The five biggest "What ifs" that Texas Tech football fans still ask themselves

These five "What ifs" will always haunt Texas Tech football fans as we ponder how things might have been different had things broken a different way.
Texas Tech v Ohio State
Texas Tech v Ohio State / Mark Lyons/GettyImages
2 of 5

What if Texas Tech would have hired Ruffin McNeil over Tommy Tuberville?

Our next "What if" is a direct result of Leach's firing. To replace Leach, former Texas Tech Athletic Director Gerald Myers, along with Hance and the other influential figures in the administration at the time, took the uninspiring step of hiring former Ole Miss and Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville.

That proved to be a disastrous decision as Tuberville served to only widen the chasm between the pro and anti-Leach factions of the fan base. Instead of being a healer and a figure to rally around, Tuberville was a malcontent who publicly complained about everything from the fan support, to the lack of an indoor practice facility, to the West Texas wind.

He lasted only three years before jumping ship for Cincinnati, which wasn't even in a major conference at the time. Along the way, he ended the longest streak of bowl eligibility in the Big 12 and slammed shut the door to the golden age of Texas Tech football.

That's why fans have to wonder what would have happened had Tech hired the other candidate in 2009, Texas Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeil, a man beloved by his players and a coach who had turned the Red Raider defense into a respectable unit under his watch.

Don't forget that on Texas Tech's staff at that time was a young offensive assistant coach named Lincoln Riley who would follow McNeil to East Carolina that offseason when McNeil was hired to be the head coach at his alma mater. Had McNeil gotten the job at Tech, it is likely that Riley would have been his OC in Lubbock instead of with the Pirates.

McNeil wasn't a long-term solution for Tech given his age but he could have been a great figure for the team and the fans to rally around in a time of crisis. Plus, he would have kept Riley on staff and who knows, Riley could have been the man to eventually lead his alma mater's program after McNeil's tenure was up.

Now, Riley is one of the most highly-regarded coaches in the country as he leads USC after also being head coach at Oklahoma. It's tough to think that Tech had such a coach on its staff in the form of an alum and yet let him get away all because the good ole boy network in charge of the coaching search in 2009 went with the retread, Tommy Tuberville, instead of thinking outside the box and giving the job to McNeil.