When your average college football fan talks about the top coaches in college football right now, a lot of names are likely to pop up. Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, Jim Tressel, and Brian Kelly are just a few that frequently get mentioned in that discussion.
However, one of the true masters of the coaching craft, Texas Christian University head coach Gary Patterson, is rarely considered. In fact, there are probably a substantial number of casual college football fans who wouldn't even recognize him by name.
Although he's frequently overlooked, thanks in part to TCU playing outside of the biased BCS system in the Mountain West Conference, Patterson is a worthy addition to the conversation on today's elite coaches.
Since replacing former head coach Dennis Franchione just prior to the Mobile Alabama Bowl in 2000, Gary Patterson has brought Texas Christian back to the kind of success they haven't enjoyed since the 1950s.
Patterson has compiled an impressive 82-27 record at TCU, including five seasons with at least 10 wins and a 5-2 record in bowl games. TCU has also finished in the Top 25 in five of Patterson's seven full seasons as head coach.
Last year, with their victory over Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl, TCU finished at No. 7 in the AP poll, their highest ranking at the end of a season since 1959.
As successful as 2008 was though, Patterson kept the momentum going into 2009, setting up would could be an even greater season for the Horned Frogs.
Now undefeated at 9-0 and ranked No. 4 in the latest BCS poll, TCU is merely a Texas Longhorns loss away from being right in the thick of the BCS title game discussion. The Horned Frogs only need three more wins, starting with their MWC rival, No. 16 Utah, to complete a perfect regular season and assure their first BCS Bowl bid in school history.
If the stars align in such a way that TCU is able to garner a bid to play in the BCS title game, they'll have a chance to become the first team from a non-BCS conference to win a national title since BYU in 1984.
College football fans may not know it yet, but Gary Patterson is already among the best coaches in all of college football. It may take a BCS appearance to finally get him the recognition he deserves, but as long as he sticks around there is going to be plenty of winning in TCU's future.