It’s now been more than three years since TCU football was dropped from No. 3 to No. 6 in the final College Football Playoff rankings of the 2014 regular season — despite coming off a 55-3 win over Iowa State.
And for at least one player on that Big 12 championship team, the wounds inflicted by playoff committee are still fresh.
Former Horned Frogs wide receiver Deante Gray, in a radio interview with Heartland College Sports’ Pete Mundo, said it still hurts to think about what could have been after TCU was all-but robbed of a chance to compete for a trip to the national championship game and more.
Gray, who played at TCU from 2012-2016, described it as a “slap on the face” when it was revealed that his team wouldn’t be heading to Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl game that New Year’s Day — especially after dominating the competition week after week in the stretch run of the regular season.
“That was by far the best team I’ve ever been on. We were good on all sides. When you go into the last game [ranked] No. 3 and you think ‘all you have to do is have to take care of business,’ and you win …. and you drop from No. 3 to No. 6, man, it was a slap in the face. It hurt. But the one thing about TCU I can say is that we naturally play with a chip on our shoulders, so it made it that much bigger when we played Ole Miss. But I mean I still … even when I’m around my parents and some of my family members, they always say ‘man, y’all would have had a good chance of winning the national championship.'”
Big name bias?
The inexplicable drop that TCU saw in 2014 wasn’t the only grievance Gray had. He also told Mundo that he feels as if the playoff committee changes up the criteria “year to year” in determining the field of four teams.
A major point as to why the Horned Frogs were left out of the 2014 playoff was the lack of a “13th data point” in the form of a conference championship game. That, however, didn’t keep Ohio State and Alabama from making the playoff in 2016 and 2017, respectively, without a 13th data point. Alabama went on to win the whole thing in 2017, defeating top-seed Clemson in the semifinals before gutting out a wild overtime-win over Georgia in the title game.
TCU had playoff hopes revitalized in 2015 and 2017 with 7-0 or better starts to the regular season, but finished each of those seasons with multiple defeats. No team with multiple losses has ever qualified for the College Football Playoff in its four year history.
TCU has recorded double digit wins on five occasions since the decade began. If that trend keeps up, it seems to be only a matter of time before the Horned Frogs finally receive an invite to college football’s final four.
But as a school that owns less than 10,000 undergraduate students and has only spent five full seasons in a Power 5 conference, perfection may be the only way for the Horned Frogs to have their shot at ultimate glory.
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