THE RECORD BREAKER
Football coach’s home doubles as a place to do TCU business
It takes long hours to shatter TCU’s record book. Gary Patterson did it close to home.
For Gary Patterson, it was love at first sight.
Just taking a quick look at the Spanish ranch home in Fort Worth in 2011 was enough for the TCU football coach.
“In fact, he hadn’t even seen the inside,” his wife, Kelsey, said. “He saw the view, and it was sold.”
From the lush, tree-lined backyard and now from nearly every room in the house, TCU’s Amon Carter Stadium is clearly visible. So is the Fort Worth skyline. The proximity to campus also met one of Patterson’s most important criteria. “That’s his rule,” Kelsey said. “It always has to be one stop light from campus, because they work so much. It’s nuts.” The Pattersons have lived in the home on a quiet cul-de-sac for five years now. They bought it, their fifth home together, in the spring of 2011 after the Horned Frogs’ milestone 21-19 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, then
worked on the design, eventually making over almost the entire interior. The square footage expanded from 7,600 to more than 10,000 by the time of their 2013 move-in. The house doubles as a home recruiting and game preparation base for the TCU coach, an area to host players, recruits, families and fundraisers. It’s an occasional refuge from all the pressures and distractions that go with being in a high-pressure, fishbowl occupation. It’s large enough to accommodate Patterson’s collection of guitars, including one of his first. And it’s home — especially the backyard pool — to the Pattersons’ two rescue dogs, Chloe and Daisy. “After the Rose Bowl, we were too tired to do anything for spring break in March. There were older houses here in the neighborhood. What we did was kind of shopped and found that it had been on the market for a long time. I saw all that,” Gary Patterson said, pointing to the view, “and said, ‘What?’ ” From Gary Patterson’s standpoint, the centerpiece is the home office/memorabilia museum/war room. The Pattersons took a cozy den and turned it into a 500-square foot ops center and recruiting showcase, patterned after one they saw at Mack and Sally Brown’s house. Framed pictures and newspaper articles note stops in Patterson’s coaching career — such as Sonoma State in 1989 — as well as historic moments from his 21 years at TCU, including 18 years as head coach. There’s the Rose Bowl, and the 2014 Peach Bowl win over Mississippi, and the program-
building win over Oklahoma in 2005 and the historic 2016 Alamo Bowl comeback against Oregon. A Swarovski crystal TCU football helmet, a gift from Chancellor Victor Boschini, sits in a trophy case along with Patterson masks courtesy of ESPN College GameDay. Two flat-screen TVs are mounted on opposite walls, so Patterson can watch TCU film on one while monitoring live games on the other. All the football gear vies for space with Patterson’s personal passion for music. More than 10 guitars are scattered throughout the office, some mounted, some lying on the floor. Patterson has worked out a system with some noted singers. “I trade helmets for guitars,” he said. Among those who have swapped: Blake Shelton, Brad Paisley, Toby Keith and LeAnn Rimes. There’s the smallish electric guitar Patterson, 58, built in middle school wood shop class. “That’s when I played in seventh grade when we started a band, Walk On Easy,” said Patterson, who grew up in the western Kansas town of Rozel (population: 156). “We took it from a racehorse.” Kelsey added to her husband’s collection, finding a pristine Fender Telecaster. He loved it but didn’t find time to play it until early July. “I wasn’t sure he liked the present,” she said. On the small desk sits a copy of Ryan Holiday’s best-seller, Ego is the Enemy. “We all have to have the level of confidence to walk out in front of as many people as we do. … Everybody does that business differently,” Gary Patterson said. “That’s why I always tell people, ‘Don’t listen to the delivery, listen to the message.’ ” At the same time, like most of his coaching brethren, Patterson is cautious about trade secrets. He fully expects the tour of his office to become a negative. “We’ll show this room, and then people will use that against us. … It’s like online we look at everyone’s game room,” Patterson said, noting Alabama’s recently unveiled 25,000-square foot fuel center and smoothie bar.
At the Patterson home, form blends with function with the house walking a fine line, very nice without being intimidating. “You had to make it nice enough that you can help raise money and have events here,” Gary Patterson said, “but that a recruit would walk in and not feel uncomfortable. That’s kind of what we did.” Concessions are made. The chairs are oversized and taller, built for massive offensive tackles. The hardwood floors minimize anything that gets spilled. “There is nothing white,” Kelsey Patterson said. “It’s all browns and tans.” TCU senior linebacker Ty Summers quickly grasped the utility of Patterson’s house during a team gathering. “Everything has a reason. The way the house is designed so you can see the stadium perfectly from most points. That’s how Coach is,” Summers said. “It’s having a guy who understands minute details and the importance of them. It’s a testament to why his defense has been so good the last 30 years. … “Recruiting is the biggest thing. He says he doesn’t need a big house. But I think he likes it too.”
The Pattersons are the only humans in the house, although they aren’t alone. There are the two golden retrievers, Chloe and Daisy, the third and fourth rescue dogs the Pattersons have owned. Daisy, the younger of the two, looked on her way to a solid 40 time barreling down a hallway to greet guests. Kelsey Patterson grew up in a dog-owning family. Her husband, a bit of a neat freak, needed a nudge to bring dogs into the house. Now it’s a staple with the dogs getting a workout retrieving toys from the backyard pool. “The rule is two hands,” Gary Patterson said. “You can’t have more dogs than you can pet.” The Pattersons have also gone on about half a dozen photo safaris in Africa. A former marketing director for the Fort Worth Zoo, Kelsey’s photos of wildlife, from elephants and cheetahs, are featured throughout the house. The trips to African game preserves served another purpose, too, representing enforced downtime for the coach. “It sounds funny to say you go 20 hours so he can relax,” Kelsey Patterson said, “but the time difference is so off. He calls in the morning, so it’s 5 in the afternoon and the administration is getting ready to pack up, and then at night when we wrap up it’s 8 a.m. here. It’s a good time frame for him to check but not be consumed by work.”
Kelsey Patterson is a key part of the program, her husband said. At one time, she worked in the office of former Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds. She also worked for the Southwest Conference in its final season. “Kelsey probably plays as big a
part of the recruiting aspect,” Gary Patterson said. “Because of her background, she’s very involved in getting to know the student-athletes and parents.” She also gets athletics and everything that goes with being a coach’s wife. She headed up a charity that saw coaches’ wives helping hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico. “We joke that I say I will always love you but I may not always like you,” Kelsey Patterson said of her husband. “You have to have a sense of humor about the job. That’s why the coaches and wives that are successful, they understand it’s a grind.” She recalls her parents noting that marriage isn’t always a 50-50 proposition. “I carry more of a load during the season,” she said. The Pattersons have pride of ownership in what they’ve built in Fort Worth, one reason they’ve stayed put in a transient business. TCU has gone from a conference nomad to an established member of the Big 12 with 40 wins the last four seasons. “You couldn’t see a TCU flag or hat or T-shirt when we got here 21 years ago, not even in a five-block area,” Gary Patterson said. “So now you can see TCU stuff in New York, LA, Miami. You touch every corner, and you can find it. That’s one of the things that’s special, why we stayed. You ask any assistant who’s worked at TCU, and they’ll say it’s one of their top two places because of how they got treated.”
TCU football coach Gary Patterson and his wife, Kelsey Patterson, didn't need much convincing to make this 10,000-square-foot Spanish-style ranch home their residence in 2011.
The chairs in Gary Patterson’s home office/recruiting room are large enough to accommodate the Horned Frogs’ hefty offensive linemen.
Gary Patterson leads TCU onto the field at Fort Worth’s Amon G. Carter Stadium, where he has coached for 18 years.
Memorabilia, including (clockwise from left) an inspirational book, a ceramic football helmet and sports gear, dot Patterson’s home office.
Patterson plays guitar in his home office as other instruments, which the coach has gotten in trade from well-known performers, hang on the walls.
Chloe, one of the Pattersons’ golden retrievers, greets the coach, while Kelsey Patterson gives a command to the other dog, Daisy, in a hallway.