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Gary Patterson has been noncommittal to this point on who will fill the vacancies on his staff. Courtesy TCU Athletics

Something had to change. The Horned Frogs’ so-called offense conjured bile in the base of Fort Worthians throats throughout last season. The final tallies aren’t as reprehensible as the games felt. Sonny Cumbie’s unit finished 55th in the nation in scoring offense and 62nd in total offense. It seemed worse, but these rankings shouldn’t keep someone employed. I, along with many others, hoped that Cumbie would find the end zone of his tenure on campus. That didn’t happen. The inevitable coaching carousel of college football bowl season elicited barely a squeak from Coach Gary Patterson’s staff, save lateral departures or promotions. Additions to the Frog staff aren’t official, and Patterson is famous for slow playing his moves with the media. The rumor mill of reliable sources has produced three names expected to grace Amon G. Carter Stadium’s sideline and coaching press box in the fall.

Co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach Curtis Luper defected for the University of Missouri –– one of many SEC whipping boys –– and is expected to fill a similar role in Columbia. Luper was Patterson’s recruiting guru and developed a consistently successful position unit. His replacement, Bryan Applewhite, is an up-and-coming backs coach hailing from Colorado State University and was their recruiting coordinator in Fort Collins. He previously coached at the University of Louisiana-Monroe and should be expected to maintain TCU’s recent trend of poaching prospects from the boot. The Rams strove mightily under Applewhite’s tutelage, but Luper’s vacancy represents as much of a paradigm shift in recruiting as Fort Worth has experienced in nearly a decade.

Luper’s playing and coaching career centered in Texas and Oklahoma. Applewhite is a Colorado native, and most of his career has been successful building of mountain-state mid-majors. Despite the notable surname, Applewhite is not related to Major Applewhite, the former Longhorn quarterback and now offensive analyst at the University of Alabama.

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Patterson is expected to enlist the assistance of his best friend, Jerry Kill. In addition to simply having a badass name, Kill is known for successfully heading the Minnesota Golden Gophers, a position he relinquished in 2015 to focus on health issues that had plagued him since collapsing from a seizure while coaching a game in 2005. Patterson’s pal served as a special analyst at Virginia Tech last season and will likely do the same for the Frogs. He can speak to and with Patterson in a manner no one else on staff would dare to. Kill and Patterson are close in age and grew up two hours away from each other in rural Kansas. Jerry was the best man at Gary’s wedding, and each played for retired TCU and Aggie coach Dennis Franchione.

Finally, and most salaciously, former Frog co-offensive coordinator Doug Meacham is likely to return to the offensive staff to coach inside receivers. Chris Thomsen, formerly TCU’s offensive line coach, is bound for America’s basement to become the deputy head coach at Florida State. The move is a no-brainer for the former Frog football and baseball letterman as the Seminoles are still a premier brand and Thomsen is a trusted ally of Head Coach Mike Norvell. The two coached together at Arizona State, and Thomsen recruited and coached Norvell when he played at Central Arkansas. Meacham had most recently been hired to coordinate the offense for the St. Louis XFL franchise, which is apparently still a thing that’s going to happen starting two weeks from Saturday. Meacham and Patterson flirted with reconciling last season. Speculation pointed to potential personality conflicts preventing the reunion. The need for offensive success predicates the time has arrived to throw something at the wall in hopes of it sticking. Meacham and Cumbie had previously tag-teamed leading a top-10 scoring offense back when Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson would score eleventy-billion points per game. It seems that Meacham is returning as a position coach only. With Luper gone, Cumbie could become the exclusive offensive coordinator in practicum and title for the first time.

Patterson is modeling progressive management. Cumbie should have probably been fired but is instead receiving resources to realize success. Frog quarterback Max Duggan is no longer a rookie. Kill becomes a buffer for Cumbie. Meacham can whip an underperforming receiving corps into shape. Cumbie will have complete offensive control. If he fails again, there aren’t any excuses remaining.

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