20 Questions with Texas Tech Football Head Coach Tommy Tuberville
I had the chance to sit down with Texas Tech head football coach Tommy Tuberville in his office on Wednesday, July 20th, to talk everything from summer training to the new look Big 12 and everything in between. Here is the interview, in it's entirety, from that morning.
Bob Worden: How has the summer been for you and the coaching staff thus far?
Tommy Tuberville: It’s been good. Last summer was a lot more hectic because the first year in a new job it seems like there is not enough time in a day and you don’t get any sleep or rest and days just run together. This summer we have had a little more time to relax but it seems like their still isn’t enough time in the day. It takes a good three or four years to get settled in and get your routine down but this summer is less hectic than the last.
Bob Worden: Has this summer heat and lack of rain been hard of the players who work out and train?
Tommy Tuberville: The year I got here in the winter it was cold, wet and raining all the way through the spring. This year’s been totally different. The winter was mild and warmer and the spring has a lot more wind and no rain whatsoever. This time last year it seemed like we had 20 inches of rain but this year it’s been a half inch of rain. So it’s been different in terms of practicing and going out and working on throwing the football in high winds. You’ve got to take what you can get.
Bob Worden: The recruiting classes have been stellar so far since you have been here. What do you think attributes to landing those big time recruits and developing a solid recruiting class?
Tommy Tuberville: Recruiting has really changed. In the past it was pretty much a telephone call and you wrote notes for six months of the year. Then through the season you had a chance to evaluate them at football games a couple times; they came to your campus and you try to recruit them. Now you have to recruit year round. The big thing that changed is that players and parents come to your campus during your summer so you have to be around. They come on unofficial visits. They want to see what’s going on, they come to your camps. The internet, all the social networking, has really changed recruiting. Players now know more about what you’re doing and what you’re not doing. You got to keep up with the times and we’ll change the little things of recruiting every year. You’ve got to change with the times.
Bob Worden: You have talented returning players and talented future stars. How easy is it to weave the veterans and new comers in during the spring, summer and fall?
Tommy Tuberville: Well it’s hard. It’s like starting a new family. You’ve got new kids coming in with the older guys and I guess the most difficult thing is figuring out when you’re recruiting a young man is he going to fit into the community at your university and on your team. It is about personalities and we bring them in on that. I don’t keep them separate but I always bring them in and talk to them as a group of freshman and talk about staying together as a group and building friendships within and then branching out. That’s what they veterans did so that’s what I tell them to do. It’s a lot different than high school. You have more players, more freedom and you don’t live in the dorms anymore so it’s different.
Bob Worden: Who on your eyes really had a tremendous spring either young or veteran players?
Tommy Tuberville: We had a good spring practice. We had four of five true freshman come in January so recruit wise that’s all we know about. We had Blake Dees a linebacker from Mobile, Alabama, Michael Brewer the quarterback from Lake Travis came in along with Ronnie Daniels from New Mexico and Jeremy Reynolds from North Carolina and they all did well. They still have to get bigger stronger and faster though. The rest of the freshman got here at the beginning of the summer and they’ve only been here about 2 months. We can’t do anything with them in football so it’s the process of just getting them organized on the change in lifestyle. They’re away from home so they have to grow up as well.
Bob Worden: The defense has a few new coaches to work under in Defensive Coordinator Chad Glasgow and Otis Mounds who was promoted from Grad assistant to Cornerbacks coach. How quickly did both coaches step in and make their impact?
Tommy Tuberville: They have done a good job. Coaches are Coaches; we are kind of like hired guns. You go in and you have to adapt very quickly. You’re not like a player; you have to make your impact immediately. You’ve got to get your philosophy over and build relationships not just with players but will all the coaches too. Coaching is a little different. You’ve got to move in and understand quickly that the impact you make has to be quick. Otis has been here for a year before so it’s been easier for him. Chad hit the ground running as the DC. He’s been working with the players and then hit the recruiting trail. Both have done a great job.
Bob Worden: The big thing you have preached since day one is speed. Will this year’s team, both offense and defense, play even faster than most Red Raider fans are accustom to?
Tommy Tuberville: You can’t win without speed and you can’t win championships without speed. I don’t care how big you are. We’ve got guys we have recruited that are 6’6” and 250 that can run and we have guys like Hakeem Grant that are 5’6” and 150lbs that can run. So the thing I want to change on this football team is to get as much speed from the offensive lineman all the way back to the defensive backs. Everybody has got to be able to run. The more speed you have on your first team and second team players mean how many more wins you’re going to win. My philosophy has always been the quickest and fastest will always out do the bigger and stronger.
Bob Worden: There are always position battles on any football team. Do you expect a fair amount of real position battles during the fall practices before the season kicks off?
Tommy Tuberville: The thing about fall and spring is you hope to get the players in the right position, especially the young guys coming in. So that’s what we’ll do in the fall with the young guys; try to get them in the right positions. Then you work with the veterans to see if they’re still in the right spot and if they need to move or not. We know our philosophy on offense and defense but the biggest thing about coaching is #1 recruiting and #2 getting players in the right spot.
Bob Worden: What, if anything, do you think the team still needs to work on to be successful for the upcoming season?
Tommy Tuberville: It’s lower body strength. We weren’t very strong in the lower body last year. We had a lot of injuries last season in the lower body because of that. So when we got here we changed all of our weightlifting techniques and fundamentals we wanted to get to. Football is upper body strength but it’s just as much lower body strength. That adds quickness and speed and we wanted to be more flexible. In football you get into a lot of different positions and some you don’t want to get into because you’ll get tackled or tangled up and if you’re not a flexible person then you’ll pull muscles or turn ankles. We’ve worked very hard on flexibility over the last 16 months but we aren’t to the point yet to where we can overcome small injuries like last year, but we are getting better.
Bob Worden: Lonnie Edwards has been popping up on nearly every preseason watch list and award list. What does that say about this year’s offensive line being somewhat young but still recognized and what does he himself mean to the younger guys?
Tommy Tuberville: Lonnie is one of the older guys. We have him and Mickey Okafor and Justin Keown that will be seniors next year. They should be the strength of the offensive line but Lonnie has been a stable force for us. He’s a very good run blocker but he never run block before we got here because it’s mostly passing. His work ethic spills out amongst the other players, not just the offensive linemen. He’s very quiet, he doesn’t say a lot. He just plays and leads with his actions and the things he does on and off the field.
Bob Worden: Do you think the changes to the Big 12 conference will have any real effect on the season?
Tommy Tuberville: No but that’s still up in the air. You really don’t know what to expect. We know we have to play everybody and if you can win them all then you will win the conference because we don’t have the conference championship. WE have 11 straight games without an open date which is a concern without rest because of the physicality of the league. We also need depth which is one thing we don’t have experience with right now. I’m anxious to see how this works because I haven’t played in a conference like this before where everyone plays everyone with no championship. I have but it’s been a very long time.
Tommy Tuberville: I think we’re going to be a strong league and I think it’s going to work out fine. I wish he hadn’t of lost anybody. I think we lost a little bit when we lost the championship game. We lost: #1 the chance to make more revenue and #2 the chance to play that extra game and get more exposure nationally. I think we way we have it now will be good too. We’ll spread our games out a little bit and we’ll go past thanksgiving and play a game. We’ll have that “championship Saturday.” When other teams will be playing their championship games, we’ll have a regular season game.
Bob Worden: Do you see the drop in teams changing recruiting any?
Tommy Tuberville: No not really. In the state of Texas, wherever you go you still have to recruit against everybody else. So there’s not going to be a lot of difference in recruiting
Bob Worden:What are your thoughts about the Longhorn Network and could that be good or bad for the conference?
Tommy Tuberville: There will be exposure for everybody I suppose for everybody in all the sports. There will be a lot of programming. I don’t know enough about it. I’ve never been around a team that has had their own network. I don’t know whether it’s going to work. You’ve got to have a lot of programming for a network like that. I’m sure it will be more exposure for all the teams but we’ll have to wait and see how it works.
Bob Worden: I’d like to switch gears a little and have you say the first thing that comes to mind to describe this short list of coaches and players.
- Chad Glasgow - Energetic
- Neil Brown - Organized
- Seth Doege – Business like
- Lonnie Edwards – He’s just Lonnie, Quiet
- Cody Davis – Coach on the field.
Bob Worden: You get so little down time during the year, what do you do with the down time you have?
Tommy Tuberville: I’ve got two teenagers; two boys. So I follow them watching all kinds of games and practices as much as I can. I don’t get to do it too often during the season. I’ll play golf with them or go to the beach with them. I also spend time with my wife.
Bob Worden: What do you keep on your iPod?
Tommy Tuberville: I like country and western music. I like George Strait and Merle Haggard, pretty much any older country. I do like the new country. Jason Aldean is a friend of mine. I like Wade Bowen. I have a brother and sister. My brother is totally music oriented. He played music every day of his life but didn’t play sports. I went the other way. I can’t read a note of music but everything I did was athletic. I like the Beatles too but mostly country and western.
Bob Worden: Favorite place you’ve found to eat at in Lubbock?
Tommy Tuberville: I like different foods. I like Stella’s; I like Cagle’s for steak and Las Brisas and Double Nickel. I’m actually a part owner of a restaurant in Panama City called the Old Florida Fish House. It’s mostly seafood. So I go back to the beach during the summer so I’ll go there once and a while.
Bob Worden: Biggest difference for Lubbock as opposed to every other city you’ve coached in?
Tommy Tuberville: Lubbock’s one of the bigger cities I’ve lived in and I like that. Most of the schools in the SEC are 15,000 to 20,000 people so there wasn’t too much to do. I did go to the extreme for ten years when I lived in Miami. The in between I guess would be Lubbock. The traffic is not bad, it’s easy to get around, and you can get to work in 10 minutes or go home for lunch but at night you can go out and go to restaurants and people still won’t know who you are.
Bob Worden: How ready are you for September 3rd?
Tommy Tuberville: We’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m excited about the second season. We’re still fighting the short stick in some areas because we don’t have a lot of depth but I like the makeup of this team knowing most of the guys that are with us have gone through this offense and most have gone through this defense. Even though we have changed, a lot of it’s still the same as last year. Continuity is what wins for you. I think we’ll be a little better than last year but the one area we need the most luck in is injuries. We had so many injuries early last year and we had to move a lot of players around. Usually when you do that in college football it doesn’t pan out for you in the win column.