TCU Football began spring practice this weekend, and coach Gary Patterson spoke with reporters Sunday afternoon for the first time since being named in a lawsuit by former Frog Kolby Listenbee alleging that he was “continually harassed, humiliated, pressured and threatened” after an injury against SMU in 2015 kept him off the field. There has been plenty of controversy surrounding the veracity and motives of the lawsuit, but very little in the way of defense from the people and organizations named within it.
TCU has been mum on the issue since it came to light in January, choosing to allow their legal team to do the talking. Coach Patterson himself has been silenced as well, even missing the Frogs’ February Signing Day Ceremony (due to a root canal) where he would normally would have given a statement and taken questions.
But on Sunday, he spoke with David Ubben of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, as well as other reporters (including former TCU beat man Carlos Mendez), and while he was clear that it wasn’t the time to go into details, he did have a few things to say, as relayed by Ubben on Twitter.
Patterson made it clear that he puts player safety first, saying that “this program has never prioritized winning over player safety”. He also mentioned being hurt by the accusations, as it goes against his mantra and history of investing in players over his career, especially his tenure in Fort Worth. Patterson has a long track record of turning 2* prospects into 5* talents, taking unheralded recruits and developing them into stars. Additionally, he has taken hard stands with star players, removing some from the team for their off the field behavior (see Devonte Fields) or sending his starting QB to rehab in the name of getting him real help. According to Carlos Mendez, Patterson continued, “I guess I was a little bit hurt. Because 36 years, I’m one of these coaches, I put everything in my life into kids.”
As we have seen on social media, several former Frogs who played under Patterson have spoken out, and apparently, they also reached out directly to their head coach. But Patterson counseled them to “lay in the weeds” and wait for the right time. Patterson also spoke on how the lawsuit and media attention has affected recruiting - or not affected it, it seems - mentioning the five commitments in the class of 2019 (tied for highest number in the conference) and the 14 on-campus visitors he had this weekend. Patterson went on to say “Kids know us. High school coaches know us, too. We’re talking 36 years and 21 here,” before telling Ubben that he had gotten zero questions from parents of players or recruits about the lawsuit.
Mendez asked him about being called a bully in the lawsuit, GP made it clear that he isn’t here to make friends or enemies. “My job, we’ve always said, is to take young people places where they can’t take themselves.”
I am sure we are going to hear much more from TCU in the coming weeks, but for now:
Patterson: "I'm excited to tell our side. It's just not going to be today."— David Ubben (@davidubben) March 4, 2018