I've held off on writing much about Kirby Hocutt because I just didn't have much information about Hocutt. Maybe I was looking in the wrong place, but I just didn't know much about him. Last night, during halftime of the Texas Tech basketball game Hocutt was interviewed by Brian Jensen. Many of you caught the press conference, but I had not by that time. In any event, the one question that grabbed me was Jensen asking Hocutt what he thought his legacy was that he left at Miami. Hocutt's response was that he helped raise the money for a learning center at Miami and he was adament about the job that he thinks that the hire of Al Golden as football coach is going to set that program up for years. I'm sure that there's more that Hocutt could rattle off given more time, it was merely a halftime interview, but perhaps this is an indication of Hocutt's focus, fundraising and football.
There is no doubt that the focus of just about any athletic program that hopes to make some money for the athletic department is to focus on football. If there is success on the football field, then there will be enough money to focus on the other sports. You can find the transcript from Hocutt's press conference (PDF) and here's the video and there are a handful of quotes that you could cherry-pick about what you think that Hocutt means to Texas Tech and I'll do the same.
It's about #winning:
I want us to be one of the premier intercollegiate athletic programs in the country. Every arena, every stadium that we compete in has a scoreboard. Winning is important or we wouldn't keep score. We want to win and win the right way and do things the right way.
Ultimately, that's what this is about. We all want to support our university, but in doing so, we want our university's athletic teams to win. Perhaps this is one of those things that we tend to not consider, especially when it seems that the men's basketball team has had a losing record for ### of the past ### years. Maybe I'm just disappointed that there are all of 8 comments as of this morning in the game-day thread. There should be more excitement about an athletic program. Of course, I'm sure that I could make the same arguments about some of the other athletic programs.
We will be champions in the classroom. We will continue to be champions in the community. And we will be champions in competition. We will continue to pursue national championships and hold ourselves to the highest of standards.
I'd also hope that this quote encourages those of you who have lost faith in any part of the administration:
My fourth thought is, as we focus on -- that we will be committed to focusing on and continuing to build healthy relationships with all of our stakeholders. We have a great story to tell in intercollegiate athletics. We have extremely talented young men and women representing us in intercollegiate athletics. We must share that story. We must share our successes, be proactive in our communication, be proactive in our marketing and make sure that our constituents know the great things that are happening within the Texas Tech athletic family. While we'll be proactive in communicating in marketing we'll embrace, continue to embrace a stewardship mentality in all of our affairs.
More after the jump, including the local media's thoughts on Hocutt.
The local media chimes in and you can go read everything for yourself. We'll start with LAJ's Don Williams:
Kirby Hocutt comes with some credentials.
Oh, he still has to prove himself. He’s been an athletic director for only six years, three at a mid-major. Ahead lie hard choices, critical hires, rough seasons to navigate, challenges he can’t foresee, maybe even controversies yet unknown.
For those times, Hocutt believes he’s steeled himself with some good counsel. Asked to name his biggest influences, Hocutt focused on two: Chuck Neinas, under whom he did a year-plus internship right after graduating Kansas State, and Joe Castiglione, under whom he worked for seven years at Oklahoma.
Neinas, head of the College Football Association when Hocutt was with him, now consults on coach searches, AD searches, even conference expansions. He could put "college sports power broker" on his business card, and no one could disagree. Hocutt regards Castiglione as "the best athletic director in the country," and Castiglione speaks highly of Hocutt.
Hocutt did not address any sports teams individually, and said it was too early to say what areas need most immediate improvement.
He said he expects to spend his first few months on the job listening and assessing. He closed by saying he is committed to compliance and investing in quality facilities and staff.
"It’s my job to make sure we have a solid foundation," Hocutt said, "that we have the plans in place to guide us in the future, and that we have the correct team here to guide us into the future."
Finally, Hocutt said, he wants to build good relationships with people in the community and be proactive in communicating with the fan base.
"There’s nothing more important than this community being right here in this arena to support these young men and women as they compete in basketball, and in baseball, volleyball and all of these arenas. It’s a teamwork effort; we need the West Texas community, we need the Lubbock community to support the Red Raiders."
And last, but not least, DMN's Mike Graham, who I completely disagree with the blockquoted portion as I just cannot understand why an athletic director should give a coach with a losing record for 2 out of 4 years another year to prove that he's less than a .500 coach. If Graham wants to give Pat Knight another year because there's a possibility that the new coach might not be that good seems like shaky logic, at best. Of course any coach that an AD might hire could fail, but that's why you hire an AD. I just don't get the idea of, "there's not a lot to lose," argument, as it appears that what's being lost is a fanbase where there were maybe 2,000 in attendance for last night's senior game.
It would be a mistake for Hocutt to come in and fire head basketball coach Pat Knight as one of his initial actions.
In the short term, it would be a popular decision for Hocutt to fire Knight but the plan could backfire down the line if Hocutt’s replacement coach turned out to be a dud. A failed coaching hire would reflect badly on Hocutt.
The best thing Hocutt can do is give Knight another year to show improvement before Hocutt puts his reputation on the line with a new basketball coach.
If Knight fails to improve the basketball team next season, it would reflect worse on Myers’ inability to see the writing on the wall after three full seasons than it would on an outsider like Hocutt. There’s not a lot to lose considering Texas Tech hasn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2007.
If next season is an extra unsuccessful one under Knight, Hocutt would have bought himself a full year before the clock starts ticking on judgment day for his own basketball coach hire. But if Knight begins to turn the program around next season, it makes Hocutt look like he knows what he’s doing.