On Tuberville, Tech and the future

LUBBOCK, Texas -- We've had plenty of Tech-centric spring football coverage over the past few days, and there's still a bit to come.

If you've missed what we've had already, here's a quick look back:

First things first, there's been plenty of talk elsewhere in the past few days about Tommy Tuberville's supposed miscontent about being at Texas Tech. His comments to reporters after Wednesday's practice in response to a report that he was "miserable" at Texas Tech:

"I don't know where that came from. How about this weather here? Whoever wrote that blog needs to come down here. He probably doesn't have weather this nice.

"But no, this is a great place. We're gonna build something here that people can be proud of, but I think that comes from a lot of people who probably would hope we would pack up and leave.

"We're looking forward to it. It's gonna be a tough challenge the next couple of years getting it to where we want to get it to, but I would imagine that's coming from across the river somewhere that they would hope I would go somewhere else."

Maybe there's some merit to the original report. Maybe it's just people talking to people with less than pure motives. I can't get inside Tuberville's head. All I can do is ask questions. And we addressed the exact subject of Tuberville's future during my visit. Here's his full comments:

Question: As a coach with such a history in the SEC, what's your response to people who question whether you're at Tech for the long haul?

"It’s like anything else. I think most people look at you and they kind of looked at my background, I’ve not been one of those guys that went somewhere and just left immediately. I stayed four and a half years at Ole Miss. Ten years at Auburn and I left both times on my terms. I think that people look at me, too. I’m not one of those young guys that’s looking to work his way up.

Hey, I know what it’s like to go to a place, to build it up and enjoy it. Rather than go to a place, and every day you’re looking at other places like, 'What’s going to be easier and better?' I mean, I’m past that now.

I think, probably, they hired a guy that was the perfect situation for them. A guy that wanted to get back and had been out for a year, had obviously won games and had some good experience with some good head coaches and understood the game and understood recruiting.

I can say it was a perfect match for me and I hope people here would say that it was a perfect match for Tech. I know a lot of people might think differently thinking we should have won 14 games last year, but that’s no different than anywhere I’ve been. My wife and kids are the same way.

'Dad, what happened?'

We didn’t win."

Now, I'm not an idiot. I know Tuberville is smart enough to know the difference between comments to coaching friends and comments to members of the media.

But -- and excuse the cliche, however accurate -- actions speak louder than words. And Tuberville's actions don't sound like a guy eyeing a way out of Lubbock.

"I’ve done this three times. Ole Miss, Auburn and here, where you go in and start from scratch. You bring in all your guys and get going and change everything to your philosophy. It’s hard. It’s time-consuming," Tuberville said. "I had to stay on the road the first five or six months and try to coach a team. The great thing about the season starting last year was I knew at least I was going to be home most of the time. But it’s a big sales job. You’ve got to go out and sell your product, what you’re doing."

Pick apart the words of Tuberville's response on Wednesday all you want, but when he said it was going to be a "tough challenge," he wasn't talking about the team's number of returning starters or immediate prospects for success. He's talking about depth. He harped on it several times in our conversation. Defensively, Texas Tech just didn't have enough. The injuries last year sunk his team, and they were forced to move guys from offense to defense just to have enough numbers.

"It's pretty simple," he said. "If you're having to move guys from one side of the ball to the other, you don't have enough depth."

Additionally, Texas Tech has 10 offensive linemen on scholarship. Tuberville wants 14-15.

"It takes time to make that happen," he said. "You can’t just tap a wand and say we’re going fill that up."

So, bottom line. Would anyone be shocked if Tuberville left for an opportunity that he felt better fit him? Certainly not. But I don't believe Tuberville is a coach actively looking for a way out of Lubbock.

A few other leftover notes from my visit to Lubbock:

Still working at inertia in recruiting

Tuberville says when he and his staff came to Lubbock, seven of the 10 had no real idea what to expect and no real connections in West Texas.

"It’s kind of like Verizon and AT&T," he said. "You get those two guys, and all of a sudden you want to start a new telephone company, I mean, guess what, the big boys have been out there swingin’ for years and they’ve already got things in place. What we decided to do early is we’re going to take our time, we’re not going to panic, we’re going to do it right and we’re going to build relationships, sell our philosophy, we hope we win some games as we go along, but that’s not the No. 1 priority. The No. 1 priority is to get into recruiting, because players win games, coaches don’t."

Scott Smith still not ready to play

Scott Smith was one of the Red Raiders' best pass rushers last season, but in early October, he was suspended indefinitely, and Tuberville said he definitely wouldn't be back again during the season. He didn't return. That didn't help Texas Tech's struggling pass defense, and though Smith is still practicing with the team as he did all last fall, he's still not cleared to play in games.

"I don’t know when I’m going to play him again," Tuberville said. "He isn’t quite out of the doghouse yet."

Gillispie, Hocutt on board

Texas Tech hosted a press conference/pep rally on Wednesday to celebrate the arrival of new basketball coach Billy Gillispie, but didn't take my suggestion to take the over-the-top route like the Miami Heat's smoke-infused celebration of signing LeBron James and Chris Bosh.

For a school that doesn't have as high of a profile as other's around the league, however, Texas Tech has had some huge name coaches on campus. Tuberville, of course, but Mike Leach, Bob Knight and now Gillispie. That's an impressive bunch.

Now, with a new AD in Kirby Hocutt and a new basketball coach, Tuberville is suddenly the grizzly old vet in the athletic offices with just 15 months on the job. He's been out promoting himself and the program as we detailed earlier in the week, but now he's got some help.

"It’s time for them to get out and sell themselves," he said with a laugh. "Hopefully I can stay low-key."