Now the longest-tenured coach in the Big 12, TCU coach Gary Patterson was asked at Big 12 Media Days if he should take on a bigger voice for the conference.
He took the ball and ran with it.
“I’m excited about being part of the Big 12, and I think the Big 12 is a great league,” he said last week at the Ford Center in Frisco. “As coaches, we have a responsibility, all of us do, to recruit better players, play better on the field, and have a responsibility to our league and our people that we do well.”
The surprise retirement of Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops made Patterson, entering his 17th season as head coach at TCU, the longest-serving coach in the league.
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Kansas State’s Bill Snyder has coached more seasons at his school, but in two stints separated by three years (1989 to 2005 and 2009 to the present), and plans are in motion for a successor to the 77-year-old coach recovering from throat cancer treatments.
The next-longest-tenured coach in the Big 12 is Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, who is entering his 13th year. West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen is entering his seventh year in Morgantown. Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech enters his fifth season, Kansas’ David Beaty will be in his third year, Iowa State’s Matt Campbell in his second season and Baylor’s Matt Rhule, Texas’ Tom Herman and OU’s Lincoln Riley have yet to coach a game in the league.
Patterson is not seeking to be the league’s spokesman.
But ask, and he’ll answer.
“I’m the guy that you don’t like walking into a committee because I’m the guy that’s going to ask the question nobody else wants to ask,” he said. “I’ve been doing that for a while, whether I like it or I dislike it. But I do believe that the Big 12 — I hear about we have a problem with what people think about us — it’s a great conference.
“Anybody that doesn’t think it’s a great conference, we play in a league where you’ve got to play everybody. That’s hard to do on a year in and year out basis.”
Patterson had more answers to more questions about the Big 12:
On if the league needs Texas and Oklahoma, its highest-profile schools, to be strong in football:
“When you have ‘University of’s, they’re usually the flagships, but Miami won national championships in Florida, not Florida State and Florida. And they carried the flag for the Big East. I don’t necessarily think you need (Texas and OU) to be good. To be honest with you, we need all of our teams to be good.”
On the effect of the Big 12 missing the College Football Playoff two of the first three years:
“I’m sitting here listening to, ‘The Big 12’s not very good because two of the three years we haven’t had anybody in the playoff.’ Well, we didn’t have anybody because somebody chose it that way, not because the teams weren’t worthy. There’s a difference.
“There’s a difference if we had no teams in 2014 that were worthy of playing in the playoffs. Because I’ve talked to enough coaches on the teams that were in the playoffs that didn’t want anything to do with Baylor or TCU.”
On whether name recognition gave Ohio State an edge in the 2014 CFP over TCU and Baylor:
“You could say it was all about T-shirts, if that’s what you want to say. But from where I sit, as a coach and for what is better for college football, it’s not my place to say something like that.
“My place is to believe that people are going to do things for the right reasons. If I don’t believe that, then I need to get out of the profession. But it’s also my job to call them on it, and to ask. Because if you don’t ask, it’s just as much your fault.”
On Ohio State making the CFP without playing in the Big Ten championship game last season:
“I’m one of those guys — and maybe this is why I’ve lasted this long and maybe why they’ll get rid of me some day — I call it, it is what it is. Just give us the rules we play by. Then don’t change the rules.
“Last year, they changed the rules when they told us you had to play in a 13th ballgame to have enough data points. Then they took a team that didn’t have enough data points and they said, ‘Game-by-game.’ ”
On the lack of FBS teams from Texas in the final AP Top 25 last season:
“No. 1, we’ve got to keep players here. … We’ve got to do a better job of keeping them in the state. If you want to have great teams, you have to have great players. No doubt about it, that’s what we have to be able to do.
“I think A&M going to the SEC hurt us a little bit, because you have that common factor. But to be honest with you, I think the Big 12’s learning it’s helping us because we’re now leaving the state to get kids to come into the state.
“But we should be embarrassed we didn’t have a team in the Top 25. There’s a lot of good players that come to our schools that can play and play at a high level, and we need to play better. It’s simple as that.”