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Tipping A Program: Law of Context

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Okay, if you've stuck with me thus far, then you know that we're almost done. We've gone from introducing the Tipping of a Program, to The Law of Few, to the Stickiness Factor and today we discuss the Law of Context. This is probably the toughest part of this whole process because it's difficult to take a look at the actual state of the program when you're right in the middle of it.

As I try to step back I think it's safe to say that the Texas Tech program is ripe for the type of change that I'm talking about when I write about tipping a program.

First, I think that the program has improved almost each year that Leach has been the head coach. I don't want this to turn into a Coach Leach is Great v. We Could Do Better discussion, but I think it's safe to say that the program has steadily improved.

Since this has always been somewhat of a hot-topic, let's take a look at the 8 year period that Captain Leach has been at the helm and compare that with other 8 year periods in Texas Tech history. The number in parentheses besides each coach is the number of years that the particular coach was the head coach during that 8 year span:

 

Coach(es) Years W L Winning %
Pete Cawthon (8) 1938-1931 67 22 71.08%
Pete Cawthon (8) 1939-1932 58 22 68.24%
Pete Cawthon (8) 1940-1933 57 21 67.86%
Dell Morgan (1)/Pete Cawthon (7) 1941-1934 58 22 67.44%
Steve Sloan (3)/Jim Carlen (5) 1977-1970 70 32 63.83%
Mike Leach (8) 2007-2000 65 37 63.73%
Rex Dockery (1)/Steve Sloan (3)/Jim Carlen (4) 1978-1971 59 32 63.44%
Steve Sloan (2)/Jim Carlen (5)/J.T. King (1) 1976-1969 58 32 63.04%
Dell Morgan (3)/Pete Cawthon (5) 1943-1936 54 28 62.79%
Rex Dockery (2)/Steve Sloan (3)/Jim Carlen (3) 1979-1972 58 31 62.37%
Mike Leach (7)/Spike Dykes (1) 2006-1999 62 38 62.00%
Mike Leach (6)/Spike Dykes (2) 2005-1998 61 38 61.62%

 

Just in case you want to check my math, here's the data.

So the amazing part to me, is that Captain Leach has had the greatest 8-year winning percentage of any single coach in the modern era. The Steve Sloan and Jim Carlen Era was successful, but Sloan left for greener pastures, which would make Leach a more attractive coach. And Carlen had a losing season in 1971, a 6 win season in 1974, and Carlen also only won 6 games in 1975. With Leach, he hasn't had the 10 or 11 win season, but he's been so much more consistent than his predecessors. With Leach, he's been here and he's building a good program, on his own, graduating players, and staying out of NCAA trouble.

The most successful coaches at Texas Tech, were, for the most part, some time during World War II. Thus, despite the love for Spike Dykes, and there should certainly be plenty of credit for Dykes for putting Texas Tech back on the map after Jerry Moore and Rex Dockery years (only 1 winning record in that time), but a tremendous amount of credit is due Leach for bringing this program where it had not been since the 1930's, sans a couple of years in the 1970's.

That, my friends, is the definition of context for the purpose of this dicussion. What we have is a special time, that I think few have taken the time to realize or perhaps appreciatate. The current state of the Texas Tech football program is in a position that it hasn't been in, at such a consistant basis, for 80 years. And just as an aside, not to disparage those teams from the 1930's, but I would seriously doubt that they were playing the likes of OU, UT, A&M as regularly as Texas Tech is under the Leach era.

But it's not just the program, it's the players who make up the program. It's obvious to me that Leach has built the program correctly. Offense first, defense second. Despite the success of prior Texas Tech offenses, no offense has a much talent as the current version and there's one, maybe two reasons, for that . . . Mr. Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell.

Nothing sells a program or a football team more than offense. And never before has there been a player wearing the scarlet and black, more talented that Mr. Crabtree. I can say that with deference to players in the past, and there have been some great ones including Donny Anderson, Dave Parks and E.J. Holub to name a few, but in today's society with the internets, and national coverage, and immediate access, an immensely talented guy from Texas Tech can become a national sensation, and if he hasn't already, he will next year without a doubt.

I haven't even mentioned Mr. Crabtree's athletic ability, his ability to make guys miss in open field, his ability to score touchdowns, the list could go on and on.

And I cannot forget what Graham Harrell has done for this program. I have a sneaking suspicion that Captain Leach knew for quite some time, and perhaps this is what was what convinced Harrell to come to Texas Tech, but he could see the window that was going to be available at Texas Tech at the quarterback position. I know that this is a tad bit presumptious, but Leach had to know that in order to instill some sense of continuity, that he had to get a quarterback who was going to start for quite some time. Leach targeted and got one of the best quarterbacks in the state, seemingly a match made in heaven.

I'm sure that Leach could not have predicted that Harrell and Mr. Crabtree would be throwing and catching the football with such great success.

But it's here.

This is a time that is without a doubt an incredibly successful time for the Texas Tech program, a school in the middle of West Texas.

The context of the program and potentially tipping a program into a major college football powerhouse is right before our eyes. I know something like this sounds incredibly silly to a school or program like Michigan, USC or Oklahoma, the thought of tipping a program isn't something that's even so much considered, but for a school like Texas Tech, it's very much something that most Texas Tech fans can't wait to happen. In fact for most Texas Tech fans, it's something that can't happen soon enough, it should have tipped some time ago.

When I first started this series, it's really dawned on me the idea that tipping a program is not something that happens overnight. It's not something that happens without some sustained success. It's not something that happens without the some creative advertising to reach the public and players. It's not something that doesn't happen without recruits buying into what the coaches are selling. It's a culmination of factors and ideas and people working together to attain something that's incredibly difficult.

A Series In Tipping A Program: