TCU coach Gary Patterson said it was “common practice” at Texas Tech for quarterbacks to throw at opposing players during warm-ups, much as Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield did when he hit a TCU player before a game on Nov. 11.
OU coach Lincoln Riley appeared to fault TCU for running through the Sooners’ warm-up line, saying last week, “Things like that can happen.”
Patterson on Tuesday at his midweek press conference refused to take blame for the incident, in which safety Niko Small was hit on the helmet by a pass from Mayfield. Small, a starter, played in the game but missed the next two.
“Baker played at Texas Tech and Lincoln was at Texas Tech, and I have a coach that was at Texas Tech,” Patterson said. “It was common practice. There was a Texas Tech pretty well-known quarterback that hit a guy from A&M in the head, and they all thought it was funny, to throw balls and do those kinds of things, back in those days. It’s their prerogative. They can do whatever they want. We’re just not going to do them here.”
Patterson said the field was crowded with Oklahoma recruits, and TCU had to move through the Sooners’ warm-up area.
“We couldn’t get on the field, either side,” Patterson said. “We asked the guy that was in charge, and he said, ‘I don’t know which way to send you.’ Even as the head coach, I had to go through their warm-up lines to get over to our end of the field. And I wouldn’t have said anything if Coach Riley wouldn’t have said, if he hadn’t made the remark that, ‘Well, those things happen,’ (that) our guy got hit with the ball because we were running through their stretch lines.”
The teams meet in a rematch on Saturday for the Big 12 championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Patterson continued, “TCU in 20 years has never run through anybody’s stretch lines. We don’t act that way. You’ve never seen us go out to the middle of the field and we’re going to yell at each other, and we won’t ever. And we’ve had plenty of teams that have tried to get us to do it. That’s not the way we act. And so, I didn’t really appreciate that we were trying to say that we were in the wrong because that was OK to let a quarterback throw a ball and hit a guy in the head that hasn’t played for two weeks.”
It is the latest chapter in a rivalry between Patterson and Mayfield, who believes TCU went back on its word to offer him a scholarship.
Patterson said he does not want to take attention from Saturday’s Big 12 championship game with more talk about the pregame incident because it can be a distraction for the players.
“TCU is going to try to out, play fair and square, play as hard a football game as we can,” Patterson said. “I’ve already told my group they need to keep their mouth shut. They need to go play, period. That’s what we’re there for. You’re going to have a championship game, it needs to be represented by champions. But don’t say that we do something when we don’t do that, and we’ve never done that. Ever.”
No. 12 TCU vs. No. 4 Oklahoma
11:30 a.m. Saturday, KDFW/Ch. 4