NEWPORT, R.I. – Besides all the obvious benefits of TCU’s move to the Big East – money, better BCS bowl access, money, more television exposure, money and money – another plus for the Horned Frogs is it could make it easier to keep Gary Patterson in Fort Worth.
Patterson has been mentioned as a candidate for multiple openings in past years, but has remained at TCU. He begins his 12th season with the Horned Frogs on Sept. 2 against Baylor. The Horned Frogs are playing their final season in the Mountain West before moving to the Big East next season.
“Gary has an opportunity to create his own shadow,” TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said. “You can go somewhere else and you’re following some one else’s footsteps.
“You go to Alabama, it’s still Bear Bryant. You go to Texas, it’s still Darrell Royal. You go to Arkansas, it’s Frank Broyles. It’s still Woody Hayes at Ohio [State] and Bo Schembechler at Michigan. Gary is that figure for us. He is our iconic figure.”
The Horned Frogs are in the process of $105 million expansion and renovation of Amon Carter Stadium. It’s scheduled to be completed for the 2012 season. That’s only one piece of the puzzle, Del Conte said.
“The one thing we have to continue to do is invest in facilities, invest in staff and invest in our program,” Del Conte said. “But Gary’s created that iconic figure for us. That’s something to be said.
“The grass isn’t always greener. That whole field is riddled with people who thought it was greener and they’re now skeletons littered in the weeds.”
The Horned Frogs first game in the renovated Carter Stadium in 2012 will be against Grambling on Sept. 8. TCU’s first season as a Big East member also will include home games against Oklahoma, Virginia, Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida and West Virginia and road games at Pittsburgh, UConn, Rutgers and Syracuse.
Even though the Horned Frogs aren’t members of the Big East yet, Del Conte has an opinion on the league's expansion.
“Whatever we do, you have to have significant value to the mosaic that is already there,” Del Conte said. “If not, keep the league at what it’s at. Nine, 10, 12 [teams] – I have no dog in that race. Our forefathers do. My opinion is you have to add significant value and preserve the Big East’s tradition and history in basketball and what Dave Gavitt created way back in the day.”
Del Conte said he’s confident a Big East team will be playing for a national championship – in football – in the very near future and referenced near misses by Cincinnati in 2009 (if Texas doesn’t edge Nebraska in the Big 12 title game) and West Virginia in 2007 (if the Mountaineers defeat Pitt in regular season finale).
“There will be a Big East team playing in the national championship game soon enough,” Del Conte said. “There will be.”