I wrote an article on July 13, 2017, that started like this:
The Kingda Ka roller coaster at Six Flags Great Adventure in New Jersey is the tallest and second-fastest roller coaster in the world. Riders reach speeds of 128 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds before climbing a 456-foot tower. Seconds later, they're rocketed down the 418-foot vertical drop and quickly shot back up a less terrifying, although still extraordinarily dramatic, tower.
The recovery from Kingda Ka's 418-foot plummet has nothing on Gary Patterson's recovery history at TCU.
At the time, I focused on the recovery from the 418-foot plummet, reviewing why history suggests Gary Patterson could lead TCU to another quick turnaround after a six-win 2016 season. He did that; TCU went 11-3 in 2017. Seventeen months later, the Horned Frogs are in the midst of another 418-foot plummet.
Since Patterson's first season as head coach in 2001, TCU's year-to-year win total has increased or decreased by at least three wins on 11 occasions. Incredibly, their year-to-year total has increased or decreased by at least five wins on seven occasions. For example, they won 11 games in 2003, five games in 2004 (+6) and 11 games in 2011 (-6).
Note: Data assumes TCU loses to Baylor and Oklahoma State and finishes 2018 with a 4-8 record.
Even with four straight seasons of at least 11 wins from 2008-11, TCU still has an average year-to-year win difference of 3.5, highest in the FBS over the last 18 years.
The 2018 season will be the sixth season under Patterson that TCU has won at least three fewer games than the previous season. In five of the previous six instances, they've won at least three more games in the following season, including a six-win increase in 2005, eight-win increase in 2014 and five-win increase in 2017.
TCU's disaster season feels shocking — I picked them 16th in the Preseason Top 100 — but, as history shows, is it actually shocking?