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TCU's Drug Scandal Hampers 2012 Big 12 Title Hopes

What a difference a day makes. Just one day after TCU’s basketball team scored a huge victory over UNLV and the schedule for its inaugural season in the Big 12 was released, the athletic department is dealing with a significant drug scandal.

On Wednesday, 17 TCU students were arrested in a drug bust at the school, which included four football players: Linebacker Tanner Brock, defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey, cornerback Devin Johnson and Ty Horn. The four players were later dismissed by head coach Gary Patterson.

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But the trouble may not end with the four players arrested and dismissed.

According to the arrest affidavit, the TCU coaching staff required all players to take a drug test on Feb. 1, 2012, and Brock told the informant “about 60 people would be screwed.” Johnson allegedly told an informant that 82 players from the team failed the drug test administered on Feb. 1. There's nothing that's been confirmed true about those two numbers thrown out, but it is something that will hang over the program until any further suspensions or dismissals have been announced or TCU clears the rest of the football team.

Needless to say, this is a black eye for a program on the rise. The Horned Frogs were poised to make a lot of noise in their first season in the Big 12 and was widely-regarded as one of the top 25 teams for 2012. However, the four player dismissals were a huge loss for this team and if those statements by Brock and Johnson are true, Patterson and his coaching staff may have to suspend some players for the start of 2012.

Brock missed nearly all of 2011 due to an injury, but was expected to return as one of the leaders for the defense. He led the team with 106 tackles in 2010 and gathered first-team All-Mountain West honors. With Tank Carder finishing his eligibility, Brock was expected to be the anchor and a likely All-Big 12 performer in 2012.

Yendrey was coming off back-to-back seasons of earning honorable mention All-Mountain West honors and was expected to anchor the interior of the defensive line. He recorded 39 tackles and three sacks last season, while starting 12 games. Without Yendrey, Jon Lewis, Ray Burns, David Johnson and Chuck Hunter will have to take on a bigger role on the interior of the line.

The secondary was a weakness for the defense in 2011 and Johnson’s dismissal was a big loss for a team already losing cornerback Greg McCoy and safeties Tekerrein Cuba and Johnny Fobbs. Johnson recorded 47 stops last year and collected 2.5 sacks.

Horn was the least decorated of the players dismissed, starting only one game in 2011. However, he was expected to contend for a starting spot in 2012.

What does this mean for TCU going forward? There’s still a lot to sort out, but this is a down moment for a program that waited and fought hard to get into a BCS conference. The Horned Frogs will be fine in the long run under Patterson, but there will be an impact on the field. The defense has ranked near the top of college football in the Mountain West, but will take a step back facing the high-powered offenses in the Big 12. And this group only has five returning starters, so there’s a lot of pressure on the new faces in the linebacking corps and secondary to step up.

Until all of the allegations are sorted out, it’s too difficult to say whether or not TCU will remain in the preseason top 25. However, there is still a talented core returning to Fort Worth in 2012 and the schedule isn’t too overwhelming to expect a season with eight or nine wins.

TCU’s 2012 Schedule

Sept. 8 Grambling State
Sept. 15 at Kansas
Sept. 22 Virginia
Sept. 29 at SMU
Oct. 6 Iowa State
Oct. 13 at Baylor
Oct. 20 Texas Tech
Oct. 27 at Oklahoma State
Nov. 3 at West Virginia
Nov. 10 Kansas State
Nov. 24 at Texas
Dec. 1 Oklahoma

Related: Athlon's Early College Football Top 25 for 2012
Related: Athlon's 2012 Early Big 12 Predictions
Related: Big 12 2012 Schedule Analysis