In the immediate wake of Gary Patterson’s departure from TCU’s football program, the news did not so much spread as explode. Within the hour, it seemed that the entirety of Frogdom knew about it, all with more than a little sadness, not least the author of this piece.
I should probably introduce myself as someone who is indifferent to sports. More accurately, I avidly dislike them. Or, more accurately still, I have spent most of my life avidly disliking them. Allow me to explain. I was born in Odessa, Texas and raised in the quaint nearby town of Andrews. For those who are unaware, the sparsely populated Permian Basin has, despite being unknown to most of the country, nevertheless inspired two mainstream sports films, Varsity Blues and Friday Night Lights, both about football, of course, such is the almost mythic currency of that sport among the citizenry. And I, in the words of a rather different kind of character, did not have the makings of a varsity athlete. I did not have the makings of a junior varsity athlete. I had the makings of a poet and musician, which are noble enough pursuits, I think all Andrewsians would agree, but not exactly where the action is. (I can sum up my athletic career in high school thus: the one sport I did not so much excel in as prove competent at was power lifting—it required no dexterity, coordination, or contact with another person whatsoever.)
So while I attended TCU, football had little presence on my mind. I was much more content to spend a Saturday afternoon studying, socializing with other non-sporty types, or perhaps playing a rock n roll gig than following the Frogs on the field. But then came 2011, when I returned to Fort Worth after a year and a half in Colorado and a year before that in Scotland. It was the year the Horned Frogs went undefeated and triumphed over the Wisconsin Badgers at the Rose Bowl. It was the year I finally learned to like (if not love) football. And it was Gary Patterson’s fault.
Watching the Frogs in that championship season was to see something so perfect, so enchanting as to be scripted—and were I more ignorant about how football worked, I would have sworn those games had been. For there was something undoubtedly theatrical about the way Patterson’s boys would retire from the field at half time, only to return to ecstatic applause in the third quarter, and over the next hour or …….