Horned Frogs Travel Miles to Celebrate College Football Playoff

Horned Frogs Travel Miles to Celebrate College Football Playoff

Horned frogs thrive in the desert. Tens of thousands of them descended on the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona to watch the TCU Football Team earn a spot in the College Football Playoff National Championship game on Jan. 9.

Horned Frog alumni, students, faculty and staff have traveled 1,043 miles…and more.

Patty Ruiz ’01 traveled from Chicago with her husband.

“We met our first year. It was our Christmas present to each other,” she said. “We’re not staying with the alumni group, we’re staying at a hotel in downtown Phoenix, and that was great because we still see a lot of people from TCU at our hotel, and we’re even converting a lot of non-TCU people encouraging horned frogs, so it’s kind of like evangelistic outreach.

Mike Kirkpatrick ’87 came from Washington DC, where he is a lawyer.

“It’s good for my generation, no question of missing it. We have been through many lean years,” he said. “We are the first team from Texas to make the college football playoffs. Obviously, when it started in 2014, it felt like we should have been there. And now we are.

Kirkpatrick traveled with about 30 former students from his group, including Drew Ruiz ’85. They were just a few of the thousands to attend the official TCU Alumni tailgate.

“We traveled together to the other Fiesta Bowl, the Rose Bowl, but this one matters more than all of them,” Ruiz said. “I’m not nervous, but I’m super excited to see how it goes. Trust Sonny.

Head coach Sonny Dykes led the team to an undefeated regular season, the No. 3 team in the nation, and TCU’s first-ever playoff appearance.

John Thomas intended to meet Ryan, his son Horned Frog, at the game. Unfortunately, he would know the game alone. Ryan was one of many victims of flight cancellations and delays.

Steve Slaughter, an industry partner who teaches in TCU’s fashion design program, thankfully passed without incident. It was one of the many matches he attended this historic year.

“We were at the home games, the Baylor game and of course we’ll be there next week in Los Angeles,” he said confidently before kick-off.

Among the many TCU leaders, new University President Daniel Pullin was there to cheer on the Frogs.

“I can’t think of a better time or place to transition into this role alongside Chancellor Boschini’s leadership,” Pullin said. “We have TCU on a national stage and the Horned Frog family coming together – it’s truly amazing.”

After TCU’s 51-45 victory over No. 2 University of Michigan – a game in which TCU led in its entirety – John Thomas was in the lobby on the phone with Ryan, one hand over his ear, struggling to hear the crowd.

“It was crazy,” he told his son.

I hope they can watch the national championship game together.

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