Don’t get me wrong. Kirby has done a tremendous job in various areas as Texas Tech athletic director. Since hiring Tim Tadlock, the baseball team has advanced to two College World Series and scored its first Big 12 Championship since the 1990s. After several tumultuous seasons of men’s basketball, his hiring of Tubby Smith placed Texas Tech back into prominence with an NCAA Tournament appearance.
However, football is the captain of the boat.
When football doesn’t perform well, it has a direct impact on the rest of Texas Tech sports. A prime example of this impact is former Texas Tech volleyball coach Don Flora. The volleyball program has not garnered a winning season since 2002. It’s tough to recruit good players to West Texas, especially when the program is a downtrodden bottom feeder for an extended period of time. Despite the circumstances Flora stepped into, he managed to take Tech to a .500 record in 2014. The Red Raiders scored just three conference victories in the five seasons before Flora’s arrival.
In just his second season, he had tallied more conference victories than those previous five seasons. Also in his second season, Tech upset a ranked opponent for the first time in eight years. They defeated a No.20 Kansas State team. Flora took major strides with this program, but the resources weren’t there. He practically did the Lord’s work and was left with a pink slip simply because he was there post-Mike Leach era.
So why does Kirby Hocutt need to be fired? After all, he helped sew up a nasty, infected wound with the hiring of Kliff Kingsbury. The hire saw season ticket sales soar through the roof. Alums and boosters poured donations in. Anyone who had a drop of Red Raider blood in them was excited the day Kingsbury was hired. It even got better when Tech started 7-0 in 2013 with two true freshmen as starting quarterbacks.
The future looked even brighter with commitments of five-star athletes Breiden Fehoko and Jarrett Stidham. In fact, five-star quarterback Kyler Murray loved Kingsbury so much, he asked him for advice on which college he should attend. Eventually, that decision did not work out and Murray transferred from Texas A&M to Oklahoma after one season.
Kirby Hocutt settled.
In 2012, Tech started off 6-1 under Tommy Tuberville. The Red Raiders would finish the rest of the season 1-4 with its only victory coming against a deplorable Kansas team in double overtime at Jones AT&T Stadium. Tech held a 21-7 lead before eventually falling 52-49 in overtime. Tech fans were irate. The fan base was more divided than ever. In 10 seasons under Mike Leach, there was never a losing season. Tuberville produced Tech’s first losing season in 20 years during his three-year tenure. He kicked off several of Leach-recruited players due to “violation of team rules” and benched a few more. Hocutt should have fired Tuberville after the Baylor game. He did not.
Had Hocutt fired Tuberville, Sonny Dykes was available. Dykes, a Texas Tech graduate who played baseball at the school, is the son of legendary Texas Tech football coach Spike Dykes. Spike claimed multiple shares of the Southwest Conference Championship in the 1990s. He recruited Kliff Kingsbury, and coached the quarterback to a victory over Oklahoma in his final game before retirement.
Hiring Sonny Dykes would have brought a more experienced version of Kliff Kingsbury to Texas Tech. Sure, Dykes isn’t a GQ model like Kingsbury could be. Sonny doesn’t need to be though. He had a proven track record with Lousiana Tech. Sonny was raised in Tech tradition. The fan base would have been just as fired up over a Sonny hire as they were a Kingsbury hire.
For the Leach lovers, Dykes was an assistant under the pirate for six seasons. He served as co-offensive coordinator under Leach in the 2005-06 season. Sonny would have been a natural fit.
Hocutt failed to fire Tuberville and Dykes was hired as the head coach of California Dec. 5, 2012. Three days later, Tuberville allegedly left recruits at the 50-yard line Steakhouse for a plane ride to be introduced as the new head coach of Cincinnati. Hocutt was forced to find a new head coach, and Dykes was taken. What was Plan B? Kliff Kingsbury, a failed NFL player who only featured experience as an offensive coordinator.
Kingsbury, at the time, seemed like an up-and-coming star. After all, he coached redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel to the Heisman Trophy during his only season at Texas A&M. Prior to his one year in College Station, he coached Case Keenum to stardom at the University of Houston. Many like to throw, in the fact he was Tom Brady’s backup while playing under Bill Belichick for the New England Patriots. His father was also a coach at New Braunfels High School, where Kingsbury had a successful career.
It hasn’t produced results yet. Tech is still struggling to get back where it was on Dec. 30, 2009 which is the day Mike Leach was fired for insubordination. Saturday’s humiliating 66-10 loss at Iowa State cemented Tech’s second losing season in the four years with Kingsbury at the helm. He has yet to beat Baylor, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Four of his 24 victories have been against FCS schools. Tech has yet to acquire a winning conference record since the firing of Leach. Under Kingsbury, four of Tech’s 12 conference victories are against Kansas.
Tech’s attrition rating is also abominable under Kingsbury. It’s not only his fault. According to this report from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, attrition has been terrible since the days Leach left. Hocutt has absolutely nothing to do with the Leach firing. What he is responsible for is failing to place Red Raider football back on the straight-and-narrow.
Hiring Sonny Dykes could have brought back the Leach results. It would’ve featured the same offense, a Tech degree plus more experience. Being the son of a defensive-minded coach, maybe the right defensive coordinator hire would have produced results on that side of the ball as well.
Hocutt failed to do what was necessary. He failed to fire Tuberville and hire Dykes. Now he’s stuck with an inexperienced 37-year old who is struggling to keep players on his team. This is impacting the entire athletics program. With good coaches such as Flora being fired, Hocutt only has himself to blame.
The day Kingsbury is fired, Hocutt must be sent packing too.
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