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Weekly Conversation | Mayfield and Cumbie are Gone with the Wind

SARR and Seth C discuss the departures of Mayfield and Cumbie leaving the South Plains. Being nice on blogs and the internets what Kingsbury did right and wrong in his first year.

Christmas Conversation
Christmas Conversation

Travis (SARR): So with the additional news and interview that Cumbie did on Monday I feel better about the situation. I think he realized if he ever wants to advance in the profession he'll need to beef up his résumé a bit, and that looks like what he's doing. I also don't think it had any correlation to the Mayfield situation at all. I know you've already written a lot on the subject, but can you give us an idea as to how you feel about the situation now?

I've received some pretty reliable information on Mayfield and I think that's pretty cut-and-dried in that Mayfield essentially made it clear that he wanted to be the starter heading into next year and when he was told that this was an open competition, or that the position needed to be earned, then he bolted. -Seth C. on the reason Mayfield left

Seth C: I think I'm more confused about Cumbie than I am about Mayfield. I've received some pretty reliable information on Mayfield and I think that's pretty cut-and-dried in that Mayfield essentially made it clear that he wanted to be the starter heading into next year and when he was told that this was an open competition, or that the position needed to be earned, then he bolted.

With Cumbie, I still think it's odd for him to go to a conference rival, but I do think this is similar to Holgorsen leaving Leach and wanting to spread his wings a bit. Cumbie had been in Lubbock for the entirety of his college coaching career and I could certainly envision how he wants to be in charge of the quarterbacks rather than the receivers. I do think there was probably a pay increase involved and that would be a motivating factor as well.

The tough thing was that it all happened at the same time, literally back-to-back and it put a damper on what was already tough way to finish the season. It was hard for folks not to think that these were two separate events and they didn't have anything to do with the other.

Let's hear it from you, what are your thoughts on the situation and maybe more than that, what about the rumor mill that gets started in the comments? I know that I showed my frustration with that last week. Is there a line for you where those sorts of comments are too over-the-top or should I just have let them go?

I wish him well, and am thankful for what he accomplished this year, but I’m not going to waste any time keeping up with his career. -SARR on Mayfield

Travis (SARR): I think the events were completely unrelated, but can see how folks would tend to try and connect the dots. I’m with you on Mayfield. I started to hear some things as the season went along and his abrupt departure began to make sense to me after I put the pieces together. I think he’s a kid that thinks much more highly of his skill set than others that are paid millions to coach and evaluate talent and he’s really struggling with that. He had to walk-on at Tech because he waited for some of the biggest programs in the country to come calling, and they never did. He then wanted to be named the starter heading into next season, which is just preposterous, and left Kingsbury in the lurch because of the "miscommunication." I wish him well, and am thankful for what he accomplished this year, but I’m not going to waste any time keeping up with his career.

I’m with you on the Cumbie piece (is that legal to say?). It’s difficult to make sense of, but I think your comparison to Holgorson stepping out of Leach’s shadow is spot on. Holgorson took an at best lateral move when he left his OC job at Tech to be the OC at Houston. I think that Sonny felt like it was time to start blazing his own trail, so in a way I’m glad to see him moving on. I think it will be good for him. One angle that hasn’t been discussed is that it’s a good sign when other schools are coming and taking your assistant coaches.

I’m glad you mentioned the comments and speculation because it will be a nice segue into my question for you.

I think the comments section is a great place for people to think out loud and it helps everyone to shape their ideas or theories. VTM has one of the best comment sections in all of SBN and it’s impressive to see the dialogue that takes place on a daily basis. However, when a few seemingly negative things happen in such a short time-frame it’s almost as if a mob mentality starts to take over and people begin to really freak out. The speculation can snowball until it’s just one big hot mess of negative feelings about the entire program and people are convinced that Kingsbury is the worst thing that ever happened to Texas Tech.. I don’t think there’s any simple answer or even a right or wrong answer, but simply it is what it is. I can certainly see where your frustration comes in, but I think at the end of the day things seem to work themselves out. Isn’t there some old famous saying like "don’t believe the best things someone says about you and don’t believe the worst." It’s apropos in this situation. Tech Football is certainly a lot closer to being great than it is to being terrible.

Which leads me to my question. I’ve been thinking a lot about social media and how people treat each other and how we’ve come to be so tribal. Now I’m not naïve because I know that sports has brought out the best and worst in people forever, but it’s just so much more visible these days I guess. Two examples: First, the story you linked to from the lead writer at BOTC and his decision to step down. This passage captured my attention and has been on my mind since:

BOTC and SB Nation manage to do a better job than most, but sports discussion is increasingly and needlessly ugly. One of my favorite follows on Twitter is my old high school's former basketball coach, and what happened with him is a perfect microcosm of what grates on me most about sports media and sports fans.

He cared about his players so much that he could barely speak about them at the season-ending coaching banquet because he'd be overcome by emotion. And he wasn't some soft touch who didn't get results. His teams made several trips to the state tournament. With a couple breaks, he could have easily won a state championship.

Not only does he care about his players, but he's relentlessly positive. He doesn't concern himself the petty squabbles and politics. At high school or any other level, this and his success should have been enough. But it wasn't. My hometown, which takes great civic pride in doing things the right way and being successful in so doing, pushed him out after a few bad seasons. He won a state championship with a conference rival a few years later.

That's a long way of saying that I'm tired of running down student-athletes and coaches and officials for not meeting the impossible standard of perfection.

Second, a story about a sports radio talk show host here in town named Geoff Sheen. He’s a typical sports radio guy. Funny, opinionated and passionate. He has his share of fans, but, like most in the profession these days, he has his share of detractors too. He’s said things that I don’t agree with, or that can get under my skin (finding someone to say something nice about Tech in South Texas is a daunting task) but I still enjoy his show. Since I started covering the Spurs games I’ve had a chance to chat with him a few times on press row or in the media cafeteria and he’s always pleasant to talk to.

Last week he wasn’t on the air for a few days and his replacement hosts never said where he was. He was back in studio on Friday and I was listening to him on my way home when he said he had an announcement to make. I was really busy last week so hadn’t really kept up with San Antonio news so I was surprised to hear him say that the reason he was off the air is because he and his wife had their first baby. He then went on to thank everyone that had sent him well wishes and even went as far as to thank the people that don’t like him for not sending him cruel emails or tweets. It was just mind blowing to me. This is a guy that’s just doing his job, and he has to keep his wife’s pregnancy and the birth of their child secret because of the way people act on social media. Sure, he chooses to put himself out there (just as you and I do albeit on a smaller scale) but the ugly side of fandom seems ridiculous to me.

It just seems that we are drifting farther and farther apart everyday. We can’t associate with any Longhorn ever because FUT. And Aggies? Screw ‘em. And if you went to Baylor you are officially dead to me. Oh and do you like Geoff Sheen? Well screw you. I hate him. You don’t think Webb is better than Mayfield? Then you disgust me.

So, I guess in wrapping up the longest question in the history of mankind, do you think this will ever get better? I like having friends and having fun so I hope so.

This is something bothers me a bit in that I really don't play in these reindeer games of being snarky and trash talk and stuff that bloggers are supposed to do. -Seth C. on bucking blogging requirements

Seth C: This is something bothers me a bit in that I really don't play in these reindeer games of being snarky and trash talk and stuff that bloggers are supposed to do. I'm sure that I have my spots, but I try my very best to not be hateful or mean to opponents. I don't do the FUT stuff and I won't support it. I don't really just hate Aggies because they are Aggies. These are all guys that I have to work with and these are all guys that I have to have a somewhat professional relationship with.

If I decide to go down the path of name-calling and making fun of the college town and all of that stuff, then I'm just setting myself up for people to get angry or resentful at a later point. Again, I'm not perfect. Not perfect by any means, but I do my best to leave the snark at the door. I want to treat people as best as I possibly can. If there is another blog that doesn't want to do the same thing, then I'm just not going to participate.

I don't know everything that's happened, but I've seen blogs and writers just choose to no longer participate with each other because of that anger and blog managers banning other blog managers because people get so worked up.

For whatever reason, we as humans get our emotions caught up in all of this stuff. It's the reason why college fans do ridiculously stupid things, like poison trees or tea-bag an opposing fan, it's sorta crazy. But I'm just not going to go there. I'm sure that by not being snarky and funny, I'm missing out on hits and visits or as many twitter follows, but that's okay. And there's a line that you have to be careful to not cross. I think you do a good job of being funny without being hateful. I think I'd have a hard time crossing that line, or it would come off poorly.

To answer your question, I'm not sure if it will get better. It would require for people to no longer be people. It reminds me of an old cartoon, where some guy gets so frustrated with people being annoying and bad that he flies to the moon thinking that he's getting away from all of those annoying earthlings, only to find that the moon people are just as annoying. It would also require that bloggers not be snarky, which we apparently all take an oath to do.

So we're getting close to the end of the year and the one year anniversary of Klifftivus has passed. What do you think is the area that Kingsbury has down pretty well and what do you think he needs to improve?

This is probably going to get chalked up to me being a "wuss" or something like that. And that's fine. I keep telling myself that I'm going to try to do what I think is right and put as much good into the universe as possible. It's that simple.

Travis (SARR): Yeah, and I hope I don’t sound too preachy or judgmental with these thoughts because I have at times been one of the worst offenders. There just seems to be a convergence of events over the past few weeks that have really made me take a step back. Burnt Orange Nation posted one of the most unprofessional editorials I’ve ever read on Saturday afternoon, just an hour or so before Mack Brown announced he was stepping down. Wescott Eberts has since taken the post down and issued this apology but it was such a disgrace to SB Nation and really made me wonder what the hell we are trying to do. It was so filled with hatred and vitriol towards a man that has devoted the last 16 years of his life to the University of Texas and this kid on a blog is demanding him to jump because he says jump and challenging his character and morals. It was ridiculously over the top and embarrassing.

I guess I just need to make it one of my New Year’s resolutions. Exercise more and be nicer to people on the internet.

Anyway, back to football and your question. I think Kliff really adjusted to the learning curve and overall had a successful first season. He seemed to handle the duties of being a Head Coach relatively well and dealt with a ton of adversity in an outwardly calm and collected way. I’m sure he puts a ton of pressure on himself and I think he handled himself and the various issues throughout the season with class.

I don’t think he handles the press very well though. I understand the need to keep things in house and not everything that goes on is for public consumption, but if he wants people to really buy into what he’s trying to do he needs to pull back the curtain a bit. It’s extremely frustrating to be in the dark about virtually every decision made. I'm sure he has a plan for the future, but he needs to express that plan. It’s funny because he’ll go into great detail about wardrobes, and who his favorite TV characters are, but offers very little when it comes to the football side of things. The best coaches and leaders lay out their vision and how they plan to get there. I hope we get more of that from him.

How about you? What do you see Kliff doing well and things that he might improve upon?

Seth C: I don't think you're sounding preachy. It's the sole reason I generally don't respond to negative tweets about Texas Tech or Lubbock. I go away from Twitter and just forget about it. It's not worth it to get that angry about something that's pretty meaningless, so I just let it go and let it get lost in some sort of internet abyss. Life is way too short to get that worked up over something where I'm actually responding to something negative. I will respond to things that are not factual, but not negative opinions.

If I had to pick just one thing that Kingsbury has had a rough go his first year, it would be figuring out how to get his team out of a rut. I think the coaching part of this comes pretty easy for Kingsbury, but I think that maybe getting your hands dirty and really trying to pull an entire team out of a 5 game losing skid is really tough. Heck, it happened to Tuberville, who has been coaching for many more years. But with Kingsbury, I hope and think that the five game losing streak maybe helped make him stronger. It somewhat like that guy in school where everything came easy to him. There were NO challenges in his life because he was insanely talented. I'm not saying that Kingsbury has had no challenges in his life or that he hasn't had to work hard, but it looked so easy for him for quite some time. Adversity helps people become better much more than success.

As far as what I think he did just fine, was managing 7 wins out of a team with two freshman quarterbacks. I still think that's pretty amazing. Especially when you look at California, with Sonny Dykes, a coach that has been there before, he went 1-11 this year. I never would have expected that. Dykes is a really good coach and maybe he would have done the same thing here, but getting 7 wins with two freshmen QB's is pretty darned impressive.

Last thing, I've let you in on some of the behind-the-scenes things for VTM. Now that you've essentially had a full football season to take it all in, what do you find the most surprising / interesting thing about my job as a blog administrator?

There were several Sundays this season that I just completely unplugged and didn’t go anywhere near a computer in an effort to recharge. -SARR on being a lazy blogger

Travis (SARR): First just let me say I thoroughly enjoyed this season and all the work that all of the VTM authors have put into the site. I also really appreciate you trusting me enough to become more of an administrator/editor and see some of the behind the scenes stuff. There are several things that stood out for me this year:

1. SBNation is impressive because it’s run just like any other corporation. Some of the stats and trending numbers and year over year comparisons that are sent to you from the guys in New York are so intriguing to me because that’s the kind of work I’ve always done and you can see a concerted effort from the highest levels to grow the network. Everything is tracked. Everything.

2. Collaborating on things and working together at VTM and on the Facebook page and on the Twitter account has changed my perspective as a fan to a degree. I can now understand where you’re coming from when you say that you sometimes dread logging in after a loss or after bad news. There were several Sundays this season that I just completely unplugged and didn’t go anywhere near a computer in an effort to recharge. I still don’t know how you do it every day.

3. Unfortunately, some of the best material I’ve ever seen has come from things people send to you and we can’t do anything with it. As I’m typing this there is a story I really, really want to write but we won’t be able to. Your ability to sort through the clutter without running with every lead is impressive.

4. All of this is way too much fun.

5. There are some crazy people on Facebook.

Seth C: /confetti/