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Texas Tech, Kliff Kingsbury & the Struggle

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During periods of struggle we learn about ourselves and promise to never forget the feeling when things are better. And then we do just that.

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Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

In real time it's almost 6am on Tuesday morning and my story is due by ten. I just emailed Seth and let him know I've really been struggling with a concept this week and have very few words, much less any semblance of an article, roiling inside my head. Words so often anxious to escape and flow down my chest, into my arms and out through my fingertips onto the laptop screen just aren't there today.

But as I think about the email I focus on one word I used in making a lame excuse not to write: struggle. Just after 6am I emailed Seth again and told him never mind, it's bubbling. And after googling Thomas Paine, I silently chuckle while tweaking his words to fit what so many of us currently feel.

"THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot fan will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country team; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny Losing, like hell Longhorns , is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM beating West Virginia, Baylor and OU should not be highly rated"

-Thomas Paine

Oh, and also beating TCU and winning the Big XII in the next few years. Also smashing OSU and Bill Snyder, with all due respect of course.

Plus Arkansas next year.

And Iowa State.

-Travis Hale

 

And to narrow its scope, there were these tweets from Scott Fitzgerald on Sunday morning while most of us were clearing the cobwebs from our head.

 

 

 

 

His declaration that it's time to "nut up," lends substance to Paine's vague reference to the "dearness only that gives every thing its value." Fitz is Thomas Paine for the 21st century, our statesman on Twitter.

"Basically, I'm for anything that gets you through the night."

I read that quote by Frank Sinatra in a book about the man and the lost art of livin' when I was in my 20's. The quote (along with almost all of the ideas in the book) has always stuck with me. Read literally it's a dangerous statement; the idea that anything goes is not the wisest way to travel through life. But for me it has always been a coping mechanism and a reminder that we are all different. "Be it prayer, tranquilizers or a bottle of Jack Daniels," Sinatra continued, subtly compartmentalizing virtually everyone, while pointing out their shared goal of simply getting through the night.

This article is not an attempt to assuage your doubts and frustrations with the current state of Texas Tech football. Be mad at Kingsbury all you want and continue to call for the benching of Davis Webb. Question Chiaverini and Smith; Pete Robertson and Justis Nelson. After all, you have every right to be upset. The offense has been a huge disappointment and the Red Raiders have struggled mightily in all three facets of the game. The effort on Saturday night was frustrating in every way possible and sadly, the worst is probably yet to come.

But somehow I have to remind myself of the truth in Fitz's first point: No one feels worse than those directly involved. All I do is write about the team and their effort. They're the ones putting in the hours and sweat and blood. I imagine the frustration I feel, we all feel, is exponentially higher for Kingsbury, his staff and his players.

And this isn't a plea for everyone to remain patient. Let the doubt creep in if you must, because it might not get better soon. This might be the plateau that we have for so long dreaded; an overmatched defense combined with an inept offense leading to the slight chance for an eight win season once every four years. I approach every Saturday with insane optimism and above all else hope but have recently been severely disappointed when Tech's results don't match my expectations. And then I find a way to get through the night.

I think about the offensive line and how dominant those boys can be going forward. I think about the blue-chip recruits, just waiting for their chance a year or two from now. I think about the flashes I've seen from Mike Smith's defense in two games and the sustained brilliance from Kingsbury on offense with several different quarterbacks through the years. And I think about the ebbs and flows from virtually every program in today's college football when teams are recruiting nationally and the talent is more spread out than ever before. It reminds me that the pendulum will swing our way again. I don't know exactly when, but it will happen.

To make things worse it seems as if the hits keep coming. Baker Mayfield and his clown posse will apparently never go away. Reporters continue to talk more about Kingsbury's sunglasses than his work ethic and the stigma that Tech can't play defense and commits three penalties on every play will continue to crystalize until it's a given.

But those things will go away. Someday, those stigmas will go away and be replaced by events more highly rated. Just ask Thomas Paine or Frank Sinatra or Tech Fitz on Twitter.

Before finishing my post I had to take a break and take Cade to his kindergarten class. Not long after leaving the house he quietly mumbled something from the back seat so I asked him to repeat what he'd said. He loudly spoke the seven words that haunt my dreams.

"I have to go to the bafroom."

I pleaded for him to wait, promising that we were almost there. He couldn't wait. I sped through neighborhood after neighborhood, searching for any sign of seclusion where I could stop until finally I found a gate off the side of the road just in time and scurried to help him from his seat.

Once on the road again he apologized and asked if I would be arrested. In a moment I wish I had back, I once told him that the police would arrest me if we were late to school. I thought it would motivate him to get ready quickly in the morning instead of telling me about his waffle-induced dreams, but instead it only served to terrify his every thought. Now he is in constant fear that the police will be there waiting to slap the cuffs on daddy soon after we collect the tardy slip.

Fortunately we made it to his classroom door with two minutes to spare. He smiled at me as I left him with his teacher and I thought again about the struggle. Whether it's in our daily lives or in our favorite football team, the struggle is there. In the scheme of things it's miniscule, but it's there. And I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.