Seth: Well, can I kick you in the privates one more time or perhaps several more times?
Travis: I haven't been that disappointed or upset after a loss in a long, long time. It was one of those games when you wake up on Sunday morning, stretch out your arms and feel happy until suddenly remembering the game and the way they lost. Then the rest of the day is ruint. For 56 or 57 minutes it felt like one of those turning points and that things were coming together. The defense played well until the last few minutes, Webb was serviceable and some of the younger guys were incredibly fun to watch. I had already planned out all the great stories I could write and I was thinking about how fun the week would be for everybody. Then the wheels fell off. It was just terrible so I imagine it was pretty tough for those guys inside the locker room.
Along those lines, do you think there is a danger of Kingsbury losing control of the team after a setback like that?
Seth: Yeah, I was thinking about all of the great things and then I started thinking that WVU was capable of coming back from two scores pretty easily and then I started to go down that path of, "uh, oh," and I never looked back.
I suppose that's a possibility that Kingsbury could lose the room, but I keep going back to the idea that worse things have happened to more experienced coaches. In this week's The Huddle, I'm writing about how coaches who have had success sometimes lose game, but if they are good coaches and the fans and the program give the coaches and administrators some time, then you'll be rewarded. The tough thing is how much time is enough and if you have the right head coach. For me, I'm willing to bend over backwards for Kingsbury and give him as much time as he needs.
I wrote about how West Virginia and Dana Holgorsen were kings of the world after winning 10 games in 2011 and then that downward spiral started to happen and last year resulted in a 4-8 season that was disappointing by all accounts and they appear to have turned the corner. Gary Patterson at TCU, who has been in control of that program for 14 years or so, had a 7-6 and a 4-8 record in 2012 and 2013 before looking like world beaters this year and taking Baylor to the wire. So yeah, I suppose that you can start to lose a room, but I think the other part of it is that Texas Tech fans don't know how to react when losing, which is a good thing. Like taking a photograph and not knowing what to do with your hands. We just don't know what to do with ourselves.
The toughest thing to do is to ride out the storm.
When Mike Smith was hired as the defensive coordinator, Kingsbury made it clear that Smith was the interim defensive coordinator. I'm assuming that Kingsbury wants to see how the season plays out and then go from there. Either way, I expect Smith to be part of this program, but what would you prefer that Kingsbury do in the offseason regarding the defensive coordinator position?
Travis: I think for the sake of continuity and because I really like what I've seen so far, Smith should get a shot (barring a complete meltdown going forward which seems unlikely). He seems to bring the kind of emotion that's been missing since Ruffin left. But I would also be open to bringing in some "grey/gray hairs" in the offseason which has been suggested by some. Guys that can teach the young staff about some of the extra necessities beyond just X's and O's.
Penalties seem to continually be a problem for this team but do you ever wonder if referees get to a point where a teams reputation precedes them? I know calls are missed in every game, but I've seen some pretty glaring mistakes recently and I wonder if it's more human error than anything nefarious. There was a PI last week against that was fortunately called, but the replay showed the Umpire standing directly in front of the play with the WVU player tackling the Tech receiver and he didn't even reach for his flag. Luckily several other flags were thrown by others but I just thought it was odd that the Umpire was going to let it go. At some point you have to wonder if non-intended biases start to play a role. "Well, this is Texas Tech, so..."
Seth: Oh, I definitely thing there is some sort of self-perpetuating thing going on with the penalties, but generally speaking, I think most of the issues are pretty much self-inflicted. I also think that the penalty thing goes the other way, like Bill Snyder and K-State have maybe built up such a reputation that they get the benefit of the doubt.
I've got four questions/things for you.
1. A few weeks ago you mentioned that you were reading lots of books while running trails. I grew increasingly jealous of you as I live in a part of the world where there just aren't a lot of hiking trails. Oh sure, there are some in Dallas, but it's not like we live in Colorado where you can walk down the street and find a hiking trail. Anyway, I have a client that bought 300+ acres close to where I live and I just flat out asked him if he minded if I could hike on his property. Just me walking and hiking and he said he'd love to see the property be walked. I couldn't be happier that I now have a 300+ acre place to go hike and once I get my bearings, be able to take Fitsum.
2. I had Grant Thome at EMAWdio ask me if I thought it would be better if Kingsbury slowed down just a bit. In terms of pace of play, Texas Tech is still one of the fastest teams in the nation 4th in the nation. This isn't a case where Texas Tech is efficient in terms of scoring, so would you maybe slow some things down if you were Kingsbury, maybe let Webb take a better look at the defense, or would you continue to try to push the pace.
3. What will be the key to starting beating Kansas on Saturday and will you quit the internet if Texas Tech loses?
4. Are you writing about the Spurs this year and if so, where?
Travis: 1. Trails are great and Fitsum will have so much fun. I took Cade to Friedrich Park which is just a mile or two from our house before the UTEP game. It's really incredible because there are some really steep inclines and rocks to get over, but there are some easy paths as well. A few minutes into the walk he said "Oh, look at that bench. It woulda been a great place to sit and eat a sandwich if somebody woulda brought a sandwich."
I haven't taken him again.
2. Yes, I think it would be a great idea to slow down a bit. The frenetic pace wasn't paying dividends. I understand the concept, and someday it might, but not right now. The offensive personnel isn't seasoned or disciplined enough to make it work.
3. Keys to Kansas are the same. Control the ball and allow the thin defense time to rest. I think if they can do that then they'll be fine.
4. Yes, I should be writing about the Spurs again this year but probably not in the same capacity. I haven't told many people but I wrote a book over the summer about the Spurs championship season and my experience covering them as a novice reporter. I spent a ton of time on it and wanted to donate proceeds from its sale to the American Cancer Society in honor of Stuart Scott, Craig Sager and my cousin who has been recently diagnosed. I really, really, poured my heart and soul into it and the finished product was (and is) something I'm proud of.
Aaannnd.... they promptly turned down my request. -Travis on getting kicked in the junk
I submitted it to several publishers and had a couple that were interested. My dream of publication was coming true!
So the last step was to get the Spurs consent. In August I took it to the Spurs to get their approval. I totally believed it was all a formality. There was no way they'd turn something down that was so obviously an homage to their championship season!
Aaannnd.... they promptly turned down my request.
It was devastating. I was completely deflated. I worked so long and hard and had it teed up and ready to go, and the organization I spent so much time lauding and fawning over killed it. Legally I could've published the book but I would've had my credentials forever revoked and would receive no support from them in marketing. No radio show or publication would've allowed me to promote the book out of fear of repercussion from the Spurs. The book was dead. My heart was ripped out.
It really took the wind out of my sails for several weeks. And anyone that wonders why the Spurs don't get more national attention should know--this is exactly the way the Spurs want it. The organization does not want attention, at all.
But, JR Wilco, the editor at Pounding the Rock has been really incredible during the process and has been unbelievably supportive. He would've stood behind me if I published the book and he's helped me in the last few weeks in preparing it for possible publication at SB Nation. So, long story short, my account of the season lives on and could be published as an SBN long form piece soon. But, we'll see. There are lots of things to work out.
So I have a ton of emotions from the ordeal-- I'm still so proud of the organization for their accomplishment but I am extremely bitter at the same time. I might go to a few games, but definitely won't cover them with the same fervor as I did last season. I still have my credentials with PtR but have no designs or commitment to attend a single game. It makes me sad to think about.
So, what do you see happening against Kansas? Can we please have some confetti or Kenny Powers again?
Seth: A 10 point win for the good guys. It won't be pretty, but it's a helluva a lot better than a loss.
Travis: I'll take it.