up against a power run team like an Alabama or Wisconsin. Even though I think TCU would beat the Tigers and Ducks on the field I have no qualms about them playing for a title game over the Frogs based on the fact that they went undefeated in a tougher conference slate. If one of them had lost, I do believe the Frogs would've slid into the 2 spot. ESPN would've pulled out all the stops and had every blowhard from Craig James to Rod Gilmore throwing a hissy fit that TCU doesn't belong and the voting would've been anything but unanimous but I think TCU had enough votes to get there, especially when you take into account the potential Cam Newton backlash and the added boost from our new friends in the Big East.
B5Q: The Rose Bowl is a pretty good consolation prize and TCU is benefiting from a new rule this year that requires it to take TCU over Stanford. What does this Rose Bowl mean for the program and how excited is the fan base? Is TCU going to sellout their allotment of tickets?
MWC: As far as what it means for the program, it puts TCU in elite company as one of only a handful of teams not in the Pac 10 or Big 10 to play in the Rose Bowl and one of only ten programs to have played in the Rose, Fiesta, Sugar, and Orange Bowls. Frog fans are ecstatic over being able to play in "the granddaddy of them all." It's a once in a lifetime opportunity for TCU and we are playing against a well respected college football power in Wisconsin, which is all we really want. Last year being paired up with the Boise State spud thumpers in the Fiesta Bowl was a slap in the face to our program and to say the fan base was disappointed would be a massive understatement. Even so the Frogs still traveled well to the Fiesta Bowl and TCU sold out their allotment and then some, which is impressive considering the game was on a weekday and Phoenix is a less than desirable travel destination. The Rose Bowl carries none of that negative baggage so I believe TCU will have a good showing in Pasadena as we have already sold out our ticket allotment. If I had to guess I would predict somewhere in the range of 30-35k purple-clad fans on January 1st
B5Q: What do Badger fans need to know about TCU fans? What are some of the traditions we should expect to see in Pasadena?
MWC: You should know that our name can be a bit deceiving for outsiders so for all intents and purposes go ahead and consider the "C" silent. We can tailgate with the best of them and have plenty of smokin' hot women who have an affinity for mini-skirts and cowboy boots, so we have that going for us, which is nice. We can be a defensive bunch (especially on the interwebs) which comes from being constantly attacked in our natural habitat by jealous Big 12 t-shirt fans, but as long as you approach us in a friendly manner I think you will find yourself welcome at just about every TCU tailgate. Help yourself to the beer and bbq. As far as things you can expect from our fan base, you will see plenty of of TCU fans flashing the Frog hand sign and yelling "Go Frogs!" all weekend long.
B5Q: The school is in the shadow of a few Big 12 programs and of course the Dallas Cowboys. How "big" are the Horned Frogs in the Dallas/Fort Worth area? Does the program struggle to get a lot of coverage or is football big enough that it trumps some of the other pro teams in the Dallas area?
MWC: I think it is important to note that TCU is a small private school with only 8,000 undergrads and roughly 75,000 living alumni, 60 percent of which is female, so the Frogs obviously aren't as "big" as the Big 12 programs in the area and we definitely don't have the amount of bandwagon Wal-Mart t-shirt fans that they tout, but we like it that way. The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is most certainly a pro sports town with the Cowboys, Mavericks, Rangers, and Stars all ruling the roost. With those competing forces TCU doesn't get as much coverage as it probably deserves but winning cures all ills and you can see more purple in town everyday which means we are adding some t-shirt fans of our own.
B5Q: Finally, TCU is joining the Big East. It seems a little weird to see a Texas team in the Big East so were you surprised this happened? Do you view the Big East as a conference TCU can dominate? With the teams the Mountain West has scooped up, was there any hesitation to leave the conference?
MWC: I wasn't surprised it happened because if TCU was going to get an invite to a BCS AQ conference I always felt that the Big East was our only realistic option because they were the only conference that truly needed us. Obviously we would love to be in a conference that makes more geographic sense like the Big 12 but the sad reality of college football today is that it is all about the money and we wouldn't add much to the Big 12's current television footprint so there was no way in hell they were going to invite TCU. There was little hesitation to leave the MWC because joining the Big East is an improvement in almost every way imaginable and the MWC isn't the same conference we joined in 2005 without Utah and BYU. The travel issue really isn't much different than it is in the MWC and the additions of Boise State, Nevada, Fresno, and Hawaii was going to make the mileage much worse for the Frogs. As far as dominating the Big East goes, I think that is getting a bit overblown. I'm sure this year's TCU team would win the Big East this season without breaking a sweat but it won't be like that every year. The Big East has some legitimately prestigious programs and is competitive from top to bottom. The bottom half of the Big East actually poses a threat on any given Saturday unlike the tomato cans that round out the bottom half of the MWC like New Mexico, UNLV, Wyoming, and CSU.