Mac Engel

Gary Patterson is best person to fix Texas and the Big 12

With a big house, a statue near his office and the master key to both his school and the entire town, Gary Patterson is a happy man in Fort Worth.

But don’t think for a moment he would not mind if he received a phone call from Austin. Maybe even a text, or a direct message on Twitter.

From maybe Red McCombs. Or Tex Moncrief.

With Charlie Strong on what feels, sadly, like a farewell tour in only his third season in Austin, the billionaire boys who run the UT athletic department — men like Red and Tex — need to find someone who can help poor Bevo.

Let us not kid ourselves, while the Texas Tech defense is the most embarrassing unit in a shameful defensive league, there is no more cringe-worthy crew than the University of Texas.

The University of Texas brand is damaged to David McWilliams levels, and in dire need of an overhaul. So is the Big 12, for that matter.

Texas doesn’t need to call Houston’s Tom Herman — although all signs point to that as a formality.

The perfect guy to fix UT, and the Big 12, is GP. And, in return, it is the best chance to give him the one thing he has yet to win — the whole thing.

While he does not seek or need a phone call from UT, he wants it.

We all want to be wanted, and GP is no different.

And of the phone calls he has received through the years inquiring about his potential services from Washington to Nebraska to Arkansas, the state university of Texas has never inquired.

It likely irked him when it was Art Briles who was receiving the rumored UT love back in 2013, when it was the former Baylor coach who had replaced Gary as the “ideal” candidate to fix Texas.

Even though he has always said the smartest coaches are the ones who stay in one spot — like Kansas State’s Bill Snyder — and he is perfectly happy here with this setup, Texas is different.

The good people of TCU and in Fort Worth will not like this, but it is one thing to run the show at TCU, it’s quite another to have the same setup at Texas.

Gary has repeatedly and wisely said how happy he is in Fort Worth for a variety of reasons; it may require a fleet of Brink’s trucks full of cash to entice him to leave at this point. But he never says never for a reason.

Texas is hard-driving to its first three-year losing streak since the 1930s, but it’s still Texas. The job may be a nightmare of egos and overly enabled boosters, but it’s still Texas.

Whatever hail damage it has done to the Big 12 house, Texas still has its own television network.

Hate the University of Texas if you must, but it has more money than Dubai, on bad days will draw more fans than TCU can for a sellout, and its name carries with it the same type of cachet as an Ohio State, Alabama or USC.

It can still attract the type of five-star athletes that, save for Oklahoma, other league members can’t do on a consistent basis.

The good teams among the rest of the league — like TCU and Baylor — can squeeze out a top-five finish, which is incredible, but the surest way to be No. 1 in Texas is to be Texas. It is the only school in the state to win a national title in the modern era.

And the surest way for Texas to get back to No. 1 is to do something the rest of the league, TCU included, has ceased to do. Defense is now officially on the “No Fly List” for Big 12 schools.

TCU has the fourth-ranked defense in the Big 12, good for a stout 77th in the country. In fact, seven of the Big 12 teams rank 77th or worse in total defense nationally.

The rise in popularity of the spread offenses has provided some fun moments in the Big 12, but it’s the equivalent of the run-and-gun in basketball, or run-and-shoot in football; it scores points and can win some games, but it does not win titles.

There is nothing good about Oklahoma’s 66-59 win against Texas Tech in Lubbock on Saturday. The same for Baylor’s 61-58 win over TCU in 2014.

Those scores should not happen with any regularity between the best teams in a top-five league.

Defenses and powerful lines are still the truest formula to win a national title. That’s all Alabama does. The same for Ohio State. It was the same formula on which GP built his persona and reputation.

Somebody in the Big 12 has to inspire this league to start playing real defense or it will remain a joke without the laughs.

Somebody somewhere has to fix Texas and restore it to good national standing or it too will remain a joke that provides plenty of laughs outside of Austin.

He may not want anything more than the phone call, but Gary Patterson can do that.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

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