When Andy Dalton was drafted with the 35th overall selection in the NFL Draft Friday night, it pretty much confirmed the inevitable: The red-head is no longer a TCU Horned Frog. He probably still is at heart, but Dalton will never again dawn the black and purple uniform and take the field at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Fans, get used to it. And do it quickly. Dalton’s legacy will live on in Fort Worth, but he will soon be taking his talents to Cincinnati to join head coach Marvin Lewis and the Bengals. Good situation or bad, the 6’3” righty is now an NFL quarterback, not a college kid.
Let’s take a quick look at what Dalton leaves behind not only for 2011’s starter, Casey Pachall, but also for the rest of the team. You’ve seen all the stats, (most wins in school history for a QB, 71 TD’s, over 10,000 yards, etc.) but what made Dalton “especially” special to the TCU football program in my mind was his leadership, mentoring, will to win, and determination to do things correctly.
At the end of the day, stats will get a guy into the record book, sure, but his intangibles will often prove to be much more valuable and meaningful to more people. And Casey Pachall agrees with me.
“Being under Andy and learning from him on a day to day basis really helped a whole lot,“ Pachall said after Spring Practice a few weeks ago. “Seeing the decisions he would make on and off the field really sat in and helped me understand the game more and what to do.”
Face it, Andy Dalton turned this program from an early-December bowl contender into a legitimate BCS bowl contender. And he didn’t do it simply by throwing TD’s and running up scores on opponents. And he didn’t do it alone.
Dalton’s knack for the intangibles rubbed off on his teammates and made them better. When you have a team full of guys that have a will to win a football game that is unlike almost any other team in the country, you have a Rose Bowl Championship team. At the end of the day, it’s that simple.
Now, the transfer to Casey Pachall at the helm is a whole different story. But Pachall learned from one of the best over the past three years that he’s been on campus. It’s up to him to take what he learned and put it into play in 2011.
Andy Dalton will never be forgotten at TCU for what he did on the field during games, but what will be more important that that going forward is the legacy of Dalton’s heart that still lives here in Fort Worth.