I am a California girl. Born and raised on the Best Coast. I’ve spent more than half my life in the Golden State, but Texas is about to take over that coveted stat.
California does a lot of things well... weather, produce, scenery, wine... you get the gist. But there is one thing they’ve really never quite figured out, and it’s college football.
They really have no clue.
Despite having four Power Five programs in the state (USC, UCLA, Stanford, and Cal), few Californians seem to know much about what much of the rest of the country treats like religion. The Golden State has always been a pro sports town, and it probably always will be. But that doesn’t stop journalists in the state from firing off some pretty interesting college football takes, and that’s what we are here to discuss.
This one comes from J. Brady McCollough of the Los Angeles Times, a man with a Harvard pedigree and plenty of time on the college beat - including covering Kansas Basketball, USC Football, and starting a college football website at 13. You would think he would know what he was talking about.
And then you read this:
For instance, Texas Christian would never “fire” Gary Patterson, the man who has built that program from the ground up over the last two decades and pushed the Horned Frogs to the verge of the College Football Playoff in 2014. But after going 7-6 in 2016 and 6-7 in 2018, if TCU doesn’t show marked offensive improvement and clear signs of competing with Texas and Oklahoma, there could at least be discussion of an amicable parting of ways.
First off, Texas Christian prefers to go by the moniker TCU when it comes to their athletic teams, but I will let that one slide.
Second of all, he did get it right that TCU would never “fire” Gary Patterson. But I am of the belief that they would never fire him either. McCollough alleges that GP might get pushed towards the door or retirement or something of that ilk if the Frogs were to disappoint in 2019, standing on the soap box of two subpar seasons (though he’s got the years mixed up). He does so with no mention of how many super star seniors graduated in 2016 (the Horned Frogs were 86th in over all returning production that year and a stunning 103rd on the offensive side of the ball) or how many injuries the program suffered in 2018 (40+ players missed at least four games and 24 were lost to season-ending injuries over the course of the season, leading TCU to rely on a fourth string quarterback for the final three games). He also gives no credence whatsoever to the fact that a lot of programs would have shut it down mentally and emotionally under the weight of what those teams endured - yet both made bowl games - or that not many programs win a bowl with a fifth year senior who hadn’t even attempted a pass a month prior.
But sure, do your thing, J. Brady.
Oh, and let’s not forget that in that five year period that he mentions, the one with one 6-7 season, one 7-6 season, and three with double digits wins (47-19 overall) - the same Texas team that GP is supposed to be “keeping up with” went 33-32 with exactly one double-digit campaign...
... LAST SEASON.
But yeah, Gary Patterson better find a way to “keep up” with the Longhorns, or else.
You see, that’s what a lot of people outside of Texas don’t understand - Gary Patterson has led TCU through the desert more than once, and found the promised land on the other side on multiple occasions. And not only has he brought this program back from the depths, he stuck around to build it. He invested. He stayed. As he said prior to fall camp this season, he - and Kelsey - have made it their home. “Every school except Texas has had five or six head coaches since I got here 22 years ago. So if you’re a guy that’s being recruited, I can say that I am probably going to be here when you graduate. We’ve been here, we’ve proven we are going to be here, that’s our biggest strength. We made this place our home.”
Gary Patterson likes to relate coaching to parenting a lot, so I am going to borrow one of his analogies to explain why his seat is not - and will not be - hot. You don’t kick your kid out of the house because they screw up once or even twice. Maybe not even ten times. You don’t tell them they have to go because of a couple bad report cards. If you’ve built the foundation and know that they are a good kid that had a bad day, you give them the benefit of the doubt. Gary Patterson hasn’t even brought home a lot of C seasons - the Horned Frogs have only not made it two a bowl game twice since 2000, they’ve only finished under-.500 three times, they’ve won at least ten games 12 times.
There isn’t another program in the state that can say that. TCU doesn’t have to keep up with anyone.
And if you want to argue that the offense has to change or else - well, he’s already shown on more than one occasion that he’s willing to adapt and change to find a way to win.
Patterson wants to win more than anyone associated with TCU Football. And he wants to win here. There will be no “amicable parting of the ways” between Jeremiah Donati and Gary Patterson, there will be a “when do you want to retire and how long after do we have to wait to name the field after you” conversation. Patterson will write the final chapter to his story at TCU, not just because he’s won, he’s won a lot, and he’s won big - but because he’s done it the right way. He’s held his player accountable, even when it could hurt his team, and he’s put the university ahead of personal gain every step of the way. Gary Patterson built something that has a chance to be great when he leaves, because he built a foundation that will last.
Oh, and the man has a damn statue. You don’t “fire” guys with statues.