TCU tackling new challenges in the Big 12

By now, TCU's heard it all on the recruiting trail.

You can't win there.

Sure, they win games, but you'll never reach the BCS.

Well, you reached the BCS once, but you can't get there consistently. You're not in a major conference. If you don't win every game, you can't play on the big stage.

By now, it's gotten old. They have won. They have reached the BCS. Now they are preparing for their first season in the Big 12, certainly a major conference.

There's still one big mountain to tackle, says coach Gary Patterson.

"We were really recruiting against these teams for those kinds of players a year ago. The saying out there, ‘Well, they aren’t in the Big 12’ was one thing we dealt with. Now, it’s ‘Can they win in the Big 12?’" he said during this week's Big 12 coaches teleconference. "So I think once we can prove we can win in the Big 12, you’ll see a big change in how we do things."

TCU has won 77 games in the past seven seasons and duplicating that will be difficult in their new conference. But the Horned Frogs now have the draw of being the Big 12's only team in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex -- one of the nation's premiere recruiting hotbeds.

Playing in a major conference and truly staying at home has never been an option for these elite talents. Until now.

While the team will have to weather the transition to start reeling the recruits in from other Big 12 powers, Patterson's the man to help guide the Horned Frogs.

"I’ve been in six conference in the 15 years I’ve been here," he said. "It’s always different because you’ve never played those people. I’ve always said it takes you two years. You’ve got to play everybody there once, then you play everybody back at your place once, and you kind of have a little map of what you need to do."

TCU has a history with Big 12 members Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor. They joined the Horned Frogs in the Southwest Conference that broke up in the mid-1990s.

But even since the breakup, TCU has made trips to several Big 12 sites. The Horned Frogs are one of just three teams to beat Oklahoma in Norman under Bob Stoops (2005), and TCU won its last meeting with Texas Tech in 2006.

In 2010, it romped the bowl-bound Baylor Bears before losing a nailbiter to Heisman winner Robert Griffin III in Waco in 2011.

TCU's also 3-0 against Iowa State, with all three games coming since 1995.

"We’ll find out, but we do have some history. We have played at some of those places, but not consistently," Patterson said. "We’ve got to get ready to go."