Patterson named AP Coach of the Year
Offensive turnaround leads long-time TCU coach to second Associated Press honor.
by Rick Waters
Updated: Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Gary Patterson is one of just five active coaches with at least 100 victories at their current school and is the fifth-longest tenured coach in the NCAA.
It began as an early new year's resolution of sorts. After 13 seasons at TCU and two in the Big 12, Gary Patterson knew he needed a new offense.
By mid-December, after a disappointing 4-8 season was over, he brought aboard new co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie to install a Horned Frog version of the Air Raid.
A year later, TCU sits at 11-1, co-champions of the Big 12, ranked No. 6 in the nation and poised to play in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, one of the New Year's Six games of the inaugural College Football Playoff.
That humbling admission and action – among the nation's best stories and biggest turnarounds – has netted Patterson his second Associated Press Coach of the Year Award, joining Alabama's Nick Saban as the only two-time winners. Patterson was previously the 2009 awardee.
The AP isn't the only outlet to recognize Patterson's stellar season. Patterson also has received the 2014 Eddie Robinson Award, while also being recognized this season as the Coach of the Year by the Walter Camp Football Foundation, ESPN/Home Depot, CBSSports.com and Scout.com. He is also the Woody Hayes Award recipient and a finalist for the Bobby Dodd Award and Paul "Bear" Bryant Award. He was also the Chuck Neinas Big 12 Coach of the Year as well as the Associated Press Big 12 Coach of the Year.
"The head coaches get too much attention," Patterson said. "That means really that you had a good team. Good players and really a great coaching staff."
Meacham and Cumbie's offense is an up-tempo spread similar to the one used by Big 12 rivals Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and West Virginia.
The result: TCU went from being ranked 105th in the nation in yards per play and 106th in yards per game in 2013 to ranking ninth and fourth, respectively, in those categories in 2014. The Horned Frogs increased their points per game by three touchdowns, from 25 to 46. Quarterback Trevone Boykin, who seemed destined to become a full-time receiver, instead developed into one of the best dual-threat signal-callers in the country.
"It was a big jump for us. Thirty-two years of my 33 years (in coaching) I've been part of run, play action, play good defense. Special teams. This was outside of my comfort zone," said Patterson, who has now won six conference championships in three different leagues as TCU's head coach.
The Horned Frogs' all-time winningest coach with 131 victories, Patterson has guided the Horned Frogs (11-1) to the 11-win mark for the eighth time in the last 12 campaigns. His .744 winning percentage (131-45) ranks fourth among active coaches nationally (minimum 10 years). He is one of just five active coaches with at least 100 victories at their current school and is the fifth-longest tenured coach in the NCAA.
But even veteran coaches can learn a thing or two still. Patterson's hunch that a good defense and an up-tempo offense could co-exist paid off. The Frogs were in the hunt for a College Football Playoff spot and came into the final weekend of the season third in the selection committee rankings.
"We wanted to be in the playoff, but I'm not sure the way it all was handled that TCU didn't gain even more from not being it in. How we handled it," Patterson said. "There's a lot of positives that came out of how everything turned out."
This report contains material from the Associated Press.