Weekly Conversation | Montana State vs. Texas Tech

Travis: So the last time we talked seems like a decade ago. I can’t believe everything that’s happened since our last convo. I want you to go first and then I’ll follow but tell me the top 5 things that have happened in your life since last December (could be anything: Texas Tech related, your boys soccer exploits, lactose intolerance updates, just anything).

Seth: Man, that’s a lot of stuff happening in like maybe 9 months.

1. I ran an ultra marathon and it was really fantastic. I just about enjoyed every aspect of the training, the numerous hours on the road just running. It was 30 miles in the Colorado Bend State Park and I’ll do it again at some point. I don’t know when, and the training is what takes up so much of my time. It’s easier to do in the winter months because running in the heat for really long distances is really difficult for me personally. I can do 10 miles and could probably do more, but it’s not easy.

2. I took my family to Disneyland in California. This has always been on my list of things to do for the boys and since they’re essentially 7 and 9, I felt like anything much past this would maybe not be as magical. And it wasn’t just me, it was my parents, my sister and her 3 kids (she lives in the DFW) visiting my sister and her two kids in San Diego, so it was one huge family affair. We did Disneyland for a day, Lego Land, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (which I highly recommend) and just a day at the beach, which is magical.

3. A guys trip with my dad, my older brother (1 year older than me), and myself flew out to Seattle to see my little brother and just hang out together as brothers and sons in August. I didn’t even mention this long weekend on Twitter, which is a first for me I think and so that part was pretty refreshing and great. I took a ton of pictures and they’re pretty much just there for me and my family. And the bonding time was something that we’ve never done, at least not since we were growing up. My old man is 72, so there aren’t going to be a ton of these opportunities in the future and I’ve been wanting to do a trip like this for the better part of a year. We walked around a ton in Seattle the first day, then did Snoqualmie Falls, which is spectacular, rode bikes to a brewery, then did Whidbey Island the last day it was just flat out wonderful.

4. My wife and I took a long weekend to Savannah, the first trip without our kids since they’ve been home. My wife has always wanted to go to Savannah, so we went when it was part of the hottest part of the year and we walked and ate so much. The food there was some of the best I’ve ever had and the architecture and the squares were an absolute blast. It was good for just the two of us to be together because when you have kids, that just doesn’t get to happen.

5. Last but not least, my wife continued to be married to me for yet another year and the boys are really doing great. They’re so different and so unique it’s a ton of fun. Fitsum is still all about Legos and building and reading and comic books and if you knew me growing up, you’d know that this is what I was about growing up as a kid. I read a ton and I lived in my own brain for a long time. Meanwhile, Youssouf continues to play really well at soccer, he’s still playing with kids 2 years older than him and in his very first basketball league, he was flipping dominant. He played with kids entering 1st and 2nd grade (he’s entering 2nd) and he would normally just play a half, maybe a quarter, because he could really pretty much score at will. We worked on his shooting form and he’s a voracious rebounder. He’s just got that extra knowledge of how to use his body at 7 years old. I don’t get it. The best part of this list is that none of this even has anything to do with the basketball team playing for a National Championship or the baseball team going to Omaha again and the track and field team winning a national title. Those were really all great great moments, but these personal moments were even better than all of those.

I know you went on a family vacation to the West Coast and it looked great and Claire is no longer under the Hale roof (except for laundry). Can’t wait to hear your top 5.

Travis: Two things: first, there’s no way I can compete with your year. Sounds like you had a fantastic time. Second, I think I might’ve painted myself into a corner because I’m really struggling coming up with five things. Because of the nature of the past year (Claire graduating, all those kids growing up, moving into the dorm, it all seems like such a blur that it’s hard for me to distill events down to a top five. But, here goes.

1. Yes, we did take a trip to the West Coast and the Pacific Northwest. We flew into San Francisco on a Wednesday evening in July, rented a car and drove up to San Rafael. On Thursday morning we found a farmer’s market (like a legit farmer’s market where they were selling carrots and beets and fresh fruit and tomatoes, etc.). It was so much fun. The temperature was in the 60’s and we just walked around sampling the freshest fruits and veggies I think I’ve ever had. That afternoon we took the ferry to San Francisco. We went sailing, then ate dinner in China Town, went to Ghiraldi and then took an Uber back across the Golden Gate Bridge. On Friday we drove up through Muir Woods and the views of the Bay up there are just incredible. Then we flew to Portland, drove out to Cannon Beach and Astoria (where they filmed The Goonies).

We spent a few days exploring, then drove to Tacoma. One morning we drove up to Seattle and spent the day at the fish market and walking the city. On our last day in Tacoma we visited the Museum of Glass and watched as they blew glass in the hot shop. It was really cool, so much so that I hope to start collecting glass art. Just such an amazing display of patience and hard work as they worked on making that bowl.

Later that day we drove up to Mount Rainier, but couldn’t even see the mountain because of the fog. We took a gondola up to the top of Crystal Mountain and ate lunch in a restaurant where chipmunks ran around on the floor. The waiters didn’t seem to mind so we tried to act real casual. We drove back to Portland, explored the city for a few days and then flew home.

It was just such a fantastic trip because it was just the five of us and we spent 10 days together with little outside distraction. We had so much fun and it was a great way to celebrate the end of summer and Claire’s departure to college.

We moved her into the dorm at Trinity last Friday and it was such a surreal day. I was fine all summer. The last game, graduation, all the celebrations, I was fine. All day Friday I was fine. We decorated her room, ate lunch, attended some informational sessions, I was fine. Picnic, I was fine. We left her on Friday night and drove home and I was fine. We walked in the house and started talking about renting a movie. I ran through a list of movies in my mind and ruled one out because I wanted to wait for Claire to get home so we could watch it. It was then that everything wasn’t fine. I lost my shit for about an hour. My wife and the boys went into the bedroom to watch a movie and I just sat in the living room and blubbered to myself. She’s in college now.

Ok, I’m exhausted. Apologies to all as I don’t have a top 5 after all.

So you sorta turned over the reins to me this year for the weekly convo and I think I want to change it up a bit. You have so many smart minds opining on football and the state of the program and whether or not we should’ve run a draw on 2nd down on that drive late in the 3rd quarter that I don’t want to step on any of that. I’d love to use this space as a time where two dudes just kinda shoot the shit for a couple thousand words. I mean, at the end of the day, it’s all about Texas Tech and ultimately the football program, but I feel ill-equipped to opine and pass myself off as some sort of strategic genius on the X’s and O’s of things. That said, I hope we run 4 verts and never kick, all season. Blitz on every defensive down. Onside kick when up by 40.

What is your wish for the season?

Seth: I think my wish mirrors Hocutt’s wish in that I really want the team to look like a “team” and not just one side of the ball doing great, but all three sides of the ball pulling their weight.

“You’ve got to play defense to have a chance to compete and win at the level we want to achieve at, and we haven’t been there. You want to see all three aspects of the game be solid, and we’ve been so heavily weighted on the offensive side of the ball, and we’ve seen the results that’s gotten us. I want a football program that is solid in all three phases, and all three phases are just as important as the other.”

Hocutt laid out a vision for a more well-rounded program, a contrast with the high-scoring offensive teams that in recent years were undone by a shortage of defense, discipline and maybe even ebbing desire at times. Hocutt used descriptions such as “tough-minded,” “disciplined” and “mentally prepared” to describe the team he wants, one that shows “determination” and “a never-give-up attitude.”

I think the more infuriating aspect of watching Texas Tech since before Leach is that there just hasn’t been a long string of defensive success. And I know that Leach was sort of building towards that at the end of his tenure, but there were many games where we’d just give up lots of points and we’d be known for offensive prowess and defensive ineptitude. I’d take a little less offensive prowess to be better on defense.

I don’t know if Wells will deliver that, but this is Hocutt’s guy. He found him and pretty much pinpointed him from the get-go. And Wells is interesting. I remember one of the early interviews about him, and even the more recent Fireside Chat with Beard, he’s asked about what his specialty on the grill is and he said he can cook a burger. That’s what he’s good at. Almost like he’s only has time to be great at one thing, that one thing being coaching football, so he probably doesn’t have many outside hobbies other than his family, and so it’s all about football. I get the idea that he may be incredibly driven and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Beard on the other hand is a guy that when he’s coaching, he’s coaching at full speed, but when he pulls back and enjoys life, he does that with the same intensity. I know that one way is better than the other.

So yeah, I’d like to see competency on all three sides of the football, a fully healthy Alan Bowman, Jordyn Brooks, and Riko Jeffers (not that they were injured, but that they’re really good).

What’s been your assessment of the end of Kingsbury coaching at Texas Tech, to the hire of Wells, to what your wish for the season?

Travis: Of course I was bummed about the Kingsbury firing because I really, really wanted him to be successful here. And I think ultimately it was the right decision by Hocutt, but I still hated to see it.So I’m kinda torn because I know how badly Holgorsen wanted to come back to Lubbock. It just seems that Hocutt was locked in on Wells from Day 1, and his track record of hiring successful coaches earns him a substantial amount of leeway. As our buddy Dan says, “In Hocutt we trust.”

I’m going into the season with a skeptical but hopeful outlook for the season and the future. I am impressed by how “all-in,” Wells seems to be and it looks like he’s all over town and really putting a face on the program. Kingsbury did that too, but he always had almost a “too cool for all of this,” and Wells seems to be more on the folksy side. And I don’t mean that as a knock against Kliff because he’s damn sure cooler than me and probably all of the rest of us. I just like what Wells has done so far.

So let’s wrap it up this week with a promise to talk about books and movies and kids and all that fun stuff as the season goes on. Last night I created the “45 almond,” diet in my mind. I’d like to see how many days I can go eating only 45 almonds per day. It was a great idea at the time because I was munching on some almonds. Not sure how it’ll all play out once it goes live, but we’ll see. Any final thoughts this week as we kick this off once again?

Seth: Keep us posted on the 45 almond diet and make sure and check with your medical professional before starting. This sounds just a tad risky and feel like you need more than the nutrients that almonds survive (no offense to almonds).

I can’t think of anything like the 45 almond diet that I’m doing. I did read this really well-done article about how most of the wellness stuff that’s out there is complete and total crap. So your cleanses and supplements may not be as good for you as just real food and cutting out processed food. So it sounds like the 45 almonds are on track.

Let’s do this!

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