The Hidden Danger of Losing: Isn't it strange how history—and lots of it—doesn't necessarily transfer itself to the present? Prior to 2011, the Texas Tech football program hadn't had a losing season since 1992. The Red Raiders went 18 years without losing more than they won. Some members of the current team were newborns when Tech had its last losing season.
With that sort of a winning tradition riding piggyback, you'd think every Red Raider fan would be shocked and outraged by the loss to a Baylor program Tech had beaten 15 straight times.
But not this Red Raiders supporter.
Wracked by four straight losses, and six defeats in seven games, I fully expected Tech to lose to the Bears and felt curiously numb when the smoke cleared from the 24-point loss. I suspect, moreover, that many people within the program had feelings identical to mine.
And there's the danger. No matter how great a program has been, and for how long, when the losses begin mounting up, there comes an expectation of loss. And if you expect to lose, you are three quarters of the way toward accepting it. At that point, a culture of losing sets in, and it becomes very difficult to vanquish.
I believe the Red Raider football program is in grave peril right now. The Red Raiders lost seven of their final eight games—most of them in blowouts—and have no momentum and positive energy going into the offseason. And the defense is a disaster scene that will require herculean efforts to clean up.
Tech, therefore, confronts not only the apparition of a dreadful 2011 season, but also the specter of a 2012 campaign that could be just as difficult. And another season like the one just complete will put Tech football in hole not unlike the one that swallowed the program under Jerry Moore.
A Crisis of Confidence: After Texas Tech fell by a 55-14 score to Southern Cal in the 1995 Cotton Bowl, my brother remarked that he saw the humiliation coming. Prior to kickoff, there had been some sort of ceremony at midfield where certain players from each team received commemorative mementos and words of praise. My brother noted a stark contrast between the demeanor of the Trojans and Red Raiders. The Trojans, he said, looked bold, confident and heroic, while the Red Raiders looked timid, nervous, even fearful.
One got a similar sense watching the 2011 Red Raiders. By the end of the season they looked like a dog that had been beaten too much. Rather than yearning to smite the opposition, they appeared to be cringing in expectation of the next blow.
It befalls to the de facto leaders of the team to squash this debilitating attitude and replace it with a healthier one.
And that means the burden falls squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Seth Doege. To a significant degree, a team will mimic the behavior of its quarterback. As difficult as it may be, Doege must cultivate a more forceful persona, take this team in hand, and will it to victory.
Plaudits to Adam James: Almost to a man, the Red Raiders had a disappointing season. One player who exceeded expectations, however, was Adam James. And he saved the best for his last game in a Tech uniform.
James caught 10 passes for 104 yards and took tons of punishment in the process. On a night when Red Raiders were dropping passes like it was going out of style, James made catch after catch in the middle of the field, took heavy licks, and kept coming back for more. It was a Mike Ditka-like performance.
Tuberville's Effort and Desire: Many observers have called Tommy Tuberville's desire to win into question. They have suggested that he has no fire, that he's devoid of emotion. The Baylor game proved otherwise. Tuberville was on a sideline rampage, so much so that he drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. He pulled out all the stops in an attempt to win, including gadget plays and an onsides kick.
Whether or not Tuberville will ultimately succeed at Texas Tech is a fair topic for debate. Whether or not he wants to win very badly is not.