At least Gary Patterson can take it.
Which is good.
Because when he leads TCU onto the field for the kickoff at Baylor’s McLane Stadium on Saturday — or maybe even well before, when he and Art Briles mingle for the customary coaches’ greeting at midfield — Patterson is going to hear it from the Baylor fans.
“I’m not the most popular guy in Waco, and that’s OK,” the veteran TCU coach said.
It wouldn’t be the first time.
“Yeah, that’s OK. I mean, I was on post office walls in Utah in the years I was in the Mountain West Conference,” he said, drawing laughs from his audience of reporters after a practice this week. “Utah and BYU — I still get things from them. And that’s OK. I take it as a compliment.”
He explained: “If they really like you, that means you’re not playing very well.”
It also means you probably can’t, or don’t, dish it very well. And that does not describe Patterson, a proud Midwesterner who hides neither his emotions nor thoughts very well. He will speak his mind, asked or not asked, welcomed or not welcomed.
“I know how I am. My kids know how I am. My wife knows how I am; you’re going to always know how I feel about certain things,” he said.
It is why he is in this pickle in Waco.
Last year, after a 41-38 loss to Baylor in Fort Worth, Patterson spent the first five minutes of his postgame press conference tearing into Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon (“No. 6,” he kept calling him) for an illegal hit to the head of Trevone Boykin, supposedly laughing about it after being ejected, and also into Briles for — in Patterson’s vew — not correcting Dixon when he could have after a similar incident earlier in the year.
“I had seen what I saw in the ballgame,” Patterson said. “Obviously, I was frustrated by the season and everything else.
“It is what it is.”
Good way to describe the state of the Patterson-Briles relationship — and by extension, the TCU-Baylor rivalry.
Both private schools. Both with mostly forgettable football histories. Both with coaches — one defensive-minded, one offensive-minded — who came from humble beginnings and turned it all around.
And both have a chance Saturday to grab the inside track to the Big 12 championship.
Think that won’t add to a rivalry?
“I’ll be honest with you. I hear what they say,” Patterson said. “But our guys, we understand it’s a big game because we want to be 5-0.”
Patterson is not cold, however. He respects Briles’ path to the top at Baylor — from Texas high school stops at Sundown, Sweetwater, Hamlin, Georgetown and Stephenville before college jobs at Texas Tech and Houston. They see each other at conventions and golf tournaments. They talked at Big 12 Media Days.
“Coaches, it’s like fighting with your brothers,” Patterson said. “We’re all in this to win ballgames, to keep our jobs. We all go through spats. If Coach Briles doesn’t think much of me, I’m not going to be able to do anything about that.”
They haven’t talked about Patterson’s remarks.
Briles, asked in his conference call on Monday if he understood what Patterson was trying to say in his rant, said only, “You’d have to ask him how he meant what was said. I can’t speak for him.”
There is an unspoken sense that the remarks stung Briles, coming shortly after a death in his family.
Patterson sounds like he regrets that.
“Art Briles’ family has been part of Texas football and been part of a lot of things,” Patterson said. “Art’s been through a lot of things with his family. I truly understand all that. But for about five minutes on the podium, about two minutes out on the field, it was about my player.”
That’s all it really is with Patterson. His player, his team, and TCU. He sees football through those lenses, and sometimes it’s not all 20/20.
“I’m always one of those guys, if I don’t think something’s right, I’m going to say it,” Patterson said. “The biggest compliment you can get from your own players, when you do senior exit interviews — whether they liked or disliked — they always say I have their back. Because they know I’m always honest with them about most everything. I think most people in the world, that’s the way they like it.”
Sometimes it comes across poorly. Patterson knows.
“Do you wish some days you could have done it a little different?” he said. “Just like some days I get home from practice, I wasn’t real happy with Gary Patterson. But it’s worth it.”
It’s Patterson’s way. He can take it.
TCU at Baylor
2:30 p.m. Saturday, TV: WFAA/Ch. 8
Patterson vs. Briles
Gary Patterson and Art Briles have split their four games since Briles took over at Baylor:
|2010||TCU 45, Baylor 10|
|2011||Baylor 50, TCU 48|
|2012||TCU 49, Baylor 21|
|2013||Baylor 41, TCU 38|