FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Gary Patterson could now play a key role in spoiling what has been a perfect season so far for fourth-ranked TCU.
After having as good a run as any Big 12 coach in whipping Texas over the past decade while still in purple, there is that startling contrast of Patterson being in burnt orange and on the opposite side of the team that he led to its last undefeated season.
Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson smiled and gave a “focus-on-us” answer about the Horned Frogs (9-0, 6-0 Big 12, No. 4 CFP) facing the former coach. The standout senior cornerback then chuckled when asked about his initial response.
“I just smiled because, you know, you brought up coach Patterson,” Hodges-Tomlinson said, still without a straight face.
Patterson is certainly a focal point for Saturday's game, even though he is in a non-coaching role as a special assistant for Steve Sarkisian at No. 18 Texas (6-3, 4-2, No. 18 CFP) and can't directly interact with players.
One of the first questions Sarkisian got asked this week was if Patterson was working more than usual to help against the Frogs, who won seven of the past 10 in the series with Patterson as their coach until just more than a year ago. TCU had won only seven of the 41 meetings before that since the mid-1950s.
“Gary works 24-7 to beat anybody,” Sarkisian said with a laugh. "He's got an unbelievable work ethic about him. He’s got a great deal of discipline in his approach into what he does and how he does it.”
Sarkisian insisted nothing has been different this week for Patterson, who does advance scouting and shares his findings and thoughts with the Longhorns defensive staff.
Patterson is the Frogs' winningest coach with 181 victories over 21 seasons, after three years as their defensive coordinator. There is a statue on the Fort Worth campus of Patterson, whose tenure included a 13-0 season in 2010 that ended with a Rose Bowl victory and a No. 2 national ranking.
That was two years before the Frogs joined the Big 12 from the Mountain West Conference, and the last time they had started 9-0 — until now in Sonny Dykes' first season.
Dykes was an offensive analyst at TCU in 2017, when he watched games from the pressbox while in a similar advisory role for Patterson. Dykes then was SMU's coach the past four seasons before returning to the other side of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
TCU's success and the Patterson sideshow both certainly played into ESPN's “College GameDay” picking Austin to host its show for the second time this season — the first was Alabama in Week 2. The show was also at Kansas five weeks ago when TCU won there.
But how Patterson will actually impact the prime-time game is still a bit uncertain.
“I don’t know what Gary’s role is there,” Dykes said Tuesday. “It's hard for me to evaluate that. I know Gary’s a very good coach. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. I know he obviously knows our players. So I don’t know.”
Alan Ali, the senior center who came from SMU to TCU with Dykes, didn't play for Patterson. But he got to play against him, and sees some similarities with what the coach did with the Frogs and what Texas is doing now.
“I think here and there. Definitely not the whole thing,” Ali said. “But I can see some of coach Patterson’s schemes he throws in there. ... I've noticed a little bit of that on film."
Sarkisian generally doesn't let staff members speak with the media, and Patterson has been relatively quiet anyway since his departure from TCU was announced on Halloween night 2021, a day after the Frogs fell to 3-5. It was described then as a mutual decision between him and the school.
Colorado transfer safety Mark Perry's debut with TCU this year came in the season opener against the Buffaloes. So he has a sense of what his teammates who played for Patterson are going through this week.
“Obviously, that will be big for them going against their former coach,” Perry said. “Just try to limit the distractions. It's only a distraction if you let it be.”
Well, it could be pretty jarring to actually see Patterson on the other sideline in burnt orange.
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