Within state boundaries, plus expanding into far-flung Big 12 precincts, the newest and grandest football flavor of the fall will be on national TV display Thursday night.Art in Waco, you are the people’s choice, and deservedly so.Even big-game Bob in Norman will be overshadowed when Baylor hosts Oklahoma in the juiciest Big 12 matchup of the season, making a Thursday night game a rather strange time for a showcase event, but ...Meanwhile, the football flavor poll also tells us the name that has made the largest instant impact of the fall would be Kliff in Lubbock.And while he might be flying under your radar, don’t snooze on Dan in Denton just because it’s not a Big 12 precinct. Coach McCarney is doing some Mean Green miracle work.But there’s also one name suddenly missing from the football flavor poll, and it’s the same name that in previous seasons had been right up there at the top, not only statewide but nationally.What the heck happened to Gary in Fort Worth?Just one year ago, after taking a backup quarterback into Austin on Thanksgiving night and beating Texas, there were columns being written on why Gary Patterson should NOT be the leading candidate to replace Mack Brown.Those columns were in response to Austin stories that the UT money boys wanted to hire GP, hire him like right now. But with all the outside crap involved with that particular job, a dug-in Patterson didn’t seem to be a guy who would tolerate the program’s built-in distractions.Even in a somewhat disappointing first season (2012) in the Big 12, Patterson’s reputation didn’t lose luster. In August, in a conference poll of players, the question was what coach would you like to play for other than your own?Patterson was the players’ choice.But at the moment, with TCU struggling, GP has dropped off the hot list of college coaches. He’s not even lukewarm.In past years — admittedly, the distant past because the Frogs had a run of good seasons before entering the Big 12 — this is when Patterson has done his best work. Just when the assumption surfaced on TCU and/or the head coach being in a fade mode, a sudden revival happened.But the competition, of course, is now tougher. And it’s not just the competition from what once was the top shelf of the Big 12, meaning a Texas or an Oklahoma.Oklahoma State has become consistently good, Art in Waco is the “new” Patterson and Kliff in Lubbock has debuted with rave reviews.But this dismal TCU season, and even the disappointment of last season, is not necessarily about the steeper competition the Big 12 logically presents for the Frogs.It’s basically about one thing: Quarterback.Patterson is a head coach who got caught short at quarterback. That’s a football felony at any level.The “adventures” of Casey Pachall the last two seasons have caused wreckage, of course. But when a top talent like this either goes nuts or goes down with an injury, there has been nothing close to an adequate replacement.And that’s not a knock on Trevone Boykin. You have to throw the ball to win. And Boykin was never considered a throw-the-ball-to-win kind of quarterback, although he was forced into that role.The TCU depth chart also shows a redshirt freshman and a couple of other quarterbacks, plus a freshman being redshirted. But there has been no answer when it comes to a quarterback ready to play now, particularly with Pachall missing so much action because of injury.In limited action during the last two seasons, Pachall has also not displayed much of the promise observed in his first year as a starter (2011). After his first season, Pachall was considered a good NFL prospect, although scouts were flagging him on possible character issues.Now? He’s a marginal prospect, at best, with, of course, major character questions, at least by NFL scouting standards.And Casey’s decline can’t be blamed on Big 12 competition. Really, he’s only been the full-time starter for two Big 12 games in two years, including last week’s loss to West Virginia.Quarterback got away from Patterson once Casey went away. GP was caught short. And that’s almost a guarantee to take you down.And when you combo the QB position with massive offensive line issues, along with a serious drop-off in receiver production (Boykin showed in the West Virginia loss he’s the best receiver on the team), that makes the offensive side of the ball delinquent by major college standards.TCU does have a couple of top high school quarterback recruits verbally committed, one of which may be preparing to graduate at midterm and enter college for the spring semester. At least that’s the speculation.Regardless, a quarterback upgrade for next season can’t be considered a reality, not at this point.Gary in Fort Worth was talking strongly this week about changes, changes, changes, with most of that focused on how he must change his approach to the job.But without breaking any news here, nothing is going to change until he gets his offense right, despite Patterson being known as a defensive guru.The track record says Gary in Fort Worth will make it happen.But meanwhile, Art in Waco is the new football flavor of the fall.That man is never caught short at quarterback.
Randy Galloway, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @sportsdfw