FORT WORTH, Texas—TCU and football coach Gary Patterson mutually agreed to immediately part ways Sunday before the completion of his 21st season.
The announcement came a day after the Horned Frogs (3–5, 1–4 Big 12) lost 31–12 at Kansas State, Patterson’s alma mater. It was their fifth loss in six games, and they are 21–22 overall since the start of 2018.
Patterson leaves TCU with a 181–79 record, including an undefeated 13–0 season in 2010 that was capped by a Rose Bowl victory. He was the second-longest tenured FBS coach, trailing only Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who is in his 23rd season.
TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati said he and school chancellor Victor Boschini met Sunday with the 61-year-old Patterson “and mutually agreed that the time has come for a new voice and leadership” in the football program.
While responding in a text message that it was “correct” that he had mutually agreed to depart, Patterson had no other response to the AP on Sunday night.
“We asked him to continue on as our head coach for the remainder of the season, and take on a different role in 2022, but he believed it was in the team’s and TCU’s best interests to begin the transition immediately,” Donati said. “We respect Coach Patterson’s perspective and will move forward in that direction.”
Former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, who was the best man in Patterson’s wedding and on his staff in an off-field role as a special assistant in charge of the offense, will be the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The Frogs, who have four games left in the regular season, host 14th-ranked Baylor on Saturday.
Kill was Minnesota’s coach from 2011–15 before seizures caused by his epilepsy forced him to step down. He was offensive coordinator at Rutgers in 2017, but that was his last time in an on-field coaching role. He joined Patterson at TCU in February 2020, after a similar off-field role at Virginia Tech.
Patterson was the second Big 12 head coach let go within a week. Texas Tech fired third-year coach Matt Wells last Monday, also after a loss to Kansas State.
TCU’s only Big 12 win was 52–31 at Texas Tech on Oct. 9. A week after that, the Horned Frogs lost 52–31 to fourth-ranked Oklahoma.
While Patterson is a defensive-minded coach, the Horned Frogs have had one of the Big 12’s worst defenses this season. They ranked eighth in the 10-team league in scoring defense (31.5 points per game), and are ninth in total defense, giving up 443.3 yards per game.
Patterson was TCU’s defensive coordinator for three seasons on Dennis Franchione’s staff. He was promoted to head coach when Franchione left to become Alabama’s coach at the end of the 2000 regular season.
The Frogs won or shared championships in Conference USA and the Mountain West Conference under Patterson before becoming a Power Five team with their move to the Big 12 in 2012. They shared the Big 12 title in 2014, when TCU and Baylor were co-champions and were the first teams left out of the initial four-team College Football Playoff.
“The story of Gary Patterson and the rise in the fortunes of the TCU football program over the last 20 years is clearly one of the most remarkable in the history of college football,” Donati said. “We are grateful to Gary and Kelsey Patterson and appreciate everything they have meant to TCU and the Fort Worth community. Under his leadership, TCU has become a nationally recognized brand name in football and in collegiate athletics.”
TCU had 11 seasons with at least 10 wins under Patterson, the last in 2017 when they were ninth in the final AP Top 25 poll after going 11–3 and beating Stanford in the Alamo Bowl. That was the end of a streak of six finishes inside the top 10 over a 10-season period, including No. 2 in 2010 and No. 3 in 2014.
Patterson was also the active wins leader among coaches at their current schools, ahead of Ferentz (174) and Alabama’s Nick Saban (171). Next on that list is Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy with 144 wins in his 17th season at that Big 12 school.
By Stephen Hawkins