Mac Engel

After TCU’s loss to SMU, Patterson’s actions blame his offensive coordinator

At some point in the next 48 hours, the tire tracks on Sonny Cumbie’s back should fade.

Right now, however, the offensive coordinator for TCU has a fresh set of tire prints across his back, face, legs, hands and toes, too.

For the first time in recent memory, the Battle of the Iron Skillet was more entertaining, and useful, than frying an egg in a pan, as SMU upset No. 25 TCU, 41-38 in Fort Worth.

After the game, TCU head coach Gary Patterson essentially put his co-offensive coordinator in a hot skillet of his own when he made Cumbie available to talk to the media.

When Cumbie was made aware of this “request,” he should have updated his LinkedIn profile. Maybe call his agent, both professional and real estate.

Patterson might as well have painted an ESPN College Game Day style sign that read, “It’s his fault.” If a coach is going to make this sort of gesture, he should just fire him.

Patterson explained his decision to let Cumbie chat with us media scum because he knew reporters “were going to ask quarterback questions,” and he wanted “somebody that could actually answer them,” he said.

This is both helpful, and quite convenient.

This never happens. Never as in never.

One of the most successful college football coaches in the last 20 years apparently needs helps to answer a few dumb questions about his own quarterback. It happened only immediately following a loss where for the third straight game his quarterbacks were not great.

Gary has forgotten more about football than most people will ever know, but he can’t answer for his own quarterback?

That’s a tough break.

This is a few weeks after Patterson said he wanted to be more involved in the offense this season because, ultimately, it’s on him.

In all of the years Andy Dalton won games, or Trevone Boykin made plays, their respective offensive coordinators were never asked by Patterson to explain the quarterback position to the media. Patterson could handle those challenging questions then.

But when true freshman Max Duggan plays like a true freshman, and the offense is an erratic mess of fumbles and poor execution, then Patterson needs someone to answer questions about the quarterback.

Like virtually every other coach, Patterson never makes his coordinators available to talk to the media, unless it’s immediately before the start of the season, or during a bowl week. This is part of “One Voice” mantra that college coaches routinely use because no one in their sphere dare challenge him as to the time of day, let alone a decision of any significance.

There is, however, a flaw to “One Voice” — it’s all about that one voice. Until it’s not. Then, when it’s not, it sure can smell a lot like blame.

Because that’s what this is.

So if we are to blame the play calling and the offense against SMU on Cumbie, Patterson should be commended for the shutout his defense threw against SMU.

(BTW: Cumbie is technically a co-offensive coordinator with Curtis Luper in name only; Cumbie is the OC).

The vaunted TCU defense held SMU to just 41 points, more than 400 yards, and sacked Mustangs quarterback Shane Buechele one time.

There was no reason to send Cumbie out there, other than to assign blame. At this point in his life, and career, Gary Patterson does not need anyone to blame.

His team lost because SMU has the quarterback TCU needs. And TCU could have had Shane Buechele.

TCU offered Buechele a scholarship coming out of high school, but he opted for Texas. When Buechele opted to transfer from Texas after last season, TCU didn’t call.

“They never came to me,” Buechele said.

That’s gonna leave a mark.

TCU opted for Kansas State graduate transfer Alex Delton as its quarterback candidate. Delton was on the bench for all but one play Saturday.

The head coach and his offensive coordinator don’t see eye to eye on this issue; Gary is always going to want the guy with the experience who won’t screw up (Delton). The offensive coordinator always wants the guy who can throw it and has more talent (Duggan).

TCU may eventually have a winner in Duggan, but Buechele outplayed him. The difference in quarterbacks was the difference in the game.

Duggan was horrible in the first half, and decent in the second. Buechele was good throughout.

Duggan was not helped by some bewildering play calls. TCU has one of the best weapons in the Big 12 in receiver Jalen Reagor, who touched the ball all of three times Saturday.

TCU had its chances, and when it watches the film, every coach and player will kick himself for blowing this game.

Meanwhile, SMU is 4-0. There is a good chance that SMU will take TCU’s spot in the next AP Top 25 poll. The last time SMU was 4-0, its boosters were makin’ it rain on high school seniors and Pony players.

The Ponies are 4-0 for the first time in 35 years, and it is because Shane Buechele is in Dallas rather than Fort Worth.

“It’s a simple thing. We got outplayed,” Patterson said, “we got outcoached.”

That’s why TCU is 2-1, will no longer be in the Top 25, and, for some odd reason, the head coach felt he needed an additional voice to explain that.

Sonny Cumbie, might want to update your resume.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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