Football News Conference
Dec. 8, 2012
KIRBY HOCUTT: Good afternoon. Everybody doing well? It's been an interesting day. It started for me at 9:15 this morning. I was at my son's soccer game. And I got a phone call from a Ohio number that I did not recognize and subsequently listened to the message and it was the athletics director at Cincinnati saying that he intended to visit today with Tommy Tuberville about their head coaching position.
I did not return the phone call. And then at 10:30 this morning received a call from Coach Tuberville, had the chance to visit with him, and he notified me at that time of his resignation and his intention to accept the job at Cincinnati.
I've enjoyed my time working with Tommy Tuberville. He's a good man, a man of great character, and I wish him well, wish him nothing but success as he moves forward and want to thank him for his leadership and his service to Texas Tech University and to our football program.
I want to be very clear, very clear, that we have a great football program. This is a great university and a football program that is steeped in tradition. We have 35 Bowl game appearances. This year will be our 35th as we go to Houston and participate in the Mineke Car Care Bowl. We've participated in postseason Bowl games, 11 of the 12 past college seasons. It's a football program that has 11 conference championships and a football program that has had 48 All Americans. This is a program that has tremendous athletic facilities. Texas Tech University has invested over $230 million into our athletic facilities over the past decade.
Our resources at Texas Tech are great. We have a passionate fan base, a fan base who set tremendous records this year. We set a school record for our highest average attendance in Texas Tech football history. We have a great city to live in. Lubbock, Texas is a great place to live. You will find some of the greatest people in the world right here in West Texas in Lubbock. I had an opportunity earlier this afternoon to meet with the coaching staff.
We have some tremendously talented men serving as assistant coaches here at Texas Tech, and I'm excited and pleased and appreciate their commitment to continue to serve as assistant coaches in leadership positions and lead us over the course of the next 20 days as we prepare for the Mineke Car Care Bowl. All the assistant coaches were around the table with the exception of our offensive coordinator, and I think all of you know that he's interviewing for another position today, but the remaining head coaches were all at the table and all have committed to continuing to coach and to lead this program as we prepare for our Bowl game.
I had an opportunity this afternoon to meet with our football team. And I want to tell you, I am so proud each and every day, and I take a lot of pride in leading this football program. We have 105 men, young men on this football team, and we're very proud of them, the way they conduct themselves in the community. The way they conduct themselves in the classroom, their achievements in the classroom, as well as their competitive fight in competition.
I had the opportunity earlier this week to spend a couple of days in New York City with Cody Davis, as Cody was recognized by the National Football Foundation and received a postgraduate scholarship. This was right before Cody was recognized as an academic All American. So many young men who represent Texas Tech in a first class manner. They're indeed fearless champions and I'm proud to serve them each and every day.
My focus and my commitment to this university and to our fans in the coming days and in the coming weeks is to find the very best head coach in the country who wants to be at Texas Tech University.
As we begin the search for the next head coach, it is important for us to find an individual that has the following characteristics and possesses the following qualities. In every sense of the word we want to find a leader, winner, want to find someone who knows the fabric of west Texas, someone who is committed and wants to be a part of our great community.
Fit is very important to me, and I think finding the right fit for Texas Tech is critical at this point in time.
We want a winner, leader, who is going to position us to compete at the highest levels competitively. Our goal is very simple. Our goal is to be the best college football program in the country to compete for Big 12 championships and to compete for national championships. We've been at the top of the college football world before and we're going to get back to the top.
It's important for us to find a winner and leader who is going to motivate and encourage our student athletes to achieve the highest level possible in the classroom and ensure when our young people leave Texas Tech that they leave with a degree in their hand.
It's important that our next head football coach embraces the Texas Tech values that are so important to each and every one of us. And I want to assure our fans that there's no shortage of candidates. There's no shortage of candidates.
There are lots of college football coaches around this country that want to be at Texas Tech today leading this football program. Before I open it up for questions, I want to ask our fan base, I want to ask the Texas Tech Red Raider nation across the country to come together like they never have before and to show their Red Raider pride, their pride in the double T, I want to urge and encourage our fans to sell out Reliant Stadium. December 28th we have a very important bowl game, on national television, prime time, it's the only college football game on at that time. And I want to urge our fans to create a home field advantage and a home field atmosphere for this football team to be the best that this group of young men have ever experienced. I urge our fans if they have not bought their tickets for our December 28th game against Minnesota, that they do that this up coming week and let's celebrate and let's show this country what it means to be a Red Raider and the pride we have in our great university and stand behind this football team like we never have before.
So with that I'm happy to answer any questions or expand on anything that you would like to further.
Q. Did Coach Tuberville give any indications why he wanted to go to Cincinnati?
KIRBY HOCUTT: I would probably ask to keep the conversation between Tommy and I private. But if that's a question, I would encourage you to ask Tommy why he ultimately made the decision to go to Cincinnati.
Q. Did you get a sense that he'd be looking elsewhere, that he was looking at the Arkansas, Tennessee job?
KIRBY HOCUTT:The first indication I got was at 10:32 this morning when he called me. Tommy and I have talked a number of times since the conclusion of the Baylor game this year, and as recently as yesterday he looked me in the eye and gave me his commitment and dedication to Texas Tech football and leading this football program forward.
Q. You were looking for somebody who knows the fabric of west Texas, could you be more specific about that, what you're looking for there?
KIRBY HOCUTT: Well, I think it's important to find somebody who embraces the west Texas community, the West Texas lifestyle. This is a great place to live. It's a great place to raise a family. It's a great place to build a football program. And we want somebody who is familiar with the state of Texas. We want somebody who is familiar with the values that we hold dearly in West Texas in Lubbock and I'm confident that we'll be able to find that person.
Q. Who is in charge now going forward to Bowl games, an interim coach?
KIRBY HOCUTT: We will be I will be making that decision in the coming days, Chris. We will identify an interim head coach in the very short order. And move forward in that regard. But as of this time have not asked any of our assistant coaches to serve in that manner but will be in the very near future.
Q. Given what you said a moment ago you said as recently as yesterday Tommy looked you in the eye said he was committed to Tech. What was the setting of that conversation and given that, do you feel betrayed?
KIRBY HOCUTT: The context of that conversation, Don, was the future of Texas Tech football and where we need to go. Obviously we were frustrated with the way that this season ended. We expected more. And I think all of our fans were frustrated and disappointed. And if you weren't, you're at the wrong place, because we expect better at Texas Tech. That being said, it was in a conversation about what it's going to take to get us back to the level that we've been at and to get to a position where we're competing for the Big 12 Conference championship. So that was the zest of the conversation.
Do I feel betrayed? Again, it's a business. And I wish Coach Tuberville the best and he's made the right decision for him and his family. So I wish him only the best as he moves forward.
Q. That conversation took place where?
KIRBY HOCUTT: In his office.
Q. Have you had any contact with any potential candidates out there today?
KIRBY HOCUTT: No, sir.
Q. In terms of opening up for a search, guys who have been coordinators, have had coaching experience, how does that play into, which are you looking for?
KIRBY HOCUTT: We're going to find the best candidate for Texas Tech. If that individual is a head coach, great. If that individual is a coordinator, somewhere in this country, great. But we're going to find the best head coach for our program moving forward and find the best fit for Texas Tech moving forward.
Q. Your search committee, do you make the hire or do you know?
KIRBY HOCUTT: I'm going to make the hire. And I'm going to make a recommendation ultimately to President Schovanec who is here I appreciate Dr. Schovanec being here. So the process, the Texas Tech policy is that the athletics director makes a recommendation to the president. So I will conduct the search and ultimately make my recommendation to Dr. Schovanec as to who I recommend to be the next head football coach at Texas Tech.
Q. In your conversations with Coach Tuberville since the season had ended, have you given your expectations for 2013 and moving forward and do you think that influenced his decision for Cincinnati?
KIRBY HOCUTT: Tommy and I talked about our expectations for the program, and we shared those expectations, and we both embraced those expectations that we have as a program.
As to speculating what led to Coach Tuberville's ultimate decision, I can't speculate, but I can say that we had recently talked about the expectations that we have as a program and we both shared those and embrace those and we're committed I thought to working together to achieve that success.
Q. What's been done on a recruiting front today with coaches and reaching out to the players like that?
KIRBY HOCUTT: We have 25 scholarships. We have I believe 17 verbal commitments at this time. I've asked our assistant coaches to remain in communication with those commitments as well as those individuals that they're recruiting. They're recruiting them to come to Texas Tech University they're recruiting them to be a Red Raider. We continue to stay in communication with them and make sure that those young men that have committed here, we're going to honor our commitment to them.
Q. Can you comment on the defensive staff may be headed to Cincinnati as well? Does that scare you, the potential recruit?
KIRBY HOCUTT: I received the commitment about two hours ago in the meeting room just right behind us, with the entire defensive coaching staff they all gave me their commitment they're going to lead this program on the defensive side of the ball through this program. So I trust those individuals and the word they gave me and that's all I can say about that. I haven't heard that speculation or that rumor.
Q. At any point since the season ended, what discussions, if any, did go along regarding Tommy's contract going forward?
KIRBY HOCUTT: Tommy and I didn't talk about that. He had three years left on his contract here at Texas Tech, there was no conversation about his contract in any way.
Q. Is it frustrating to see this in college football? I know it's just a necessary evil. But coaches not honoring contracts, is there anything that you guys can do about that?
KIRBY HOCUTT: No. There's nothing we can do about it. This has been a year of a lot of transition and a lot of change in college football. But I don't know if it's I don't believe there's anything that can be done about that other than where we are today.
Q. Could you kind of take us through the phone call that you got this morning, and you made a decision not to return that call, was there a specific reason why you decided not to return that call?
KIRBY HOCUTT: I was watching the FCU 10 Lubbock team play a 3V3 soccer tournament. We had four games scheduled. They ended up going 4 and 0 and winning the championship. I only got to see the first game. It was a matter of being at a soccer game. The wind was blowing into the phone a little bit I wanted to be in private before I called him back. It was nothing personal or intentional, it was just waiting until I had a moment to do that.
Q. With this resignation is there any money coming back, did you have to buy him down?
KIRBY HOCUTT: Tommy's contract, terms of his agreement will be honored. And there was I believe a $900,000 buyout at this point in time for his contract. So that's something I haven't had a chance to talk to anybody about. But those are the terms of his agreement, and we expect that that will be honored.
Q. Have you discussed a timeline you would like to have this search made?
KIRBY HOCUTT: I'm not going to put a timeline upon ourselves. We will move as expeditiously as we possibly can, but at the same time we're going to take as much time as we need to find the right individual for this program.
Q. You mentioned fit several times there. Is it with a fit or is it better to go with someone that's familiar with the surroundings here?
KIRBY HOCUTT: That should be taken into consideration. But at the same time I think somebody who is familiar with the state of Texas that embraces the values that we hold dear in West Texas and somebody who wants to be at Texas Tech and believes that we can compete for championships, because we can win at the highest levels in this program, and we're going to show that.
Q. You mentioned that you're going to bring the incoming coach in the coming days, any names jump to your mind about interim head coach? KIRBY HOCUTT: No, we have nine assistant coaches, and all of nine are extremely talented in so many ways. So at this point in time I wouldn't speculate as to who that may be, but at the right time I know we'll ask and receive the service of the right individual to serve as interim head coach.
Q. Do you get a sense this may indeed unite the fan base some that weren't on the side of Coach Tuberville and some that were and everybody has a common ground, do you get that sense in the early going here?
KIRBY HOCUTT: I get a sense that our fan base is passionate about the double T. And our fan base loves Texas Tech University. I've been here two years and I have yet to meet anybody in this country who attended Texas Tech that didn't have a positive experience during their two or four, five years at this great university.
So this is an opportunity for this fan base to come and once again lift Texas Tech football on their shoulders. And it's time for us to stand behind this football program as we go through this obstacle and identifying the next head football coach, this opportunity. And I think it's an opportunity for us to come together and show our support to this country like never before.
Q. Just to clarify, you had absolutely no indication that Tommy was a candidate for Cincinnati job until this morning?
KIRBY HOCUTT: That's correct.
Q. Given that he stepped into a hornet's nest as soon as he got here, after the Mike Leach firing, to what extent do you feel like him being perhaps not comfortable or not well received led up to this day?
KIRBY HOCUTT: Don, I can't speculate about any of that. What I do know is that this is a great program. This is a program who has been to 35 Bowl games. Won 11 conference championships. This is a great job. This is a great job. And this is a football program that has the resources and facilities to compete at the highest levels, and we're going to find the right leader for us at this time.
Q. On the subject of assistant coaches, what do you anticipate happening with Neal Brown?
KIRBY HOCUTT: You'd have to ask Neal. I can't speculate.
Q. What did you say to the players? A lot of them have taken to Twitter very frustrated with what's going down?
KIRBY HOCUTT: I haven't seen anything that they've sent out. But when I had the opportunity at 3:00 this afternoon to meet with the team in this very room, it was a team that, while surprised to hear the news of the day, a team that loves each other, a team that's together and a team who is focused on the Minnesota Gophers and team determined to go to Houston and come back with a win. I saw a very determined group of young men and a very proud group of young men.
Q. Did Tuberville's agent ask you for a contract exception?
KIRBY HOCUTT: I've never talked to Tommy's agent.
Q. Do you worry about the perception of the university with a coach leaving for a maybe less glamorous job?
KIRBY HOCUTT: Not at all. This is a great program. Anybody who has been to Texas Tech, anybody who has ever touched this program in any way knows the strength of this place. Knows the strength of our fan base and knows the power of this brand. And this is a great program, and we're going to find a great head coach to lead Texas Tech forward.
Q. From a personal standpoint, what would you say is your overriding emotion or feeling right now with all this coming down right now, what do you feel most strongly?
KIRBY HOCUTT: A sense of determination, a sense of determination to get a leader in here who is committed to Texas Tech University who wants to be engrained with the fabric of Lubbock, with West Texas, and a winner. Somebody who expects to compete for championships in everything they do. Somebody who embraces our mission of educating, serving and growing fearless champions and somebody who will commit themselves relentlessly to the pursuit of that mission statement 24/7. I feel a determination and a commitment to bring the best leader in the country to Texas Tech University and Texas Tech football.
Q. When you were talking to the players, was it the conversation more you addressing them or how many questions did you get from them?
KIRBY HOCUTT: I had an opportunity to share with the team the sequence of events as they've transpired today. My thoughts as we move forward as a program and a couple of the leaders of the team got up and spoke as well. And then I had an opportunity to visit with the seniors alone after that. And I would just say that I'm going to keep those conversations between me and them but, again, I'm very proud and honored to serve the young men on this football team each and every day. It's a talented group of young men, a group that I'm very proud of.
Q. When Coach Tuberville was hired, the thought was that the offense was in place and Coach Tuberville was here to kind of help the defense, what is your thought right now with the defense not exactly being fixed but on the right track and with maybe even a regression of offensive play?
KIRBY HOCUTT: Well, that's a good question. I would say that it emphasizes leadership that it's so critically important at this time that we go out and we find the right leaders and coaches to come in and lead this program. Mark Kaufman has done a tremendous job with this defense, where you look at where we were ranked 118th in the country last year, we're ranked in top 40 in total defense. It's about finding the right individuals, the right leaders, the right coaches to come in here and work with our young people. It's hard to say that your offensive production is down when you're the number two passing offense in the country and you're the 12th overall offense in total yardage in the country.
So were we disappointed with the end of our season this year, yes we were. But we also had some significant achievements this year that we're very proud of. And again I compliment our assistant coaches. I think Tommy assembled a great staff here and I appreciate the service of those men to continue to lead our football team as we prepare for the Bowl game.
Q. Did you get a feel for like offensive identity, 12, 13 years ago Jarred said this is the kind of guy we want or are you worried about West Texas fabric and winner, all that kind of stuff, offense, does it matter? Could you hire a defensive guy like Tuberville was?
KIRBY HOCUTT: I think it's a right fit. I think a lot of times your defensive minded coaches have a better understanding philosophically for offensive systems and going out and finding that right offensive coordinator for a program. I believe it's important to have a balanced attack. I believe it's important to be able to run the ball. At the same time I think you have to pass the ball as well. We want somebody who is going to have a balanced attack, somebody who is going to believe in the system that they bring in, but at the end of the day we want the right individual who is a winner and can bring a winning style of play to Texas Tech.
KIRBY HOCUTT: Thank you.
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