Whenever I hear the term "Golden Age" I think of Sid Meyer's Civilization game. In that game the player builds a country or "civilization" from the stone age. They build cities, create technologies, and create a military to defend their nation. At some point in the game each civilization arbitrarily reaches a golden age where creating all of these things becomes incredibly easy (bear with me I'm getting to the sports I promise). These golden ages usually appear only once and if a player doesn't capitalize on the golden age the civilization will soon be conquered by their neighbors.
Right now Texas Tech Athletics is experiencing a golden age. Less publicized sports as well as the big money sports are performing at a high level. Did you know that both the men's (6th) and women's (8th) tennis teams are rank top 10 nationally? Did you know that sophomore Tech golfer Gabby Parker is ranked as the nation's top collegiate golfer? If you did know all those things good for you, have a gold star.
The usual suspects for the nation's top collegiate athletic program are schools with wealthier donors and longer track records of success than Texas Tech. Most of this school's wealthiest donor's are in the oil business which is amidst an extreme season of bust. Texas Tech doesn't have the robust nobel prize winning graduates that Stanford might boast. It doesn't have the massive alumni base of a Texas or a Florida. Tech doesn't command the same respect in regards to a dominant tradition of winning as athletic programs like a Michigan, USC, or Notre Dame. What we do have is incredibly talented group of coaches, a fantastic Athletic Director in Kirby Hocutt, and the alumni we do have are ridiculously loyal and generous.
Tech consistently is discounted by national media, recruits, and potential students (such as myself before my transfer) simply because of Lubbock's remote location. Out of sight out of mind. No longer is that the case. Big budget sports are putting Texas Tech on the collegiate athletic map in a huge way. Tubby Smith leading this team of scrappy underdogs into the NCAA Tournament has thrust his name into the conversation for national coach of the year and his team into the national spotlight.
Texas Tech just won again. That’s five straight. I wrote about Tubby Smith’s turnaround earlier today. COLUMN: https://t.co/ddNtD0B7aF— Gary Parrish (@GaryParrishCBS) February 24, 2016
Tim Tadlock lead a Tech baseball team out of obscurity to Omaha two years ago and onto the minds of the nation when he won the Skip Bertman National Coach of the year in 2014. The Red Raiders baseball team ain't half bad this year as they just took down two top 10 opponents this past weekend in Houston.
Though Tech football hasn't been ranked in the past two seasons, Kliff's team is posed to wreck the nation's expectations with the help of Tech's longest tenured defensive coordinator in nearly a decade. In another part of the college football landscape, Tech's AD Kirby Hocutt will serve as the Chair of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee.
In one of the fastest growing sports, in popularity, Tom Stone has placed Texas Tech Soccer onto the national landscape. Last year Tech won their first conference title in school history and went to the NCAA tournament for the third year in a row. Stone recruited and coached Janine Beckie, the first player in Tech history to win the Big XII Offensive Player of the Year award. She won it as a junior and her senior year was a semifinalist for the Mac Hermann award for the best collegiate women's soccer player. Texas Tech soccer this year had two of its players selected in the first round of the National Women's Soccer League Draft.
Not only are these teams doing well, they are doing so with young talent and coaches tenured for the long haul, implying that this golden age might stick around a while. Men's basketball is run by the sophomore class, football's best player is still a sophomore, and the baseball roster is filled with talented underclassmen. Tech Athletics are in the national sportlight and they're only getting better.
Large amounts of credit go to you alumni donors for contributing to the building of new facilities and paying coaches well enough to stick around. However the biggest credit goes to Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt. His tireless work since his hiring in 2011 is paying off in a big way. The nation should take notice and all you Tech fans should say a big thank you to Mr. Hocutt. I know I sure will if we ever get the chance to meet.
Golden ages of athletic programs come around once in a scarlet moon, and there's no telling how long they last. Soak up this era of prosperity while it's here because memories sustain us during the droughts which have happened too frequently in west Texas. For now I'm going to lie back and enjoy the chimes of those victory bells: a tune that never gets old.