Five years ago, Kirby Hocutt made the questionable hire of Tubby Smith to come and rebuild the hoops program that was in shambles. At the time, I was in the camp that felt Chris Walker was the superior hire due to his recruiting ties. Wannah Bail and Josh Gray were the stars of the recruiting classes and we finally had entered the conversations for the national elite. What else could a fan want?
Well, we didn’t hire Chris Walker, but instead brought on old man Tubby Smith. As time passed, I forged a level of respect for what Smith was, and respected his process of rebuilding a modest program. It was taking the unheralded Zach Smith’s of the world, and molding them into legitimate Big 12 players that was impressive.
Yet, five years ago, it was easy to look at 5-Star talents like Keith Frazier as this pie in the sky, but it’s not what we needed at the time. Lubbock isn’t a place where the glitz and glam of AAU shines - nor do we give a damn to pay $100k+ for a basketball player. No, we’re most endeared to players like Luke Adams from Big Spring, and certainly not Lonzo Ball from Los Angeles. So, as I sat from the comfort of my home and watched the Red Raiders put on a clinic in Lawrence, I started to wonder what would quench my thirst now.
February 7th, 2012 - Texas Tech fell to 0-11 in conference play under Billy Clyde Gillespie. If you had called me that evening and said, “I can promise you that Texas Tech will be a perennial 18-20 win/year program, with the occasional big win in Lubbock. But, you’ll never be more than that. Deal?” I’d have shaken the hand of that prophecy and felt as if I made the steal of the century. Yet, it’s January 2018, and I’m contemplating making a wager that Texas Tech can defy 66-1 odds and win a National Championship.
Chris Beard is doing things in Lubbock that we haven’t seen since the days of Bob Knight, Gerald Meyers, or James Dickey. We’ve made quick work of three Top-25 teams this year, and frankly none of the games were close. Northwestern is likely still reeling from the beat down, Baylor looked more like a high school team, and Kansas never seriously threatened to take the lead. So, as a fan, can I sit back and simply enjoy the show? Absolutely not, I’ve gotten a taste for success and I want more. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the expectations have changed. I feel like we should win every single game that remains on our schedule. I feel like any/all losses should be met with disappointment, and I’m ready to dive all in.
Before you question my intensity, remember 2/7/12, and think about 1/3/17. I’m sorry, but the times have changed.
Regardless of what happens with Chris Beard as a coaching commodity, you’ve got to grab hold of the good times, and don’t let go. Because, this isn’t a 20-win team Red Raider fans, this is a title contender.