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UPDATED: TCU Football HC Gary Patterson has stepped away from the program

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TCU’s long-tenured football coach told players in a meeting Sunday that he is “stepping away”, effective immediately. Jerry Kill will serve as the interim coach for the remainder of the 2021 season.

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

STATEMENT FROM ATHLETICS DIRECTOR JEREMIAH DONATI:

“The story of Gary Patterson and the rise in the fortunes of the TCU football program over the last 20 years is clearly one of the most remarkable in the history of college football. We are grateful to Gary and Kelsey Patterson and appreciate everything they have meant to TCU and the Fort Worth community. Under his leadership, TCU has become a nationally recognized brand name in football and in collegiate athletics. Chancellor (Victor) Boschini and I met with Coach Patterson today and mutually agreed that the time has come for a new voice and leadership in our football program. We asked him to continue on as our head coach for the remainder of the season, and take on a different role in 2022, but he believed it was in the team’s and TCU’s best interests to begin the transition immediately. We respect Coach Patterson’s perspective and will move forward in that direction. I’ve asked Jerry Kill to serve as interim head coach, and he has accepted the role for the remainder of the season. Coach Patterson will assist TCU in the transition to take place.”


It’s truly the end of the era.

There are a thousand platitudes that can be utilized alongside the two decades long Gary Patterson era: greatest ever, program builder, the cornerstone of TCU Athletics, winner. None are overstating his impact on TCU, TCU Football and Fort Worth as a whole.

Patterson came to TCU in 1998 as the defensive coordinator for Dennis Franchione, who was hired to turn around a program that had been mired in the abyss before the dissolution of the Southwest Conference. When Fran bolted for Bama late in the year 2000, Patterson was named Head Coach, a role he has held to this day.

The winningest coach in program history — a record he set at 110 back in 2012 and has stretched to 181 since — Patterson’s name is synonymous with TCU Football, and the thought of a Horned Frogs’ game without him prowling the sidelines is almost unfathomable for a generation of Frog fans. Inheriting a program that went from 1957-1997 without a bowl win, Patterson went on to miss just three opportunities to play in the postseason from 2001-2020, winning 11 in the process, and earning BCS berths three times: the 2009 Fiesta Bowl, the 2010 Rose Bowl, and the 2014 Peach Bowl. The Rose Bowl is widely considered the turning point for the program, as the Horned Frogs would expand their footprint into the west coast for recruiting, both on the field and in the classroom, and ultimately earned TCU an invite to the Power Five, when the Big 12 brought them in for the 2021 season.

In his time at TCU, the athletics department has done a complete overhaul of both Amon G. Carter Stadium and the practice facilities, expanding suite seating twice, remodeled the Schollmaier Arena, built a beautiful soccer facility, improved Lupton Stadium, and added several sports to the roster. Gary Patterson had a hand in each of them, in one way or another. The influx of applicants and the subsequent growth of the student body has overhauled the campus as a whole, and the picturesque grounds of the school have made it a top destination for undergrads. His fingerprints are all over TCU, and the university is better for it.

After competing — and being robbed of — a playoff spot in the inaugural College Football Playoffs in 2014 and playing for a Big 12 Championship in 2017, Patterson’s teams have gone just 21-22 since. An injury-plagued 2018, one that saw TCU down to its fourth string QB in October, was forgiven by the fanbase, but disappointing 2019 and 2020 campaigns, combined with a disastrous 2021 — a year that many saw as an expected return to prominence but has most recently included losses at home to WVU and on the road to Kansas State — brought more questions than we have seen in the entire tenure of GP’s career. Despite telling Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter Drew Davison that his job situation was “all good” and that it was a negative recruiting strategy to call his job status into question, he met with his team Sunday afternoon and announced that he was stepping down, effective immediately.

Jerry Kill will reportedly serve as interim coach for the remainder of the season, with the search for the next TCU Football coach beginning immediately, with Athletic Director Jeremiah Donati facing the biggest challenge of his career.

There will be plenty more to say in the coming days, but for now, I just want to say thank you, Coach P.