Texas Tech has won a National Championship in Track and Field. It’s a huge accomplishment for head coach Wes Kittley after he has spent two decades building this program to be a perennial powerhouse. The men’s team finally broke through this season and won them a huge trophy, so congrats to them.
This got me thinking about the athletics program as a whole. Seven seasons ago when Kirby Hocutt was hired, things were essentially in shambles. Yes, the football team was alright but they had just gone through a scandal not two years earlier with Mike Leach and the team didn’t look to be heading in a great direction with Tommy Tuberville. The women’s basketball program had fallen completely apart and the men’s basketball program had been ruined by Pat Knight. Things were not looking great, but Hocutt took the job.
And aren’t we glad he did.
Things didn’t start off great either. His first hire was Billy Gillispie (UGH). Gillispie was a proven coach and it appeared that he could turn the ship around. We all know how that went. Let’s not also forget the hiring of Candy Whitacker and Kliff Kingsbury (we’ll talk about him later).
His first break came in 2012 when he brought in a new associate head coach by the name of Tim Tadlock. Tadlock played at Texas Tech and it appeared as he was the coach in waiting and he waited for one season before taking over. We all know what happens next. Three College World Series appearances with another one potentially being clinched this weekend.
#TexasTech's Tim Tadlock got emotional talking about Josh Jung. The MLB Draft is tomorrow & Jung is a projected first round pick.— Jon Sokoloff (@JonSokoloff) June 3, 2019
"He probably would've been a fourth round pick coming out of HS but instead he believed in us. Whenever anyone does that, it takes guts."#WreckEm pic.twitter.com/58UbWAgcDk
Later that season, Hocutt hired a guy by the name of Kliff Kingsbury to be the next Head Football Coach. Although this didn’t work out for the program in the long run, it did bring some positive exposure to the athletics program as a whole. The one thing I will always say for Kliff Kingsbury is that he is a class act and that he ran this program with class and dignity.
After the bad Gillispie hire with the men’s basketball program, Hocutt finally made a splash, hiring Tubby Smith to become the head coach in 2013. Smith honestly turned the program around and even led the team to a NCAA Tournament appearance in 2016. That was also the year that he left to take a “better” job at Memphis (lol) and allowed Hocutt to make arguably his best hire yet.
That’s right I’m talking about Chris Beard.
Most of us know how Hocutt brought Beard a jet to take him home to Lubbock. He probably didn’t know that he had made arguably the best hire in Texas Tech history, but he did. UNLV fans are still VERY upset about it to this day, just ask new Red Raider Joel Ntambwe (transfer from UNLV).
Not only has he made the excellent hires needed for an elite program, but he has made the investments. A new track complex and indoor football facility, a brand new practice facility for the basketball program. He’s not changing the atmosphere for these home games, he’s improving the conditions where these athletes prepare for these events.
Great day for TTU. Celebrating the groundbreaking of the Womble Basketball Practice Facility. Congratulations to TTU and our family friends, Dusty and Leisha Womble. pic.twitter.com/mRigp5X9bp— Steve Verett (@sverett) January 25, 2019
Still don’t believe that Texas Tech is an elite program? That’s okay, here are some numbers that will help me prove it. Texas Tech has finished in the top eight in six different sports in last five seasons. That’s almost half of the total sports finishing in the top 8 in the nation, not to mention having a top-10 draft pick in the NFL, MLB and potentially the NBA Draft in the last five seasons.
If Jarrett Culver goes in the top-10 on the NBA Draft, Tech will be the only school in the last five years to have three different players taken top-10 in the MLB, NBA, and NFL Drafts. That’s the definition of an elite program, one that consistently turns out top-10 talent in all different types of sports.
Nah nah nah, give my man Jarrett Culver his dunk. pic.twitter.com/xwtU7HRgTu— Kyle Boone (@Kyle__Boone) February 2, 2019
What Hocutt has done in Lubbock is nothing short of miraculous. This National Championship just goes to show how elite this program is and what could be in store for future sports.