Once Door Mats, TCU and Tech Have Come Far
By Bo Carter
OMAHA – In 1987 Texas Tech and TCU met in the final baseball series of the year. At stake? To determine which team would finish dead last in the Southwest Conference.
As pointed out by Dr. Mike Gustafson, who played second base on that hapless Tech team, both programs 27 years later are dramatically different. So different, in fact, the Red Raiders and Horned Frogs qualified for the NCAA College World Series.
Eight D-1 teams are still playing baseball here this week. It’s ironic that the once-lowly Raiders and Frogs met in a first-round matchup. They might be the two teams whose programs came from the deepest depths. No matter how they fare here this week, the Frogs and Raiders have earned new respect, nationwide.
TCU head coach Jim Schlossagle says his team’s success is built on pitching, but isn’t that the case with every successful diamond squad, on every level, from Little League to Major League?
“Schloss” has wisely chosen where to utilize his scholarship grants, key dollars going to championship-caliber pitchers.The numbers speak for themselves: the Frogs top four pitchers have a combined 38-12 record, with overwhelming stats.
Somehow, Schlossnagle, in his third trip here (TCU 2010 and assistant at Tulane 2001), has found just the right mix of keeping key signees such as 2010 Freshman of the Year Matt Purke (15-2 record) while retaining juniors for full careers. Add clutch hitting, despite just 13 total home runs in 63 games, and this writer believes TCU might have a legitimate shot at this year’s NCAA title. Certainly the Frogs appear to have more pitching depth and better defense than in ’10.
As for Tech, Raiders head coach Tim Tadlock was named 2014 Skip Bertman Coach of the Year by the College Baseball Hall of Fame. Significant as this accomplishment is, it might not be the last award he wins this season.
The former shortstop out of Denton and Hill College was a standout on Tech’s on first 40-win team in school history (42-18 in 1991). The Raiders had been faltering under new bat velocity regulations, unable to take adapt to the “small ball” of the last 15 college seasons, even though their home Dan Law Field is considered a hitters park.
Tadlock’s highest achievement might have been leading his ballclub to overcome a pair of disappointing losses in the Phillips 66 Big 12 postseason tournament and then roll to a 5-1 mark in the NCAA Coral Gable Regionals over host Miami (Fla.) and No. 16 nationally College of Charleston. The reward was a 45-19 record overall, and a trip here to Omaha.
Tadlock is not a flashy, flamboyant guy who tries to attract attention, but he was NJCAA Coach of the Year in 1999 and 2000 when he guided Grayson (Texas) College to back-to-back national JuCo crowns. He also helped Oklahoma as associate head coach to Sunny Golloway (now at Auburn) from 2006-11.
Bo Carter is former sports information director of the Southwest Conference and Big 12. In addition to his duties with sportsandoutdoors.guru, he currently serves as secretary of the College Baseball Writers. For more from Bo Carter, follow him on Twitter at #bcarter52 and Facebook at Bo Carter (Carrollton, Texas).