TCU interim coach Jerry Kill said he will try to uphold Gary Patterson's legacy the rest of the season after taking over at what he called "the house that Gary built."
The school made its coaching change late Sunday afternoon, with Patterson departing immediately. He had led the football program since the 2000 season, going 181-79 with six conference titles in three different leagues, and six AP top-10 finishes.
Kill led a team practice Sunday night. TCU, which is 3-5 this season, will visit Baylor on Saturday.
"Gary said, 'We're going to practice at 5:30,' and I was coaching the team at 5:30," Kill told reporters Tuesday. "I think the kids here respect me, I've been around them enough, we've got a good game plan and we'll go to work today and get after them. Nobody's going to be Gary Patterson. I don't claim to be Gary Patterson. There's only one of them, and will never be another one."
Patterson returned to the TCU football offices Monday and continued to assist the staff with gameplanning, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. Kill fully believes Patterson, 61, will coach again. Although Patterson spent his entire career in college football at various levels, he also could consider a move to the NFL, sources said.
"There's no question he'll be coaching again," Kill said. "Come on, y'all know him. ... He's special. What you see sometimes is not what you get behind closed doors. There's not a more caring person in the world, and a more loyal person in the world than he is. Just look at the track record of how many people have stayed with him."
Kill last served as a head coach at Minnesota, where he went 29-29 in four-plus seasons before stepping down because of health reasons in 2015. He returned to the sideline at Rutgers in 2017 and then went to Virginia Tech in 2019 before joining Patterson at TCU in 2020. The 60-year-old is 52-45 overall as an FBS head coach.
"For coaches to have been here 23 years is unheard of in this day and age," Kill said. "It's not going to happen any more. It's just the way the business is. For him to stay at one place and do what he's done, he's an icon, he's a Hall of Famer."
Kill said the team was "crushed" after learning that Patterson would be out as head coach, but he hasn't sensed any negative feedback in the past two days.
"We're not stopping trying to help TCU, that would not be fair to Gary," Kill said. "We've got to carry on his legacy. If we stop doing anything, everybody thinks everybody is out looking for a job, but that's not happening right now. We are working. If you work and you do well, then if you're out of a job, you get a job a lot quicker, if you're doing your job here."
TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati, speaking before Kill on Tuesday, said the change was made immediately because of the recruiting calendar, and a desire to hire Patterson's replacement before the December signing period, which begins Dec. 15. Donati said the school handled the transition "very fairly."
He also noted that while all candidates will be considered, those with backgrounds on offense would be "a little more natural" because Patterson was such an established defensive coach.
"When you have a coach who was ... one of the best defensive minds that's ever coached in college, it's going to be very difficult for that person to fill their shoes," Donati said.