Football

Where to Go From Here

Where does Texas Tech football move forward from here.

I haven’t watched the game. Not one second. I don’t know that I need to watch given the score alone and that by itself is a rare circumstance.

I joked after the game that rather than write Ten Things, that I’d write about my son Youssouf’s soccer season and me being the coach of his team. I’d rather write about that than losing 66-10, but I sorta think that certain things need to be addressed. As an aside, Youssouf scored 10 goals in his final game. A mom from the other team was upset because he knows how to slide tackle at five and he knows how to take the ball away from opposing players and she yelled at him, that the ref needed to control him and that he should get a red card. I actually stared her down because no one needs to talk about my kid. It was somewhat tense the rest of the way, but whatever, we won 13-3, one of those goals was Youssouf scoring on his own goal as he forgot what goal he needed to score on in the second half.

Here we are, a complete de-pantsing by Iowa State and now, it is most likely that Texas Tech will end up with the same record as Iowa State (assuming both teams lose in their respective last game). Texas Tech is now 4-7 overall, 2-6 in conference, which is technically tied with Iowa State.

The overplayed and very famous Bill Parcells quote, you are what you are, is completely true in circumstances like this. There’s not a lot to defend and that’s the most difficult thing about everything that’s happened.

It might be a bit easier to defend if Texas Tech had mustered much, if any offense, or any sort of fight, but this team appeared to quit against Iowa State. The score alone indicates that the offense and the defense both flopped.

We’ve talked before about how important it is for Texas Tech to win games. Not just this game, but it’s vital that Texas Tech not just be okay or a warm body in football, but Texas Tech must be good at football. No, this isn’t for everyone’s health, but we’ve discussed about how the next round of conference discussions is at least scheduled for the 2024-25 season. Football is incredibly vital to being invited to be part of a a future Power Five conference.

I’m not as confident as others that no matter what, Texas Tech will absolutely be part of any Power Five conference in 8 years. Football carries tremendous weight, the biggest weight, when it comes to conference realignment. Also part of the equation is religion and certain teams are most likely going to be left out because of religious affiliation, like Baylor. There just aren’t a lot of Power Five teams that are also associated with religious institutions like Baylor is. TCU is more of a threat to me because they don’t tend to wave that flag as much as schools like Baylor. And this isn’t my opinion, there really this somewhat unwritten rule about not wanting to invite teams like BYU into the Pac-12 even though geographically it makes a natural fit. And the Big Ten doesn’t have a religious institution (Northwestern was former a Methodist institution, but I think that they are truly affiliated, and that goes for Duke in the ACC as well.). Regardless of whether they are, the fact that they are rare is telling and I think the preference is that non-religious institutions be part of the Power Five moving forward.

Unless, you pack the conferences into a corner.

The difference between being a Power Five team and not is at least about $30 million a year, or maybe it will be that amount by the time the next big shift happens. And that’s probably being incredibly short, I’m just figuring the math on a television deal between a Power Five team and those that are not and that alone is $30 million. Consider reduced attendance, reduced gifts (perhaps).

The point here is that Texas Tech had better start being good at football because if you’re not, you’re more likely than not to be left out of the next round of conference realignment. All of the other things that Texas Tech has going for them only carries them so far. Both football and religion carries significant weight.

Texas Tech had better be on the right side of football immediately.

So, the question is about replacing Kingsbury. It’s his $9 million buy-out that’s the problem, which means that Texas Tech would have to come up with $9 million to buy out Kingsbury’s contract before hiring an entirely new coaching staff.

That’s a lot of coin and it’s not money that Texas Tech has just sitting around. Most likely. I write “most likely” because I don’t think that Texas Tech really has this in their coffers, if they did, it would be a tremendous strain on the program as a whole. I have no idea if this last loss moves the needle with the big donors that woudl have to make a significant contribution, but you get the idea that as much as it would be Kirby Hocutt’s decision, it’s the money that makes the decision. If the money is there, then I think he’ll pull the trigger. As Don Williams pointed out last week, he’s fired coaches for much less than Kingsbury’s record.

SB Nation’s Bill Connelly¬†wrote about turnarounds and he noted that if the program is going to change, then it’s probably going to happen in the third year:

Since 2006, 46 teams have improved by at least 14 adjusted points per game (per S&P+) from one year to the next. That’s about four to five big leaps per season for the entire country. From this group of 46, 36 were led by coaches that were either in their first (10), second (13), or third (13) years.

There have been some stragglers — Gary Andersen (Utah State), Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), Kevin Sumlin (Houston), and Rich Brooks (Kentucky) all saw significant improvement in their fourth years, and Joey Jones broke through in his fifth at startup South Alabama. The rest are made up of late-career bounceback efforts: Air Force under Troy Calhoun in 2014, TCU under Gary Patterson in 2014, etc.

Yes, there are four year examples, like Mike MacIntyre at Colorado, where the bounce doesn’t happen until year four, but that’s where Texas Tech is and we’ve seen a regression, a significant regression from 7-6 last year. This hasn’t just been a bad bounce or two, Texas Tech has lost by a margin of 17 points a game. Does the West Virginia and Iowa State losses throw things for a loop? Well, hell yes, but those losses count too, maybe moreso because they give an indicate of “give a shit”.

So, the idea here is that teams that are going to improve with a new head coach will usually improve within three years and by year four with Kingsbury, there’s a regression in record and the S&P+ has dropped two spots, from 62nd to 64th. not huge, but that also means that Texas Tech is purely a mediocre, middle of the pack team and hasn’t moved the needle much, if at all from last year.

One of the big complaints is that Texas Tech can’t do much better than Kingsbury and so let’s just stick with shitty football for another year and maybe things will be better.

That’s a defeatist attitude and one that I guess makes some bit of sense. It’s a realistic approach, especially given the money situation. I don’t have $10 million to pony up, so I should probably feel similarly, but I think regardless, the perceived lack of candidates shouldn’t be a detriment to making a decision.

In other words, I think these are two different questions here. If you believe that Kingsbury is not the head coach moving forward and if you have the financial resources, then the decision should be made today.

The next head coach, if there is one, is “yet to be determined” and a completely separate issue. You can go a handful of ways, whether it be an offensive guy like Lincoln Riley or a defensive guy like Dave Aranda, the defensive coordinator at LSU. You could make a serious move for a guy like Chad Morris at SMU and even then, there are other options not named Sonny Dykes, who is just 9-26 against the rest of the Pac-12 as the head coach at Cal (no offense to Sonny, but that’s not working out either). There are FBS options that you may not like, but are program builders there that could potentially make a difference. You may look at that as a step down, but at this point, you need a program builder and we probably shouldn’t care about names, but guys that can coach football teams.

Either way, settling for mediocracy because of lack of candidates is not a path to happiness. Heck, we’ve all been in those relationships where neither one of your are really happy, but you stay in the relationship because it’s comfortable.

If the answer to question 1 is yes, then make the decision and move forward.

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