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Nate Night Thoughts: What if things had gone a little different?

With the 2017-2018 athletic season officially over, let’s take a look at some hypothetical scenarios from this past season.

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

What if: Patrick Mahomes

With the Texas Tech football team turning in a 6-7 (3-6) record this past season the ultimate question to ask is: what if Patrick Mahomes had come back for his senior season?

In my mind, Pat made the right decision to leave early and go to the NFL. The main reason I believe this is due to the basic time value of money principle - money now is better than money later. He can always come back and finish his degree at any point however, the option to join the NFL as a top 10 draft pick will not always be a possibility. Pat’s draft stock was incredibly high after his junior year and he made sure to secure his financial future.

But with every sports team, there are always “what if” questions. If Pat comes back does Tech compete for a Big 12 title? Considering the improvement on defense last year, I don’t think it’s farfetched to assume that the Red Raiders could have pulled off a 10-win season if Pat had returned. The offense struggled more than we are used to seeing in Lubbock and Pat was quite possibly the best all-around QB to ever put on the Double T. With an elite QB such as Pat, I believe last year’s team had the potential to turn in a season that fans would have remembered for a long time.

What if: Keenan Evans

Texas Tech Basketball had the best season in school history by reaching the Elite Eight during this year’s March Madness. The only thing that stopped this team from winning a Big 12 championship and a trip to San Antonio for the Final Four was Keenan Evans’s injury to his toe.

Tech was in prime position to dethrone the Kansas Jayhawks until a fateful night in Waco against the Baylor Bears. The Red Raiders had a one game lead over the Jayhawks at the time, but Keenan Evans went down early against Baylor to a toe injury (that we later found out was a broken toe). Tech went on to lose to the Bears and that loss was the start to a four-game conference losing streak. Unfortunately, Tech could not overcome the losing streak and the Jayhawks beat the Red Raiders by two games in conference.

The Red Raiders went on to have a historic run in the NCAA Tournament, but I admit this team could have won a National Title with a healthy Keenan Evans. Texas Tech gave Villanova the toughest test in the Wildcat’s trip to an NCAA championship. In this Elite Eight matchup, it was apparent that Keenan ran out of gas on that broken toe. He gave it everything he had, but I refuse to believe that a healthy Evans goes 3/14 from the field and that could have been the difference between the Red Raiders and an NCAA championship this year.

What if: Steven Gingery

The 2018 Red Raider baseball team may have been the best team in program history even without the presence of ace pitcher Steven Gingery. The Red Raiders made their 3rd appearance in Omaha at the College World Series in 5 years and it’s natural to think about what could have been if Gingery didn’t miss the entire season with a torn UCL.

The Red Raider pitching staff went 8-5 in games where Gingery typically would have started in the regular season (Friday games or the first game of a weekend series). 4 of those losses were to conference opponents, and as many of you know the Red Raiders finished 2 games behind the Texas Longhorns for the regular season Big 12 Conference Championship. Had Gingery pitched, it is highly likely that Texas Tech three-peats as regular season Big 12 Champs.

Texas Tech baseball had a phenomenal season, but with Gingery’s lights out pitching there is a chance we could have been watching the Red Raiders play for a national championship.

Moving Forward

Overall, Texas Tech Athletics is in great shape thanks to Athletic Director, Kirby Hocutt. No matter what the final outcomes were for these sports teams I’m excited to see what the 2018-2019 athletic year will bring.