Seth C: It feels like it's been a really long off-season. I suppose that they can all tend to feel that way, but it's just four more days and the off-season is over. As we maybe try to move on from the off-season, do you have any concluding thoughts or anything to wrap up the end of the summer? If not, discuss the one thing that you're looking forward to the most and least looking forward to on Friday.
Travis (SARR): There are a couple of things that stand out in my mind.
1.) We are probably going to start the season with 2 freshman quarterbacks sharing time, we are very thin on both offensive line and defensive line and we have a brand new coaching staff. Yet, the excitement around the program is as high as it’s been since 2008, which is pretty amazing to me. People don’t want to get caught up in the reality of things, they just want to dream big. Which is fine by me. I know I’m more excited about a season getting started than I have been in a long time.
There was a great article in the LAJ over the weekend about how the players decided to really come together as a team (both offensively and defensively) and it seems several of them really studied the model at K-State and the success that led to. Then you throw in the mix a group of coaches that are really emotionally connected with the school and a re-energized fan base, and we could potentially be on the verge of something big.
There is so much parity overall in college football, and particularly this year in the Big 12, that things like team chemistry and momentum might make the difference in close games. Look at the run that K-State had last year, only to be stopped by Baylor, who went on a pretty incredible run of their own just to qualify for a bowl game. I think we’ll have some rough patches but I think this whole #RideTogether thing is for real and this group is probably more cohesive than any we’ve seen in a very long time. I don’t expect to see a magical season, but I expect to see a team that plays together and fights their asses off until the game is over, every week.
2.) I think this is the last year that we’ll see normal college football. What I mean by that is there are a ton of things lurking on the horizon that could really impact the game going into next year and beyond. Will the NCAA begin to pay players? Is the game too dangerous? Will we stop seeing kick-offs? Will the major schools break away from the NCAA and form their own league? Is the NCAA just a big joke now that can't be taken seriously? On top of that you have a new playoff system beginning next year.
There are just so many things swirling out there which lead me to believe big changes are coming, and we may not recognize the game we all love soon.
So here’s one for you. Sadly, we saw several former Red Raiders cut from NFL rosters last Sunday. With that in mind, I wanted to get your thoughts on two of the best that have ever worn the Double T. Do you think Zach Thomas and Wes Welker had careers worthy enough to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame? I did some research on Wikipedia (which is my favorite site in the world BTW, it’s really great, I love those guys at Wiki, shout out to my man Toby). Zach had 1720 career tackles (the NFL only started tracking tackles in 2001 so it’s difficult to put that in a historic perspective) but he was a seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time First Team All Pro selection. He was also named to the All-Decade team for the 2000’s.
Wes is currently 67th all time in career yards with 8,580 and 29th all time in receptions with 768. He’s been to 5 Pro Bowls and is a 2 time First Team All Pro. Let’s assume he plays four more years (that might be a stretch because it would put him at 13 years in the league). Using his career averages that would give him 1109 catches, 3rd all-time with 12,335 yards, 17th all-time.
What are your thoughts on both of these guys, and any other former Red Raiders if you’d like to expand the discussion?
Seth C: I'll be honest, I'm not real up to date on what maybe qualifies as a Hall of Fame linebacker and receiver. I barely follow the Dallas Cowboys, they're really an afterthought for me because I spend way too much time writing about Texas Tech on a Sunday to really have that much thought about whether or not they are Hall of Fame worthy. I don't know enough about the statistical marks that players maybe need to meet to be qualified for a Hall of Fame career, so the question I always think is if that player is transcendent and how quickly do you arrive at an answer. If you have to think about it really at all, then you probably don't have a Hall of Fame player.
If I do that for both of these guys for the college careers, it's an incredibly easy answer for me and a resounding yes. They lifted their programs, had terrific careers and were overall fantastic players. I should also admit that once a player graduates from Texas Tech, I won't just follow that player all that much. In a general idea I have an idea as to how well a player is doing and I probably kept much better track of this when I played fantasy football (I no longer play). Now, I generally know that Welker or Amendola have done well, but I couldn't tell you all that much about them and how well they are doing.
Now I go back to my original question, which is whether or not Welker or Thomas are transcendent professional players and for Thomas, I'd probably say no. He was really good, but probably not transcendent. And I'd probably say the same thing right now for Welker, but Welker has years to go before he's done. And before I get too much push-back on Hall of Fame players and their worthiness, I think a Hall of Fame needs to be the absolute best of the best. There's no reason for a Hall of Fame to settle for any reason.
As for other guys, I don't think that there really is anyone else that should be included in the conversation. At least I can't think of anyone who has played recently that deserves that sort of recognition. I do tend to think that I'm really insulated in terms of Texas Tech, and I really just care about Texas Tech and not much else. I hope these guys have great pro careers, but overall, I'm pretty focused.
Should I know more about this because I like football or is this a pretty reasonable response?
Thinking a bit ahead, what's the one game on the schedule, other than the first one, that you have circled and you can't wait to watch?
Travis (SARR): Pretty reasonable. Pretty good little reasonable.
I’m really anxious to see the TCU game. Our freshman QB’s will have a few games under their belts and this will be a Thursday night game with a national audience. I’m assuming by then, Kingsbury will have settled on one (signs are pointing to Mayfield) and he’ll be ready for his first true test. I know it’s a joke to some readers, but like it or not, TCU is a legit program and it won’t be an easy game. If we can somehow manage a win, I think that could set up a nice run during conference play.
By the way, have I mentioned how bad I hate myself for pulling down the post announcing Brewer would be out, most likely for the year? If I haven’t mentioned it yet then I’ll mention it now. I hate that I pulled a post announcing Brewer would be out before anybody else was reporting it. The story went up at 11am on Friday the 16th following the lift of the media black out and I deleted it because we didn’t have confirmation from Kingsbury. Now Kirk Bohls is breaking news that we had two weeks ago. L;djfl;akjdfl;kjasdkl;jafl;kjdklfjalk;djf.
Moving on. Another matchup I’m looking forward to is Baylor. This is another team on the rise (which also annoys Tech fans), but they too have established themselves as a legit program. On top of that the games are highly entertaining. I don’t want to reopen the Tuberville discussion but I remember watching him on the sidelines in his first season at the Cotton Bowl against Baylor. It was a beautiful sunny day with deep blue skies and both teams were trading touchdowns. I couldn’t help but focus on him as he stood by himself, arms crossed, watching the game unfold. I know he had to feel completely out of place. He was used to demolition derbies but instead he was watching the Indy 500.
So it will be interesting to see the game against Baylor when we don’t have one hand tied behind our backs. I think one of the best qualities in Kingsbury as a coach is that he can adapt to a particular situation or adjust his play calling to maximize the skill set of the players he has, not the players he wants. If Kliff has to win a demolition derby, he’ll do it. If he has to win the Indy 500, he’ll do that too. TCU might be a demolition derby, but Baylor will definitely be the Indy 500.
How about you? What game do you have circled?
Also, you recently linked to a story about a new book coming out called "The System." It chronicles the good and bad in college football and it looks like a must read. To add to that, I was in a training class last year in Charlotte for bankers (teaching us how to adjust to the grueling 9am-3pm schedule, etc) and one of the guys in the class with me was a former scholarship lineman at Alabama. He played under Gene Stallings for two years and then Mike Dubose who took over after Stallings retired. Of course we had some great discussions over beers, but what I found most interesting was his opinion of college football. He hates it.
He said he’ll watch the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Braves baseball, but is totally disgruntled with college football, which was amazing to me. Even with the run that Alabama has had over the past 5 or 6 years, he’s not a fan at all. He said that whatever you can imagine going on, goes on. He said it’s the dirtiest, most unethical system imaginable from top to bottom. From the beginning of the recruiting process, until they spit you out as seniors, it’s a dirty system. And he wasn’t just talking about Alabama. He said it goes on at all the big time schools. And when I say "it" I mean all of it. Money, sex, injections, all of it. He said that’s why he only watches the NFL- because at least they’re not complete hypocrites.
I wanted to see if you have any thoughts or hot sports takes on "The System" that we know as big time college football?
Seth C: I think the game that if I had to circle would be the last one. There's such tremendous pressure now with how the Big 12 is set up and and how every game is important. It's so hard to pick just one and I think more than anything else, I want to beat the other teams in Texas more than any of the other teams. I can't really explain that other than just not wanting to fall behind. I think that no matter what happens during the season, and I really don't have a clue how this will play out, but no matter what happens during the season, if Texas Tech can get a win against Texas, it will seemingly make my life better for the remaining seven or eight months after that. It won't ruin my life if Texas Tech loses, but I will have an extra spring in my step.
Yea, I read that article, and it does look fascinating. It's interesting that you had that conversation because I recently read (look at us, we're so totally awesome with the readings and things) a terrific Q&A at Blazer's Edge with the guy that was the beat reporter for the Portland Blazers.
This is a guy that probably wanted to start writing about sports because he had a real passion for it, but now, Quick sounds like a beaten man. A guy that maybe has lost some humanity for the game because it just never treated him right despite trying to do the best that he could to be the good beat-writer for the team.
I suppose I've never had this idea that college athletics is this thing that is untouched by bad things. The more you know about a lot of things in life the less that you tend to think that it's what is presented. There is no doubt that it is dirty and under-handed and things are going on under the table that would make me blush. The players playing through injuries. Players getting cut from the team with no place to go. But I know that this sort of stuff is going on in the professional ranks even more. There is, somewhere, a very pure-as-the-driven-snow aspect about college athletics. If you need to feel better about yourself, go read Austin Murphy's book called The Sweet Season. It will make you believe in college athletics. At the heart of it, there's competition and teaching. That's it.
I don't really think I have given you a good answer. I try to keep my head in the sand about a lot of things. I just want to focus on the game more than anything else. All of the other stuff, the administrations, the back doors, the dealings, etc., have forever ruined me to an extent. It's the reason that I really just like focusing on the game at VTM.
The game makes me happy.
I'm not sure how to segue from that, so let's talk about the game. You've already said that you think that the signs point to Baker Mayfield getting the nod at quarterback, pretend you are Kliff Kingsbury, but not as ridiculously good looking and you can't wear v-necks, what's your game-plan for Friday night on both sides of the ball?
Travis (SARR): Man, I really like that phrase, just focusing on the game. I’m right there with you and I love college football more than any other sport. I think at its core, the game is still pure. The idea is to beat the man in front of you. And then get up and do it again. I guess it’s just the hypocrisy from the NCAA and holier than thou reporters that can get tiresome. Who cares if Manziel made a few bucks by signing pictures of himself? We were at a charity event in February and they auctioned two of his signed game jerseys off for $20,000 a piece. So in essence, Johnny Manziel donated $40,000 to this particular charity. But things like that don’t splash across ESPN’s ticker every five minutes.
Anyway, back to the game.
First of all, nobody on the planet is as ridiculously good looking as Kliff, but my wife thinks I do a pretty good job taking care of my eyebrows so I’ve got that going for me. From an offensive stand point, I think you ease Mayfield into the season with lots of running plays. You can build his confidence with some zone reads and let him do some damage with his legs. Run some quick play action out of the gun to get the ball to Marquez and Ward. Maybe run some WR sweeps with Grant like Welker used to do so well. And then make sure to get the ball to Amaro in the 2nd half. Jace will likely be Mayfield’s BFF because he’s going to be impossible to match up with after he completes his suspension. Even if he’s nervous, all he has to do is throw it up there. Amaro can go get it. Then, as his confidence grows, Kingsbury can expand the playbook for him in later weeks.
Defensively, I would like to see corner blitzes every play, but that’s just me and I win lots of championships on Madden. How about you? Put on your v-neck that you bought from the official ABC Bachelor website and give us your thoughts on the game plan.
And to wrap it up this week, I’ve got one more question. Two years ago when you were in the process of adopting Fitsum, you left me with the keys to VTM for the first time. While you were gone I wrote a dumb little piece about Jim Adler The Texas Hammer (personal injury attorney for those that don’t know) doing some sort of Dear Abbey bit where he’d answer questions and everyone got a nice cash settlement. A day or two later I got an email from his head of marketing (who happens to be his brother I believe). He said that they all loved the story and his wife couldn’t stop laughing about it. It was really cool, but it also made me realize that what we put on the site really is out there for anyone in the world to see. We get a little insulated I guess in thinking that only a handful of folks are commenting, but you never know who is going to happen across our little community. I thought about it again the other night when I was driving home listening to a nationally syndicated radio talk show (because I like to party) and the host was talking about a Cleveland Cavaliers blog that he likes to read called Fear the Sword. I looked it up when I got home and sure enough, it’s an SB Nation site. I know that Sharon Leach used to visit quite regularly as have some of the player’s parents.
So, my question is, what is the most interesting email you’ve received or conversation that you’ve had as a result of running DTN/VTM?
Seth C: One more thing on players and the likenesses, and things like that. I don't know what to do about the problem, but I do know that I don't want players to receive compensation for their likenesses, but I also don't want the school to receive compensation for player likenesses. In other words, I don't want the school or any sort of alumni or any other association to be able to auction off any sort of player signature or jersey or likeness until they are done with college. At that point, they can do and sign whatever. If anyone breaks the rules and does that, then I don't want the player punished, I want the school, alumni association or other organization monetarily punished (i.e. whatever the value of the item that was sold might be a start). Generally speaking, I really don't want anyone to be able to profit off of a player likeness. Not the school, not a store, not with jerseys, not on anything. That sounds a lot like some sort of Dr. Seuss thing. For the time that a player is in college, the only numbers that are permitted to be sold would be some generic number or the numbers of former players, who could then agree to sell their name or likeness, but no current players.
As to the coolest thing that's happened to me, I don't think it's one singular thing. It's a culmination of the past six years of blogging and just seeing everything grow. It's gone from a time when we would be lucky if there were ten comments on a post in a given day to 100 comments on just one post. I didn't really envision what it could be. I knew I just wanted to write and I wanted an outlet for one of my passions. I just never envisioned 5,000 visitors, not page views, but visitors, a day. I can't really comprehend that.
If it is Baker Mayfield at quarterback, and I think it will be for a good portion, then I'm thinking that Mayfield can extend plays with his feet, doesn't make bad throws, and is more accurate than Webb, then I think everything will be okay. Let Grant, Amaro, Ward, Williams and Washington do the heavy lifting. On defense, Hyder was correct earlier this week in saying that they've got to keep containment because Gilbert can hurt you with his feet, but they've also got to get to Gilbert. He traditionally holds onto the ball too long and Texas Tech needs to force him into some bad decisions.