Big 12 football was among the last topics you’d expect to come up during today’s Congressional hearing, but, given the news cycle these days, perhaps the unexpected should be expected.
As FBI director James Comey testified before Congress, Texas Representative Mike Conaway tried to equate the 2016 election with the Texas-Texas Tech football rivalry. Or something. See if you can make sense of this.
Suddenly drawn into the inner-workings of Washington, Texas Tech sprung its head up to take advantage.
Tune in next week, when the Wisconsin-Minnesota rivalry somehow gets drawn into the health care debate.
Maybe this will be the year Texas Tech figures out how to play a lick of defense. History would suggest that is probably not going to be the case, but Red Raiders head coach Kliff Kingsbury sounds confident in the direction of the defensive unit under defensive coordinator David Gibbs in his third year on the job in Lubbock.
“Coach Gibbs didn’t come to Lubbock and get dumb all of the sudden,” Kingsbury said in an interview with ESPN. “He’s had success everywhere he’s been.”
Texas Tech is coming off a season in which they ranked last in the Big 12 in total defense, allowing nearly 100 more yards per game (554.3 ypg) than the next worst team in the conference, Kansas (456.2 ypg; and Kansas at least beat Texas). Texas Tech has finished in the bottom two of the conference in total defense each season since 2014, which has left the program trying to break out of its reputation with frustrating results on defense. Hiring Gibbs was a good move for Kingsbury after Gibbs had a short and successful stint at Houston. For Kingsbury and Gibbs, playing the long game has been and needs to be the plan, and taking the lumps along the way is part of the process.
“He’s frustrated. He’s competitive. He wants to be successful. I can’t tell you how much respect I have for him for sticking it out,” Kingsbury said in his interview with ESPN. “He’s had opportunities to go other places and start over. He’s well-respected in this profession and he wants to get it right here. I admire him for that. It would be an easy out to go somewhere else at this point. He wants to do it here and wants to show we can get this fixed.”
The biggest concern for Texas Tech has been in establishing depth on defense. This has been an area of focus in recruiting and development the last few years, and the hope is that work is going to begin paying off this season.
Texas Tech spring football starts this weekend but there will be a noticeable change around the team’s facilities when they start to suit up for practice: a lack of school logos.
That’s because head coach Kliff Kingsbury has banned the ‘Double T’ logo synonymous with the Red Raiders in order to send a message to his team.
“It’s really an embarrassment. You come here, sign your letter of intent, and you don’t get to wear that Double T. That’s a big disappointment,” receiver Cameron Batson said in a video released by the school. “Coach Kingsbury said we all have to earn the right to wear the Double T. Nobody in the facility is wearing the Double T, so everybody is working hard, trying to get that Double T.”
While not every logo has been scrubbed from the branding of the team facilities, it is interesting to see football players walking around without being covered head-to-toe in school-issued gear featuring the logo.
Tech went 5-7 last season and face a pressure-packed year under Kingsbury in 2017 so it’s pretty clear that the young coach is sending a big message to his team that things need to change in Lubbock on and off the field.
With Texas Tech hoping to show progress in the spring with the hope of taking a step forward in Big 12 play in the fall, it will do so without wide receiver Ian Sadler. On Wednesday, Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury announced Ian Sadler has left the program after retiring due to injury concerns.
Sadler did not record any stats in Texas Tech’s final four games of the 2016 season and ended the season with 363 receiving yards. He also missed three games in 2015 and three more in 2014. Respected for his toughness, nagging concerns about his knees seem to have taken enough of a toll where continuing to play was no longer advisable for the long-term.
Those stories about former head coach Tommy Tuberville making a run at becoming governor of the great state of Alabama appear to have some legs.
The ex-Auburn head man and longtime college football head coach talked to WNSP 105.5 FM (in Mobile, Ala.) about potentially mounting a political campaign on Friday and he didn’t exactly shy away from the fact that he was considering entering the fray.
“I’ve been there done that for many many years in college football,” Tuberville told the hosts when asked if he’d rather be governor or a head coach again. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. Talking about this governor thing, I’m kind of testing the wind. But probably be governor, in this time of life. I want to do a little something different and I think I can make a difference if I do decide to run.”
Tuberville added that he is doing some polling on the matter prior to formally beginning any sort of campaign process in order to see how he could potentially do in the race for governor.
The 62-year-old didn’t rule out a return to coaching, joining a TV network or even becoming an athletic director either but it sounds like he has a few political aspirations in mind. Tuberville certainly knows the state well having been at Auburn from 1999-2008 as head coach and leading the team to an undefeated season in 2004. While the fact that he wore plenty of orange back in the day and won six straight Iron Bowls might dissuade certain Alabama fans from voting for him, it appears that the old coach is already laying the ground work for recruiting a few Crimson Tide to his side down the road.
“If you end up running, trying to be the governor, it’s about one big team: The whole state of Alabama,” he said. “When I was at Auburn, I faced quite a few Alabama coaches. You do something on the scale of governorship, you have to have all your friends. I know as many Alabama folks as I do Auburn folks.”
It seems Tuberville is already getting a little political when it comes to appeasing both sides of the aisle in the state of Alabama — and we’re not referring to Republicans and Democrats either.