Texas Tech Red Raiders athletic director Kirby Hocutt has had an interesting year or so. Not only is the basketball program coming off an abomination of a season, but it was predated to the start of the whole ‘Billy Gillispie eating the souls of summer camp children‘ fiasco.
Hocutt obviously had to cut ties with the unstable Gillispie, which helped make the season a wash and painted the university in a less-than-flattering light.
Hocutt had a tough decision to make going into the offseason. The basketball program has been on a spree of hiring sloppy seconds. First it was Bobby Knight while he was mentally checking out of the game. Then it was Knight: The Sequel as his son took over.
After the Knight family did less-than-awesome things with the program, the university eventually hired Gillispie, a coach who had a previous record of being as stable as a zombie reading a book to a child.
The hiring of Tubby Smith, while still fitting the sloppy second trend, is a decent move for the program. When Smith was hired by the Minnesota Golden Gophers program, most figured that he too mentally checked out of the sport.
Smith, however, ended up helping the program have its most successful seasons in decades. Still, because every program now thinks they are entitled to greatness, Smith was fired after leading the program to its first NCAA Tournament win since 1989-90 (they had others, but they were vacated).
The worst-case scenario calls for Smith to end up being like Knight, and that whatever brilliance left in his cranium has now left his dome. The best case calls for a resurgence to the Red Raider program. Not that Texas Tech has ever had a basketball program at the elite level, but I am sure that is what their fans and alum want.
Even if Smith fails to make Texas Tech relevant in the Big 12, it will not end in a complete bust. The Red Raiders’ sports department has been marred in acts of horribleness for years now. Smith, however, will at least help change the perception of the athletics department and help clean up the program.
If Texas Tech folks are expecting a National Title or multiple runs to the Final Four, they need to get their heads examined. Every hire in college cannot end up being the type that results in being a program-changer — although, it can end up being the type of hire that your program actually needs.
Sometimes needs should outweigh the wants. Texas Tech might want greatness, but it needed Smith.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone