TCU head football coach Gary Patterson has done an incredible job in leading his program from obscurity to a national powerhouse. TCU's 2011 Rose Bowl victory was a monumental win not just for the program, but also for every other mid-major team hoping to vault itself into the national spotlight in the future. Although the head coaching job at Arkansas appears attractive at first glance, Patterson must be careful in his attempts to further his coaching career. Sometimes the grass is not always greener on the other side.
Arkansas has been on the cusp of breaking through and transforming itself into an SEC powerhouse in recent years. A year ago, they went 6-2 in the SEC and came away with a Cotton Bowl victory. However, those two conference losses to Alabama and LSU, respectively, should be a warning sign to any coach that takes the Razorbacks head coaching job. It's going to be tough to have success against Nick Saban- and Les Miles-coached football teams.
As long as Saban and Miles are the leaders of their respective programs, Alabama and LSU will forever be more attractive landing spots for prospective recruits. That's not to say that Arkansas would have no chance to upend the two SEC West powerhouses, but it would have to beat better football teams to do so.
Unless Arkansas is willing to pay a boatload of money for Gary Patterson, there is no reason he should leave a job that is his for life to go to a program that is facing a tremendous uphill battle to meet lofty expectations.
Furthermore, Arkansas is 4-7 this season and still has to play Mississippi State and LSU. The defense has given up nearly 30 points per game, not to mention over 400 yards of total offense. Furthermore, the offense ranks last in the SEC in rushing. Arkansas is a one-dimensional football team that doesn't play defense. Patterson would have to fix those issues while getting inferior recruits to those of the other teams in his conference.
Lastly, Patterson built TCU's reputation from scratch. When he took over at TCU in 2000, very few imagined that the program had the ability to win a BCS bowl game. Patterson has been able to recruit in Texas and establish a powerhouse program in one of the most competitive recruiting landscapes in the nation.
Now, largely due to Patterson's efforts, TCU plays in the Big 12 with a chance to reach a BCS bowl game each and every season. Barring any unforeseen developments, he has earned the ability to keep his job at TCU for as long as he sees fit.
Patterson may choose to leave TCU one day. It would be a sad day for a man whose name has become synonymous with TCU football. However, if Patterson does indeed decide to take his talents to a new location, he should make sure he moves to a stable situation in which he can have a degree of success. Playing Alabama and LSU every year at a program that has more question marks than answers on its roster right now is not going to ensure anything.
If Arkansas makes a big enough offer and guarantees Patterson a prolonged period of time to recruit on the level of LSU and Alabama, this move may be viable. Patterson could do a lot worse than becoming the head coach at Arkansas. However, he could do a lot better as well. Patterson will always be a person who big-time programs will call as they search for a new head coach. It may be prudent for him to sit this one out and play the waiting game just a little longer.