Sitting at 5-2, fresh off a monumental upset of Oklahoma in Norman and well on their way to appeasing those still clamoring for Mike Leach, the Red Raiders enjoyed late October with the notion that they might be one of college football’s surprises. Then, Paul Rhoads happened and five consecutive losses later the questions turned toward Tommy Tuberville‘s focus rather than his success. It was a frustrating conclusion to a year that began with a bit of promise because outside of the loss to Missouri, Texas Tech wasn’t competitive in any game during their winter slide. The head coach couldn’t shake the distractions off the field, whether it was his wife being involved in a fatal car accident that took the life of another person or his own name brewing in coaching searches at places like Arkansas. That doesn’t even include Tuberville’s inability to settle on a defensive coordinator. Of all the teams in the Big 12, the Red Raiders probably sought the calendar turn to 2012 more than any other program.
Seth Doege is back under-center for the Red Raiders and an electric group of wide receivers promises hints of the Air Raid but the anchor of the offense returns at running back . Eric Stephens, well on his way to one thousands yards rushing, was lost to a gruesome leg injury and the balance he brings to Texas Tech might be the difference between a winning or average season. Art Kaufman steps in as the new defensive coordinator, replacing Chad Glasgow who lasted a single year at the position. The schedule offers a chance to start 4-0 before the brunt of the Big 12 gauntlet begins. From early October to early November, the Red Raiders face Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU, Kansas State and Texas in successive weeks. Spring an upset or two, it’s an overachieving year. Lose them all and the athletic department might wonder why Tuberville received an extension through 2015 under their watch.
Currently ranked 39th in the 2013 recruiting cycle by 247 Sports, the Red Raiders sit comfortably in the Lone Star State. Being content in recruiting though is a sure sign of trending down. Prospects that previously chose Lubbock for the offense or the shot at a Cotton Bowl or better are heading to the revitalization in Waco and the temptations in College Station of the SEC. Texas Tech doesn’t need a tenure-defining victory like Oklahoma in 2011, it requires a season’s worth of wins showing tangible improvement. If they don’t get that, the staff is going to answer for it and high school athletes will figure out a reason to avoid donning the red and black. As for the players slated to arrive on the South Plains next summer, offensive lineman Maurice Porter and underrated quarterback Davis Webb headline the class thus far.