Texas Tech Football: Why players must earn Double T’s

Oct 22, 2016; Lubbock, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders flags fly outside Jones AT&T Stadium before the game with the Oklahoma Sooners. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 22, 2016; Lubbock, TX, USA; Texas Tech Red Raiders flags fly outside Jones AT&T Stadium before the game with the Oklahoma Sooners. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /

Texas Tech’s iconic “Double T’s” might date back to the 1920s, however, head coach Kliff Kingsbury is bucking from tradition, and banning players from wearing the logo inside team facilities until they’ve earned it.

Some fans have commented questioning why Texas Tech would go to that length, and it should be fairly obvious why. Texas Tech has significantly underperformed at every twist and turn, despite prolific numbers on offense. On defense, Tech has become notoriously bad, ranking either dead last, or close in final NCAA records every season since Mike Leach was fired. With Kingsbury yet to clear a regular season eight win mark, or move the needle to above .500 as a head coach, the argument can even be made that nobody has earned the right to wear the Double T’s in the facility.

While other schools tolerate cultures that might include toxic or damaging behavior, Kliff Kingsbury’s Red Raiders do not. In the eyes of the university as a whole, creating a culture that instills good values and quality character athletes is paramount in achieving longterm success.

The reality of athletics is that things can be taken away, and punishment levied at-will for underperforming, however, the only thing that guarantees coaches’ jobs, and players’ time on the field is results.

If one player is earning the right by completing plays, workouts, school work, and being a productive member of society while others are not, that player has a high likelihood of checking out, or considering a transfer. If a player misses class, an exam, an assignment or read, and that creates a negative play, turnover, sack, etc…, that player hasn’t held himself to the standard, and therefore, has not earned the right to wear the Double T’s. It’s psychological, sure, but synergy is essential in any team sport.

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For Texas Tech to become truly successful on the field, players must learn to hold themselves accountable to a much higher level than other teams, and that includes earning the rights to wear the Double T’s inside the football facilities.

Many have also questioned what Kingsbury and the staff consider “earning” the right, but if you’ve been following the team’s social media, you’ve seen a string of features on the coaches you don’t hear from that often.

When Director of Speed and Power, coach Scott Salwasser arrived last year, the “Speed School” was introduced. Many have questioned how track and field elements (aside from sprints, etc…) make football players better. To simplify that answer, Coach Salwasser is conditioning the players to consistently compete with themselves.

In Salwasser’s feature, he mentioned how “the first mandate Coach Kingsbury gave me, was to make Dylan Cantrell faster.” By setting up the speed school in a heat format designed to make players compete, and Kingsbury designating Cantrell as the effective standard, it set the level of expectation for all players.

It’s likely every position group has a designated player to which the bar is set, so it’s not only pushing the best player to go harder, it’s creating a consistent competition against each other to raise that bar in its entirety.

Since he arrived back in January, head Strength and Conditioning coach Rusty Whitt has stressed accountability, and discipline–two things that help firm the direction of any program or organization. You can tell in player interviews that his ideologies have been transformative for the program as a whole, but with just a year at the helm, this culture shift is still in its infancy. Had Tech managed to lure Coach Whitt and his staff from their respective posts when Kingsbury was hired, I believe the program would be much further along, and perhaps, discussion of earning and entitlements would be moot points.

One can imagine the mood around the facility is likely predicated on both disappointment, and hunger. That can be a lethal combination if left in the wrong hands, but under the program’s direction now–where accountability is paramount–urgency and execution must also become the standard, and it starts with the coaching staff.