After the tumultuous week surrounding the Texas Tech basketball program, a week that included the abrupt departure of Tubby Smith for Memphis and the hiring of new head coach Chris Beard less than 24 hours later, the dust has settled in Lubbock (no pun intended) and there is a new man at the helm of the revitalized Red Raider basketball program. Here’s why Chris beard is the right man for the job.
Just three years ago, Chris Beard was as anonymous as a collegiate head basketball coach could be. In March of 2013, Beard was hired to be the head coach of the Division II Angelo State Rams and no one outside of San Angelo, Texas noticed.
Now, he finds himself as the head coach of a Big 12 program coming off of an NCAA Tournament appearance. To say that Beard’s rise has been unusually quick is an understatement.
Therefore, some may be wondering if he is the right man for the job. They may wonder if his hiring was the result of a knee-jerk reaction from a stunned Texas Tech University and its athletic director Kirby Hocutt who was trying to save face.
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However, the reality is that the Texas Tech basketball team made the best hire it could have when it brought Chris Beard back to Lubbock.
To understand why Beard is a home run hire, one must be willing to accept Texas Tech’s place in the NCAA basketball and overall collegiate sports landscape. Any honest Red Raider fan must admit that the Texas Tech basketball program is a good but not great program.
Therefore, Hocutt was not at liberty to hand pick any coach in the country like blue-blood schools such as Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina or Kansas would have been able to. After all, the team lost its most recent coach to Memphis, which is not a top level NCAA job either but in the eyes of most it has a higher ceiling than does the Texas Tech job.
Before Tubby Smith was fired from Minnesota in 2013, Texas Tech was looking at a list of candidates that were as unimpressive as they were depressing. Marvin Menzies was languishing in the anonymity of New Mexico State (where he remains), Chris Walker was an interim coach whose only card to play was the possibility that he would bring a 5-star recruit (Keith Frazier) with him, and the rest of the candidates were so insignificant that their names have been forgotten.
Had Smith not been looking for work, Texas Tech would have been the guy at the bar looking for any girl to take home at closing time, regardless of her beauty. Such was not the case this time around as the program is in much better shape thanks to the job Smith did.
Still, Texas Tech basketball is not a destination job for most coaches. But that is not the case for Chris Beard.
Beard is the right man for the job because he wants to at Texas Tech. He is not an alum like Kliff Kingsbury, Candi Whitaker or Tim Tadlock but he has said he considers Lubbock home.
In fact, Beard’s first comments at his introductory press conference on Saturday echoed the fact that Lubbock is home for him.
"“Simply stated, it is great to be home.” Beard said."
A Texas native, Beard spent ten years in Lubbock as an assistant coach under Bob and Pat Knight and during that time he developed a love for Texas Tech and Lubbock that is necessary for success. Furthermore, unlike the previous basketball coach, Beard emphasized that Texas Tech is his “dream job”.
"“This is exactly where I want to be. This is my dream job. It always has been.”"
It is that attitude which makes Beard the right man for the job. It takes a special person with the right attitude to embrace the challenges of building a winning program at Texas Tech. Beard left a program in UNLV that has a national championship on its resume and is in one of the most exciting cities in the country, Las Vegas, to return to Lubbock.
Ralph Waldo Emmerson once said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” In Saturday’s press conference, Beard exuded enthusiasm for being the head coach at Texas Tech. Furthermore, it is obvious that he wants to stay for the long haul.
The main factor that drove the Texas Tech basketball program into the ditch was a lack of stability at the head coach position. From 2011 – 2014, Texas Tech had four different head coaches, a recipe for disaster.
Though Tubby Smith stayed long enough to return the program to solid ground, he left before the job was fully completed. Now, Texas Tech has hired a man who has a passion for Lubbock and West Texas and who came to Texas Tech because he wanted to, not because he was out of work and looking for any port in the storm as was the case with Smith.
Chris Beard many not be a Texas Tech alum but he is a Red Raider where it counts most, in his heart. Because of his love for Texas Tech and the fact that he has always dreamed of being the head coach of the Red Raiders, Beard is the best possible hire Texas Tech could have made.