FORT WORTH, Texas — Jeremiah Donati began his press conference Tuesday morning by stating an unquestioned fact.
"Gary Patterson is a TCU icon," the TCU athletics director said. "He's built this football program, he's helped build this university, this community. We are forever indebted to his incredible contributions to Fort Worth, to TCU, to TCU Athletics, and to TCU Football."
But despite Patterson's stellar history with the Horned Frogs, he no longer leads their football program. After a 3-5 start to the 2021 season, including a 1-4 start in Big 12 play, Donati and the TCU brass decided to move on from the man who's statue sits outside the stadium in Fort Worth.
"These last few days have been really tough," Donati said. "It's a place that was almost unimaginable not too long ago."
But this is where TCU is now. A mid-season removal of their iconic head coach. And a coaching search that needs to take them in what Donati says is a more 'modern' direction.
"Certainly someone who is currently a head coach, is where we'd start," Donati said. "We'd like someone, candidly speaking, that understands what the new world of college athletics looks like. Talking about name, image, likeness, talking about the transfer portal. Those things - that's what the modern coach is going to have to be very adept at doing."
The reasoning for a mid-season change is actually sound. With the NCAA's still relatively new December signing date, the recruiting timeline has been substantially accelerated. The Horned Frogs need someone who is recruiting now, to help have a bonafide class in just over a month's time.
Whoever the Horned Frogs hire takes over a program that has been elevated substantially over the last two decades, from a once also-ran program, into (save for the last few years) a legitimate contender atop the Big 12, and on occasion, nationally.
"We're not starting from zero, and that's a credit to Gary," Donati said. "He's built a top 10 program, and the interest we're receiving already indicates that. So this is not a rebuild. Someone is going to be able to come in here, we believe, and continue along with that trajectory of success that we had for a long time."
Jerry Kill will take over for Patterson as interim head coach, while the TCU hierarchy conducts their search with the assistance of the search firm TurnKey.
"This is the house that Gary built," Kill said. "We'll be playing for Gary Patterson, over these next four weeks."