This is the first installment of what I hope is a weekly conversation to be posted each Friday between myself and San Antonio Red Raider (SARR). This is essentially a back and forth email exchange as we discuss the week before after having some time to reflect and the upcoming week. I hope you enjoy this because I sure enjoyed having this conversation with SARR.
Seth C: (Kliff) Kingsbury spoke to the media on Friday of last week, were you at all surprised about what he said or is it what you thought it might be?
Travis (SARR): Is yesno a word? If it is, that's my answer.
I was surprised that he remained very vague about the extent of Brewer's injury. Last week I heard from someone I trust that Brewer would be out for at least 6 weeks. Of course we didn't want to run with that on VTM but I fully expected Kingsbury to announce that Brewer would miss a significant amount of time and was shocked when he didn't.
But I forgot one thing: Kingsbury studied under Leach and Belichick who are vague vanilla jedis. If he can turn an injury to his presumed starting QB into a competitive advantage, then I'm impressed. It's proof that he learned more than X's and O's from those two.
Now, I could be totally off base and Brewer really could be day to day, but I don't think he is. I think he's out for a least half the season, and maybe more. I'm sure I'll take some heat but that's my hot sports take and I can play with it whenever I want in the schoolyard ok I'm just rambling now.
So, yesno. Definitely.
Besides the 800 pound gorilla in the room (the QB situation) what are you most concerned about heading into the SMU game? And on the flip side, what are you most excited to see?
Seth C: One more thing to springboard off of what you said, which is that Kingsbury said during the Big 12 Media Days that he was somewhat tired of saying the same thing, just 10 different ways, all of the time. He got to a point during the spring that he really didn't say anything new. All of the answers were the same. I think that it will be interesting to see if he continues to be that guarded or if he'll open up a bit to the media. I think part of it is that he didn't really want to show his cards, in part because he wasn't sure what he had.
As your questions, I think I'm really interested in the defense. The number of defensive coordinators that say that they will be more aggressive and blitz more is infinity+1. Well, everyone except for Art Kaufman who pretty much promised (and delivered) to get back to basics on defense. It was totally vanilla and I think that Kaufman is the big reason why that Wallerstedt and Smith can do a bit more. Offensively, I"ll be real interested as to how the offensive line gets going. They are going to have to carry the load, I think against SMU.
Concerned, I'm not sure, there's a handful of little things and they lead off with those two items above. If those two units don't perform, then it could be a long game against SMU.
I think this is the last time that I'm going to really delve into Tuberville, but last week, I ran across this link from a Cincinnati blogger that essentially pointed out that Texas Tech's anger at Tommy Tuberville was misplaced, that the anger should be at other folks (I'm tired of being mad and there have been apologies in a manner of speaking, which you actually witnessed). The interesting part to me is that I don't think that really anyone is still mad at Tuberville, almost everyone I talk to is just glad he's gone. There's a real difference there. I think that fans were mad at Tuberville, or disappointed, or apathetic, or something else, but not now. There was a link to the VTM and KWasburn menu faxing in the Cincy blog and if you didn't know KWash, it could come off as maybe having some ill-feelings, but knowing KWash, this was more jokey, ha, ha, we are having fun.
That's a long way of wondering whether or not you are or were mad at Tuberville or maybe what you're most disappointed with Tuberville. For me, it's the lack of ownership, being proud of being a CEO head coach, that seemingly didn't to be in charge of anything, but I don't think I've ever really heard your take.
And to take it back to the SMU game, pick two players, one on offense and one on defense, that you'll be watching intently next Friday.
Travis (SARR): Man, I feel like I need to be on a couch with a shrink when discussing my feelings toward Tuberville, but I'll give it a shot.
When Tuberville was at Auburn, I had a ton of respect for him. This will sound weird, but I used to divide college football into 2 categories: Tech football (which I fully participated in) and Big Time College Football. I hope this doesn't sound disrespectful to my fellow Red Raiders, but I really looked at it this way. I'd tailgate all day for Tech games and have a blast, but I'd also keep an eye on the Big Time games- and I included Auburn in that class. USC, LSU, Florida, Miami, UT with VY, those kinda teams. That was big time to me. Tech played football, but then there were the big time games that I wanted to see.
I always liked the way Tuberville handled himself at Auburn and watched many Auburn games on CBS in the parking lot at The Jones while waiting for the Tech game to start. SEC football was (and still is) big time to me. That all changed in 2008.
I felt a deep connection with Mike Leach. I described a lot of it in the "House That Leach Built" post (which was my first major post on DTN/VTM). We both started new careers at the same time and both lost our jobs within weeks of each other. We both "peaked" in 2008 and it was downhill from there. I remember you posting his appearance on Friday Night Lights on DTN on Friday, November 13, 2009. I remember because it was my last day on the job after 10 years, almost to the day. I watched the video in an empty office and Leach said "You might be the luckiest man in the world and you don't even know it." That really stuck with me and it still does. I replayed it over and over and I sent the link out to all the important people I had worked with over the course of my career at the end of the day and drove to the UPS store to mail in my lap top, BlackBerry and company credit card. 2008 was gone, for both of us and my future was uncertain. A few weeks later we learned that his was too.
On top of that, one of the men I worked for during that time in my career was an Auburn man. I respected him immensely, and still do. And I think I still subconsciously link him with Tuberville.
So those 3 years with Tommy were tough. I wanted to believe in Tuberville, I really did. But I could never get past my doubts and suspicions about what he really wanted. I've never seen a coach with such a "politician" feel. He was always talking about championships in very vague terms, which I thought was odd. What the hell is a championship? He let us know I guess when they won the Dallas Bowl or whatever it was and he gloated about it. I really really tried, but I never completely bought in.
I was elated when he left. I wish him the best and hope he does well at Cincinnati, but I don't think he will. I've said it before, but I think his biggest weakness is the game has passed him by. He's a 90's defensive Ray Lewis coach, trying to coach in 2013. I think Tuberville is a good man, but he's not wired to coach in today's college game.
And I will also say this- even though I still feel a deep connection with Leach, I'm so glad we have Kliff. If given the choice, I'd take Kliff. It's time to turn the page.
As far as the first game- I'm really gonna keep an eye on Amaro and Hyder. I think both of those guys could be huge playmakers all season. I'll also keep an eye on the play at left tackle, because that's critical to any offenses success in today's world.
Question for you: What are your wild eyed predictions for the season? I have a couple: Baylor will win the Big 12 and Jace Amaro will be the Offensive player of the year in the league. Do you have any crazy ideas that you want to bet the mortgage on?
Seth C: I think I very much believe in Oklahoma St. and/or Texas. I think they have significantly better defenses than just about everyone in the Big 12. Baylor is a force on offense, but the defense just hasn't caught up yet. That takes more time and can be incredibly fleeting. If Amaro stays healthy, I think that he could certainly be in the mix, but his success is largely dependent on the quarterback getting him the ball. If it's a freshman quarterback, then I can see how Amaro doesn't get the ball as much as he might like, but I could also see him getting a ton of passes because of he's such a huge target.
I think after finishing all of the previews about all of the Big 12 teams, I'm going with conventional wisdom, which is that I think that Texas and Oklahoma St. are getting the nod at the top. I'm still not what to make of Oklahoma, especially defensively, and I also don't know what to think about Kansas St. They lose so much on defense, it seems improbable that they could win the Big 12, but there's really no coach like Snyder. If I had to put money down on who will be the best offensive player and best defensive player, I'd say that Lache Seastrunk for Baylor and TCU's Jason Varett as the best defender. I think that the play of Hyder and Porter for Texas Tech are going to raise some eyebrows. There are only a few players like Porter, defensive back with the size of a safety, but can play cornerback.
I wanted to get your pulse on the state of the Lubbock media. I typically do this in a annual post, but I've run out of time and this seems as good as place as any. Since last year, we've had Ryan Hyatt no longer on the radio and when I had the chance to talk with AD Kirby Hocutt, I think he specifically mentioned that he wanted Texas Tech to be able to distribute their own content. With the payouts that the Big 12 is receiving, there really isn't a local media company that will be able to keep pace with what Texas Tech will eventually be able to do from a production standpoint. You add in the emergence the production of Brandon Rawe and Courtney Davis and Texas Tech has their own production company.
I've always thought it was better to have numerous voices in the media, that number seems to be shrinking and I think that overall, that's not good for Texas Tech.
Travis (SARR): The increase in the quality of production that Tech is doing with their videos and overall reporting has been impressive. But at the same time, it’s also slightly concerning. If the school can completely control the message then we as consumers will never really get the full story. I think we’re seeing that with the Brewer situation right now to a certain degree.
Ryan Hyatt has always been one of my favorites and losing his voice was a big blow in my opinion. The Williams and Hyatt show was an important source of information for many years. Some have been critical of Don Williams, but he’s a highly regarded veteran reporter. He’s not a bomb thrower, which is an annoyance to some, but I respect him for it.
Then you have the ESPN/Double T 104.3 conglomerate. These are essentially employees of the University and ESPN, so you’re only going to get the company line. It is what it is. They defended Tuberville until the very end and then virtually all of them came out as a group and said they knew all along how he wasn’t the right fit, and was looking for another opportunity, etc. Very frustrating, but you can’t expect anything different. They have a job to do and they did it.
And lastly, there are the pay wall sites. This is a business model that won’t be able to sustain itself. Soon you’ll see customers really beginning to question the set up. "Wait, I have to pay a monthly fee to discuss Tech sports on a website and read articles and learn about players committing? Can’t I just see any of that on Twitter or ***cough cough Viva The Matadors cough cough***? The website designs are outdated and not visually pleasing (minus the clapping emoticons of course, because who doesn’t love a bunch of clapping emoticons) and that’s topped off with sub standard writing by some. When a consumer is paying to read poorly written articles on an outdated website and you’re not really breaking any news you have a model that won’t last.
I’m really intrigued by the Twitter phenomenon. CNBC ran a special a few weeks ago called The Twitter Revolution, which I encourage everyone to check out. The premise is that we are all journalists now, like it or not. Real events are traveling world wide in real time. More and more people are getting their information 140 characters at a time, for free. Carl Quintanilla interviewed a guy that was tweeting pictures of the standoff between the Boston Marathon bombers and police from his apartment window. He asked him if he ever thought about calling a newspaper or a TV station and he said no. There’s no need to when you can distribute information around the world from your phone.
Journalism and media is an interesting and quickly evolving world and I think we’re seeing the effects of that, even in place like Lubbock. So I’m not sure if I completely agree with your premise. Sure, the number of "official" voices might be shrinking, but there are a lot of us amateurs trying to fill in the blanks.
Since neither one of us picked Tech to win the Big 12 does that mean that we hate us? I don’t think we hate us but wanted to confirm.
Seth C: I don't know what to think about the media other than what you have mentioned. I am concerned about just one entity controlling all of the information and I think that at some point, we're probably headed down that model. For VTM, I think that means that things will not so much focus on the news or the quotes during an offseason, but the actual content of the games. That's where sites will need to thrive. I do think that the NCAA is headed towards having some issues with some of the pay sites that do seemingly obtain recruiting information, but on the other hand, almost every college has them and they fulfill a role. I don't know how long that type of model is sustainable given the fact that high school players are tweeting and are more in control over their situation, but there is no doubt that there is a segment of people that want and/or need to be informed as much as humanly possible and that's what drives those sites. Plus they have a staff that can cover recruiting full time, while we only do it after the fact. This is more because I'm damn near 40 and don't feel comfortable following high school kids on Twitter, but that's my own problem.
Well, I'm totally self-hating, but I've always been tough or pessimistic about Texas Tech or any team that I am a fan. I'm sorta adjusting my win totals on the go here, but if Brewer were to start all of the conference games and maybe had some time to get ready, then I'm comfortable with 8 wins, but if it's a freshman quarterback, then I think 6 wins would be tough.
Writing those things seems to make it sound like that I don't believe in the team, but I sure hate dismissing history and freshman quarterbacks. Of course, Sonny Dykes at Cal is voluntarily starting a freshman quarterback over a veteran and he said that it's about quick decisions and not turning the ball over, which makes me think that Baker Mayfield is more adept at that, but we really don't know. Either way, I'm very comfortable long-term, but I also recognize to win now and that's a tough thing to have to figure out how to feel. No matter what happens this year, I'm going to try to be positive about the outlook of this team and where this thing is headed.