Mac Engel

TCU coach wasn’t knocking system, just stating the obvious

TCU coach Gary Patterson knows his team has to be perfect to be popular with the College Football Playoff committee.
TCU coach Gary Patterson knows his team has to be perfect to be popular with the College Football Playoff committee. Star-Telegram

Gary Patterson has been known to do some complaining, harping and whining over the years, but his latest was none of the above.

All he did was state the obvious: In college football, someone will always get robbed, which is to say the sun will always rise in the East.

Last week, TCU’s head football coach met with 10 reporters in a conference room overlooking Amon G. Carter Stadium, where he spoke on nearly every single subject for roughly 90 minutes. About the only area we failed to cover were his thoughts on Einstein’s theory of relativity, which I would expect him to go over before two-a-days begin.

The national reaction from some of GP’s words suggests that he was critical of College Football Playoff’s selection process, and that both he and TCU are bitter at how the conclusion of last season played out. Basically, that he is a whiner.

On this one, he was not complaining. If anybody on this earth understands the inherent inequity and unfairness of college football, it is Gary Patterson. If anybody can wait it out, and play it out, it is Gary Patterson.

Venerable college football writer Dennis Dodd, a great guy who has been around forever and knows his stuff, wrote from Gary’s comments that “Gary Patterson and TCU have been quiet, even classy, in accepting their College Football Playoff fate four months ago. That changed a bit on [April 9].”

No, it really hasn’t. Other outlets weighed in as well, drawing similar conclusions. This is one of the drawbacks and “dangers” of opining on these things when you aren’t there. There are subtle nuances and tones that you cannot glean from a quote sheet. We have all done it (guilty as charged).

There is no way to talk about this subject without being called “a whiner” because the system lends itself to whining, complaining and ridicule.

All the man did was illustrate what is plain to see: No system is ever fair and a team or teams will always get the shaft.

The only thing GP sounded overtly critical of was that no member of the selection committee should have direct ties to a school so as to ensure no personal bias. It’s great in theory, but nearly impossible in practice. You can’t have a room full of Condi Rices, who, despite the appearance of total neutrality, is a graduate of Stanford and theoretically could lean in favor of the Pac-12.

“Here is the thing — what I found out is that it’s never going to be fair,” Patterson said. “No matter what we called it in my 33 years of college football coaching, no matter if it’s the BCS, the coaches’ poll or whatever they have had, somebody has felt like they got screwed. That is going to go on.”

GP said this long before the playoff system was introduced. He was right then and he is now.

TCU and Baylor have the distinction of being the first teams in the playoff era to be left out when a case could be made that either or both should have been in. Despite the pain that came from that season-long tease and deliberate exclusion, there should at least be some solace for TCU and Baylor that the system will be corrected, so that next time such a rankings travesty will not occur.

The hard thing to accept is that nothing really has changed. TCU could potentially repeat its wonderful 2014 regular season and the postseason invite could be the same. It is wholly unfair that TCU or Baylor still has to go undefeated to have a shot to get into the Member’s Only Club — the College Football Playoff, which is really the BCS-plus 2.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Gary said.

No, it doesn’t.

There is no reason that TCU dropped from No. 3 in the second-to-last playoff rankings to completely out of the top four by the time the final poll was released. It just happened because it could. And it still can.

No amount of campaigning from administrators, coaches or even the addition of a PR firm was going to change that. Not even the addition of a potential Big 12 title game would have mattered. You are talking about a room full of people going with their gut.

“I think we gained more possibly not playing in the playoffs by the way we handled it than by playing in the playoffs,” GP said.

This is what we call making the best of a bad situation. GP and TCU put on a brave face and did not pout because to do so would have changed zero. It made for good PR, especially in contrast to the complaining carried out by justifiably bitter Baylor coach Art Briles, who made GP and TCU look like the model of good sports.

College football will forever remain a popularity game, and if your name is not Brutus, Bevo or ’Bama, the best way to be popular is to be perfect. It’s not right, it’s not fair, and that is all Gary Patterson was saying.

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

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697

Twitter: @macengelprof and The Big Mac Blog

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