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Utah athletics: TCU also feeling growing pains

Published June 8, 2013 4:47 pm

College athletics • Horned Frogs taking their lumps as new member of the Big 12.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Remember the good ole days of the Mountain West Conference? When Utah and TCU often slugged it out for top honors?

Well, Utah isn't the only athletic program getting a slice of humble pie.

Like Utah, TCU learned in its first year of Big 12 play that moving up and into the big leagues isn't so easy.

TCU failed to win any league titles in its first year, a notable absence particularly in football and baseball, where it was a regular victor in the MWC.

After finishing the 2011-12 season undefeated in league play to win its third straight conference title, the Horned Frogs' football team struggled in the Big 12.

They finished just 7-6 overall and 4-5 in league play to finish tied for fifth.

Granted, TCU had issues other than moving to a BCS league. Four players were suspended from the team after they were among a group of 17 students who were involved in a drug bust at the school.

But the Horned Frogs still took their lumps in a schedule that featured five ranked teams. TCU went 2-3 in those games and also suffered losses to Iowa State (37-27), Oklahoma State (36-14) and Michigan State (17-16) in the bowl game.

Of the sports where standings are kept, only the women's tennis team (18-7, 6-3) and the baseball team (29-28, 12-12), managed to reach the .500 mark.

But the effort by the baseball team was a far cry from its standout days in the MWC, where it finished the 2011-12 season in first with a 20-3 mark.

The women's basketball and track teams were other areas in which the Horned Frogs went from the top of the standings to the bottom.

There were some other minor victories, with the equestrian team tying for first and the men's swimming and diving team finishing second while the women finished third in the league.

The good news for TCU? Like the Utes, the Horned Frogs are enjoying a big payday while striving for more wins. They are projected to earn about $30 million annually from the Big 12 by the time they are a full partner in 2016.

That figure is a huge increase from the MWC, where TCU and Utah earned about $2 million a year.

As the Utes know, the wins might not be there just yet, but at least the money is.