Saturday mornings I get up early and listen to as much audio as humanly possible. Mostly Texas Tech related interviews from the week that I didn't get a chance to hear during the week because I'm busy writing or doing other things. This week, I think that men's head basketball coach gave three interviews this week. When I was done listening to him yesterday morning, I was inspired. Not in a life changing way, but he's constantly preaching good things. He's constantly preaching the need to make his message clear.
I have no idea how the players would react to that, perhaps they're not inspired at all. But I don't think that's the case. I think that the players are taking his words to heart. I also won't forget what he said when he was asked about the fact he's only an interim head coach for the next six months. Walker's response wasn't about what he couldn't do, but what he could do. He was going to give to this team, community and University for the next six months. "Six months to give." This is opportunity.
If you actually watched the press conference at the Big 12 Media Day it was uncomfortable. Walker was asked this initial question about being an interim coach and then that was it. The moderator literally had to implore the media to ask more questions and that they had a great opportunity to ask Walker questions. It felt like it was silent for 5 more minutes, but some other reporter eventually asked a question. The camera is firmly focused on Walker and he's just smiling. Not feeling sorry for himself, just smiling and it must be incredibly tough to realize that you are maybe the least popular coach on the Big 12 circuit, but that didn't stop him from carrying on and you probably won't hear about Walker having to endure no one caring about him anywhere else.
But you came here for football.
I can't write angry. I just can't. There are blogs that specialize in just being angry and you dealing with it. I can't write like that. I just can't. I don't think that I can get up in the morning and just be angry. I can't get up in the morning and call for a firing every day. I can't get up in the morning and demand that the athletic department make things right. I just can't.
There is probably a blogger out there that writes about Texas Tech that can do that, but that's not me.
For the better part of a year and a half I've been uninspired with the football team. When head football coach Tommy Tuberville I think my reaction was, "Well, okay." I didn't fist pump, I didn't decide that I needed to have a celebration beer. It was just okay. But I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. I like to them to prove my optimism wrong and I'm almost always optimistic after a hire.
Maybe this is because I'm not literally in the room with these guys, but I've never once thought that Tuberville's hire was an inspiring choice. Not at the time and not after the fact. It's one thing for an athletic director to hire a guy like Chris Walker and it seems uninspiring, but when he talks, you mind changes a bit. The needle moves for me. The needle has never moved for me with Tuberville.
Tuberville's hiring was the last thing that former Athletic Director Gerald Myers hired on his ledger. Tuberville was the safest approach. There was almost no risk involved from an hiring process. Being a safe guy myself, I completely understand the thought process. Tuberville was proven. He had won before. He shook hands. He was just different than what we were accustomed to before.
So I understand, but for me, hiring Tuberville was and continues to be simply an uninspiring choice as a head coach.
The most dangerous aspect of any athletic football program is apathy and I'm just about there.
Before this season started, I thought this was a 7 win team. I haven't wavered from that all year. I think that at this point, yes, this is a 7 win team. And yes, 7 wins is more than 5 wins. That is an improvement from last year. But I can promise anyone in the administration that reads this, apathy is about to set in.
I'm not writing that to scare anyone or make anyone think any differently about how they feel. I think this is the worst thing that can happen to a program. The athletic department have touted that the single-season attendance record was broken this year. I have never understood how this is newsworthy and this is the way that it should be when you add a few thousand additional seats. But that's not going to last. The good people of West Texas have supported this program because it is something that they love. We love football, just as much as any other part of the country, but I don't think that you can rest on the good-hearted nature of people for much longer.
But you're not going to see any h3 headlines (HTML folks will understand that) about how Tuberville needs to be fired. I do think he needs to be fired, but not because he's not winning enough. And I do think he is not winning enough. But I think that Tuberville should be fired because he's not inspiring.
Not once this year have I deemed it worthy to spend the money to drive to Lubbock to go see a game. I spend more time writing and thinking about Texas Tech than just about anyone. For me to go an entire year and not see my team play is not normal.
I'm just not inspired.
Hocutt is in a tough spot. I think that Tuberville has three years left on his current contract (through 2015). In fact, Tuberville's original contract was just through 2014, but Myers extended Tuberville in 2011. One of the last acts of the out-going athletic director. Hocutt is in a spot to have to make a decision. I think that Hocutt made the right decision last summer in not giving Tuberville an extension. Most coaches want five rolling years on their contract so that they can sell themselves to recruits. Hocutt didn't do that and if you've wanted to know why Texas Tech is maybe not doing as well on the recruiting trail, that might be part of it. I guess you can blame Hocutt for that.
I don't think that Hocutt is a guy that makes rash decisions. I think he's incredibly calculated and I do think that Hocutt has a window here. I think he can see and expect fan apathy next year. For an athletic department that that usually makes a profit, it cannot afford to make a bad coaching decision or continue with a coach that doesn't inspire the fans to want to spend money on their team. Tuberville is going to find it incredibly difficult to sell himself to recruits after the season is over, promising that him and his staff will be there for years to come. As a person that I think has a good pulse on the fans, I think that the apathy is about to be incredibly prevalent in 2013.
The only other thing that I think about Hocutt is that he's played the game. Hocutt played for Bill Snyder, and although K-State had an obvious misstep last night, I think that Hocutt knows what it means to be inspired and play with passion and a coach that inspires a fan base.
The unfortunate part for Hocutt is that he can't base this off of wins or losses. This decision will be based on what he is gong to predict will happen with ticket sales and the fans.
I don't know if my stance about wanting to let Tuberville go is much different than others. I think the reasons are different and for me, it's not so much about the wins or losses. It's about the feel of the program and I've tried to let it set in for three years and I just don't think this is something that's going to work. And I think that firing coordinators is the lowest common denominator in terms of fixing things. It's the easy way out for fans and coaches. Tuberville has already fired on his third defensive coordinator and he's been coaching for three years at Texas Tech. That's really sorta ridiculous and I don't know how many bullets he has left. And all coaches fire coordinators to save their own jobs, but those are almost always band-aids. That's not really the root of the problem. That's not really addressing the issue.
I think if Hocutt is looking for an indicator of fan apathy, then look no further than this week's game. Look to see the number of tickets that are sold this week at Cowboys Stadium. This game should have sold out a long time ago. I'm an hour away and I don't want to spend my Saturday or my money going to the game. I don't know what this says about me as a fan, but this is how I feel.
And you won't see anything from me after this because I sorta have to keep my sanity. I'll try to write about the games and write about what I can expect. I won't be writing every day about how Tuberville needs to go. This is it. I won't be endorsing some other coach as the new head coach because there's really no point in thinking about those sorts of things when your team has a coach and I'm not certain that things will change.
I also won't rail on Hocutt if he doesn't fire Tuberville at seasons' end. I won't be happy and I think shake my head and think to myself that I've got to write about a team for an entire year that doesn't inspire me and that doesn't sound like fun. I did write a few weeks ago and this past week to the bloggers at Cowboys Ride For Free that Tuberville is still coaching for his job. I don't think that Hocutt has made a decision about Hocutt right now and I don't think that he should. I think you have to let the season play out and you have to see where this team is at after next week. Let Hocutt go through the process.
You might be thinking that I'm the guy that defends Tuberville way too often and that's true in some respect, but more than anything, whether it's Tuberville or anyone else as a coach, I have certain ways that I think football works. Whether it is Tuberville or any other coach, I think a coach has to have talent to win. I think it helps to have players that the NFL deems to be draft and/or roster worthy. I think it helps to have a coach actually coach players up rather than down. I think it helps to have a coach that inspires players. Those aren't things that I think because Tuberville is the head coach. Those are things that I think are accurate over the course of watching a lot of college football. I very much could be wrong on all of those things, but I won't stop writing them if Tuberville is the head coach or if some other coach is in place. I think those are pretty safe things to say that the game, which is that talent are integral parts of the process. I'll be saying those things with whoever is the head coach at Texas Tech.