Kansas native Gary Patterson embraced change at TCU and joined an exclusive club.
Patterson was voted college football coach of the year by The Associated Press on Wednesday, joining Nick Saban as the only two-time winners.
The AP coach of the year has been awarded since 1998. Patterson, in his 14th season at TCU, was coach of the year in 2009. Saban was coach of the year in 2003 when he was with LSU and in 2008 at Alabama.
Patterson was born in Larned, raised in Rozel, played football and served as a graduate assistant at Kansas State and coached at Pittsburg State.
He received 27 of 54 votes from the AP Top 25 media panel. Urban Meyer of Ohio State was the runner-up with 14 votes. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen received six votes. Alabama’s Saban and Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez drew two votes each. Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher, Baylor’s Art Briles and Memphis’ Justin Fuente had one.
Patterson guided the sixth-ranked Horned Frogs to an 11-1 record and a share of the Big 12 title after going 4-8 in 2013.
“The head coaches get too much attention,” Patterson said. “That means really that you had a good team. Good players and really a great coaching staff.”
After his worst season at TCU, Patterson overhauled his offense, knowing he needed more production to keep up in the high-scoring Big 12. He brought in Doug Meacham to be offensive coordinator and Sonny Cumbie to assist and coach quarterbacks. They installed an up-tempo, spread offense similar to the one used by Big 12 rivals Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and West Virginia.
What resulted was one of the biggest turnarounds of the season. TCU went from being ranked 105th in the nation in yards per play and 106th in yards per game in 2013 to ranking ninth and fourth, respectively, in those categories in 2014. The Horned Frogs increased their points per game by three touchdowns, from 25 to 46. Trevone Boykin, who seemed destined to become a full-time receiver, instead developed into one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country.
“It was a big jump for us. Thirty-two years of my 33 years (in coaching) I’ve been part of run, play action, play good defense. Special teams. This was outside of my comfort zone,” Patterson said.
Patterson learned a good defense and an up-tempo offense could co-exist. And TCU, in just its third year in the Big 12, won a share of the conference title. Only a last-second loss at Baylor kept the Frogs from a perfect season.
TCU was in the hunt for a College Football Playoff spot and came into the final weekend of the season third in the selection committee rankings. The Frogs ended up sixth and instead of playing for the national title will meet Mississippi in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31.
“We wanted to be in the playoff, but I’m not sure the way it all was handled that TCU didn’t gain even more from not being it in. How we handled it,” Patterson said. “There’s a lot of positives that came out of how everything turned out.”