Not every year does the hometown college football team finish its regular season undefeated, achieve a No. 3 ranking in all the national polls, get invited to the Rose Bowl and beat a Big Ten co-champion.
But that was the Cinderella season for the Horned Frogs of Fort Worth’s Texas Christian University, who completed their regular season 12-0, won the championship of the Mountain West Conference and beat Wisconsin 21-19 on New Year’s Day in Pasadena.
So for my first bicycle ride of 2011 — short though it was — I pedaled over to the TCU campus to join the throng of fans welcoming the triumphant Horned Frogs upon their return from California.
The buses that brought the team from the airport parked at the north end of Amon G. Carter Stadium, home field for the Frogs. Grinning team members disembarked from the buses and passed through a phalanx of cheering Frog fans, signing autographs, shaking hands and giving high fives as they proceeded down Frog Alley along the east side of the stadium.
TCU head coach Gary Patterson was quoted in Sunday’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram on the thousands of Frog fans who followed the team to California for the Rose Bowl.
“I thought, ‘Well, we get back tomorrow, but nobody will be there to meet us, I guess, because they’re all here,'” Patterson said Saturday in Pasadena.
Judging from the aerial photographs shown during ESPN’s coverage of the game, a very respectable contingent of purple-clad TCU fans were indeed in Pasadena to cheer on the team.
But Patterson guessed wrong about the homecoming. Hundreds of delighted fans, who either stayed at home to watch the game on TV or made a quick trip back from Pasadena, turned out on a chilly Sunday afternoon to welcome the Frogs home at the end of a magical season.
Click on the link below for local television coverage of the homecoming.