Weekly Conversation: Pretty Good Little Community

Travis: Welp.

Every step forward seems to be immediately followed by two steps back and for whatever reason Tech just can’t seem to get over the hump. I know there’s a lot of grumbling out there right now about Wells’ coaching abilities and particular anger toward Yost’s play calling but I’m having a hard time giving up on them yet. I think we’ve lost 4 games by something like 12 points or something stupid like that. It just seems to come down to one or two plays and none of them have worked in our favor. So it looks like we’re in another situation where playing against Texas after Thanksgiving will be our bowl game. I’m just tired of our bowl game being in Austin after Thanksgiving. So, I’m hoping you can cheer me up. In return, I have a special present for you.

Seth: I’d really like to cheer you up, but I don’t know if I’m the guy for that right now. I’m not sold that Wells isn’t the right guy either. It’s still early and I have more problems with the defense than the offense, but I get that we focus on a program that’s traditionally had a lot of offensive success and any drop-off is a failure. There were three things that stuck out to me on Saturday, the touchdown that wasn’t a touchdown. The kickoff return for the touchdown. And the inability to stop Kansas State on 3rd and long. Do any one of those things correctly (or the refs not make a terrible call) then we’re talking about win. This program is so close to three wins. My biggest thing after the game was how are the coaches and the players learning from all of this. Is Wells taking notes and figuring out that he has to be more aggressive or simply a better coach in incredibly close games? Is Yost trying to figure out how to jump-start the offense in the first and second quarters? Is Patterson thinking about how to shore up the secondary? If they’re really being self-critical as much to themselves than to the players, then maybe 2020 is going to be a helluva year with a senior quarterback.

I’m horrible at accepting presents, unsurprisingly, I’m very awkward about it all.

Travis: I think some folks are taking solace in the fact that we’ve played so many games so close but the flip side of that is that we’ve lost every single one. I think that speaks to your point of “what are the coaches and players learning from these situations?” because we haven’t come out on the good side yet. You can be proud of playing a ton of games close but at some point you have to figure out how to win and I don’t think Tech is there yet.

So, without making you feel awkward, here goes your present. I want you to take the floor and spend all the time you want (whether that’s 20 words or 20 paragraphs) and tell us what it feels like to have Luka? He’s such a phenom and he’s only 20 and those of us that aren’t Mavs fans have a long road ahead.

Seth: Well, apparently, Texas Tech is the unluckiest team in college football, so that’s your grain of salt.

Gosh, I don’t even know where to begin, but for me, the biggest thing about all of this was the hand-off. Last year was Dirk Nowitzki’s last year. He is an absolute titan and I don’t follow many sports people (you might call them athletes) on Twitter, but he’s one of them (for real, I don’t follow Patrick Mahomes or Jarrett Culver or any actual athletes). And I think last year with it being Luka’s rookie year and Dirk’s last year, Luka got to see the send-off, that if you stick with us, we’ll absolutely stick with you. We’ll name a street after you, we’ll hold a parade, we’ll sell out any function that you want us to attend, we’ll give to your charities, we’ll do it all. Luka got to be a part of that all of last year, and as Dirk is playing his last few games (I’ll never forget that last game in San Antonio and Pop begging that San Antonio defender to lay off so that Dirk could make his last field goal with his last shot of his NBA career), the light was shone brightly on Dirk. But now with Dirk retired and the hand-off complete, it’s clearly Luka’s team and the Mavs made some smart moves to make sure that Luka could have the ball in his hands, that there would be shot-makers across the board, but Luka has elevated this team like I never thought he could. And he’s doing it before turning 21.

If you ever get the chance to watch him play, you almost assuredly will not be disappointed. He dominates the ball, but finds a way to share it with his teammates. He rebounds like a big-man and he scores almost at-will. It’s insane. I’ve never seen anything like it. I can remember Dirk’s first couple of years and it took him some time to find his footing. It took him time to figure out that it’s okay to take that big shot, we got to see Dirk grow up before our very eyes as an NBA player. Luka already has that confidence, part of that is playing at such a high level overseas, and he’s not afraid of any shot of anyone guarding him, and he relishes in that big moment. Again, it’s insane.

And the third best part is that as a Mavericks fan, yeah, the drop-off over the championship year, 2011, has been slow and painful, but with Dirk, there was always a reason to watch. Luka is going to have to watch his minutes, because the way that he plays the game is going to wear on him, but he’s going to be dominant for a very long time. As a Spurs fan, have you had the opportunity to watch him play and your initial impressions?

Travis: Last year for my birthday the family got me NBA League Pass and we renewed it this year. The boys have become such huge basketball fans that we watch every game we can and fortunately, my wife enjoys the game too so she’ll sit through a couple of games a night if we’re watching. Dallas was must watch last year in Luka’s rookie season but this year it’s on another level. He is absolutely dominating games and it’s so much fun to watch. I’m sure you’ve seen it but that picture of him about to take off with the ball and the silhouette of Dirk next to him on the court is iconic.

The NBA has such a great product and Luka is absolutely one of my favorite players in the league. I know it’ll never happen but would sure love to see him in silver and black someday.

So there was a commenter in our last convo that was asking about why we always say “where I stay.” I know this was one of your original colloquialisms and I just kinda picked up on it over the years. Is there a larger story here, like did you’re great great grandpa always talk about where he stayed so you just picked up on it?

Seth: There’s no big story, I’ve just always liked the way that it sounds. Some kids said it when I was growing up and it stuck with me nearly 30 years later. That’s the story 😐

So, we’re almost done with football. Texas Tech has a Big 12 record of 30-58 in football for the last decade, which is next to last (good old Kansas is 6-82 and did not win a Big 12 road game in a decade). There’s part of me that thinks that if anyone really thought that this ship would turn around quickly, they were probably not being very realistic, or maybe it would be nice to say that they were being nostalgic. I don’t know if the fanbase is any more or less fractured than it was before, but there’s part of me that thinks that the success of the basketball, baseball, track and field, and the numerous other programs that are experiencing success have maybe mitigated some of that football angst. For me it certainly has, I think when Leach was here, those other programs weren’t all that great, not like they are now, and for me, this shiny object has somewhat distracted me for the time being. It also leads me to think that this program and institution is ripe for a turnaround, if so many other programs can do it, why not football?

Travis: Well Tech certainly has the tools in place to induce a turnaround. The facilities have been upgraded (and continue to be), we have a first class AD and money doesn’t seem to be keeping us away from anything that we would need. I don’t pay attention to recruiting but I do know Wells landed a bigtime receiver from Midland yesterday, so things seem ok on that front. I’m interested to see what happens with UT on Friday because that program seems to be in total meltdown mode right now and if Herman loses, who knows what would happen. It just seems that a lot is in flux right now and if we could get any sort of stability it would be beneficial. So for the sake of our future, let’s go out and kick the crap outta UT.

Seth: Before I let you go, would love 3 things you’re thankful for (I’ll do the same), one Texas Tech related, one that’s family related, and one that’s not related to either one of those two things.

Travis: Texas Tech: Chris Beard. I could go on but, you get the idea.

Family: A reporter once asked George Bush to explain his idea of success. I’m paraphrasing here because I don’t have the exact quote but he said success to him meant that he would raise great kids and that they would want to hang out with him when he was an old man. I think about that often and we’re hopefully on that track with our kids. I don’t have the closest of relationships with my parents or my brother and I hope to make up for that with my own kids. As of now, they want to hang out with us, and I’m thankful for that.

Third: And this sounds cheesy, but I’m always thankful for the pretty good little community you’ve built here. I’ve made some great friends over the years all because of this place and the conversations that you and I have during the season are some of my favorite things. It’s like you mentioned a few weeks ago—we discuss things that are sometimes pretty uncommon for grown men to discuss, but I think that’s a testament to the comfort level fostered by the blog. I hope that we provide some level of entertainment to the readers, but for me it’s as much of a release and a coping mechanism as anything. This is the first place I discussed Claire’s injury in detail and that’s because I felt comfortable doing so. So, yeah.

[Ed. note — Thank you Travis, I very much appreciate these kind words.]

Seth: For Texas Tech, I’m thankful for the community at Staking The Plains. For the first time this year I thought that I needed to step back and not do this thing any more. I think I’m getting close to hanging up the old keyboard and maybe doing something else, but I’m not quite there yet. Winning games (whether it be in football, basketball, or baseball) sort of cures those thoughts and I think that when I hand this off or shut it down, that I’d like for Texas Tech football is back on the upswing. This is my hope, so leave it at a place where I found it, which is relatively successful and the biggest complaints are about whether or not Texas Tech should fire a coach for going 8-4 or 9-3 on a regular basis (because we’d all take this right now in a heartbeat). And as infuriating as the community can be, I still think that STP is a mix of awesomeness and ridiculousness all wrapped into one big thing. I have no doubt that if the need ever arose and we needed to rally around someone, that despite whatever differences we might have, that this would absolutely happen.

For my family, recently I’ve my little brother’s father-in-law and my sister’s father-in-law passed away. My little brother’s FIL’s passing was excruciating in that he had cancer and his body just finally gave out. My sister’s FIL’s passing was sudden with absolutely no warning. We sort of accept that pain is part of this process of life so as cliche as it is, enjoy the ones you are with. Let the hugs and the “I love you’s” and the goodbyes actually be meaningful.

I’m incredibly thankful for my health. I’ve logged 1,058 miles thus far this year and I cannot tell you the joy that running has given me over the past few years.


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