The tone in Lubbock has changed.
What was once a tone of optimism and seemed like a corner turned has become another November filled with fear. Now on a three-game losing streak in which the Red Raiders have been outscored 164-106, Tech fans are becoming frustrated.
On the other hand, there is a former coach turning around one of the most downtrodden programs in college football. Mike Leach has once again proven why he is one of the best coaches in college football today as the Washington State Cougars claimed their sixth victory. Now with a 6-3 record and a 3-1 road record, the Cougars may be well on their way to a bowl game for the second time in three seasons. This is a program that spent three years at the bottom of the Pac 10/12 standings before Leach arrived. Prior to that, it was four years of being in the bottom three. A big thanks goes to Ty Willingham for that.
Back in July, I wrote about The Curse of Mike Leach. It’s doubtful the sword-swinging coach enjoys seeing one of his former quarterbacks struggle to win at Texas Tech. However, karma has a way of coming back to haunt people (or in this case a football program). Chancellor Emeritus Kent Hance cannot be amused seeing the results he has viewed since he managed to avoid paying Leach $800,000 in 2010.
Under Kingsbury, Tech is 1-8 in the month of November. The lone victory is a 34-31 victory against an Iowa State team that finished 0-9 in the Big 12 Conference in 2014. In that time, Tech has been outscored 391-259.
Kingsbury isn’t the only coach who has struggled in November though. One coach who saw a major decline during the month is Tommy Tuberville. The current Cincinnati head coach went 4-8 in the month of November during his tenure at Texas Tech. Those four wins came against Houston, Kansas, Missouri, and Weber State. All four victories came at home and three of the four came during Tuberville’s first season at Tech. The lone win in his final two seasons came in triple overtime against a Kansas team that was winless in the Big 12 Conference.
During Leach’s time at Tech, the Red Raiders went 23-12 in the month of November. On Nov. 1, 2008, Tech upset No.1 Texas and obtained a No.2 ranking themselves. Leach never lost to Baylor, posted a winning record against Texas A&M and, for his final five seasons, traded blows against Oklahoma.
The Red Raiders have two games remaining. At 5-5, they need at least one victory to become bowl eligible. To be guaranteed a bowl selection, they need to win both games. Their final two opponents are Kansas State and Texas, two teams Tech has yet to defeat since the firing of Mike Leach.
Texas Tech has not finished with back-to-back losing seasons since 1984-85 during a span in which the Red Raiders had seven consecutive losing seasons. One of these streaks are about to break. Either Texas Tech is going to defeat one of their final two opponents for the first time since the Leach era or the Red Raiders will fall into a cellar they haven’t seen in over 30 years.
Meanwhile, things on the Palouse are looking up as the pirate guides his ship from Davy Jones’ locker to national prominence. If it weren’t for three losses by a total of 15 points, we may be seeing the Cougars in the College Football Playoff discussion.
One scene in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl suggests that blood from a relative of “Bootstrap” Bill Turner would end years of torture among the ship’s crew. Would paying Leach the $800,000 end the torture of Texas Tech fans everywhere? We may never know.
What we do know is Tech is on a downward spiral, and Red Raider fans can only look at the improvement of Washington State with disgust.
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