Above this paragraph is a picture of the United Supermarkets Arena at tip-off. Look at it. No, I’m serious, look. There are little to no seats left in the house and everyone is on their feet. I want you to now look at this picture taken about three years earlier at the same place.
Do you see how far we’ve come? This picture was taken in 2017 before the tip-off of Texas Tech’s non-conference game against a Nevada team that would make it to the Elite Eight that year. They were ranked and Tech was very close to being ranked too. This was the last time that the USA was that excited for a non-conference game. Look at all the empty seats, the attendance for that game was 9,872. There hasn’t been a game below 12,000 this season attendance-wise.
Coach Chris Beard has done something almost-miraculous in Lubbock. He took a football town and made it into an EVERYTHING town.
Is this team as good as last year’s or even the year before that? No. That hasn’t mattered to the 15,000 fans that pour into the arena and the countless more watching from bars or at home. This program has not only increased its’ recruiting and following but the other sports at Texas Tech as well.
I mainly say that because this weekend, Texas Tech Football hosted it’s Junior Day and it is really the first day for recruits of the 2021 Class to get a full look at Texas Tech and what it has to offer. This day didn’t just coincidentally coincide with the huge basketball game with Kentucky, it was made that way.
Thank you to Texas Tech for inviting me out to their junior day. pic.twitter.com/tYLrskfOdM— Jack Tucker (@JackTucker2021) January 26, 2020
While the football team hasn’t performed lately, I believe this coaching staff (with a few tweaks) could build a solid program that could potentially compete for a Big 12 Title one day. But right now, basketball is in the limelight and so why not use that light to show incoming potential recruits what is possible with some success?
Coach Beard has gone out of his way often to speak in support of all of the Texas Tech coaches whether it be Head Football Coach Matt Wells, Baseball Coach Tim Tadlock (who I often see at games), or even soccer and softball coaches. He wants all of them to help each other and that is not a sentiment often felt by most athletic programs in this country.
I honestly think that Coach Beard has accomplished in just three and a half seasons what he set out to do when he got here, make a community that supported basketball. He said in his opening press conference that he wanted to make the best home-court advantage in college basketball and he has done just that in what has been a down year compared to years past.
In conclusion, this weekend’s game against Kentucky, although a loss, vaulted the athletics program forward because of the vision of many people in Lubbock including Chris Beard and Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt. This home-court advantage will be felt by other sports in due time as well, especially if the football team can get some more quality wins under its belt.