DALLAS – This time last year, Casey Pachall was coming off a record-setting sophomore season in his first year as TCU’s starting quarterback and preparing for a promising junior year.
He and Trevone Boykin combined to complete all 17 of the Horned Frogs’ in a 56-0 blowout of Grambling State – an FBS record for most completions without an incompletion – while Gary Patterson became the program’s all-time winningest coach.
Pachall threw for more than 300 yards in each of the next two games and helped TCU improve to 4-0 in their first year as a member of the Big 12 following a 24-16 win over SMU.
The fall from grace was quick and unforgiving.
Pachall de-enrolled from the school and entered a rehab facility after being suspended by Patterson. Boykin, who had began working out with the team’s running backs the previous week, was back under center. The Horned Frogs fell to Iowa State, 37-24, in their Big 12 home opener the next weekend, ending their FBS-best 12-game winning streak.
“It was a hard decision,” Patterson said. “I knew it was going to affect our wins and losses. You had to take a guy we moved to running back and move him back to quarterback. But as far as what we’re doing for a young man’s life, I think it was an easy decision.”
Boykin, a redshirt freshman in 2012, improved as the season progressed, but TCU finished 7-6, its worst season in eight years. Patterson has yet to name a starting quarterback for this year, but Pachall is widely expected to beat out Boykin for the job. His teammates spoke to the changes they’ve seen in Pachall since his return.
“I lived with him,” senior running back Waymon James said. “When he was down with rehab, he was miserable. He couldn’t stand it. He was miserable every day. The only people he talked to was his mom, family and his girlfriend. He couldn’t take it anymore. You could tell on his face. He was excited to get back out there. He’s growing up. He’s maturing. He’s ready to take us to a championship.”
Pachall, who was picked by the media as the preseason All-Big 12 quarterback, was not among the four players representing TCU at Big 12 Media Days on Monday. This was at his request, according to his head coach.
“A lot of people asked me why I didn’t bring him to media days,” Patterson said. “Number one, we don’t know who our starting quarterback is. Two, it doesn’t have anything to do with what my intentions were… I’m letting him do his thing, keeping the pressure off him.”
Patterson could have easily dismissed Pachall, a repeat offender, from his team. But he gave him time away from the squad, left the door open for him to return, and welcomed him back with open arms. Time will tell if the move will pay off.
“He’s not just about winning. He’s about changing lives,” safety Sam Carter said. “He understands football is temporary. He understands we’re young. We’re 19 to 23 and we’re going to make mistakes. He was young before. Sometimes people need a second and third chance. We all make mistakes. Football is important but it’s about helping him become a better person.”