Editor’s note: This story references a derogatory racial slur.
To open the shortened season, Texas has won in both convincing and nail-biting fashion against two teams that are still working to establish a winning culture under recently hired head coaches.
UT-El Paso head coach Dana Dimel and Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells are well-known for their abilities to turn around lesser programs, but both had just four years of combined head coaching experience at their respective schools before coming into their matchups against Texas.
The Longhorns will be tasked with going against a veteran head coach for the first time when Gary Patterson and the TCU Horned Frogs make their way to Austin on Saturday.
Now into his 20th season as the head coach of the Horned Frogs, Patterson is the longest tenured head coach on the Longhorns’ schedule and is now the second-longest tenured head coach across all of college football, amassing an impressive 172–71 record throughout his time in Fort Worth.
College coaches often harp on the importance of getting the opportunity to build a winning culture with “their guys,” who have all been recruited by the same coaching staff that they play under. Patterson is the first coach on the Longhorns’ schedule who boasts the experience necessary to build that cohesiveness within his program.
Despite Patterson’s experience, he shares an important quality with Dimel and Wells: Patterson has made a name for himself by building a lesser-known program into a perennial winner.
Prior to hiring him as defensive coordinator in 1998, the Horned Frogs had appeared in just two bowl games in a 33-year span and hadn’t won 10 games in a season since 1938.
Since Patterson’s initial hiring and eventual promotion to head coach in 2000, the Horned Frogs have now won 10 games or more a season 12 times and have failed to play in a bowl game just three times over that span.
By looking at what he has done on the sidelines in Fort Worth, it certainly isn’t difficult to understand why Patterson has become essential to TCU football.
Recently though, a couple of rough seasons and off-the-field controversies have cast a negative light on Patterson’s legacy within college football.
Patterson came under fire Aug. 3 after linebacker Dylan Jordan, a Black player, tweeted a statement that said the coach used the N-word in a team meeting. The incident prompted a boycott from the team..
Patterson later tweeted in an apology statement Aug. 4 saying he regretted his actions and has always “encouraged (their) players to do better and be better and (he) must live by the same standards.” According to a report from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he did not say the slur to the player directly and was criticizing the player’s repeated use of it in meetings. Regardless, the coach’s use of the word still came off as insensitive in a time of increased racial tension across the United States.
TCU’s record recently also hasn’t been the best. It missed a bowl game last season for the first time since 2013 and only had one season with more than seven wins in the last four years, so the stakes are higher than usual for the Horned Frogs when they visit Austin on Saturday