News broke yesterday that 17 TCU students, including four football players, were arrested in a drug bust spearheaded by the university and Fort Worth police forces. The allegations tarnished the Horned Frogs' previously spotless reputation and could have serious implications on next year's season: Linebacker Tanner Brock, defensive lineman T.J. Yendry, offensive tackle Ty Horn and defensive back Devin Johnson were all named in a Star-Telegram report.
The arrests, however, pose a larger question: How will they impact the future of TCU's program?
College football recruiting has become a year-round endeavor, and many programs already have a few -- if not a handful -- of verbal commitments from high school juniors. According Rivals' database, TCU has yet to receive a 2013 commitment, though 23 different players have received offers. Laquvionte Gonzalez, a four-star athlete out of Cedar Hill, Texas, is among that group. His coach, Joey McGuire, doesn't envision Wednesday's developments affecting Gonzalez's decision.
"I don't know the whole story but I know this -- I know Gary Patterson and I know that he's a great football coach and he is a very good man," said McGuire. "TCU has been very good to my kid, [former Cedar Hill safety] Elisha Olabode. I think the world of their coaching staff.
"I just know that I trust Coach Patterson. It's one of those things, if Quiv wants to go to TCU, I'm going to trust that Coach Patterson is going to take care of him. I'm not concerned."
While high school coaches certainly have influence, however, players remain the ultimate decision-makers. Bastrop, Texas, four-star cornerback Antwuan Davis, Rivals' No. 171 prospect in the class of 2013, holds an offer from TCU. He says that while news of the arrests is disappointing, it doesn't change his overall perception of the program.
"It doesn't really affect how I feel about TCU," Davis said. "I know they're a good school, but you have people everywhere that are going to mess up. It's just four football players not doing what they're supposed to. They shouldn't have done that.
"You really just have to question how much [those players] really want it, to put their team in that kind of jeopardy or mess up the team's chances with any recruits that might want to go there. It didn't affect me, though, and I don't really think it will affect anybody else either. It's still the same school and the same coaches and the same program."
The network of Texas high school football coaches is notoriously close-knit, and Patterson has always been in their favor. That shouldn't change, according to Klein Oak High coach David Smith. Smith sent defensive tackle Jon Lewis to TCU in 2011 and linebacker A.J. Hilliard earlier this month. Like McGuire, he doesn't foresee any ill effects stemming from the report.
"Right now there is no impact as far as I'm concerned," Smith said. "Hopefully this is a one-time situation.
"In my personal opinion, they have a fantastic person and coach in Patterson, the leader of the TCU Horned Frogs. Eddie Williams, the guy that recruits down here, he's a fantastic person. Those guys are going to do everything they can at all times to separate their players from those that may not be good for them, associated with any type of activity like that."
In fact, both coaches noted that similar events could probably occur on nearly any campus nationwide.
"I don't know all the ins and outs, and it's not right," McGuire said. "But it's not the only place it's probably going on."
Smith echoed the sentiment.
"This could have occurred at any town in the country, as you well know," he said. "People are people and you can't stop people from making bad choices. Now, if it occurs again real soon, then you might sit down and go, 'Wait a minute, what do we have to do, to put in place, to make sure our players make the correct decisions?'"
Patterson issued a statement shortly after news of the arrests broke. All four players were promptly dismissed from the team.
"The guys that know Coach Patterson [think] that guy's awesome," McGuire said. "He's been great. He's been a big supporter -- a lot like [Texas head coach Mack] Brown -- a big supporter of high school coaches in Texas. It's always been one of those deals where we've always been able to come in and talk to them and they take care of us so I'm not going to look at them any different."