‘Pyramid of Success’ guides football’s season

Photo courtesy of gofrogs.com

Photo courtesy of gofrogs.com

By Branson Nelson

When the TCU football team walked into the Four Sevens Team Room after upsetting No. 6 Oklahoma State, the annual Pyramid of Success had just a little more purple.

Each year head coach Gary Patterson has been at TCU, there has been a new pyramid. The pyramid starts out completely white, and as the team accomplishes its goals throughout the season, it’s slowly shaded in with purple. Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden created the Pyramid of Success in 1948, and it has often been replicated in some form over the years.

“We have had it for 20 years since I have been here, as an assistant and then as the head coach,” Patterson said. “It basically gives you a road map.”

Photo of the TCU pyramid in the Four Sevens Team Room. (Photo by Branson Nelson)

The map starts at the bottom with a four-word foundation: Attitude, Chemistry, Family and Accountable. Next comes Mental Toughness, Extra Effort, Tradition and Prepare– then comes the on-the-field goals.

“The third level is non-conference opponents,” Patterson said. “The fourth level is conference opponents at home, the next level is conference opponents on the road, and then the rest is everything postseason.”

So far, up to the third level is all purple. TCU knocked off Jackson State and SMU at home then beat Arkansas on the road for a perfect 3-0 out-of-conference record. These wins filled out the “Leave No Doubt” level.

TCU will get its chance to start filling in the fourth level, titled “Draw the Line,” when it hosts its first Big 12 home game against West Virginia on Oct. 7.

With Saturday’s big win in Stillwater, TCU started filling in the “Don’t Back Down” level, but the purple added hardly made a dent in all the white that remains.

“You want to know how important the rest of the season is, and what Oklahoma State was?” Patterson said. “You see that small sliver of purple, and you see all the rest of that white? We have a lot of work to do.”

That work will undoubtedly be hard (completing the pyramid means winning 11 more games en route to a 15-0 season and a national championship), but the program plans to take it step-by-step. After all, that’s what the pyramid is for.

“It is one game at a time,” Patterson said. “The pyramid allows us to do that because as a group, you just don’t look too far ahead, and that is the way I have always approached a season. You have to have a road map of how you want to get it accomplished.” 

This week TCU has its bye week, with no section of the pyramid in play, but Patterson knows this week means just as much as any other. It is time to rest, regroup and get ready for the rest of the season and the rest of the rise to the top of the pyramid.