There is hype surrounding the Texas Tech football program again. Take a minute to fully appreciate that fact. Furthermore, take time to consider how fast the national perception of the Red Raiders has changed.
Just 12 months ago, Tech was picked to finish ninth out of ten teams in the conference preseason poll. What’s more, most people outside of the program and the fan base were skeptical about Joey McGuire as a college head coach.
Remember that last summer many national talking heads were spouting the lazy and ignorant narrative that McGuire was just a high school head coach. It was as if his five years as an assistant at Baylor didn’t count toward his readiness to lead his own college program. Never mind the fact that three of those seasons in Waco saw McGuire hold the title of Associate Head Coach.
Rather, because he was not a high-profile coordinator like the guy Oklahoma hired last offseason (former Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables) or the guy Texas hired the year prior (former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian), or because he wasn’t an up-and-coming coach with lower-level head coaching experience like Auburn’s 2022 hire, Hugh Freeze or Wisconsin’s 2022 hire, Luke Fickell, McGuire was essentially written off as a hire made on the cheap.
What’s more, many people who didn’t follow the Texas Tech football program closely were still criticizing the decision Kirby Hocutt made to fire Matt Wells in October of 2021 when the Red Raiders were 5-3 on the season. Isn’t it funny, though, how an 8-5 season and one top-25 recruiting class can change the way a program is viewed, even after a decade spent in decline and irrelevance?
Now, the Red Raiders sit at No. 4 in the Big 12 preseason media poll and are expected to open the upcoming campaign as a ranked team in the national polls. What’s more, some are considering Tech a real Big 12 title contender with a few people outside of Lubbock even believing that McGuire’s team is a possible dark horse to crash the College Football Playoff.
While all of that is fantastic for the morale of a fan base that has been through the wringer since the end of the 2009 season when beloved head coach Mike Leach was abruptly fired, there is still a sense of caution when it comes to the optimism that most people in scarlet and black are willing to exude.
What’s more, a closer look at the 2022 season will remind one that the 8-5 record that Tech amassed last year was achieved by the thinnest of margins. That’s because a number of factors that are usually considered toss-up propositions in the game of football fell Tech’s way last fall. Let’s take a look at some of those trends that helped the Red Raiders surpass all expectations a season ago because they may have to continue to stay alive in 2023 if this season is going to live up to the hype.