If yesterday's post left you in a state of sadness and confusion, fear not! Today set set forth a much more joyous topic. We've looked at the worst, now it's time to talk about the very BEST! After much deliberation, I give you the Top 10 Best TCU football teams of all time!
Honorable Mention: 2003 and 1920
10. 2000 - 10-2 (7-1 WAC Co-Champions):
It was a new century and a new era for TCU football. Dennis Francione's Frogs had built upon successful '98 and '99 campaigns, including their first bowl victory in 41 years against USC in '98. It was legendary RB, Ladainian Tomlinson's senior year and TCU was primed to make a run at an outright Conference title and a Heisman Trophy for LT. This team boasted stars such as FS Curtis Fuller, WR/KR LaTarence Dunbar, Eventual NFL Pro Bowl DE Aaron Schobel, and an awesome O-Line. TCU looked unstoppable on LT's back, as they ran to 7 straight victories. However, any hopes for an undefeated season were crushed in a 27-24 loss @ San Jose State. TCU won it's last 3, but ended the season on another disappointing note with a 28-21 last second loss to Southern Miss in the GMAC Bowl. However, the GMAC was the first game for then interim Head Coach Gary Patterson. This season was remembered for LT's Heisman runner-up performance and the first time the Frogs had reached the 10 win plateau since 1938. The offense and defense were equally explosive, as they outscored opponents 410-106.
9. 1958 - 8-2-1 (5-1 SWC Champions):
Another great TCU team led by an All Star RB. "The Rusk Rambler" Jim Swink was the scourge of SWC defenses. His swift and elusive style of running was ahead of his time and no one could find a way to tackle him. The team that tended to have the most trouble with Swink was Texas, who developed their "Hook 'Em" slogan in response to Swink's running style. This particular year, Swink and TCU beat the #9 Longhorns 22-8. Other impressive wins included a 42-0 win over #8 Kansas, 22-0 over #18 Baylor, and a 36-8 win over #11 Marquette. TCU finished the season with an epic 0-0 tie against #10 Air Force in the Frogs' 3rd consecutive Cotton Bowl appearance. Their only loses came at #6 Iowa and in a 20-13 loss at #7 SMU. It is worth noting that all of TCU's opponents that year were ranked in the Top 20 except 2 (Arkansas and Texas Tech). 1958 represented yet another season on a list of dominant ones for TCU throughout the '50s.
8. 2008 - 11-2 (7-1 MWC Runner-up):
This TCU team was all about over coming adversity and beating the odds. After a disappointing 8-5 2007 campaign, many weren't sure exactly what to expect out of this Horned Frog team. Fans quickly found out that this team was for real after 4 dominating wins to open the season against the likes of Stanford and SMU. A 35-10 drubbing at the hands of #2 Oklahoma proved to be a minor setback, as these Frogs found their way back into the Top 25 and a shot at their first BCS bid. Led by a young QB Andy Dalton, and an imposing defense led by MLB Jason Phillips, SS Stephen Hodge, and Tommy Blake's more than capable replacement DE Jerry Hughes, TCU's post season hopes came down to a showdown with conference rival #10 Utah. Thanks in large to 3 missed TCU FGs in the game's final quarter, the Utes came back and won 13-10 (en route to an undefeated season and Sugar Bowl Championship). Despite the pain of the Utah loss, TCU got a great consolation prize in the form of a Poinsettia Bowl matchup with fellow Non-BCS favorite #9 Boise State. In a fantastic and exciting game, TCU came away with a 17-16 victory thanks to a Stephen Hodge interception. TCU finished the season ranked #7 and primed to build on their success.
7. 1955 - 9-2 (5-1 SWC Champions):
1955 represented arguably the finest of Jim Swink's 4 seasons at TCU. He finished 2nd in the Heisman voting and led the Frogs to a SWC Championship and a Cotton Bowl berth. As was the case in '58, every TCU opponent was ranked save 2 (this time it was Kansas and Texas Tech). The Frogs shutout 4 opponents in '55 including Tech (32-0), #10 Arkansas (26-0), #8 Alabama (21-0), and #7 Rice (35-0). The Tech, Arkansas, and 'Bama shutouts came back-to-back-to-back. TCU beat #8 Texas in Austin, 47-20. The Frogs' only regular season loss was a 19-16 heartbreaker against #7 Texas A&M. The Cotton Bowl was also a tough pill to swallow, as TCU lost to #6 Ole Miss, 14-13. The closeness of these losses coupled with the difficulty of TCU's schedule speaks to just how good this team was. Of all the great TCU teams of the '50s, this one was probably the best.
6. 1932 - 10-0-1 SWC Champions:
This was the first TCU team to finish a full season without a loss. The stars of this team were its offensive and defensive lines (times have changed). The biggest name on this team was offensive and defensive guard Johnny Vaught. Vaught was All-American and went on to be the greatest coach in Ole Miss history, but that's another story. This Frog team was nothing short of dominant. They recorded SEVEN shutouts, including Baylor, A&M, Texas, and SMU. In addition, they outscored opponents by a combined score of 283-23. Their only non-win was a 3-3 tie against LSU in Baton Rouge. This measly tie was the only thing that stood between these Frogs becoming the first ever TCU team to win a National Championship (USC, Michigan, and Colgate were all undefeated and untied). Nonetheless, the 1932 Horned Frogs deserve a spot on this list.
5. 2005 - 11-1 (8-0 MWC Champions):
This team seemed to come out of nowhere, and by all rights should have been the first undefeated TCU squad since 1938. After a 5-6 2004 season, TCU was an after thought. This worked to their advantage as they stunned #5 Oklahoma in the season opener in Norman, 17-10. In this game they held Adrian Peterson to 63 yards rushing and imposed their will in front of a record opening day crowd of 84,332. The sky was the limit, but TCU allowed SMU to sneak up on them the very next week with a 21-10 loss. TCU stayed focused after that, winning their remaining 10 games. Stars included RB Robert Merrill, WR/KR Cory Rodgers, DEs Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz, LBs Jason Phillips and Robert Henson, CBs Quincy Butler and Drew Coleman, and SS Marvin White. 2005 also saw the rise of QB Jeff Ballard, who took over for an injured Tye Gunn against BYU in week 4. As was the theme that year, he came out of nowhere and led the Frogs back from an 18-point deficit en route to a 51-50 OT win. This was the second OT thriller in a row and TCUs second MWC game. Due to the SMU loss, the Horned Frogs ended their first outright conference championship season since '58, in the Houston Bowl against Iowa State. In a season without a shortage of thrilling games, TCU beat ISU 27-24 on a 4th quarter FG. This was one of the most fun seasons I can ever remember watching at TCU. It ushered in the MWC era and a new era of dominance.
4. 2009 - 12-1 (8-0 MWC Champions):
2009 was very much a historic year for TCU. They completed their first undefeated regular season since 1938 and garnered more national attention than they had in decades. There was no shortage of stars on this team. DE Jerry Hughes, QB Andy Dalton, WR/KR Jeremy Kerley, RBs Ed Wesley and Matthew Tucker, LB Daryl Washington, and FS Tejay Johnson represent just a few of the fantastic players on this roster. TCU had the nation's #1 defense and earned their first BCS berth in the Fiesta Bowl after crushing all of their regular season opponents. In reality, TCU was one play away from playing for a National Championship, because if Nebraska could have beaten Texas in the Big 12 championship, the Frogs would have taken the Longhorn's place in the dance. But that's a rant for another day. TCU went into the Fiesta Bowl against Boise State for the second consecutive post-season, visibly disappointed and thinking they would walk over the Broncos. This attitude bit them in the butt as TCU surrendered it's only loss that year, 17-10. The season's sour conclusion can't take away from how great this team really was though. The re-vamped spread offense tore defenses apart and the defense was simply immovable. It was hard to believe that this team could get any better, but they certainly did in 2010.
3. 1935 - 12-1 National Champions:
TCU's first National Championship team and one of the best in history. Led by legendary QB Sam Baugh, TCU had a pass heavy offense (by 1930s standards) that nobody knew how to defend. Baugh's strong and accurate arm coupled with his size and speed revolutionized the game of football on both the college and NFL levels. Previously the forward pass was nothing more than an occasional trick play, but Coach Dutch Meyer used Baugh's skills to turn it into something unimaginable. All- American Center Darrell Lester and HB/DB Jimmy Lawrence were also stars on this team. TCU was undefeated when they met rival SMU (also undefeated) in week 11. In what was tabbed as the "Game of the Century", SMU came away with a 20-14 victory over the Frogs. SMU went to the Rose Bowl, but lost to Stanford, thus keeping TCU's national title hopes alive. When the Frogs beat LSU in the Sugar Bowl in an epic 3-2 battle, they guaranteed themselves a share of the National Championship. It was the beginning of a Golden age for the Horned Frogs.
2. 1938 - 11-0 SWC and National Champions:
The 1938 squad has always been recognized as the single greatest in TCU history, and for good reason. QB Davey O'Brien won the Heisman while leading the Frogs to an undefeated, untied season and National Title. Center Ki Aldrich and Tackle I.B. Hale were also All-Americans. The Frogs were nothing short of dominant, as their spread offense outscored opponents 269-60. Their final seven opponents were all ranked in the top 10 and none of them mustered more than a single TD on the Frogs. The closest TCU came to losing all year was a 21-14 victory against Arkansas in week 2. TCU beat the #1 team twice (Texas and Carnegie Tech) and the #2 team three times (Rice, SMU, and Tulsa). Their 15-7 Sugar Bowl victory against Carnegie Tech earned TCU it's only undisputed National Championship. It was Coach Meyer's crowning achievement and something that all Frog fans have always been able to hang their hat on.
1. 2010 - 13-0 MWC Champions:
Although this is a semi-controversial pick for #1, I fully believe that 2010's team was the greatest TCU team of all time. These Frogs could have lined up against any team in the nation and won. They are the only other team besides 1938 to complete an undefeated, untied season and the only TCU team to hold the distinction of Rose Bowl Champions. If playing in the time before the BCS, these Frogs would have absolutely been voted at least a share of the National Title. QB Andy Dalton enjoyed his finest season in 2010 with an innumerable amount of offensive weapons around him. Many of the same stars from 2009 remained on this team. LB Tank Carder truly came of age and became a force on the defense. This team was immensely talented from top to bottom. The defense was ranked #1 in total defense and points allowed. There were many dominating performances throughout the year, but the crowning acheivement was indeed the 21-19 victory over #5 Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. TCU may finished #2 in the nation, but they were #1 in the hearts of many.