By Wendell Barnhouse
Just over 24 hours before their men’s basketball team was scheduled to play at Oklahoma Saturday, TCU administrators found out the team was stranded in Fort Worth. The bus company scheduled to deliver the team to Norman would not make the trip because of winter weather that was turning the major highways in the Metroplex into parking lots.
Amtrac to the rescue. Around 5:30 p.m. Friday, the Horned Frogs’ 27-member traveling party boarded the Heartland Flyer at the Intermodal Transportation Center for about a 3½ hour journey.
However, even alternate plans sometimes go awry. Engine problems with a train on the track ahead of TCU's train more than doubled the travel time; the Horned Frogs' traveling party arrived in Norman at 1 a.m.
“I told the players to imagine it’s 1948 and they’re headed to Grand Central Station in New York for the NIT,” TCU associate athletic director Jack Hesselbrock said Friday night. “When I showed up to buy 27 tickets they looked at me kinda funny.”
When the bus option fell through, there was an initial conversation between TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte and the Big 12 office to discuss options. The game couldn’t be moved to Sunday because the Sooners have a Big Monday game at Iowa State. The game couldn’t be delayed until Saturday night because Oklahoma’s women’s basketball has a game scheduled.
Postponing and rescheduling the game was impractical considering the Big 12 regular-season schedule is entering its final week.
“Two years ago, when our football team played at Oklahoma, we had a special train that took fans to the game,” Hesselbrock said. “We looked at the schedule and the train was scheduled to leave Fort Worth at 5:25 p.m. It was strictly luck.”
TCU had to use school vans to get the team to the train station because other bus companies had shut down service. The bus that is picking up the team in Norman is scheduled to carry the team back to Fort Worth after the game.
If that fails … there’s always the rails.