Big 12 News

TCU’s Gary Patterson Puts Big 12 Chances Into ‘CFP Expansion’ Perspective

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days

TCU head coach Gary Patterson put his Horned Frogs’ Big 12 chances for 2021 in perspective, based on the new discussion around the College Football Playoff.

At Big 12 Media Days on Wednesday, Patterson was high on his offense, which is returning pretty much every piece, including quarterback Max Duggan. Could these Frogs be as good as his teams in 2014, 2015 and 2017? And if the College Football Playoff had been 12 teams — as is being discussed for the future — would the Horned Frogs have been a part of it?

“I put it in a playoff perspective,” Patterson said. “In 2014, 2015 and 2017 we probably would have been in the playoff if it had been 12 teams. We know how to win ball games. That’s not new to us.”


In 2014, the Horned Frogs went 12-1 and shared the Big 12 championship with Baylor, but missed the College Football Playoff. In 2015 and in 2017, the Horned Frogs won 11 games each.

To be great those seasons, the Horned Frogs had to do a lot of things, Patterson said, including winning close games. He’s emphasized that with the Horned Frogs this summer.

“If you want to win 11-12 games, you’re probably going to win five close games because the parity in this conference is really close,” Patterson said. “This is one of those year where we have five road games (in conference). We have to get back to understanding the detail of what we have to do, which is winning close ball games.”

The Horned Frogs have six, five and seven wins in their last three seasons. Patterson also pointed out this is the first since 2017 that the Horned Frogs are returning a starting quarterback.

READ MORE: Three Things That Will Define the TCU Offense in 2021

READ MORE: Three Things That Will Define the TCU Defense in 2021


TCU is coming off a 2020 in which it went 6-4 overall and 5-4 in Big 12 action. The Horned Frogs earned a bowl bid to the Texas Bowl, but the game was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols. Among Big 12 teams last year, the Horned Frogs were the No. 1 rushing team in the conference, averaging 214.7 yards per game. But one of those top producers, Darwin Barlow, transferred to USC in June.

The Horned Frogs do return quarterback Max Duggan, who threw for 1,795 yards last season and rushed for another 526 yards to lead all Horned Frogs. He is one of six returning starters on offense, a unit bolstered by the transfer of former Memphis offensive lineman Obinna Eze. Defensively, the Horned Frogs return seven starters, including potential All-Big 12 performers like defensive end Ochaun Mathis, cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson and safety La’Kendrick Van Zandt. Additionally, the defense welcomes a Memphis transfer, T.J. Carter, to the secondary, and can count defensive tackle Corey Bethley back after he opted to return to school and not go pro.

Patterson is entering his 21st full season as head coach at TCU, where he has gone 178-74. But, in the past three seasons the Horned Frogs have gone just 18-17, after going 40-13 and sharing a Big 12 title in the four seasons prior to that. The Horned Frogs have earned bowl berths in seven of the program’s nine seasons in the Big 12 since joining in 2012.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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