Horned Frogs try to keep cool in heat of SMU rivalry

In his 12 years as head coach, Gary Patterson concedes, he has lost his cool twice in front of the media after a game.

The first came in September 2006 after TCU beat Texas Tech 12-3. The Horned Frogs were embarrassed by Mike Leach's Red Raiders 70-35 in 2004 and Patterson was tired of a lack of respect for his program.

"People have been underselling our kids for years," Patterson said after the game. "All everybody wants to talk about is the Big 12. I get tired of being treated like a stepchild in this state and in this town, and our kids do too."

The second came last year after SMU beat the Frogs 40-33 in overtime at Amon G. Carter Stadium, TCU's first home loss in four seasons and only its seventh home defeat under Patterson.

But the 15th-ranked Frogs (3-0) are doing their best to downplay the rivalry, which is renewed at 6 p.m. Saturday at Ford Stadium in University Park.

"If I was going to do a press conference over again last year what I would tell you is after watching the film SMU kicked our butts on both sides of the ball," Patterson said during Tuesday's media luncheon.

A year ago, Patterson fumed about a lack of respect coming from SMU and intimated that he wasn't interested in helping the Mustangs program in the future. The schools have games scheduled through 2016. This week, Patterson said he apologized to SMU coach June Jones and wishes he had kept his comments behind closed doors.

"Am I still disappointed in some things? Yeah, but the bottom line is if I want to do that I can just call [Jones] on the phone. I don't need to say it in front of a camera," Patterson said. "If I'm going to be the person I'm going to be and I'm going to teach young people to be the right people then I've got to act right, too. Simple as that. But I'm still not taking back what I said about the officials."

Patterson was only half-kidding about a couple big calls that went against TCU, including a pass interference call against TCU cornerback Jason Verrett that led to an SMU score. Verrett appeared to have made a clean interception on the play.

TCU players, including Josh Boyce and Sam Carter who were made available to the media on Tuesday, were not interested in reliving last year's loss, which the team has followed with a nation-leading, 11-game win streak.

"Maybe the closer the game comes," Boyce said. "But they're just the next game on the schedule. We played bad. We still could have won the game and that's still in the back of our heads."

Said Carter: "Anybody who is on the schedule next we're just trying to win the game and get to 4-0. We're not bringing anything more to the table; it's just a game we have to win."

That's how Patterson wants his players to talk and act. But, as Boyce alluded, by the time Saturday rolls around the emotions of the rivalry are likely to take over. The teams have played 91 times since 1915.

TCU has a slight edge, 44-40-7, but SMU is 22-19-2 at home. Known as the Battle for the Iron Skillet, the game is marketed by State Farm as the DFW Duel.

"I don't get [the team's emotions] too high or too low," Patterson said. "There's no vendetta. We need to get to 4-0. The only way we get to 4-0 is we've got to beat SMU. It's not one of those things where you're looking for revenge or anything else. Good programs don't do those kinds of things, at least I don't think."

SMU (1-2) has had two weeks to prepare after losing to Texas A&M 48-3 Sept. 15. Quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who transferred from Texas, has thrown for nearly 700 yards and three touchdowns, but has been intercepted four times. Running back Zach Line, the Conference USA preseason offensive player of the year, rushed for 120 yards last year against TCU, and leads the Mustangs with 299 yards.

"They always seem to play their best, most emotional football game against us so we've got to get ready to play," Patterson said, while discussing his own emotions spilling into the public after last year's loss.

"Wins and losses are what keeps our jobs, but in the end it's what people think of you and what kind of person you are," Patterson said. "There's a lot of Dallas and SMU people that have been good to us here and I've talked to a lot of them in the last 365 days about different things. I'm in a position where you're supposed to act better, so except for three hours on game day, I'll try to act better. I can't make any promises on game day for three hours."

Stefan Stevenson


Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs

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