Texas Football Coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski in a Hard Place

The sight of former TCU soccer coach Gary Patterson (top right) wearing a UT shirt while attending a Texas men's basketball game this week with athletic director Chris Del Conte (center) in Austin caused a stir on the Internet.  Patterson is expected to join the Texas Football staff as a special assistant to head coach Steve Sarkisian.

The sight of former TCU soccer coach Gary Patterson (top right) wearing a UT shirt while attending a Texas men’s basketball game this week with athletic director Chris Del Conte (center) in Austin caused a stir on the Internet. Patterson is expected to join the Texas Football staff as a special assistant to head coach Steve Sarkisian.

Brian Davis

Not long after seeing the viral photo of former TCU head football coach Gary Patterson with a Bevo logo on his white long-sleeved shirt during a Texas basketball game, Kenny Cain summed up the feelings on behalf of many TCU people.

“Every former TCU defensive player will secretly root for UT defense,” Cain wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday.

Cain played for Patterson at TCU from 2009 to 2012.

The sight of Patterson in burnt orange almost looked like a product of clever Photoshopping, but this scenario was inevitable.

Former TCU and current Texas Athletic Director Chris Del Conte helps arrange this marriage for both his current head coach and his old one.

Patterson who joins Steve Sarkisian’s staff as a “Special Coach” has been over a month in the making and is the perfect destination and role for the former TCU head coach.

Even if Texas keeps losing, Patterson can’t.

The loser in this scenario is current Texas defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski. He has two years left on his three-year $1.7 million contract.

In his first season on Sarkisian’s staff, Texas had one of the worst defenses in the nation as the Longhorns finished 5-7, including a home loss to Kansas.

The only thing that Kwiatkowski kept with that staff for another season is that contract.

If Texas makes any kind of improvement in 2022, who gets the credit?

Kwiatkowski, or the brand new “Special Whatever Coach” whose strongest point is defense?

This is the kind of job Patterson had thought about before, long before his tenure at TCU ended midway through the 2021 season.

The job allows him to be involved in game planning and strategy, and does not involve any of the responsibilities of a head coach.

If his time in Texas goes well, it might help him land another job as a head coach in Power 5 football. At least, if eventually being a head coach again is on his wish list.

He always thought that when his tenure at TCU was over, he would like to continue living in college football as an analyst for a staff, or possibly even join a TV network.

Gary Patterson will be an asset to Texas, and Sarkisian, and Kwiatkowski. What Gary Patterson cannot be seen as a savior. He’s not going to move a point spread, and he can’t be expected to turn a team with seven losses in one season into a team with 12 wins.

When Texas hosts Alabama at DKR in Austin on September 10, no one associated with the University of Texas can expect Patterson to be the difference. The UT is taking a hit and Patterson can’t do anything about it.

He will be an assistant assistant coach whose input will be both welcome and appreciated, but he can only do so much.

As evidenced by their six-game loss streak from October 9 to November 20 last year, the Longhorns were a mess on offense, defense and special teams.

Texas was 100th in overall defense in FBS last season, 99th in scoring defense, 114th against run and 80th against pass.

Patterson can be expected to solve those kinds of stats within a year as an assistant assistant.

Texas is so bad, and the standard is so ridiculously low in Austin right now, all the Longhorns have to do is improve and reach the mythical eight-win mark and adding Patterson will be seen as a successful acquisition.

TCU fans and ex-players will have a hard time watching their former coach work for their rivals. When Texas hosts TCU in Austin on November 12, it’s going to be awkward.

But Patterson is free to work for whoever wants to hire him, and the University of Texas makes sense for no less than six good reasons.

There is only one loser in this scenario, and that is not Gary Patterson.

It’s Texas defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski who can’t win, even though the Longhorns do.

This story was originally published January 20, 2022 5:00 a.m.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience playing sports in the Fort Worth-Dallas area for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams, as well as Olympics and the world of entertainment. He combines dry humor with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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