The tweet was sent almost a month ago, on July 29th. TCU Football’s account sent a graphic into the ether featuring a profile photo of Gary Patterson in his iconic visor, and a quote.
“Greatness never happened ever without failure.”
Patterson would know. In 2001, his first season as TCU’s head coach, the Frogs went 6-6. The following season, Patterson used the failures of the 2001 season to motivate his players. TCU would go 11-1 and win their first bowl with Patterson as coach -- a Liberty Bowl victory over Colorado State.
He did the same thing again in 2005. Following a 2004 season that saw the Frogs go 5-6 and miss a bowl game for the first time since 1997, Patterson coached the Frogs to an 11-1 record and a Houston Bowl victory over Iowa State.
Patterson had to do the same thing in 2014. Following a 4-8 season where hardly anything went right, he made a philosophical change that led to two big hires: Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie. The Frogs would go on to a 12-1 record and a merciless beatdown of Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl. A year later, they’d cap an 11 win season with the greatest comeback in bowl history over Oregon.
And yet, failure always seems to creep back into the picture again. All throughout the sports world, great programs have encountered failure.
USC hasn’t won the Pac-12 since 2008. UCLA basketball had a losing season in 2015-16, in the midst of three trips to the Sweet Sixteen. Miami baseball missed the college baseball playoffs this year for the first time in 44 years.
And in 2016, for the third time in the Patterson era, TCU football finished below .500.
Ten of Patterson’s sixteen seasons have finished with double-digit wins. He’s the greatest coach in TCU football history. He has a statue featuring his visor and his glare standing watch over Amon G. Carter.
There is no denying Gary Patterson’s greatness. There is also no denying that he has experienced failure.
One thing is explicitly clear - Patterson refuses to let failure linger. It doesn’t get to sit and fester and spread. He simply does not allow it to hang around. Instead he takes that failure, and he places it squarely on his shoulder, and the shoulders of his players and staff, where it forms a chip. The ultimate motivator, Patterson turns failure into fuel for greatness.
And if you’ve heard him speaking over the last few weeks, it sounds like greatness could be right around the corner. He’s had that look over the past few weeks like he knows something no one else knows, and that gets me more pumped up than anything.
The 2017 season is here. The master motivator is back.
Eyes up, keep climbing.