Following a 41-38 loss to Baylor on Saturday, TCU coach Gary Patterson took the podium for his press conference. He was asked a straight-forward question.
"Was there anything [else said] other than a 'good game' to [Baylor] coach [Art] Briles afterward?"
It was a reasonable question for an obvious storyline. Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon was ejected from the game for targeting TCU's Trevone Boykin on this hit:
And, afterward, Patterson and Briles had what looked like a testy exchange in the postgame handshake.
Patterson took that reasonable question and went on a five-minute tirade about Dixon, Briles, class and highways (don't ask; it was a metaphor). Here's video of Patterson's comments via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
With that kind of raw emotion, it's easy to see why Patterson would come across as whiny or a poor sport, but it's who he is, and something he'll never apologize for—and he shouldn't. Veiled behind shots at Briles and Dixon (more on that later) was Patterson doing what every coach should do: standing up for his player.
That may make him sound hypocritical, but that's a coach for you. They're always going to argue for what's in their teams' best interest.
Was Gary Patterson's rant warranted?
Boykin took a nasty hit to the head and was clearly dazed. Patterson wasn't happy about that, and he definitely wasn't happy with what he says transpired afterward. Patterson claimed numerous times that the "head coach," presumably Briles, "came across the field" at him. There's no video evidence to support this apparent back-and-forth, so it's Patterson's word versus Briles'.
For what it's worth, Briles said Monday on the Big 12 coaches teleconference that he hadn't paid attention to Patterson's rant.
"I grew up in West Texas, and was taught that if you don't have anything nice about somebody, don't say anything at all," Briles said.
Dixon was also seen laughing on the sideline and blowing kisses to the crowd. There is video evidence of that, although in fairness, Patterson is assuming—reasonably—that Dixon is acting out in response to the ejection.
Where Patterson makes the mistake is redirecting that anger at Briles and how he runs his program. That's what Patterson's critics are choosing to focus on, and frankly, it weakens Patterson's point about the incident.
Patterson noted that Dixon was arrested in September related to a misdemeanor assault charge, though he was not suspended by Briles. It's simply not best practice to attack how another coach handles his players because, in turn, the same logic can be pinned on Patterson:
Catching up here, but it's a hard to see TCU coach Gary Patterson's side. I haven't read about Baylor players running drug operations.— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) December 2, 2013
Coupled with the accusations about Briles and Dixon is the timing of Patterson's rant. Briles tragically lost his brother, Eddie, last Wednesday to a head injury he sustained in his home. That doesn't make Patterson's frustration any less valid, but it has resulted in third-party members, like John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, to take Briles' side:
I think TCU coach Gary Patterson sounded totally classless ripping Art Briles a few days after his brother died in his home. Low class.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) December 1, 2013
There appears to be something deeper brewing between Patterson and Briles. Although the cause of that rift is unclear, it influenced Patterson's tirade in some way. Now, Patterson's catching flak for it.
Patterson's stance on the Dixon hit isn't unwarranted, but the extracurricular criticism of Briles detracts from an otherwise understandable point.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.