Finally, it is time for meaningful football to return to Jones Stadium. It’s not that last week’s 63-10 win over Murray State meant nothing to the Texas Tech football program but now and for the remainder of the season, the games will be impactful in the sense that they won’t be foregone conclusions.
That starts today with a huge non-conference showdown with No. 25 Houston in Lubbock. Of course, that brings an old, familiar face back to the visiting sideline.
There was a time when Cougars’ head coach Dana Holgorsen was a Lubbock legend. Known equally for his role as one of Mike Leach’s top assistant coaches and for his nightlife-loving personality, Holgorsen has remained one of the more popular members of the Leach coaching tree since his departure.
There was even a time when he appeared to be within an eyelash of coming back to lead the Red Raiders. Back in late 2018, when Texas Tech was searching for Kliff Kingsbury’s replacement, Holgorsen was on the outs with his then employer, West Virginia, where he had been head coach since 2011.
Credible reports from Lubbock media personnel, such as one from then KAMC sports director David Collier stated that Holgorsen had a strong interest in the Red Raider opening but was denied an opportunity to interview for the position. In fact, it is believed that a well-connected booster had arranged for Holgorsen to meet with AD Kirby Hocutt only to have Hocutt refuse to take the meeting.
We all know now that Hocutt had only one true candidate in mind back in 2018, the ill-qualified Matt Wells. Thus, even had he chosen to appease the booster(s) in the Holgorsen camp, Hocutt likely would not have given that meeting any real thought.
Just a few weeks later, Holgorsen would flee the hills of Appalachia and find refuge in Houston where he’s done excellent work in turning the Cougars into one of the nation’s top Group of 5 programs. As for Wells…he’s toiling away somewhere deep in the recesses of the Oklahoma football offices working as a behind-the-scenes analyst.
One has to wonder just how much of a grudge Holgorsen still carries towards Hocutt and Tech because of that incident. Sure, he’s landed on his feet quite nicely, and soon, he’ll be coaching in the Big 12. What’s more, he’ll never admit to feeling slighted by Hocutt back in 2018.
However, he coached last season’s game against Tech as if he were trying to win his own personal Super Bowl. Throwing everything he had at the Red Raiders, including a surprise onside kick after Houston’s first drive of the game resulted in a TD, he showed with his actions that he desperately wanted to stick it to ole TTU.
Sure, some of that motivation had to stem from simply wanting to pick up a win over a Big 12 team. But deep down, there’s got to be some bit of his pride that wants to show Tech that they made a crucial mistake by not hiring him in 2018. That’s just human nature.
So expect Holgorsen to have something else up his sleeve again today as he gets another shot at the school that he used to work for. It may not be a sneak attack in the kicking game again but there will likely be some point in the contest where he tries to make a bold move, one that will defy convention and that could be a turning point in the contest.
Of course, Tech fans are happy with their head coach now as Joey McGuire could run for Mayor of Lubbock and win in a landslide. What’s more, imagine how popular he will be if his team brings home a win over a top-25 team in just his second game on the job.
For that to happen, the Red Raiders had best be solid in all aspects of the game. However, the following three areas of this matchup will prove to be especially critical and they are facets of the game that Tech must win.