Kirby Hocutt Lights Up Chris Beard for ‘Leaving the Fight’ [Video]
"Today is not a setback. Today is a change in direction."
Kirby Hocutt opened his press conference Thursday afternoon, hours after the announcement that Chris Beard had taken the job at the University of Texas. Hocutt was quick to thank the current players, Texas Tech students and Red Raider Nation before talking more about that change of direction he mentioned in his opening sentence.
Early on, Hocutt showed his frustration. "When the Big 12 Conference releases next year's basketball schedule, that when that team comes to Lubbock, Texas, the United Supermarkets Arena will be rocking that night." Hocutt said. "There's no doubt in my mind that when we go down to Austin that Red Raider nation will occupy the majority of their arena just like we have done in the past."
Hocutt thanked Beard for his contributions before acknowledging that Texas Tech will use a search firm and a four-person committee to sift through new candidates for the men's basketball head coach position. Those committee members are Hocutt, Texas Tech President Dr. Lawrence Schovanec, Board of Regent member Dustin Womble, and Red Raider great Tony Battie.
The rest of the press conference consisted of questions from the media. Hocutt's answers were illuminating, to say the least.
To summarize the main points, Hocutt's position is that Chris Beard was offered a "lifetime" contract at some point in the past year. Beard himself tabled those discussions. When the season ended, Hocutt once again tried to have discussions with Beard and his agent, but there was no traction. Hocutt went so far as to say that it "became evident that there was no interest in that type of contract."
Hocutt then said that Beard told him he was "ready for another challenge."
The Texas Tech AD relayed that Beard said the reason for leaving wasn't for better fan support, better facilities or financial reasons. So what was it? The simplest answer is that Beard felt his time in Lubbock was over.
Hocutt addressed the players this morning, but he didn't relay much from that conversation except that everyone was there and that communication will be open between himself and the team.
There were other bits and pieces of the press conference that will be valuable down the road, but the stand-out moment came when Hocutt was asked if he was frustrated with how things ended with Chris Beard. It was a bit of a slow burn, then this happened:
Hocutt stops just short of saying Chris Beard quit the fight that the Red Raiders have been waging for the last five years, using a phrase that Beard himself uses often: "If we're honest and loyal and sincere about getting in the fight and you're in the fight every day? Yeah, frustration would be a kind word to summarize it."
Without saying it outright, Hocutt questioned Beard's honesty, loyalty and sincerity while trying his best to be diplomatic.
From Hocutt's point of view, a lifetime contract was offered. Beard declined it. A state-of-the-art practice facility that Beard helped design was built. Beard left it behind. Hocutt allowed Beard to have a conversation with Texas and was never given an opportunity to counter.
After staying in the fight for five years, Chris Beard started looking for another challenge before the challenge he was already in was completed.
Hocutt wore the frustration of Red Raider fans proudly and rightfully. Now he has to make a slam dunk hire to prove that Texas Tech built the program and it wasn't just Chris Beard.