Regime changes in any capacity are always difficult and arduous processes.
New ideas, new expectations, and new pedagogy leaves little room for longstanding expectations. For Texas Tech football, the shift in leadership cascaded into replacing nearly the entire program. Spring cleaning in a whole new light. Instead of trying to write exposés on each new member, let’s hone down to a foundational piece in DC Keith Patterson’s new defense.
Coach Paul Randolph
Coming to Texas Tech from Memphis, Coach Randolph isn’t unfamiliar with Division I football. In fact, Coach Patterson and Coach Randolph shared a defense at Arizona State during the 2014–2015 season. This was the same season the Sun Devils went 10-3 (6-3 in the Pac 12) and won the Sun Bowl against a 9-4 Duke team. Coach Randolph has had a number of stops along his twenty-plus years of coaching experience:
2019 – Texas Tech Assistant Coach (Defensive Line)
2016-18 – Memphis Assistant Coach (Defensive Line)
2015 – Arizona State Associate A.D. for Championship Life
2012-14 – Arizona State Associate Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator (Defensive Line)
2011 – Pittsburgh Executive Associate Head Coach/Co-Defensive Coordinator (Defensive Line)
2007-10 – Tulsa Executive Senior Associate H.C./Co-Defensive Coordinator (Defensive Line)
2006 – Rice Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator (Linebackers)
2003-05 – Alabama Assistant Coach (Defensive Ends)
2002 – West Virginia Assistant Coach (Defensive Line/Special Teams)
2001 – Toledo Assistant Coach (Defensive Line/Special Teams)
2000 – Illinois State Assistant Coach (Defensive Line/Special Teams)
1999 – Valdosta State Assistant Coach (Defensive Line)
1998 – UT Martin Assistant Coach (Linebackers)
Most notably you can see his venture across a multitude of conferences like the Big East, SEC, Pac 12 and American. Though battle-tested, Coach Randolph has humble roots embedded in Martin, Tenesssee. He served his Alma Mater, UT Martin, as a linebacker’s coach until he inevitably moved up to Valdosta State, Illinois State and then Toledo. The part he played helping Toledo to a 10-2 record earned him a similar position at West Virginia. The Mountaineers had an abysmal 3-8 record in 2001, winning only one conference game in the Big East. The next year? West Virginia posted a 9-4 record - flipping their 1-6 conference record to 6-1.
This, historically, was the biggest one-season turnaround in the Big East conference. It didn’t take long for struggling programs to see that Coach Randolph made a difference. He spent only the one year at West Virginia before a now-perennial powerhouse came knocking: Alabama. An unfathomable thought now, but the Crimson Tide were sorely in need of help after a radical departure from their Coach Dennis Franchione. Under new management, Alabama clawed its way back relevancy in the three years Coach Randolph was on staff; 2003: 4-9 (2-6 SEC), 2004: 6-6 (3-5) and finally 2005: 10-2 (6-2).
The Crimson Tide led the country in scoring defense during the 2005 season, ranking second overall in total defense. In the wake of this performance Coach Randolph was recognized nationally as one of the nation’s top-25 recruiters by Rivals. His ability to help turn programs around followed him through his time at Rice, Tulsa and Pittsburgh. I encourage you to read more in depth about those tenures here. Recent memory of Coach Randolph’s time at Arizona State and Memphis are substantial enough for their own articles.
From 2012-2015, Arizona State featured one of the nation’s most feared defensive lines. The Sun Devils led the FBS in tackles for loss (nine per game) while ranking second in sacks (four per game). Randolph helped ASU boast a significant 19-8 record in conference and claimed a conference championship in 2013. Again, the team showed marked improvement after his hire going from 8-4 (2012) to 10-4 then 10-3 in 2013, 2014 respectively. As his contract expired at ASU, Memphis University pursued the turnaround wizard as their program started trending upwards.
Coach Randolph started at Memphis in 2016 after their program had an impressive 9-4 season. The hire was a reunification of Randolph with Mike Norvell (the two shared history at ASU, Pittsburgh and Tulsa). You can probably guess what happened with Memphis’ defense following Coach Randolph’s addition. The Memphis Tigers became one of the nation’s best turnover teams forcing 29 in 2016 and 31 in 2017 (4th, T-3rd in the nation). Behind an ignited defensive performance, Memphis was able to take the American West title from Navy in 2017 and keep it in 2018.
After an 8-4 performance this past season, Randolph made the decision to bump up to the Power Five and take on a defense in relative shambles. Per the eye test, Texas Tech made leaps and bounds from where it had been defensively, but numbers don’t lie. The Red Raiders were second-to-last in the Big 12 under Gibbs in 2018. With his exodus to Houston and Terrance Jamison’s (former DL coach) dismal the door opened for Defensive Coordinator Keith Patterson. As former friends and coaches at Arizona State, Patterson and Randolph linked up quickly.
Will Texas Tech have a premier turnaround in the same fashion Coach Randolph produced at his previous stations? Only time will tell, but this is an elite defensive mind with successful marks at every juncture of his career. Follow Coach Randolph on twitter: @CoachPRandolph