Thanksgiving football was supposed to be all about the Texas Longhorns, but TCU went into Austin and spoiled the holiday. Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs built a 14-3 in the first half, chipping away at a Longhorn rush defense that has struggled much of 2012 and stifling the Texas offense on the opposite end.
The Texas defense rallied, but the offense could never quite solve the Horned Frog defense. The 13 points Texas scored was nearly 27 fewer than its average coming into Thursday.
So impressed were some with the Patterson-led team’s effort, the suggestion of Patterson replacing Mack Brown at UT was floated via Burnt Orange Nation.
Patterson’s name is high on the list of many fan bases seeking new head coaches. Arkansas has had the most buzz, and I detailed why going there from TCU is no step up. Texas is a new and intriguing name in the sweepstakes, but also assumes there’s a contest to win.
Beyond the likelihood of Brown being dismissed in an 8-3 season, one must consider if leaving TCU for Texas at this juncture is a move worth making. There’s no doubt Texas is a more prominent coaching position. Few jobs in the game match the prestige and the history. However, it’s a ready-made history, built by Dana X. Bible, Darrell K. Royal and Mack Brown. TCU is embarking on uncharted territory with Patterson at the helm.
Coaches leave lower level programs when there’s little left for them to accomplish there. The perception that TCU is lower level is antiquated — this is a program in the Big 12 now, after all — but more to the point, there’s so much more for Patterson to accomplish there.
Thursday night was a landmark moment for TCU football, marking the program’s second win over Texas
ever edit: second win since 1992, third since 1967. TCU and Texas were both Southwest Conference members from 1923 to 1996, so that’s not an insignificant record. And it could mark the beginning of a new era, one not as dominant as Texas had over the Horned Frogs for those SWC years surely; but one in which TCU declares itself as important a part of Lone Star State college football as the Longhorns.
When discussing Patterson as an Arkansas possibility, I mentioned TCU’s location in the heart of Texas recruiting country and the importance the Big 12 brand name carries when pitching to prospects. Patterson nearly won a national championship in 2010 with a roster built from lower level recruits, and at the disadvantage of playing in the non-automatic qualifying Mountain West. The sky is the limit carrying that Big 12 distinction.
Of teams that have switched conferences in recent years, TCU is ahead of the curve. Utah is out of the bowl picture in the Pac-12; West Virginia is struggling as the other new addition to the Big 12 with TCU, much like Missouri in the SEC. The Horned Frogs are setting a solid foundation this season to be a contender in this conference in short order. And the program even having that opportunity is owed all to Patterson’s tenure.
That there is so much interest from other university’s fan bases is a testament to Patterson’s success. I also believe we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg.