Georgia became the fifth different team in the playoff era to win a national championship. News over the playoff weekend also broke that the playoff expansion talks have broken down. The current four-team format appears in place for at least the next two seasons. But with a Group of Five team making its first appearance in the playoff, it gives a glimmer of hope to all programs around the country that almost any program can make the final dance. This hope will only grow when the playoff eventually expands to likely 12 teams. So it begs the question; Is a Texas Tech national title in football achievable?
Twelve games. That’s all a college football team gets during a regular season to define itself. Just one win can change the entire outlook on a program. After all, the difference between 5-7 and 6-6 means a few more weeks of practice and one more game. So how can we define a standard of tiers? Is it really as simple as the W-L record? Yes, it is. Each of the following groups requires a significant jump in performance to reach the next tier. The higher the win total, the harder it is to make the jump to the next tier.
- 0-4 wins- Teams that are living in this range annually are the drivers of the struggle bus. More often than not, these programs don’t even get to celebrate a monumental upset over a ranked team because they are simply overmatched across the board.
- 5-6 wins- If the team is living in the constant will they/won’t they make a bowl game status, a few things are happening. There is some quality talent on the roster. Might even be one superstar on the team. Most of the time, programs in this tier are not losing to teams they shouldn’t. But they are not beating anyone else. Occasionally, they can spring a thrilling upset, but typically require some of that college football weirdness to assist them.
- 7-9 wins- This was the first major hurdle cleared for any program building itself into respectability. There is no doubt that they will play in the post-season. They have closed the talent gap on many of their opponents. It is in this tier that teams start to win those coin-flip games that come down to one or two plays. They are more than capable of taking down the top-tier teams on the right Saturday. But they still find themselves stubbing their toe in a few to many games to even seriously threaten for a conference championship, much less a playoff birth.
- 10 wins- Why is this tier the only one with a single number of wins? This represents the area where a team is good enough to compete for a conference championship. With all conferences now playing a conference championship game, most of the time, ten wins equals a conference championship game appearance. The program is just on the cusp of making the final leap. They have beat everyone in their path with the exception of fighting the best team in the conference to a close defeat. Ten means equals national relevancy for much, if not all, of the college football season. But it is here that the talent has to take a significant step up. The coaching must also make another leap to climb into the final tier.
- 11+ wins- Teams in this category expect to compete for national championships. Period. They recruit at a top-five level annually. They almost always find a way to win even when they are not playing their best. This is the top of the mountain. Teams now have a giant target on their back. Week-in and week-out, their opponent is going to give their best shot and still fall short nine times out of ten.
Where Is Texas Tech Currently?
Texas Tech went to its first bowl game in three seasons. Including this year, Texas Tech has gone to only four bowl games in ten seasons. However, this team never won less than four games in that same time span. Texas Tech, for the last decade, has lived in the 5-6 win tier. In fact, the Red Raiders have averaged 5.7 wins a season in the last decade. The pinnacle of the Texas Tech program saw them reach the 7-9 win tier, with the lone outlier being the 2008 season. Prior to Mike Leach, Texas Tech had only won double-digit games in a season five times since they began playing football in 1925. With almost 100 seasons of data, a Texas Tech national title appears to be impossible.
Recruit, Recruit, Recruit
The impossible only stays that way if that is Texas Tech believes that. It appears they do not with the alignment between the university president, athletic director, and boosters. The Red Raiders announced during the 2021 season the plans for new football facilities that will begin construction this year. The project will cost approximately $40-50 million and is schedule to be ready for the start of the 2023 season. And just this past December thanks to a $25 million donation, a commitment to renovate the south end zone was announced. That project will not begin until the new facility is completed.
With clear alignment and resources in place to build facilities associated with a national title winning program, it’s time for head coach Joey McGuire to do something never done at Texas Tech. If the Red Raiders are going to win a national title, they have to break through and start recruiting top 10 nationally. This is a program that has never signed one five-star rated prospect in the history of 247 recruiting rankings, which dates back to 1999.
McGuire and his staff already have had a major impact to recruiting. He is in line to finish with a top 40 nationally ranked class for 2022. It will be up to McGuire to continue to utilized his Texas high school connections to keep building a better recruiting class with each passing year. A feat that will be hard to challenge with Texas and Texas A&M always lurking in-state and getting first cracks at the best talent in the state. But all it takes in that first big time recruit to start drawing the attention out to Lubbock.
A Texas Tech National Title Recipe Culminates With Good Health And A Little Luck
The one thing that was just assumed at this point but needs to be stated is McGuire is going to have to win. And win fairly quickly. In a Big 12 that will be more open to grab than ever once Oklahoma and Texas jettison to the SEC, there is going to be a need for a new banner program of the Big 12. The opportunity is there not just for Texas Tech, but the entire Big 12 and it’s new members. As it stands today, the new Big 12 doesn’t have a single program with a recruiting class ranked in the top 25. Winning fast is very achievable. But by no means a guarantee.
In a world with a 12-team playoff, Texas Tech finding a way into the dance will be directly correlated to how well Maguire continues to recruit. Once the Red Raiders have broken through that threshold, that last two pieces of this recipe are health and luck. Any team that wins a national title are able to keep their biggest contributors healthy all year. That in itself falls in the good luck department. If those players are healthy all they way to the trophy ceremony, the last part that went Texas Tech’s way was how the ball bounced.
Georgia’s quarterback Stetson Bennett tried his best basketball crossover with the football early in the game against Alabama. If the football doesn’t bounce directly back into his arms, Alabama recovers and possibly climbs to a 10-0 lead early. Maybe that horrific start would have be too much for the Bulldogs to have overcome. To go 15-1 or 16-0, the ball has bounce favorably all year. This would be no different for a Texas Tech national title run. They could did everything right for the next four years and get all the right players.
But that brown oblong bowl with white laces could derail the title at any moment. However, just as unlikely as it is for that ball to bounce perfectly back to Bennett, it’s still did. As unlikely as it is in January 2022 to discuss a Texas Tech national title, it still is very possible. After all, the university itself tells all of its students, “From here, It’s possible.”