Miscellany

Don’t Let Them Move the Goal Posts

Don’t let anyone move the goal posts.

Man, there’s been a ton of chirping on Twitter and elsewhere about how good is good enough in terms of Texas Tech’s programs. At what point are we “allowed” to say that Texas Tech is having a pretty good little spring. Pretty good little spring. It started with Austin columnist Kirk Bohls who tweeted that other than football, Texas Tech seems to be running the conference, which then prompted Bohls to write the linked article:

“There’s an attitude that permeates the entire athletic department,” Hocutt said. “We have a confidence that we’re as good as anybody. Wes believes Texas Tech can be the best in the country, and he’s always believed that.”

Football’s struggling at the moment, but favorite (but fired) son Kliff Kingsbury landed on his feet in the NFL, and hopes are high for new Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells, a six-year head coach at Utah State whom one well-connected person described as a Mack Brown starter kit with charisma and compassion spilling out of his pores. “If there’s a full room,” he said, “Matt will shake every hand in that room.”

It’s good to be a Red Raider these days.

This led fellow Austin columnist Cedric Golden and DallasNews’ Kevin Sherrington to write that this success needs to include football success.

I’ve had a few thoughts rolling around in my brain.

  • It’s not an either or proposition, but it’s also okay to think that football is more important than the other sports. Texas Tech has dominated a lot of the spring sports and that’s absolutely great. But football is still extremely important. It essentially funds a good chunk of the athletic budget (basketball I think pays for itself, but it’s been a while since I’ve really looked at this). If the football program isn’t making money, then these other programs would suffer.
  • Even Hocutt said in Sherrington’s article that football has to get back, which is true, football success is incredibly important:

    Hocutt is a deep thinker, as evidenced by his body of work in Lubbock since showing up in 2011. Made great hires practically across the board. Chris Beard and Tim Tadlock rank among the best basketball and baseball coaches, respectively, in Texas. Based on Hocutt’s track record, then, it’s not much of a leap to think he just might have gotten his most important hire right, too.

    You know this because he gets it when you imply that a great spring — even a historic one — isn’t enough.

    “Football is so important in the state of Texas and West Texas in particular,” he said.

    “We have got to get football back to where it was before, and where these other sports are.”

  • So, you can certainly puff out your chest that these spring sports have been fantastic, but also acknowledge that football needs to improve too. It’s okay to say that there’s work to be done in football. I think that Kirby Hocutt has this formula and I think he believes he’s hit on it with Matt Wells in that he needs coaches that squeeze the talent out of each and every player (see below for additional discussion). Jury is still out on this.
  • With that being said, I’m not about to let someone move the goalposts. Texas Tech has had a few pretty good springs and that was the point of Bohls’ comments. And that’s absolutely true. Full stop. The goal posts get moved when someone tries to argue about all-time Big 12 Championships and how football hasn’t been up to par. We, as Texas Tech fans absolutely understand our place in history. We are the underdog. We’ve pretty much always been the underdog. And I’m not taking anything away from Texas Tech if I can confidently say that there are other programs, namely Texas and Oklahoma, who have significantly more resources and more history and more Big 12 titles. Congrats. Those programs should have had more titles because they’ve spent more money than anyone else to do so. But that’s not what we’re talking about and that’s not what Bohls’ original thought was. We’re talking about over the past few years Texas Tech consistently having some of the best spring men’s teams in the Big 12. You don’t get to move my goal posts.
  • Coaching damn sure matters. I remember Kingsbury always saying, “It’s not about X’s and O’s, but Jimmy’s and Joe’s.” I think we’ve learned that coaching absolutely matters, but it is also about the players too. These things go hand-in-hand. I thought one of Bohl’s best points was Texas Tech has some of the three best coaches in men’s basketball, baseball, and track and field. Without question Texas Tech has the best coaches in the state of Texas in those respective programs, while the Big 12 is debatable (Bill Self’s record and ability to recruit is elite). With those terrific coaches (Kittley and Beard were the Big 12 Coaches of the Year although Tadlock may not get that honor, I’ll take him over anyone else that wins) there are some truly talented players. Just this year, you have the Big 12 Player/Athlete of the Year in each of those sports in Jarrett Culver, Josh Jung, and Divine Oduduru and those coaches have squeezed the most talent out of each one of those players.
  • Without question for me is the thought that the coaches don’t just squeeze the talent from the best players, but from each and every player on the roster. It’s just not about the best guy, but it is also about squeezing the best out of the 5th or 11th or 14th  or 32nd player on the roster.
  • Wear your red and black proudly. These are some good times and if someone tries to re-frame what we’re talking about, just say, “Fam, I don’t know where you’re going with all of that other stuff, but all I care about is that Texas Tech has had some pretty good little springs. Pretty good little springs.”
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