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

Jon Petrie thought the first video would never see the light of day outside his office. TCU was preparing to play Oklahoma State in a matchup of top 15 teams that would go a long way in helping shape the Big 12 title race.

One day earlier in the week, Petrie, TCU’s Creative Video Coordinator, skipped his lunch break and started creating.

He started with a fitting soundtrack of Crazy Frog, a techno-inspired re-imagining 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 you took that song and combined a bunch of weird pictures of frogs and whipped them together in a very weird way without rhyme or reason, Petrie said. It’s very abstract and flowing.

He did exactly that, whipping out quick cuts of various internet memes interspersed with a parade of frog photos and videos of various levels of reality. At one point, he found himself googling psychedelic wallpapers. He just thought it would be fun.

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

We kind of cheered him on and he looked at me like, Really? 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, director of football creative media at TCU.

Licking toads can be dangerous to your health and is generally frowned upon by the medical community, but if the effects being talked about are real, it would probably be like watching the end result of Petries’ work, 54 seconds of pure bliss.

We went from making highlight videos after games to making memes, and it was really fun, said Andrews.

Fun is one of the new words that defined the TCU program under Sonny Dykes. THE face of the program personifies with his embrace of Hypnotoad, the Futurama character that the basketball program first used as a distraction for free throws. Now, he has become the unofficial mascot and symbol of the football teams’ 9-0 start and is chasing for the program’s first college football playoff bid.

The great thing about Coach Dykes is that he doesn’t manage at all. Many times he has no idea what they were doing. He’s just a great CEO and he hires people and lets them do their jobs, 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 amazing, and it gives us the flexibility to be creative and do things like these memes.

This coupled with TCU’s marketing of a House of Duggan logo in Game of Thrones style to promote star quarterback Max Duggan helped TCU become the internet’s new favorite team. Nobody expected the deranged debut after Oklahoma State’s victory. No one was prepared for this, not TCU fans and certainly not the internet in general.

But it raised expectations for an encore. A parade of toads? Already passed. Petrie was brainstorming 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 taken close to the photographers forehead, it makes their face look huge for a very strange effect. Petrie, a Maine native who worked as a creative for all 16 sports in Maine before joining Andrews’ team in Fort Worth in June, shared .5 selfies with his friends as a joke. Before long, the entire creative staff at TCU was grabbing them before he stumbled upon an idea.

What if this week’s video was just the .5 pics what do you do? a staff member asked.

Do you mean just take a bunch of .5 photos of the players and put them together? Petri said.

Yes the staff said.

Petrie thought for a moment before answering: It would actually work.

And thus was born, with a deafening version of Disturbeds Down With The Sickness as the soundtrack.

I know gamers like them because they always ask, what’s this week’s video? and I have to tell you, I don’t know yet, Petrie said.

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

I did it in the hotel room the night before and it took me like an hour. It was an hour of looking for the frogs in cowboy hats and then downloading them, but then I was running out of photos, so I had to figure out how quickly I could Photoshop frog heads onto cowboys, Petrie said.

Somehow, it worked.

Petrie and Andrews can’t help but laugh at the overwhelming popularity of a project Andrews doesn’t spend time working on, and Petrie spends just one percent of his seven-day workweek during the season cobble together. Andrews oversees all content, but both help produce Carter Boys, an in-depth weekly internal 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 fan of TCU, 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 pisses me off because we do all this really cute stuff. Cinematic and cute stuff, but that’s what gets the attention, Andrews said with a laugh. But it’s fine.

Petrie managed to immerse himself in the blend of psychosis and cinema with his video celebration of Texas Tech, thanks to a spicy offseason between the former Southwest Conference rivals who have renewed their hatred in the state since TCU joined the Big 12 a decade ago.

Dwight Yoakam’s use of 1,000 Miles From Nowhere was a layup to edit TCU’s rival in rural West Texas, with a mockup of Raider Red taking a big bite out of cactus. It was, predictably, a cactus-filled 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 recruiting coordinator Bryan Carrington ignited a match criticizing the deal and Tech’s efforts to help players build the their mark in a desert. He punctuated the tweet with a cactus, but Texas Tech fans repurposed the emoji making it the new unofficial symbol of the program. Patrick Mahomes also tweeted the emoji. At halftime of Saturday’s game, the Texas Tech band formed a cactus as they performed.

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

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

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

Winning is fun. But so is Petrie and Andrews’ work as the Internet-facing arm of the Dykes-reconstructed TCU program that prides itself on openness and a freewheeling attitude. Why shouldn’t the creative department do the same?

Jason would come up and ask, how did you come up with this? Petri said. And I’m supposed to be like, I don’t know, it’s just some kind of jazz. You’re just improvising.

And it works.

You love it when you see people say, I wasn’t a fan of Frog 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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