Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Keep GP Normal.


Told you I'd be back.

While this doesn't necessarily signify a regular return to posting for SWW, in the wake of the Frogs straight up ass beating of the University of Texas, I felt there were some things that needed to be addressed. First off, in terms of the "most satisfying" wins of the GP Era, this has to be #1 with a bullet, right?  Now, don't take that to mean that I believe this is the "biggest" win because, until GP is hoisting that little Waterford football over his enormous brain, the Rose Bowl is going to be Exhibit A in that department.  But that victory, no matter how great it felt and how many tears it brought to the eyes of our fanbase the world over, still lacks a little in the satisfaction department because we weren't able to reach the ultimate prize.  It's going to become even more of a "what if" scenario once the NCAA vacates Auburn's purchasing of said prize.

(Ok, I'll go ahead and call bullshit on myself because not being able to compete for the title was the furthest thing from my mind that chilly evening in Pasadena, but just go with me for the sake of the post...)

But beating UT?  In Austin?  In year one of the Big 12?  With a bunch of freshmen?  On Thanksgiving night the week that the Big 12 basically awarded UT a home game on Thanksgiving night from here to eternity?  Like a 15 year old scotch after a long day at the office, that's pretty damned satisfying.  Not to say that beating UT should be the stick by which all future Big 12 seasons should be measured because, based on what's going on down in College Station it sure looks like there could be a new top dog in the state of Texas, at least on paper.  But given all the shit we've had to go through since the SWC disbanded between getting left out of the Big 12 and belittled by the Fighting Deloss' and their ilk at every turn, 20-13 is a pretty swell cherry on top of what has otherwise been a roller coaster of a season.

The real story, though, is the WAY the game was won - with a power running game, which TCU hasn't had all season, and a shutdown defense, which we have.  Despite some of the UT faithful crying foul on the Frogs for "playing dirty," any unbiased observer with half a brain knew what they were seeing was just a methodical beating by a superior team.  No trick plays, no momentum shifting special teams breakthroughs, just 11 guys lining up on offense another 11 lining up on defense knocking the hell out of the team in Orange for 60 minutes.  It was TCU playing "old man SEC Football," which is pretty ironic when you consider that, post-Colt, Texas has been building their team to do EXACTLY that and come up short each time.  To put it in perspective, including Thursday, TCU averages 161 rushing yards per game; On Thursday evening, the Frogs rushed for 217.  Johnathan Gray - you might remember him? - was out-gained by Trevone Boykin, BJ Catalon AND Matthew Tucker and his one working leg.  We won't be able to judge whether or not he made the correct college decision for another few years, but at least for one evening it appears he might have sold himself short by going to Austin.

But, as Newton's Laws of Motion have taught us, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, thus it went in Austin.  There was the usual - UT fans discrediting the win and saying UT lost the game more than TCU won it - the unusual - a UT player reportedly telling Jason Verrett, he of the 6 INTs and guaranteed spot on the All Big 12 team if not All America, that he "didn't belong in the Big 12" and then, of course, there was the maddening.   Now, if you're a TCU fan and you haven't developed a thick skin by this point, then you clearly have not been paying attention to how outsiders feel about our success.  It's not just envy, it's oftentimes outright disdain, and underlying it all is the sentiment that we don't deserve it and, more directly, we don't deserve our coach.  So when lyle told me as he was walking out of the stadium he heard someone say, "Patterson is going to look GREAT in Burnt Orange next season," I know I shouldn't have let it bother me, but by god it does.  It really does, and for a couple of reasons.  For one, it's because, honestly, a job opening in Austin is the only one that scares the absolute hell out of me.  Not that GP is an automatic goner should Mack be ushered out to pasture this year or the next, but it goes without saying he'd be their top candidate and, as it is with most things, the Horns typically don't stop until they get what they want.

Which brings me to the other reason why that particular fan reaction bothered me so much: It's the arrogance of UT and their mentality that the world is theirs.  They've been getting their way for so long, they think its their right to pillage an athletic department that does things the right way - placing equal importance on wins, integrity and money -  and has been doing so for a long time in order to further their success.  As suggested above, you'd be crazy to say there's zero chance GP would look at UT should they come calling.  Again, I'm not saying he'd leave, but he'd be nuts to not at least listen to the most valuable athletic program in the nation, especially as they seemingly have a bottomless printing press for money despite doing nothing to earn it on the field in recent years.  But for UT to just assume that if they say "jump" Patterson will say, "how high?" rubs me wrong in a severe way.

But is UT's mindset - and, for that matter, the mindsets of Arkansas, Auburn, Tennessee and Kentucky - a product of arrogance or ignorance?  It's a lot of one and a little of the other, of course, but while pondering this question, I couldn't help but come back to one thought regarding why everyone just assumes Patterson is dying to get out of Fort Worth:  Due to the overwhelming amount of Conference realignment over the past year and it's continuation just this past week, I'm not so sure other athletic program realize we are in the Big 12.  I say that without a trace of sarcasm.  I genuinely believe there are self-proclaimed smart and plugged in people that, if not ignorant of our affiliation, still view TCU as a "mid major" program.  That no coach in his right mind would view TCU as a permanent career solution instead of a stepping stone to something "bigger."  And that's what makes me angry.

Taking UT out of the equation for a minute, let's focus on the here and now.  By all accounts, Auburn, Arkansas and Tennessee believe that, because they are SEC, they can have any Coach in the country.  Tennessee is 100% sold that Jon Gruden, despite no affiliation with the school, will be the head man in Knoxville come spring camp, Arkansas sites have been offering up names like Chip Kelly and Mike Gundy with Patterson as a SAFE choice, and Auburn... well, I haven't done much investigating, but after purchasing a title, I think it's safe to assume they're pretty high on themselves and would view Patterson as an easy hire.  However, the fact that Saban's shadow is getting more and more pronounced leads me to believe they'll be in the delusional, "LET'S HIRE BILL BELLICHICK!!" camp and would view Patterson as a safe hire at best.  And Kentucky, God Bless 'em, at least they have basketball because that football program is worse than Baylor. Seriously, Baylor's last coach, Guy Morriss, left Kentucky for Waco once upon a time.  That really happened.  Unless he's the clear cut #1 choice, there's no chance Patterson even entertains overtures from another school.  And if he decides to join forces with one of the two schools finishing at the bottom of the SEC West, otherwise known as the best division in college football?  Well then I guess we weren't mean to be.

Admittedly, had these particular off-season openings been in play after the Rose Bowl year, I would've been terrified considering back then we had no hope of ever gaining entry into the Big 12; Back then we were still excited to have accepted a Big East invite a few months earlier.  But we've weathered Tennessee, Auburn and Arkansas before so I expect we'll do it again.  Of course, maybe I'm wrong and GP, to quote The Austin Statesman's Cedric Golden,"has career aspirations that extend outside of Fort Worth," but to those teams who think GP is just chomping at the bit to join their clubs, here are 8 foodstuffs for thought:

  1. GP just spearheaded a campaign to renovate a stadium that will one day bear his name in some capacity, possibly whether he leaves or not.  You can give Chris Del Conte all the credit in the world, but let's be honest, without GP we'd be asking Allen High School to share the field next time we wanted to play in a state of the art stadium.  After putting so much time in effort into the biggest fundraising campaign our fair school has ever seen, would he just walk away?  
  2. GP is about to complete his first season in the Big 12 and go 7-5 at worst, this despite losing over 20 players he expected to have when the calendar turned 2012.  Said players included two starting running backs and a potential All-Conference Quarterback.  TCU has played 16 true freshmen this season and still beaten presumptive Conference favorites Texas and West Virginia, both on the road.  Presuming an off-season at least relatively quiet compared to this past one, TCU probably enters the 2013 as a Top 20 team and Big 12 favorite alongside Oklahoma State and, yes, Texas.  He's going to walk away from that to take over a team that just completed the biggest negative turnaround for a national champion in NCAA history? Or to live in Knoxville, Tennessee?  Child please.
  3. GP just built a "modest" home in the vicinity of the stadium.  This isn't a deal breaker, but you have to feel like he at least wants to put his feet up in the place a time or two before skipping town, no?
  4. GP may not have iPhone money, but he's not a poor man by any stretch (tongue firmly in cheek).  Being a private school, TCU does not publicize what they pay the face of the University, but by all accounts his total compensation package is over $3 million annually, and probably in the $3.5 million range, making him one of the top ten paid Coaches in the game.  On top of that, many presume that one of the reasons it has been so hard to money whip Patterson out of Fort Worth is his "behind the scenes" compensation in the form of investments and other opportunities through some of our plugged in boosters, compensation that would have to be made up should he take another gig.  Presuming these speculations are accurate, that would keep all but the most highly funded athletic departments out of the running.
  5. GP is never getting fired.  Seriously, think of what he's weathered just this past year with the drug bust and the Pachall Fiasco.  Lots of stones were flung at the program during that time, but at no point was the prospect of GP losing his job raised.  Keep in mind that Jim Tressel was fired because his players were getting tatted up using nefarious payment methods.  TCU  players were selling drugs out of their homes.  I'm by no means saying GP should've been put on the chopping block for this, but the fact is that coaches have been fired for far more menial reasons.  Short of taking the Frogs decided advantage of being the only Metroplex area NCAA program not to have received the Death Penalty away, he's not going anywhere unless he says so.  Few other major programs would give their Coach that much leeway.  
  6. GP has been at TCU for over fifteen years.  Much like the the house situation, I doubt this is a deal breaker... but it kind of is, isn't it?  Since coming to town as a relative unknown Defensive Coordinator in 1997, GP has all but become the face of Fort Worth.  It used to be said that if Mack Brown ever wanted to run for Governor, he'd be a shoo-in.  I'm not so sure about that now, but if Patterson ever set his sights on running for Mayor, god help whoever challenges him.  He's become as much ingrained in the landscape of the FW Community as barbeque and cowboy boots.  In an era where football stalwarts such as Michigan, Notre Dame and USC have turned over multiple coaches in the past decade, GP has stayed true to TCU and TCU has rewarded his commitment.  You really can't put a price on that kind of reciprocity, can you?
  7. GP believes he can win a national title at TCU.  And why shouldn't he?  TCU has the money, has the facilities, has the cachet and is in a recruiting hotbed.  The Big 12 is bar none one of the top 2 Conferences on a yearly basis, thus providing enough leeway for one loss to not completely doom your season.  The only knock on the Big 12 is the lack of a Conference title game - the only of the 5 majors to not have one - but you have to imagine that this will be rectified in the near future as the Conference tectonic plates continue to shift.  On the flipside, though, had Kansas State just beaten Baylor - BAYLOR! - they're playing Texas this weekend for a guaranteed slot in the title game without having to play a Championship.  Would you rather be at TCU knowing that if you handle your 9 Conference games you're probably in, or Tennessee where you get to play Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in your division, Alabama as a cross division rival, and either aggy, LSU or Bama again in a Championship game to punch your ticket?  I'm taking the former.  
  8. GP cares too much about football to Coach at UT.  And this is where I think the decision gets made, should it need to be, because I honestly think UT is the only job that should truly give us reason for panic.  As the Head Coach at TCU, Patterson has been able to live in at least relative obscurity.  He doesn't go unnoticed, but he can pretty comfortably have his weekly dinners at Del Frisco's without getting bombarded by fans and non-fans alike.  But being the head coach at UT?  That's like being the most under the microscope Politician in existence.  At TCU, GP can be football football football and then, time permitting, do the glad handing and baby kissing, but at UT the job is 1A Football and 1B letting the athletic department stick their hand up your ass so you can be their puppet. Think about Mack Brown, the PERFECT Coach for the UT mold.  No one would ever mistake him for a brilliant tactician, which is why UT consistently gave him carte blanche to hire the top coordinators in the country to run the football side of things so he could continue to go out, woo the crowds to generate money and woo the mothers to generate top ranked recruiting classes.  Patterson is pretty much the exact opposite.  Despite having a solid defensive coordinator in Dick Bumpas, GP is ankle deep in that play calling each and every game.  This isn't a knock on Bump, but you have to ask yourself, if he's running the show, why hasn't he ever had UT-type money thrown at him from another program to come run their defense?  Again, Bumpas is a great Coach and has the accolades to back it up, but the defense is the GP show, no matter who else is on board.  As far as the glad handing thing goes,  this isn't to say that GP can't be the Mack Brown type politician.  After all, when he first became the head man, he was surly to the media and geared 100% towards football whereas now, as mentioned, he's still 100% football, but he also just helped spearhead a $160 million stadium renovation, a process which required LOTS of backslapping and baby kissing.  But do you honestly see him taking time away from his stringent planning to give bullshit interviews to the Longhorn Network?  Or, and this is a big one, do you think the most secretive man in the Big 12 is going to allow CAMERAS into his practices?  It's worn Mack thin in year 2 and he lives for that stuff, just imagine what that would do to Patterson.  All the money in the world wouldn't cause him to alter the strategy he's gone to war with year in, year out or, if it did, you wouldn't be getting the same Coach you paid for.  Call me crazy, but unless the Longhorns are willing to COMPLETELY overhaul the culture they've so carefully cultivated all of these years, they may not want to order too many burnt orange mock turtles, size double X.    

I could be wrong about all this and GP could be out of FW as soon as next Monday; Arkansas has reportedly agreed to terms with a current HC, and the only argument between their fans is if his name starts with a Pat or a Pet. But I just don't think this is the year.  If there even is a year.  The only reason he ever leaves Fort Worth is if he truly believes he's done all that he can do and it's time for a new challenge.  Gary's getting on the other side of 50 now, so if he were to make a move I suppose it better happen soon, but he's had plenty of logical chances to do so in the past and hasn't taken them.  Why would he decide to leave now when he has every advantage he's ever wanted right there in Fort Worth?LONG LIVE GP!

**UPDATE** So I typed this up and had it scheduled to post well before last night's rumors started circulating, so there may be some discrepancies.  For those who missed it, rumor is that Arkansas offered Patterson the same 5 year/$27.5 million deal they are currently pitching to Les Miles, only to have GP tell them, "Nah, I'm going to stay in Fort Worth, instead."  Naturally, our fans are going to fall into 2 camps on this.  The half full camp is going to say, "Wow, he must really be committed to TCU, and apparently they're committed to him."  According to Stefan Stephenson, he was informed that TCU was willing to match any offer tossed out Patterson's way, no matter how ridiculous, so perhaps there's something to that theory.  However, we're naturally going to have the half empty camp saying that he only turned it down because he has his eye on a bigger prize, say Texas or maybe even LSU.  Given, there's no concrete evidence that Arkansas actually made this offer, and no one outside of a tight knit group of folks will likely ever know, but usually where there's smoke there's fire so, at least for now, it looks like our man is sticking around.  Stay tuned.

Morning Dump: 11/28

Does the Sooner defense catch a break this week? - Crimson and Cream Machine
TCU has chance to take another step against OU - Fox Sports SW
Patterson could change tradition to help TCU at home - Star-Telegram
TCU's defense has improved steadily to finish strong - Star-Telegram
GMFP still listening, but TCU has a lot to offer - Star-Telegram Gil Lebreton
K-State's Snyder still favors a Big 12 championship game -
How TCU gashed Texas on a simple zone read - Burnt Orange Nation
How GP keeps building elite defenses: Recruiting Perspective - SBNation

Auburn list expands to include GMFP -

Women's Basketball:
Women to face SMU tonight -
Basketball faces SMU Wednesday -