Mac Engel

TCU almost brought back a coordinator this offseason. Here’s why it didn’t work out

The two coaches who oversaw the most prolific offense in TCU’s history were nearly reunited, but the marriage between current TCU co-offensive coordinators Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham ended for a reason.

TCU coach Gary Patterson discussed with Meacham about rejoining his staff for this season, but sources said some TCU coaches on offense were not crazy about the idea.

Sources said Meacham was eager and willing to return.

After Patterson’s weekly press conference on Tuesday, the coach would only say that there was some “personality issues” and that he didn’t want to cause any problems for his offensive coaching staff.

However you want to cut this potential reunion, Cumbie is staring at a trip to the dunk tank if his offense does not play well.

Had Meacham returned, Cumbie potentially had a buffer.

The only real excuse he currently has, and it’s a good one, is he doesn’t have a proven quarterback.

Currently, all things at TCU are fine. The Frogs are 2-0, ranked No. 25 in the latest AP Poll, and host SMU on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The Frogs are favored by 9.5 points.

Meacham was hired by Patterson in 2014 to re-make the offense, and design a more passer-friendly, wide-open system. Meacham and Cumbie shared the offensive coordinator responsibilities, and “Air Frog” took off.

The system thrived in 2014 and ‘15, when Meacham and Cumbie had quarterback Trevone Boykin and receiver Josh Doctson.

In those two years, the team finished a combined 23-3, won a share of the Big 12 title, the Peach Bowl and the Alamo Bowl; in ‘14, the offense ranked second in the nation in scoring average. In 2015, the offense ranked seventh nationally.

Both coaches were “hot candidates.”

After the 2015 season, Meacham was a finalist for the North Texas head coaching job, and was the preferred choice for the position from then-athletic director Rick Villareal. The UNT president preferred Seth Littrell.

At the same time, the University of Texas offered Cumbie the position to be the offensive coordinator under then-coach Charlie Strong.

TCU gave both Cumbie and Meacham a raise.

Then both Boykin and Doctson went to the NFL, and the genius coaching combo of Cumbie and Meacham didn’t look so smart any longer. Neither was the hot assistant any more.

In 2016, the Frogs finished 6-7, and the offense ranked 51st in the nation in scoring.

Towards the end of the year, Meacham’s relationship with Patterson was not great; when you lose, coaches tend not to get along.

After the ‘16 season, Meacham left TCU for the football paradise known as the University of Kansas to become the offensive coordinator.

“We did not want to lose Doug Meacham, but he had to do what’s best for his family,” Patterson said in a statement then. “He will always be a Horned Frog.”

In 2017, Cumbie was given the title as offensive coordinator with Curtis Luper.

That season, en route to qualifying for the Big 12 title game, TCU hosted Kansas on Oct. 21. TCU shutout Kansas 43-0. KU netted 21 total yards, including minus-25 rushing.

After the game, Meacham was seen sitting on a back stairwell with his head in hands.

In October of last year, KU fired Meacham.

In July, well after TCU would have potentially hired Meacham, he was hired to be the offensive coordinator of the XFL franchise in St. Louis.

Whatever differences that existed between he and Patterson have been worked out, or most likely forgotten. That’s why this potential reunion was on the table.

Coaches who work for Patterson learn the following: If you can ignore some of the things he says during practice, and work hard, you can have a good job, make good money and can provide a good quality of life for your family.

It is one of the reasons he has had so many staffers remain in place for so long, even if he has been known to ‘fire’ a coach or two during a practice.

“If you went and listened to coaches over the years you’ll find out everyone has ‘fired’ somebody,” Patterson said. “It’s the whole cliche, ‘Why would you do that?’”

Patterson explains that ‘firing’ an assistant is a way of asking, ‘What were you thinking?’

The problem in bringing Meacham back is the concept of a dual offensive coordinator simply seldom works.

It’s one thing to be over-ruled by your head coach, but quite another to negotiate it all out with a person who shares your title. Egos are involved. Pride plays a role. Feelings are easily hurt.

Play-callers tend to be territorial, and not all relationships are meant to last.

When Meacham and Cumbie had Boykin-to-Doctson, everyone thrived and everyone was happy. Once that pair split, the offense suddenly wasn’t so effective.

Funny how that works.

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