Big 12: Neal Brown

Offseason to-do list: Texas Tech

January, 23, 2013
Every year, there's lots of turnover and change for every college program. What do the Big 12 teams need to do before next fall? Let's continue our look with Texas Tech.

1. Get used to new faces, terminology and schemes. Texas Tech's offense hasn't changed much since Mike Leach's exit, and new coach Kliff Kingsbury will throw it around, too, just as offensive coordinator Neal Brown did in three seasons in Lubbock. Still, the Red Raiders are preparing for their fifth defensive coordinator in five years in Matt Wallerstedt, who came over with Kingsbury after coaching linebackers at Texas A&M. Tech won't look markedly different, but it's still going to be an adjustment for everybody involved. Different coaches do things different ways and use different terms and approaches. Getting those relationships off to the right start is imperative.

2. Develop Michael Brewer. There doesn't appear to be much competition at quarterback next season in Lubbock. Brewer looked solid in spot duty and his potential is sky-high. Still, in this offense, he needs to be great for Texas Tech to succeed. As a first-year starter, Brewer will be a redshirt sophomore in his third year in the program, but he'll have to weather that transition, and a new offense, too. The basic principles will be similar, but expect Brewer to get a lot of opportunities to use his impressive wheels, too.

3. Fill out the secondary. Tech's secondary finally figured it out last season and made some huge strides, but now it's back to being gutted. Safeties D.J. Johnson and Cody Davis, the team's leading tacklers in 2012, are gone. Cornelius Douglas and Eugene Neboh are gone, too. I'd expect Wallerstedt and secondary assistants Kevin Curtis (cornerbacks) and Trey Haverty (safeties) to go into spring with an open mind. If unheralded players are going to emerge, those 15 practices will be the time to do it. All bets are off with that group.

More offseason to-do lists:

Hottest coaching candidates from Big 12?

December, 27, 2012
Colleague Travis Haney looked around the landscape at the hottest coaching candidates in college football and a whole lot had current or recent ties to the Big 12.

This time next year, who could be on the move? Haney first looked at new Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown, who spent the past three seasons under Tommy Tuberville in Lubbock, Texas. Haney likes Brown's chances to shake up the SEC some more with the spread offense and could be a candidate for a head-coaching job in the league this time next year.

That seems a little fast for my taste, but I could definitely see him taking a new gig at a lower level this time next year.

The scariest name on the list for Big 12ers? Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy. He's shown the willingness to listen to opportunities, and with the possibility of the Texas job coming open this time next year, look for him and Gary Patterson to be a the top of the theoretical Longhorns wish list.

Gundy, who employs agent Jimmy Sexton, does seem like a good fit at Texas, but could he ever leave OSU? The true test may be coming soon.

Haney also says look out for up-and-comers Todd Monken and Bryan Harsin, who left their posts as Big 12 offensive coordinators to take head-coaching jobs at Southern Miss and Arkansas State, respectively. I agree with Haney in that it'd be unusual to see either leave those jobs after one year, but don't be surprised if you see either become a Big 12 head coach soon.
The silly season can get dizzying at times. We'll update this if necessary, but here's where the Big 12 coaching carousel has currently landed after a few big spins.

  • No changes.
  • Head coach Art Briles was reportedly contacted by Arkansas and Texas Tech, but signed a new extension with Baylor and hasn't expressed interest in any jobs or admitted to any interviews.
  • No changes.
  • Head coach Paul Rhoads reportedly drew interest from Wisconsin, but Rhoads went on the record this week to say he has no interest in replacing Bret Bielema in Madison.
  • No changes.
  • No changes.
  • Co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel was a candidate for the Louisiana Tech opening last week, but reportedly turned down the job. The Bulldogs eventually hired Skip Holtz to replace Sonny Dykes.
  • Co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell has also reportedly drawn interest from other schools, but it sounds like he's staying at Oklahoma.
  • Offensive coordinator Todd Monken left to become the head coach at Southern Miss.
  • Head coach Mike Gundy reportedly interviewed with both Tennessee and Arkansas and some local reports even indicated that he had accepted the Arkansas job, but they ultimately proved to be false. Gundy has since gone on record saying there's "no question" he'll be the Cowboys' head coach in 2013.
  • Defensive coordinator Bill Young on if he'll return next season or retire: "I don’t know, I don’t know," Young told The Oklahoman. "I’m going to think about it."
  • Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin left to become the head coach at Arkansas State.
  • Co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite replaces Harsin as the playcaller and will coach quarterbacks now. Texas plans to replace him as running backs coach after the season ends.
  • Receivers coach Darrell Wyatt was promoted to co-offensive coordinator.
  • Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz reportedly interviewed with Florida International, but removed himself from consideration and will stay at Texas.
  • No changes.
  • Head coach Gary Patterson was reportedly a leading candidate to replace John L. Smith at Arkansas, but there were no reports of interviews or significant contact between the two parties.
  • Head coach Tommy Tuberville left to become the head coach at Cincinnati.
  • Offensive coordinator Neal Brown left to become the offensive coordinator at Kentucky on Mark Stoops' staff.
  • Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury accepted an offer to replace Tuberville as Tech's head coach.
  • Ex-Red Raiders Kevin Curtis and Eric Morris will join Kingsbury's staff. Curtis told reporters he will likely coach the cornerbacks. Morris' role on the staff is still undetermined. He previously coached inside receivers for Mike Leach at Washington State.
  • Dana Holgorsen relieved cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts of his duties and moved co-defensive coordinator Keith Patterson to defensive playcaller, replacing co-defensive coordinator Joe DeForest as playcaller. DeForest is still on staff.
  • Graduate assistant Andrew McGee (who led the Big 12 in interceptions at Oklahoma State in 2010, with five) will coach cornerbacks heading into the bowl game, but WVU will find a permanent replacement after the season.

A closer look: Meineke Car Care Bowl

December, 12, 2012
As the bowl season approaches, we're going to be looking a little closer at each game. We'll go down the Big 12 bowl schedule in chronological order.


Texas Tech (7-5) vs. Minnesota (6-6)

Where: Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas.

When: Friday, Dec. 28, 9 p.m. ET


About Texas Tech: Texas Tech could use a little good news. It's kind of been all bad lately. A promising season began at 6-1 and had more than a few Red Raiders dreaming of Big 12 title trophies. Then Kansas State delivered a systematic beatdown and Tech lost four of its final five games, the lone win coming at home in overtime against 1-11 Kansas. Then coach Tommy Tuberville left to take the head coaching job at Cincinnati, and OC Neal Brown followed him out the door to take the same job at Kentucky. The best news over that span? Texas Tech's bowl opponent is Minnesota. Let's look at these Gophers.

About Minnesota: Coach Jerry Kill is just 9-15 in two seasons as Minnesota coach, and this year's team doesn't have a win in Big Ten play over a team that's better than .500. One came over 6-6 Purdue and the other was over Illinois, who went winless in league play. All four losses in the final six games came by at least 16 points in a weak Big Ten that struggled in nonconference play. The Gophers improved this season to reach their first bowl game since 2009, but the Gophers haven't been to a bowl game that wasn't the Insight Bowl since way back in 2005.

Red Raiders to watch: Receiver Darrin Moore is the team's most talented player, but Seth Doege makes the offense go. If he has a good day, Tech can beat almost anyone. If he struggles, fans will be wondering if the Michael Brewer Era can get started a little early. Defensively, keep an eye on Kerry Hyder along the defensive line. He's been a huge help in revitalizing the nation's worst rush defense from a year ago, but safety Cody Davis is a playmaker and a scholar in the secondary.

Golden Gophers to watch: The Gophers' best player, A.J. Barker left the team and transferred to Houston recently, but sophomore Donnell Kirkwood added 848 yards on the ground to lead the team and scored five touchdowns. Barker's absence will be felt. Despite playing just eight games, he still leads the team in receiving by more than 300 yards and caught a team-high seven scores. There's been a revolving door at QB for the Gophers, which hasn't helped the receivers. Senior MarQueis Gray had a disappointing season, and Phillip Nelson took over to end the season after Max Shortell didn't make a huge impact and chose to transfer. Defensive end D.L. White may help pressure Doege. He was second in the Big Ten with 8.5 sacks.

Did you know: This game is loaded with fun facts, though the first isn't so fun. The 13-point line in this game (Texas Tech is the favorite) is one of the highest of the bowl season, muddled in the middle of some of the highest. Oklahoma State vs. Purdue in the Heart of Dallas Bowl is the highest, but depending on who you ask, Tech vs. Minnesota is No. 2. These two already played a classic in the 2006 Insight Bowl, when Texas Tech rallied from a 38-7, third-quarter deficit and outscored Minnesota 24-0 in the fourth quarter of a 44-41 overtime win that resulted in Golden Gophers' coach Glen Mason getting fired.

Lunch links: Monken departure fallout

December, 11, 2012
Don't forget to join our Bowl Mania pick 'em group.
Tommy Tuberville is out at Texas Tech, booking his flight to Cincinnati and the Big East after three seasons in Lubbock. Who will replace him? Here are the possibilities.

(Two guys you won't see on this list: West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, who spent nearly a decade under Mike Leach in Lubbock, and Cal coach Sonny Dykes, the son of legendary Tech coach Spike Dykes, who won more games at Texas Tech than everyone but Leach. Texas Tech sideline reporter Chris Level reported on Sunday that neither would be coming to Lubbock.)

Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt will be conducting the search himself, rather than using a search firm.

The candidates:

Kliff Kingsbury, OC, Texas A&M: Kingsbury is certainly on the top of Texas Tech fans' list, but will he be atop Hocutt's list, too? Kingsbury's biggest plus came this season. He coached Johnny Manziel to a Heisman Trophy and Texas A&M was one of the nation's biggest surprises. He's one of the hottest names in the field, but the 33-year-old has also only been an assistant for five years. Is that enough experience to be handed an entire program?

Chad Morris, OC, Clemson: Michael Brewer is all but locked in as the Red Raiders' starting quarterback for the next three seasons. Morris was Brewer's high school coach at Lake Travis in Austin, Texas. He's helped Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins headline the nation's No. 9 offense and knows the Texas recruiting landscape well. He's only been a college assistant for three seasons, but he's already parlayed it into a seven-figure contract as a coordinator at Clemson, something very few others in college football can boast. He'd almost surely take the job if Tech offered it.

Neal Brown, OC, Texas Tech: Brown spent the weekend interviewing for a pair of other gigs, and could be in play for the head coaching jobs at Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech. At times this season, Tech fans weren't his biggest supporters, but Tuberville made him one of the youngest coordinators in the country in 2010, bringing him on board from Troy. The promotion might get Brown to stay, and he has a great shot to be successful, but could Hocutt sell the hire to fans?

Todd Monken, OC, Oklahoma State: Monken stepped in for Holgorsen at Oklahoma State and the Pokes' offense hasn't missed a beat. Monken helped Oklahoma State win a Big 12 title in 2011, and despite losing a pair of first-round picks from last year's team and dealing with injuries to his top two quarterbacks, had OSU at No. 5 nationally in total offense. His college experience is limited, and you'd have to question whether he could run an entire program, but he's been outstanding at his latest stop, and fits the carefree mold Tech fostered under Mike Leach.

Brent Venables, DC, Clemson: Venables' name comes up for jobs a lot, but he's still waiting on his first head coaching gig. He and Hocutt played together at Kansas State and have maintained a relationship. Perhaps nobody knows Big 12 offenses like Venables, though he had a rough time stopping them late in his tenure at Oklahoma. He seems overdue for his first head gig, but does Tech need to have an offensive mind running its program?

Ruffin McNeil, head coach, East Carolina: McNeil was the defensive coordinator under Leach and won the approval of the team through his efforts. He's built ECU since taking over in 2010 and went 8-4 this season, winning a share of the division title in Conference USA. He's carried a spread offense to ECU, but would return to Lubbock after spending a decade as a defensive assistant under Leach.

Art Briles, head coach, Baylor: I don't buy any realistic possibility that Briles would leave Baylor, but there were multiple reports over the weekend that Texas Tech would pursue him. Briles already turned down Texas Tech when it eventually hired Tuberville, and after signing a new contract extension last week and the Bears' breaking ground on a new stadium set to open in 2014, Briles leaving seems like a near impossibility, even though he has a degree from Texas Tech.

Will Texas Tech's new coach be one of these seven candidates? Or will Hocutt go off the grid for an unexpected hire, like Bret Bielema at Arkansas?

Lunch links: More Mike Gundy fallout

December, 6, 2012
Don't forget to join our Big 12 Blog Readers ESPN Bowl Pick 'Em group.

Most indispensable player: Texas Tech

May, 11, 2012
We're moving on in our series on the Big 12 Blog pegging the single player each team in the Big 12 can't afford to lose. He's also the player that will be most responsible for the team's ultimate success.

Next up, the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Find more indispensable players here.

Most indispensable player: RB Eric Stephens

2011 stats: 108 carries, 565 yards, 8 TDs. 16 receptions, 133 yards.

Why Texas Tech can't afford to lose him: This was a really, really difficult call. I'm not sure Texas Tech has one player you could truly say is indispensable, but based on what we saw in 2011, you could rule out literally everyone on the defense.

Offensively, Tech has a deep stable of receivers, and the passing game remained productive even as the receivers fought injuries. That leaves QB Seth Doege and Stephens.

We already got a preview of what life without Stephens would be like, and it wasn't pretty. Stephens was a productive runner, on track to become the first Red Raider to rush for 1,000 yards since 1998, but his season ended with an ugly hit in a close loss to Texas A&M that dislocated his knee and ended his season. He's still not guaranteed to return in 2012.

But even with that production, offensive coordinator Neal Brown told me this offseason that his value to the team was still underrated. Texas Tech has a lot of backs on its roster who can look good with the ball in their hands. It doesn't have one who can pass block anything close to the way Stephens could. Being able to chip a linebacker and buy a few extra seconds for Doege will pay off in a lot of spots throughout a season. The Red Raiders lost that late in the season. DeAndre Washington played well, but Stephens' experience helped him develop that skill, and that experience can't be duplicated. We saw that much throughout 2011.

Texas Tech's running game wasn't as productive and the record went south quickly. Looking for the man Tech needs the most this fall? Stephens is your guy.

Mailbag: WVU, Tech, Snyder, expansion?

April, 6, 2012
Thanks for all the emails this week. It's been fun.

On a related note, our bracket winner, wvewe1, has been MIA. I've emailed and tried to contact, but haven't gotten a response. You're missing out. We'll try to get in touch for next week's mailbag. If not, second-place finisher MonsterBack24 should contact me here and you can post whatever you'd like in next week's mailbag.

On to this week's mailbag:

Jeff Slayer in Wilmington, N.C., asked: UBBS! Everybody is talking about the possible expansion, but only when a new commissioner is set in stone. Have you heard any news on those possible candidates and any authentication on the rumors we have been hearing the past few months. Also if FSU was actually interested do you think they would leave their troublesome little brother in Miami? Thanks!

David Ubben: That's going to be a huge question for whoever steps into the role of commissioner in the coming months. Chuck Neinas will be gone on July 1 officially, but the new man could be on board before then. His opinion and stance on future expansion will be a huge question, the first big one he'll have to answer. The Big 12 is stabilized in the immediate future after the grant of rights.

It's important to note the Big 12 commissioner isn't quite as powerful as some in other leagues. He's mostly a representative of the membership more than a guy that calls the shots for the league like some of the others we've seen. That said, if he can sell the members on expansion (he may or may not try), it could become a possibility. That said, the Big 12's members haven't expressed much interest in expansion. That question will come up in the interview process, and the league's search committee would probably be tentative to bring aboard a commissioner who was fired up about expansion.

I just don't see any realistic scenario in which Florida State joins the Big 12, but like I've said before, Louisville and Cincinnati/BYU would probably make the most sense as the 11th and 12th members, but I don't really think it'll happen.

Tyler S. in Red Bluff, Calif., wrote: No love for Bill Snyder and company! Ubbs, you may be new to the big 12, but there is one thing that all big 12 fans know. You underestimate Bill Snyder, you are going to get burned. Can you explain to me why, after 20 years of exceeding expectations, "experts" continue to put expectations so low for KSU and Bill Snyder?

DU: Yeah, I've talked a lot about K-State overachieving and doing it by the narrowest of margins last year, but no question, Snyder is the X-factor that makes me doubt a Wildcat recession.

K-State brings back so much talent from last year's team, and this is a Bill Snyder team. His entire program is based upon daily improvement, and he's proven he can get teams to do it so many times. I still think K-State is a 9-10 win team and I'll have them somewhere in the ballpark of the top 15 to start the season, but it's still hard for me to see the Wildcats actually winning the Big 12. Maybe I'm crazy. Either way, it'll be fun to watch. The Big 12 is really, really crowded at the top. OU, K-State, TCU and West Virginia are all legit contenders to win the league, and OSU and Texas could surprise some people and take the league, too.

And hey, for the record, I picked every K-State regular-season game correctly after the Baylor win.

Dylan in Jacksonville wrote: Hey Ubbs great blog, but I have a really important question that I know all of Mountaineer nation wants to know. When do you plan on making your first trip to the mountain state since you said that you've never been? You've got the guide to our home turf, now you need to make a visit before football season starts so you get a taste of calm Morgantown. Do you plan on going for the spring game? A summer session? Or just the first week when you have us vs. our little sister Marsha as your Big 12 road trip that week?

DU: How's next week sound? This is where I would have a winking face, but I'll spare you all that one. See you soon, 'Eers.

Robert Powell in El Paso, Texas,wrote: David,When Neal Brown was hired as Tech's OC, he was billed as "one of the top offensive minds in college football." After two seasons, I don't see it. First, neither Potts nor Sheffield had much success in his first year. Throw in a couple debacles like 150 total yards vs. UT, coupled with uninspired play versus Iowa State, aTm, and OU. Second, in 2011 Doege threw for 4,000 yards, but that's pretty commonplace anymore. And at least once a game, Brown substitutes players, and goes on a quick count to catch the defense unaware, but when the offense subs, the defense gets to sub as well, so the play is called back. Is Brown still highly thought of, or has everyone seen through the masquarade and figured out his predictability? Thanks!

DU: Well, let's step back and take a wide-angle look at this. One, the injuries last year have to be a factor. He lost his best back, Eric Stephens, and what I'd say are his two best receivers, Alex Torres and Darrin Moore last year. Torres was banged up in 2010, too.

But look at the numbers: Last season, Tech was 13th nationally in total offense. In 2010, the Red Raiders were 15th. They were in the top five in 2009, 2008 and 2007, but it wasn't a huge step back, and the talent Tech had in those seasons was more impressive.

Meanwhile, Tech was 114th last year in total defense, and ranked the same in 2010. In 2009, the Red Raiders were 49th in total defense and 80th in the previous season. They were up to 45th in 2007.

That should be obvious by now. It's really this simple. Tech's offense hasn't been good, but when it comes to losses, don't blame Neal Brown. He's been fine.

Darren in Columbia, S.C., wrote: As a WVU fan, I am obviously excited and honored to be in the Big XII (or at least almost in the B12).As far as the ESPN blogs are concerned we are in a bit of a no-man's land, not quite in the B12, not quite out of the BE. Of course, understandably the BE blog isn't mentioning us at all now. I want to thank you for talking about the Eers as much as you are. You could completely ignore us, and it would be understandable if you did. Afterall, we are not really a B12 team yet. I and a whole helluva lotta other Eers are really looking forward to seeing the Flying WV logo appear on the right side of your blog page!

DU: Glad to have you, Darren. I'm pretty excited to learn about the new teams in the league and see them week to week. And, of course, interact with two brand-new fan bases.

Big 12 spring game recap: Texas Tech

March, 26, 2012
Missed Texas Tech's spring game on Saturday? No worries, we've got you covered.

What happened:
  • Red beat Black, 25-19, but players switched teams throughout the game. Note: This is not allowed during Big 12 play.
  • Quarterback Seth Doege completed 25-of-39 passes for 217 yards, a touchdown, an interception and was sacked five times. Fellow QB Michael Brewer completed 21-of-28 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns.
  • Running back SaDale Foster ran for 70 yards on nine carries.
  • Fellow juco transfer Will Smith had a team-high six stops and an interception, the only turnover of the game. He also had a tackle for loss.
  • Possible starters TE Jace Amaro and RB Kenny Williams were held out of the game after arrests this spring, but further punishment will be doled out as the legal process plays out, coach Tommy Tuberville said.
What we learned:
  • If you paid attention, you heard the buzz surrounding Michael Brewer this spring, and Scotty Young's decision to transfer only further perked my ears. This is Seth Doege's job, but the future looks promising for Brewer, who has lots of targets to throw to in this offense, too. He had a great day, and here's a guess it'll be far from his last. Much of Brewer's production came against the No. 2 defense, but offensive coordinator Neal Brown said he wants him confident heading into the season. Mission accomplished.
  • Even if Eric Stephens can't get back from his dislocated knee for 2012, you've got to feel good about the RB spot at Tech. Foster earned rave reviews this spring, as did Ronnie Daniels, and validated them in Saturday's game. Williams' status is in question after his arrest, but before that, he was the likely starter at the position. He's continued to practice with the team, but Williams or not, Tech should have some productive backs. The big question is can they replace the one thing no Red Raider could in 2012? Nobody pass blocked like Stephens.
  • Speaking of hype, it's probably OK to get pretty excited about Will Smith. You heard it all spring and finally saw it on Saturday. He'll have to get used to the speed of the game once the actual games start, but he'll be one of a handful of big-impact juco transfers across the Big 12 this year. Look out for him, Brandon Moore at Texas and Calvin Barnett at Oklahoma State.
  • Texas Tech is breaking in a new kicker, but the Red Raiders are really pleased with what Ryan Bustin did, and it's easy to see why. He missed a 52-yard kick short, but banged in kicks of 42 and 49 yards, as well as a 26-yarder. Tuberville called his performance "pretty impressive."
They said it:

"My goal when we kick off against Texas State is to have 100 percent confidence in Michael Brewer. ... If something happened to Seth Doege, Michael Brewer comes in and we don’t change anything. We’re not there yet, but today was a good step in that direction."

- Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown

Catching up with Texas Tech

February, 6, 2012
DALLAS — Had the privilege to spend some time with the Texas Tech coaching staff on Thursday, a day after it signed one of the best recruiting classes in school history, and a top 20 class after a 5-7 season.

Here's what I wrote about that.

But there was plenty more. Here's a bit of what didn't have a spot in the story.

No margin for error for Tech

Tech coach Tommy Tuberville isn't denying the role injuries played in the disappointing season, but even before that, with the inexperience on offense, the expectations for 2011 weren't high.

"We knew it was going to be a tough year to begin with," Tuberville said. "We felt like we could make it defensively with the high school guys that we'd recruited, and we took one junior college player, but if I had to do it over again, if I knew we'd lose 6,7,8 guys with injury, we had 15 total, but 3-4 of those guys were defensive guys. We just hit rock bottom."

That put pressure on an offense with a new quarterback and a new running back, but a team with prospects to win 7-9 games couldn't handle that kind of injury.

Stephens' value underrated, status uncertain

Texas Tech lost leading rusher Eric Stephens in the fifth game to a badly dislocated knee, but he was a lot more than just the team's top runner. Offensive coordinator Neal Brown noted that people forgot he was the team's No. 2 receiver and the best pass-blocking back, too.

Stephens is obviously out for the spring, but the coaching staff is considering using his remaining redshirt year this season. He should be available in limited capacity during fall camp, and Tuberville said the possible 1,000-yard rusher was on pace for a normal recovery so far, but would have to take it slow as the season approached. He could be eased into Tech's nonconference schedule, and be at 100 percent at midseason. That's still in flux as his rehab progresses, but the staff made it clear that they're prepared to use his redshirt year if the healing process is slowed for any reason or Stephens suffers a setback.

Douglas staying on defense

Tuberville lamented the fact the Red Raiders were forced to put a former receiver on Biletnikoff Award winner Justin Blackmon in a 66-6 loss to Oklahoma State, thanks to injuries.

That duty went to Cornelius Douglas, but Douglas isn't going back to offense after spending the last part of the season on the defensive side of the ball.

"I think he's got a future there, I think he got better," Tuberville said. "He did pretty well."

Will A&M's SEC exit open up Houston recruiting?

Texas A&M concluded its final season in the Big 12, but once they leave, Tuberville says the Aggies' recruiting stronghold in Houston could be up for grabs for teams in the Big 12.

"I think there's a lot of kids that's going to want to stay in the state of Texas and play, and that's going to be probably 10-12 guys that could have gone to A&M that stay in the state, so you're going to see a lot more teams go to that area, which we already do," Tuberville said, "but you're going to see more of a presence there."

The addition of another Texas team in the league, TCU, will only intensify recruiting battles in Texas, Tuberville said.

"It'll affect everybody. They'll be a force here in the metroplex. It just makes it that much harder for everybody, not just us," he said. "It makes it harder for Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, because it's another team from Texas."

What to expect from Darrin Moore

Darrin Moore made the biggest splash on the opening weekends of the 2011 season, catching 12 passes for 221 yards and adding nine catches for 118 yards and three scores the following week.

But on the second series against Nevada, he suffered the first of a handful of injuries throughout the season, and was what offensive coordinator Neal Brown described as a "nonfactor" until the final few games of 2011. Brown admitted they may have rushed him back, but said he was disappointed with how Moore worked in rehabbing those injuries.

The issue was discussed and the two sides came to an understanding, but the coaching staff is expecting Moore, a speedy, athletic 6-foot-4, 214-pounder to produce like he did early last season in 2012.

Prunty making a name for himself

Texas Tech defensive ends coach Robert Prunty has earned a reputation as one of the league's top recruiters, and continued it this year with another strong showing on the recruiting trail in just his second season at Texas Tech, joining the staff after a decade at Hargrave Military Academy.

"The big thing about recruiting is being able to evaluate good players, but he had to do it all when he was there. Chief, cook and bottle washer for 10 years," Tuberville said. "He had to do eligibility, recruiting, evaluating, the signing and all those things, so he's got a lot of experience, plus he's got a lot of contacts with coaches. He's just one of those guys that's well-connected to a lot of people.

"He can go to Crockett, Texas and recruit, or he can go to Pittsburgh and recruit. You've got to be able to communicate with different types of players in different communities and environments and settings, and I have fun with him. I recruit with him a lot. He does a great job. He presents himself well."
DALLAS -- Scanning the list of the nation's top-25 recruiting classes unearths few surprises. The list is mostly national powers like Texas, Alabama, Notre Dame, LSU or USC. That, or growing programs at the height of recent success, like Stanford.

Every single team, though, won enough games to qualify for a bowl game, save sleeping giant Tennessee trying to rebuild under Derek Dooley.

One team sticks out.

Despite a 5-7 season, Texas Tech still signed the nation's No. 20 class, a second consecutive top-20 recruiting class over a span that's featured just 13 wins.

[+] EnlargeTommy Tuberville
Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo"You don't recruit these guys for 3-4 months," Tommy Tuberville said."You recruit these guys for two years."
"You don't recruit these guys for 3-4 months," coach Tommy Tuberville told on Thursday. "You recruit these guys for two years."

Texas Tech's top three signees, receivers Dominique Wheeler and Reginald Davis, as well as offensive tackle Michael Starts were all committed to the Red Raiders by June 2011, months before the season began.

Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt called the season "disappointing" and "unacceptable," but reiterated his vote of confidence in Tuberville on Thursday.

The difficult part was keeping players already committed while the Red Raiders suffered through seven losses in the final eight games of the season.

"You just show 'em the truth. You don't make excuses, because we're in a results-driven business," offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. "But you show 'em. Obviously, we were good enough to beat the No. 1 team in the country at their place and snap that home winning streak, and we were close."

There's no erasing the 5-7 record, the first losing season at Texas Tech in almost two decades. And as easy as it is to focus on embarrassing 34-, 32- and 60-point losses to teams that finished in the Top 25 late in the season, the Red Raiders were competitive early in the season in close losses to Texas A&M and Kansas State. A four-point November loss to Missouri, which would have given the Red Raiders a bowl berth, came on a tipped ball in the final minute inside Mizzou's 5-yard line.

So, "showing 'em" means filling them in on injuries. Offensively, the impact of running back Eric Stephens' dislocated knee in the fifth game was enormous. Brown noted that Stephens was the team's second-leading receiver at the time, and called him the best pass-blocking back he'd been around. It also forced the Red Raiders to rely on freshmen.

Defensively, injuries forced the Red Raiders to play even inexperienced players. In the season finale against Baylor, Texas Tech traveled with 52 players, compared to almost 100 for the Bears. Now, 15 players are expected to miss spring practice.

"We just kind of hit rock bottom," Tuberville said. "We lost the base of what we had, any kind of leadership on defense. When we lost the running back, that put tremendous pressure on the defense. That just devastated us."

Added Tuberville: "It's pretty unusual to go into the Oklahoma State game and have to put a receiver (Cornelius Douglas) on (Biletnikoff Award winner Justin) Blackmon."

So for top recruits, the sell is simple.

"Sell what you have," Tuberville said. "There's a lot of these guys that look at us and say, "Hey, I can go a lot of places, but I can go to Tech and play right now.' And they can. That's a big selling point because of the situation we're in. That's helped. It helped get certain players."

Tech signed nine juco players in its 2012 class, including seven defenders, in hopes of finding a quick fix for a defense in need of a lot more than a quick tune-up.

The talent has arrived for the Red Raiders. The wins haven't. When will they? The focus for now is clear. Tech has had two of the best recruiting classes in the Big 12 in successive seasons. It's also fielded two of the worst defenses.

"We've gotta balance this team up. There's no way you can go out there and put the kind of pressure on the offense that we did last year," Tuberville said. "'We're going to give up 50, so y'all gotta score 50.' It's just not going to happen. You're definitely not going to win championships doing that."

Lunch links: Bedlam beckons

December, 2, 2011
I lost an enormous last-minute bet I placed on myself with a shady Las Vegas bookie.

Tuberville talks Mizzou turf after injuries

November, 22, 2011
Texas Tech had three players injure their knees in Saturday's loss to Missouri. A week earlier, Missouri running back Henry Josey and Texas running back Fozzy Whittaker had season-ending knee injuries on the turf, which prompted rumblings from Texas that the turf was putting players in danger.

After the game, offensive coordinator Neal Brown said the turf was "Not very good." Receiver Bradley Marquez added it "wasn't good at all," and Tuberville said it was "best they take it up."

He expounded on those comments on Monday.

"I don’t know enough about it. I heard officials complain about it. I heard other teams," Tuberville said. "It didn’t look any different to me. You could tell it was a little bit older, but I’m not an expert on that, so it’d be hard for me to compare what they have and what other people have. It’s just a different type of turf.

"Just reading things other coaches had said when they had problems. I think there was five knee injuries in the last two games on it. It’s just one of those deals. The older turf gets, the worse it gets and my understanding is they’re getting ready to replace it. So, it’s not a big issue now."

Tuberville didn't point out his major issues on the Big 12 coaches teleconference on Monday, but at the press gathering in Lubbock, Texas later that day, he expressed other concerns.

"We had been warned and told by other coaches. Even the officials complained about it. That's a moot point now, because I think they're getting ready to take it up anyway," he told reporters.

Saturday's game was the final one of the season at Faurot Field.

"It probably makes for a good talk. But the bottom line is the last two weeks there have been five guys that will probably have to have surgery from playing there," he said. "It could have been a coincidence. You can't blame it on any one person, that's fate. There are a lot of guys that have played on that turf that haven't gotten hurt, and I think they even practiced on it. I saw their sleds at the end of the field where they practice.

"It's probably more coincidence than anything. But what's done is done, and I'm sure they'll do the right thing and replace it."

An all-access look at Texas Tech

November, 10, 2011
Great look at Texas Tech on ESPNU All-Access last night. If you didn't see it, here were the highlights.
  • Tommy Tuberville: "You have to really enjoy college football to want to be a part of it, because it's not a lot of down time, it's a lot of busy time and it's a lot of late-night hours, seven days a week." All true, even if that's mostly just during the season.
  • The show followed the team during its week of preparation heading into last week's 52-20 loss to Texas.
  • I really enjoyed getting a look at Chad Glasgow working. An early opening segment offered a look inside a defensive coaches meeting. The Red Raiders defensive coordinator's side of the ball has struggled this year, but I'm sure the season has been a huge learning experience for the first-time coordinator from soon-to-be conference mate TCU, where he coached defensive backs.
  • Robert Prunty, recruiting extraordinaire and defensive ends coach, explained the Red Raiders' "Pitbull" mentality. No, he doesn't have his players slam Dr. Peppers 24/7, Make plays, and you get your name up above the board below a picture of a pitbull. Scott Smith and Dartwan Bush made the top of the board, and the better you play, the more impressive-looking your pitbull is. Kind of hilarious. Jackson Richards and Kindred Evans were also on the board for making plays. Every week, Prunty prints out information of this weeks "bite victims." That means both team's tackles, and in Texas' case, QBs. Also, running backs. Case McCoy and David Ash were both on the wall in the DEs meeting room. From Prunty's assessment, it seems like the DEs have taken to it. Competition will do that. Here's guessing Brandon Weeden's face has spent a lot of time on the wall this week.
  • The Masked Rider has used the same horse for 10 years. His name is "Midnight Matador." "This is all he's ever done, really." Becoming the masked rider comes with a written test about horse health and equipment. The rider is responsible for taking care of the horse during the year, and answers 10 open-ended questions and does a driving test with the truck and trailer that holds the horse. There's also a riding tryout and an interview with a panel of 12-15 people. The Masked Rider is far more fascinating than I ever knew.
  • The statue of Will Rogers on Tech's campus was rotated after installation so its butt faced A&M, riding away from College Station. Touche, Tech.
  • Interesting to see OC Neal Brown offer a team-wide academic update on Tuesday, calling out receiver Marcus Kennard to study for a history test. Stuff like that, and accountability, is where some senior leadership can come into play. Brown also announced in a team meeting that WR Tavares McRoy had gotten a 100 on a test and reserve QB Michael Brewer had gotten a 96. Positive reinforcement! "Smile, man. It's not illegal to smile," Brown said.
  • "I'm only as good as my staff," Tuberville said. "I delegate responsibility and I took most of my philosophy from Jimmy Johnson when I was at Miami."