Few Horned Frogs have retired numbers

The athletic administration is in the process of retiring two numbers next year in TCU football, an athletics offical said.

The identities of a defensive end and a running back are being kept under wraps in order to surprise the honorees, said Jack Hesselbrock, associate athletics director for internal operations.

“We’ll probably retire one at the beginning of the football season and one at the end,” Hesselbrock said.

Talks of retiring numbers are also ongoing in men’s basketball, Hesselbrock said. New head coach Jim Christian and former head coach Neil Dougherty brought up the idea to honor basketball standout Kurt Thomas, he said.

Two players are being considered for possible number retirement, but Hesselbrock said he wanted to keep the names a surprise.

In the university’s storied sporting history, three players and one coach have been officially honored.

Former football quarterbacks Sammy Baugh’s #45 and Davey O’Brien’s #8, as well as former baseball head coach Frank Windegger’s #30 are the only jersey numbers retired at TCU.

Former TCU and current San Diego Charger, running back LaDainian Tomlinson has his number retired, but a player may ask for his permission to wear his #5 by writing him a letter, Hesselbrock said.

“If you’re going to wear my number and represent me,” Hesselbrock said as though he were Tomlinson. “I want you to be the things I was.”

Tomlinson was unavailable for comment.

Hesselbrock also said having Tomlinson’s number retired is important to his legacy.

“You can’t go out goofing around, cutting class and barely passing,” Hesselbrock said. “This has to be something you honor. Not only the number, but the jersey and the school.”

Hesselbrock said freshmen usually can’t have Tomlinson’s number because they must come to achieve high academics, character and ability in their first year to be considered to wear #5.

As far as retiring an athletic number, Hesselbrock said there is a heritage committee composed of five people, three within the TCU administration and two outside who have close ties to TCU. that debates whether the person is worthy of the number.

Hesselbrock said a player or coach must meet two criteria to have his or her number retired. First, the individual must have been inducted into the TCU Hall of Fame, but more importantly be admitted into the TCU Legends Room, which is located on the second floor of the John Justin Center.A TCU legend is someone who brings notoriety and prestige to the school by standing out as a performer at either the professional or college level.

Second, the individual must not have discredited the university at any time.

Hesselbrock said an older player will likely have his number retired before a more recent player.

Athletes who were good yesterday cannot have their numbers retired before those who have played better or just as good 20 years ago. Tomlinson was an exception.

“Some characteristics of noteworthy players would be All-Americans, national leaders, Heisman candidates, won a Masters, Olympic gold medalist, an all-time in something,” Hesselbrock said. “You can’t pitch a no hitter and be solid the rest of the way.”

The administration also considers timing of when the player might be available and what game would be appropriate to accept the honor, Hesselbrock said.

“L.T. day” was on Nov. 12, 2005, when the Frogs played University of Nevada, Las Vegas, because it was the Chargers’ bye week and didn’t conflict with homecoming or the Pink Out game, Hesselbrock said.

Sammy Baugh is the only TCU player to have his number retired in both college and professional football: #45 for TCU and #33 for the Washington Redskins. Davey O’Brien never had a number retired in professional football, but annually since 1981 the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback trophy has been awarded to the NCAA’s top quarterback of the year.