Commentary

TCU will survive shameful day

Gary Patterson is handling tough situation well and will have Horned Frogs on top again

Updated: February 16, 2012, 2:53 AM ET
By Jean-Jacques Taylor | ESPNDallas.com

For more than a decade, TCU Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson has built one of the best football programs in the nation, no matter what criteria is used to judge it.

He's done it the right way by recruiting guys who were a step too slow or an inch too short. Patterson persuades his players to use those slights -- real and perceived -- as motivation to maximize their ability.

That's been the foundation of Patterson's success, which has ultimately resulted in TCU achieving its dream of being in the Big 12 and becoming, you know, one of the big boys.

[+] EnlargeGary Patterson
AP Photo/Matt Strasen"I believe strongly that young people's lives are more important than wins or losses," TCU coach Gary Patterson said Wednesday after four of his players were arrested.
In one day, four knuckleheads -- linebacker Tanner Brock, defensive tackle D.J. Yendrey, safety Devin Johnson and offensive tackle Ty Horn -- destroyed much of the program Patterson has built.

The four players were among 17 students arrested Wednesday morning for allegedly selling marijuana to undercover officers.

Not using, which would be bad enough, but selling.

Shameful. Embarrassing. Stupid.

It's all of that and so much more.

None of us expects the story to end with these arrests. There's going to be more scandal.

Much more.

Go peek at the affidavits online and read some of the details. Read Johnson's assertion that more than 80 players flunked a surprise drug test Patterson reportedly ordered earlier this month.

The seven consecutive winning seasons. The seven seasons with 11 wins or more. The Rose Bowl victory.

Heck, The Big 12 released its first schedule with TCU on it Tuesday afternoon.

None of that means much when your pristine program has been sullied. The shame the dumb decisions those four kids made will hover over TCU for awhile. Teams will use it to negatively recruit, and some parents won't let their kids attend a school where drug use is rampant.

But the Frogs will ultimately survive -- and it won't take as long as you think.

The reason: Patterson.

Now, he's never been among my favorite coaches. He's gruff, a curmudgeon if you will. And like too many big-time coaches, he's way too controlling for my taste.

Still, even his harshest critics have to like the way he's handled this situation based on what we know today.

Perhaps he's simply observed what's happened at Ohio State and Penn State recently and decided the fallout from the cover-up is so much worse than the crime that it's far better to come clean and deal with the consequences.

Either way, Patterson should be applauded for having the gumption to reportedly order team-wide drug testing when a recruit told him that he was declining a scholarship offer because of the drug culture.

Instead of keeping the information to himself, or telling his boss and letting him handle it, Patterson acted.

And when the news broke Wednesday morning that four players had been arrested, we can only imagine the cauldron of emotions that must've been bubbling within him.

After all, he must've felt dumb that so much illegal activity seemed to be hidden in plain sight. And he probably felt betrayed by the players and disappointed because he let down the parents who trusted him with their kids.

Don't forget, a Sports Illustrated article last year listed TCU as the only top 25 team in the nation in 2010 without any players on its roster with criminal records. According to the article, TCU and Oklahoma are the only schools in the top 25 that performs criminal background checks on their recruits.

"There are days people want to be a head football coach, but today is not one of those days. As I heard the news this morning, I was first shocked, then hurt and now I'm mad," Patterson said in a statement. "Under my watch, drugs and drug use by TCU's student-athletes will not be tolerated by me or any member of my coaching staff. Period.

"Our program is respected nationally for its strong ethics and for that reason the players arrested today were separated from TCU by the university. I believe strongly that young people's lives are more important than wins or losses."

And that's why, ultimately, Patterson and TCU will survive this shameful day.

Jean-Jacques Taylor is a columnist for ESPNDallas.com.

Jean-Jacques Taylor joined ESPNDallas.com in August 2011. A native of Dallas, Taylor spent the past 20 years writing for The Dallas Morning News, where he covered high schools sports, the Texas Rangers and spent 11 seasons covering the Dallas Cowboys before becoming a general columnist in 2006.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ALSO SEE

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES