Since the end of the 1980s, TCU football has been the bond that held together John Runyon and eight brothers of his fraternity. The last eight years, however, have been linked for another reason: the awareness of having pulled out one of the most mysterious capers of college football in recent history.
Saturday night in Arlington, Texas, the nine will gather from all over the country to the AT & T stadium where their horned frogs will face the state of Ohio. They are looking from a box that could also be called the "Little Sister of the Poor Suite".
Because, after all, they were the ones behind 20 billboards popped up around Columbus, Ohio, eight years ago.
"This is my main core, and winning or losing, TCU football is what keeps us together," said Runyon. "And that passion we have is what fueled the billboard thing."
That billboard only added the accumulation surrounding the TCU showdown with Ohio State.
Of course, both teams are nationally ranked. And yes, the GameDay College of ESPN will be in Fort Worth to preview the matchup.
The Horned Frogs also did not forget that he was excluded from the inaugural College Football Playoff in 2014, when the selection committee placed the possible national champion Buckeyes on Horned Frogs, who fell from no. 3 to 6 the last weekend, despite the hammering of the Iowa State by 52 points.
Still tension between TCU and Ohio State dates back to the second part of the 2010 season, when the unbeaten Horned Frogs of Gary Patterson were looking to become the first team from a mid-tier conference to play for a BCS national championship.
The President of the State of Oh Gordon Gee challenged the candidacy of TCU, suggesting that the Frogs Cornute were only unbeaten because they interpreted "Little Sisters of the Poor."
"I made that joke, unfortunately, but of course I'm famous for making unlucky jokes," jokes Gee, now the president at West Virginia, in an interview with ESPN.com. "I always thought they had a good football program … I thought it was just a funny statement."
Eventually, Runyon and his friends would have the last laugh.
The CTU continued to remain undefeated. And although the Horned Frogs were no longer participating in a national championship, they were invited to play in the Rose Bowl against the Big Ten champion Wisconsin, who had also delivered to Buckeye their only loss of the season.
Runyon and his eight friends met in California and went to the game together, observing how TCU knocked down the Badgers 21-19.
"That was the single best sporting day of my life," Runyon said. "I had the chills even thinking about it, my father and I, we rarely missed a game at home, I was watching TCU lose since I was in diapers.
" Unfortunately, my dad died in 2005. So I had tears of sadness, but tears of joy because I was with all my friends and we could celebrate the victory. "
Runyon and his crew were not completely satisfied, however
Together, they had suffered all the loss in the Southwest Conference.They had suffered the humiliation of being initially left out of the Big 12 Conference.  And only two months ago, they had endured the humiliation of their team over the Little Sisters of the Poor.
They wanted the state of Ohio to feel some of that pain  and this inspired a chain of e-mails, with Runyon randomly suggesting two days later that they "shared the expense of a billboard near the Ohio State Campus. "
Wes Hoaglund took seriously the email request from Runyon, and contacted by telephone Dave Yacullo, a former TCU collaborator, who worked in an advertising agency that collaborated with national campaigns in the open. 19659002] Yacullo was in
"We were so lucky because Columbus is the first market where they were testing digital outdoor advertising as a network," said Yacullo. "So, there were places where digital was been done before, but they had not really built a complete network that covered the entire market. Knowing that we could get up immediately, it became an incredible opportunity. , we will not create only one, we will go to paper the Columbus market. "
That same day, more than 20 digital billboards were published around Columbus, with the same message:
For their BCS Rose Bowl Victory
-Little Sisters of the Poor
Immediately, the deception has attracted the titles of the whole country Except, no one knew who was behind it
"There were all these urban myths out there. People thought he was an oil guy from T. Boone Pickens, "said Yacullo, referring to the mega-booster of the State of Oklahoma.
Since Clear Channel was still experiencing the concept of digital outdoor advertising at the city level, the total bill was in reality only $ 5,000. Hoaglund covered him with his advertising company, while the rest of the group gathered another $ 5,000 to donate to Little Sisters of the Poor of Oregon, Ohio, whose mission is to serve the elderly poor.
"When you're in my business they have to have a good sense of humor, and I thought they also had a good sense of humor," said Gee of the anonymous contingent of the TCU. "And, of course, what's so funny, I had no idea that there was a Catholic order called Little Sisters of the Poor, I still have the bruises on my knees to ask for forgiveness."
Gee, who had also sent a personal check to the Little Sisters of the Poor, was forgiven by her sisters for turning them into a punchline when she visited the order in the following autumn.
Runyon, Hoaglund, Yacullo and the others, meanwhile, opted to keep their anonymity as a way to strengthen their friendship. Not even the TCU Athletic Director Jeremiah Donati knew who was behind the billboards
"There were people who took responsibility for what I knew was not involved," said Donati
A few days ago, Runyon he overturned the beans at Donati during a donor event leading to the Ohio state game.
Their secret billboard could finally be out.
But as they gather back from across the country for one of the biggest TCU games from that Rose Bowl, their friendship has never been stronger.
"It could be another fantastic moment for TCU football, and winning would be better than losing," said Runyon.
"But being together for us is what we are talking about".