Great day to be an American. Texas Christian University, cast to the slums 16 years ago because it couldn't keep up, was invited back to the party Thursday. The Big 12 invited TCU into Conference Chaos, and the Horned Frogs got the offer the old-fashioned way. They earned it.
“The best thing about it, we played our way in,” said sportswriting legend Dan Jenkins, who grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from TCU. “They didn't give it to us. We made 'em take us.”
Three decades ago, when TCU football was a Southwest Conference doormat, Jenkins wrote a lovely story on growing up in the golden era of TCU football, the '30s.
“When the Frogs Were Princes,” it was titled, and the Frogs are princes again. Winning the Rose Bowl and going to the Fiesta Bowl will do that.
And speaking of great days, Thursday wasn't half bad for the Big 12. A league that's become a national punch line, if not punching bag, rallied Thursday with a series of good news.
TCU. The granting of rights, a fancy name for David Boren's more earthy term, handcuffs, which virtually guarantees stability for at least six years. And most amazing of all, concessions by the University of Texas concerning Bevo TV. The Longhorn Network won't show high school content.
A little bit of color just came back to this ghastly conference. And that color is purple.
I'm not saying the Frogs are Notre Dame. But just knowing that a reputable football school is willing to jump aboard makes everyone feel a little better about Dead League Walking.
“We still have work to do,” OSU president Burns Hargis said, “and will continue to do everything necessary to ensure the future of the Big 12 is brighter than it has ever been.”
Frankly, that's not possible. But the Big 12's future is much brighter than it was just a day or so ago, and the Frogs are a part of that. This was an excellent match. The Big 12 needed TCU; TCU needed the Big 12.
When the Big Eight plucked away four SWC schools in 1995, the leftovers -- TCU, Houston, Rice and SMU – scrambled for survival. The Big 12 will be TCU's fifth conference since the SWC demise.
But rather than accept its fate outside college football's power conferences, TCU did something about it. Hired good coaches. Improved facilities. Built up its fan base.
The last nine years, TCU has averaged 10 wins per season. Is 15-3 against BCS schools, capped by the Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin last January. Also has beaten Oklahoma, Clemson, Arizona, Texas Tech, Stanford and Oregon State.
Next September, the Frogs plan to unveil their $125 million renovation of Amon Carter Stadium.
Win that many games, invest that much money, and you've climbed the class ladder. TCU lifted itself up and made itself relevant. That's an American success story.
Now, don't think the Frogs fix all the Big 12's problems. TCU can't bandage the loss of Nebraska, Texas A&M, Colorado and maybe Missouri.
But the Frogs are a suitable replacement for A&M. The Aggies are a bigger brand, with a bigger fan base and a bigger stadium, but I don't think that translates to more television dollars. The Longhorns take care of the Texas markets.
“We had an analysis done by our media analysts and our media partners,” said OU president David Boren. The Frogs “were the No. 1 choice” among the usual suspects for expansion.
I don't know if I buy that, but it's not crazy talk.
And competitively, do you think TCU can scratch out records of 8-4, 6-6, 4-8, 7-5, 5-6, 9-4, 7-6, 4-8, 6-7 and 9-4 the next 10 years? That's what A&M did the last 10 years.
So all in all, a good day for a league that has had danged few in the last 16 months. And a great day for a TCU football program that was written off 16 years ago.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.