The Horned Frogs: Rebuilding All Around
FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A year ago Horned Frog fans said goodbye to the old Amon G. Carter Stadium configuration. Fifty-two weeks later fans have packed into a stadium full of construction tape and cyclone fencing to cheer the Frogs on against the Colorado State Rams.
Gone from the stadium is the towering upper deck and press box. Gone is the mid-century elevator (complete with operator-handled level). And gone is the team’s redheaded quarterback. He’s now off in the NFL outpost of Cincinnati, helping the hapless Bengals.
But something that is back at the stadium this year are the fans. A crowd well over 30,000 were on hand amid the dirt and construction equipment to watch the team take a 13-3 lead into halftime.
This has been quite a year for the Frogs. After the stadium’s demolition the team annouced they were moving to the Big East, their 4th conference since the breakup of the Southwest Conference. A few weeks later the team went on to achieve the impossible, capturing a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin on New Year’s Day.
The 2011 season started with promise, but after a 2 point loss to the Baylor Bears in a nationally-televised Friday night game and then a bitter overtime loss to Metroplex rival SMU, the Frogs became an afterthought on the College Football landscape.
But as everything has in the NCAA this fall, that changed. First, it was annouced they would be replacing the Texas A&M Aggies in the Big 12 for 2012. Then, going into Boise State’s infamous blue turfed field, they knocked off the #5 Broncos to again become the underdog team to watch and a heavy favorite for their final Mountain West crown if they hold off Colorado State and UNLV on December 3.
The UNLV game will be the final one for the season at Amon G. Carter Stadium, and as soon as the lights are off the school says they’ll be tearing down part of the eastern grandstands to completly remodel the stadium in time for next season.
The place already feels more intimate. Fans are even closer to the game now with seats angled closer. The north end zone now boasts a cozy upper deck area above an improved scoreboard, and even though the upper deck has not reopened, you can tell fans will not have the impending sense of vertigo the old upper deck gave you.
The towering presence of the old structure will be missed, you could see the top of the stadium from anywhere in southwest Fort Worth. If you were in the upper seats you had a great view of downtown. But fans are letting that go as they get ready for the team’s move to the Big 12.
In some ways the stadium construction is a good metaphor for the team itself. It is still the same place, much of it is just as good as it once was, but as improvements are made the fans will take more and more notice.