Capitals

Dilemma for TCU's Patterson vs. alma mater K-State

Dilemma for TCU's Patterson vs. alma mater K-State

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Gary Patterson figures he was known more for playing his guitar than anything he did on the field as a Kansas State player back in the early 1980s.

During two years as a safety and linebacker for the Wildcats, Patterson played ``a lot on scout teams, a little bit of special teams.'' But it was also at K-State where he started his coaching career, as a graduate assistant in 1982 for the school's first-ever bowl team.

Now three decades later, with the third-ranked Wildcats undefeated and in the thick of the national championship race, the Kansas native and TCU coach faces his alma mater for the first time Saturday.

``It's hard, because you love seeing, from their perspective, they've come so far and have an opportunity to be so close to playing for a national championship,'' said Patterson, TCU's winningest coach with 115 victories in his 12 seasons. ``But also on our side of it, just try to get seven (wins).

``It's a dilemma,'' he said. ``But this is what they pay me to do.''

TCU (6-3, 3-3) is in its inaugural Big 12 season and became bowl eligible with a double-overtime victory last weekend at then-No. 23 West Virginia, the league's other newcomer.

With Heisman Trophy front-running quarterback Collin Klein, Kansas State (9-0, 6-0) has its highest BCS ranking ever, at No. 2 behind defending national champion Alabama.

The Wildcats are three wins shy of possibly getting into their first BCS national championship game. There almost certainly is no chance of that if they lose any of their remaining games: at TCU and at Baylor before the regular-season finale at home against Texas.

``I'll be on some post office wall if I win. I'll be one person that can't cross the state line,'' Patterson said. ``I used to say once I cross the Kansas line, I knew I was within 30 minutes, somebody would help me. Now I cross the Kansas line, I need to not tell everybody I'm coming, except if you're a KU fan.''

Patterson's time at Kansas State predated even coach Bill Snyder.

During his season as a grad assistant under Jim Dickey, Patterson worked with linebackers coach Mo Lattimore, who is now in his 17th year of his second stint on the Wildcats staff. K-State made it to the Independence Bowl that season.

``We played Wisconsin, which is kind of ironic,'' Patterson said.

Only two seasons ago, Patterson's Horned Frogs capped their 13-0 season with a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. That was a different outcome than his first bowl meeting against the Badgers and sent TCU to a No. 2 final AP ranking.

Another twist is that this is the 10th game this season. In their 10th game a year ago, the Frogs won at then-undefeated Boise State and cost the Broncos any chance of a BCS berth.

Patterson is apparently doing his best to make this game the same as any other for his players.

``He hasn't really spoke too much on it,'' cornerback Jason Verrett said. ``He's just ready to play.''

Offensive lineman Blaize Foltz said the fact that Kansas State is their coach's alma mater ``hasn't really been'' a topic of conversation.

``I'm sure for him, it's just like another game,'' Foltz said.

After K-State, the Frogs have left only games at 19th-ranked Texas on Thanksgiving night and home against No. 14 Oklahoma. They are just trying to win as many as they can.

Snyder and the Wildcats are trying to stay in contention for a national title shot. They've come a long way since the coach arrived in 1989 - when K-State had gone winless in its previous 27 games and then was considered the worst team in the NCAA's upper division.

``Well, I was part of a couple of those years,'' Patterson said.

Patterson pondered the question briefly when asked if he hoped to eventually have a similar impact at TCU to what the 73-year-old Snyder has at Kansas State, where he's in his fourth season back after a three-year retirement.

``Hopefully to some extent we have already. We got as far as a Rose Bowl,'' Patterson said. ``I'm not sure I'll be at 73 coaching. It's his passion, what he does. He's been very good at it, and it really says a lot about his energy and about how he does things. It's really truly, truly an amazing story.''

One that Patterson, for one game, will be trying to upset.

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7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

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7 things to know about Capitals head coaching candidate Todd Reirden

For now, Todd Reirden appears to be the frontrunner to be the new head coach of the Washington Capitals.

But who is he? 

Here are some things to know about the Capitals head coaching candidate:

1. Reirden spent the last four seasons with Washington on Barry Trotz's staff

Should Reirden be hired, he would bring a measure of familiarity with him few teams get after a coaching change. Reirden was hired by Trotz in 2014 when Trotz was putting together his staff. He was brought in to coach the team's defense and immediately improved the blue line.

In the year prior to Reirden's hiring, the Caps allowed 2.74 goals per game, good for only 21st in the NHL.

Here is what the defense has done in Reirden's four years in charge of the defense:

2014-15: 2.43 goals against per game, 7th in the NHL
2015-16: 2.33 goals against per game, 2nd in the NHL
2016-17: 2.16 goals against per game, 1st in the NHL
2017-18: 2.90 goals against per game, 16th in the NHL

In those four seasons combined, Washington allowed 2.45 goals per game, lower than every team in the NHL but one. He was also in charge of the team's lethal power play.

2. Reirden has been a head coach before

While he may never have been a head coach in the NHL, Reirden does have some head coaching experience.

Reirden was promoted to head coach of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in 2009 when Dan Bylsma was promoted to head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. While head coach, Reirden led the team to a 55-43-8 record.

3. Reirden came to Washington from the Penguins

Reirden joined the Penguins organization in 2008 as an assistant coach with their AHL affiliate and took over as head coach later that season. He joined the Penguins' playoff staff during the 2009 Cup run. He was promoted to a full-time assistant coach under with the NHL team under Bylsma in 2010 and was there for four years until Byslma was fired. Reirden was not initially fired, but was allowed to seek other opportunities. When he was officially fired, the Capitals hired him the same day.

4. Reirden had a lot to do with Matt Niskanen signing with the Caps

Reirden was hired by the Caps on June 25, 2014. On July 1, Matt Niskanen signed with Washington.

Reirden and Niskanen developed a strong relationship while in Pittsburgh. Niskanen dealt with confidence issues after getting traded from Dallas to Pittsburgh in 2011. Under Reirden's tutelage, Niskanen developed into a top-pair defenseman. Niskanen's agent said at the time it was "no secret" that Reirden and Niskanen had bonded while both were in Pittsburgh.

Brooks Orpik also signed with the Caps as a free agent that year, the second defenseman from Pittsburgh to sign in Washington showing the level of respect they felt for Reirden.

5. Reirden nearly became the head coach of Calgary

Reirden interviewed for the head coaching job in Calgary in 2016 and was considered a finalist for the position before eventually losing out Glen Gulutzan.

Gulutzan was fired by Calgary after the 2017-18 season and is now an assistant coach in Edmonton while Reirden is the frontrunner to become the head coach for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Sounds like things worked out for Reirden.

6. The Caps have been grooming Reirden to be a head coach

Reirden was promoted to associate coach in August 2016 after Calgary had passed on him. Since then, the Caps have not allowed him to interview with other teams for head coaching positions. The implication was clear, this was someone the team wanted to keep.

"You know I think we’ve been grooming him to be a head coach whether for us or someone else," Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan Monday.

7. Reiden played in 183 career NHL games

Reirden was a defenseman drafted in the 12th round by the New Jersey Devils in 1990. After playing four years at Bowling Green, Reirden went pro with several seasons in the ECHL, IHL and AHL. He made his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1998-99 season. Reirden would also play with the St. Louis Blues, Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes. 

For his NHL career, Reirden scored 11 goals and 46 points in 183 games.

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With Barry Trotz out, Jay Gruden is now your longest-tenured major head coach in D.C.

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With Barry Trotz out, Jay Gruden is now your longest-tenured major head coach in D.C.

Jay Gruden is many things, including honest, witty, one of the greatest Arena League quarterbacks in the history of the universe and, as of June 18, the longest-tenured head coach of a major D.C. sports team.

With the Capitals and Barry Trotz parting ways, Gruden is now officially the area's most experienced boss (while Gruden was actually hired a few months before Trotz back in 2014, they both have led their teams through four seasons up to this point, which is the number that matters here).

Scott Brooks, meanwhile, has overseen the Wizards for two campaigns, while Nats manager Dave Martinez is in the middle of his first year at the helm.

This designation will pair nicely with the fact that Gruden will also be the first 'Skins headman to hold his job into a fifth season in the Dan Snyder era. You don't need to make plans to visit his statue yet, of course, but this is some uncharted territory the 51-year-old is currently hanging out in.

Now, his overall record of 28-35-1 certainly needs work, or else he'll be in danger of handing the longest-tenured distinction over to Brooks. However, Gruden does deserve credit for bringing an amount of stability to the Burgundy and Gold, a franchise that is usually as stable as Metro's Wi-Fi connection.

So, with all due respect to DC United's Ben Olsen, the Kastles' Murphy Jensen and whatever legend is in charge of your kid's dynastic flag football team, when you think of the man who's been roaming the sidelines longer than anyone else in D.C., be sure to think of this man and only this man:

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