The incipient move to a 12-team playoff format is unequivocally good for Texas Tech and all of college football.
Well, at least on paper.
Guess how many times in the last decade Texas Tech finished the regular season ranked in the top-12. Hint: it’s the same number of times the Red Raiders have finished the regular season ranked in the entire top-25.
You nailed it! Zero! In the last 12 or so years, the playoffs could’ve welcomed 32 teams and Tech would be absent on the guest list every single season.
During the four-team playoff era, Tech fans and alumni all have echoed the same sentiment - if we can just get back to the Leach days, we’ll at least have a shot at making the playoff.
Triple the number of teams permitted to join the postseason tournament and the sentiment remains the same. The last time Tech closed out the regular season ranked in the top-12 was 2008, when the Red Raiders sat at No. 7. As we all know, Mike Leach was the head coach then. And since his departure, Tech has been an afterthought in the Big 12 and non-existent on the national stage.
So, while theoretically Tech’s chances of postseason glory tripled, in reality, the Red Raiders are no closer to playoff contention now than they were any year in the post-Leach era. With Matt Wells boasting a total of eight combined wins in his first two seasons, Tech actually is moving backwards in its pursuit of national relevance.
The new playoff structure means nothing when you’re winning four games every year.
I used to think Mike Leach did more harm than good by coaching this team so successfully during the early 2000s because it set what I believed was an unrealistic precedent for all future Red Raider teams. I bought into the idea that the Leach era was a fluke never to be repeated again because of the geographical and historical challenges Tech inherently faces in recruiting.
But over time, I realized those were lazy excuses. There’s no reason Tech can’t win as Power-5 school in a talent-rich state with great facilities and financial backing.
There is a path back to national relevance. It’s there, Tech just isn’t following it. Iowa State turned it around. Indiana, somehow, is good at football now. NC State has found consistency under the right coach. Those are teams that have every ability to make a 12-team playoff once or twice per decade. But we’re just not there, and frankly, we’re not close.
Save your optimism for basketball and baseball and continue to demand change from football. It’s all we can do now.