National columnist V.F. Castro gives national insight about Texas Tech and NCAA football


As the stretch run of the college football season is upon us, Wreck ‘Em Red thought it would be great to get the perspective of national college football writer V.F. Castro of In this interview, she discusses the Big 12’s absence from the initial playoff top-4, the poor officiating around the nation, and whether or not Texas Tech is making any progress under Kliff Kingsbury.

WER: The first college football playoff standings were released this week with Baylor and TCU on the outside looking in.  Why do you think this is?  Is there an anti Big 12 bias in college football?

V.F. Castro: Baylor and TCU were positioned at No. 6 and No. 8 — respectively — because both teams just haven’t proven themselves as historically power house programs, especially considering the Top 4 are Clemson, LSU, Ohio State, and Alabama. Every team in the Top 4 at least has one national championship title under its belt, which already puts Baylor and TCU in a tough spot. Now, if Texas and Oklahoma were to replace Baylor and TCU in the Top 10, I think we’d be looking at a very different situation, as both teams have proven themselves at a national championship level. Baylor and TCU will continue to be the underdogs who are playing from behind until they can continually secure big post-season wins, which both teams are a combined 1-3 in throughout the past two seasons. With that said, it’s hard to convince the Playoff Committee of your viability when you can’t continually win bowl games despite finishing the season with a high ranking.

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WER: Should the NCAA expand the playoff to 8 teams to ensure that all undefeated Power 5 teams and at least one undefeated non Power 5 team is included?

V.F. Castro: After careful consideration, I don’t think the playoff should expand. Dating back to the past decade, schools were ranked on computer-human polling, which usually favored history and the human elements, over hard data that usually favored scheduling. And as more and more teams are going undefeated (or ending the season with at least one loss), the playoff committee is finally having to address the true value of strong scheduling. While undefeated teams and traditionally dominant teams will continue to see top marks, the only way for any team to truly separate itself from the competition is going to be in scheduling and recruiting, to make sure top quality depth isn’t an issue should there be any roster depletions. And as we saw last season with Ohio State’s backup quarterbacks continuing to defy the odds, scheduling didn’t matter when wins through adversity separated the Buckeyes from competition. 

WER: After seeing Texas Tech fall to yet another ranked team in Oklahoma State, fans are growing impatient.  Do Texas Tech fans have the right to be complaining about the state of the program or does Kingsbury have the team pointed in the right direction?

V.F. Castro: Of course Texas Tech fans have the right to be impatient, but the Red Raiders have had their backs against the wall for quite some time now, and this dates all the way back to the end of the Leach era, where they went into the Alamo Bowl under interim head coach Ruffin McNeill. Since then, Tommy Tuberville’s residual mismatched puzzle of recruits are finally filtering out leaving room to grow the program back from the ground up. Also, fans have to factor in the defensive coaching rotations which have continued to add additional recruiting mismatches, which is likely why the defense just hasn’t gelled. Texas Tech has made improvements this season, and fans need to continue to put their faith in Kingsbury’s coaching ability, and believe that David Gibbs will have the defense performing at a “Houston” level within the next year or so. These things take time, and you can’t force organic development. 

WER: Following a weekend of awful officiating across the nation (Miami’s laterals being upheld, Tech’s Jah’Shawn Johnson ejected for a phantom targeting call being two examples) what do you think can or should be done to improve the officiating in college football?  Also, should the NCAA have the ability to reverse the outcome of a game in instances such as the Miami/Duke game if an obvious officiating mistake impacts the outcome of the game?

V.F. Castro: Last weekend was definitely interesting in terms of officiating, but based off fan base trends, officiating has become more and more a point of concern as it’s beginning to have a significant impact on the flow of a football game. This is due largely to the safety initiatives, but at some point the line has to be drawn or else football as a whole is just going to become glorified 7-on-7’s. I don’t believe the outcome of a game should ever be taken away from players, and likewise, I don’t think a player should be ejected on questionable calls, but if schools want real change, it’s going to be an uphill battle, but one I think might be necessary in the not-so-distant future in order to preserve the integrity of the game. 

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Vanessa-Franchesca Castro is a sports journalist, author of The Modern Girls Guide to the Gridiron, a writer for FanSided’s and the former Editor-in-Chief of Wreck‘ In addition to being a freelance publishing consultant, Castro is also a student at Harvard. You can find her website at and follow her on twitter at .