There were a number of ways that the Texas Tech AD Kirby Hocutt could have gone when hiring a new head basketball coach. But in the end, he made the decision that made the most sense for the current state of the Texas Tech basketball program. Mark Adams.
Only time will tell if this hire pans out. After all, every head coaching hire in every sport is essentially a crapshoot. There are just too many variables that have to pan out in a coach’s favor for anyone to ever believe that a new hire is guaranteed success.
But in giving the reins of the program to Adams, Hocutt made the call that made the most logical sense.
Sure, he could have made a splash by money whipping another Power 5 conference head coach to come to Lubbock. He could have taken the trendy path and hired a guy like Darvin Ham who has considerable NBA coaching experience. He could have gone the traditional route and hired an up-and-coming coach from the mid-major ranks.
However, sometimes the obvious answer is the correct one and that’s what Mark Adams was all along. Not flashy, not certain to create tons of buzz on the national scene, and not a household name outside of the 806, Adams isn’t the type of candidate that fans typically clamber for.
But in this case, the West Texas lifer had tremendous support from Texas Tech basketball fans and that’s because it was easy to see that he is the man most likely to keep this train rolling down its current set of tracks.
First of all, Adams’ hiring keeps the roster largely intact. We’ve already seen Kevin McCullar and Kyler Edwards state their intentions to return to Texas Tech after both waivered in that regard when Chris Beard flew the coop. What’s more, it is expected that Marcus Santos-Silva and Mac McClung will return for another season on the South Plains though neither has made any definitive statement on their future.
Then there’s the fact that Adams will keep this program’s identity intact. The architect of Texas Tech’s “no middle” defensive philosophy, one that has been copied by a number of programs around the nation, including the new national champions, Baylor, Adams’ hiring ensures that the DNA of this program will continue to be rugged defense.
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Also, Adams is hungry. His predecessor loved to talk about wanting his program to be full of “street dogs” but when Beard got the opportunity to take the cushiest of jobs, he traded in his street dog mentality for the chance at being a lap dog.
That won’t be the case with Adams. Having never been a Division I head coach, he’s had to wait decades for this opportunity. He’s paid his dues at the JUCO level and earned his stripes as an assistant and now he has to be more motivated than ever to prove his worth at the highest level of the college game.
Perhaps most importantly, Adams is a Red Raider. This is personal to him. This is truly his dream job. He won’t be jumping ship to another program if he has success because this is his destination job.
While I’m not in the camp that wants Tech to hire only coaches with ties to the university, after all, we’ve seen that tactic play out poorly with the likes of Kliff Kingsbury and Candi Whitaker in recent years, I think that in this case, Adams’ Red Raider roots are a huge benefit.
Remember that in the wake of the abrupt departures of Tommy Tuberville, Tubby Smith, and Beard, all of whom left for supposed greener pastures, this fan base is a bit paranoid of being used as a stepping stone. The continued slaps in the face by coaches who have taken other jobs, jobs that were at best lateral moves, has left a huge part of the Red Raider populace unwilling to trust that the next coach who has success won’t jump ship at the first opportunity as well.
But with Adams, we almost assuredly don’t have to worry about that scenario playing out. He bleeds scarlet and black and his ties to the university are as strong as anyone could have ever hoped for in a candidate.
Want proof that he is loyal to Texas Tech? Look no further than the fact that Adams was one of only two members of Beard’s staff (along with Sean Sutton) who did not join Beard in Austin. Rather, Adams stayed in Lubbock to fight for the job that he has always dreamed of having despite no assurances that he would get the gig. That’s all one should need to know about how Adams feels about this university.
Those on the outside won’t look at this hiring and come away impressed. National “experts” won’t laud this move as a home run. Fans of other Big 12 schools will likely greet this news with a shrug of the shoulders. What’s more, they will probably be relieved that Tech didn’t make a big-name hire.
But to those of us to follow this program closely, and those who understand what it means to be a Red Raider, this hire makes all the sense in the world. Sometimes, the right answer is the one that was staring you in the face all along.