FORT WORTH, Texas -- TCU coach Gary Patterson has what he considers a perfect illustration to show his eighth-ranked Horned Frogs all they still have left to try to accomplish. They see it every time they go into the team meeting room.
The Frogs are 4-0, with road wins at Arkansas and then-No. 6 Oklahoma State in the last game before their open date. They have gone from unranked in the preseason to a top 10 team to start October.
But their pyramid of goals still has a lot of unblemished white space waiting to be shaded in purple.
"You guys see this. This pretty much sums it up," Patterson said, standing by the poster hanging at the front of the room. "You want to know how important the rest of the season is, and what Oklahoma State was. See that small sliver. See all the rest of this white. There's a lot of work to do."
They play their Big 12 home opener Saturday against No. 23 West Virginia (3-1, 1-0 Big 12), the school that TCU entered the Power Five conference with in 2012.
Nine levels of goals make up TCU's pyramid - yes, Patterson modeled his after UCLA and 10-time NCAA champion basketball coach John Wooden's pyramid of success . Goals reached are shaded in the school's color.
The bottom three levels for the Frogs are already fully purple. The bottom two rows are based on offseason and off-field building blocks like attitude, chemistry and accountability, and the third is for the three non-conference victories.
On a row labeled "Don't Back Down" to mark the five Big 12 road games, the first of the five is listed as OSU. So there is only a thin strip of purple to signify the 44-31 win in Stillwater more than a week ago.
"Just a slice of what we need to fully accomplish," safety Niko Small said Tuesday. "It's a whole pyramid. Just winning one part of it, or not building a foundation, it could crumble. ... That's not really aesthetic to look at and just see a whole bunch of white through the purple. But once you see it, and there's a lot of purple on it, it looks a lot better."
The pyramid has been part of TCU's program throughout Patterson's time, from three years as defensive coordinator to his 17 seasons as head coach. Each player signs the poster before the season, making their commitment to do their part to help accomplish those goals.
"It basically gives you a road map," Patterson said.
While there have been some minor adjustments over the years, the pyramid always peaks with the same goal - #1 National Champions. There are two rows for the Big 12 schedule, one for the home games and another for the road games, with postseason goals on top of that.
"We want to see that thing full purple," receiver Ty Slanina said. "We know it takes little bits and pieces every time."
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