National Columnist V.F. Castro weighs in on Texas Tech and Big 12 football


After the first weekend without Texas Tech football since Labor Day weekend the picture of the 2015 season is coming into focus. Sometimes the vantage point of fans is clouded by our passion and connection to the program.

So Wreck ‘Em Red has asked national college football correspondent V.F. Castro of to help put the 2015 Texas Tech season in perspective. Among the topics Castro gives insight on is the importance of a bowl birth for Texas Tech, what is at stake as Texas Tech heads to Austin for the final regular-season game, and the national media’s incorrect perception of the Baker Mayfield – Texas Tech split.

WER: Now that Texas Tech has qualified for a bowl victory, how big of a step forward is that for the program?  Does playing in a mid to lower level bowl advance the program all that much?

VFC: First thing’s first, the winner of Bedlam will likely determine if the Big 12 can present [a good enough team] to the playoff committee for consideration. But Oklahoma won’t make it easy, and if the Top 4 teams now win out, it’s not likely any Big 12 teams make it in, so that eliminates three possible bowls: the Goodyear Cotton Bowl, the Capital One Orange Bowl, and the National Championship. What this means is that bowls will be limited for Texas Tech. However, with the tie-in arrangements consisting of ACC, SEC, Big 12, and Pac 12 teams, Tech could have the potential to play a better team in either of those conferences. Being bowl eligible is a huge step for a program because it shows that something is working between the coaches and players. It tells recruits that your team isn’t a bottom feeder and they have the opportunity to have an immediate impact. Bottom line is that any bowl Texas Tech agrees to, fans need to turn out and show recruits that there’s no quitting in West Texas. 

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WER: If Texas Tech beats UT in Austin, is that the final nail in Charlie Strong’s coffin?  If not, do you see him looking for a new job a-la Tuberville when so many good jobs are open this year?

VFC: If Texas Tech beats Texas, I don’t think any nails will be anywhere near Charlie Strong. Mack Brown is a wonderful man who did extraordinary things for the Longhorns, but when the reigns [of the Texas football program] were passed to Brown, they were served on a silver platter in full regalia. Brown should have retired by 2011 at the latest, to perhaps try and set the program up for another seamless transition. But now, Texas is in a similar position that Texas Tech was in after [Tommy] Tuberville, and if everyone at Texas knows anything about football, they’ll continue to let Strong make the adjustments to return Texas to its full glory. With a 49-15 record against Texas Tech, and a six game win streak going, the Red Raiders are going to have to ignore history and the venue, and realize they’re the better team to come away with a win.

 WER: The Big 12 continues to worry about getting teams into the CFP.  Could it actually be better for the long-term health of the conference if it is left out again because it would force necessary changes (title game, expansion, etc.)?

VFC: Absolutely. Part of me thinks Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, and chaos ensues among all of the conference’s top tier athletic directors who petition Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby to expand with buyout threats if he doesn’t comply. But the other part of me thinks that…the Big 12 will get ignored again, and rumors will flutter that the committee did so to send a message to the conference as a whole, that if they’re not going to expand and have a legitimate conference title game, then non-conference games need an overhaul… since, you know, “Every Game Matters.” 

WER: What will it take for the national media to begin to learn the true narrative of Baker Mayfield’s exit from Lubbock?  Why is it just assumed that Kingsbury kicked him off the team when in actuality Mayfield left on his own accord before the season was even over?

VFC: Baker Mayfield is doing fine at Oklahoma, and it seems that’s where he wanted to be all along, but perhaps, needed a year to establish his talents with Bob Stoops. If that’s the case, then bravo. But given his success at OU, it’ll take him getting up on a podium or releasing a statement via his social media telling the full story. Otherwise, Kliff Kingsbury and Texas Tech are going to continue getting smeared via sloppy journalism. It’s an unfortunate situation, but like everything, this, too, shall pass.

Next: Texas Tech tops Mississippi State 74-72 in Puerto Rico

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