It was not all that long ago TCU head coach Gary Patterson was being respected for the way in which he handled his Horned Frogs being left out of the College Football Playoff. It was rather easily to compliment Patterson for his calm demeanor on the topic when Art Briles at Baylor was sounding off at every opportunity. Patterson reasoned TCU was working to reach the rung of the ladder programs like Ohio State and Alabama had reached, and admitted it takes time to earn that level of respect. Patterson kept TCU focused on the next opportunity, which resulted in a blowout victory over Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl.
Now Patterson is ready to share his true feelings about TCU being left out of the College Football Playoff.
“No matter what we’ve called it during my 33 years of college football coaching, whether we had the BCS or the coaches’ poll, whatever they had, somebody has felt like they got screwed,” Patterson said while talking to reporters this week. “That will go on.”
He is absolutely right. This is not going to change regardless of the number of playoff teams are handed an invite to the championship hunt. But Patterson was not necessarily saying TCU should have been a lock for the first College Football Playoff. He was more pointing out some of the possible concerns that should be had regarding the new postseason format. Most notably is the emphasis on a conference championship game.
“I was told why we had a committee was we were going to take all that stuff out of it. I remember talking about the championship games and they shouldn’t have mattered,” Patterson said, as quoted by The Dallas Morning News this week. “Their job was to watch all this film and pick the top four teams no matter where you played and what you did. And then, all of a sudden in the end it got down to they played a championship game and we didn’t. That’s not what we were told. We were told they would pick the four best teams.”
Patterson’s comments days after the latest developments in the possible deregulation of conference championship games was reported. The Big 12 and ACC have made a push for removing the title game requirements (12 league members, and two division champions), which figures to open the door for a possible Big 12 championship game with only 10 conference members (which is also bad news for BYU, Cincinnati, UCF and so on). Patterson actually thinks the championship game model should be ditched everywhere. Some feel the Big 12 would have had a much better chance to be represented in the playoff had a conference championship game been played instead of the final week of the regular season. Odds are that certainly would have helped the cause for Baylor or TCU (or both!), but it is far from a suggestion either co-Big 12 champion would have been awarded one of the four spots.
Judging by Patterson’s story of a pregame meeting before the regular season finale with Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads, he knew TCU was going to be left out of the mix unless some crazy things happened elsewhere.
“We were on the field before the ballgame and [Paul Rhoads] said he hopes if we ended up winning for us to have good luck. I told him, ‘Paul, we weren’t going to the playoffs.’ We were the first team playing on that Saturday and haven’t seen anybody else and I told him we weren’t going to the playoffs. I’m pretty good at gut feelings and I watched all the articles going through the week. I actually thought it was the kiss of death when we got moved to third.”
Patterson spoke earlier this offseason about college football royalty coming into play. Conference championship game or not, Baylor and TCU each lack that perceived royalty compared to the other playoff options that were on the table. The Big 12’s overall production in non-conference play did not help that cause either.