In what must be viewed as a landmark, as well as a celebrated, season, TCU football is fortunate to have a taskmaster of Pat Sullivan's stature at the keel to steer the Horned Frog program into its 100th year of competition, and its first as a member of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).
In a span of only four years, Sullivan's TCU squads already have accomplished what those gridders playing for only a handful of previous Frog coaching greats including national Hall of Famers Matty Bell, Francis Schmidt, Dutch Meyer and Abe Martin had been able to do - put together multiple winning seasons.
Eager to entertain the possibilities of a third straight .500 plus campaign in '96, Sullivan, the Heisman Trophy winner of 1971, guided Horned Frog teams to records of 7-5 and 6-5 the previous two campaigns. Clearly, Sullivan's approach as a head coach signals a stamp of quality.
Relying on an uncomplicated methodology which stresses character, mental toughness, superior conditioning and preparation, Sullivan has patiently restructured TCU football into a solid program. Ultra-organized, his building approach has been easy to follow. He insists on all but handpicking the program's recruits, preferring youngsters with character and positive attitudes, in addition to athletic talent.
He also leans heavily on his first-rate coaching staff, one balanced with experience and expertise. Sullivan argues that those two important priorities, along with hard work, ensure team togetherness, discipline, winning attitudes and success on the field and in the classroom. And it has.
It should be noted, however, that Sullivan, the Southwest Conference's 1994 Coach of the Year, is reluctant to categorize football coaching as "work." Instead, he calls it a labor of love.
In fact, he is more apt to speak of the sport in terms of "meaningful experiences" and "growth" rather than wins and losses. And, he generally does so with the same deep sense of pride any father figure would in describing their respective loved ones.
We, it seems, is among Sullivan's favorite words. And we the family is his favorite topic. TCU football is not a team, nor a squad. It is a family. And he often arrives early to think about his brood. Year-round, Sullivan commences his coaching day around 6 a.m.
In the four years since this Alabama native arrived at TCU, he has witnessed the Frog family circle grow megafold. Just as the Horned Frog football family's leader had predicted, togetherness and group-oriented goals taking have begun to blossom. Sullivan knows about such principles. T
They are the inherent values which Sullivan himself has maintained throughout his legacy of a champion. And they are the same principles TCU leaders were certain they recognized when they lured this coaching prize to Frogland. Sullivan became TCU's 271h head football coach on January 2. 1992.
A professed "people person," it is obvious Patrick Joseph Sullivan loves folks and that his quiet, unassuming manner has proven contagious. Sullivan, the 46-year old native of Birmingham, Alabama, and former Auburn standout, says plainly, "I guess I am a player's coach. My foremost concern is to help the development of our athletes as students, as football players and as men."
Beginning with his days as a bright-eyed, three-sport allstater at John Carroll High School in Birmingham, Alabama, his prior achievements and meteoric rise within the football ranks have became well-chronicled.
Though also tremendously skilled as both a basketballer and a baseballer, it was in football that Sullivan chose to continue his athletics career at Auburn in 1967. And it was at that stage the romance between college football and this thoroughly unique Southern youngster began to flourish.
While at Auburn, Sullivan quarterbacked the Tigers to a combined record of 27 wins and 7 losses over three seasons (1969-70-71) as well as three post-season bowl appearances. Along the way, Sullivan left Auburn's football record book scattered with his name for a variety of passing and touchdown milestones. He was awarded the coveted Heisman Trophy as college football's finest in '71 and was named Player of the Year of the Southeastern Conference (1970 and '71), as well as being a consensus all-American selection both campaigns.
He was selected as the Most Valuable Player in the 1970 Gator Bowl, in the 1971 Sugar Bowl, in the 1972 Senior Bowl and in the 1972 College All-Star Game. The rustcropped Sullivan also excelled beyond the playing field. Majoring in business administration, he gained academic all-American and all-SEC honors, plus he was awarded a SPADES Award (presented annually to the Top Ten Auburn students) in both 1971 and 1972.
He received the Bill Streit Award (to the Auburn senior gridder with the highest academic average), the Cliff Hare Award (Auburn's athletic award for scholarship, athletics, leadership and integrity), plus he was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa. Since then, Sullivan has been inducted into Alabama Sports, the Gator Bowl, the Senior Bowl and the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.
Following Auburn, Sullivan spent five seasons in the professional football ranks (Atlanta Falcons, 1972-76 and Washington Redskins, 1976-77) before returning to his home turf and entering private business. In 1986 he rejoined his alma mater full-time as an assistant coach in charge of Auburn's quarterbacks. That was the first of six campaigns which Sullivan spent on Pat Dye's staff the last two also in the capacity as an offensive assistant.
Then, as the final days of 1991 ticked down, Sullivan was contacted by officials at TCU about the head coaching job. It was at this juncture the next exciting saga in the TCU Football Family history took its initial form, and it has been growing in leaps and bounds since. Sullivan and his charming wife, the former Jean Hicks of Birmingham, have three children -- Kim, and twins Kelly and Patrick.
Pat Sullivan Thumbnail
TCU Football Coaches
TCU Football 1996
Pat Sullivan Thumbnail
TCU Football Coaches
TCU Football 1996