The Frog Horn blew and fireworks burst in the sky at midnight Sunday as TCU became an official member of the Big 12 Conference.
About 800 to 1,000 fans filled the Rodeo plaza next to Billy Bob’s Texas in the Fort Worth Stockyards to help the Horned Frogs celebrate the move from the Mountain West to the Big 12.
TCU football coach Gary Patterson and athletic director Chris Del Conte whipped up the jubilant crowd like a pep rally even though the Frogs’ first football game in the conference is more than two months away.
“It’s been a long time coming, but tonight it’s a official,” Del Conte said from the stage. “We fought our way back, we earned our way back and today we’re in the Big 12.”
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby welcomed the Frogs from the stage and received a custom-made pair of Justin boots from Patterson and Del Conte.
“I had dinner with Coach Patterson tonight and he seems pretty intent upon keeping the run he’s had going these last few years,” Bowlsby told the crowd to cheers. “It’s all good and there’s a lot of good ahead. Welcome to the league.”
Other TCU coaches shared the stage including women’s basketball coach Jeff Mittie, women’s soccer coach Eric Bell and men’s basketball coach Trent Johnson, who was wearing a cowboy hat.
“Fifteen years ago we started this walk,” Patterson told the crowd. “We were 1-10, didn’t have any facilities. We’ve come a long way but we don’t need to stop now. This is not the end of the journey. Our goal is still to win the Big 12 championship in all sports and win a national championship as a university.”
Fort Worth City Councilman Dennis Shingleton, a TCU alumnus, presented Del Conte with a proclamation marking July 1, 2012 as TCU day.
The celebration continues Sunday. The Big 12 hired a plane to fly a welcome banner over the campus and Fort Worth between noon and 2 p.m. and SuperFrog will pose for photos at the TCU bookstore to promote new TCU-Big 12 merchandise.
-- Stefan Stevenson