April 15th, 2016 – Kirby Hocutt hires Chris Beard as men’s basketball coach
After three years of relative tranquility, Texas Tech once again lived up to its recent reputation as perhaps the most dramatic school in the nation. After an amazing turnaround season that saw him take the basketball team to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in nine years, head coach Tubby Smith unexpectedly and ungraciously resigned to take the same job at Memphis.
Hocutt was no doubt blindsided by Smith’s impulsive departure. Likewise, he was disappointed by the way Smith handled the situation in that he skipped a meeting with Hocutt and prominent boosters to discuss plans for facility renovations and Smith refused to even take Hocutt’s calls once the coach had traveled to Memphis to interview for the Tiger’s job.
Never one to let the grass grow under his feet, Hocutt acted decisively and immediately. Within 24 hours, he had hired a new basketball coach, Chris Beard who was one of the most sought after young coaches in the game.
The former Texas Tech assistant under Bob and Pat Knight had just been hired as the head coach of UNLV a week ago after leading the 2016 Arkansas-Little Rock team to a 30-5 record and second round appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Beard justified skipping out on UNLV by reiterating that the Texas Tech job is his “dream job” but no doubt, those in Las Vegas feel about Beard as those in Lubbock feel about Tuberville or Smith.
But who cares about them? They have casinos and show girls to keep them pacified. As for Texas Tech fans, the hiring of Beard has been met with overwhelming approval.
As a head coach, Beard has won at every stop he’s made along the way. He has a career winning percentage of over 70%.
Now, the native of Dallas who has three daughters just two hours from Lubbock in Abilene, Texas is home and the good vibrations surrounding the Texas Tech basketball program in 2015-16 can continue. This hiring has a feel similar to that of the Kingsbury hiring in that a popular figure from the university’s past has returned to his “dream job” reassuring Texas Tech fans that there is no need to worry about the coach bailing on the program at a moment’s notice.
As a former all Big-8 linebacker at Kansas State, Kirby Hocutt showed that he loved strong competition. Thus, one can assume that the Texas Tech AD has reveled in the opportunities to shape the school’s athletic program into one that is on the cusp of being one of the most complete in the nation.
It has been a busy five years for Kirby Hocutt but it is hard to imagine that he would have preferred it any other way.