Texas Tech football welcomes raised expectations after spring sports’ success

FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 11: Jordyn Brooks #1 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders runs the ball after a pass interception against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 11, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
FORT WORTH, TX - OCTOBER 11: Jordyn Brooks #1 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders runs the ball after a pass interception against the TCU Horned Frogs at Amon G. Carter Stadium on October 11, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Texas Tech football team seems to be embracing the high expectations of Red Raider fans who have recently seen their basketball, baseball, and track teams have unprecedented success.

Depending on how one views the situation, new Texas Tech football head coach Matt Wells either arrived in Lubbock at either the perfect time or the absolute worst.

Some feel that the success of the Texas Tech basketball, baseball, and track programs have satiated the Red Raider fandom enough to allow Wells’ time to get settled before people start clambering for his program to move to the upper echelon of the NCAA as well.  Meanwhile, others believe that the newfound success Tech experienced in the Spring of 2019 will only serve to make fans less satisfied with mediocrity, thus making the job of winning back Red Raider football fans all the more difficult.

But there’s no question how Wells and his players are viewing their school’s recent run of athletic achievements.  They seem to be embracing the raised bar and are eager to join the other programs on campus in brining national notoriety to Texas Tech.

"“To see the success that we have had in basketball and baseball and track and field and you can win in Lubbock,” Wells said in his opening remarks at Big 12 Media Days Monday.  “I don’t think their success puts any more pressure on me or our staff or our program than the pressure that was on it on December 1st, to be dead honest with you.”"

While the pressure for Wells and his program to win immediately is likely greatest on an internal level, no one can deny that there must be an urgency in the latest rebuild of Texas Tech football.  After being one of the hottest programs in the nation in the 2000s, Tech has managed to fall into relative obscurity on a national scale in the last decade thanks to a 56-57 overall record and just a 28-52 record in Big 12 play since 2010.

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As the program that not so long ago had a stranglehold on the passions of the fanbase has lost its grip on its constituency, Chris Beard’s basketball program and Tim Tadlock’s baseball program have filled the void left by the collapse of the football program and in doing so have come to surpass football in terms of interest and loyalty for a huge portion of the fan base.

What’s more, the national title claimed this spring by Wes Kittley’s men’s outdoor track team has set a new standard in Lubbock.  By bringing home the first men’s national title in Texas Tech history and just the second for any Red Raider program, Kittley has demolished the notion that Texas Tech can’t compete on a national level, which will only make fans less tolerant of the football program’s struggles.

"“I think it’s inspired me” Wells said of seeing Beard guide his team to the national title game. “It confirms to me the culture that we have at Texas Tech that Kirby Hocutt has created and the whole athletic department I think is inspirational.”"

Certainly, seeing their classmates reach the highest levels of their respective sports has been a motivating factor for the Red Raider football players.  Once the unquestioned most popular program in West Texas, the football team now finds itself trailing other programs in the athletic department.

"“That’s big,” senior linebacker Jordyn Brooks said to Inside the Red Raiders when asked Monday about how the success of the other programs has helped the football team. “I’m excited about it.  I’m glad they did what they did because that just kind of makes us look at each other like ‘come on now’ like, we gotta get it together.  I think that will be huge for us if we can pull that off.”"

Just in the last semester, Tech saw guard Jarrett Culver earn Big 12 Player of the Year honors as well as being named a consensus second-team All-American, infielder Josh Jung earn co-Big 12 Player of the Year honors while also being named an All-American and sprinter Divine Oduduru nominated as one of three finalists for the Bowerman Trophy, the college track equivalent of the Heisman.

Needless to say, the other athletes on campus have earned bragging rights over the football team, which has not produced a winning record since 2015.  And there’s no doubt that the players have heard about it from their peers.

"“It’s just like that competitive nature,” Brooks said of the ribbing the football team takes from their fellow student-athletes in the other programs.  “I see basketball turnin’ up, so we gotta go turn up too.  I think that’s good.  I’m glad they went to the Final Four.  Now I want to go to the final four for football.”"

But ultimately, the football players took as much joy in Tech’s fantastic spring semester as the rest of us did.  Seeing the Double-T competing and winning at the highest levels is always going to be special for everyone that bleeds scarlet and black.

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"“Oh, it’s awesome,” senior tackle Travis Bruffy said of the success of the other programs.  “One, first and foremost, besides being Texas Tech football players, we are Red Raiders to begin with and it’s just a sense of pride that everyone’s doing so well.  Now…we need to step it up and follow suit.  That’s our goal.”"