Texas Longhorns athletic director Steve Patterson has been fired by university president Gregory Fenves, according to multiple reports.
DeLoss Dodds held the Texas Longhorns athletic director job for 32 years. Steve Patterson? A whopping 22 months.
After a turbulent two-year stint in Austin, Texas president Gregory Fenves finally put an end to the ugly Steve Patterson era on Tuesday, according to Kirk Bohls and Brian Davis of the Austin-American Statesman. The decision comes three days after a plane flew over Darrell K. Royal Stadium prior to Saturday’s home opener against Rice saying, “Patterson must go.”
The move isn’t much of a surprise, as the relationship between Patterson and the entire Texas administration has been deteriorating for months. Throw in controversial decisions like increased ticket prices, alcohol sales at athletic events, a basketball game scheduled in China, and a loyalty program for tickets that forced some longtime season-ticket holders to lose their seats, and you can quickly see why this decision had to be made.
Dec 29, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong before the game against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the 2014 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The timing is a bit bizarre, though. We’re two weeks into the football season and Texas once again has an off the field story line to deal with. But let’s face it, Patterson’s presence alone was becoming toxic among the fan base. I’m sure he’s viewed in a similar light among the UT administration too.
From an outsiders perspective, all the criticism of Patterson sounds similar to those of former Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, who resigned last year. Much like Patterson, Brandon was criticized for his businesslike approach to the job. He was also condemned for altering Michigan’s football tradition, raising ticket prices and putting marketing ahead of college athletics, which created a disconnect between Brandon and the fan base.
Sound familiar Longhorns’ fans?
Much like Brandon, Patterson is directly linked to the struggling Texas football program. Patterson was praised for his hire of Charlie Strong to replace Mack Brown two seasons ago. While it’s still too soon to judge whether Strong is the right guy or not, it is worth noting that Texas is 1-8 against ranked opponents thus far under his leadership.
Unlike Brady Hoke at Michigan, Strong seems to have a better grasp of what it takes to build a winner. Even though some fans are becoming restless with the Strong regime, there’s a growing consensus that the firing of Patterson will have little effect on the job security of Strong.
Of course, with a new AD on the horizon, Strong’s program will have to show progress this season, or else questions may start to arise.
As for Patterson, we could easily hammer him for his miscues, such as refusing to engage in a breach-of-contract lawsuit with Oklahoma State for offensive line coach Joe Wickline, or his public push to have the city of Austin finance a new basketball arena, or even his desire to have Texas play a basketball and football game internationally. But that would be too easy.
Instead, let’s consider a positive. He was responsible for hiring the first two African-American coaches in school history in Charlie Strong and Shaka Smart. But aside from that, it’s difficult to find more positives. Kirk Bohls of the Austin-American Statesman summed up Patterson pretty well when he described him as the “John Mackovic of ADs: sophisticated, erudite, arrogant, organized.”
Even though this embarrassing era will cost Texas millions of dollars to go away, let’s just be happy it’s over. Hopefully once the ink is dry on Patterson’s settlement, the Texas regime will make a strong push for who should have had this job in the first place — Oliver Luck.
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