Texas Tech and TCU Forming a Historically Bad Big 12 TandemPosted by dnspewak on January 14th, 2013
It seems almost unfair to rag on Texas Tech and TCU. The Red Raiders had to boot Billy Gillispie out of Lubbock this fall and didn’t have time to find a permanent coach, so they’re playing the entire season under interim coach Chris Walker. The record will show that Gillispie “resigned,” but there was nothing peaceful about his exit. It was a disaster, and it’s no wonder a young team with a boatload of newcomers has already lost to McNeese State at home, not to mention conference foe Baylor by 34 points. Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs have a more stable first-year coach in Trent Johnson, but even he knew his program’s transition to the Big 12 would take a significant amount of time and energy. In Year One of his rebuilding project, he’s dealt with a number of injuries, and his team is now 0-3 in the league. The worst part? TCU managed to lose to Texas Tech in the Big 12’s version of the Toilet Bowl.
So we’ve buttered you up by giving Texas Tech and TCU excuses for losing, and they’re certainly valid. Now, though, it’s time to take a look at just how bad the two programs are historically in terms of the RPI. The RPI figures are hardly scientific. The flaws are well-known, actually. But to repeat the rhetoric of the NCAA Tournament selection committee, the RPI is a decent way to categorize teams. Using RealTimeRPI, which provides RPI data dating back to 2003-04, the numbers shows that Texas Tech and TCU form the worst Big 12 tandem in close to a decade. Texas Tech’s RPI sits at a robust #246 right now, whereas TCU sits at #222. Here are all of the sub-200 RPI teams since 2003-04 in the Big 12.
- Texas Tech, #241 (2011-12)
- Colorado, #235 (2008-09)
- Colorado, #239 (2006-07)
- Baylor, #293 (2004-05)
- Baylor, #210 (2003-04)
- Texas A&M, #239 (2003-04)
Keep in mind, those were the first two Baylor teams to compete in the Patrick Dennehy post-murder scandal era. To refresh your memory, Baylor’s Dennehy died in June 2003 after his own teammate shot him, and following information that leaked out about head coach Dave Bliss attempting to hide evidence, the hammer came down on the entire program before the 2003-04 season. Scott Drew then took over, and the rest is history. But that’s the point here. If anybody ever had an excuse to be terrible, it would have been those Baylor teams. It’s also interesting to note that 2003-04 Texas A&M team, which finished 0-17 in the Big 12 under head coach Melvin Watkins. Watkins, who now works under Mike Anderson at Arkansas and held the same position at Missouri, recruited the senior class that led A&M to the Sweet Sixteen in 2006-07. That A&M team had a freshman point guard named Acie Law. Remember him? Oh, and that Sweet Sixteen team four years later was coached by none other than Billy Gillispie. Full circle.
So what’s the point of all this? Certainly, TCU and Texas Tech could figure things out and salvage their seasons. There’s a long way to go. Still, at this pace, they’re threatening to become only the second tandem in the last decade of the Big 12 to both finish worse than #200 in the RPI. They’re ranked even worse than that Baylor/Texas A&M tandem from 2003-04, so they’re on pace to set an unofficial record of sorts.
Behind the embarrassing RPI numbers, there’s actually something encouraging about all of this for Texas Tech and TCU. Look at all of the teams on the above list. It took just four years for Texas A&M to make the Sweet Sixteen, and six years for Baylor to make the Elite Eight. And once Colorado hired Tad Boyle, he immediately won with Jeff Bzdelik’s players. Every single team on that list eventually rebuilt itself and wound up making the NCAA Tournament at some point. That’s why, despite how bleak things look on the campuses of Texas Tech and TCU right now, there’s a good chance the basketball gods will change their fortunes in the coming years. That’s how these things work.