The Athletic

Crazy Frogs: Inside the wild videos that made TCU the internet’s new favorite team

Jon Petrie figured the first video would never see the light of day beyond his office. TCU was preparing to play Oklahoma State in a matchup of Top-15 teams that would do a lot to help shape the Big 12 title race.

One day early in the week, Petrie, TCU’s coordinator of creative video, eschewed his lunch break and started to create.

He started with a fitting soundtrack of “Crazy Frog,” a techno-inspired repurposing of the Beverly Hills Cop theme song that caught fire on the internet more than a decade ago when paired with images of a mascot for a small ringtone company. (Yes, this story gets even deeper down the internet rabbit hole.)

“What if I just took that song and combined a bunch of weird pictures of frogs and edit them together very weirdly with no rhyme or reason to it,” Petrie said. “It’s very abstract and free-flowing.”

He did exactly that, slamming quick cuts of various internet memes interspersed with a parade of frog photos and videos of varying levels of reality. At one point, he found himself Googling “psychedelic backgrounds.” He just thought it would be funny.

After TCU’s 43-40 win in double-overtime, he added some footage of TCU’s team celebrating in the locker room.

“We kind of egged him on, and he kind of looked me like, ‘Really? You want to post this?’ I was like, ‘Screw it, why not? We just beat Oklahoma State. Let’s post it.’ And sure enough, it blew up,’ said Jason Andrews, TCU’s director of football creative media.

Licking toads can be dangerous to one’s health and generally is frowned upon by the medical community, but if the rumored effects are real, it probably would feel a lot like watching the final result of Petrie’s work, a 54-second of pure joy.

“We’ve gone from making highlight videos after games to making memes, and it’s been truly fun,” Andrews said.

Fun is one of the new words that has defined TCU’s program under Sonny Dykes. Tea face of the program personified it with his embrace of Hypnotoad, the Futurama character the basketball program first used as a free throw distraction. Now, he has become the unofficial mascot and symbol of the football team’s 9-0 start and chase for the program’s first College Football Playoff bid.

“The great thing about Coach Dykes is he does not micromanage at all. A lot of times he has no idea what we’re doing. He’s just a great CEO and hires people and lets them do their job,” said Andrews, who spent four seasons with Dykes in a similar role at SMU before following him 40 miles across Interstate 30 to TCU. “It makes my job and my team’s job super easy, because my team is super awesome and it gives us the flexibility to be creative and do things like these memes.”

That paired with TCU’s marketing of a Game of Thrones-style “House of Duggan” logo to promote star quarterback Max Duggan has helped TCU become the internet’s new favorite team. Nobody expected the disturbed debut after the Oklahoma State win. No one was prepared for it, not TCU fans and certainly not the internet at large.

But it raised expectations for another year. A parade of toads? Already pass. Petrie was brainstorming ideas when someone caught him in his office taking a .5 photo of himself.

“What are you doing?” they asked.

Petrie explained that a .5 photo was an extremely wide angle lens, but when a photo is snapped close to the photographer’s forehead, it makes their face look massive for a very weird effect. Petrie, a Maine native who was working as a creative for all 16 sports at Maine before joining Andrews’ team down in Fort Worth in June, traded .5 selfies with his friends as a joke. Before long, the whole creative staff at TCU was taking them before it stumbled into an idea.

“What if this week’s video was just the .5 photos you do?” a staffer asked.

“You mean just take a bunch of .5 photos of the players and put them together?” Petrie said.

“Yeah,” the staffer said.

Petrie thought about it for a moment before replying: “That actually would work.”

And thus, was born, with a deafening rendition of Disturbed’s “Down With The Sickness” as the soundtrack.

“I know players like them because they’ll always ask, ‘What’s this week’s video?’ and I have to tell them, ‘I don’t know yet,’” Petrie said.

He didn’t get the full idea of ​​the West Virginia video until he had a stroke of genius at the 11th hour.

“I did that in the hotel room the night before, and it took me like an hour. It was an hour searching for frogs in cowboy hats and then downloading them but then I was running out of pictures so I had to figure out how fast I could photoshop frog heads on cowboys,” Petrie said.

Somehow, it worked.

Petrie and Andrews can’t help but laugh at the runaway popularity of a project Andrews spends no time working on and Petrie spends barely one percent of his seven-day work week during the season putting together. Andrews oversees all content, but they both help produce Carter Boys, an in-depth, weekly in-house documentary chronicling an already special season in, fittingly, Funkytown that airs on ESPN-plus.

“You get all these people commenting like, ‘Hey I’m not even a TCU fan, but I’m starting to pull for these guys because of these. And you realize, ‘OK, you’re doing something right.’ But at the same time, it kind of pisses me off because we do all this really nice stuff. Cinematic, pretty stuff, but this is what’s getting attention,” Andrews said with a laugh. “But it’s fine.”

Petrie did get to dip his toe into the mixture of psychosis and cinema with his celebration of the Texas Tech video, thanks to a spicy offseason between the former Southwest Conference rivals who have renewed their in-state hate since TCU joined the Big 12 a decade ago.

Using Dwight Yoakam’s “1,000 Miles From Nowhere” was a layup to tweak TCU’s rival in rural west Texas, featuring a mockup of Raider Red taking a big bite of cactus. It was, predictably, a cactus-heavy video to poke fun at the Red Raiders.

Texas Tech announced an NIL deal that provided 100 $25,000 annual contracts for football players, but TCU’s recruiting coordinator Bryan Carrington lit a match by criticizing the deal and Tech’s efforts to help players build their brand “in a desert.” He punctuated the tweet with a cactus, but Texas Tech fans repurposed the emoji by making it the program’s new unofficial symbol. Even Patrick Mahomes tweeted out the emoji. At halftime of Saturday’s game, Texas Tech’s band formed a cactus as it performed.

So TCU’s postgame was a fitting rebuttal. So was an alternate video that Carrington posted from the creative department, too.

It was a piece of savagery rarely seen in the sport, pouring salt into the Red Raiders’ wounds as TCU focused on a possible future in the Playoff.

This week, Petrie already has found his inspiration. If TCU beats Texas as a touchdown underdog in Austin, his new video will see the light of day. It will feature a repurposed, iconic Longhorns logo.

Winning is fun. But so is Petrie and Andrews’ job as the internet-facing arm of Dykes’ rebuilt TCU program that prides itself on openness and a free-wheeling attitude. Why wouldn’t the creative department do the same?

“Jason would come up and ask, ‘How do you come up with this?’” Petrie said. “And I’d have to be like, ‘I don’t know, it’s just kind of like jazz. You’re just improvising.”

And it’s working.

“You gotta like when you see people be like, ‘I wasn’t a Frog fan until I saw this.’ And you realize, ‘Oh, we’re gaining fans,’” ​​Petrie said.

(Photo: Matthew Pearce/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


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