Gary Patterson’s TCU Horned Frogs are on the big stage more often than not these days.
Yet, nearly a decade ago, a traditional SEC power — the Tennessee Volunteers — didn’t think Patterson was prepared for the pressure of coaching in Knoxville, as detailed by ESPN’s Chris Low.
“Tennessee didn’t think I could handle the big stage,” Patterson said. “My wife and I went to dinner with them, and I could tell they had already decided on [Lane] Kiffin. It was the same with Nebraska. I interviewed and could tell they had already decided on [Bo] Pelini. I think a lot of these ADs now are more interesting in hiring guys who’re going to win the podium than they are in hiring football coaches, and there’s a lot more to it than that if you’re going to win championships.”
Of course, Tennessee hasn’t come anywhere close to sniffing a championship of any form since bypassing on Patterson in favor of Lane Kiffin ahead of the 2009 season, Kiffin’s only year in Knoxville. Pelini is now the head coach at FCS Youngstown State after getting fired at Nebraska in 2014.
Although Patterson hasn’t secured a National Championship at TCU, his Horned Frogs did take home a share of the 2014 Big 12 title and are in position to make the Big 12 Championship their own this season.
Including the current 2017 slate, nine seasons have come and gone since Tennessee hired Kiffin over Patterson. During that stretch, the Horned Frogs have enjoyed a 84-28 record on the strength of five seasons with at least 11 wins. The Volunteers, on the other hand, are 57-53 since 2009 with four losing seasons to their name.
Fast forward nearly a decade later and Patterson has TCU ranked No. 6 and in the thick of the College Football Playoff discussion, while numerous programs such as Tennessee are or may soon be in the market for a new coach.
Patterson is 157-54 overall at TCU, so his name is one that’s going to come up as a potential replacement at some blue blood program.
Although Patterson admitted that he’ll at least listen to what other team’s have to say, the 57-year-old coach is currently content at the program and in the city he says is special.
“It would have to be something you just couldn’t say no to, but here’s the thing with me: I never say never, because I always get pissed off at those coaches when they say, ‘This is my last stop,’ or they sign a new contract and change jobs the next year,” Patterson said. “For me, it’s not only TCU, but Fort Worth is a special place.”
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