Since being named the 13th Director of Athletics for Texas Tech in 2011, Kirby Hocutt has already had a decorated chapter with Tech.
Hocutt has led the charge with The Campaign for Fearless Champions investing in the athletic scholarship endowment. The college has won three Big 12 Championships in women’s soccer, men’s tennis and baseball. The Red Raider baseball program won the Big 12 regular-season title last year, advancing to the College World Series for the second time and this year looks to be just as successful if not more.
But if it wasn’t for Tech baseball, would Kirby’s resume at Tech look as good as it does?
Hocutt has made four hires of his own including Kliff Kingsbury, Chris Beard, Candi Whitaker and Tim Tadlock. The common denominator: his hires all have West Texas roots.
His first hire was a big one. Directly after being hired at Tech, Hocutt interviewed Gillispie in Florida to replace Knight. They discussed his past conduct such as drunken driving. Like most interviews go, Gillispie said everything Hocutt wanted to hear by taking full responsibility and pledging his commitment to Tech. We all know how that played out, but Hocutt tried to rectify the situation by hiring Tubby Smith in 2013. In his third season, Smith and the Tech men’s basketball team found a rhythm finishing 19-13. And then Smith left for Memphis.
During her four years as the head coach, Candi Whitaker has had a Big 12 Tournament win, an impressive non-conference showing at the South Point Shootout and four of her players have earned conference honors. Chris Beard is entering his second year with Tech bringing in a strong recruiting class after upsetting No. 7 West Virginia in overtime and ending the season 18-14. Since being hired at Texas Tech, Kliff Kingsbury has had 8-5, 4-8, 7-6 and 5-7 season records. The football program is struggling, to say the least.
Overall Grade: B-
The overall reason why it is in this range is because of the baseball program. With the exception of Tech baseball, there are key programs struggling. Coaching retention is also a common problem, but most universities fight that same battle more often today. Loyalty is not a common characteristic anymore. Winning mentalities are hard to come by in Texas Tech athletics. That inheritance could fall on the athletic department as a whole. I understand you have to placate to students, fans and administration, but hiring the favorite with West Texas roots might be doing a disservice to the department. You could argue recruiting experience from other conferences could bolster the talent pool for Tech athletics. Hocutt has made two really good hires thus far - Tubby Smith and Tim Tadlock. If only we could have kept Smith, but I believe Beard can turn into a good hire as well. What Hocutt decides to do after this football season will most definitely define a huge course direction for his career at Texas Tech.