When Texas Tech fired Mike Leach last December, the program looked likely to suffer financially -- at least in the short term. Thousands of messages and e-mails from fans and alums, some pledging to stop buying season tickets, made it a reasonable assumption.
Leach gave Texas Tech an identity, a national presence that people couldn't seem to get enough of, from the TV show "Friday Night Lights" to a segment on"60 Minutes."
Though Mike Wallace might not be paying Jones AT&T Stadium a visit anytime soon, plenty of Texas Tech fans will. The university has sold 27,570 season tickets three months before the season begins, only a few shy of the record-high 30,000 set in 2008, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
Texas Tech has a pretty good home schedule in 2010, hosting Texas, Oklahoma State, Missouri and Houston, which might help that number, but it doesn't explain a record.
“Coach (Tommy) Tuberville has done an excellent job of getting out and talking about their new program,” Craig Wells, Tech’s associate athletic director told the Avalanche-Journal.
Tuberville is the reason why the sales are up, but him getting on the road and talking about it isn't going to make 30,000 people shell out their money for his product.
Wells says a new 6,000 seat addition with "affordable" seats helped. No argument here.
But the overwhelming reason is simple: People are excited. Getting people excited isn't simple, but Tech seems to have done it. While the excitement for the team's success probably isn't at the level it was in 2008, it's still high. Getting a coach with a big name like Tuberville, whether he gets out and meets people, was a move that's going to fatten the university's wallet. It's also one that saved them from a post-Leach disaster. The university has already won, even if Tuberville's team doesn't. While the hire may not have been a home run in the eyes of the media, these ticket sales suggest Red Raider fans disagree.
All other credentials aside, a coach like Ruffin McNeill, Sonny Dykes, Art Briles or Kevin Sumlin could have done that. Tuberville, even after his ouster at Auburn, still has an air of legitimacy and an undefeated season in the SEC, even if his style didn't mesh with what the folks in Lubbock were used to seeing for the past decade.There's hope that Tuberville could take Tech where they've never been before, just as he did at Auburn in a jam-packed, competitive SEC West that's similar to the Big 12 South.
They want to see what Tuberville is capable putting on the field. Now, it's up to him to make them happy and keep that ticket number high -- or perhaps higher -- in his second season.