You really think GP would go to THERE?
Think back to November 7th, 2008. Need a refresher? Ross Evans Pressure Kicks. Ring a bell? November 7th marked the day after TCU lost that Thursday night absolute soul crusher to Utah after a couple of missed kicks and the only defensive series breakdown of the game. #12 TCU 10, #8 Utah 13. One team would go on to crush Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, the other to play Boise State in the Poinsettia which turned out to be a fantastic game, but OH what could have been... With a win, TCU likely would've been the first one-loss non-AQ school to reach a BCS bowl and start our run a year early. We were down that morning. We were way down. Seriously, peruse this. Geez, I'm surprised I survived the day! I was so down I was making excuses for Ross Evans, for goodness sake! To be young again...
But as miserable as sitting at my desk, moping about the loss was, shit was about to get MUCH worse.
Ever since Kansas State had run mercifully run Ron Prince out of town, the rumors of Gary Patterson returning to Coach at his alma mater began circulating. You couldn't really fault anyone for this - the "returning home" angle is ALWAYS, ALWAYS overplayed in Coaching searches, no matter the reality (Jamie Dixon, anyone?), GP was, as he is now, one of the top coaching minds in the country that anyone would be a fool not to covet, and KSU was a major conference gig at a time when TCU had no hope of moving up a weight class. Also recall that back then TCU had yet to break the BCS ceiling, having been left out in 2005 before the rules changed, and not being guaranteed a shot even had they won that night in Utah based on the loss to top ranked Oklahoma earlier that season. GP was still well paid, FW loved him and he loved FW, but without the Big 12, a new stadjium and a salary competitive with those at the top of his profession, his status as head man was a lot more tenuous than many of us would've cared to admit.
But still... would he REALLY leave? Well, according to Kansas State Rivals writer Tim Fitzgerald he would, and as of November 7th, he already had.
I can still remember the home page with a picture of GP and the words, "IT'S PATTERSON" blazoned across the headline. That was the page that made me truly wonder if I should give up the internet forever, if that's how it was going to repay me for all of my time spent. Put yourself in those shoes from 3.5 years ago. TCU had just suffered possibly the most gut wrenching loss of the GP era. The chance at a BCS bid, gone. Conference title, gone. We were doomed to play Armpit U in a pre-Xmas bowl game. Players were openly WEEPING in the locker room afterwards. And, in the midst of that, GP was simply going to walk away for another job, mid-season? I remember the shock of it all, but mostly I remember the absolute anger. Anger that GP, a man we had all come to universally revere, would walk away in the middle of the most emotional moment most of his players had ever experienced on the football field in their entire lives. Anger that GP had clearly deemed our program had hit a ceiling, that this wasn't a just a bump in the road, which gave way to the fear that maybe he was right. Anger that GP, the guy who helped bring the program back from the dead, would come so close and then piss on all of his accomplishments. I haven't gone back through all of the Spitblood postings from that day, and a lot of the comments have been retroactively deleted, but let's just say from what I read that we may have reacted a little poorly. Could you really blame us?
But then, a funny thing happened. Reports started leaking out that GP was circling the wagons, telling his assistants that he wasn't leaving and to call all of our recruits to reassure them he was sticking around. (As a refresher, the ensuing class would include Josh Boyce, Tanner Brock, Kenny Cain, Waymon James, Stansly Maponga, Matthew Tucker and a little known guy by the name of Casey Fucking Pachall. You could say our present fortunes might look a little different had that class fallen apart.) Shortly thereafter, the Powercats report magically disappeared into the mystical internet crevasse of retracted information, the same one we should've banished most of Edk's gripping commentary to long before he moved on. And then, the kicker - GP made a particularly frisky appearance on the Galloway show that afternoon refuting the rumors and saying he has no respect for schools that enable false allegations and/or fire their coaches mid-season. There was still a lot of tension in the fanbase and we weren't completely out of the woods, but after a few weeks with GP still on campus, it was clear our worst fears were not going to be realized and GP was still ours. With 2 BCS appearances in the three seasons following, I'd say karma repaid the man for his loyalty.
So what the hell happened, exactly? What made Tim Fitzgerald think it prudent to go public with his story? Clearly it was the curse of the internet hard at work, the same thing that fuels folks handing over their $10 a month to Rivals in the first place, which is our endless thirst for information that bends to our worldview, especially rumors. Seriously, go check out any of our message boards sometime, especially in the realm of recruiting. Leading up to signing day, for every 10 commenters that said Johnathan Gray was going to honor his commitment and be on campus at UT in the fall, you'd find at least one that said their HIGHLY CONNECTED SOURCES told them that he was DEFINITELY going to SHOCK THE WORLD and decommit for TCU at the last minute. And, despite the idiocy of those statements that likely resulted in at least a few us telling the people how they were morons, didn't a little part of us WANT to believe it? Didn't we want this to be the one instance where EdK's golf course sources were spot on? OF COURSE WE DID! Otherwise we'd never read them in the first place. Seriously, why do you think Snix runs KF like a fiefdom from the Dark Ages? Because hundreds of people read that shit each and every day and the one in a million chance that someone on that board breaks open a major story is why he started it in the first place. It's bound to go to your head and make you feel important, just like it makes some of our commenters feel important when they correct my grammar. Sorry, Vampire Weekend, apparently they DO give a fuck about an oxford comma. /pitchfork'd.
But message board fodder and published stories are two COMPLETELY different avenues, and unfortunately Fitzgerald was unable to make the distinction. We'll never know what truly happened and if Patterson ever spoke with any K State officials, but I'm guessing someone Timmy thought he could trust said as much to him or on his message board and he was foolish enough to run with it before getting verification from a school official. Guys like Fitzgerald are the reason why bloggers are lumped into the FAIL category by "legitimate" journalists, and they have a point. Fitzgerald owned and operated GoPowercats.com at the time - and still might - so he really didn't have anything more than a moral obligation to tell the truth. If he wants to take a message board rumor and turn it into a story, he's allowed to do that because, even though Rivals technically owns him, they aren't going to fire him. He can just say his source was wrong, yank the story, and wash his hands of it. And that's kinda bullshit. Not because he was wrong; after all, Spitblood has been been wrong a time or two on a story, but the difference is we aren't paid by Rivals, we don't charge you for our information, and none of us consider ourselves to be journalists. Like it or no, when a story - not a message board post, a story - is posted on Rivals, Scout, etc, it is presumed to be moderately researched and truthful. Of all people the moderator of the site should be held to account when he publishes a bullshit story, especially one he KNOWS to be bullshit.
Think of the shitstorm this could have caused. If you're a recruit and this story gets out, no matter the fact that Patterson stuck around, doesn't that put a LITTLE bit of doubt in your mind? Isn't it logical to think that where there's smoke, there's fire? The fact that Patterson floated it out there that he had it in his mind to sue Rivals over the report should tell you something. Patterson was able to run down all of his recruits and keep them on board, but that shouldn't matter - what matters is that he even had to do that in the first place! Think about how much it would suck to have to call a recruit to speak to them about a real issue that could sway their commitment, now make it ten times more frustrating and that's the situation GP was in, having to reaffirm commits based on a story that wasn't even true. That's complete bullshit, right?
In hindsight, the situation had a major silver lining: Patterson probably wasn't taking the job, but just in case he had any interest, Fitzgerald's false report pretty much put that to rest. So, for that, thank you, Tim. Other than that? You can go to hell for the stress and anger you injected into an entire team, school and fanbase on one of the lowest days of their lives as Horned Frogs. You are the reason November 7th will always be remember as one of the worst as a TCU fan and why, no matter how many times we beat KSU on the field, the thought of your school will always leave a sour taste in our mouths. Your thoughtlessness could've ruined TCU Football for an entire generation of students. You are awarded no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.
Seriously, Tim. What a dick!