Seth C: Oh, hi! It's been a while.
Well, now that it appears that Texas Tech finally has their defensive coordinator, what are your thoughts on the hire and maybe, more importantly, what do you make of Kingsbury making Mike Jinks the associate head coach?
Travis: I was always comfortable in naming Mike Smith the DC after the season based on the uptick in performance by the defense after he took over on an interim basis after the Arkansas game, and the way the players seemed to respond to him. But I'm impressed with the due diligence performed by Kingsbury and the assumed influence on the decision by Hocutt to look for a more experienced DC. I watched most of Houston's bowl game in anticipation of Kingsbury naming David Gibbs the DC shortly thereafter and was impressed. While the defense didn't play lights out, the team overall exhibited a workmanlike attitude and a calmness as they came back and won during a remarkable 4th quarter. He seems to have a poise that will bode well.
As for Jinks, I'm not sure what exactly to make of it. He did an excellent job with the running backs last season and is a highly regarded former high school coach with extensive ties in South Central Texas. I think being named associate head coach might be a result of wanting to reward a guy for his performance (and future potential) without having the luxury of deep pockets to do so. In banking, it's a great thrill to be promoted to vice president but nothing really changes. The pay is the same, you don't really have any additional benefits or authority, but you get to put "VP" on your business cards. It reminds of Dwight from The Office and his pride in being the "Assistant to the Regional Manager."
Now, beyond all of that, I'm thrilled that Jinks is on staff and think he's done an outstanding job. I look forward to his success from players on the field and the pipeline of players he can reel in from down in this part of the state.
Ok, so think outside the box for a minute. I think that TCU showed this season that teams can still do a full 180 and go from doormat to dominant rather quickly. Put yourself in Kingsbury's shoes and tell me three things that you would do this offseason to impact results on the field in 2015. For example: I'd probably recruit Fehoko to teach the HAKA to the entire team in lieu of another dance-off.
Then I'd take ‘em out into the cotton fields north of Lubbock and flip tractor tires all summer while listening to "Eye of the Tiger." Then I'd bring ‘em down to San Antonio and visit the grave site at Fort Sam Houston and wounded warriors at the Brooke Army Medical Center.
All three would give a perspective and a sense of purpose. Individually we're small, inconsequential. But with sacrifice (and in the grand scheme of things the sacrifice is minimal) and giving it your all for yourself and your brothers, great things can be achieved. Gonna fly now. Screen goes black as Kliff throws his arm in the air and lets out a Rocky yell.
Seth C: Those are some terrific thoughts about how to make this thing better. Believe it or not, I've been thinking about my offseason program and trying to learn a bit more and be more knowledgeable and I've decided to read as much as I can from Bill Walsh, the legendary Stanford and 49ers head coach and so I have on my slate to start reading one of his books and just trying to consume as much as possible about him as a coach and why he was successful. Anyway, Walsh wrote this book, "The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership" and in the forward, Joe Montana talks what it was like to be coached by Walsh. Because I love everyone here so much, here's an excerpt from that forward:
"His mind for technical football was extraordinary, but beyond that was his ability to organize and manage his staff, players, everybody-to get the whole organization on exactly the same page. On that page he set the standard for how he wanted things done, and his standard was simple: perfection. That's what he taught us individually and as a group--to believe it could be achieved and then achieve it (or come close). He had in his mind this ideal-an image of perfect football-coupled with the nuts-and-bolts details of how to accomplish it, which he then taught.
"That, in my opinion, was his primary leadership asset: his ability to teach people how to think and play at a different and much higher, and, at time, perfect level. He accomplished this in three ways: (1) he had a tremendous knowledge of all aspects of the game and a visionary approach to offense; (2) he brought in a great staff and coaches who knew how to coach, how to complement his own teaching of what we needed to know to rise to his standard of performance; and (3) he taught us to hate mistakes.
"Bill got all of us striving to be perfect in games and practice. (You didn't want to see any balls on the ground, no fumbles, no mistakes, no turnovers.) Without all the screaming that coaches usually do, he was very focused and demanding because he was making you test yourself, take yourself to different limits. He said that if you aim for perfect and miss, you're still pretty good, but if you aim for mediocre and miss? Well, he didn't allow us to think like that."
That item (3) is the thing that got me. I think Kingsbury is doing his darndest to teach the players to teach the players the right way to play the game, but more than anything, I would love for Kingsbury to instill for the players to hate mistakes. That's pretty much how I operate in my line of work, to despite and fear and do everything that I can to make sure that I don't make mistakes. Mistakes can get you sued and no longer working, so it is a combination of fear and perfection that drives me.
Obviously, that's a very tough thing to teach to college players, but I think that you have to get to a point with your team and roster where any player is replaceable and if you don't hate mistakes, then he'll find someone that does hate mistakes.
I did have this additional thought on Mike Smith as the defensive coordinator and this is my other offseason project, which is to read about how teams game plan during the week. And I'm guessing that with Kingsbury only being an offensive coordinator for a time and Smith having never been a coordinator, that there's a lot of t's to cross and i's to dot that Smith may just need to learn how to do, while Gibbs has already been the coordinator for a defense so it is something that he's accustomed to doing. I get the feeling, and I think Kingsbury has even said, that it is the small day-to-day things that surprised him as a first year head coach, and figuring out how the staff can be on a singular collective page is probably the toughest part of being a head coach for the first time and having a guy like Gibbs, who has done this for many years, could have been the difference between Smith and Gibbs.
Travis: I remember in high school we had a head coach that had a particular attention to detail and it caught my attention. Practices and game-days were planned down to the minute. I remember seeing the schedule one time and being blown away by how extensive it was. 6:30 players arrive, 6:33 taping begins, 6:38-6:48 playbook review, 6:48-6:54 pants and shoulder pads, 6:54-7:02 cleats & helmet check, 7:02-7:17 quiet time/lights out, 7:17 kickers exit locker room for field, etc...
The level of detail required to operate at the college and even pro-level is unfathomable to me and should be something that only improves as Kingsbury gets more experience and continues to surround himself with competent football men.
So did you get everything you wanted for Christmas? Did Fitsum have a good time? My boys got a boatload of Marvel toys & Claire got a new violin case. I got a headset for my GoPro and we tried it out last Sunday on the basketball court. Still a few kinks to work out but I'll be releasing my "How to dominate your kids in basketball" tutorials soon.
Seth C: My wife and I decided to put a limit of $75 on each other for gifts, so I got a couple of t-shirts and a new dopp kit for when we travel to the DRC. I got her a cast iron skillet so she can be the next Pioneer Woman and a t-shirt from sevenly.org and she pretty much loves everything that Burt's Bees sells, so I got her some of that stuff.
The best news was that we received word that our son in the DRC is officially ours, at least according to the DRC government. He even has our last name now, which is just terrific. So now we're just waiting on the agency in the DRC to issue exit visas. It will be 2 years in April of 2015. We're getting real close, I think.
Fitsum got some Marvel action figures as well, and some legos and a basketball goal. I haven't had the time to put it up yet, but when I do, I think we can both post videos on how to dominate basketball. My neighbors are going to love me dribbling the basketball at night as I work on my jumper.
Last, but not least, do you have any new year's resolutions or things like that? I try real hard to just get in the habit of something and I usually start in December because I have more free time in December with the holidays. Thus far, I have gotten in the habit of cleaning the toilets and bathrooms each week; the elliptical is broken in that it's still functional, but it is really loud, so I found these high intensity interval training videos on YouTube from a husband and wife duo, Fitness Blender, that I've been doing for the last month and I'm almost glad the elliptical is broken because I think I'm in much better shape now that I'm jumping around doing burpees and jumping jacks at 5:00 am. What about you?
Travis: That's such great news, I'm so happy for you guys! I hope the visas come in soon so you can bring him home.
New Year's Eve has become one of my favorite holidays because we've really turned it into a family night. Instead of going out anywhere, we've spent the last several years at home (or occasionally in our cabin in Ruidoso) playing games and watching the show in Times Square. The kids really enjoy it because they get to stay up later and drink sparkling juice from crystal glasses. We live on top of a hill outside the city limits so from the front yard we can see the fireworks going off downtown and at Fiesta Texas and from the back yard we can see all the fireworks going off in the hill country towards Boerne. It's a fantastic show and the popping continues for most of the night.
We've also got a tradition of sharing our resolutions with each other. It's been so great to watch Claire as she gets older really start to process the impact of her commitments and follow through with them. If anyone in the family will keep their resolution, I guarantee it will be her. The boys on the other hand are another story. I took them for a hike over the break and we stopped at a windmill. They wanted to make a wish in the water well but I didn't have any pennies, so I told them to throw a pebble and make a wish. Cade went first and wished for "ten more dollars so I can buy another toy." Cash followed suit and wished for the same. Then they realized that there were hundreds of pebbles around, meaning hundreds of wishes, meaning hundreds of ten more dollars. I had to drag them away.
But anyway, back to your question. Of course I do the standard "get in better shape," bit but we also talked about being in the moment more often and being engaged. I know it sounds cheesy but I have a horrible habit of getting lost inside my head and disconnecting. It helps me creatively I suppose but doesn't work well if the family is around me and I'm not there.
It's a Kenny Powers New Year for sure.