Seth: Last week, Kirby Hocutt spoke to Don Williams about the state of the football program and he said he was disappointed in the current state of the program, but he was optimistic about the future. He really seemed to echo what a lot of VTM folks think, including myself about where the program is and where they hope it goes. Are you on the same page as Hocutt?
Travis: I think so, even though it's been a struggle to maintain a positive outlook. The worst for me is when the sense of indifference begins to creep in. I can be gung-ho early in the season and fight off (or completely ignore) red flags and warning signs that things aren't going well, but after a while I tend to throw up my hands in surrender and look for other vices to occupy my time. Everyone knows I've never been big on recruiting or keeping up with the observations tweeted by random 18 year-olds, but that seems to be the only silver lining left in this season. In a way it speaks to Kliff's talent-the fact that he's putting together such a solid class on the heels of such a disastrous season.
I am incredibly encouraged by Hocutt's hands-on approach with Kliff and all his coaches. I remember Gerald Myers famously saying he didn't set goals for any of his coaches and Hocutt's philosophy seems to be completely opposite of that. I love the fact that he meets with his coaches during the season to discuss progress and holds them accountable for achieving goals.
And to get back to Myers for just a second. Looking back now, I would argue that his involvement in setting up the neutral site games annually with Baylor is one of his greatest accomplishments. I remember when it first started and it seemed like a poor man's Red River Rivalry game, but think about it now: Baylor is one of the top programs in the country and we get a marquee game with them every year in the Metroplex. If (and when) we can hold up our end of the bargain and field a competitive (and dare I say nationally ranked) team, the late November match-up could be one of the biggest games of the season in college football. When Kliff rights the ship there's no reason GameDay and all that comes with it won't choose to be a part of it all. I truly give Myers much of the credit for having that foresight.
I know you wrote about it last week, but do you have any additional thoughts on how big this game could be in a few years?
Season 3, Episode 11 featuring Branden Jackson, Toddrick Gotcher, new Lady Raider Ryann Bowser, an in depth interview with Lady Raider Head Coach, Candi Whitaker, plus other entertaining content to enjoy from your Texas Tech student-athletes and coaches.
Seth: The Baylor vs. Texas Tech game is literally in my backyard and it would be a pretty easy game for me to attend, but it just hasn't materialized for me. One of the defenses for this game is that Texas Tech has a tough time selling out Thanksgiving weekend at home and that's fine and all, but this year's schedule has two bye weeks in it and we tend to not think about that.
Sure, having the game in Arlington is a showcase and it almost always gets picked up by a national outlet, but there is a part of me that doesn't like taking away a game from Lubbock. The Lubbock economy needs Texas Tech football a lot more than Jerry Jones does. I know that this isn't a national way to think about things, but there's part of me that feels bad to take a game away from the town. I'd almost be more inclined to have a non-conference game in Dallas and then keep the Baylor vs. Texas Tech games at their respective homes. I'm probably in the minority on this.
I've got one more thought / question about Kingsbury and his future at Texas Tech. How do you guard against a situation like Michigan has with Brady Hoke, where he's not an alum at Michigan, but everything he says and does said that he was a Michigan for life sort of guy, but nothing he's done has moved the program forward. And this doesn't have anything to do with the gaffe regarding the Shane Morris head-injury, this is about results on the field. At what point do you say (and I know we're in year two of the Kingsbury era and you know me, I'm All-Kingsbury, All-the-Time, I'm just thinking out loud here) this just isn't working?
Travis: If there isn't improvement next year then I think the seat will start to get a little hot for him. You really want to give a guy four or five years, but that's just not the reality in today's college football world. If he doesn't win 7 or 8 games next year and get back to a bowl then it will be tough sledding. But, I think accomplishing that is certainly within reach and I hope he does it because I still really like the guy, even if he's just a bit too coy for my taste.
I wrote about it a few weeks ago but enduring these last few years of struggle has really made me appreciate the accomplishments of Mike Leach even more than I did before. There were years where I can almost guarantee he had less talent than what we see on the field right now, and certainly less than what we had in 2011, and yet he still found a way to squeeze 7 or 8 wins out of those kids. And then throw in the fact that he did it during the Big XII's heyday, with UT and OU competing for National Championships, A&M still a respectable force, and Nebraska & the SnyderCats were dominating the north. I know we hear that he never took them to the "next level," and arguments like that, but his decade of consistency in Lubbock was truly remarkable.
So do you have any hot takes on the pending playoff picture, and the train wreck that it looks like we're heading for? TCU, Baylor, Alabama, Miss. St, Florida State and Auburn are going to be fighting for those four spots (Alabama or Auburn will likely be removed after the Iron Bowl) so somebody is going to be left out, and very angry. Do you think this playoff system as it's currently devised was the right solution?
Seth: Oh, man, this all sorta makes my head spin in a way. I do like having a selection committee that is in charge of picking the final four teams. Oh, yea, teams are going to be upset at the prospect of not playing, but I think that by the end of the year, it will be obvious for the most part with one or two teams making a case that they should have been included. Given their current states, I think I'd pick Florida State, Mississippi State/Alabama (these two teams play this weekend, so this helps a lot), Oregon and TCU. The teams that are just on the cusp are Baylor, Ohio State, and Arizona State. I'm going with TCU here because they have played a tougher non-conference than Baylor even though the Bears have the head-to-head win. Both resumes are terrific, so you can't really go wrong with either. Still, those seem like the best teams and I could see Ohio State making a late run, like Baylor, to get into the playoff.
As far as the right solution? No, I think they could have included 8 teams and that would have been fantastic, but it seems like every week, there's lots of gnashing of teeth when the playoff committee releases their results and that's what we like to call "buzz" in the business. It definitely gets people talking.
What about you, what are your four teams?
Earlier this week, the coaches talked about moving D.J. Polite-Bray to defense and it feels like we've been down this road before, where a player switches sides of the ball and things never really materialize. We've already had one player quit the team, Tyler Middleton, after not being able to get on the field and we now have Polite-Bray as Josh Outlaw moving to the defensive side of the ball. I'd love to get your two cents about what you think about this process.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot that DTN/VTM turns 8 years old on Sunday! What are we doing to celebrate!
Travis: Eight years, wow! I can't believe how time flies and I can't imagine a world without VTM. It has become such a great community. I think we should all meet up in New Braunfels for Wurstfest and dark German beer!
My top four would be: Florida St., Alabama, Oregon and TCU.(Assuming that Bama beats Miss St and Auburn) but I agree, in the end its just gonna be a big mess. There will be a cry to expand to 8, then 16 and then the beauty of college football is lost because every week won't be as important as it once was.
I like the DJPB move for two reasons: 1. He has the hands of a CB. 2. He has an edge that will serve him well on defense. He's had some dumb unsportsmanlike penalties but that aggression might serve him well if he can channel it on defense.
So I've had internet problems all week and haven't been able to do any writing. I think a burning question has to be answered. Which is worse: Bob Seger, Wiki or AT&T UVerse?
Seth: Yeah, meeting up needs to happen at some point and eight long years. That's a long time in terms of blog years. I'm a bit surprised that I've lasted this long. I think that each blog year is similar to a dog year, maybe not 7 years, but maybe each blog year is like 4 years because it can be such a draining and tiring process and it can also be an incredibly fulfilling process with just one or two moments. The strange thing is that sports, generally speaking, is more about defeat and loss more than anything else. Oh sure, you have your teams that win championships, but ultimately, there's really only one team out of 30 on the professional level that really get to celebrate a true championship. For college teams, it's even more common to be the team that doesn't win it all. There's only 1 out of 120+ that can claim that and everyone else is just trying to be somewhat positive about the state of the team and the season.
I'm always looking to the future in that respect, always hopeful that the next year is "the year" and things will get better. It is definitely one of my flaws, to be so positive in that respect, especially when most of the time, I'm just flat out wrong. I suppose it's easier for me to believe that things can and will get better and talk myself into scenarios where things are going to be okay.
I have gone off the tracks.
Back to your question. I think that U-Verse is the biggest criminal here. You're a professional blogger and they don't even care. I'm sure they aren't going to reimburse you for the time lost because you didn't have internet.
Seth: Son of a gun, it's been like almost 24 hours since I've heard from you, which means that I bet you are in a battle royale with Uverse. Since it's a bad week, I was wondering if this was an appropriate message for the folks at Uverse (don't click this if you are offended by Kenny Powers giving someone the middle finger).