Seth: Tell me where to start after UTEP? I know prior to the game, you thought that there would be a nice improvement from game one to game two. General thoughts and impressions?
Travis: In a word: disappointment. Perhaps it was the late night but I just felt a sense of disappointment and dread after the game. I turned my phone to airplane mode before I went to sleep because I wanted to get away from the game and I don't think I logged into VTM on Sunday either. It was just a sense of overwhelming frustration to see the team struggle to find its rhythm again. And I was just like everyone else, watching UTEP run the ball down our throats left me with an imminent sense of dread knowing that Arkansas is up next with their superior running attack. There seems to be so many things not working well right now and it makes you fear the worst for the season. Other than that, everything is great.
How about you? Should we temper our expectations and just start planning for next year?
Seth: I'm always hopeful and looking towards the next year, because that's the part that excites me about all of this. I suppose too that it's good for me as a writer to try and find the good voice as much as possible and not be overly critical. It's one of those things where I want to be critical to the point of being as rational as humanly possible, but find the good things as well.
The interesting thing is when you wrote your piece on Tuesday, I had similar thoughts in that Kingsbury and this team is pretty young and I never expected perfection. I tend to look at what I do and how I screwed up when I first started my job at a much higher rate. Of course, it was just me having to figure out my issues and I didn't have a few thousand fans that complained about what I was doing. Just my client. Still, I get the idea that there is a greater rate of error when you first start something. Heck, I keep implementing things just this year to make my job better and more efficient.
The other thing that I started to think about was that there was so much angst when Tuberville was here. Football wasn't fun for a large portion of people and I really thought (foolishly) that Kingsbury would help solve the problem. That worked for a whole year, but there's still that huge swath of people that have brought that angst back. On one hand, I get it because really, we're talking about wins and losses. Still, there's a part, no matter how painful a win or loss actually is, that really enjoys where Texas Tech and the football program is at. There's only so many of these games in my lifetime that I get to watch and being a guy that does probate, I suppose it makes me a bit morose, but it's what I do. Ultimately, it makes me happy because this is what I wanted.
So I am guessing that you're not predicting some sort of huge win this weekend?
Travis: Oh yes, most definitely. Levi and Richards should be back to help shore up the defensive line and Wally basically called his shot yesterday when he said he was going to load the box and dare them to throw. I'm hoping the strategy works and the team can get a real rhythm going. There seems to a be a ton of side stories heading into this game, which makes it the perfect time for Tech to come out and show a focus that we haven't seen since the Holiday Bowl. I'm oddly optimistic.
Speaking of side stories I want to shift gears a little and talk about the uproar that started on Wednesday when SB Nation posted a story that was intended to point out what they perceived to be an unfortunate coincidence with the Celebrate Cotton Game and an announced black-out, but instead stirred a heated debate about race and racism. You've taught me so much in the last couple of years and have really opened my eyes to some of the things I was previously blind to just by the casual conversations we have. The fact that you are raising a black child, who will someday be a black man in America has certainly changed the way you view events and has made me think about how I perceive things that I previously never thought twice about. Can you talk a little about that? I know we typically steer clear of tinderbox topics like this, but I think this is worthwhile based on recent events.
Seth: Oh boy. Here goes. I don't really even know where to begin, so I'll start with the idea that in February of this year, I tried to read as much as I possibly could about Martin Luther King, Jr. While on the elliptical, I read his essays and things about him. I wanted to know as much about him as possible. Here are the two best things that I read from that month. The first is from a website that some people will refuse to even click on, DailyKos, but I'm going to blockquote the part that was important to me. It was something that I was never taught in my history classes. This is what Dr. King and those civil rights leaders taught us in the 1960's:
So yes, Dr. King had many other goals, many other more transcendent, non-racial, policy goals, goals that apply to white people too, like ending poverty, reducing the war-like aspects of our foreign policy, promoting the New Deal goal of universal employment, and so on. But his main accomplishment was ending 200 years of racial terrorism, by getting black people to confront their fears. So please don't tell me that Martin Luther King's dream has not been achieved, unless you knew what racial terrorism was like back then and can make a convincing case you still feel it today. If you did not go through that transition, you're not qualified to say that the dream was not accomplished.
That is what Dr. King did-not march, not give good speeches. He crisscrossed the south organizing people, helping them not be afraid, and encouraging them, like Gandhi did in India, to take the beating that they had been trying to avoid all their lives.
Once the beating was over, we were free.
It wasn't the Civil Rights Act, or the Voting Rights Act or the Fair Housing Act that freed us. It was taking the beating and thereafter not being afraid. So, sorry Mrs. Clinton, as much as I admire you, you were wrong on this one. Our people freed ourselves and those Acts, as important as they were, were only white people officially recognizing what we had done.
I feel silly for having never thought of this, but this was truly profound for me as a human being that has a black child. It's strange, but we read a book to Fitsum about Dr. King and about that part of history and about how people of color were treated differently. I'm sure this makes us crazy, but I want Fitsum to know about this stuff.
And then I read interview by Alex Haley with Dr. King. It is truly amazing that Dr. King could speak in a way that would take me weeks to write and edit, and then edit again. It is amazing.
Playboy: Whom do you mean by "the establishment"?
King: I mean the white leadership-which I hold as responsible as anyone for the riots, for not removing the conditions that cause them. The deep frustration, the seething desperation of the Negro today is a product of slum housing, chronic poverty, woefully inadequate education and substandard schools. The Negro is trapped in a long and desolate corridor with no exit sign, caught in a vicious socioeconomic vise. And he is ostracized as is no other minority group in America by the evil of oppressive and constricting prejudice based solely upon his color. A righteous man has no alternative but to resist such an evil system. If he does not have the courage to resist nonviolently, then he runs the risk of a violent emotional explosion. As much as I deplore violence, there is one evil that is worse than violence, and that's cowardice. It is still my basic article of faith that social justice can be achieved and democracy advanced only to the degree that there is firm adherence to nonviolent action and resistance in the pursuit of social justice. But America will be faced with the ever-present threat of violence, rioting and senseless crime as long as Negroes by the hundreds of thousands are packed into malodorous, rat-plagued ghettos; as long as Negroes remain smothered by poverty in the midst of an affluent society; as long as Negroes are made to feel like exiles in their own land; as long as Negroes continue to be dehumanized; as long as Negroes see their freedom endlessly delayed and diminished by the head winds of tokenism and small handouts from the white power structure. No nation can suffer any greater tragedy than to cause millions of its citizens to feel that they have no stake in their own society.
Understand that I am trying only to explain the reasons for violence and the threat of violence. Let me say again that by no means and under no circumstance do I condone outbreaks of looting and lawlessness. I feel that every responsible Negro leader must point out, with all possible vigor, that anyone who perpetrates and participates in a riot is immoral as well as impractical-that the use of immoral means will not achieve the moral end of racial justice.
And then there are the things that have happened to Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. At the time that trial was going on with George Zimmerman, it was cool, or cold and Fitsum liked to wear a sweatshirt and he loved wearing his hood on his jacket. I thought about how Fitsum would be 10 years from now and him wanting to wear that hoodie. Fitsum also doesn't take shit from anyone and he doesn't back down to a soul. I've stopped following people on Twitter for crass or inappropriate jokes about the Martin shooting and the Michael Brown shooting. Their deaths feel very real to me because there's a part of me that thinks that one day, because Fitsum is black, that it could happen to him. I never thought that way when Fitsum came home.
And then I read this article about what black parents tell their sons. I expect a lot of rolling of eyes and people telling me that I'm wrong and that I don't know what I'm talking about and that's fine. The idea of thinking that this is a conversation that I will need to have with Fitsum is terrifying.
This fear has fueled a generational need for a portentous, culturally compulsory lecture that warns young black men about the inherent strikes against them, about the society that is built to bring them down. It is a harbinger of the inevitable, a wishful attempt at exceptionalism, passed down like an heirloom.
Every black male I've ever met has had this talk, and it's likely that I'll have to give it one day too. There are so many things I need to tell my future son, already, before I've birthed him; so many innocuous, trite thoughts that may not make a single difference. Don't wear a hoodie. Don't try to break up a fight. Don't talk back to cops. Don't ask for help. But they're all variations of a single theme: Don't give them an excuse to kill you.
Three years ago, I never would have thought about having that conversation with my son. It never crossed my mind. Never. It was unfathomable to me. I don't know how I'm going to have this conversation with Fitsum in addition to the conversation with him about being adopted, which we talk about openly and have since we brought him home.
To summarize, I know what to think and I know all of the things that are out there. I've tried to educate myself as much as humanly possible and even then, it probably isn't sufficient. I have a lot of catching up to do.
I'd be completely remiss if I didn't get your reaction. There is a loneliness in how I feel about this situation.
Travis: Man, it's not even something I can comprehend. I remember discussing the Zimmerman verdict with you and how it changed the way I looked at the situation. I knew a lot about the circumstances but was naïve to the personal nature of the event from a parent's perspective. Of course I felt horribly for the family and for the entire sequence of events, but felt that Zimmerman should be acquitted- and still believe it was the right verdict based on how the case was presented. But I'd never allowed myself to feel the true sense of fear that I got from you as you dealt with the situation. I can't imagine the perpetual cold sweat and emptiness I would feel inside if I had to live with that fear on a daily basis for my child and his future. And anyone that tries to explain away that fear, or find a simple answer to remove the fear, isn't being honest with themselves.
Yes, there are those that try to exploit situations like this, and I'll never agree with that. The circus that follows horrific events like those you mentioned are superficial and mask the rawness of it all. When you strip it away and get to the very bottom, there is simply a parent's desire to protect his/her child and give them the best life possible. And regardless of the situation or who was right and who was wrong, that single-minded parental desire should never be washed over. I never really thought of it that way until I got to know you and Fitsum.
So, I don't even know if it makes sense to get back to football, but that is why they gave us Trans-Ams and gold chains with the SB Nation logo inscribed. So, at the risk of having those repo' d, how do you see the game playing out on Saturday?
Seth: Yeah, and to clarify, I never followed the Zimmerman case. It wasn't the case, it was the fact situation that bothered me. I couldn't tell you one thing about the evidence or anything else. That part wasn't even of the equation for me. It was the fear and it was a fear that I never had 3 years ago.
Anyway, back to foosball. I'm totally expecting the worst and hoping for the best. This is the absolute most wonderful plan. Hope. Actually, I think there are some holes in their secondary and Arkansas is a far from perfect team. In fact, that defense, other than defensive line, the linebackers and secondary get really lost in coverage. This is obviously optimal for a team like Texas Tech that likes to throw the ball. The one thing that Auburn did is that they were able to keep Arkansas off balance defensively with the running game and it's the reason why Kingsbury (I think) wanted to make that running game such an important part of the game plan. For this game and going forward. So as many flaws that we see with this team, Arkansas isn't exactly some sort of machine that's impossible to stop.
And just one month ago, there were all sorts of fans that were predicting a Texas Tech win because of the spread and hurry-up offense. We just get so jaded after a couple of games. Texas Tech is still a good team. Hope, man, hope.
What about you? How do you see the game playing out.
I'm also running out of confetti GIF's, so we're going to have to result to either Arrested Development or Parks and Rec GIFs. I've got one more confetti GIF.
Travis: I think that Arkansas will be able to control the line of scrimmage and the clock for the most part but I also think that Webb will be able to take advantage of their young secondary. It will probably be a high scoring game, but Tech should be able to pull out a victory at home. 49-42 or something like that. And don't worry about the GIFS, I'll find us some GIFS.