There have only been three times, TCU coach Gary Patterson said, that he wished to do a retake of his postgame press conference.
One of those followed Saturday’s loss to West Virginia.
Patterson heard from some corners that he wasn’t complimentary enough of his players, especially quarterback Casey Pachall, who threw for nearly 400 yards and set personal highs in completions and attempts.
But anyone who has watched Patterson operate during his 13 years as the Horned Frogs’ head coach didn’t pause for a second. He didn’t say anything too negative, besides pointing out how costly the Frogs’ four turnovers were, including Pachall’s two interceptions and fumble.
For Patterson, it’s not a time to pick the positives out of a stack of negatives. It was perhaps the most solemn postgame press conference he’s had since losing to Boise State in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl. That loss was also littered with three TCU interceptions.
“You don’t get do-overs,” Patterson said Sunday. “If I could do the one after the ballgame the other night again, I would have said it was a great effort on his part. He took a lot of shots but he had almost 400 yards passing.”
That’s not all the winningest coach in TCU history would like to change. It’s important that he tone down his sideline antics, he said, echoing similar desires last summer to show there is another side to his personality other than the often fiery, rage-filled coach stalking the sidelines.
“I’ve got to quit being so animated on the sidelines, just because we’re a lot more noticeable and that’s where the camera is,” Patterson said Sunday. “It’s one thing if you coach hard in practice, but somebody else is going to have to be that person [during games].”
Patterson’s assistant coaches can be animated, too, especially in practice. But during games, Patterson is usually the only highly animated figure on the TCU sidelines. It makes for great pictures and compelling television, which attracts more focus.
“I think people have a perception of how that’s the kind of person I am and how I coach, and I’m not that way,” he said.
Even if he is, is it really the reason TCU (3-6, 1-5 Big 12) is taking a three-game losing streak into Saturday’s game at Iowa State (1-7, 0-5)? Probably not.
But Patterson said it goes beyond perception and misconceptions about the type of person he is. It could be used against him in recruiting battles, especially when contrasted with younger, more laid-back coaches like Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury. If Kingsbury, in his first year with the Red Raiders, ever flips his lid, the public never sees it.
Patterson made his comments Sunday in response to being asked about potential changes to his coaching staff in the off-season. TCU’s could start Dec. 1 unless the Frogs win their final three games, including the season finale against 6th-ranked Baylor on Nov. 30 at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Another loss and TCU will miss out on a bowl for the first time since 2004 and only the second time in Patterson’s 16-year tenure, including his first three as defensive coordinator. Patterson said he’ll first examine himself before deciding on any staff changes.
Junior cornerback Kevin White, who has been up close and personal with Patterson as much as any player, sees no reason for a change. Although, it’s hard to imagine any player publicly saying his head coach needs to tone it down.
“No, I don’t,” White said. “I like the way he coaches. It shows that he cares, that he wants to win as much as we do. He shouldn’t have to change at all. We know he coaches tough so it doesn’t affect us too much. I know on the sidelines on TV it may look bad, but for the most part we understand how Coach P is on a game
But problems arise when another type of player doesn’t respond well to Patterson’s in-your-face intensity.
“When it’s not going good it’s always easy to have hindsight. I don’t know how I’ll do that and the extent of it, but before you decide to go look at everybody else, the first thing you better look at is how you do things as a head coach,” Patterson said.
Patterson said his combative personality on the sidelines has perhaps hindered offensive progress this season, making it too tense for players and assistants.
“Maybe,” he said. “Maybe make them feel a little bit smoother, more confident doing things. I think all the above. My pregame speech [before West Virginia] was a lot different, more light-hearted. It’s hard to be that way in a league that averages 35 to 40 points a game, compared to 17 [TCU is scoring] and go win. That’s my personality, so I’ve got to work on how I can be that and not be all the rest of it.”
Patterson, who was voted as the coach Big 12 players would most like to play for other than their own during the preseason, has altered his demeanor with the media this season, despite his team’s struggles. He has been much more relaxed and often jovial. And the television cameras have even caught him smiling on the sidelines a few times this season, something rarely seen in the past. So he’s making progress.
“Not as much as I think I need to,” he said.