CoachingSearch.com writer Pete Roussel reported on Friday that Arkansas was interested in TCU head coach Gary Patterson, per unnamed sources. Said sources involvement with the Arkansas athletic program, or any mutual interest from Patterson aside this is a worthy topic of conversation given the Razorback is one of potentially numerous to come open in the upcoming coaching carousel season.
Assuredly, Patterson’s name will be mentioned as it has in previous years. And just like other years, don’t bet on Patterson being wooed away from TCU. Now more than ever, he has no reason to leave behind the program he built into a legitimate national contender.
Arkansas is not an upgrade for Gary Patterson. Don’t take that as a slight on the Razorback football program — the same could be said for virtually any other job the TCU coach might be offered, save the absolute top tier of college football like Alabama. Consider that a commendation of all Patterson has accomplished at TCU.
Previously, unsubstantiated speculation about Patterson always stemmed from a BCS conference program’s allure of a shot at the national championship. Patterson need not leave TCU to chase that possibility anymore. His program was rewarded for its accomplishments as a member of the Mountain West — which included a run to No. 2 in the final standings — with invitations to two BCS conferences. Now a member of the Big 12, TCU plays in a premiere conference.
Part of the allure of an SEC program is the SEC itself. Few can match the rich history or the present success of the conference, but any league that can is the Big 12. TCU faces Kansas State on Saturday, a team in position to play for the BCS championship as Big 12 members in three of the last seven seasons have done. K-State’s success is due in large part to the play of Collin Klein, the Heisman Trophy front runner. Should Klein win the award, it will mark the second consecutive Heisman win for the Big 12, and the third in the last five years. It would also mean consecutive seasons in which TCU has faced the Heisman Trophy winner.
Patterson can offer recruits to TCU the opportunity to play for national championships as Texas and Oklahoma have. Patterson can pitch Heisman Trophy candidacies to Frog targets, like those of winners Sam Bradford and Robert Griffin III, and finalists Vince Young, Colt McCoy, Ndamukong Suh and Collin Klein. And Patterson can do so from the heart of a recruiting hotbed.
TCU’s rise to national relevance was fast, but much more understandable than Boise State’s. Surrounding Fort Worth in every direction is a high school program that regularly churns out elite, Division I-level talent. Arkansas high school football is good; Texas high school football is great. Coaching the former, Patterson would need to venture onto someone else’s territory to build his recruiting bases, whether Texas to the west or Alabama, Florida and Georgia to the east.
Moreover, Patterson established his program on a foundation of prospects missed by the major players in Texas recruiting. Big 12 membership makes TCU a major player. An added perk of becoming a major player is major facility upgrades, which TCU is getting as part of its initiation to the new conference. Amon G. Carter Stadium is undergoing a facelift expected to transform the venue into a top flight facility. It’s a tangible investment in what Patterson has built, and show of commitment from the university athletic department and boosters to the coach.
Roussel mentions other potential Arkansas targets: Sonny Dykes, Willie Taggart and even David Shaw have more to gain pursuing the Arkansas vacancy. Tommy Tuberville even makes sense, given his SEC lineage. But Patterson has an ideal situation at TCU, and while he would be an upgrade for almost any program, an equally scant few programs would be an upgrade for him.