Have you gotten dizzy keeping up with the college football coaching carrousel? It is hard not to. But for Texas Tech fans, they got off that merry-go-round weeks ago with the hiring of Joey McGuire. However, one is to wonder how different things might be today if Texas Tech beat Kansas State this football season.
Newest Low Point
When the Red Raider team woke up on October 17th, they were 5-2. Then head coach Matt Wells had cooled his seat with a thorough stomping of Kansas. Thanks to the power of hindsight, it turns out this Kansas team was not a horrible team. Not great, but certainly much better they had been in the past few years. Kansas State was limping to town having lost three straight games. Surely a win, and a 6-2 mark, would have galvanized this team and propelled them to a strong finish down the stretch. For one-half of football, it appeared the Red Raiders were going to do just that.
But then, with what become a trend of the Wells era at Texas Tech, the Red Raiders suffered an embarrassing collapse in the second half which led to them dropping the game against the Wildcats. The second half against Kansas State very well might have been the worst half of football Texas Tech played under the leadership of Wells. As a result, Texas Tech fired him the following Monday, setting off the chain of events that led to McGuire’s passionate and motivating introductory press conference almost one month later.
But What If Texas Tech Beat Kansas State?
What happens to the future of the Texas Tech program if the same team that came out in the first half against the Wildcats came out in the second half and won the game 42-20? What if offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie never becomes an interim head coach? How differently do the fan base, and more importantly the boosters and athletic director Kirby Hocutt, feel about the direction of the program? Texas Tech still had to go to Norman to take on the Sooners the following week. How differently does that game play out?
In all likelihood, the game against Oklahoma still probably goes the same way it played out. Oklahoma dominated from the opening kick, and if that game is played ten times, it results in a similar 52-21 defeat for Texas Tech. Are all of the message boards reading “Done with Wells, he can’t get over the hump”? There is no doubt the loss would have drummed up familiar feelings. Feelings that the program was still not progressing nearly three years into Wells’ tenure.
One Last Chance
In his press conference after firing Wells, Hocutt did say that it was “inevitable” when it came to having to fire Wells. But in this exercise, Hocutt displays one last bit of patience with Wells. Hocutt gives him a shot against Iowa State. It would be hard to duplicate the thrilling win the Red Raiders actually experienced this season against the Cyclones. But if Texas Tech scraps together a victory, the team is 7-3 at that point. Seven wins are better than what the team actually finished with this year. It is hard to envision a scenario in which Wells would have been fired after winning seven games, something that still hasn’t been done in the regular season since 2015.
But maybe seven wins still was not enough to save Wells’ job. It certainly would have looked odd from the national level. For that matter, many national media members were questioning firing him when he was 5-3. That said if Wells gets fired on November 29th instead of October 25th, there is a high probability that McGuire isn’t available. McGuire might not necessarily have been a candidate for LSU, Florida, Virginia Tech, or USC. But the opening at TCU certainly would have been (at worst) intriguing to him. Even if TCU doesn’t decide to hire him, it’s hard to see a scenario where he gets passed over for TCU, SMU, and even Louisiana Tech for that matter because of his ties throughout the state of Texas.
How Far Does Recruiting Drop If Texas Tech Beat Kansas State
If McGuire isn’t hired, Texas Tech’s then 80th nationally ranked recruiting class has the chance of falling off the cliff. Recruiting to the hub city has never been an easy task, but a head coach firing with a class that was already ranked dead last in the Big 12 could have nose-dived even further with the early signing period approaching in just two weeks. A class that poorly ranked could have put this program in a terrible position. It likely requires an additional two years before a realistic chance of climbing to the top tier of the conference. The inevitable being delayed by one month could have set this program back years simply if Texas Tech beats Kansas State in 2021.
Stability In Lubbock
The early signing period in college football has certainly put programs in a situation where more and more in-season firings are likely going to occur. It is an ugly reality of college football. It certainly is not fair to coaches. But if Texas Tech fans specifically need to take comfort in the decision that was made. McGuire’s hire brought palpable positivity and energy to the program. He also has tangible results on the recruiting trail. Texas Tech’s 2022 class currently ranks 47th nationally and seventh in the Big 12. If that national ranking holds steady, it will the highest-ranked national class Texas Tech has had since 2016. That 2016 class was ranked 44th nationally.
This coaching silly season has been sillier than the largest Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey production. And yet, Texas Tech did not even buy a ticket to be a part of that production. But if Texas Tech beat Kanas State, they very well could still be spinning and begging to get off.