In the summer of 2011, I was in between my freshman and sophomore year of playing football at Hardin-Simmons University. I wasn't expected to start as a sophomore, but I was expected to get a little playing time down the stretch as a pass rushing defensive lineman. That made what happened that summer hurt even worse.
I wasn't doing anything ridiculous, like trying to squat 700 pounds. I was jumping, on my last day at a summer camp called Pine Cove. During my last 30 minutes of being employed by the camp, I felt an earthquake rumble through my back, followed by a searing pain in my lumbar vertebrae. Like the prideful, arrogant fool I am, I shrugged it off, and went back to working out and preparing for the upcoming season.
The pain didn't go away. It kept burning and burning until I finally caved and went for an MRI. It turned out to be even worse than I had thought. I thought I had just pulled a muscle. My spine had shifted off center. The game of football had now become a hundred times more dangerous to play. With tears in my eyes, I walked into my head coach's office and quit. I tried to come back later on in the season, but the pain was unbearable.
Texas Tech has had 7 defensive coordinators in 7 years. This is an unbelievably brutal statistic, and explains many of the woes we have on that side of the ball. Brand new DC David Gibbs has had his schemes and coaching ability questioned as we routinely give up 500-600 yards per game, even to the mediocre offenses. Yesterday, Oklahoma rushed for a staggering 405 yards in what became a microcosm of our past two seasons as we saw great effort, but ultimate failure.
I'm not here to tell you that everything is okay, that we're going to magically turn it around in a week. I don't think Jordan Belfort could sell anyone on this defense. What I am going to tell you is simple. It is going to take time to get where we want to be. It's very easy for us to rage and yell at the clouds and call for the coaching staff's heads, but we all know how that goes. We've seen it 7 times before, as one by one our defensive coordinators have left for greener pastures, had personal issues, or were just flat out despised by the fan base. We will not have a championship defense overnight. But I truly do believe the pieces are falling into place.
I'm not going to lie to you, yesterday's game had me questioning our coaching staff, their development, and their methods. For around 30 seconds, I was completely on the "burn it all and start over" train. It was at that moment that I remembered my doctor's appointment this past week.
I went back to my hometown this week for two reasons: to give a devotional to my old High School team, and to get my back readjusted. As I was lying there on the training table, being contorted and pushed and stretched and prodded, I couldn't help but want to quit. I ended up finishing out the session, but it wasn't the readjustment that brought me hope. It was the words of the man who worked on my back. He simply said,
"Well, it's still broke. But it's getting better."