Cats spoil Patterson’s homecoming

By Joel Jellison

TCU coach Gary Patterson’s return to Manhattan went awry on one play.

Leading Kansas State 28-27 in the fourth quarter, the TCU coach mistakenly sent quarterback Trevone Boykin out to return a punt from the Wildcats. But Boykin’s No. 2 jersey matched that of cornerback Jason Verrett, who was also on the field, and the penalty gave K-State new life.

The Wildcats went on to win the game 33-31, but it was that play that Patterson, who played at K-State from 1980-81, just couldn’t shake.

“It’s only one person’s fault that we didn’t win, and that’s me,” he said. “You run a punt returner on that we’ve never done before because we left our defense on the field and gave them an opportunity to go for it on fourth down, it’s the difference in the ballgame.”

Patterson said the play happened because his team left its defense on the field in case K-State went for it instead of punted in the short field with the Wildcats at the Horned Frogs’ 39.

Despite reports during the television broadcast that K-State coach Bill Snyder had tipped off the referees to the jersey issue, Patterson said he knew right after the play that they had made the mistake, and so did the officials.

Patterson said the most disappointing part of the loss is that it dropped the Horned Frogs (4-7) out of a shot at bowl eligibility.

“It’s only the second time in 16 years we haven’t been to a bowl game,” he said. “I saw somebody picked us to get beat 55-21, that’s like a slap in the face. The way we play and what we do, and the kind of integrity that we try to have at our place.

“It’s 2004 and now 2013, the only two years we’ve been here, no matter what league we’ve played in, we didn’t play in a bowl game.”

Patterson was born in Rozel and played football at Dodge City Community College before transferring to Kansas State in 1980, playing both safety and linebacker during his career. In 1982, he served as a graduate assistant under Jim Dickey and then he departed for his first full-time gig as linebacker coach at Tennessee Tech.

He made stops at UC Davis, Cal Lutheran, Pittsburg State and Sonoma State before landing with Utah State in 1992. He went to TCU as defensive coordinator for Dennis Franchione from 1998 to 2000 before becoming the head coach in 2000.

Patterson talked about his journey and what it was like to come back to Manhattan for a football game for the first time in nearly 30 years.

“Win, lose or draw, the biggest thing about coming back, I wanted to play well,” he said. “I left a guy that played special teams and played the guitar and nobody knew about, and came back as hopefully as a great K-State alum.

“I didn’t want to beat Kansas State for any more than to get my team (bowl) eligible, but a lot of history, a lot friends, a lot of memories back here.”

The TCU coach said one of his regrets during this trip was that he didn’t have time to get out and drive around the area to see how much it had changed. Patterson said he last came to Manhattan to receive an award a few years ago.

“If I would have had time I was going to try to get a chance to drive around,” he said. “I haven’t even been really back around campus or any where else in the 30 some years. I need to get back here and look around one of these days.”

Standing on the opposing side and looking at the new West Stadium Center improvements and hearing how loud the crowd got throughout the game, he said it’s hard not to be impressed with what Snyder has done with the K-State program.

“Coach Snyder’s done an unbelievable job, everyone back here, Mr. (John) Currie, the Vanier’s,” he said, “to see all the things that have been built, what the stadium looked like. It’s a great place to go play a ball game. The student section is unbelievable. You can tell there’s a lot of tradition here.”

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