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TCU Football: 10 Coaching Candidates to Replace Gary Patterson

Gary Patterson, TCU Horned Frogs Football

Gary Patterson and TCU parted ways on Sunday night

TCU is the latest college football program to have a coaching change, as Gary Patterson and the program parted ways on Sunday night. Former Minnesota coach Jerry Kill will serve as the program’s interim coach for the final four games. Patterson went 181-79 as TCU’s head coach since 2000, which included a 12-1 mark with a No. 3 final ranking at the program in ’14. However, the Horned Frogs were just 21-22 since the start of the '18 season. 

Who could replace Patterson at TCU? Here are 10 names to watch in the coaching search:

10 Coaching Candidates to Replace Gary Patterson at TCU

Jamey Chadwell, Head Coach, Coastal Carolina
Chadwell doesn’t have any coaching experience in the state of Texas, but he’s a rising star at the FBS level. The Chanticleers are 26-18 under Chadwell in his four years at the helm, including an 18-2 mark over the last two seasons. Prior to Coastal Carolina, he worked as the head coach at Charleston Southern (2013-16), Delta State (’12) and North Greenville (2009-11).

Sonny Dykes, Head Coach, SMU
Dykes has extensive ties throughout the state of Texas and previously spent time at TCU in an off-field role as an analyst under Patterson. Also, Dykes has compiled an impressive 29-15 stint at SMU since taking over in 2017. He previously went 22-15 at Louisiana Tech (2010-12) and 19-30 at California (2013-16). Dykes’ name has also popped up in the rumor mill at Texas Tech to replace Matt Wells.

Justin Fuente, Head Coach, Virginia Tech
Fuente might fit better in the longshots category, but we have to acknowledge his previous ties to the program as an assistant under Patterson at TCU (2007-11). After going 26-23 at Memphis from 2012-15, Fuente started his tenure at Virginia Tech with a 19-8 mark. However, the Hokies are just 23-22 over the last four years. Overall, Fuente is 42-30 as the head coach at Virginia Tech.

Billy Napier, Head Coach, Louisiana
Napier’s name is likely to pop up for several Power 5 openings this offseason. He’s guided Louisiana to a 35-12 record since 2018 and garnered valuable experience as an assistant in previous stops at Alabama (Nick Saban) and Clemson (Dabo Swinney). In addition to his 35 victories, Napier led the Ragin’ Cajuns to three consecutive bowl trips and Sun Belt West Division titles.

The Next Tier/Longshots

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Mike Elko, Defensive Coordinator, Texas A&M
Elko is a rising star in the assistant ranks and it’s only a matter of time before he gets a chance to run a FBS program. He’s spent the last four years as the defensive coordinator at Texas A&M and had previous stints as a play-caller at Notre Dame (2017), Wake Forest (2014-16) and Bowling Green (2009-13). Elko has never been a head coach at the collegiate level.

Jeff Grimes, Offensive Coordinator, Baylor
Could TCU look to a rival Big 12 program for its next head coach? Grimes is deserving of head-coaching opportunities for his work with the Bears this year and in previous stints as an assistant. The Texas native has never been a head coach, but he’s has assembled a solid resume as an assistant over a handful of stops and has made a big-time impact as a play-caller in his last two stints as BYU and Baylor. The Bears averaged 23.3 points a game last season but have jumped to 37.4 with Grimes now at the controls after Week 9. Prior to his stints at BYU and Baylor, Grimes worked as an assistant at Arizona State, Colorado, Virginia Tech and LSU.

Jeff Lebby, Offensive Coordinator, Ole Miss
Lebby’s name is likely to start circulating for openings this offseason. The Texas native has never been a head coach at the FBS level before but has been a successful assistant in stops at Baylor (2008-16), UCF (2018-19) and Ole Miss (2020-21).

Joey McGuire, Baylor Assistant Coach
McGuire hasn’t been a head coach at the FBS level but has a ton of ties to the state of Texas through the high school and collegiate ranks. McGuire was a successful high school after going 141-42 at Cedar Hill High School from 2013-16. He came to Baylor in 2017 and spent two years coaching tight ends before moving to defensive ends this season. Hiring an assistant with no FBS head coaching experience would be a big risk for TCU.

Jeff Traylor, Head Coach, UTSA
This is unlikely, but Traylor was also in the news on Sunday after signing an extension to remain at UTSA until 2031. The extension came after Traylor's name popped up in the rumor mill at Texas Tech. Could TCU make a massive offer to make him reconsider? Unlikely. 

Brent Venables, Defensive Coordinator, Clemson
Could this be the job that finally interests Venables enough to be a head coach? The Kansas native spent time as an assistant at Kansas State (1996-98) and Oklahoma (1999-11) before taking over as Clemson’s defensive signal-caller in ’12. The Tigers have consistently ranked near the top of the nation in defense with Venables calling the plays. He’s never been a head coach at the FBS level.

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