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Dear Tubby: An Open Letter

Our time together was too short, but because of you were are in a better place. We are disappointed, but we are also grateful.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Tubby,

I am disappointed you’re leaving, but I am grateful you came.

When you found us, or rather we found you, we were in a bad place. We were coming off a 10-year stretch of embarrassment, losses, lack of accountability and a lot of empty chairs in the USA. One thing I’m sure you learned from your time in West Texas is that we are incredibly prideful, and that stretch dwindled the pride we’ve always had for our basketball program.

Then you came with a resume filled with a national championship and NCAA tournament appearances at four different schools. I’ll admit, you weren’t my first choice. I thought Chris Walker, who would’ve also brought Keith Frazier, was the better move. But I was wrong. Many of us were wrong. You were the right fit all along.

From day one you instituted accountability and class to a program in desperate need of it. I knew I would never have to worry about you representing the Texas Tech Red Raiders, one my top loves and greatest sources of pride (outside my wife and child), in a negative light. I knew I would never wake up to news from the NCAA about the Texas Tech basketball program because of you. For me, that was enough.

For you, that was never enough. You had an incredible history of winning and you wanted to give that to us. And you did. The past season was the most excited we’ve been about basketball since Bob Knight roamed the court.

I want to be mad at you for leaving, Tubby. But I can’t. It is because of you I am going into next season with excitement and optimism, something I haven’t done in a while. It is because of you the first round of the NCAA tournament meant more this year. And most importantly, it is because of you I get to watch Zach Smith, Justin Gray, Norense Odiase, Keenan Evans, Jordan Jackson, and CJ Williamson next year. And the year after. And for some, the year after.

There is a saying I use a lot that can be applied to many situations – when you don’t get it, you don’t get that you don’t get it. For many, this can be applied to Lubbock and Texas Tech. Many people just don’t get that they don’t get it. And that’s fine, because many of us do.

When I was headed up to Lubbock for my first year of school an alumni told me, you won’t understand what this school and town are all about until you live it. You’ll walk to class one day and it will just hit you: what you’re a part of, where you are attending school and living, and what that will mean to you one day. As someone that graduated exactly 10 years ago, I can say that Texas Tech means more to me than I’ll ever be able to explain. The town of Lubbock, while only home for the years I was attending Texas Tech, will always be home. I lived in Washington, D.C. for the first nine years after graduation and now reside in Dallas. I can tell you, no place has filled the void that I felt when I said goodbye to Lubbock.

I’m sorry you didn’t get to feel that same sense of pride. A sense of love and affection for something so much greater than can be explained with words. A sense of loyalty that given the opportunity, you would not leave for another school. A sense of commitment that I’m positive our football coach feels. I’m sorry you don’t feel it, not because if you did maybe it means you stay, but because it’s special.

For many years we’ve been fighting a stigma that there is nothing in West Texas. While Lubbock may be isolated, you now know it is not desolate. It is filled with farmland that only God could have created. Farmland that produces some of the finest cotton and corn in the world. It is filled with wonderful steakhouses, neighborhoods, coffee shops, college bars, and shopping. It is home to one of the greatest college campuses I’ve ever had the pleasure of stepping on. It is filled with the nicest people one could ever hope to meet. But most importantly, it is filled with pride. Pride for our home, pride for our land, pride for our town and pride for the school we love so dearly.

While you don’t want to stay in West Texas anymore, I hope you were able to experience everything we had to offer, because it is more than most places will ever be able to give you.

I’m sad, Tubby. I’m disappointed you’re leaving. But I am incredibly thankful for everything you did for our university and the basketball program. You came in, and in a short time, built it back up. You restored our faith, our hope, our optimism, our excitement and our commitment to the program. Some have come before you – BCG and TT to name a couple – and left our programs worse than they inherited. You did not. And I’m thankful for that, and more importantly, thankful for you and your time in Lubbock.

As you walk away for what you feel is a better program, I would like to respectfully disagree. In my eyes, and many others, there is no better program. Are we blinded by pride? Maybe. But I know there are many worse stances to take. And many worse places to live than Lubbock, Texas. I’m glad our football coach knows that, and just as important, our athletic director knows that.

Tubby, we never got the chance to meet face-to-face. But if I ever get that opportunity, I would love to shake your hand and thank you for all that you did for my university. Our time together was short -- probably too short -- but I’m better because you were in my life for the past three years.

Good luck in Memphis. I understand you’re taking over a program that has been down on its luck and under-coached. I know you do a great job of turning that around. At Tech, we’ll be fine. We have Smith, Gray, Evans and Odiase. We have the excitement and optimism of another NCAA bid.

Thank you for all that you did. You leave just as you came – with class.

All my best,

Zach -- Texas Tech University, Class of 2006

Wreck ‘Em Tech, and Long Live the Matador