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Texas’ Steve Sarkisian leaning on Gary Patterson’s football mind to sharpen Longhorns

With a three-word tweet Wednesday, Texas defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski appeared to endorse the idea of having Gary Patterson roaming the halls inside the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center.

“Iron Sharpens Iron,” Kwiatkowski tweeted. “#HookEm.”

Kwiatkowski has known Patterson for years. But it’s a different arrangement now that the longtime defensive mastermind at TCU is working as a special assistant to UT head coach Steve Sarkisian.

Kwiatkowski’s tweet hit social media just as Sarkisian was answering reporters’ questions about Patterson’s role. 

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Former TCU head coach Gary Patterson is lending his experience in the Big 12 as a special assistant to Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian. Patterson will work behind the scenes helping the defense prepare for games. “He’s got a great deal of energy about him,” Sarkisian said. “But he sees the game, he sees the staff and the team through the lens of a head coach.”

“I’m sure you guys have known Gary over the years,” Sarkisian said Wednesday at his national signing day press conference. “I think sometimes TV paints a picture of what a guy’s perception is. Gary’s a great guy. I think he’s really good around the office. I think he’s a really good team, staff guy. 

“He’s got a great deal of energy about him,” the coach added. “But he sees the game, he sees the staff and the team through the lens of a head coach.”

As for Kwiatkowski, Sarkisian said, “I think for PK, it's really the same thing.”

Patterson was 181-79 as a head coach for 20-plus seasons with the Horned Frogs. There’s a lot of institutional knowledge about Big 12 opponents in Patterson’s head.

“He can be a great sounding board" for Kwiatkowski, Sarkisian said.

Former TCU football coach Gary Patterson, top right, wore a white UT top while sitting in Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte's suite at the Erwin Center for the Jan. 18 Texas-Kansas State men's basketball game. UT announced Patterson's hiring just days later.

Sarkisian said this model worked well at his previous job, Alabama. Coach Nick Saban routinely hires coaches who are between jobs so they can stay involved while recharging. That’s how Sarkisian landed at Alabama, where he ultimately became Saban's offensive coordinator and launched himself to the Texas job.

Patterson has not been made available to reporters since his hire became official. It’s unclear what his long-term professional vision is at this point. Sarkisian does not allow reporters to talk to his assistant coaches during the season. 

“Gary is going to offer the advice and what he thinks we can (or) should do, whether it’s personnel, whether it’s scheme, whether it’s game plan,” Sarkisian said. “Ultimately, we as a staff have to choose to say this is what we’re going to do or we’re going to go in this direction. And that’s OK.

“Gary’s a great sounding board for all of us. He provides a wealth of experience and knowledge.”

Contact Brian Davis by phone or text at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com or @BDavisAAS.