No matter how the season finished against Kansas State, TCU coach Gary Patterson was not going to change his opinion of the year as a whole.
It wasn’t satisfactory.
“Somebody asked me, will there be a difference if you’re 6-6 or 7-5?” Patterson said following the 30-6 loss last week. “I said I don’t know. The key is, if you’re looking at long-range, whether we were 6-6 or won today, there would still be things we’ve got to change.”
The Horned Frogs wound up at 6-6, but they still have a shot at a winning season when they play Georgia in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 30.
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Or a losing season.
Either way, Patterson isn’t thinking in terms of the difference one game in one season will mean.
“You’ve still got to work on them,” he said, meaning long-range plans. “That’s what you do. In my opinion, to be honest with you, even if we had won today, it still would have been about the same way — things we need to work on. It’s not a short-range program. It’s not what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s a long-range program.”
TCU followed its 4-8 season in 2013 by going 12-1 in 2014 with a victory over Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl.
Patterson said when TCU joined the Big 12 five years ago that it would take three to five years to build the kind of depth needed to compete in the Power 5 league.
In five seasons as a Big 12 member, TCU has been more than competitive. The Frogs are 25-20 in the conference and 40-23 overall. They shared a league title in 2014 and were third in 2015.
But the gap this season between the top teams in the league and the fifth-place Frogs was clear. TCU went 0-4 against the top four teams by a combined 147-68. In three of their five seasons in the league, the Frogs have been under .500 in Big 12 games.
“But we’re not stopping,” Patterson said. “We never stop. We were 5-6 in 2004 and you guys laughed at me when I told you we were going to be in BCS games. You guys thought I should have been done when we were 4-8 in 2013, and then we came back and won 23 and lost three.”
TCU has three non-winning seasons under Patterson. The Frogs’ record in the seasons following those non-winning years is a combined 33-4.
0-3 TCU’s series record against Georgia. The teams last played in 1988.
“There’s a responsibility that goes along with playing at a championship-level program,” Patterson said. “It takes more work to win ballgames and stay at a high level than to stay average. Anybody can be average. I’m not going to accept average.”
The move to rise above average starts with the bowl matchup against Georgia. The game will wrap up 2016, but also mark the beginning of preparations for the off-season, spring practice and fall camp in 2017.
“I’m very encouraged,” junior linebacker Sammy Douglas said. “I believe we’re going to get it done. Especially giving Coach P so much time. I’m pretty sure he’s going to get it done. I’m more than certain.”
Patterson is certain of the next move.
“I’ll try to finish this season for the seniors, and the other half of me, we’re going to spend whatever practices we get getting ready for the bowl game to start growing this team up to get ready to do what we need to do,” he said. “You don’t wait ’til next March when you start spring ball.
“It’s not my first rodeo. Nor will it be my last.”
TCU vs. Georgia
11 a.m. Dec. 30, ESPN