FAYETTEVILLE — Gary Patterson has a long history of success at Texas Christian University, guiding the program to 115 wins, an undefeated season and two Bowl Championship Series appearances during his tenure.
One report Friday afternoon indicated Arkansas plans to see if Patterson is ready for a new challenge in the Southeastern Conference.
Pete Roussel of CoachingSearch.com, citing sources, said Patterson has emerged as the leading candidate for the Arkansas position. The Razorbacks, who are being led by coach John L. Smith this season, have been searching for a long-term replacement for the program since Bobby Petrino was fired in April.
The 52-year-old Patterson certainly has a strong resume after success at TCU. The Horned Frogs have won 10 or more games in eight of his 12 seasons on the sideline.
TCU went 47-5 from 2008-11, earning trips to the Fiesta Bowl in 2009 and Rose Bowl in 2010. The Horned Frogs defeated Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl to cap a 13-0 season.
“Gary Patterson is simply the best football coach in America,” TCU athletics director Chris Del Conte told The Associated Press shortly after the Rose Bowl win. “To see a sea of purple in the stands at the Rose Bowl is a testament to what Gary and his staff have accomplished. ... He is a perfect fit for TCU.”
The perfect record helped Patterson earn a two-year contract extension through 2018 and a pay raise to roughly $3 million a year, according to numerous reports.
“TCU let me grow as a coach,” Patterson told ESPNDallas.com at the time of the contract extension. “They gave me an opportunity to be a head coach and to do what we’ve been able to do. We’ve come a long way in 13 years and it’s been fun to be a part of it. I feel like I’m just a member of the staff. The entire university, not just the football program, is trying to win championships.”
It would be no surprise if Patterson was high on Arkansas athletics director Jeff Long’s list for other reasons. In addition to his success on the field, Patterson also has developed plenty of connections among high school coaches in Texas. The state is vital to Arkansas’ recruiting efforts with more than a dozen players on the roster from the Lone Star State.
But it’s not known whether Patterson would seriously consider a move from TCU’s campus in Fort Worth. Or how much it would take financially for a program that paid Petrino $3.85 million under his long-term contract.
Patterson has been instrumental in the national reputation of the program, which included a move from Conference-USA to the Mountain West Conference in 2005 and from the Mountain West to the Big 12 this season.
Patterson also has been instrumental in improved facilities at TCU. The Horned Frogs are playing their first Big 12 season in a renovated stadium. They have added an indoor practice facility, new offices and a new locker room since his arrival.
TCU is 6-3 overall and 3-3 in its first season in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs can notch a big win tonight, though, when it plays No. 3 Kansas State in Fort Worth.