TCU football coach Gary Patterson goes on the defensive again

·6 min read

A TCU graduate who wrote a lengthy piece calling for the university to fire Gary Patterson found its way to the head football coach.

Unprompted, Patterson spent close to seven minutes ranting about it during his news conference on Tuesday. The article titled “Gary Patterson Has No Plans to Make a Change, but TCU Should” was written by Matt Jennings, who majored in journalism during his time at TCU and now lives in the Atlanta area.

After answering a question about whether TCU’s defensive struggles are related in part to communication issues between the players, Patterson meandered into his thoughts on Jennings’ article.

“What’s your reason for go fire Gary Patterson? I’ve been here before,” Patterson said. “It’s probably not going to be my last time. If you stay somewhere long enough, you’re going to have problems. You’re going to go through things on and off the field. If I could tell the real story on a lot of things, then you’d see I’d do a lot of things a lot differently from what we have — from offseason work, to strength coaches, to how many recruiting people we have, to all the things that we do.

“At the end of the day, those people out there that think I’m riding into the sunset would be wrong. You don’t spend 24 years building something to get to where we have. I read all of it, and Matt Jennings ... someday will have an opportunity to hopefully win a Pulitzer because of what he does.

“But, at the end of the day, he should probably get all of his facts right and understand how everything actually works.”

It’s newsworthy that this article drew such an animated response from Patterson. TCU higher-ups who have the power to actually make a change haven’t hinted that Patterson is even on the proverbial “hot seat” despite a few disappointing seasons.

TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati has remained quiet on this subject throughout the season, and did so again Tuesday.

Patterson is the reason TCU has the football expectations it does. It stands to reason that university brass would be willing to give Patterson some more time to get things turned around.

This is a guy who has won 181 games. This is a guy who is regarded as one of the top defensive minds of his generation. Heck, this is a guy who has a statue on campus.

Some TCU fans haven’t forgotten what it was like back in the day. The Jim Shofner era produced seasons of 1-10, 1-10 and 0-11 over a three-year stretch from 1974-76. Throughout the 1970s, 1980s and even 1990s, there were plenty of good seats available with wins tough to come by.

The more pressing question facing TCU it would seem — rather than whether it’s time to part ways with Patterson — is whether to extend his contract in the offseason. Patterson’s contract runs through the 2024 season, and it could be viewed as a recruiting disadvantage if he doesn’t have security beyond that.

If Patterson and TCU can’t reach an extension this offseason, that would likely put Patterson on the “hot seat.” But time will tell on that front given the uncertainty the university faces amid realignment.

It’s unknown what sort of revenue hit the athletic department may take in the reconfigured Big 12. That, coupled with Patterson being one of the top-10 highest paid coaches in the country with an annual salary surpassing $6 million, makes any extension for Patterson a significant financial commitment from the university.

In his rant, Patterson noted that he is all-in when it comes to TCU. He and his staff members willingly reduced their salaries early on during the COVID-19 pandemic. Patterson then described himself as a “good CEO.”

“I’ve asked the university for three years to cut my salary so I could put it back in and invest it, which is what all CEOs do,” he said. “You cut your salary, you invest it. You hire people, you make things better, you go about your business.”

As far as Patterson is concerned, he’s OK if fans such as Jennings express an interest in going in a new direction. But the beef Patterson has is folks treating it as being solely football-related. Patterson pointed to how a few longtime coaches ended their tenures such as Joe Paterno at Penn State and Bill Snyder at Kansas State.

“Basically what happens to people, I saw this happen to Coach Paterno, I saw it happened to Coach Snyder, they were a little bit older, is that pretty soon it’s not about wins and losses,” he said. “They just want to hear somebody else say it. If that’s the case, then just say that.”

Patterson also had an issue with Jennings’ assertion that the offense has grown “conservative” under Jerry Kill.

Patterson pointed to the last two games played by TCU in which it rushed for almost 400 yards against Texas Tech and then threw for almost 350 yards against Oklahoma the following week.

“How much more ingenuity do you need as an offensive staff to go score points and move the football?” Patterson said. “The offense is going well and doing the things that they need to do, and they showed it on both ends of the spectrum. We’re not a conservative offense.”

The defense, meanwhile, has been reeling of late. Patterson is the first to admit that. The Frogs rank ninth in total defense in the 10-team Big 12 and are in the midst of having their worst run defense in decades.

Patterson reiterated the injury issues facing the defensive side. Among the notable contributors sidelined at different parts in the first half of the season included defensive end Khari Coleman, defensive tackle Corey Bethley, cornerback Noah Daniels and safeties Deshawn McCuin and Bud Clark. Cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is the latest impact player to join the injury report.

“As a guy said here last night, in business you can fire someone and hire someone. In college football, when you lose somebody and they can’t play, you can’t go get a free agent,” Patterson said. “So you play who you play and you go about your business. And to be honest with you, these kids are playing hard on defense. We’ve got to start playing smarter. We’ve got to make some plays.”

Patterson went on to say: “Everybody can be mad. I’m not upset with anybody to be honest with you. Nobody should be happy that we’ve lost three ballgames if you’re invested. The bottom line to it is if you have everyone at your disposal, play and do the things you need to do, I get it. If you don’t, this is how you go about it.”

Patterson concluded his lecture by saying the most important thing on his mind was West Virginia. TCU and WVU square off on Saturday night in Fort Worth.

“The most important thing is my boys from West Virginia,” he said. “For us, we have to make sure that we get ourselves ready to play with the people that we have.”

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