Excitement back at TCU following upset win
TCU quarterback Tye Gunn spent the three-hour bus ride back to campus thinking about what the Horned Frogs had done, and what so many other teams had been unable to accomplish. They won at Oklahoma.
Then there was another surprise for Gunn and his teammates when they got back to Fort Worth. A crowd of about 100 fans was waiting for them, cheering for them and holding up "Go Frogs" signs.
"There's usually nobody here," Gunn said Sunday, a day after TCU's shocking season-opening 17-10 victory over the seventh-ranked Sooners. "It was kind of refreshing. It feels good to know people really appreciate all the work."
Before going 5-6 last season to end a streak of six straight bowl appearances, the Horned Frogs had three 10-win seasons in a four-year stretch. They even flirted with busting into the BCS two years ago by winning their first 10 games.
But that BIG victory had always eluded them -- until now.
"For me, this will probably be the biggest win as a head coach for this program," fifth-year coach Gary Patterson said. "You've got to know everybody will have ups and downs. This is real important. These are all my kids now that I've recruited. It's good to see them play hard and play in that kind of arena."
TCU hadn't pulled off an upset this big in 44 years, since beating No. 1 Texas 6-0 in November 1961, and the euphoria carried over into Sunday, when the Frogs offered fans an opportunity to share the moment with them.
Patterson has closed practices this season, but the team held a public practice and invited fans inside the stadium Sunday night. And ticket offices that were supposed to be closed Sunday and for the Labor Day holiday Monday were opened.
Expectations have suddenly changed.
"We knew it would be a measuring stick, really tell us what kind of team we had," said Gunn, 11-2 as TCU's starter over four seasons. "We can be pretty good if we can keep it up."
The Frogs were more than three-touchdown underdogs against the Sooners. But Gunn threw for 226 yards and a touchdown and TCU limited Adrian Peterson, the Heisman Trophy runner-up as a freshman last year, to 63 yards on 22 carries.
It was Oklahoma's first home loss since 2001, and the first September loss for the Sooners under coach Bob Stoops.
"We feel very fortunate and are very happy to be 1-0," Patterson said. "I don't think many people gave us a chance to be 1-0. But you lose everything you gained winning against an Oklahoma if you go and get beat by SMU."
The Frogs play Saturday night at SMU, a newcomer to Conference USA, the league they just left. TCU's home and Mountain West Conference opener is Sept. 15 against Utah, a BCS team last season.
Since becoming head coach, Patterson has heard talk that he was just maintaining what Dennis Franchione had started before he left for Alabama and later Texas A&M.
That perception remained even after Patterson led the Frogs to consecutive 10-win seasons. And it certainly didn't change last year, when TCU didn't go to a bowl for the first time since 1998 -- Franchione's first season when he took a team that had won just once before to the Sun Bowl, where they beat USC.
"Last year was frustrating for me as a head coach," Patterson said. "Sometime when you take over a program, I see the word out there, I'm maintaining ... For me, I was part of that also. Now to be able to knock off an Oklahoma, there are a lot of positives with it."
While the Frogs had LaDainian Tomlinson winning two NCAA rushing titles under Franchione, they also had one of the nation's best defenses, with Patterson as the coordinator.
Maybe beating Oklahoma will change the perception, and get TCU fans excited again.
"After one bad season, everybody kind of gave up on us," Gunn said. "It was disappointing for us as a team to see how everybody gave up on us so quick. Hopefully, this will turn some heads."
It already has, in Fort Worth and across the country.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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