There have been several glorious moments in TCU football history.
Dutch Meyer's national championship-winning teams from the 1930s and Abe Martin's T-formation in the '50s helped define the Horned Frogs in two separate decades of high-ranking football. Quarterback Max Knake helped lead a short resurgence in the mid-'90s, when the Frogs tied for a share of the title in the soon-to-be defunct Southwest Conference in 1994.
But there's no denying the Gary Patterson era has been the most glorious of them all.
TCU is ranked No. 14 in The Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll, released Saturday. It's the fifth time in six seasons the Frogs have been ranked in the preseason. Oklahoma, Alabama, Oregon, LSU and Mountain West Conference foe Boise State make up the top 5.
In the past 52 years, since TCU was ranked No. 13 in 1959's preseason, Saturday's position is second only to last year's sixth-place ranking. The Frogs have been ranked in 42 consecutive AP polls since Oct. 15, 2008. It's the longest such streak in school history and fourth longest in the nation.
Patterson didn't comment on the ranking after his team finished its final scrimmage of camp at Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday morning. Instead, he offered a similar refrain from this time last season, when the Frogs opened at No. 6.
"It's the same thing I said a year ago, and the year before that: We've got to be the best football team we can be," Patterson said.
And, to finish his thought, the polls will take care of themselves.
Under Patterson, that has been the case. In seven of his 10 full seasons as head coach, TCU has finished ranked in the Top 25 poll. The Frogs also finished No. 22 after the 2000 season, when Patterson took over for Dennis Franchione before a bowl game.
TCU players were not available for comment Saturday, but Knake, who lives in Dallas, said the current run of success "has been nothing short of amazing."
"There's no question, on paper, it's the best it has ever been," Knake said.
It's the sustained quality Patterson has been able to maintain for much of his tenure that many find surprising. The Frogs have won at least 10 games seven times under Patterson.
"I'd be surprised that any team had this much success," Knake said. "If Texas had this much success I would be surprised."
The past three seasons TCU has finished Nos. 2, 6 and 7 in the final AP poll, the best average final ranking in that span in the nation.
The Frogs are coming off a 13-0 season in which they defeated Big Ten champion Wisconsin (ranked No. 11 Saturday) in the Rose Bowl.
Knake thinks one of the biggest secrets to success is Patterson's cultivation of team leaders, including Andy Dalton, Jeremy Kerley, Jason Phillips and Jerry Hughes.
"They've had two or three leaders on the team over the last five years," Knake said. "I think coach Patterson not only does a great job of putting everyone on the field as prepared as possible, but he also allows the leaders to lead.
"If there's one thing I've learned playing football and afterward, leadership is by far the most important thing in any success with a team."
Stefan Stevenson, 817-390-7760