Gary Patterson and the recent arrest of two TCU football players registered a nothing in Bristol and the home of ESPN until the head coach, unprompted, dropped one of the all-time zingers at the Baptists on the Brazos.
“It’s not even close to what happened south of here,” GP said at his weekly afternoon press conference, which caused my jaw to hit the floor, and everybody in Bristol and beyond to take notice.
It wasn’t until Gary fired a shot at his friends in Waco in his defense of arrested defensive lineman Mike Tuaua and receiver Andre Petties-Wilson that this story went big.
No one goaded, guided or baited the coach into this gold-medal line aimed directly at the Baylor rape scandal involving former player Sam Ukwuachu. This was a message board, Twitter type of a shot that is funny, and makes a nasty rivalry even nastier.
That’s what I, and many others, believed. So I asked him after Wednesday’s practice if he regretted the comment.
“No. Why would I? It wasn’t about Baylor University. It was about the kid,” Patterson said. “Why did I say anything at all? Because it was about the kid. I was trying to defend Tuaua because outside people were making comparisons [to Ukwuachu], which the two situations do not compare.”
I believe Gary’s logic. I also believe it sounded terrible, and it left him wide open to misinterpretation and criticism that he was calling out another school.
He is right. The charges against Tuaua and Petties-Wilson(assault and robbing TCU kids of incredibly horrible, cheap beer) indicate stupid, dumb behavior that warrants punishment; the charges are not in the same bad neighborhood as Ukwuachu(sexual assault), which resulted in a six-month prison sentence.
Whether you choose to believe @TCUCoachP’s explanation of his Tuesday line depends entirely on the color of your wardrobe, your zip code, and whether you prefer a bear or a frog as a good house pet.
TCU people believe him. In GP’s Tuesday press conferences before this week, he has avoided answering any question that could be used in a Baylor scandal story.
Those elsewhere, specifically in Waco and all things Baylor, say the line Tuesday was a low-brow, classless comment from a head coach they absolutely cannot stand.
Patterson could give Baylor $3 million and he would still be the most-hated man in Waco, and unwelcome at the next Twin Peaks biker brunch.
At the very least it drew the attention to Patterson more than the situation.
Personally, I absolutely love it because it adds to the sports hate that exists between the two schools. I did not think the fun of the 2014 season could be matched between TCU and Baylor in 2015, and here we are and the tenor is somehow even worse.
Not long after the comment, longtime Fox Sports college football reporter Stewart Mandel tweeted the absolute obvious: “TCU-Baylor is the nastiest rivalry in CFB today and there isn’t a close second. No love lost between those coaches.”
Nope, but Gary and Art Briles do pretend well.
In GP’s passionate defense of his guy, he created the perception that he was going after Baylor. He insists that he is not.
By delivering that zinger he did the one thing that he hates: Create motivation for an opponent when none is needed.
How would he have reacted had one of his players said this on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or in an interview? Start with not well.
Bet all of your money this dig will come up when the teams meet the day after Thanksgiving, which cannot get here soon enough.
The irony is that how TCU’s athletic department handled this case was based much on how Baylor botched the handling of the Ukwuachu situation.
According to various sources, when the athletic department learned of the incident, it immediately suspended the two players and sent the case over to university administration.
TCU wanted no part of the perception that it was influencing the status of the two players, which is exactly what Baylor has been charged of in the Ukwuachu case.
TCU has done that before, unsuccessfully in the era of athletic director Danny Morrison with a certain running back, but on this one it threw up the white flag.
In cases such as this, where no arrest was made for a couple of weeks, the players normally are allowed to play as “the wheels of justice turn slowly;” that’s the standard line delivered by coaches who need their good players on Saturday.
Neither of TCU players played or practiced as they waited for the school to determine their status.
So far, they have missed two games and remain in school as they await their respective fates.
Whatever happens, Gary’s line on Tuesday, intended or not, stirred it a little bit more in Waco and made a nastier rivalry considerably tastier. Black Friday cannot get here soon enough.
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