Big 12: Gerald Myers

Lunch links: Horns' new OC shooed LSU

February, 24, 2011
2/24/11
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How are you sitting at a harp and not scoring this moment? Ladies!

Texas Tech, Baylor made right move

February, 24, 2011
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Texas Tech and Baylor are officially set to meet at Cowboys Stadium once again during the 2011 season, though the game's date is in flux.

The teams played in front of 71,964 fans -- mostly from Texas Tech -- to close the 2009 season in a game won 20-13 by the Red Raiders.

Last year, they met in the Cotton Bowl in front of, frankly, an embarrassing crowd that officially went down as a generous 48,213. However, anyone who watched on TV or in person could tell you that a half-full Cotton Bowl wasn't a good look for the stadium. After a renovation, the stadium now seats 92,100.

At least the teams played a great game, won on a late defensive stand by Texas Tech, 45-38.

The decision to play there was part of a two-year deal, but a move back to Cowboys Stadium is the right one.

"Playing this game in Cowboys Stadium is great for our players, our university and our fans," Baylor coach Art Briles said in a release. "There isn't a better football stadium in America."

He's right, and it helps that it's located right in the middle of a rich recruiting base that Baylor and Tech both need to mine. The novelty of Cowboys Stadium hasn't quite worn off, and the venue alone might be enough to convince people to come out.

"We just had a great experience there,” Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers told reporters on Wednesday. "Our fans, the players, the coaches, they all enjoyed it — particularly our fans. I didn’t get a single complaint about playing that game at Cowboys Stadium.

"In fact, it was all positive. We made more money over there than we did at the Cotton Bowl."

Playing the game last year on the same day as Texas A&M and Arkansas' game in Cowboys Stadium certainly didn't help exposure, or perhaps attendance.

That was only one small part of a sports extravaganza in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex that weekend. TCU and SMU both had home games, but the Texas Rangers were also playing an ALCS game later that night.

(If you didn't read it by the way, Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News went to every one of the games except TCU's and wrote about it. One of my favorite stories of the year.)

If Baylor and Tech can avoid getting swallowed up by a similar weekend this year, you'll probably see that attendance number balloon a bit.
The results weren't quite there on the field just yet, but Texas Tech is confident Tommy Tuberville will bring them.

The school rewarded its first-year coach with a one-year extension and a raise on Tuesday.

He's now contracted through 2015 and he'll be paid $2 million next year with yearly raises building to a $2.4 million salary in 2015.

From the Lubbock Avalanche Journal:

[Texas Tech athletic director Gerald] Myers said Tuberville’s agent was not involved in negotiations on the new deal.

“We just negotiated with Tommy,” he said. “We totally talked to Tommy about this and it probably took us about a week to get it done. We’ve been talking about it internally for a while. We didn’t talk to Tommy about it until maybe a week or so ago.”

Myers said the buy-out in Tuberville’s contract is unchanged from last season. It is his base pay of $300,000 a year times the number of years remaining on the deal. According to the the mutual buy-out, Tuberville must pay that amount should he decide to leave Tech before the contract expires and Tech must give him $300,000 times years remaining should it opt to fire Tuberville without cause.

Texas Tech finished the year 8-5, which is certainly respectable, but Mike Leach's teams had better records in four of his final years in Lubbock. The transition wasn't perfect -- the offense was inconsistent and the defense was consistently bad -- but no one expected it to be. And if a "down year" results in eight wins, the Red Raiders will certainly take that. Breaking in a new quarterback this year could mean another season hovering around eight wins, but Texas Tech is clearly pleased with the direction the program is moving.

Tuberville is building a program, and defensive recruits like nationally ranked cornerback Marcus Roberson, who made a soft commit to Texas Tech on Tuesday, can help give the Red Raiders a defense it never had under Leach.

Plenty of teams across the Big 12 have great offenses. The best teams have great defenses. It's difficult to overestimate the importance of Tuberville's looming defensive coordinator hire, but he says he plans to take his time.

More than anything, the extension signifies a level of comfort for Tuberville at Texas Tech. He was a big catch for the Red Raiders, and if he bolted back to an SEC job, it's highly unlikely Tech would be able to reel in a coach with anywhere near his résumé.

Hence, they've made keeping him a priority, and it sounds like he's not making it to difficult. Tuberville maintains the talks between himself and Miami were never very serious this offseason, but that was the only job opening that Tuberville's name ever seriously came up for.

That, combined with this newest extension, is great news for the future of Texas Tech's program.

Lunch links: Sooners looking for Rudy

August, 27, 2010
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"Kenny Loggins doesn't do soundtracks. I'm late for the Winnie the Pooh convention."

"Have fun at Pooh-Con. I guess I'll just have to go with my second choice: The Eagles."

Lunch links: Big 12's expiration date

July, 13, 2010
7/13/10
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Leach getting last laugh at his Tech detractors

January, 26, 2010
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Former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach is never far away from the citizens of Lubbock -- even after his controversial firing by the school last month.

Leach is pictured in the center of the 2010 copy of the Lubbock Yellow Pages that starting being distributed this month, surrounded by a bunch of Boy Scouts.

Making the irony for Leach even more delicious, Leach's attorney Ted Liggett is pictured on the back cover. Liggett is described in the ad from a firm of "aggressive personal injury lawyers" and pictured below a picture of a bellowing image of King Kong.

Something tells me that at least in the homes of Tech chancellor Kent Hance and Tech athletic director Gerald Myers, the phone book is going coverless this year.

Will Tuberville build on Tech's culture?

January, 11, 2010
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Tommy Tuberville was the best choice for Texas Tech to fill the vacancy created when Mike Leach was fired.

But I’m still a little surprised Tuberville took the job.

Tommy Tuberville
AP Photo/Dave MartinTommy Tuberville says he will stick with Tech's wide-open passing offense.
Tuberville’s introductory press conference in Lubbock Sunday found him about 180 degrees opposite from Leach -– both in appearance and in candor. He will be the anti-Leach in a lot of what he will do and represent.

It surprised me, however, when Tuberville expressed his continued commitment to a wide-open passing attack.

When Tuberville has been most successful, his teams had a defense-first, offense-second mentality. It’s not surprising considering his own background as a defensive coach when he was coming up the circuit.

Tech’s current roster is heavily stacked to playing a wide-open passing offense. But it's surprising Tuberville so quickly and easily endorsed it.

Naysayers will remember that Tuberville tried to embrace some of the new offensive philosophies in his final season at Auburn. The results were disastrous, mainly because of philosophical differences among his coaching staff.

That should change after his arrival at Tech as he appears ready to keep many of Leach’s assistants on board. Tuberville hopes, in his own words, to keep Tech’s offense “exciting” and “versatile.”

“We’re going to air out. We’re going to keep the air raid,” Tuberville said. “I think it’s something that Tech has hit upon that gives them that identity to recruit and we all want to have.”

That idea was what Gerald Myers had in mind when he hired Leach after the 1999 season. Leach built his reputation as an offensive coordinator before getting his break at Tech.

Myers and the school’s other power brokers thought they needed a flashy offense when Leach replaced the venerable Spike Dykes after 14 years as coach.

As such, they scoured the nation for the nation’s top offensive minds. The other finalist when they settled on Leach was Rich Rodriguez, then the offensive coordinator at Clemson.

It’s hard to argue with their choice today. Leach has brought the school unexpected national attention -– from stories on "60 Minutes" and a cameo appearance on “Friday Night Lights” to a fawning cover story in the New York Times Sunday Magazine about his quirky personality and offensive wizardry.

And his teams have played a little football too, considering they made bowl trips in each of his 10 seasons coaching the Red Raiders.

Tuberville is more of a traditionalist, although he said he likely will lean heavily on a defense with a three-man front and four linebackers.

“I believe in consistency,” Tuberville said. “If you look at the top teams in the country, they are all based on consistency. Not changing one week or one year. You change subtly.

“We’ll have a base offense. We’ll have a base defense, and we'll build from that each week. When we play on Saturday, we won't be complicated. We'll be simple in the fact in terms of what our players think. It will look a little bit more complicated in the naked eye.”

Tuberville represents the biggest football coaching fish attracted to Tech. He’s only four seasons removed from a 13-0 record and national coach of the year honors at Auburn.

But he’ll be facing challenges in the Big 12 South, which is universally considered one of the toughest divisions in college football. He’ll be tested to keep pace with big dogs Texas and Oklahoma, both at the apex of team strength since Mack Brown and Bob Stoops took over.

Oklahoma State has pumped millions into facilities and appears to be ready to become a serious challenger in the south. Baylor is still looking for its first bowl trip in 15 seasons, but has better facilities and the right coach to lead them into Big 12 South relevancy. Tuberville’s old school, Texas A&M, has the tradition and facilities and appears to need only the right coach to bring them back into contention.

It won’t be easy for Tuberville, but he appears to be uniquely qualified for the challenge of maintaining Tech’s recent success and maybe even building on it.

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Tuberville's Tech hiring provides splash

January, 9, 2010
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Tommy Tuberville will be the most highly regarded football coach ever hired by Texas Tech.

It won't make his job any easier. Tuberville still will have to follow the most legendary figure in the history of the school's football program.

But Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers and the others who arranged for Tuberville to return with the Red Raiders have made a significant splash as they try to replace Mike Leach.

There is a need to change the culture of the Tech program after Leach's dismissal last week. Tuberville may be the person to do it.

With Tuberville, who cut his teeth as a defensive coordinator, look for the Red Raiders to put more emphasis on the running game and on defense. His hiring will represent a 180-degree shift from the offense-first strategy favored by Leach, who came to the school after serving as an offensive coordinator at Kentucky and Oklahoma.

Tuberville's last stint as a defensive coordinator came at nearby Texas A&M, where he helped call the defenses on an Aggie team that went 10-0-1 in 1994. That gives him at least a cursory knowledge of Tech's recruiting area, along with potentially opening the Red Raiders into the Southeastern Conference area as well.

He's a proven commodity after earning national Coach of the Year honors after leading Auburn to a 13-0 record in 2004. And his media-friendly ways will be a big advantage as he replaces Leach.

James Willis, the associate head coach and outside linebackers coach at Alabama, has been mentioned to be his choice for defensive coordinator.

If Willis is brought on, his first immediate challenge will be to earn the trust of Tech players who were united under defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill, the other finalist for the job. McNeill was the best recruiter on the staff and involved in getting together Tech's current recruiting class that is the best in the school's Big 12 history. It appears that McNeill won't be retained if Willis is coming. That will be a ticklish problem for Tuberville to circumvent with his new team.

But the biggest question with Tuberville will be how he can narrow the traditional gap that has existed between the Red Raiders and the dominant programs in the Big 12 South Division at Texas and Oklahoma.

Leach made the biggest inroads as the Red Raiders have split with the two programs in the last two seasons. Tech employed the victory over the Longhorns in 2008 to earn a three-way tie for the South Division title -- a first in Tech's Big 12 history.

But he never took the Red Raiders any higher than the Cotton Bowl in the Big 12's bowl arrangement. A trip to the Bowl Championship Series clearly is the next step and will be Tuberville's goal.

Tuberville, 55, might be the ideal person to challenge the Longhorns and Sooners, considering his track record at Auburn. While there, he beat Alabama seven of 10 times, including a streak of six straight seasons and has consistent success against the Southeastern Conference's top schools. He claimed nine of 15 games at Auburn against top 10 teams from 2004. He'll consistently face the same challenges against the Big 12's elite schools.

He's been successful before.

But Tech will provide some unique challenges that will make this the toughest job that Tuberville has ever faced.

Could Leach and the Oakland Raiders be a dream association?

January, 3, 2010
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Yahoo Sports' Michael Silver was being facetious -- I think.

But his recent suggestion that former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach should end up with the NFL's Oakland Raiders makes a certain amount of sense.

The linking of Leach and legendary NFL iconclastic owner Al Davis could be a grouping of kindred souls. Both have a fascination for pirates, don't they?

And Leach's offensive talents would be ideal for the Raiders after Oakland's 21-13 loss to Baltimore to finish a 5-11 season. It dropped the once-proud franchise to their 11th loss for the seventh-straight season, a negative NFL record.

If Davis decides to fire Tom Cable, Leach would be an interesting choice. His talents working with young quarterbacks might help rebuild the career of former No. 1 draft pick JaMarcus Russell, who has been a massive bust to this point.

Davis is a big-time meddler in the affairs of his franchise. But it won't be any more than what Leach endured working with Gerald Myers.

Think about it. What would be better than Leach working with a team with a pirate on the side of its helmet?

And the NFL might not be as much of a reach for Leach as you might expect. I'm hearing from a couple of sources that he could end up working with Leslie Frazier at Buffalo as an offensive coordinator if the Vikings defensive coordinator gets that job with the Bills.

Leach likely doesn't need to work immediately. He'll be in court, I would imagine, as his contract is settled against Texas Tech.

But it won't be that long before we see him coaching again.

If he did end up in the NFL, he would become the most quotable NFL assistant since the days Buddy Ryan was strolling the sidelines.

Instant analysis: Texas Tech 41, Michigan State 31

January, 3, 2010
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The absence of Mike Leach at the Valero Alamo Bowl overshadowed a dramatic victory by Texas Tech and its interim coach Ruffin McNeill. Here’s how the Red Raiders claimed an impressive 41-31 triumph over Michigan State.

How the game was won: The game turned when interim Texas Tech offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley decided to bench Taylor Potts after he sustained a finger injury on his non-throwing hand with about 8 minutes left. Steven Sheffield came off the bench to direct two consecutive scoring drives, wrapping up the victory with two gutsy fourth-down conversions on the game-clinching drive.

It’s notable: McNeill becomes the second interim coach in the last seven seasons to beat Michigan State in the Valero Alamo Bowl. The first was Nebraska’s Bo Pelini in 2003.

Turning point: After Tech had claimed the lead on Sheffield’s 11-yard TD pass to Detron Lewis, the Tech defense provided the clinching play two plays later. Franklin Mitchem provided the interception of Kirk Cousins that iced the victory.

Player of the game: Sheffield came off the bench to direct Tech’s game-winning drive, completing 6 of 6 passes for 80 yards, capped by his scoring pass to Lewis for the go-ahead touchdown. Sheffield finished by hitting 9 of 11 passes for 88 yards as he directed two late scoring drives. His late charge gave his team the victory, even as Potts threw for 384 yards and two TDs to earn Most Valuable Player honors.

Unsung hero: Leading Texas Tech wide receiver Alex Torres struggled with only two catches and had a critical drop late in the game. But on the next play, Torres made a critical 6-yard gain on fourth-and-5 that kept the drive alive, setting up the touchdown to ice the victory.

Stat of the game: Tech rolled up 580 yards of total offense, including 472 passing yards. The Red Raiders averaged 461.8 yards of total offense and 380.7 passing yards with Leach.

Record performance: Lewis produced a career-best 10 receptions for 114 yards and two touchdowns to help power Tech’s victory.

What it means: McNeill might have become this season’s version of West Virginia’s Bill Stewart by claiming an impressive victory as an interim coach. But how he did it was the most striking part of his team’s performance, confidently converting two pivotal fourth-down plays with the swash-buckling nature his boss similarly brought to coaching. Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers still might want to go for a coach with more experience, but McNeill showed some moxie along the sidelines that appears to make him suited for a head-coaching shot somewhere.

Briles' Baylor commitment leaves Tech looking at Plan B

January, 1, 2010
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I'm not really surprised that Art Briles apparently isn't interested in the Texas Tech job, although I think he was the prime candidate for the position if he really wanted it.

His affirmation this morning for Baylor leaves little doubt he's interested in finishing his job with the Bears.

He didn't mention Tech by name in the release, owing that he still has a lot of friends in the administration and the athletic department from his three seasons working there with Mike Leach from 2000-02. He didn't want to take a shot at them when the program is scrambling and he didn't.

I can't read Briles' mind, but I've got to believe the test of becoming the first coach to take Baylor to a bowl game in 15 years has to be the ultimate challenge in coaching.

Tech has made 10 straight bowl trips and is likely positioned to keep that streak alive no matter who is coaching -- at least initially.

But Briles sees what he has at Baylor. His stadium is a tad smaller at Baylor than at Texas Tech, but everything else at his disposal is equal to or superior at his current school than he would have had in Lubbock. The new training center the Bears opened before the 2009 season is comparable to any in the conference and better than what he would find at Tech.

And he still has quarterback Robert Griffin III for two more years, which likely would be a deal-clincher if Briles looks at the choice between the two schools objectively.

Briles' decision causes a reshuffling of the leading candidates to replace Leach.

Interim coach Ruffin McNeill can make a convincing statement with an impressive performance tomorrow night in the Valero Alamo Bowl. He would be the popular choice for most players in the program and likely the best choice to keep the Red Raiders' recruiting class together.

Former Auburn and Mississippi coach Tommy Tuberville is interested in the job and comes with an impressive résumé. But it would be interesting to see if Tech athletic director Gerald Myers would turn in his way.

Other candidates with head coaching experience like Larry Fedora of Southern Mississippi and Kevin Sumlin of Houston and others like Arizona offensive coordinator Sonny Dykes and Houston offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen might be interested in the job.

But Briles' announcement takes one of the top candidates out of the running -- at least for the present time.

Big 12 lunch links: Are Cornhuskers ready to join the elite?

December, 31, 2009
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After the Mike Leach mess played out Wednesday, it was refreshing to see some football later in the evening.

Nebraska continued its trend of playing well in big games under Bo Pelini.

Here are some stories from across the conference about those subjects and others in some lunch links to get us ready for another busy day involving Big 12 teams in bowl games.

Tech's statement on Leach's firing

December, 30, 2009
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Texas Tech released a statement giving its side of firing Mike Leach.

Here it is.

After reviewing all the information available, Texas Tech University has decided that the best course of action for the university and its football program is to terminate its relationship with head football coach Mike Leach for cause.

Texas Tech was prepared to participate in the legal proceeding today on Coach Leach's motion for a temporary restraining order. His attorney, however, chose to not participate when he was informed that the termination of Coach Leach was inevitable.

The coach's termination was precipitated by his treatment of a player after the player was diagnosed with a concussion. The player was put at risk for additional injury. After the university was apprised of the treatment, Coach Leach was contacted by the administration of the university in an attempt to resolve the problem. In a defiant act of insubordination, Coach Leach continually refused to cooperate in a meaningful way to help resolve the complaint. He also refused to obey a suspension order and instead sued Texas Tech University.

Further, his contemporaneous statements make it clear that the coach's actions against the player were meant to demean, humiliate and punish the player rather than to serve the team's best interest. This action, along with his continuous acts of insubordination, resulted in irreconcilable differences that make it impossible for Coach Leach to remain at Texas Tech.

"It is our number one priority to protect the welfare of our students and the reputation of the Texas Tech University. Parents have entrusted us with their children and we take this responsibility very seriously. We very much appreciate the leadership shown by the university's athletic director, Gerald Myers, and president, Guy Bailey, in dealing with this unfortunate situation. The board supports their decision," said Larry Anders, chairman and Jerry Turner, vice chairman of the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents.

In the near future, Texas Tech will undertake a search for a new coach.

In the meantime, the focus of the athletic department is on the preparation for the Valero Alamo Bowl.

Legendary Leach built Tech's program

December, 30, 2009
12/30/09
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Mike Leach’s firing wasn’t a surprise on Wednesday.

His attorney had predicted to several reporters earlier this week that his client would be let go by Texas Tech officials -- probably sooner rather than later.

[+] EnlargeMike Leach
Douglas Jones/US PresswireMike Leach led Texas Tech to 10 straight bowl appearances.
But it was still a cataclysmic shock in Lubbock and West Texas when Leach was let go earlier this morning. For a period after his firing was announced, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal's Web site crashed due to interest in the story.

That firing speaks to a larger controversy than what happened over Adam James' concussion and “The Shed.”

Leach and Tech athletic director Gerald Myers always had a contentious relationship from the very beginning of his tenure there. It’s understandable when you consider the turf wars that sometimes develop in athletic departments when a headstrong former basketball coach is the athletic director and makes decisions over a similarly headstrong football coach.

It all started in 2002, when rumors about Leach’s off-field activities led to an investigation by the athletic department.

Leach was cleared, but the schism between him and his boss started at that time. At one point, Myers stopped Leach’s outgoing mail in a dispute about postage stamps.

It simmered early in Leach’s time when the Red Raiders played the toughest nonconference schedule in the Big 12 as a way to make money for the athletic department. During the 2002 season, for example, Tech played Ohio State, Mississippi and NC State in addition to the Big 12 South gauntlet.

That chapped Leach and he let Myers know about his concerns. The two always seemed to be better off if they were an arms-length away from the other.

Tech officials weren’t happy when news surfaced of Leach shopping himself for a number of major coaching openings over the past several years.

And it continued when he went through an extremely contentious negotiation with school officials before he was given a three-year extension on what was a five-year, $12.7 million contract. To get the deal done, Leach went over Myers’ head and personally negotiated with Tech chancellor Kent Hance.

Under terms of the contract, Leach was due an $800,000 bonus if he was still the Red Raiders’ coach on Thursday.

Now, it appears he won’t receive that bonus, although I’m sure the contract is headed for litigation between Leach and the school.

Even with the firing, Leach will be considered one of Tech’s top football coaches ever, leaving the school with a program he helped boost into contention in the extremely difficult Big 12 South Division. It’s not a stretch to say that he was one of the seminal figures in Big 12 history, helping transform the way offense was played from the ground-based philosophies of the old Southwest and Big Eight conferences into today’s high-powered aerial attacks that have become the national rage recently.

Leach built a program out of castoffs like Wes Welker, Michael Crabtree, Graham Harrell and Brandon Williams and turned them into a team that could consistently compete with teams like Texas and Oklahoma. The Red Raiders were ranked No. 2 in the nation for a three-week period during last year's 11-2 season, which was a national breakthrough for the school.

Leach was Texas Tech football. He was as much a part of Lubbock as dust storms, Buddy Holly’s statue and the blueberry muffins at the legendary Fifty-Yard Line Restaurant.

And no matter who follows Leach, he will face a mammoth chore of replacing a legend who directed the Red Raiders to 10 consecutive bowl appearances and more bowl victories in his tenure than the rest of the school’s 85-season football history combined.

The football program upstaged Myers’ basketball program and his hand-picked coach of choice, Bob Knight. Even with the legendary career leader in victories along the sidelines, the Red Raiders’ basketball team had trouble filling the United Spirit Arena or selling the personal-seat licenses that were intended to help build the facility.

But that wasn’t the case for the football program, which became a national phenomenon under their quirky coach. Tech’s success led to him being a cover story in the New York Times magazine and the subject of a fawning piece on CBS-TV’s "60 Minutes" late last season.

Leach gained notoriety for his fascination with pirates, mobsters and Indian chiefs. His stint as a weatherman on a Lubbock television station -- memorable because of his explanation of the local occurrence of “raining mud” -- became a YouTube staple with hundreds of thousands of hits.

He could coach a little, too. During what was expected to be a rebuilding job this season, Leach juggled three starting quarterbacks en route to an 8-4 mark and a berth in Saturday night’s Valero Alamo Bowl.

He’ll be gone from the sidelines in that game. The Red Raiders likely have the perfect solution to settle the upheaval with unassuming defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill. He’s familiar with the players because of his recruiting and will give them the best opportunity to keep their program together against Michigan State on Saturday night.

But after that, it will be a different story.

Myers needs to mobilize quickly to salvage what had been the best recruiting season for Tech in recent years. Whether those recruits will be willing to stay firm on their commitments to the far-flung West Texas locale that is still one of the toughest recruiting destinations in the Big 12 will be interesting to see.

Leach carved an identity that made Tech one of the top 25 or 30 programs in the country over the past 10 years.

Now, we’ll see if his replacement can keep it there.

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Big 12 lunch links: Record crowd expected for A&M's visit to Tech

October, 19, 2009
10/19/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Hey Texas and Oklahoma fans: Do you have the post-Red River Rivalry blahs?

Here are a few links that will get you informed and excited heading into another week.

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