Gil LeBreton

No room on the high road for Baylor-TCU rivalry

Coach Gary Patterson and his Horned Frogs prepare to play host to Art Briles and Baylor on Friday.
Coach Gary Patterson and his Horned Frogs prepare to play host to Art Briles and Baylor on Friday. Star-Telegram

The high road?

Oh, let’s not go there.

Let’s stick to the low road, the dark, pot hole-scarred path that this TCU-Baylor rivalry has become.

One university proudly points to its Rose Bowl trophy and its 15-year run of success under its current football coach. The other cries “61-58!” and insists it’s the reigning “one true champion.”

“Leave it on the field,” Art Briles, coach of the Baylor Bears, is said to have told TCU’s Gary Patterson that day in 2013.

But the Bears and Horned Frogs haven’t left it anywhere. Fans of the two Big 12 private schools — and their head coaches — have been poking each other with sticks ever since.

The rivalry resumes Friday night at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

The high road?

When senior defensive end Mike Tuaua was involved in a September incident and arrested for robbery/bodily injury, Patterson came to his player’s defense by noting the case — since dropped, with no charges filed — was “not even close to what happened south of here.” It was a thinly veiled reference to the case of Baylor player Sam Ukwuachu, who was sentenced to jail and 10 years probation for sexual assault of a coed.

At his weekly news conference Tuesday, TCU’s Patterson tried to suggest that it’s the two schools’ recent successes that have ignited the fire under the rivalry.

“It’s one of those situations where you have to appreciate the job that coach Briles and Baylor have done, where they’ve come from and what they’ve done these last four or five years,” Patterson said.

“They’re one of the reasons why we changed to this offense two years ago — to be able to match their offensive production.”

Maybe those are the bad seeds at the root of this Baylor-TCU feud.

Patterson is a defensive genius. Briles, meanwhile, is more like an offensive mad scientist.

Even before the Ahmad Dixon incident near the end of 2013 game, Briles and Patterson didn’t see eye to squinty eye. There had been recruiting run-ins. Safety Dixon, for one, and Baylor running back Shock Linwood, who had originally committed to TCU.

When Baylor’s Dixon took a cheap shot at then-receiver Trevone Boykin and was ejected from the 2013 game, Patterson objected to Dixon remaining on the visiting bench and “laughing under a towel.”

When the referees did finally make him leave the field, Dixon smiled and blew kisses to the jeering TCU crowd.

In a now-infamous postgame tirade, Patterson blamed Briles for not disciplining his player.

“Gary Patterson lives in Fort Worth,” Patterson said. “If he’s got a problem with me, here’s where I live.”

All this is old news, of course. Patterson didn’t mention any of it Tuesday, nor did he complain about Baylor running backs coach Jeff Lebby shadily being on the sidelines at the Oklahoma-Tulsa game or the extra Baylor recruiting contacts that Big 12 coaches have been reporting to the league.

But I figured I might as well, anyway. This is Baylor-TCU week.

Patterson was asked Tuesday if he planned to post “61-58” reminders around the locker room this week.

“No,” he said. “I’ve found that doing something from a revenge factor is usually very fleeting. If you’re not careful, you can use up too much energy.”

Right. As they prepare for Friday, Patterson and the Frogs won’t even mention last year’s score.

Let’s all take the high road.

Or better still, maybe not.

Gil LeBreton: 817-390-7697, glebreton@star-telegram.com, @gilebreton

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