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Could joining Steve Sarkisian’s staff as an analyst be the resurrection Gary Patterson needs?

Patterson turns 62 next month and won 181 games at TCU before being pushed out on Oct. 31

Sometime in the coming days, word that Gary Patterson is joining the extended Texas coaching staff is likely to leak out.

Barring an 11th-hour change of heart, it looks set to happen.

The former TCU coach has reportedly been spotted on campus a couple of times. Patterson’s background molding top defenses would seem to be an in-demand quality in Texas. There’s even an online job opening for a “special assistant to the head coach” that might be a good fit.

Despite the high-sounding title, Patterson’s duties would fall into the broad and trendy category of off-the-field analyst, a position pioneered and perfected by Nick Saban and inevitably copied.

Former Colorado, Washington and UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, now working with CBS Sports and SiriusXM, called the move “a great idea.” He said Patterson could fill a need for Texas coach Steve Sarkisian, coming off a disappointing 5-7 season in Austin.

“There’s no question Steve Sarkisian has the chops as a play-caller. There’s no question Steve Sarkisian has the chops as a quarterback guy,” Neuheisel said in a phone interview. “He’s done that and done it brilliantly. But at the end of the day, the $6 million a year or whatever they paid him to come be the head coach at Texas is far different than 5-7. …

“Gary Patterson can lend some advice to how to handle the staff, how to handle player personnel issues, discipline issues. And not certainly tell [Sarkisian] what to do but give him ideas what he’s done in the past and what’s been effective and not bad, that’s brilliant.”

To some Texas fans who watched the Longhorns finish eighth in the Big 12 in defense under coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski, it might be a disappointment that Patterson won’t be directly overseeing the defense.

But analysts are limited in what they can do and coaching on the field and in practice isn’t allowed. Game day preparation and scouting reports and self study and being another brain and set of eyes is the advantage.

“I think the idea really is for Patterson to be the head coach confidante on personnel issues, recruiting, how to handle situations,” Neuheisel said. “To me if he’s going to come in there and teach fire zones, that’s not nearly the same coup that it would be with 20 years of head coaching experience.”

While the move makes sense for Texas, does it make sense for Patterson?

He turns 62 next month, won 181 games at TCU before being pushed out on Oct. 31 and has a statue outside the stadium. He could devote his time to charity work or make a move to TV, like Mack Brown did for a couple of years after being fired at Texas.

But if Patterson has any thoughts of returning to the sidelines, it may not be a bad move. With so many changes in college football, Patterson runs the risk of being labeled a dinosaur in the world of the transfer portal and NIL. If he comes in and things seem to work with Sarkisian and Texas, that could be a nice springboard.

Athletic director Chris Del Conte is a buddy from their eight years together from TCU and no doubt has played a role in the overture. After last season, things can’t get much worse for Texas, can it?

Patterson could also be a handy replacement if something goes wrong. Remember Brown bringing the late Greg Robinson on board as an analyst in 2013 and then plugging him into the defensive coordinator role after firing Manny Diaz?

“I think it can definitely have a resurrection feeling for Gary,” Neuheisel said.

It’s helped other coaches before him.

Look no further than TCU, which hired SMU coach Sonny Dykes to replace Patterson. Dykes had served one year as an analyst at TCU.

“It was really an eye-opening experience for me to just see what kind of place it was,” Dykes said at his introductory press conference. “I always knew it was good looking from the outside-in, but having a chance to be here for a year really opened my eyes to what an incredible place this is.”

Sarkisian’s career got jumpstarted as an Alabama analyst after alcohol problems led to his dismissal at USC in 2015. He went from analyst to the Atlanta Falcons as offensive coordinator then back to Alabama as the OC on a national championship team before being hired at Texas.

He knows the drill.

“I think it was challenging prior to this, being in the analyst role, because you still get to work on the game plan side of things,” Sarkisian said back in 2017. “But it is frustrating as an analyst when you go out to practice and you’re not coaching. I mean, that’s what you love to do. But in my situation, when you’re not allowed to do that, it’s a lot of note-taking.”

Sarkisian is not alone in turning an analyst gig at Alabama into a career opportunity after a career interruption. So did Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin and Maryland coach Mike Locksley and new Florida coach Billy Napier.

“I probably learned as much in that one year than I’d learned in a long time,” Napier told the Greenville News.

Saban started this early in his career at Alabama, basically bringing the concept of an NFL personnel department to college. When Saban began collecting championship rings, people took notice.

“There’s no one who searches for more information than Nick Saban and he’s the best of all-time,” Neuheisel said. “To me this is a no-brainer.”

Find more TCU coverage from The Dallas Morning News here.

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