Would TCU be where it is today if it had been a part of the Big 12 from the the conference’s inception? It’s a pretty fair question to ask, and coach Gary Patterson seems to think the Horned Frogs might be better off. The trade off of course would be that it would be unlikely for TCU to have won five conference titles since 1997 when the Big 12 formed, yet the stability of being in a single conference would be attractive as opposed to being affiliated with four different conferences in the past 14 years.
TCU went undefeated at 13-0 last year to wind up No. 2 in the polls after beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Next year, the Horned Frogs move to the Big East, but for now they have one more season in the Mountain West, which begins Friday night on the road against in-state rival and Big 12 member Baylor.
Gary Patterson joined ESPN Dallas with Galloway and Company to discuss being rated the top coach in college football, a Baylor player guaranteeing a victory over TCU in Friday night’s season opener, how he thinks his young team will play in the opener, what he expects from first-year starting quarterback Casey Pachall, his reaction to what’s going on in college football across the state of Texas, if TCU is better off because it didn’t get to join the Big 12 and how his team can put up an encore after last year.
On the Sports Illustrated ranking that listed him as the top coach in college football:
“I was very honored that my peers thought that. Those are the guys that count. Every day you watch them work. They know things behind the scenes. It was just really good to know that somebody was paying attention. That means I’ve got a great staff and great players. That’s how you get those awards, you’ve got to win.”
Did you see the quote from the Baylor player this week basically guaranteeing a victory?:
“We did. The interesting thing I thought was Baylor said all week was the mistake they made last year was they were overconfident. So I’m just interested in what’s changed. I know there’s Baylor fans listening, but I’m just being honest. We understand we have a younger football team and I understand how first games go. We’ve got a lot of players that played in the Rose Bowl. TCU’s going to show up.”
How have your young guys responded in getting ready for tonight’s game?:
“Back when Andy Dalton was a redshirt freshman, we were really young then, too. That class kept progressively getting older and more mature and more ready to play in big games. I see a lot of similarities. The only difference is Casey Pachall isn’t a redshirt freshman; he’s been here three years. … We’re going to see how this team grows up.”
What do you expect from Pachall, taking over for Andy Dalton in this environment?:
“I don’t know. I tell people all the time, I don’t judge quarterbacks until I get done on Saturday. It’ll be interesting. I don’t think he’s going to be as nervous as what Andy was as a redshirt freshman. That year … we beat Baylor 27-0. And I don’t expect the score to be like that either. … It’s going to be one of those unbelievable first ballgames.”
What are the similarities and differences between Dalton and Pachall?:
“He has a stronger arm, runs probably just as good or better and has been in the system longer. … We’ll see what happens with Casey Pachall as he goes and we’ll all know the story when we get to the end of Friday night.”
What’s your reaction to the changes in the college football landscape in the state of Texas?:
“I really haven’t had a chance to think about it a whole lot, but I really think you’ve got to be careful what you wish for sometimes. I’ll just sit back and watch. Everyone else seems to have an opinion about it. I just need to have an opinion about whether we win or lose. … I would hate to see that whole thing with Texas Tech and Baylor be torn apart.”
Has the Big 12 called you about possibly coming in?:
“No. Even if they did, I wouldn’t have the time to return the call anyway.”
Is the school and the program better off that it didn’t get into the Big 12 when it formed?:
“I think it allowed TCU to grow up. … Next year, when we go to the Big East, it’ll be our fifth conference in the 14 years I’ve been here. We’ve definitely moved around and I tell people it’s not one of the easiest things to do. … But, up to this point, we’ve made really good decisions and every time we’ve changed conferences it’s been for the best. … We tried to make sure we didn’t move too fast, we did the things we needed to do, we put things in place as a foundation to help ourselves. Hopefully we’ll keep making those kind of decisions as we go forward.”
How do you follow up a season in which you won the Rose Bowl?:
“We want to get back to those games. Getting back to those games is a high pyramid. … Obviously play for a national championship at some point in time. But I think the biggest thing about our program is to develop consistency, that you don’t ever drop below .500 in a season and hopefully never get below 8-4. … That’s how you judge people. If you look at all the great, storied programs in the country … groups that have done it year after year after year.”