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Practicing in the Heat

SAEN's Brent Zwerneman has an entertaining article about the differences in how Texas A&M and Texas Tech practice. Zwerneman nicely points out the irony in the famous Bear Bryant's Junction Boys, who practiced in the South Texas sun and heat and now the Aggies practice in a brand new air-conditioned building. Conversely, Texas Tech practices outside and there doesn't seem to be much complaining.

"We're going to be playing outside, right?" Red Raiders safety Darcel McBath said, smiling, when asked if he'd prefer practicing indoors. "I don't think any Big 12 team has a dome."

Added Tech quarterback Graham Harrell, "At least we get to work on our suntans."

There are arguments on both sides, but the reality of the situation is that Texas Tech just doesn't have that type of facility and it doesn't do anyone any good to complain. I wonder if Leach was given the option of having an indoor facility if he would take it, but Coach Leach seems a little old school in that regard.

The arguments go both ways, on one hand, it would allow a team to optimize their time on the field, but on the other hand, is the heat that big of a deal? Didn't we all practice outside in high school two-a-days? Didn't our fathers and uncles and brothers all practice outside? Some of those teams won and some of them lost, but doesn't it just come down to who has the best team and the better coach? Granted, a team that practices in the heat is more likely to be acclimated to playing in those conditions, but I wouldn't imagine that any team practices indoors the entirety of a fall camp and they'll be outside to some extent.

I wonder too if Coach Leach wants his players to have to deal with the elements, which is a part of the game and requires players to adjust, or at the very least, it makes a player realize that he must make adjustments prior to the game so that he can maximize his effort during the game. All of this is just philosophy, but put me in the camp that likes for his team to practice outside.

I worked on a farm for most of my childhood and adolescence and was outside almost everyday during the summer, but once you get used to the heat its not that bad. Now that I'm in an office all day, the mere thought of being outside from the building to my car makes me faint. Seriously, I walked from my building to the car and I started sweating like there's no tomorrow.

That being said, I think a team in Texas has to be out in the heat for a good portion of their practices, otherwise the sun and the heat can be devastating. Players who are overworked won't perform, but Coach Leach has cut back practices and seems to have a pretty good idea of what's an effective practice and what's too much.

I liked this last exchange between Zwerneman and Coach Leach:

So I asked Mike Leach if he'd enjoy a sterling new indoor building to escape the heat, wind and occasional dust of Lubbock. He glanced over at Tech's tiny, two-decade old bubble next to the Red Raiders' practice field as if to say, we've got one.

No - like a full-sized one - one where you could actually get something done.

"Yeah, I don't think ours is air-conditioned anyway," he said, shrugging.

Old school all the way.