In sports, you’re always celebrating at the expense of someone else. That’s fine when the cost is burdened by your most bitter rival, but it feels a little icky when it’s also firmly on the shoulders of the man who first gave the program room to dream.
TCU Football entered Saturday’s game against #12 Baylor with few expectations: Jeremiah Donati had parted ways with Gary Patterson last Sunday, we learned later in the week that the Frogs would be without their starting quarterback, their starting running back, and the third string running back — and they lost their backup running back early in the first quarter. Sure, bad TCU teams had risen up and beaten good Baylor teams before — and sure, the Bears haven’t beaten the Frogs by more than six points since GP arrived in Fort Worth — but the odds were just too stacked against the boys in purple (and red) and coming off of the last two weeks, you’ll forgive us for expecting a bludgeoning.
When the Bears marched right down the field on their first possession of the ballgame, it sure felt like things were going to go exactly as we expected, but Chandler Morris was not here for going away quietly in his first career start. And behind him, and a coaching staff that clearly wasn’t worried about the future beyond this season, the Horned Frogs turned in their best defensive game of the season and one of their better offensive efforts to boot.
Everything was against TCU Saturday: the injuries, the officials (13 penalties called against the Frogs for 111 yards), and the drama. But behind Jerry Kill, Dan Sharp, and a veteran coaching staff... they just got it done.
I won’t pretend to know the technical aspects of what changed Saturday; I can’t really tell you if the scheme was different or simplified or just better executed on either side of the ball. I can tell you that I saw a lot more snaps out of players we have all been wanting to see more of (like Shad Banks), what a difference a healthy Kee’yon Stewart makes, and an offensive game plan that didn’t feel like it was constantly looking over its shoulder to make sure they weren’t upsetting anyone. Chandler Morris was unbelievable, but as the “Max wasn’t the problem” crowd fights with the “recency bias” crowd, all we really know is that Doug Meacham looked to be in control and free to do what his players do best, including using th middle of the field.
Early in the game, the keyboard warriors were attacking, defending Gary Patterson as it looked like Jeremiah Donati had made a terrible decision and TCU was just as bad today as they had been for the last three plus seasons. By the end, we were elated, ecstatic, and emotional... was it okay to celebrate the win if it had come at the expense of the man who made TCU Football matter? Did the Frogs win FOR Gary Patterson or because he was no longer there?
There was a heavy sentiment of “this one was for GP” across social media, from players, fans, coaches, and even the AD that let him go. I am sure there is true authenticity meant there, but that energy needed to be there about three weeks ago to feel true, didn’t it?
As has been stated many times over the past week, the reason that TCU made a change at head coach was because the head coach set a standard that he was no longer reaching. We will likely see GP hitching his pants and tying his shoes for someone else next season, and that’s going to be a strange sight indeed. And while we can question the how, the when, and the why, at the end of the day, TCU Football is moving on and so is the only head coach many of us have ever known.
We can both appreciate the past and be excited for the future.
And in the present? There’s still a mission at hand. TCU has three games left to win two and get to a bowl game — potentially giving the new regime a shot to spent a few extra practices re-recruiting the current players.
Let’s go shock the college football world, again, this weekend, shall we?