Even with their football season over, Gary Patterson and TCU continue to score points.
Patterson accepted the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award from the Football Writers Association of America on Saturday night at the Renaissance Hotel, headquarters for the national championship game.
It gave him a chance, since a national media audience was asking, to talk about why he took the “high road” and avoided politicking for a spot in the four-team playoff or complaining when the one-loss Horned Frogs were left out.
“I just felt there’s never going to be a perfect system, and I just watch, whether it’s politics or it’s football, nowadays all we do is cut everybody down,” he said. “I felt like I had a great opportunity to do something right for a change. That’s why I did it.”
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Patterson’s gesture did not go unnoticed by award presenter Lou Holtz, the former Notre Dame coach and current ESPN analyst, whose personal top four after the final week of the regular season did not include TCU.
“You want to talk about class? I felt there were times when we deserved a chance to win the national championship and we didn’t get it, and I would whine and complain and try to present the reasons why we should have, and I can understand why the media rejected that,” Holtz said. “When I look back on it now, I wish I had had the intelligence, the character and the integrity, to handle disappointment the way Gary Patterson handled it this year. That tells you volumes about how lucky the parents are to have their sons play for him.”
Patterson, asked if he felt he and TCU came out winners in terms of public perception despite missing the playoff, said, “I think that a lot of people know a lot more about TCU and Gary Patterson because of the way we handled it, compared to maybe even being in the playoffs.”
The Robinson award is one of seven coach of the year awards Patterson has won since leading the Horned Frogs to an 11-1 regular season, which was followed by a resounding 42-3 victory against Ole Miss in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
Patterson also won the Robinson award in 2009.
He is a candidate for the Paul “Bear” Bryant coach of the year award, which will be presented Wednesday night in Houston.
“I’m very honored by this award,” Patterson said. “I knew a lot about coach Robinson, what he stood for. Not only did he have a lot of success, he had a lot of success off the field. The legacy he left his players, the kind of people he turned out, that’s one of the reasons why I’ve stayed at TCU, for the same reasons, to get an opportunity to be able to do that.”
Patterson said receiver Cameron Echols-Luper will move to cornerback in the spring for TCU, which loses senior starter Kevin White.
“That’s what he played in high school,” Patterson said. “If he can do it, he would give us a bigger corner that can run. Because we have five wide receivers coming in in our next recruiting class.”
Echols-Luper returned a punt for a touchdown at Kansas, starting the Frogs’ comeback win.
▪ Patterson said “three to four” graduated high school seniors will be at a team meeting Sunday, having enrolled early.
▪ Patterson said he will vote TCU second or third on his final USA Today coaches’ ballot, depending on how well the teams in the national championship play. He said he has Baylor in the “top six or seven.”
Patterson said he does not expect any more players to declare for the draft following safety Chris Hackett declared Friday.
Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7760