Texas Tech head football coach Kliff Kingsbury and head men's basketball coach Tubby Smith are fresh off headline-making first seasons with the Red Raiders.
And for the second-straight year, both were in Tyler on Monday to tee it up in the 10th annual J.L. Gulley Jr. Memorial Golf Tournament benefiting the Tyler chapter of the Texas Tech Alumni Association.
Both coaches and Chancellor Kent Hance were in the Rose City for a luncheon and chance to meet and greet supporters of Texas Tech while also getting in 18 holes at Willow Brook Country Club.
Prior to beginning the luncheon, both Kingsbury and Smith took time to talk to the Tyler Morning Telegraph.
First on the hot seat was Kingsbury, who in his first year, led Texas Tech to an 8-5 record, including wins over then-ranked TCU and a memorable win on the road at Big 12 newcomer West Virginia. The Red Raiders capped off the season by upsetting favored Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl.
Kingsbury's biggest capture in the most recent recruiting season is Whitehouse quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who was the All-East Texas Player of the Year. Mahomes also excels in baseball and plans on playing both with the Red Raiders.
But Mahomes could also be drafted later this week in the Major League Baseball player draft, and Kingsbury was not shy about his feelings on Mahomes and his potential future in Lubbock. He also discussed his former protégé (Johnny Manziel) when he was quarterback coach in College Station and how he feels he will do in Cleveland.
Smith led Tech to more conference wins this past season than in the previous several years combined. Tech still finished outside of postseason play with an overall sub .500 record. Smith will have a few graduated starters, but says he is excited about year two in Lubbock.
TMT: With the baseball draft this week, how confident are you about keeping Mahomes?
KK: I've been praying a lot about it, so we'll see. He'll be in Tyler for that draft and I hope it all works out for him; and I hope we get him at Texas Tech, but it's an honor for him to be in that position.
TMT: If Mahomes does choose to stay with the Red Raiders and forego a professional baseball opportunity, how good a quarterback could he become?
KK: He's tremendous, but very raw still at that position and a lot of that has to do with him playing so many sports. He's never focused just on his technique, his fundamentals; the upside is very high. He's very competitive, so I can't wait to get around him and start coaching him up.
TMT: Do you think the Cowboys should've taken Manziel and how do you think he will do with the Browns?
KK: I was hoping he'd go there because I thought it would be great for the state, but I think everything happens for a reason. Having talked to him; he really liked the coaches and he likes the system, so it will all work out.
We've talked about (the challenge in Cleveland) and the greatest obstacles make for the greatest opportunities and that's how he approached this. They've gone through a lot of quarterbacks that haven't been able to take them to prominence. If anyone can do it, that man can do it.
TMT: Coach, you grabbed Pat from East Texas and it seems like you are starting to make huge inroads now in East Texas.
KK: We're trying to. They play such a high level of football out here and the coaching here is as good as anywhere in the state. They do a great job with these players, so we are trying to get out here and sign as many of them as we can.
TMT: Talk, if you will, about your first season as head coach of the Red Raiders and what do you see for year two?
KK: Year two in our system is usually where you see a huge jump. To win the Holiday Bowl with two freshman quarterbacks starting all year says something about what we've got going on out there. We expect to be a lot better this year.
TMT: What did you think about how things went in your first year with the Red Raiders?
TS: Well, I thought we made some progress. I thought our kids overachieved in some ways and I felt like we came up short in some games too. If we'd made some more plays we would've probably had more wins, but I am really appreciative of how hard the young men worked.
TMT: It seems like the media coverage in general is so much more positive for your team and other Texas Tech programs. Would you agree?
TS: There are a lot more positive things going on, so that is a lot of it. A lot of it should be attributed for us to our players and how they have conducted themselves. Everybody is excited about the future. I am really excited about it. The players that we have signed and coming in will make a real difference.
TMT: Can you talk a little about the progress of Kader Tapsoba from Tyler Junior College?
TS: Kader really did some good things for us last year. He dislocated his finger and then (came back). They put it back in place and he just came back and was such a tough kid. He's graduated and he's finishing his Master's.
TMT: Do you feel you and Kliff Kingsbury have kind of brought a swagger to Texas Tech?
TS: Kirby Hocutt, our athletic director, and chancellor Hance's vision for this program is to have the best collegiate athletes. You are only as good as the players you put on the floor or on the field.
There is a lot to offer at Texas Tech. We have a beautiful campus that is growing leaps and bounds. The enthusiasm and excitement surrounding Red Raiders athletics, and not just basketball, but the entire athletic program. We're all excited about it and I can sense it around the community and around the state and around the nation.