Elsewhere in college football, fans are wondering whether Nebraska (Scott Frost) and Florida State (Willie Taggart) hired the right guy just months after those hires were met with much fanfare.
That’s the nature of today’s game. But is it a troubling trend to TCU coach Gary Patterson, who is on the American Football Coaches Association board of directors, which represents more than 11,000 coaches and staff on all levels?
Seeing in-season dismissals and firings can’t be promising for those in the field.
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“It’s become the nature of you guys [in the media] and fan bases and everywhere else,” Patterson said. “People are calling and saying I’m going to take my money away because you have no patience. Or you just don’t like that person.”
The Meacham firing hit home for Patterson. Meacham served as TCU’s offensive coordinator in 2014 when it won the Peach Bowl.
“A guy was good enough to go to a [New Year’s Six] game two years before that and then two years later you want to fire him because you don’t think he’s a good football coach?” Patterson said. “I mean, it’s just … situations you have to be careful.”
That’s why Patterson didn’t reveal much when asked about his thoughts on co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie’s play-calling so far this season.
The Frogs offense has been struggling to score points and Patterson continues to make a case for backup Michael Collins to get more snaps. But Patterson likes to keep stuff in-house when it comes to those football-sensitive topics.
“I wouldn’t talk to you about that anyway,” Patterson said. “That’s my job and it’s between him and I. People that go out and publicly criticize people that work their tails off; I don’t. Unless you’re going to do it to yourself which you guys hear me do it to myself quite often, but we’ve got to get better.”
Patterson has never felt pressure to make a significant coaching change in season. He doesn’t want to panic when things aren’t going right, but understands why a coach such as Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley made the decision to fire Stoops.
All coaches are aware of the pressures surrounding the job, particularly at a high-profile program such as OU. When Texas has its best scoring day in Red River Showdown history, something has to change.
It just happened the move came with TCU being Oklahoma’s next opponent.
“We all get it,” Patterson said. “It’s not easy to win. The margin is so narrow.”
Patterson recalled the success early in his coaching career, going 10-2 in his second season in 2002. He followed that up with an 11-2 season in 2003. When you’re winning, all is well.
“Don’t you know I’m Vince Lombardi? Nobody coached the game like I coached it,” Patterson said, grinning. “Then in 2004 we went 5-6 and I told my wife if I ever got to where I thought I was like that again to hit me across the face with a bat. So stay below the water.
“That would always be my recommendation for everybody above. We’re already in the limelight, already in the middle of cameras too much. Just stay below the water – find a way to win. As long as you find a way to win, usually everybody is going to leave you alone.”
With that being said, Patterson never views himself as having job security. Yes, the man who has a statue outside Amon G. Carter Stadium doesn’t take his job for granted. He knows that job security and major college football don’t go hand-in-hand.
Les Miles won a national championship at LSU, but that didn’t stop the school from firing him in the middle of the 2016 season. Gene Chizik won a national championship at Auburn in 2010 and was let go two seasons later. Florida State fans weren’t too sad to see Jimbo Fisher leave even though he won a championship at the school.
Even though it’s borderline crazy to think Patterson could be let go given what he’s done and meant to TCU, he’s braced for the possibility.
“Every year, every game I’ve always prepared it’s going to be my last one,” Patterson said. “Sometimes you get invisible and you think because you’ve won, ‘How could they do that to me?’ No, you have to prepare for it, so I won’t ever be surprised. I think that’s what has kept me here.
“I’m always going to coach like we don’t have as good of players. I’m always going to coach that we don’t have a chance.”