Friday, January 30, 2009

Frog's coffee house closes

Our friend Keira Moody's Eurotazza Coffeehouse on Camp Bowie Boulevard, named one of the nation’s must-visit boutique coffeehouses, closed today, and the economy is to blame, its owner said Tuesday.

"We saw a drop-off in November when we should have been ramping up," said Moody '92. "I had to be realistic about the situation we were in, and we’re in an industry that is having trouble. It’s been a sad, sad couple of weeks."

We wrote about Moody and the shop when it opened.

She left a job as an executive at Crescent Real Estate Co. in Fort Worth to open the independent coffeehouse nearly three years ago in the Village at Camp Bowie shopping center. She searched Europe for the best for her shop and selected specialty coffee beans from Italy and teas from Paris. Eurotazza translates to "a cup of Europe" in Italian.

Although the business grew, in the end it still wasn’t enough to compete against Starbucks and the downturn in the economy, Moody said.

"The Dallas-Fort Worth market has been slower to embrace the independent coffee culture than I projected," she said. "The economic pressures have caused us to go back to the drawing board."

Independent coffeehouses nationwide — and Starbucks — have closed their doors because consumers are spending less.

Moody said that she hasn’t ruled out reopening her shop but that any new location would need drive-through capabilities to increase revenues. Her current location requires customers to enter the store for their beverage, even for to-go orders.

"I look back on the three years, and I am so proud of what we have accomplished," Moody said of her employees.

Customers were told of the closing Tuesday. They are encouraged to use their prepaid balance before the store closes, but Moody said she will also redeem balances for Eurotazza coffee beans and other products.

In a article, the Specialty Cof- fee Association of America recommended Eurotazza as among the best U.S. coffeehouses.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A visit to Sam Baugh Ranch

Photographer Carolyn Cruz and I made the 3.5-hour drive out to Stonewall County to check out where TCU football legend Sam Baugh spent a lot of his life. (Baugh's death this winter is the subject of our Spring 2009 issue.) It’s a little more than an hour north and west of Abilene off dusty Farm to Market Road 610, far outside my cellphone range.

Sam had five children, four boys and a girl. The second son, David, a former high school and college star-turned-football coach himself, now runs the Bar Lazy S ranch at age 65. Asked what the ranch’s name stands for, David chuckles and says: “I think Sam would have said, ‘Bar all lazy asses.’ “

With 6,400 acres and nearly 500 head of cattle, it’s no place for the idle. There’s more land, too. A second property under the Baugh name is leased to another rancher. October was the last time it rained there. They are burning cacti to clear out some places for the livestock to feed.

David showed us around his house and the house Sam grew up in. Typical one-story ranch house with screened front porch. Yellowing wallpaper in the hallways. Oak paneling in the den. The furnishings are not his, but Sam’s photos with wife Edmonia and some of the kids are nearly in every room.

In the back of the house was a small collection of some of his old awards and memorabilia – a 1963 inaugural NFL Hall of Fame induction plaque, framed jerseys from TCU and the Washington Redskins, Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame trophy, a few signed pigskins, a replica Redskins helmet and more. “He never spent much time looking at these. They were just around the house when we were growin’ up,” David recalled.

Behind David’s house is the Cook House, a 7-foot-by-14-foot shack with the Baugh’s large smoker in it and bags of charcoal. Tools and cooking implements are neatly organized around the room. On the walls are photos of Sam – on horseback, with Edmonia, maybe one or two of him playing football, several of him dressed as Tom King when starred in the 12-episode Western serial “King of the Texas Rangers.”

There was a white NFL wristband with the letters SB written on them. It’s tacked to wall next to a note. “I wore these Sunday against the Jaguars. I always remember visiting with Sam and how kind he was to have me at the ranch.” It’s signed – Peyton Manning.

Sam bought the ranch in 1941 for $200 an acre while he was still playing for the Redskins. It sits at the foot of Double Mountain, which in the middle of late winter day wears a reddish hue rising out of the flat brushland. Sam grew to love the ranch more than anything besides his family. His dad James worked for Santa Fe Railroad in Temple, Texas, and sadly was a gambler, chicken fighter and alcoholic who had a friend named Ruby. James later ran off with Ruby. His mother Lucy raised him and his siblings.

When he was 16, they moved to Sweetwater, where Sam starred for the Mustangs in football, basketball and baseball. “He was a natural cowman,” David says. David thinks his dad saw a rodeo back then and decided that he was destined for ranching. Sam grew into riding horses and was a top notch roper. The folks in nearby Rotan were kind enough to help Sam get started and his ranch grew to 600 head of cattle at one point.

Today, a mix of Black Brangus and Angus cows, a few Beefmaster cows and about 30 bulls make up the stock. David rides around in his F-150 pickup over bumpy trails surveying some new young calves. Cows follow at a safe distance anytime he gets out of the truck to walk around.

"He was a remarkable man," the younger Baugh says of his father. Edmonia died in 1990, after 52 years of marriage to her high school sweetheart. "Pretty much, he's lived his life the way he wanted to."

- Rick

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Alumnus aids inauguration

Chris Curtis’ (‘83 alumnus and president of TCU’s Alumni Association) company, GoVision, provided the mobile units for George Bush’s inauguration in Washington, D.C. and will also be providing them for Obama’s inauguration.

TCU community watches Obama Inauguration

About 200 people stood and clapped in the Union Auditorium as President-elect Barack Obama was inaugurated shortly after 11 a.m.

The watching party, hosted by the Student Government Association and the departments of history and social work, had pizza and purple kettle corn and sodas. The auditorium and lobby were festooned with scores of red, white and blue balloons, some with Obama's image and the words "Hope" and "Change" and "Progress" on them.

Two television stations - the Fox and CBS affiliates - and radio station KRLD were on hand to interview and record the proceedings.

As Obama began to deliver a sobering assessment of where America stands and a hopeful vision of what it can become, students and faculty sat quietly listening.

"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time," Obama said. "But know this, America -- they will be met."

It was a great speech and one that America needed to hear, said freshman political science major Alex Turner.

"He hit on all the conerns and fears we have right now, and at the end, all we have is hope," said Turner, who worked on the Obama campaign in Dallas. "He went through all that history, and during those times, all we had was hope then too. So either we are going to believe or we won't."

Seniors Yasmine Javeed and Saddyna Belmashkan, both from Fort Worth, believe the 44th president will take the United States in a new direction.

"He has fresh ideas, and we need that during these turbulent times with the wars and the conflict in Gaza, but he will bring a new perspective - an international perspective - that we so badly need," said Belmashkan, who voted for Obama at the University Union during early voting.

"Change is already being enacted because of who he is. Obama himself represents change," Javeed said. "To see a person so different from our past presidents up there taking the oath, I was just filled with pride and hope."

- Rick

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Chancellor's email about TCU in 2009

Everyone should see this welcome email sent by Chancellor Victor Boschini this week:

Welcome back for spring semester! I hope the transition to a new semester this week has been an easy one.

Keeping you informed is important to me, so I would like to update you in four areas especially critical to the University’s success: admission for the fall 2009 freshman class, the state of the endowment, progress on The Campaign for TCU, and the budget for 2009-2010.

In recent years, we have experienced record growth in the number of applications for admission. From these, we have fielded outstanding freshmen classes. Early indicators point to another fine class for fall 2009. Completed applications for the fall freshman class exceed those at this time last year by 7 percent.
In spite of recent market volatility, TCU’s endowment remains strong at about $1 billion. While the endowment has lost some of its value, the payout, which supports the operating budget, will remain steady in the near term. The Board of Trustees Investment Committee and our Chief Investment Officer Jim Hille deserve much credit for their careful management of this vital resource.

The $250 million Campaign for TCU has raised more than $188.6 million so that we can realize our vision of creating a world-class, values-centered university experience for our students. Phenomenally, we have raised 75 percent of the campaign goal in 50 percent of the campaign time. We have not lowered our expectations that the campaign will exceed its goal, though it may take longer than we earlier anticipated. Currently, the top campaign priority is scholarships, and we continue to raise funds for endowed positions, academic programs, faculty support and other needs.

Along with taking measures to ensure that endowment funding would be stable in upcoming fiscal years, providing resources for planned capital renovations and proposing a lower tuition increase than in prior years, we have worked together to make modest reductions of approximately $1.9 million in next year’s budget. This compares to our total operating budget of approximately $362 million. At the same time, we are still emphasizing our overriding objective of maintaining the quality of the TCU experience and the vital 14:1 student/faculty ratio. Because of tremendous investments in the University in recent years, we are confident that TCU is competitive with our peers and attractive to prospective students and their families.

Last semester, TCU graduated more than 800 students. Reflecting our global mission, they represented 28 states and 29 foreign countries.

Construction on Scharbauer Hall, which will be home to AddRan College and the new John V. Roach Honors College, is on track to open for the spring 2010 semester. The building will be registered for LEED certification, a benchmark for design, construction and operation of high-performance green practices. In addition to employing four LEED-certified engineers and architects, TCU is addressing sustainability issues in scores of ways.

Here's to a great semester.

- Rick

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Warhol and Wine

Andy Warhol famously said "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes."

But years later he edited his quote, saying "I'm bored with that line. I now say, in 15 minutes, everyone will be famous."

TCU alumni can ponder Warhol's words and works while sipping wine at an upcoming event 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday Jan. 27 at the university's Contemporary Arts Gallery located at Berry and Greene streets. 

The exhibition includes several of Warhol's paintings and photographs - a recent gift to the gallery from the Warhol Foundation's Legacy Program. The exhibition includes Warhol's 1987 Polaroid of Patsy Nasher (pictured above) 

Gavin Morrison, curator of the gallery, and Kenneth Turner '86, contemporary art consultant, will talk about Warhol and his vision of the "social image." Titled Warhol and the Shared Subject, the exhibition also includes works by contemporary artists Rineke Dijkstra, Douglas Gordan, CS Leigh and Tony Scherman.

Morrison said the exhibit focuses on "the understanding of cultural factors as they effect an understanding of portraiture and the shared social subject."

No doubt that understanding is enhanced by a little pinot noir.

To RSVP and for more information, go to froglinks.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Lumpkin introduced as Schieffer director

Bob Schieffer was in town today to introduce the new director of the Schieffer School of Journalism - John O. Lumpkin, an executive with the Associated Press. Check out our coverage here.

Schieffer and Lumpkin also used the introductory event to unveil renderings for the $7 million media convergence lab for students to produce news reports for multiple media platforms from traditional print to online video. It would function along with the TCU Daily Skiff newsroom. Construction is scheduled to begin in May and finish by January 2010.

This is personally exciting for me since I worked at the Skiff with Lumpkin's son in the early- and mid-1990s and had met his dad a few times. Students will find him very approachable and his real world experience should be of value to the whole program.

- Rick

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kicker Combs wins Rudy Award

TCU placekicker Drew Combs yesterday received the 2008 College Football Rudy Award, honoring a student-athlete that demonstrates exemplary character, courage, contribution and commitment as members of their collegiate football team.

Combs was presented a trophy and $5,000 scholarship by Rudy Ruettiger, namesake of the award. The movie "Rudy" was based on Ruettiger, a former walk-on at Notre Dame.

Combs was born with a left arm that ends just below the elbow. He started every game the last two seasons for the Horned Frogs and recorded a career-best eight touchbacks in 2008. The senior from Houston also totaled three tackles in his career. He came to the Frogs after transferring from Arkansas.

"We established this award as a special way to honor and recognize college football players for the size of their hearts instead of the enormity of their stats," Ruettiger said. "Drew Combs is a special young man who personifies the spirit of this award and is an inspiration to his teammates, as well as the many Americans facing similar challenges."

Through the Horned Frogs' television exposure, Combs and the TCU athletics department regularly received e-mails and phone calls from parents of congenital amputees as well as fans who know kids born with the same condition. Combs personally responded to every message. He takes pride in being an inspiration to others in need and providing hope and motivation for anyone he encounters.

"When I ended everything at Arkansas, I felt in my heart that my purpose in college football was not over," Combs told the Star-Telegram. "I didn’t serve what I felt was going to be my duty, but I didn’t know what my duty was at that time. Through the exposure I’ve gained through TCU, to have children and families e-mail me and look at me as an inspiration is mind-blowing.

"My teammates have always been very accepting, and I don’t think there’s a single teammate, coach or anyone in the TCU community that’s uncomfortable with my situation. That’s been very helpful in being able to go forward with a normal life."

- Rick

Check the Star-Telegram for another good account of Combs receiving the award.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Spring semester begins

Students returned for the first day of class today. After getting the Martin Luther King holiday next week, no classes will recess until Spring Break, scheduled for March 16-20.

The semester should fly by. Last day of class is in April! The 29th to be exact. Dead days are April 30 and May 1. Exams start Monday, May 4, with commencement May 9.

- Rick

Friday, January 9, 2009

Football team finishes ranked #7

The football team finished seventh in the final Associated Press and USA Today polls, representing its highest season-ending ranking since 1959 and its second top-10 finish in the last four years. Since the BCS was established for the 1998 season, TCU (11-2) has the highest finish in the polls by a two-loss team from a non-automatic qualifying conference.

The Frogs haven't been ranked this high in a final poll since the 1959 squadwas seventh. In 2005, an 11-1 TCU team closed the season ranked ninth in the USA Todaypoll and 11th by AP. Under head coach Gary Patterson, TCU has its fifth season-ending top-25 ranking in the last seven seasons.

- Rick

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New contract for Coach Patterson

TCU athletics director Danny Morrison has announced that head football coach Gary Patterson has agreed to a new contract that runs through the 2014 season. As a private institution, TCU does not release financial figures.

Patterson has won at least 10 games in five of his eight seasons, includingfour 11-win campaigns in the last six years. No other coach in TCU historyhas more than two 10-win seasons.

Patterson led TCU to an 11-2 record in 2008 with the Frogs in position to finish in the top 10 for the second time in the last four years. Included in this season's win total were victories over then-undefeated, top-10 teams BYU and Boise State.

"Gary's outstanding record speaks for itself, and we want him to be in FortWorth and at TCU for a long time," Morrison said. "The fact that hiscontract extensions over the years have been agreed upon with regularityillustrate the momentum in the program and his commitment to this universityand community."

The Frogs' 17-16 win over No. 9 Boise State in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl marked Patterson's 100th game as TCU's head coach. He is 73-27, leaving himone win shy of tying Abe Martin (74, 1953-66) for second place on the Frogs' all-time victory list. Patterson's .730 winning percentage is second among TCU coaches with morethan 20 games under their belt and 11th among active coaches in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

"I am very appreciative of Chancellor (Victor) Boschini, Dr. Morrison andthe TCU administration for providing the resources and support to have afootball program that makes TCU proud," Patterson said. "My family and Ihave found a home at TCU and in the Fort Worth community."

Since his arrival on campus as defensive coordinator in 1998, Patterson has led the Frogs to 10 bowl games in 11 seasons. TCU has won four straight bowl games for the first time in its history. The Frogs are one of just seven teams nationally to have a current bowl winning streak of at least four in arow. TCU is 11-3 in its last 14 games against teams from leagues with automatic BCS bids, including a 5-2 mark versus the Big 12 the past four seasons.

The Frogs were 11th in the final BCS standings in 2008. TCU has appeared in the BCS standings 28 times, trailing only Boise State (34) for the most among schools from a non-automatic qualifying conference.

In eight seasons as a head coach, Patterson has produced 93 All-Conference selections, six All-Americans, 10 Freshman All-Americans and one Academic All-American. He has had 16 players drafted with a total of 36 in NFL camps. TCU led the nation in total defense (217.8 yards per game) in 2008 for thethird time in nine seasons. No other school in the country has finished first in that category as many times as TCU in that span. The Frogs were also first in run defense (47.1 yards), fewest first downs allowed per game(12.1) and time of possession (35:10). TCU was second in scoring defense(11.3 points per game).

- Rick

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Frog named to post in Obama White House

This week, President-elect Obama announced Bradley J. Kiley '83 as Director of the Office of Management and Administration.

Kiley is currently the operations director for the Obama-Biden Transition Project. Previously, he served as vice president of finance and operations at the Center for American Progress. While not a Cabinet-level or policy-making position, Kiley will run White House operations, including financial management and information technology support, human resources management, library and research assistance, facilities management, procurement, printing and graphics support, security and mail and messenger operations.

Previously, Kiley served as deputy assistant to the president for management and administration at the White House under President Clinton. There he was responsible for all aspects of White House operations, including the travel office, the visitors office, and White House administration, which included finance, human resources and facilities. Among his many earlier roles with the Democratic National Committee, Kiley served as director of finance and administration for the 1996 Democratic National Convention. He has also held in leadership positions at National Abortion Rights Action League and the International AIDS Trust.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Purple People Seaters helps 306 in San Diego

You've probably heard of TCU Athletics's Project Purple effort, which once again was a huge success at the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego last month. Horned Frog fans donated a record 4,000 tickets to Southern California children and military families, who cheered TCU in their stead.

But you may not be familiar with Purple People Seaters, started two years ago by enterprising young alum Robert Costas '04, who took a group of 306 from San Diego Youth and Community Services, San Diego Firefighters and local U.S. Navy personnel to the game.

It started two Christmases ago when Costas was looking for a way to give back.

Working as a paralegal and struggling through law school, he didn't have much money to give, but he felt he could use his organizational skills to help.

"I could give my energy and my time," as he puts it.

Unfamiliar with Project Purple, Costas essentially had the same concept: give TCU fans and alums the chance to purchase and donate game tickets to the needy. Costas' organization is not affiliated with TCU, the athletics program or Project Purple, but he profusely promotes the other charity.

"Supplement is a good word," says Costas, who works for a land servicing oil and gas company in downtown Fort Worth. "I think I have a different audience, a younger audience than Project Purple does. A lot of my donors are recent grads or students and are not established financially."

Costas says many young alums that he's spoken with are unfamiliar with Project Purple or feel it is marketed to older alumni. Unlike Project Purple, Purple People Seaters has its own web site and contributions to it are tax deductable. He attracts a lot of donors through word-of-mouth and viral marketing.

"We take a more hands on approach," Costas says. "The primary goal is to expose kids to college, especially TCU, and the main way of doing this is by sending them to games and showing them around campus. We don't want it to be just a game to them. We want them to have a college experience, and hopefully spark an interest in going to college someday."

And that means hanging out. Costas sets up tailgate opportunities for recipients and sits with the group at each game. "Part of the idea is to get to know them, make them feel like real people," he says.

During the summer and early fall, Costas lines up organizations that might benefit. Earlier this season, he entertained about 240 new Frog fans from groups such as Hope Farm, Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth, even some Hurricane Katrina and Rita evacuees, who, ironically, watched the Hurricane Ike-affected Stanford game.

"They never batted an eye and had a great time," Costas says.

The group runs a golf tournament and several game watching parties during the year to raise money. Rahr Brewery and Mama's Pizza provide the venue and food, and Costas does the rest. Donations are accepted yearround.

This year's 306 for the Poinsettia Bowl was an improvement on the 285 for the Texas Bowl in Houston in 2007. Costas expects steady growth. Last month, a donor supplied purple and white T-shirts for his group, which sat in an upper level corner section munching on hotdogs and coke. "The firefighters were great about interacting with the kids from San Diego Youth and Community Services and even managed to snag them some of the unused thundersticks that TCU had set out."

Costas even had them singing the TCU fight song and making the Frog sign.

"It exceeded my expectations," he said. "I never set a goal for the number of people we take. But I underestimated how much support the TCU community would have. I just feel privileged to be a conduit."

- Rick