TCU Coaching Search: Five early targets for the Horned Frogs

By Shane Roper

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TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati confirmed through a statement that head football coach Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs mutually parted ways after more than two decades in charge. Patterson, once the program’s defensive coordinator, took over as the head man in 2000 and finished his career with a 181-79 record. The team was trending in the wrong direction, however, going 21-22 overall and 13-19 in Big 12 play since the 2018 season. 

TCU and Texas Tech are now in coaching searches as the college landscape shifts. Who are the names to know for the vacancy in Fort Worth? We examine below. 

Realistic 

Sonny Dykes – SMU head coach 

TCU doesn’t need to look far to find a viable candidate to fill the large shoes of Patterson. Dykes is already making waves in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at nearby SMU. The Mustangs are 7-1 in 2021 and beat TCU earlier in the season for the second time in three years. Dykes, the son of a coaching legend, knows the area and a jump into the Big 12 means more money for himself, his staff, and in the athletic budget. TCU can outspend Texas Tech, for example, and the location of Fort Worth would help the Horned Frogs if it did become a battle between Tech and TCU for his signature. 

Justin Fuente – Virginia Tech head coach 

Fuente was at TCU as an assistant coach during the glory years of the Patterson era, joining the program as the running backs coach after the 2006 season. He was promoted to the co-offensive coordinator position in 2009 and was still there during the undefeated season in 2011 that ended with a Rose Bowl win. 

That success propelled Fuente into a head coaching gig at Memphis to start the 2012 campaign. He led Memphis to a share of the American Athletic Conference title in 2014, which was the first conference title for Memphis since 1971. A bowl win would give the Tigers their first 10-win season since 1938. He was named the Virginia Tech head coach after the 2015 season and is 42-30 during his six seasons at the helm. 

Out of the box

Jeff Traylor – UTSA head coach 

This is only out of the box because UTSA and Traylor announced a contract extension through the 2031 season worth $28 million dollars hours prior to TCU confirming reports that Patterson was out as head coach. Traylor is making UTSA a national name with the Roadrunners 8-0 and nationally ranked for the first time in school history. Patterson was making $5 million dollars, so even the big raise received by Traylor wouldn’t come close to matching what he’d make at TCU. The buyout would cost the Horned Frogs $7.5 million dollars. 

Billy Napier – Louisiana head coach 

Napier has proven content to stay put at Louisiana instead of chasing more money at programs in bigger conferences. TCU is a good job, however, that offers numerous benefits including money and fertile recruiting grounds. Napier is building a G5 contender at Louisiana and is always a hot name when jobs open. 

DCTF pick

Joey McGuire – Baylor associate head coach and outside linebackers 

If TCU wants a local legend, he exists on the Baylor coaching staff as an associate head coach in charge of the outside linebackers. McGuire is in his fifth season on the Baylor coaching staff and was retained by Dave Aranda when he took over after Matt Rhule departed for the NFL. McGuire was the tight ends coach for two seasons starting in 2017 before his promotion to associate head coach. McGuire understands the ins and outs of running a college program and his DFW ties run deeper than almost anybody in modern football. 

McGuire was a 2020 inductee into the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor and would immediately be an ace recruiter at the highest level thanks to his existing relationships with head coaches across the state. McGuire built his name as the head coach of Cedar Hill High School, leading the team to three state titles in 14 seasons. He was 141-42 during that time with seven district titles at a program that hadn’t won a single playoff game prior to his arrival. 

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