Fred Faour: Despite lopsided Georgia win, TCU fans can hold their heads high

Jan 9, 2023; Inglewood, CA, USA; TCU Horned Frogs head coach Sonny Dykes shouts at an official during the third quarter of the CFP national championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Fred Faour: Despite lopsided Georgia win, TCU fans can hold their heads high

INGLEWOOD, CALIF. – The Cinderella story came to the Los Angeles area on Monday, and the fans of the TCU Horned Frogs turned Southern California purple. They chanted when they walked past each other in the streets. They hugged. They cheered. They expressed utter joy.

They celebrated the chance to play for the biggest prize in their sport. They did everything they could to will their team to victory. Alas, the game happened, and the Georgia Bulldogs proved too much, winning their second straight national title 65-7.

The Bulldogs were unstoppable, and TCU fans had little to root for after Georgia took a big early lead.

But that is nothing to be ashamed of in the end. No one beat Georgia all year. And TCU fans should appreciate what happened this season.

It had been a miraculous run for TCU, a journey that was completely unexpected from a team that was not supposed to compete in the Big 12, a team who had just a year ago parted ways with legendary coach Gary Patterson.

But they found the right replacement in Sonny Dykes, an Air Raid specialist who brought a wide-open offense to Fort Worth. But as the season wore on, this team proved it could win in a lot of ways.

They showed that again in the semifinal against Michigan. Georgia proved to be a different animal.

But the fan base was there the entire way. They recognized the reality. TCU does not play for national championships. That honor is reserved for the Georgias, Alabamas, LSUs, Clemsons, and Ohio States. The first step to cracking that cabal happened Monday night. While they didn’t get the final step, the Frogs fans were treated to a great ride. And there they were to support — a Purple Nation, celebrating this moment together.

This kind of thing is old hat for Georgia. The defending champs fans also showed up. But throughout the weekend leading up to the game, TCU fans outnumbered Georgia fans 2-1. It wasn’t quite that on game night, but it was amazing. Many of the people I met did not go to TCU. But their daughters or sons did. UT and Baylor fans with family members were wearing TCU garb. And that’s ok.

They didn’t get the upset they wanted. Or was it even competitive. But both the team and the fans should be happy with getting this far.

TCU has had its moments in the past – Andy Dalton leading the Frogs to a Rose Bowl win in 2011 over Big Ten foe Wisconsin.

They once had one of the greatest running backs to play the game, LaDainian Tomlinson.

It’s been a long road for the Frog program and its fans. When Patterson took over, they were in C-USA. He immediately turned the team around, winning 10 games in his second year and 11 in his third. Then came a seven-year run in the Mountain West, where the Frogs won at least 11 games six times, including the unbeaten Rose Bowl season, which propelled them to the Big 12. They struggled the first two years, then reeled off 12 wins, 11 and 11 in three of four years, just missing the playoffs in 2014 and going on to win the Peach Bowl.

The Patterson train slowed down after that, and he was fired last season. And just like that, Dykes took them to new heights.

While yes, winning brings new fans, diehard Frog supporters have been there all along.

How special was it that the Frogs became the first Big 12 team to make the finals, even when Oklahoma was trotting out Heisman winners every year? And it says a lot about the future of the Big 12. Baylor won the conference last year; TCU made the playoffs this year.

But the thing about Cinderella stories is they don’t always work out. In fact, more often than not, they don’t.

Monday night, this one did not. Not every Cinderella lives happily ever after. Most of the time, Goliath beats David.

But here right near Hollywood, where most of these stories were born, there were the Frogs and their fans, in brand spanking new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood with the world watching, celebrating this amazing moment with each other, and fans who adopted the Frogs during this magical run. Hoping things would go better.

It did not work out for the team. But the fan base? Big winners all the way around. And the Frogs themselves? Cinderella, not so much. But they may well be on their way to being Goliath.

The future looks bright despite the lopsided result.

And the fans will be there, waiting for another magical ride.

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