Texas Christian University football fans aren’t used to this kind of feeling. However, if history holds true, there is plenty of reason for optimism in the Horned Frogs’ camp.
For only the third time in the 16 years since Gary Patterson has been head coach, they ended a season with a losing record. The Horned Frogs’ 31-23 Liberty Bowl loss to Georgia in Memphis left TCU with a final record of 6-7 in 2016.
“It was a game that we could have easily won, but you’ve got to make plays,” Patterson said. ”For us, it’s kind of been the story of our season.”
Indeed it was. The Horned Frogs led 16-7 late in the first half and 16-14 at the break. History shows they haven’t often lost a game in the Patterson era when leading at halftime.
This was just the 14th loss compared with 119 wins in such a scenario.
But, as Patterson said, it was that kind of season.
Twice the Horned Frogs lost in double overtime, 41-38 to Arkansas and 27-24 to Texas Tech, both at home. They also saw a giant rally against Oklahoma come up short, 52-46, also at home.
Had they not escaped Kansas with a 24-23 victory, they would likely have seen their season end long before the Liberty Bowl.
However, the Horned Frogs and their faithful have plenty to look forward to next season.
Patterson should register the 150th victory of his career in their season opener at home against Jackson State on Sept. 2. His record is 149-49.
The Horned Frogs under Patterson have responded well the season after a losing or non-winning campaign:
*In 2001 they were 6-6 and lost the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl. In 2002 they went 10-2 and won the Liberty Bowl and were 11-2 with a berth in the Fort Worth Bowl in 2003.
*In 2004 they were 5-6. In 2005 they went 11-1 and won the Houston Bowl, followed by an 11-2 season and win in the Poinsettia Bowl in 2006.
*In 2013 they were 4-8. In 2014 they finished 12-1 and won the Peach Bowl, sparking arguments that they should have been in the first College Football Playoff. That was followed by an 11-2 record in 2015 and the largest comeback in bowl history as they overcame a 31-0 deficit to defeat Oregon 47-41 in three overtimes in the Alamo Bowl.
*In all, TCU is 33-4 and 3-0 in bowls in seasons immediately following a losing season.
Another reason to be excited is the Horned Frogs’ roster. They only had 13 seniors. The rest of the roster features 37 juniors, 29 sophomores and 33 freshmen.
2000: (interim) 0-1, lost Mobile Alabama Bowl. Highest national rank, 18.
2001: 6-6, lost Galleryfurniture.com Bowl.
2002: 10-2, won Liberty Bowl. Highest national rank, 22.
2003: 11-2, lost Fort Worth Bowl. Highest national rank, 24.
2004: 5-6, no bowl.
2005: 11-1, won Houston Bowl. Highest national rank, 9.
2006: 11-2, won Poinsettia Bowl. Highest national rank, 21.
2007: 8-5, won Texas Bowl.
2008: 11-2, won Poinsettia Bowl. Highest national rank, 7.
2009: 12-1, lost Fiesta Bowl. Highest national rank, 6.
2010: 13-0, won Rose Bowl. Highest national rank, 2.
2011: 11-2, won Poinsettia Bowl. Highest national rank, 13.
2012: 7-6, lost Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
2013: 4-8, no bowl.
2014: 12-1, won Peach Bowl. Highest national rank, 3.
2015: 11-2, won Alamo Bowl. Highest national rank, 7.
2016: 6-7, lost Liberty Bowl.
2017 SCHEDULE (times TBA)
Sept. 2: Jackson State
Sept. 9: at Arkansas
Sept. 16: SMU
*Sept. 23: at Oklahoma State
*Oct. 7: West Virginia
*Oct. 14: at Kansas State
*Oct. 21: Kansas
*Oct. 28: at Iowa State
*Nov. 4: Texas
*Nov. 11: at Oklahoma
*Nov. 18: at Texas Tech
*Nov. 25: Baylor
* = Big 12 game