Texas Tech Keeps Proving They Can Lead the New Big 12
Texas Tech has had plenty of success in the last several years as an athletic department. The school's men's basketball team played for a National Championship, Texas Tech Baseball made it to the final four teams in Omaha, Track & Field won a National Championship, yet people still look at Texas Tech as some podunk school in the middle of nowhere.
I mean, I guess it may be, but that hasn't stopped its alumni from donating funds to build a sports performance center, a $30 million basketball facility, $12 million for baseball facilities, and pledge more than $50 to start a $200 million dollar football renovation of the south end zone and a new football complex.
That's $250 million dollars in the last four years. Are you paying attention to Texas Tech yet?
Maybe it's because the football program hasn't been winning that people underestimate the Red Raiders as a whole, but new head coach Joey McGuire seems to think that's changing, too. And I believe him. Confidence and culture can bridge a lot of gaps, and McGuire and his staff have both in spades.
"So what," people exclaim, "you won't be able to keep up in NIL."
Sure, Texas Tech might be behind Texas, Texas A&M and Ohio State in top-end NIL money, but Texas Tech doesn't need to beat those schools, they just need to be better than TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma State. Those are the schools they'll be competing with for Big 12 championships.
That brings me to the announcement today that the Texas Tech NIL Collective, The Matador Club, announced plans to sign 100 Texas Tech football players to $25,000 contracts. That's 85 scholarship players and the top 15 walk-ons. As part of the agreement, the players will be tasked with community service in the Lubbock area.
Every player will make the same amount.
Texas Tech is the first school in the country with this kind of setup at this scale. The Miami Hurricanes had the offer to all scholarship athletes last year, but only for $500 a month. The Texas Tech offer is for 100 players and is more than $2,000 a month.
It's also important to note that this is not an exclusive NIL deal that the players' sign with the Matador Club. This is a minimum deal. Players can sign their own deals and cash in on their opportunities all they want, but if they stay at Texas Tech for four years they'll have earned a minimum of $100,000 that can be put toward moving on and being successful.
Or they can blow that money while they're in Lubbock and boost the local economy. That's their prerogative and it's their money to do with whatever the hell they want to do with it.
The response to the announcement was met with some cynicism from opposing fanbases. Even opposing coaches were tweeting entire threads about brand awareness. Bryan Carrington, the recruiting coordinator at TCU, was particularly pressed that he'd have to be recruiting against an automatic $25,000 to every scholarship player at Texas Tech, and boy, did he tweet through his feelings.
As part of his thread, he referred to Lubbock as "the desert," claiming that the baseline of $2,000 is a glorified stipend.
Carrington continued by pondering what would happen to the player's brand in the market when they've exhausted their eligibility. Then, he asked a series of questions making it seem like Lubbock wasn't a place to raise a family or grow a business.
Side note: This clown's head coach, Sonny Dykes, was raised in Lubbock, is a proud Coronado High School and Texas Tech University graduate, and has a brother who built a business in Lubbock.
That's not the mic drop you think it is.
The entire thread is a gross misunderstanding of what the Matador Club is doing for Texas Tech football and eventually more programs across campus. It's not hindering the individual brand; it's allowing it an opportunity to have a foundation to stand on.
A few Texas Tech coaches had tweets following the thread.
Director of Player Personnel Texas Tech James Blanchard had a legit mic drop.
Texas Tech University Offensive Coordinator/QBs Zach Kittley talked about taking care of his players on and off the field.
Texas Tech Football's Assistant Director of Operations & Recruiting Harrison Hanna just hit him with this Klay Thompson GIF. Allegedly. Hanna could have been talking to anyone, I guess.
Of course, all of this drama with TCU comes on the heels of the school's athletics director Jeremiah Donati confirming that they didn't want Texas Tech fans to overrun Fort Worth. I'll tell you this much, Mr. Donati, this isn't helping Texas Tech fans not want to come to see the coming storm in person.
It wasn't just the TCU coach who was upset. Message boards were aflame after the announcement, with everything from accusations that NIL Money is why McGuire has found early success in recruiting to people openly wondering if they have any hope to match what Texas Tech can do monetarily. That's a brand new thought for most Texas Tech fans.
The fact of the matter is, Texas Tech has the opportunity to be the big swinging stick in the New Big 12.
Texas Tech's alumni base dwarfs the private schools'. The donors are young and hungry. The Matador Club is at the forefront of what's being done with collectives. The fanbase is rabid for a winner, but even if they don't win Texas Tech still draws 10,000 more to a game in dirty ol' Lubbock than TCU does to their tiny stadium in Fort Worth.
Even if the Big 12 expands, Texas Tech will be perfectly placed to take a giant step forward over the next several years and I can't wait. The last few steps might have been quiet, but these next few are going to be thunderous stomps across this conference.
Look out, Big 12 -- there's a new sheriff in town, and his name is Raider Red.