Kliff Kingsbury’s metaphorical body has yet to go cold and the coaching search is well underway. Kirby Hocutt made it glaringly obvious in his presser that Texas Tech will be elite in football. Success from programs like baseball and basketball have been putting more pressure on the arguable face of Texas Tech Athletics in recent years and the discrepancy is growing. Red Raider faithful are starting to see a level of proficiency (really) unbeknownst to them in their lifetimes. What does this mean going forward? Hocutt is in a position to make a big hire that will help reignite the passion that Saturdays held in Lubbock.
A number of voices across the internet have insisted that nobody will come to Lubbock, but time and time again our Athletic Director has pulled in some superior coaches for Texas Tech. As Albie Shore expressed on Twitter:
Kirby Hocutt’s coaching hires:— Albie Shore (@Mr_AlbieShore) November 25, 2018
Hired Oklahoma baseball’s top assistant Tim Tadlock.
Hired UNLV’s Head men’s basketball Coach Chris Beard when he had only been there a week.
Hired Minnesota’s Head women’s basketball Coach Marlene Stollings.
Stop telling me “Tech can’t get top ppl”
It’s spot on. Delusions fill non-Lubbockites about a Tombstone style frontier sparsely populated by unintelligent farmers who all go to one general store for their pomade. That reality is a cop out for closed minded individuals who would rather spend their energy convincing themselves that hating something is more worthwhile than loving things (feel bad for these losers). With over 295,000 people, a rich local community, and a continually growing business sector, Lubbock plays host to a number of very happy and successful coaches. However, with a 5-7 program finishing only above Kansas in the Big 12 who would want to take on that kind of challenge?
Right now buzz has revolved around the rumors of Mike Leach, Dana Holgorsen and Brent Venables - but we’ve all taken our eyes off the real prize here. Alabama has a head coach that fills certain criteria that Hocutt is interested in: able to provide leadership, able to get the program to a higher level, able to win and win the right way. Coach Saban is currently 139 - 20 in his eleven years as Alabama’s leader and has garnered five national championships along the way. There’s just one problem - the fans have become too accustomed and unappreciative of winning so much.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? If your standard for good football is going to the national championship every year then what in the world would anything less be considered? Nick’s wife, Terry, opened up to the Wall Street Journal about some of the issues that the continuous winning culture has created for her and her husband. “You come to a crossroads and the expectations get so great, people get spoiled by success and there gets to be a lack of appreciation,” Terry lamented, “we’re kind of there now.”
Put yourself there: you’ve given your all to build up a monolith and even a whiff of failure has fans questioning your abilities. Coach Saban has become visibly distressed in recent years despite incomparable success and being an icon for collegiate football in general. At a prime 67 years of age, he is undoubtedly looking at the next steps for his career. Bear Bryant, for reference, died at age 69 and his late years at Alabama were plagued by recruiting troubles. Alabama, although not having issues recruiting, has taken a stagnant seat where conference opponent Georgia has trended relatively upwards. Whether Saban chooses retirement, attempting to advance to the NFL again or even considering other colleges - nobody except Nick Saban knows his desires. Except me, with our super reliable sources on the internet.
Despite a contract extending through 2024, Saban is not your typical coaching commodity. Akin to a tenured professor he essentially controls his destiny. If he wanted to make moves he could. Texas Tech offers coach Saban a unique opportunity to put passion back into the career he’s fallen in love with. Red Raider faithful are hungry for wins and the mere thought of a ten-win season would send donors over the edge. Saban is no stranger to the bountiful recruiting that Texas high school football offers. Relocating to a university in their home state would be a knockout. There’s also another, more nostalgic reason that Saban will consider picking up my phone calls.
The rivalry between Nick Saban and Les Miles is iconic. When the Crimson Tide played against the Tigers of LSU the world held its breath. Now with Les Miles taking on the arduous task of coaching the Kansas Jayhawks, the rivalry has stagnated. Never will Alabama meet up with Kansas in football - but you know who does? Texas Tech. Every. Year. Hocutt will be crafty in addressing one of Coach Saban’s most respected rival coaches as a yearly opponent. You might be surprised how much stock established coaches put into a substantial rivalry game.
As the consequential stresses of success pile up on Nick Saban, Texas Tech presents itself as a relatively pleasant way to go out with a bang. Alabama has already erected a statue in his honor, but how many coaches have two statues? Outside of that fantasy Texas Tech is a quality power-five program that Saban could come in, recruit the hell out of, and win multiple conference championships with. It would be arguably of more merit for a coach who is currently at a program that is “ruining college football” to move to a terrible program and make it into something great rather than to fizzle out with self-perpetuating success. You have to wonder... if Saban left Alabama, would they still continue to win?
Contingent entirely on Saban’s personal desires, Hocutt must wait until the inevitable sixth championship before capitalizing on Alabama’s coach at his weakest. In the same manner that One Punch Man is bored of the absence of challenge, a sixth national championship might send Saban into desperation mode. Queue Texas Tech: national powerhouse. Viva the Matadors will keep you up to date with the hiring process as news becomes available.