Gary Patterson has always felt he has a better chance of competing for a national championship at TCU than at some other places with automatic BCS access.
With his No. 4 Horned Frogs set to play in a Bowl Championship Series game -- and perhaps a national title, depending on this weekend's games -- it might be hard to argue with him. And with his name being mentioned for the Notre Dame job, Patterson agreed Wednesday to a new contract intended to keep him at TCU through 2016.
"Like all of us, you always like to prove people wrong. A lot of people thought that TCU, because of where we started 12 years ago, we couldn't do this," Patterson said. "We've achieved something that all those other people talk about because they're part of a conference and yes, they have the access right now, a little bit quicker than we do. ... We've now jumped over a hurdle being able to get to a BCS game."
Patterson has led TCU to five 11-win seasons the past seven years. TCU just completed its first undefeated regular season since 1938, when it won its only AP national championship.
"Like I've said many times, I don't think people understand what kind of place TCU and Fort Worth is," Patterson said. "This was my first head coaching job, but it also, now going into 12 years, it's my home."
TCU (12-0, 8-0 Mountain West) will find out Sunday which of the big-money BCS games it will play in. The Frogs are fourth in the BCS standings, the highest ever this late in the season for a team from a conference without an automatic bid.
"We don't feel like our work is done," Patterson said. "We feel like we have a mountain to climb, a championship to win."
There is still a chance the Frogs could be the first BCS buster to play for the national championship if No. 3 Texas loses to Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game Saturday night and they stay ahead of Cincinnati in the final BCS standings. The other spot will be filled by No. 1 Florida or No. 2 Alabama, who face off in the SEC championship game.
Patterson has an 85-27 record in his ninth season at TCU. His contract had been through 2014, and the revised deal includes pay raises he and his assistant coaches. The private university doesn't release financial details.
Patterson, 49, came to TCU as a defensive coordinator with coach Dennis Franchione after the 1997 season, when the Frogs were coming off a 1-10 season. He was promoted when Franchione left three years later for Alabama, though the school did a national search before making that move.
"We had a vision, as you can see on that pyramid," Patterson said, referring to the pyramid of goals in the team's meeting room. "That pyramid has not changed since we started, of reaching a BCS bowl, going to a national championship and doing a lot of things. And a lot of people laughed and a lot of people shook their heads and they were just saying, well, that's nice."
TCU wrapped up the regular season and outright Mountain West title with a 51-10 victory over New Mexico on Saturday. It was the Frogs' seventh consecutive victory by at least 27 points, a stretch that included BYU and Utah, last year's BCS buster.
The Frogs have a 14-game winning streak, matching the seven decade-old school record set in 1938 when Heisman Trophy winner Davey O'Brien was their quarterback.
Chris Del Conte, who took over as TCU's athletic director only six weeks ago, said he had not been contacted by Notre Dame or any other schools about talking to Patterson.
"We weren't going to wait until the fight came to us," Del Conte said. "I wanted to make sure they knew we wanted to keep them. That's why we acted swiftly and quickly."
Patterson was named this week as the Mountain West coach of the year, and TCU swept all the individual awards as well. Quarterback Andy Dalton was named the league's offensive player of the year, standout end Jerry Hughes got the defensive award and returner Jeremy Kerley was recognized for special teams.
It is the second year in a row that Patterson has gotten his contract extended. It was pushed to 2014 after last season, weeks after strong speculation that Kansas State was interested in hiring Patterson to lead his alma mater.
"As a famous coach once told me, just understand the grass is always green, but there's no great job. Every place has its problems," Patterson said. "I'm just really excited about getting an opportunity to know where I'm at, and what we've been able to do. Obviously, our system works here."