TCU students camped out to get a good spot the last time “GameDay” visited the campus in 2009. Max Faulkner mfaulkner@star-telegram.com
TCU students camped out to get a good spot the last time “GameDay” visited the campus in 2009. Max Faulkner mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

TCU

Why the visit by ESPN’s ‘GameDay’ is a balancing act for TCU

By Carlos Mendez

cmendez@star-telegram.com

October 03, 2017 05:24 PM

UPDATED October 03, 2017 06:15 PM

If they weren’t getting ready to actually play the game, TCU coach Gary Patterson and his team might just as soon be in the middle of the crowd Saturday morning for ESPN’s “College GameDay.”

“I wish I could go over to it, but I’ll be in a hotel room getting ready,” Patterson said. “Because I watch it and go, ‘That’s cool.’ 

The ESPN program will broadcast from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday from the Commons at TCU ahead of the eighth-ranked Horned Frogs’ 2:30 p.m. game against No. 23 West Virginia at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

Airing since 1987, the show typically broadcasts from the site of the biggest game of the day in college football and attracts a frenzied following of sign-wielding fans from all over the country, not to mention the home team’s fans.

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With only 14 college football weekends a year, the show can’t get to every campus — even to every campus with a big game. The last “GameDay” visit to the TCU campus came in 2009, when then-No. 4 TCU played No. 16 Utah (and won 55-28).

“That’s every kid’s dream,” safety Niko Small said. “You watch ‘GameDay,’ you see the great teams play, you want to be part of at least one of those teams and be able to be a part of it and play and hopefully come out with a victory.”

Saturday’s visit by “GameDay” only adds to the atmosphere of the meeting between the Horned Frogs and Mountaineers, two of the Big 12 leaders.

“It’s a great privilege to have somebody, especially ‘GameDay,’ want to come watch one of our games,” Small said. “It doesn’t really take away from our focus. We’re still just trying to worry about the West Virginia game.”

Saturday’s winner will keep at least a share of the Big 12 lead. It’s a matchup of the top two rushing offenses in the Big 12 and two of the three top scoring offenses in the league.

Both teams are coming off a bye, so they expect to be healthy and fresh for a fast start.

“We’ll see,” Patterson said. “With ‘GameDay’ going to be here and everything, if they’re not fired up to go play the ballgame, besides trying to get to 5-0, I can’t help them much with that. It’s really exciting. I’m really glad that ESPN chose to come, because it’s been since 2009. I’m glad we got ourselves in a position where we could do that.”

But Patterson is trying to pull off a balancing act between letting his team feed off the emotion of the ‘GameDay’ visit and not allowing his players to think they’ve arrived.

“We’ve only played four ballgames,” Patterson said. “How do we move forward from here? We’ve got a lot of football to do. ... The next four weeks are four weeks that you’ve got to get to.”

After West Virginia, TCU visits Kansas State on Oct. 14, hosts Kansas and travels to Iowa State.

TCU's Patterson after beating Oklahoma State: 'We wanted to be relevant'

The Horned Frogs thrust themselves into the Big 12 and national scene with a 44-31 victory in Stillwater, where they had not won since 1991.

Carlos Mendez cmendez@star-telegram.com

As Patterson has said many times, the first goal for any of his teams is to get to six wins and bowl eligibility.

“Whatever you do from there is positive,” he said. “You can’t get to nine, 10 and 11 unless you get to six. So we really don’t think about all the rest of the things that you can do. That added pressure causes a lot of tightness on your football team.”

So enjoy “GameDay.” The Frogs will settle for hearing about it later.

“For everybody else, it’s great,” Patterson said. “For us, we’ll be in our hotel room getting ready to go.”

Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez

No. 8 TCU vs. No. 23 West Virginia

2:30 p.m. Saturday, FS1