One of the reasons Gary Patterson looked forward to joining the Big 12 was that he felt that if TCU won eight or nine games a season that would keep him in place.
He knew the TCU community well enough that their expectations were realistic, challenging, and attainable.
Since 2016, TCU has had one one season with eight or more wins. They won’t reach eight in 2021, as the Horned Frogs will not be ranked in the final AP Top 25 poll for the fourth straight year.
The last time TCU finished out of the final AP Top 25 poll four straight years was 1996-99.
TCU is headed to its second losing season in the last three years, and Patterson found himself in the unfamiliar position of coaching for his job.
Rather than attempt to do just that, Gary Patterson’s career as the head coach at TCU is done. Although Gary is stubborn, he is smart enough to know how this was going to play out.
It was going to be ugly, because it already is.
Forget the momentum brewing on social media to remove Patterson as TCU’s coach; he was fast losing the support of the many powerful purple people who made him not only wealthy, but who revered him.
After TCU’s third straight loss, on Saturday at Kansas State, he told administrators he would resign effective immediately. His long time friend, offensive assistant Jerry Kill, will take over as the interim.
It is doubtful that even Patterson’s most influential and loyal supporter, the late oilman Dick Lowe, could prevent this conclusion.
Patterson could no longer sell is “We played a lot of close games,” “Injuries” and “We’re the youngest team in the history of college football.”
Before he decided it was time to step down, Patterson’s spoken goal had been to gain bowl eligibility. The unspoken aspiration within the athletic department had been to avoid embarrassment.
TCU has lost five of its last six games, the last three by double digits.
TCU has one game remaining where it will be favored: the home finale against Kansas on Nov. 20. That’s the week of Thanksgiving, and there may be approximately 10,000 people in the stands for the battle of 9th versus 10th in the Big 12 standings.
All of the talk about TCU football focused on Gary’s status.
Whereas previously job speculation could have a negative effect on high school recruiting, now the fear is TCU’s best players will take advantage of the NCAA’s transfer portal and leave.
It’s a valid concern for countless teams in this era.
From a view of 35,000 feet, it is absurd that a coach this successful who had a winning record last season, and would have played in a bowl had it not been for the mess that was the COVID year, was hearing it from the “Get out now!” police.
On sea level, the challenges that come with this effective coach for more than a decade are now a problem. Because they are not winning.
The TCU football program is about one person, which is great when you win. When you don’t, it’s about one person.
He built it this way.
There is no defensive coordinator to blame.
The offensive coaches are hired by one person, whom he defers to handle the offense.
According to people who have worked with Patterson, they all say he lets his offensive coaches handle the offense. Every so often he may give an idea or two, but the offensive coaches coach the the offense.
Although Patterson hired Kill to help run the offense along with bringing back coordinator Doug Meacham, the results are bad.
There is one voice with TCU football; he seldom permits his coaches to speak publicly. Access to players is minimal.
Until Sonny Cumbie was named the interim head coach at Texas Tech last week, the only Patterson assistant who was named a head coach of a big program was Justin Fuente, who was hired by Memphis in 2011 and had a good four-year run that led to his hiring at Virginia Tech.
Again, not a problem when you win.
There is no problem between TCU’s athletic department and the school’s upper administration; the suit and tie bunch has spent every possible dollar, and given athletics whatever it needs, to build a successful team.
TCU has always been realistic about where it resides in power football, and no one associated with the school expects to win 11 or 12 games every year. They fully expect a down year or two.
Eight or nine wins, with the occasional run at 11 or 12, are realistic, challenging, and attainable.
For the fourth straight year TCU is not close to that goal, which is why Gary Patterson made the decision to quit rather than fight it out to a conclusion that was inevitable.