1. If you could pick any team to play in a home and home non-conference game, and you magically are afforded the opportunity for the away game to be paid for with VTM Bucks, what's the team?
MikeTTU: That's a tough one. I would say A&M because I know a lot of people that are going there and they were my 3rd choice (behind Arky), but if it's being paid for, then I'll pick Norte Dame. It's located in a part of the country I haven't been before, plus they have a lot of history on that campus. From the stadium, to the championships and legendary players, they have a historic legacy. Plus I was born and raised catholic, so that'll make my experience even cooler.
LoneStarRedRaider: Quick confession time: I have never been to a Texas Tech away game. Sure, I've made it to the Cotton Bowl and the Death Star, but I have yet to set foot in Stillwater, Norman, Austin, etc. for a Tech game. This will have to be remedied.
But, back to the question. I am leaning toward USC, and it's mainly for selfish reasons. I have a close friend who went to grad school at USC and still lives in California. This would be just about the only time we could go to a game together and watch our schools play each other. It's a win-win. Besides, the Coliseum is something I would really love to see in person. As for practicality, it would be a great way to get some exposure for our program.
Travis Hale: We had a great conversation last year about the places we'd most like to visit for a game. But, having said that, I'll say Hawaii.
DoubleTFaithful: This may be unexpected from some of the readers, but I would say Oregon State. They are a solid Pac 12 program (still holding out hope Larry Scott wants to expand to 16). I think they would be on about the same level Texas Tech is and the kind of non-conference opponent I would like to see scheduled going forward. The SMUs, UTEPs and Houstons are fine, but I would like to get away from FCS and start going after mid-level BCS opponents.
Seth C: I think it would be great to have a home-and-home with California. With Sonny Dykes at Cal and Art Kaufman, I think it would be a pretty neat series, even though Cal is down a bit. Sure, Cal is down a bit, but overall, I think they'll be back soon. Sonny has proven that he can do that. And much like DoubleTFaithful, I'd love to play an opponent that's similar to Texas Tech and think Cal would be a pretty cool spot to play.
2. Again, assuming that VTM Bucks are actually worth something, if you could authorize the building of any capital improvement (i.e. a building or a structure) paid for by my limitless supply of VTM Bucks for the athletic department and it had to be on campus what would it be.
MikeTTU: Let's update Dan Law Field. I think Lubbock is only starting to get into the baseball spirit and we'll need updated facilities. I've been to Baylor's and TCU's baseball stadiums, and they make the Law look like a high school field. I think we could put in more actual seating in the stadium, along with permanent seating in the outfield also. Another idea to expand or improve on the covering over the seats. Right now, only the reversed seating has covering, and we could add better overhang or expand it to make it look nicer. If we improve the baseball stadium, more people will come watch the games and more recruits may look at Tech more. I don't think you can do much more to the basketball arena and football stadium to gain an edge in attendance and recruiting, but updating the baseball stadium would help baseball.
LoneStarRedRaider: Assuming that an old-fashioned skating rink or an Apollo 11 flight simulator wouldn't be approved, I would have to go with an indoor football practice facility. It's truly about the only thing I can think of that we don't already have. I'm sure there's something I'm missing, but TTU really has some great facilities. I don't know if I would do a thing to the Jones unless I could use VTM bucks to pay for flyovers for all home games. We could mix it up, too: B-1's one week, B-52's the next, then F-22's... where's the check book?
Travis Hale: I'd build a glass tower on the south side of the Jones where the ATC is now. It would 1923 feet tall, with clear glass walls facing the stadium and etched, stained glass Double T's and paintings of memorable athletic plays along the sides. It would house the athletic offices but around the middle of the building would be floors designed as viewing platforms, similar to suites. It wouldn't be for rich people though. It would be for kids, particularly less fortunate kids that don't often get an opportunity to do something as cool as watch a football game in a luxurious setting.
DoubleTFaithful: I would like to see some kind of multi-purpose indoor facility to be used/shared by various sports. I'm thinking something along the lines of an indoor practice facility for soccer, football and a place to hold indoor track meets. I don't think individual buildings would be very useful as how little each program would use their respective building. I think combining them into one would be great for various programs and would open up the possibility for Tech to host some quality indoor track meets, as well as having another piece of the recruiting "must haves."
Seth C: I actually stumped myself here and kept thinking that some sort of revolutionary multi-sport facility, one that could be utilized for baseball or softball or soccer or really any other sport and it could be almost a mini-Jones AT&T stadium. And you'd really have to think outside of the box to figure out how this would maybe work, someone much smarter than me. And maybe it would have to encompass two fields, a baseball/softball field and then a bigger field for soccer and football, but it would be neat to have some sort of shared building between the two fields. And yes, the softball vs. baseball thing would be tough as you have to build up the mound for the baseball portion, but something like that would be really neat.
3. The older I get, the more I have started to appreciate spacing. Spacing in pretty much any athletic endeavor is what drives a team to score and the lack of proper spacing is what prohibits it. I've especially noticed this while watching soccer over the past few years. On offense, I think the spacing part for Texas Tech is fairly well known, from Leach splitting out the linemen (something he does not do any longer) to placing players in space. Defensively, Texas Tech has had a difficult time with players in space, whether it be for long gains or busted plays. How do you solve the spacing problem on the defensive side of the ball (you will all receive contracts to be a defensive coordinator after answering this question, paid for of course by VTM Bucks)?
MikeTTU: The best way to stop spacing in my opinion is faster guys. If everyone on the field is faster, it's going to be harder for offensive players to get space, and even more so to stay separated and gain a bunch of yards. Luckily, it looks like Texas Tech did bring in some guys with good speed this last class ( for example: Nigel Bethel and Jah'shawn Johnson). In my opinion, that's the best way to stop a spread type of attack.
LoneStarRedRaider: The problem that my amateur eye caught on most of those busted plays (missed tackles, mainly) was the pursuit angle. In my one glorious year of football, we were taught to try to predict where your target will be, then to take the shortest possible path to get to him. What I saw last year was a lot of 'J' pursuits instead of straight-line pursuits. I say 'J' to point out the shape of the route a player would take when they would run straight toward the ball carrier, maybe touch him with their fingertips, and then turn around and try to chase him down from behind.
Travis Hale: Spacing? Did you say spacing? Let me tell you about spacing because let me tell you, I know about spacing. I've been watching those Spurs so I know about spacing.
I think they've gone a long way towards solving that problem. I think what you want to do is get some big, baby eatin' bodies up front that require attention and can tie up the tackles & guards to keep them from getting downfield to block the quicker, smaller players. If those big boys can clog up the middle, it will free our LBs and secondary to roam more freely without worry of getting their heads knocked off. Then on top of that, Tech has done a nice job of recruiting speed in the secondary where they can hopefully cover more ground in the past and limit the number of big gains. Can't wait to see it.
DoubleTFaithful: I think a lot of the spacing issues could be resolved by having a disruptive defensive line. If Tech can get pressure and stop the run only committing 3 men up front, that leaves you with enough defenders to clog up passing lanes and sight lines for the opposing offense. If Tech can have 3 linemen that can hold their own in the run game up the middle, that allows you more men to flow to the ball to keep the ball carriers from turning the corner. Problem is, defensive linemen are among the hardest to recruit and project.
Seth C: This is something that I think that Oklahoma recognized much quicker than pretty much anyone else, which is that speed kills the spread. True speed at multiple positions creates real problems on offense and the gaps that are there when an opposing defense doesn't have speed, it can be clear that it simply shortens the space. The problem that most teams have that Oklahoma doesn't have is that they have a combination of both size and speed that most other colleges have and that's the problem.