For at least the better part of a century, people in West Texas have felt as if there were a pervading arrogance that emanated from the University of Texas. Now, Texas Tech basketball fans are seeing former Red Raider head coach Chris Beard take on the arrogance that his new employer is reviled for around the nation.
Speaking to Jon Rothstein on the College Hoops Today podcast, Beard made a rather conceited remark concerning his return to Lubbock.
“Texas Tech is going to make a lot of money that night,” Beard said Tuesday. “But you know me — I’m where my feet are. I’m trying to win today. But I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Nobody respects Texas Tech more than me.”
What makes Beard’s remarks so arrogant is that first line, the one about Tech making a lot of money that night. That makes it seem as if Tech will have a half-empty arena for the remainder of the home games in the 2021-22 season and will only sell out the U.S.A. because of Beard’s presence. That’s a rather haughty perspective to have.
He then tried to backtrack by going to the same old tired cliches and sayings that Texas Tech basketball fans have heard for the last five years. We know Beard is full of nonsense when he says that “Nobody respects Texas Tech more than [he does]” just as we knew he was full of it when he said no one respected Troy, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, or Northwestern Central Southern State University for the Orphaned more than he did.
We know that Beard’s hackneyed phrases are as hollow and empty as the Erwin Center in Austin when a team other than Texas Tech comes to town. This brings up another point. The night that there will be a huge revenue boost for any Big 12 team will be when the Red Raiders visit Austin. After all, in each of the last two pre-COVID 19 seasons, it has been the Tech fan base that has filled up about 40% of UT’s home arena.
As for the crowds at the United Supermarkets Arena, they have been rather consistent for the past three years (again, not counting this past year when capacity was limited to 25%). For instance, in the 2019-20 season, Tech averaged 14,057 fans per game. That’s 93.1% of the facility’s capacity of 15,098.
Thus, it is worth asking, just how much more money can Tech really make when Beard returns as compared to any other game? Not enough to make an appreciable difference and certainly not enough to be the type of windfall that Beard thinks it will be.
Therefore, Beard has to be either ignorant or Techs attendance numbers, which we know isn’t the case since he obsessed over attendance figures for the last five years, or he has to believe that fans will simply stop showing up because he is no longer the man at the helm of the program.
In a way, it comes across as if Beard believes that he was and is bigger than Texas Tech basketball itself. It’s as if he honestly thinks that the Red Raider program will dry up and blow away in the West Texas wind simply because he is no longer the face of it.
The reality though is that Texas Tech fans are fans of Red Raider basketball, not whoever may be the current head coach.
Was Beard the most successful and popular coach in program history? Without question.
But the fact remains, Tech basketball was also the hottest ticket in town at points during the tenures of Gerald Myers, James Dickey, and Bob Knight. In other words, Tech basketball has seen several high-profile and successful coaches depart the program and yet the fans have always been there to support the program so long as it has been competitive and relevant, which will almost certainly be the case this coming season. Thus, the fans will fill up the vast majority of the USA for every game this year and the Texas game won’t be the only sellout of the season.
So Chris Beard, by making the remarks that he did, only showed just how self-absorbed he has become. It would be fantastic if the fan base would boycott that game and leave the arena empty for Beard’s return thus letting him know that he isn’t still the main attraction on the Caprock.
But of course, giving the team a competitive advantage is more important than proving a point to Chris Beard, and therefore the Tech fanbase will show up and pack the arena to cheer on the Red Raiders and jeer the opponent, as will be the case with every other Big 12 game on the schedule next season and not just the one when the Big 12’s most arrogant coach graces Lubbock with his presence once again.