Gary Patterson led the Horned Frogs to a perfect season and their first BCS appearance.
No. 3 TCU plays No. 6 Boise State (13-0) in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 4.
In a close vote released Wednesday, Patterson received 21 votes from the AP college football poll panel to edge Brian Kelly. The former Cincinnati coach, now with Notre Dame, received 19 votes and Alabama's Nick Saban got 14 votes.
Chip Kelly of Oregon received three votes and Boise State's Chris Petersen and Texas' Mack Brown each got one vote.
Patterson is 85-27 in nine seasons at TCU. This season, the Horned Frogs went 12-0 for their first undefeated regular season since 1938.