Winners don’t come from programs with all the glitter

As Pete Carroll walks away from millions, the University of Southern California program and its support, the “Why?” is written on the wall.

Since the Reggie Bush case took its first breath of fresh air since 2004, three major investigations have taken place. First into Southern Cal’s elite players in football and basketball programs being compensated for play (Bush, O.J. Mayo and most recently Joe McKnight), then Sports Illustrated reported misconduct from team coaches and doctors regarding a football assistant’s pain-killer addiction. And the cherry on top of the See-you-on-Sundays?

There are plenty of whispered rumors of Carroll’s misconduct with a coed that were whispered less than subtly by Charlie Weis as he waddled out of South Bend.

The Southern California athletic program is a victim of its own culture. It’s a culture of winning, but it is also a culture of lies, cheating and misconduct. And while I’m not letting Carroll off the hook for running away, could anyone honestly blame him for getting out as quickly as possible before the house of cards crumbles? It’s self-preservation at its finest, which is the life of many college coaches today.

TCU shares that culture of winning. So far, we have been fortunate enough to only benefit from that culture, as one big program can help to build others, much like our football program has. In fact, there is a lot about USC that TCU would love to copy.

The Trojans have set the bar frustratingly high for what a private school can accomplish on all athletic fields. While USC has a much longer athletic history than TCU, there are similar themes. Most notably, Carroll was hired as coach at USC in 2000 during the same bowl season that Dennis Franchione left TCU high and dry. Gary Patterson took over that team for their bowl game before both men became full-time NCAA coaches in 2001. Both athletic programs have been on the rise for the near-decade since.

For Southern Cal, it was much easier to create a winner. In just his second year, the Trojans were in the Orange Bowl, the first of seven consecutive BCS bowls. It took nine years for Gary Patterson to get TCU to that level, but if the university wants to stay there, lessons on what not to do are being taught at USC.

There are three lessons to take to heart to make a winner the right way:

1) One player is never worth it. Not Mayo, McKnight or the next player who thinks Texas would be a better fit than TCU unless the university is willing to sweeten the deal. And while it would be wonderful to whisper right in Bevo’s ear all year talking smack to UT fans, we are not on that level yet. As long as TCU plays up its advantages and boosters don’t get any really bad ideas, we shouldn’t have any issues. We have been lucky with coaching staffs that have shown they can do more with less talent than all of our in-state competition. As long as the university stays relevant, talent will come organically.

2) Coaches come, coaches go. Unfortunately, contracts don’t mean a whole lot to college coaches these days. While their success is to be commended, the winning ways of TCU’s coaches will eventually buy their ticket out of here. The athletics programs here are great, but some can’t compete with state school money. Others can’t match the focused intensity of other private schools. Thankfully living in Fort Worth and working with the people at TCU isn’t a bad gig.

But even long-tenured coaches like Gary Patterson and swimming coach Richard Sybesma (an astounding 31 years) can’t have full authority over their programs. They are employees of the university, and their players need to be checked up on like any other athletes. I don’t believe a coach should be able to claim stupidity and bail out to, say, the Seattle Seahawks (just an example), if players they know and work with every day are caught cheating.

3) A winning environment needs fans. I’ve got to believe there are enough season ticket holders and students in town to push the attendance number. The basketball team deserves better. Our football and baseball teams posted record attendance last year.

If you want to play with big programs and bring in big players, an empty gym, field or court doesn’t pass anymore. Baseball season is wonderful. Basketball season is now.

It has been an incredible run lately for TCU athletics. But a bitter warning might be coming soon in LA As Tiger has shown all of us, you can idolize someone – but that doesn’t mean you need to follow their life step for step.

Josh Davis is a junior news-editorial major from Dallas.