15 TCU T is for Tomlinson, C is for Coach Franchione, U is for...Undefeated?

August 13, 2000

The biggest gathering of Horned Frogs east of Fort Worth has
crowded into a swanky steak house in midtown Manhattan. There
are Wall Street Frogs, dot.com Frogs and Broadway Frogs--all
dressed in their Sunday best, even though it's just Wednesday.
Then there is Gridiron Frog, LaDainian Tomlinson, a mover and a
shaker in his own field of endeavor. He's the one with the
diamond stud in each earlobe and the gold tooth. He used to have
a whole set of gold teeth, but lost the others during last
season's Arkansas State game. "Four hundred bucks gone down the
drain," he says.

On this night Tomlinson is the main attraction for the TCU
Tri-State Alumni group's June soiree. "This is not really my kind
of thing," the senior running back from Waco says with a straw
dangling out of his mouth. "I like to stay low-key, laid-back. I
don't like to be the center of attention."

That has not been much of a problem for Tomlinson, given that he
plays at TCU, which gets about as much national coverage as it
does snow. But a blizzard is in the forecast. Tomlinson is the
game's best running back, the nation's leading rusher last year
(his 1,850 yards were 16 yards more than Heisman Trophy winner
Ron Dayne's total), holder of the single-game Division I-A
rushing record (406 yards last season against Texas-El Paso), the
centerpiece of a team that has 11-0 written all over it and, not
least, a Heisman hopeful.

Hard as it may be to believe, Tomlinson's production could be
even better this fall. All five offensive linemen are returning
from last season, and the Frogs face just one team with a defense
ranked in the top 50 last season. It also helps that the Frogs
have a defense that will get Tomlinson the ball back.

The Frogs are ready to duplicate the exploits of Tulane in '98
and of Marshall in '99: good team, better schedule, undefeated
season. The only real stumbling blocks are Fresno State, Hawaii
and Rice, all of which TCU faces in Fort Worth. The Frogs have
improved to the point that as of July they were having difficulty
trying to fill three dates in the 2001 schedule. "We can't get
anybody to play us anymore," says coach Dennis Franchione, who
was unsuccessful in arranging a 2000 game against Virginia Tech.
"A lot of them just say, 'Hey, you guys are getting too
good.'"

--G.M.

COLOR PHOTO: KEN LAWDERMILK/FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM Tomlinson excelled in obscurity in '99. This year he'll feel some of the Heisman heat.

Fast Facts

1999 record: 8-4 (5-2, tied for 1st in WAC)
Final ranking: not ranked

Telling Number

37
Team sacks in '99, a school record. Senior end Aaron Schobel is
TCU's career leader with 24 1/2.

The Book

An opposing team's coach sizes up The Horned Frogs

"They play fast. But we'll play a lot of teams more physical
than they are....The quarterback, Casey Printers, was green as a
gourd last year, but he got pretty good. He can beat you a
couple of ways. He's got an arm and he's got feet....Their
defense can put pressure on you, especially Aaron Schobel. He
can run."

Schedule
Strength: 107th of 115

Sept. 9 at Nevada
16 NORTHWESTERN
23 ARKANSAS STATE
30 at Navy

Oct. 7 HAWAII
21 at Tulsa
28 RICE

Nov. 4 at San Jose State
11 FRESNO STATE
18 TEXAS-EL PASO
25 at SMU

["TELLING NUMBER" COMPILED BY DAVID SABINO]

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)