TCU coach Gary Patterson has agreed to mutually separate from his position leading the Horned Frogs after 22 seasons with the program. Special assistant to the head coach Jerry Kill will take over as interim coach for the remainder of the 2021 season.
"The story of Gary Patterson and the rise in the fortunes of the TCU football program over the last 20 years is clearly one of the most remarkable in the history of college football," TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati said in a statement. "We are grateful to Gary and Kelsey Patterson and appreciate everything they have meant to TCU and the Fort Worth community. Chancellor [Victor] Boschini and I met with Coach Patterson today and mutually agreed that the time has come for a new voice and leadership in our football program."
The statement notes that TCU administrators asked Patterson to stay on through the rest of the 2021 season and take an off-field role with the university in 2022. However, Patterson decided to leave the role immediately and hand the reins over to Kill.
The separation agreement appears to have come, at least in part, amid TCU's desire to have its choice of coaching candidates this offseason ahead of Texas Tech, which fired Matt Wells last week, sources tell CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd. With TCU and Texas Tech both in what will be a reshaped Big 12, they may now be competing over coaches in addition to players.
Patterson leaves as the winningest coach in TCU history (181-79) and the second-longest tenured coach in the nation behind Iowa's Kirk Ferentz. He's also one of the greatest defensive minds of the modern era after creating a revolutionary version of the 4-2-5 defense that proved perfect for shutting down new-age air raid-inspired offenses.
Though TCU had numerous successful seasons under Patterson, the most remarkable came in 2010 when the Horned Frogs finished 13-0, won the Rose Bowl and ended the campaign ranked No. 2 in the AP Top 25 despite being members of the Mountain West.
As TCU defensive coordinator under Dennis Franchione, Patterson was elevated to the top job in 2000 soon after the Frogs were left out of Big 12 expansion. He grew the program into one of the most fearsome teams outside of the Power Five conferences, particularly once TCU joined the MWC in 2005.
Patterson led the Frogs to six seasons of 11 wins or better during their seven-year tenure in the MWC, and after four consecutive top 15 finishes along with the aforementioned Rose Bowl victory, TCU was invited to join the Big 12 in 2012.
TCU won 11 or more games over three of its first six seasons in the Big 12; however, it started to backslide in 2018 after a trip to the 2017 Big 12 Championship Game. The Frogs under Patterson went 21-22 (13-19 Big 12) over the last three-plus seasons without a single campaign featuring more than seven wins.
TCU lost 31-12 against Kansas State on Saturday, allowing more than 11 yards per pass attempt on Patterson's signature defense to move to 3-5 with consecutive games against ranked opponents remaining. Saturday's game against No. 13 Baylor will be TCU's first without Patterson on the coaching staff since 1997.
Overall, Patterson led TCU to 10+ wins over 11 of his 22 seasons, each of which ended with the team ranked in the AP Top 25.