ESPN.com’s exhaustive endeavor to rank all 65 FBS head-coaching jobs continues today with what you might call the middle tier of gigs -- Nos. 25 to 47 -- which includes five members of the Big 12.
Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Texas Tech are all poised to continue trending in the right direction over the next few years. Baylor has built a powerhouse in Waco, Texas. But at the moment, TCU (ranked No. 31 by ESPN) appears to be the Big 12 job offering the biggest upside.
Set aside the preseason top-five expectations for 2015 and the Heisman contender at quarterback. They’re just frosting on the cake for Gary Patterson and a program that’s positioned to remain an annual contender. Entering their fourth season in the Big 12, the Horned Frogs have practically everything they could ask for.
Stability? Check. It took a few rounds of musical chairs, but securing a spot in the Big 12 and escaping mid-major status continues to pay off big. And don’t forget, TCU begins receiving its full share of conference revenue in the upcoming 2015-16 school year.
Facilities? Check. The $164 million rebuild of Amon G. Carter Stadium, completed in 2012, gave the Horned Frogs some of the best digs in the conference. Their locker room, training facilities and football offices are among the Big 12’s best, too.
Location? Check. The DFW Metroplex talent pool is as good as it gets, and having this much buzz at a time when Texas and Oklahoma aren’t dominant can be a powerful thing. TCU isn’t reeling in the five-stars yet, but the momentum built in 2014 is already having a tangible effect on recruiting this year.
Support? Couldn’t be better. According to Forbes, TCU’s football budget is up to at least $35 million and still on the rise. AD Chris Del Conte and the school’s administrators have bet big on football and are enjoying strong backing from donors.
“We’re built for success now,” Del Conte told ESPN.com in November. “We’re in the right league. It’s fantastic. It’s no flash in the pan. We’re invested for the long haul.”
We don’t really know how good the TCU job is because, you know, it hasn’t opened up since 1999. It probably won’t anytime soon, either. Would it be viewed as a coveted top-25 gig if it opened up tomorrow? Perhaps not, but any national perception that TCU is still just a small, private Christian school has never stopped Patterson and the Frogs from reaching new heights.
“Everything that’s ever been said about TCU, we’ve proven people wrong,” he told ESPN.com in November. “We’ve done it the right way and we’ve done it slowly.”
The Frogs won’t be slowing down now.