In Texas Tech football coaching search, a new guard is rising
new guard -- noun 1. a group of persons who have recently gained prominence or power in a particular field (such as politics or business) 2. a group of persons united in an effort to change the status quo
“There are donors willing to hand buy-out at Washington State, and any signing bonus or other cost necessary to settle the dispute with Mike Leach. Many in the group are also willing to step up with tens of millions of dollars for new facilities projects, like the south-end (stadium) renovation and the football training facility,” a person with knowledge of the situation told me.
In big-time college sports, money talks. And in Texas Tech alumni circles, a new coalition of donors— a group attempting to bring Texas Tech’s most winningest football coach back to Tech— is beginning to be heard.
At first appearance, it seems to be old guard versus new guard donors, a generational clash common within organizations and institutions. Upon further review, it seems like the same sides as nine years ago when Mike Leach was ousted at Tech, and one side, predominantly younger, has incurred a decade of new wealth.
“It’s not about age or us versus them, it’s what’s best for the university,” Then they clarify that the competing side consists of “people like Hance, who still harbor hard feelings related to Leach being fired in 2009.”
The Hance invoked is West Texas political legend and current Texas Tech Chancellor Emeritus Kent Hance, as well as “a small handful of people who were directly involved with the firing.”
The new guard’s focus is the results of this old guard’s leadership of the football program over the past decade.
Think of Red Raider Nation as a microcosm of contemporary American politics. After a Great Depression of Leach’s firing in late 2009 and the ensuing Tommy Tuberville Dust Bowl era, it was the hope of both sides that Kliff Kingsbury would bridge a fractured divide and coalesce the base.
Kingsbury tried admirably, but upon his dismissal on Sunday, his overall record, which included three sub-.500 seasons, was much more the rule than the exception in the years succeeding Leach’s departure. Since 2009, Tech football has gone 56-57; from 2000 through 2009, the program went 85-39.
To borrow an old line from former Tech assistant coach Bill Parcells: the old guard’s record is what it says it is.
Which is why the new guard finds the old’s latest tactic unbearable. “They’re threatening (Athletics Director Kirby) Hocutt with an uprising if he even considers Leach.”
On Monday morning, Austin American-Statesman’s Kirk Bohls tweeted:
“A high-ranking Texas Tech official tells me ‘absolutely under no circumstances’ will the school even consider rehiring Mike Leach. ‘Dana Holgorsen is not on the list either.’”
As of late Monday afternoon, I’m told both Leach and Holgorsen were very interested.
The new guard believes the “high-ranking official” is Hance or an operative. However, Hance told me in a text message reply, “I am absolutely not the source. I support 100% whatever Kirby Hocutt decides.”
Bohls’ followed up a story by Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’s Don Williams that reported Leach was open to return to Tech.
Also following up Williams, ESPN’s Joel Anderson quoted Leach as stating:
“‘They didn’t pay me last time. And I’m happy here.’ Asked to elaborate, he said: ‘They haven’t paid me for 2009 and we won nine games that year. And they haven’t won 9 games since.’”
The new guard says it could take care of the money involved in the 2009 dispute that Leach cites. “Leach wants to come back to Tech, and a deal can be made to make it happen.”
They call that money— on top of a Washington State buy-out and new facilities— a signing bonus.
“We are just asking for these guys to stand down and let Kirby Hocutt do what is best for Texas Tech. Arguably the best football coach in the United States wants to be in Lubbock. It is absolutely insane to think that we wouldn’t hire him.”
Jay Leeson is the founder of Other Side of Texas. You can hear the radio program by the same name each weekday 5-6pm CST on AM 580 Lubbock, streaming at OtherSideofTexas.com. Each episode is posted as a podcast, subscribe at Apple podcasts.