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Game Time: In Defense Of TCU, An Open Letter To The Chron's Richard Justice

Dear Richard,

I'm not sure if you are aware of this but your Monday column entitled "10-0 TCU Not Equal of 10-0 Texas" has caused quite an uproar among the Horned Frog faithful. I am going to assume you are aware of this because the only logical explanation for your outlandish premise and its subsequent flimsy support would be that you were solely writing this column to see how many Horned Frog fans/alum you could piss off.

While I can appreciate first-hand someone in your position having to come up with content several times a week, I also share a radio show with you for two hours each week. So when you introduce elements like higher TV ratings and better ticket/merchandise sales into an argument having to do with playing for the national championship, it tugs at the fiber of the credibility of our show, and that's not good for either of us.

So now you've painted me into a corner and are forcing me to do something I don't normally do. Anyone who listens to our show knows that I am no apologist for the "little guy". As you know, I went to Notre Dame, a school that itself knows a little something about the role TV ratings and ticket/merchandise sales play in a school's bowl plight. My world was perfectly in order ten years ago when the Top 10 was not regularly infiltrated by these outsiders like TCU and Boise State; I openly long for years when the Top 10 reads like a college football history book. A perfect season to me has a Top 10 that includes Notre Dame, Michigan, USC, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and what the hell...Texas.

I like tradition. A world order like the one outlined above pleases me. To me, that is the appropriate alignment of the stars in the college football universe. However, unlike you, I do not let my preferences cloud my judgment and assessment of the truth -- and the truth is that top-shelf football in 2009 is being played in, among other places, Fort Worth.

And the problem is I don't know what is more unsettling -- your argument or the points you use to support it.

Like any good writer, you state what I assume is your premise right out of the gate:

"Are we really supposed to get all worked up about TCU not getting a chance to play for the national championship? I mean, really. For one thing, TCU is NOT more deserving than Texas."
So from this introductory excerpt, your argument seems clear -- TCU does not deserve to play for the national championship more than Texas. Got it. (Let the record reflect that yours is an argument that is also embraced by practically every AP, coaches-poll, and Harris-poll voter, so you're not exactly breaking new ground here. All the more reason your column appears to be a thinly veiled attempt to jump start Horned Frog message board activity.)

"Just because TCU is a sweet little story doesn't mean TCU has accomplished more than Texas."
Nothing like dropping the patronizing "sweet little story" on the Horned Frogs, that will get 'em good and lathered up. Why not just muss up their hair, give them a quarter, and tell them to go buy a gumball while you're at it? Indeed, the Horned Frogs are a sweet story...not as sweet as Jordan serenading Colt with his special rendition of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" from the bottom bunk, but sweet nonetheless.

"Let's also be honest about the ways of the world. Texas is Texas. Texas gets television ratings, sells tickets, moves merchandise. TCU does none of those things."
Strike One. Your argument is that Texas deserves to play for the national championship more than TCU. You support this argument by saying that more people want to watch the Longhorns (in person and on television), and more people want to wear burnt orange gear. The only problem here (and it's kind of a big one) is that the BCS title game is the one bowl game where NONE of the points you raise in support of Texas matter. Sure, every OTHER bowl game in existence is an exhibition, a figurative financial organism that requires the nourishment of eyeballs and wallets to survive. We all know and accept this.

But the BCS title game has the two BEST teams with the BEST bodies of work, as decided by voters and computers. The computers know nothing about Nielsen ratings or t-shirt sales; the voters aren't ranking teams based on TV ratings and merchandise sold (we hope, although honestly who the hell knows). If voters have Texas ahead of TCU, it's because presumably they think Texas is a better team, which is fine. But introducing ticket sales and TV ratings into an argument over which team is better is illogical and careless.

Next..... "Here's where it gets silly. You say tomato, I say potato. TCU has beaten Clemson, BYU, Air Force and Utah. Texas has beaten Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Missouri."
Strike Two...err, I mean "tomato". Whatever. I'm trying to figure out what's so "silly" about the opponents you just listed for TCU and Texas because I swear the only silly thing about this portion of your column is that you actually bring forth evidence that better supports TCU than it does Texas. Your tone in these three sentences is like you've cracked the secret code and you're about to scream "CHECKMATE." Richie, I know you've watched football games not involving the Big XII this year, right? Please tell me you have because your presumptuous dismissal of TCU in this argument because Texas has played "Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Missouri" smacks of blind Big XII elitism in a season where the Big XII's out of conference resume looks like this:

Oklahoma has lost to BYU and Miami
Oklahoma State has lost to Houston
Texas Tech has lost to Houston
Nebraska has lost to Virginia Tech
Kansas State has lost to UCLA and Louisiana-Monroe

And before you chastise me for including Kansas State in an argument of relevant teams, keep in mind that until last week they were LEADING the North division of the Big XII, which last I checked contains teams on Texas' schedule. Point being, 2009 is not a year where you can just walk into an argument and announce that you played OU, Okie State, Tech and Mizzou and expect the other side to roll over. The Big XII's cocoon of out-of-conference invincibility took a major hit this year.

Getting back to the specific opponents for TCU and UT that you yourself introduced into the argument, I contend if you ranked the four teams from each of those lists and then played them against each other (1 vs 1, 2 vs 2, etc), the Big XII would be lucky -- LUCKY -- to split. Observe...
BYU vs OKLAHOMA -- Since we have the convenience of these two actually having played each other, let's include that. BYU 14, Oklahoma 13. Next.
UTAH vs OKLAHOMA STATE -- With no Dez Bryant, I think Oklahoma State would have a tough time scoring against Utah. This would be a fun matchup.
CLEMSON vs TEXAS TECH -- Richie, I'm not sure if you watch any ACC football but Clemson has been one of the better teams in the country the last month or so, has one of the best players in the nation in C.J. Spiller, and they control their own destiny in the ACC. They've lost three games by a total of 10 points. Texas Tech lost by 22 to A&M at home. Next.
AIR FORCE vs MISSOURI -- I'll take a consistently decent service academy team over a middling Big XII North team every day of the week, and twice on Saturdays.

Silly, Richie? I feel bad, it's almost like you didn't research Clemson or Air Force before you typed that paragraph. You're better than this.

"No case can be made that TCU has done more than Texas. None. Zip. Zilch."
I believe that is the exact case I just made. So theoretically, I've done the impossible. WOO HOO! I'm sure you disagree, but "Zip" and "Zilch" seem a tad extreme for a team who touts Missouri as their fourth best win of the season.

"We're just getting warmed up..." (Sweet!) "If Texas beats Kansas by 10 next week and TCU beats Wyoming by 30, Horned Frogs fans will swear the matter ought to be settled."
Preemptively putting words in the mouth of an entire fan base to which you don't belong with no basis or back-up for it at all -- a crowd favorite at the "Grasping At Anything To Make My Point" tournament!

"It'll settle nothing. If Texas wins its next three games, Texas will play for the national championship."
This is true. You know who readily admits and knows this will happen? TCU fans. Doesn't mean it's right.

"Texas will be in the game because the system says Texas is more deserving."
Correct. The system, which includes a poll of coaches who see exactly one game each weekend and a poll of seemingly random people who have little or nothing to do with the inner workings of college football day to day, will have deemed Texas more deserving. Congrats!

"Do I agree? Doesn't matter."
It doesn't? Then why the hell did you just waste all my time having me read your column?

"My opinion is that the system will have gotten it right..." (Well damn, Richie, I thought your opinion didn't matter. Make up your mind.) "...that Texas is better than Florida, Alabama and TCU."
Easy there, Horn Boy...right now it only has you ahead of TCU. I doubt the "system" will bump the Horns all the way to the top if Texas beats Kansas, A&M, and Nebraska in the Big XII title game, but you never know.

"Texas is 28-2 since losing to Oklahoma in 2007."
And....strike three. This supports your argument that Texas is better in 2009, how? Right, it doesn't. 2007 has no bearing on who should play for the title in 2009, so why bring it up? Honestly, if things like this matter in present-day arguments, let me know. When my next contract comes up I'll show John Granato my 1,470 SAT score from back in 1986 and ask for a fat raise. (I caught lightning in a bottle; trust me, I'm not that smart.) It's about as relevant as 2007 and 2008 are to your argument.

"Texas has been really good for a really long time, and when human polls are counted, human biases will be counted."
Precisely, the polls (which are a big part of "the system") are stupid. And biased. And I'm getting mad just typing this.

"It's easy to get excited about TCU because TCU is something new."
And hey, if enough people get excited, maybe they'll get high-enough TV ratings and sell enough Horned Frog sweatshirts and shot glasses to play in the BCS title game!

"But don't try to make a case for 10-0 TCU being better than 10-0 Texas."
Richie, you can implore me to not shoot holes in the elephant-sized target that is your argument, but I'm not going away. You can't get rid of me that easily, especially when the credibility of our Tuesday show is at stake!

"Then again, my opinion is my opinion, and your opinion is your opinion. I'm right, you're right, we're all right. The only real way to settle this thing is on the field, and that's not going to happen."
Wait: so we went from you being undeniably, inarguably correct to "everyone is right" in two sentences? Richie, you're making my head hurt. Seriously, make it stop.

At the end of the day, I'm not even here to vehemently argue that TCU is better than Texas. I am here to say that your callous dismissal of them as being worthy of inclusion in the discussion is at best flimsy. Their body of work may actually be better than the Longhorns' and when you go to the all-important eyeball test, this is a TCU team that stacks up from an athleticism and toughness standpoint with the very best in the country.

Would they beat UT? I don't know, but if the Horns needed everything they had to squeak out a 16-13 win over Oklahoma, then they would have to pack a lunch to play TCU.

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Sadly, it appears, barring some real crazy happenings in the SEC, we won't see TCU vs Texas. It's too bad. I guess we'll just have to settle for arguing about it over coffee and pie. Next slice is on me.

See you at 4:00 today.

Your pal,


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