TCU’s Patterson: Being undefeated not necessary to make College Football Playoff

TCU coach Gary Patterson speaks during a Big 12 football media day press conference Monday in Dallas.
TCU coach Gary Patterson speaks during a Big 12 football media day press conference Monday in Dallas. Star-Telegram

TCU coach Gary Patterson said the Horned Frogs, or any other team, will not have to be undefeated to make the College Football Playoff.

“Everybody slips up,” he said during his appearance at Big 12 Media Days at the Dallas Omni Hotel. “Ohio State lost to Virginia Tech last year, and they still won a national championship. So I don’t believe you have to be undefeated.”

Florida State was the only unbeaten among the four teams that qualified for the inaugural CFP last year. Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State each had one loss.

TCU and Baylor also had one loss apiece but failed to make the field.

“Good is good. There were eight really good football teams last year,” Patterson said. “And I think I would have told you, before we even went into the season, every year there’s always about eight.

“There’s very few times that I ever look up and say, ‘Well, this team here, when I watch, is so much better than everybody else; they’re the favorite.’”

But Patterson said it’s still best to leave no doubt on your resume for the CFP.

“Our key is to control our own destiny, and the best way to do that is to try to win them all,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to try to get done. Then we’ll see how everything else falls.”

Boykin media blitz

Patterson said quarterback Trevone Boykin did a good job of handling the media attention this week, considering he is the preseason offensive player of the year in the conference media poll and a favorite for the Heisman Trophy.

“If you didn’t expect it, you did a poor job of getting up in the morning,” Patterson said. “As far as I can tell, I think he’s handling it pretty decently, keeping it in perspective.

“Any time you go from a 4-8 season to a 12-1, if you’ve forgotten where you came from you’re going to get yourself in a lot of trouble.”

Boykin said it’s part of his responsibility as the quarterback.

“It comes with the territory,” he said. “It’s things you have to deal with. You don’t let it go to your head, you don’t let it get too big. You try to stay as humble as possible. A lot of people don’t get this opportunity; it’s a blessing.”

Brainy freshmen

Patterson said many players from TCU’s 21-member freshman class have a chance to get on the field this season because of their intelligence.

“It’s the first time we’ve had this many smart football players coming in a class,” Patterson said. “A guy like Niko Small — he was offered by Stanford.

“You’ve got guys that have a lot of intelligence about them, along with ability. That sometimes gives young players an opportunity to play early.”

Linebackers Mike Freeze and Alec Dunham also helped themselves by enrolling early, Patterson said.

“They went through a whole spring and off-season,” he said. “It’s like being through a whole year of football, and already you can tell they’re a lot different in this defense than they were.”

LSU one-game explained

Patterson said he opted for a one-game neutral-site date with LSU, the 2013 season opener at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, rather than go home-and-home, because he was trying to guard against injury and “overscheduling.”

In the latter scenario, the Frogs would have traveled to Baton Rouge last year, but instead played Samford at home.

“We might still have won the game, but what happens if we would have lost our quarterback?” Patterson said. “And that game would have been right before we played Oklahoma, then Baylor, then Texas Tech, then Oklahoma State.”

Patterson said “overscheduling” is the same as having too many practices in pads because it wears down a team. He aims to play one “stretch” game, one 50-50 game and one winnable game prior to conference play.

“What you want to do is build confidence coming out of your non-conference schedule, and you don’t want to be beat up,” he said.

Patterson said a team can usually get up for five to seven high-emotion/high-stakes games per season.

“The other games, you just have to find a way to win,” he said. “If you have to use those cards in your non-conference schedule, it makes it a lot tougher in your regular schedule.”

Carlos Mendez, 817-390-7407

Twitter: @calexmendez

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