November 16, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
TCU head coach Gary Patterson is no stranger to K-State, and when he crosses the state line into Kansas - he's home.
Though the Horned Frogs' head coach will be taking the field in a different shade of purple this weekend, he got his start at K-State in the 1980s where he played linebacker and safety for the Wildcats before taking over as a graduate assistant coach.
"It'll be my first time back there in 30 years, so it'll be an interesting feeling," Patterson said earlier this week. "Playing them last year, it was interesting having them down here (in Fort Worth), but obviously going back there for the first time and back in Bill Snyder Family Stadium, it'll be pretty neat for me."
When the Wildcats take on TCU at 2:30 p.m., this afternoon in Bill Snyder Family Stadium, it will be the first time Patterson goes up against his alma mater as a head coach in Manhattan.
A 1983 K-State alum, Patterson was a part of Wildcat history as he was a member of the first team that made it to a bowl game. Under head coach Jim Dickey, the 1982 Wildcats went 6-4-1 before taking on Wisconsin in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 11, 1982. Despite a 14-3 loss, history was made.
"To be a part of that with Coach Dickey, we did something that no one else had ever done there. We thought outside the box," Patterson said. "What I learned at K-State was how to think outside of the box. That's what Coach Snyder did too when he came in."
Patterson kept that lesson with him throughout his career and after his time at K-State, he spent the next 15 years moving coast-to-coast. From Sonoma State in California (1989-91), to the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland (1995), and even one year (1988) at Pittsburg State, Patterson took coaching jobs at nine different schools before beginning at TCU as defensive coordinator in 1998.
By 2000, he was named head coach of the Horned Frogs and since then he has become the winningest coach in TCU history, turning around the program with a record of 120-42.
Despite the preseason polls that ranked TCU at No. 3 in the Big 12 going into the year, the Horned Frogs have suffered through a 2013 season littered with injuries. TCU travels to Manhattan with a 4-6 (2-5 Big 12) record following a 21-17 win at Iowa State last weekend that saw the Horned Frogs score the game-winning touchdown with 38 seconds remaining in the contest.
While K-State (5-4, 3-4 Big 12) needs only one more win to clinch bowl eligibility, Snyder said this weekend won't be an easy matchup as TCU - two games away from the needed six - is also working hard to see the postseason.
"We don't spend a great deal of time talking about it," Snyder said about getting the sixth win, "but you have to realize too that there is an equal amount of motivation on the other side because TCU is going through the exact same thing. They are fighting for their lives in a bowl game as well, so they will be motivated as will we."
While Patterson may take the field with an added urgency as K-State is a must-win for the Horned Frogs' bowl hopes, there's no doubt there will be some nostalgia when he steps onto the field to coach against a team he once called his own.
Today, he's back to where it all began.
"It's my alma mater, so it'll be something special," Patterson said. "With how much it's changed and with the new stadium - that'll really be something else. They've done a fantastic job there as far as the fan base, how they travel, how they play ballgames and how they've won."
Today's game, aired nationally on FSN, serves as Fan Appreciation Day. For more information about today's sell-out and the Fan Appreciation Day details, click here.
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