The season for TCU began with coach Gary Patterson’s 150th victory.
He shrugged it off, saying he’d be more excited if he got to 160 by the end of the year. That would have required an 11-win season, which the Horned Frogs delivered with a 39-37 victory in the Alamo Bowl against Stanford that was also the 40th win for the four-year seniors.
“Finding a way to win, come back, this group of seniors for their opportunity to get to 11 wins and then also 40 in their career, I think is really cool,” Patterson said after the game. “To get to the 160 landmark, also, for them to be a part of that I think is cool.”
Patterson’s new six-year contract, announced in November following a win against Baylor, gives him a chance to join the 200-win club. He’ll get there if he averages seven wins a year until 2023.
Only two active FBS coaches, Nick Saban and Bill Snyder, are over 200 wins. Only 18 coaches all-time have topped that number with FBS wins.
“For me, it’s been a blessing to be a part of it,” Patterson said of the Frogs’ 11-3 season, their 10th in the past 15 years with 11 or more wins.
Before Patterson, TCU had two 11-win seasons and one 12-win season in 94 years.
“I love them just like I told them in the locker room, the whole senior group,” Patterson said. “The next group, they can’t drop the ball. This group worked too hard to get us where we were, and we’ve got some big games starting out next year.”
TCU has a road game at SMU, faces Ohio State at AT&T Stadium, and travels to Texas in three of its first four games in 2018.
Patterson smiled at what he was saying.
“You’re saying, ‘Coach, you just got done winning a game, right?’ ” Patterson said. “But I think that’s why we’ve been successful, because we don’t just stop.”
TCU will enter next season without veteran quarterback Kenny Hill, five-year running back Kyle Hicks, four starting offensive linemen, three-year safety Nick Orr, four-year cornerback Ranthony Texada and all-time leading tackler Travin Howard.
Junior defensive end Ben Banogu has yet to tell TCU whether he will declare for the NFL draft.
The Frogs are on the way to reinforcing with 18 players signed as part of their highest-rated recruiting class yet.
But the personnel losses include intangibles, as well, for Patterson.
“I said before the season I really liked this group,” he said. “I didn’t know whether we were going to win very many ballgames, but the bottom line is, coaches love coaching guys that are good people and work hard. And this group does that.”