Following a 31–12 loss to Kansas State on Saturday, Gary Patterson’s career at TCU concluded with a whimper. It became increasingly clear as the season went on that a tenure that began in 1998, as defensive coordinator featuring innovative schemes that vaulted the Horned Frogs into legitimate national title contention, needed to end.
Patterson met with administrators, including athletic director Jeremiah Donati, on Sunday. A source tells Sports Illustrated that part of the plan to transition him into retirement at the end of the season was to throw a parade and have “Gary Patterson Day” surrounding the final home game against Kansas on Nov. 20. The message was not well received by Patterson, and he instead stepped down, effective immediately, by Sunday evening.
The notion heading into the season was that Patterson wanted to hang on to eclipse 200 career wins, but instead he exited Fort Worth with 181, leaving former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill to serve as interim. The writing had been on the wall, with TCU assistants frustrated about the remainder of the season. Patterson is expected to receive his full buyout.
Where TCU turns next will be fascinating as Texas and Oklahoma’s Big 12 exits—whenever they actually happen—create an easier path for everyone to the conference championship. A source tells SI that TCU is interested in current or former head coaches, rather than up-and-coming assistants. A presumed plug-and-play fit could be right down the road in SMU’s Sonny Dykes, multiple sources say.
Former Washington and Boise State coach Chris Petersen could also be in play if he’s not content with TV life. Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente (a former Patterson assistant) is also a name that has been connected to the opening, but his own job security issues in Blacksburg make him an unlikely choice.
• Barring the Gators stubbing their toe on the field in their remaining four games, it is not expected as of now that Florida will move on from coach Dan Mullen. It is, though, evident that Mullen will need to make changes on the defensive side of the ball and with his recruiting infrastructure as UF looks toward 2022.
• And what about LSU? Things have been quiet in what could still turn out to be a wild coaching search. The notion within the industry is that the Tigers are willing to be huge spenders with whoever they find as a replacement for Ed Orgeron. The number has been ballparked at $9 million per year, but that could simply be due to the perceived connection of Jimbo Fisher to the job. Fisher will be making $9 million as of Jan. 1, 2022.
• Georgia Southern has named former USC coach Clay Helton as its next coach after an under-the-radar search.
You will note that Helton is not a triple-option coach, and it seems like Southern is going in a more modern direction with its offense—a move that could irk some of the traditional members of its fanbase.
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• After two electric offensive seasons, will Lane Kiffin remain at Ole Miss or will he move on in 2022? If Miami does open at season’s end, the Hurricanes would get an immediate rejuvenation by hiring Kiffin, whose head coaching career’s second act began at FAU in 2017. Complicating that is whether Miami will actually part ways with Manny Diaz after all. What seemed headed to a somewhat inevitable conclusion may have been injected with some optimism after back-to-back wins, including an upset over Pitt with the emergence of Tyler Van Dyke at quarterback.
• Duke continues to lose, and the year-over-year results are not great. After going 5–7 in 2019 and 2–9 in ’20, the Blue Devils are 3–5 with four consecutive losses this fall, three of which were by a combined 131–14 margin. David Cutcliffe, who turned 67 in September, will begin to face more questions about whether he will retire, although he has said that he’d like to coach “a lot longer.” But the results are speaking for themselves in terms of whether that decision will be left up to him. Mike Krzyzewski may not be the only sitting Duke coach in his last season on the sideline.
• If New Mexico State comes open, Rocky Long is a name to keep in mind. The wiley veteran coach is 71 and in the twilight of his career as defensive coordinator at New Mexico. He could be a stabilizer for a program that has had two winning seasons in the new millennium.
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