Texas Tech football: TCU’s Gary Patterson takes shot at Red Raider fans

FORT WORTH, TX - SEPTEMBER 29: Head coach Gary Patterson of the TCU Horned Frogs leads the TCU Horned Frogs against the Iowa State Cyclones in the fourth quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
FORT WORTH, TX - SEPTEMBER 29: Head coach Gary Patterson of the TCU Horned Frogs leads the TCU Horned Frogs against the Iowa State Cyclones in the fourth quarter at Amon G. Carter Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

At Big 12 Media Days this week, TCU head coach Gary Patterson took an unnecessary and embellished shot at Texas Tech football fans.

When compiling a list of people most disliked by Texas Tech football fans, you won’t have to get too far past Baker Mayfield and Tommy Tuberville before you come to TCU head coach Gary Patterson. Now, that animosity is certain only to increase after Patterson’s remarks about Red Raider fans this week at Big 12 Media Days.

When asked by sports anchor John Sokoloff of Fox 34 in Lubbock about playing in Jones Stadium, as TCU will do this season, Patterson claimed that Texas Tech fans have thrown “frozen water bottles” at his team during night games.  The same question was asked of Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley (a Texas Tech alum) and Kansas’ Les Miles (though the Sooners and Jayhawks will not play in Lubbock this season) and neither of those coaches had an ill word to say about Red Raider fans.

Patterson did not immediately nor has he since offered any further proof to legitimize his claim nor has he given any further details about the incidence he’s referencing other than to say that some of his players had to have stitches because of being struck by a bottle at Jones Stadium.  Of course, there was no mention of what year in which the incident supposedly happened nor was there ever any public acknowledgment of an official complaint filed by TCU.

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What’s more, it would be virtually impossible for anyone at Jones Stadium to have a frozen water bottle.   The concession stand water bottles that are sold there are not frozen and if any student tried to sneak a frozen water bottle into the stadium, it would thaw long before they were able to use it as a projectile.

That’s not to suggest in any way that throwing any object at an opposing player, coach, or staff member is acceptable.  We would all hope that Red Raider fans would be above that but we also must admit that in any crowd of 10,000 or more college students, many of whom are under the influence of alcohol, there will almost always be at least a handful that make stupid and regrettable choices.

But why it is important to call out Patterson on his claim that the objects that were allegedly thrown were frozen is because it is another example of a rival manufacturing or exaggerating claims against Texas Tech fans to further the myth that visiting Jones Stadium after dark is as dangerous as taking a stroll down Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.

Ultimately, one can prove or disprove any claim that something has been thrown at the TCU team from the Tech student section.  Certainly, we know that tortillas are commonly found riding the West Texas breeze on fall Saturdays and it would be naive to claim that nothing has ever been thrown at a visiting team by Red Raider fans.

But the characterization of the Jones Stadium crowd and Texas Tech fanbase as a band of wildlings that are ready to ambush, kidnap, pillage, and maim fans of other teams is unfair.  Unfortunately, this is not the first time a story from a rival fan base has been exaggerated to portray Red Raider fans in a bad light.

Back in 2011, Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne was quick to go public with claims that the team bus was vandalized with feces and spray paint when the Aggies came to Lubbock.  After investigation, it was determined that the substances were merely fish bait and shoe polish.  While most would rather no vandalism at all have taken place, what Byrne claimed to have happened turned out to be nothing worse than a prank on the level of high-school football rivalries and not an international incident as he and the media attempted to portray it.

Why did Byrne feel the need to go to the media with his complaints so quickly?  You’ll have to forgive Tech fans for feeling like he and his university were looking for an opportunity to besmirch our school and it feels as if Patterson has done the same now.

What’s more, this is not the first time someone representing TCU has claimed to have had something thrown at them by Red Raiders.  Back in 2016, members of the TCU Showgirls dance team claimed that Texas Tech baseball players threw water and dirt on them during a game in Ft. Worth.

The notion that a Big 12 baseball team would be so preoccupied with a dance team as to throw anything at them in the middle of a rivalry series between the top two programs in the conference seemed laughable at the time and was ultimately proven to be false.   But as is the case in all of these instances, the initial claim is always louder than the eventual truth as no one cares as much about the facts as they do an intriguing story.

The last time TCU played a night game in Lubbock was 2013 (though 2015’s game did finish in the evening hours) making it seem odd that Patterson has held on to this complaint for so long.  In today’s age of social media and unlimited interactions between fans and players, it seems odd that nothing would have come out about this in the last four-six years if Patterson’s claims are true.  If a player had received stitches from being hit by any type of object, it seems rather unlikely that photos of the wound or stitches would not have made their way to some type of social media platform.

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But perhaps this is a good sign in some sense.  Though we do not want Red Raider fans to throw anything at opponents other than jeers, we do want teams to dread coming to Lubbock once again as they did for so long.  Here’s hoping that when TCU comes to town this fall, they are more concerned with what they fear may or may not be coming their way from the stands than they are about what is taking place on the field.