It has been since June that I wrote an article here on STP. With the basketball games right around the corner, it is time for me to shake off the rust and get back to it. Good to be back, let’s dive right into it…
After the greatest season that I have ever been able to experience as a Red Raiders college basketball fan, it was not two weeks into the off-season that I started to hear the snickers from the other fans of “elite” hoops programs out there. I consider some of these people my friends, yet others are online trolls or sports acquaintances that I have met along my path through the life of a self-proclaimed college basketball junkie. The boilerplate, “Texas Tech had one good season, don’t get too excited…” was the most common thing I was cautioned from these so called blue bloods.
It’s not easy to let the haters get me down. For over a full month after the Red Raiders went on the NCAA Tournament run, I was still flying high. We were all happily drunk off the March Madness Elite Eight appearance success. So, I gladly told some of these buffoons that they were just jealous we have the almighty Coach Chris Beard. I acted like an amateur that had not been there before, and had the confidence that the Red Raiders had found their forever savior in Coach Beard. I could smell that future NCAA Tournament Championship in the air.
Then, the hangover during the off-season hit me like a pile of bricks. I started to let those snickers and jeers from the college basketball world get inside my head. For all the glory I had felt after the tourney, I started to worry about what would happen if Chris Beard did get an offer he could not refuse from another school. Namely, the ritzy University of Texas. What if the Longhorns came around and promised him that all his wildest fantasies could be turned into a reality in Austin? How could we keep him, he is a UT alum… how would we KEEP HIM?
I tried to stay away from thinking about that, and shut down or block out the people that would ask if Chris Beard was staying in Lubbock for the long haul to take Texas Tech even further than the Elite Eight. It was easier to not listen then seriously addressing the question. When I could not ignore it, if I did engage it was a simple response. My standard answer was – He loves Texas Tech! He had been here for 10 years as an assistant, he is a West Texan at heart. He always wanted to come back to Lubbock. His family is in the area. He has a great signed contract deal with Kirby Hocutt and our school. He’d never leave! And so on, and so on…
Over a month ago, Seth came pulling into my driveway in Houston. He was staying at my place after the Ole Miss vs Texas Tech game. Brian DonCarlos and I planned on showing our rustic STP site manager from Kaufman how to party inside the 610 loop near downtown Houston. So, of course, we went to the magnificent beer garden and restaurant at St. Arnold’s. The oldest craft brewery in Texas.
It was there that after sucking back plenty of luscious beers, Seth uttered the dreaded question to me, “Do you think Chris Beard would leave Lubbock; and if UT comes calling is he out of here?”
I had been dodging this question all off-season like a bullet, yet Seth hit me directly in the heart on that evening at the brewery. I don’t know if it was the delicious free flowing Oktoberfest crafted brew that gave me the courage to realistically answer the question. Or, it could have been being put on the spot by someone that I trusted could handle the truth.
Here were my thoughts on the situation – Yes, nothing lasts forever and if Shaka Smart keeps messing up in Austin… UT will come calling for Coach Beard. Chris Beard will get an offer he cannot refuse, and nobody could blame him for packing his bags and going down to Austin to get his treasure. We do not have to like it, but we have to accept it. That is my opinion, and I feel that while it makes me sick to my stomach to admit this, we have to hope the Longhorns are just good enough to not throw Shaka out of Austin for the next couple of years. I hope to hell and back that I’m wrong, but that is how I feel.
With that answer finally out on the table, I immediately started to feel better about the situation. Maybe it was the Bishop’s Barrel beer I had been chugging, but I was no longer in denial. I was no longer harboring my fears, and I had admitted to what was bothering me since the March Madness magic had worn off.
I cannot run from the the question, and us Texas Tech fans are going to have to stop running from it at some point. Because, this program is going to continue to rise. We are going to become a household name, and those “elite” basketball schools will start respecting the basketball squad out in Lubbock, Texas. We are going to be on the college basketball map, and Chris Beard will put us there. With that comes the anxiety that some other school will pluck our head coach, and we will have to start from scratch again. I feel it was only right to admit this to myself, and not blindly think Chris Beard is here to stay forever. Deal with it, in whatever way you can.
My advice is to enjoy what we have, and only worry about each individual game of this exciting season… not what might happen with our head coach in the distant future. It is a guessing game that nobody can answer at this moment, and we will get to it when we get to it. Have fun this season, cheer your ass off, bring ESPN College Gameday back to Lubbock, and follow us on another long postseason run during March Madness.
We can worry if Chris Beard is going to leave Lubbock at a later date. Don’t let it distract how amazing the program is right now, and don’t let the outsiders annoy or frustrate you with their questions about Coach Beard or our future. Just get ready to witness another stellar season by our Red Raiders. We can start panicking again next off-season if we want. For now, let’s have some fun and push to be one of the top teams in the Big 12. Let’s get back in the NCAA tourney and make some noise. The Red Raiders are back to show the college basketball world we are for real and here to stay. Wreck ’em Tech!!!