Today's TCU Horned Frogs: Tomorrow's USU Aggies? (16 items)
On Oct. 13 of last year, Utah State football nearly made history in the backfield.
Thirteen sacks were registered by the Aggie defense in a 22-point win over San Jose State. That was just two short of the NCAA and Western Athletic Conference record set by Texas Christian in a Sept. 9, 2000, win at Nevada.
USU and SJSU play again Friday at Spartan Stadium in San Jose (7 p.m., ESPN).
The stunning defensive performances of the Aggies and Horned Frogs more than a dozen years apart are highlights of two seasons that are remarkably similar. With a stellar backfield and stout defense starring a tremendous defensive back, both teams enjoyed their best seasons at least since the Great Depression era. That included their first national rankings in 41 years. They were each led by an offensive player from eastern Texas that many have questioned how they were attracted to their respective programs.
Both teams enjoyed big wins, rivalry victories, national rankings and went bowling after winning the Western Athletic Conference championship. Consequently, more fans began to fill the stadiums as each program saw players drafted after the season ended. Their common opponent? San Jose State, ironically — each in the most pivotal contest of their season.
After each banner year, the team’s head coach that season left for the bright lights of a top BCS program. Neither eluded controversy among fans looking forward to a move from the WAC into a new conference.
For TCU, the subsequent season under a new head coach — a promoted coordinator — proved not to be as successful. But the mediocre year didn’t spell the program’s future.
How might that parallel Utah State?
See the list of parallels between the 2000 TCU and 2012 USU football teams among seven categories: coaches, stars, common opponent, big wins, bowl game and national rankings, and what the Horned Frogs’ following season might mean for the Aggies going forward.
Rhett Wilkinson is a project manager for UtahPolicy.com and hails the true-blooded Aggies from Utah. The co-founder of magazine Aggie BluePrint.com, he's been an intern for the Deseret News and other publications. firstname.lastname@example.org | @wilklogan
1 of 16. TCU COACHES
Franchione lasted just three years at TCU, where he revived a sulking program. He improved every year, going 7-5, 8-4 and 10-2. He led the Horned Frogs to their first bowl victory since 1957, their first top 25 finish since 1959, and held the highest winning percentage among TCU coaches since Francis Schmidt (1929–1933), according to the College Football Data Warehouse.
Before the Horned Frogs played in the Mobile Alabama Bowl, Franchione accepted a head coaching offer by the Bowl Championship Series’ University of Alabama. “The tone and tenor of his exit from TCU remains a highly controversial subject among many TCU fans,” according to Wikipedia.
2 of 16. USU COACHES
Andersen lasted just four years at USU, where he revived a sunken program. He improved in each of his last three years, going 7-6 and 11-2 after back-to-back 4-8 seasons. He led the Aggies to their second-ever bowl victory and first since 1993, their first top 25 finish since 1961, and held the highest winning percentage among USU coaches since John Ralston (1959-62).
At the end of the season — after the Aggies faced the University of Wisconsin — Andersen accepted a head coaching offer by the BCS’ Badger program. The tone and tenor of his exit remains a highly controversial subject among many USU fans and could for years to come.
3 of 16. TCU OFFENSIVE STARS
George Layne was a backup to Tomlinson but still drafted into the NFL.
Pundits — including rival coaches — have wondered how TCU managed to nab Tomlinson.
Quarterback Casey Printers was a star freshman in 1999 before leading TCU to another conference championship the next season. In 2000, he was an honorable mention all-conference selection.
4 of 16. USU OFFENSIVE STARS
Quarterback Chuckie Keeton of Houston was a star freshman in 2011 before leading USU to a conference championship last season. In 2012, he was a first team all-conference selection and was named to the official Heisman Trophy Watch List after 2013 spring camp.
Pundits — including rival coaches — are wondering how USU managed to nab Keeton.
5 of 16. TCU DEFENSIVE STARS
Fuller was also a WAC all-academic selection.