New Texas Longhorns athletic director Steve Patterson alternately emitted a deep, hearty chuckle and spoke in a voice choked by emotions during his introductory press conference on Thursday morning.
In his introductory remarks talking about coming home to the school where he earned his undergraduate and law degrees, Patterson was clearly emotional as his voice cracked, becoming emotional once again when asked about the Arizona State president calling his move back to Texas "disgusting," a charge that is hard to believe after seeing how deeply Patterson clearly loves the University of Texas.
It was a difficult question, but one that Patterson handled with a combination of deftness and sincerity.
His sense of humor was also apparent in his easy laugh. Asked about his fondest memories of his time at Texas as an undergraduate and law student, the new Texas athletic director chuckled for a full five seconds, as Bill Little jumped in to say that Patterson didn't have to answer that question.
Patterson did, mentioning that he fell in love with the school upon his first visit and a campaign that he helped run for student body president that ultimately defeated Paul Begala, who has gone on to a long and successful career in politics.
Asked about buying a burnt orange-checked suit in the style of a ridiculously ostentatious suit he wore at Arizona State, Patterson laughed again and indicated that is next on his list.
Another great line from Patterson? He said that he named his son Austin because of his love for the city, but wanted to name him Bevo, a suggestion that his wife did not support.
Much of the narrative surrounding Patterson already has been his willingness to make large-scale changes at Arizona State, bringing up the term hatchet man. Patterson certainly doesn't come across as the Grim Reaper of athletic directors with his apparent sincerity and easy laugh and president Bill Powers was quite to say that the two did not discuss specific athletic programs during the hiring process.
Patterson also said that he does not see Texas as school that need dramatic turnaround or monstrous changes. Obviously, that sounds like someone who won't make the big changes in the three major sports anticipated by the narrative of his interview, though it's hard to say that his public remarks in that regard indicate his private feelings.
He also hasn't started the job yet and has not evaluated those coaches in any real sense.
At Arizona State, Patterson said that he made the changes because the culture needed changes, a charge levied often at Bellmont. He does not, however, believe in change for the sake of change, he said, but was clear earlier in the press conference that everyone is replaceable.
The start date for Patterson has not yet been decided upon, as Patterson has to return to Tempe to finalize his business at Arizona State and still needs his contract approved by the Board of Regents. It's a contract that Patterson has not yet discussed with Texas, as he didn't talk about money with Bill Powers when he took the job and still hasn't -- the two merely have a handshake agreement.
Despite how easy of a decision it was for Patterson, accepting the job on the spot when offered it by Powers, Patterson said that there is some trepidation in following in the footsteps of a legend like outgoing athletic director DeLoss Dodds.
But Patterson believes that he's the right fit for what he called the premier athletic department in the country and Powers believes that he found the perfect man from the job.
After a sincere press conference that clearly highlighted Patterson's humanity, and in considering his significant accomplishments in college and professional sports, it's hard to argue with that assessment.
Now the work begins.