PONTE VERDA BEACH, Fla. – Being that this was his first official Big East function, you’ll have to excuse TCU coach Gary Patterson for not realizing shorts, and not long pants, are the preferred attire in this beach town.
Still, it wasn’t Patterson’s slacks, but the bling on his right ring finger that stood out the most – the Horned Frogs’ 2011 Rose Bowl championship ring.
And by joining the Big East in 2012, Patterson believes the Horned Frogs will have an easier road to make even more BCS bowls. Leaving the Mountain West after this season for the Big East will be a huge boost for the Horned Frogs in recruiting.
“[In the Mountain West] we weren’t an [automatic] qualifying conference and [now we can] get a chance to get into a BCS game without going undefeated,” Patterson said. “And then for us, the TV sets [the Big East reaches 30 percent of the nation’s television sets] by being able to go east.
“That’s the same reason the Dallas Cowboys did it. Geographically it doesn’t make any difference to come to [play] Philadelphia. That’s how they became – quote – ‘America’s Team’ because they became seen so much. We’ll see how that works.”
So far last year’s announcement of TCU moving to the Big East has already made an impact.
“I think there will be [excitement moving to the Big East],” Patterson said. “The excitement is the new recruiting class, they’re the ones the Big East will have an effect on and maybe the class coming in. We haven’t really talked about it. Our whole thing is getting a chance to win one more championship in the league we’re in.”
Patterson said he didn’t think anyone was considering them “a lame duck” in their final season in the Mountain West.
“You have to play the games,” Patterson said. “Schedule-wise, except for the Boise game [which was changed from a TCU home game to a Boise State home game by the league] … the Mountain West could have played it anyway you wanted to as far as the league was concerned.
“We don’t get a return game one way or another [with the other league opponents]. The only thing I’m worried about is making sure our stadium is ready for the first home game.”
Patterson said attending the Big East’s spring meetings gave him a chance to become more familiar with how the league operates.
“My whole premise was to get to know people [here], getting the lay of the ground work,” Patterson said. “I’m still loyal to the Mountain West. I get a chance to meet people and understand [how the league works] when we come into the league next spring.”