December 4, 2011

Patterson takes TCU's Poinsettia Bowl invitation in stride

The Horned Frogs coach says the bowl game is important for next year.

TCU's Gary Patterson has moved on.

For him, the Horned Frogs 2011 finale, the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl against Louisiana Tech, is more like the season opener for 2012.

"Do you want to have an eight-game winning streak or a one-game losing streak?" Patterson said he told his team. "Do you want to be preseason ranked or do you not want to be ranked at all? Because that's what's in jeopardy for the team that returns next year."

It was a reminder to fans and players, who were disappointed when TCU failed to move up two spots in Sunday's final Bowl Championship Series standings, preventing the Mountain West champion Frogs from earning their third consecutive BCS bowl berth, about taking care of business.

TCU, which moves to the Big 12 next season, remained 18th in the BCS standings, despite moving up to No. 15 in the USA Today coaches' poll.

The Frogs ranked 15th in the Harris Interactive poll (which counts as one third of the BCS formula), but the six computer averages (with high and lows taken out) ranked TCU No. 17. The Frogs were ranked 22nd and 23rd by two of the computers and 14th and 15th by two others.

"Figure that out," Patterson said. "But I've got a lot more important things to do than to worry about the polls. You've got a No. 6 Arkansas team that's not going to a BCS bowl either. Only X amount teams get a chance to go and you've got be very lucky. I believe the football gods always make sure things happen the way they're supposed to happen."

TCU started 3-2 after narrow losses to Baylor and SMU. A play here or there could have changed the complexion of the season.

But the same can be said for TCU's 36-35 win at Boise State, which was ranked No. 5 at the time.

"Are we disappointed we didn't get where we wanted to? Well, it's our own fault," said Patterson, who will coach his seventh consecutive bowl and TCU's 13th in 14 years. "There's nobody to blame but TCU because we had two losses.

"If we had one loss, we'd probably wouldn't be in this situation. If we want to complain about that then we need to back up and look ourselves in the mirror and ask why did we get beat in overtime by SMU?

"But it's really quite a compliment for the program for us to be considered for an outside shot for a BCS game with two losses," he said. "It used to be common knowledge if you didn't go undefeated and were not an automatic qualifier you weren't going to get a chance to be a part of it.

"I'm excited we were part of the conversation; it means we've come a long way as far as the voters were concerned."

The Bulldogs (8-4) won the Western Athletic Conference and earned their first bowl berth since the Independence Bowl in 2008. The Poinsettia Bowl is just one of four bowl games pitting two conference champions (the others are the Rose, Orange and Bowls).

Patterson said TCU was picked by the Poinsettia Bowl and he wasn't opposed to playing in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, which is four-hour drive from Fort Worth. But two non-MWC teams, Missouri and North Carolina, were selected to play in Shreveport.

Boise State will play Arizona State in the Las Vegas Bowl, which gets the first selection from MWC teams.

Stefan Stevenson


Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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