With any head coaching vacancy, rumors and innuendo and supposed impending hires come fast and furious. The latest rumored front runner to replace Gene Chizik at Auburn is TCU head coach Gary Patterson.
Al.com's Joel A. Erickson and Auburn Undercover's Phillip Marshall ($) reported Tuesday morning that Patterson had emerged as a potential leading candidate at Auburn. Tuesday afternoon, Paul Finebaum reported the same information on his radio show. Erickson also reports Boise State head coach Chris Petersen as a candidate, but actually hiring Petersen seems unlikely for Auburn.
There's a lot to like about Patterson. He's built TCU into a powerful program and has overseen the Horned Frogs' rise from Conference USA to the Mountain West to the Big 12. He's in his 12th season in Fort Worth and has compiled a 116-34 record overall and a 72-22 mark in conference play, and TCU has eight 10-plus win seasons and a Rose Bowl victory on his watch. Patterson is known as a no-nonsense guy on the field, and his teams' trademarks are tough, physical play and strong defense.
Of course, as with every candidate, Patterson certainly has his cons. As much of a disciplinarian he is on the field, Patterson's discipline off the field has proved to be quite lax. Earlier this year, four TCU football players were arrested for their involvement in a drug ring on the Fort Worth campus -- the players were caught selling marijuana to undercover police officers. With the off-field issues Auburn has dealt with in recent years, the idea of hiring a guy with off-field issues of his own isn't exactly comforting.
If you like Patterson, you probably shouldn't get your hopes up, and if you don't like him, you can probably rest easy. This really feels like a smokescreen. Patterson interviewed for the Auburn job in 2008, and it is believed that talks with athletics director Jay Jacobs didn't go well. With Jacobs still in the AD position at Auburn, it's unlikely Patterson would entertain an offer this time around. Plus, there is a lot of money in the pockets of TCU boosters, and with Patterson being incredibly popular, they would be willing to pony up whatever would be needed to keep him. Frankly, Patterson is a god in Fort Worth, and it's tough to pry a god away from a program.
In addition to Patterson's rumored issues with Jacobs and TCU's significant coffers, the latest rumor on Texas message boards is Mack Brown could be out as Longhorns head coach ($), and if that's true, Patterson may be the desired replacement. It's almost unfathomable that Patterson, with his deep roots in Texas, would turn down the Longhorns in favor of the Tigers. Even if all that is false, we still wouldn't bet on Patterson moving to the Plains.
Who knows, maybe there is credibility to this rumor, but we're awfully skeptical at this point.