Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tuberville to Texas Tech

It didn't take Texas Tech very long to find a replacement for Mike Leach:

Former Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville has been named the next football coach at Texas Tech, the school announced Saturday. His deal is for five years and in the range of $2 million a year.

Tuberville isn't a bad hire. He left Auburn (or was fired, depending on who you believe) with an 85-40 record and eight consecutive bowl appearances, and his defenses were consistently among the best in the SEC. He's 55 now, which isn't young, but Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden have shown that a guy with the right demeanor can coach well into his 200s.

The downside is that his offenses were never particularly exciting or innovating outside of 2004, when Al Borges fashioned a devastating running game out of Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown that led Auburn to a 13-0 season. Once those guys left, it was back to business as usual (mediocre offenses rescued by excellent defenses).

Does that mean there will be a complete style overhaul at Texas Tech? Apparently not:

Last week, Tech athletic director Gerald Myers told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that Tuberville told him he would keep the Red Raiders' aerial offense in place and wanted to maintain continuity in the program, which hasn't had a losing season since 1992. Tuberville told the newspaper he would change some things defensively, drawing on success he had at Auburn.

This had to be a relief for Myers and was probably one of the primary reasons Tuberville was given the job over defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill, who did a commendable job as interim coach in the Alamo Bowl shootout against Michigan State. Getting continuity AND head coaching experience is a win-win for Texas Tech.

If Tuberville can figure out how to let the offense keep its identity while bringing the defense up to respectability, Tech might not suffer much of a drop-off. He probably won't have the recruiting success Leach did -- he doesn't really excite people or have that oddball personality that made Leach so intriguing, and Lubbock is a desert wasteland -- but if he can win eight games and get to a respectable bowl game every year like he did at Auburn, that's good enough.

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