The powers-that-be at TCU are preparing for the departure of football coach Gary Patterson, sources close to the program tell us, with much of the intrigue focusing on Clemson as a suitor. In fact, we hear that last night, Clemson AD Terry Don Phillips was in Fort Worth for an interview with Patterson (we believe held at the skyscraper-topping Fort Worth Club, downtown home of the annual Davey O’Brien Award ceremony) and that the visit was a positive one.
Positive, that is, for Patterson and Clemson. For TCU, not so much.
“Gary’s probably gone,’’ one prominent member of the TCU family tells us. “He’s been on the short list of so many schools. It (a change) is probably coming.’’
If Clemson – or Tennessee, where we hear Patterson would prefer to land – is able to steal the coach away from Fort Worth, they’ll be getting a good one. Those close to Patterson insist that over the course of his 11 years with TCU, he’s established that he is not money-driven. (We’re told he may have turned down $2 mil a year from Kansas State.) He’s demonstrated great loyalty to TCU, won 40 games over the course of four years, and is now considered by many to be one of the top 10 defensive coaches in the country.
As for other suitors: Kansas State had pursued Patterson, but he spurned his alma mater, leaving K-State to turn back the clock and hire former boss Bill Snyder. Consider this educated speculation, but we hear from very reliable voices that Tennessee is going in another direction as the successor to Phil Fulmer, maybe to Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly.
No K-State. … maybe no Tennessee. … that leaves Patterson to Clemson, logical on most every level – yet none of it due to Patterson’s particular dissatisfaction with the Fort Worth school.
I’m told that Patterson can be “Mike Leach-like’’ in interviews; an unusual personality, with some rough edges and some eccentricities. Patterson’s rather vanilla offense might not play as well in the ACC as it does in the Mountain West. His recruiting is very much Texas-based, which could work for or against him if he moves out of the region. He is almost certainly driven by the opportunity to escape the Poinsettia Bowl level of college football (TCU, as a smaller private school, doesn’t “travel well’’ to bowl games). A job in the ACC or even in the SEC solves that wish.
Phillips is certainly aware of all those plusses and minutes; in his time at Oklahoma State, he was given an up-close-and-regional look at Patterson. We should point out, too, that Phillips has the same sort of first-hand knowledge of Oklahoma assistant head coach Brett Venables, who it could be argued is a more “modern-style’’ coach than Patterson. O'Brien Award is annually presented honoring the nation's top quarterback. In addition to Venables, our work with Scout.com suggests that Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster, former Oakland Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin, Illinois offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and Clemson interim head coach Dabo Swinney join Patterson on the short list.For now, Patterson is saying all the right things, as he always has (even when he privately believed he didn’t get proper consideration a few years ago for the Arkansas job eventually given to Bobby Petrino, he kept a lid on it.)
“It’s very flattering," Patterson told the media this weekend, speaking on the subject of being a candidate for other jobs. “But the bottom line is, every time you have a great season with great players, people come calling. They always have. 11 years now and I’m still here.’’