We know that Texas Tech has made at least three assistant coach hires, defensive line coach Kevin Patrick, special teams coach Joe Robinson and running back coach Jabbar Juluke. Depending on your outlook of things, you may not appreciate that Texas Tech essentially hired three coaches that have very few ties to Texas. At least, that’s the initial thought.
I think it’s important to first address Louisiana where you should know that LSU dominates the scene. End of story. however, that also means that there are still a ton of really good players that are going out of state, mostly to the SEC, but Oklahoma, Florida State, TCU and other programs certainly make their presence felt in Louisiana. TCU and Texas each have three of the top 50 players in Louisiana committed to the Horned Frogs. Houston, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech each have 1 player from the top 50 with a handful of players who have yet to decide. The thought here is that LSU isn’t going to sign all of the players and there are still a handful of players that are really good that maybe don’t get recruited to Texas. It’s no further to jump on a plane and fly from Orleans to Lubbock than it is to Austin (generally speaking, it’s not that much different). I think it’s probably an extra hour in the air.
This isn’t to say that I think Texas Tech is completely abandoning its mainstay in Texas, but maybe there is a reason to spread your wings a bit. Texas Tech is at a disadvantage with recruiting Texas. Texas and Texas A&M, despite their lackluster results, still dominate Texas in recruiting. And Baylor is right there, probably even ahead of the two. Either way, Texas Tech has always had to find a way to be a bit different and a bit better in all of the different ways. Expanding that recruiting reach a bit certainly has it’s pros and cons, but if it is expanding without letting go of whatever footholds this program has, then yeah, I think Texas Tech would be missing out on an opportunity. And to further this thought, 40% of the 41 top 50 players from Texas (as of Monday, January 25th) have committed to a program outside the state of Texas. The world is getting smaller and programs that had a tough time making their way into Texas are dominating.
- Texas Tech has Zach Spavital, who has significant ties to Oklahoma as his father is a coaching legend in Oklahoma. You can probably thank him for Noah Jones.
- Mike Jinks was the Steele head coach just a few years ago and he was given an opportunity by Kliff Kingsbury to coach on the collegiate level and is now the head coach at Bowling Green. That’s a meteoric rise for him and don’t think that high school coaches don’t appreciate how Kingsbury helped one of them into the stratosphere. And I’m not at all saying that any of these men received their jobs because of their race, but rather because they are very good at their jobs and have a valuable skill.
- Same thing for Emmett Jones, who worked his way up from offensive coordinator at Skyline, to the head coach at South Oak Cliff, to director of player personnel, to assistant coach. And although I hate mentioning race in all of this, I think it is significant that Kingsbury has helped along two coaches move onward and upward and they are African Americans. This sport has way too few African American head coaches, but without Kingsbury’s push up, they might still be waiting on the chance. Jones helped recruit Jamile Johnson and J.F. Thomas, even though Thomas never panned out. Don’t think for a second that Jones didn’t have a direct hand in the Skyline-Three of Joe Wallace, Clarence Henderson, and Da’Leon Ward. And technically, it’s four if you consider Mychealon Thomas, who spent the past two years at a JUCO before being reunited with some of Skyline mates this past weekend.
- Juluke is another high school coaching legend coach who was given the chance by Skip Holtz to move up the ranks as well and now has an opportunity at a Power Five conference. Juluke has significant ties to Louisiana and that’s probably all he knows, but he’s also a high school coaching legend. Those things tend to translate, especially if Juluke is as humble as I think he is. It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Juluke pull in some player between now and National Signing Day. I won’t be disappointed if he doesn’t, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did.
- Robinson is the coach from West Texas who has traveled and coached throughout the SEC. Within a week of being on the job, he didn’t identify a player from the SEC, but he identified a player from El Paso, most likely because of an old coaching connection, and up pops Tristan Cooper, a hard-hitting safety prospect. Cooper ended up going with Arizona, but that’s still a player that was probably not recruited enough initially by Texas Tech (or at all). So, despite having all of these SEC connections, Robinson has Texas connections as well. Again, this wasn’t about limiting the coaching search, but expanding it even further.
- Patrick is, at least right now, the hardest coach to read, simply because he nearly spent his entire career at one spot, at South Florida, where he coached for what seemed like a decade for the Bulls, only to be let go (this is okay, there was a coaching change) and take a year off from coaching to then wind up at North Texas. An unlikely spot for a guy from Florida, who is a Miami Hurricane Hall of Famer and a Florida guy. But maybe Patrick’s reach isn’t going to be so much where he is from, but where he was given a second chance. If anything, Patrick has a pedigree and he has skins on the wall. He’s coached players who have gone on to significant success in the NFL (despite losing a finger or two) and sometimes that rings just as loud in the room as being a guy from the high school coaching ranks.
One other sobering thought is that Texas Tech has just one player from 24/7 Sports’ top 50 list from the state of Texas. T.J. Vasher. I mentioned the other day that I thought the coaches were making attempts to hit lots of base hits and not swing for the fences, and I think that’s the best approach considering how many holes there are to fill on defense. But Texas is getting smaller I think and the competition is fiercer than it ever has been. I’ve been thinking that we’re about to find out real quick how well this staff evaluates players. Not that the past two recruiting classes won’t be an indication, but with this one in particular.