Sob story not Frogs’ style

Last holiday season Mack Brown, head coach of the Texas Longhorns, got more air time than Santa Claus. You couldn’t turn on a TV, open a newspaper or listen to the radio without having to listen to the soft-spoken and omnipresent Brown lobby for a berth in the National Championship game.

In case you missed it, the Horns knocked off rival Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout 45-35. On Nov. 1, the eyes of Texas received a big, black eye at the hands of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. In the waning minutes of a late Longhorn comeback in Lubbock, then-freshman safety Blake Gideon forgot how to catch when a Graham Harrell pass was deflected up into the air and straight through Gideon’s arms.

Shortly after, the Longhorn secondary watched Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree tip-toe down the sideline rather than knock him out of bounds. Crabtree then sprinted into the end zone and stomped on the Horns’ championship dreams with a second left on the clock.

Brown began a campaign of political sorts when the Red Raiders got trounced by the Sooners, lobbying for his Longhorns to play in the Big XII Championship Game and springboard into the national title game with a win. Instead the pollsters and computers sided with the Sooners’ strong finish over Brown’s bawling.

Fast forward to today. The Horned Frogs sit at 12-0 and as it stands, are on the outside looking in on the National Championship Game. But don’t expect head coach Gary Patterson to sing the same Christmas carol Brown was crooning a year ago.

Patterson has built his success with a blue-collar approach and recruits that buy into that attitude. That’s why instead of having cameras fill the Four Sevens Team Room for a sob story, Patterson and his boys will be grabbing their lunch pails, rolling up their sleeves and beating each others’ heads in on the practice field for the next month, waiting and preparing to hit one of the BCS big boys in the mouth come January.

Patterson has made his statement.

“We can play with anybody,” he said after capping off a 12-0 regular season with a 51-10 win over the New Mexico Lobos.

And the Frogs have made their statement all season long. No public relations firm necessary, Boise State. Boasting the nation’s No. 2 total defense and No. 5 total offense speaks for itself.

Knocking off a No. 14-ranked BYU on the road and notching another road victory over a team that will play for the ACC title in Clemson only adds to it. The dismantling of the currently No. 25 Utah Utes shouldn’t be forgotten either.

Whether it’s because he’ll be too hoarse from yelling at his players or because he doesn’t want to take away from the university’s first undefeated season since 1938, Patterson won’t be lobbying and complaining that the Frogs deserve a title shot. It’s not his style. The Frogs aren’t in the position they’re in because of anything that has been said in a press conference.

Maybe it’s time to play a little follow the leader.

Since the idea of a national championship got between my ears, I’ve done some pretty out-there things. First, I cheered for the Fightin’ Texas Aggies for the first time in my life. Just a couple months ago I wore purple into Kyle Field, refused to hump it (another weird Aggie tradition in which fans put their hands on their knees during yells) and secretly hoped the Oklahoma State Cowboys would slap the Ags back into the R.C. Slocum era. But I pulled for the Aggies, and I still don’t know how I kept down my Thanksgiving dinner in the process.

Yesterday I got an invite on Facebook to wear red in support of the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Big XII Championship game. I’ve almost broken my Blackberry on a couple different occasions as I’ve watched games of teams in front of us in the polls go down to the wire only for them to pull it off.

But why? Here I am hanging on every play of teams that are trying to pull a miraculous upset out of thin air so my Frogs can score a trip to Pasadena. When did a trip to a BCS bowl become so commonplace to me? But that’s exactly what has happened.

Patterson is right. The more I focus on a National Championship, the more I take away from what’s been done. Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with being greedy in this case. If you’ve watched the same Frogs as I have, you’d likely agree that this is one of the best teams in the nation.

So let’s not take away from that. Less than a week after Thanksgiving, don’t forget how thankful we should be for what’s already been accomplished this season by the Horned Frogs.