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Articles written by Jon Mark Beilue


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  • Commentary: A hollow march to a bowl berth

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Nov 28, 2023

    Considering just a few years ago Texas Tech was in the middle of one bowl berth over five seasons, that these Red Raiders are going to their third bowl in a row could be viewed as a significant achievement. Could be. TCU went from the national championship game to not being bowl eligible in one year. Nebraska, once one of the traditional powers in college football, a program that owned an NCAA-record 35 straight bowl appearances, missed a bowl for the unfathomable seventh...

  • Commentary: Pat on the back to Tech defense

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Nov 21, 2023

    There have been times in the years of following Texas Tech football that I have left a stadium near you trying to comprehend exactly what I just lived through. There was the 2014 abomination against TCU in Fort Worth. Frog quarterback Trevonne Boykin threw seven touchdowns passes that unseasonably warm afternoon in an 82-27 bludgeoning. I staggered out of Amon Carter Stadium like one of the survivors at the end of “The Poseidon Adventure.” Only thing missing was Maureen McGove...

  • Commentary: Raiders fishing for some late wins

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Nov 14, 2023

    Texas Tech isn’t throwing this fish back in the Big 12 pond. Not hardly. The Red Raiders don’t want to hear about any cheap wins against a third-team true freshman quarterback, not after they experienced such frustration themselves for 1 ½ games earlier in the year. Tech went on the road last Saturday to No. 16 Kansas, a place where Oklahoma, BYU and Central Florida have lost. The Raiders were ahead 10-0 when Kansas quarterback Jason Bean was hammered on a designed run and...

  • Commentary: What if? Morton's talent intrigues

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Nov 7, 2023

    When a football season isn’t fulfilling expectations, there is a certain amount of rationalization and wondering that plays out as the season winds down. To put it another way, it’s the “what if” game. For Texas Tech, there may not be a bigger “what if” than what if quarterback Behren Morton never had to deal with nagging injuries? Where would the Raiders be with a healthy Morton? There was a glimpse of that last Thursday in a 35-28 win over TCU. Morton had not played sinc...

  • Commentary: Tech-TCU: Misery loves company

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Oct 31, 2023

    There was a time – that being most of the spring and summer – when this Thursday Night Special between Texas Tech and TCU looked like it might carry some serious weight. It was a game that likely would have serious implications at the top of the Big 12 standings. The national finalist with a 12-2 record of a year ago against a team that won the Texas Bowl and finished 8-5. Then something wild happened. The season started. In an early game on the first Saturday of the season, T...

  • Commentary: Tech: Your weekly 'get well' card

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Oct 24, 2023

    Good news for any of the future opponents on the Texas Tech football schedule who may be struggling or have self-doubt creeping in. The Red Raiders are the perfect tonic for what ails almost any team. Wyoming, you a little concerned about all that offensive inexperience in the season opener against a trendy pick to win the Big 12? Don’t worry. Texas Tech is here. West Virginia, you a little nervous about being picked dead last in the Big 12 in this conference opener? D...

  • Commentary: Football's version of Groundhog Day

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Oct 17, 2023

    The reasons are many and varied over the years why Texas Tech is where it is in the Big 12 football pecking order and why Kansas State is at the elevated plane it is. To fully delve into every reason the Wildcats have won eight in a row and 12 out of 13 over the Red Raiders would consume more pages than a James Michener novel. Let’s boil it down to two plays from Saturday’s 38-21 defeat of Tech that was textbook in how the games go in this lopsided series. Two plays, on the...

  • Commentary: Has Tech found formula for success?

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Oct 10, 2023

    The question is not, what if this offensive game plan had been in place at the start of the season? Those are losses under the bridge. The question is, can this balanced Texas Tech offense and solid defense lead to a turnaround season? The plan that was on display the week before – a 21-point win over Houston – was front and center again on Saturday in a 39-14 win at Baylor. Pound the football with Tahj Brooks, and use the threat of a new-found run game to pass less fre...

  • Say it again: Give Brooks the ball

    Jon Mark Beilue|Updated Oct 4, 2023

    If Texas Tech’s slow football start is to be salvaged, it just might come from the unlikeliest of players. Nothing against Tahj Brooks, but he’s a running back. Those who carry the football at Tech have been supporting actors at best for the last few seasons. And by “last few seasons,” I mean the entire 21st century. Tech is the home of Mike Leach and the explosion of the Air Raid, of Patrick Mahomes, of Kliff Kingsbury as a coach and first as a quarterback with his 17 NCAA...

  • Commentary: Tech's slow start mirrors Big 12

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Sep 19, 2023

    The three-game non-conference dance card is complete for Texas Tech. The results are this: The Red Raiders are likely not as good as offseason storylines indicated. Neither is the Big 12. If a 1-2 start has been underwhelming for Tech, the same could be said of the new-look conference the Raiders are in. Only five of 14 Big 12 teams went through non-conference unbeaten – outgoing members Texas and Oklahoma as well as Kansas and newcomers Central Florida and Brigham Young. A...

  • Commentary: Blame game points to the usual

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Sep 12, 2023

    With the college football season only eight quarters old, Texas Tech finds itself where the Red Raiders haven’t been in 33 years – a big fat 0-2. When a team is 0-2, when a team didn’t expect to be 0-2, when a team has squandered 17- and 9-point leads, when many speculated in a summer of hype if Tech could get to double digits in victories, this start is like a 2x4 to the side of the head. When that happens, there’s only one thing to do, and it’s one Tech fans are more than re...

  • Commentary: Hype looks silly in Texas Tech opener

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Sep 5, 2023

    Joey McGuire was right. His Texas Tech football team did put the country on notice last Saturday night, that is after a long rain delay if much of the country bothered to notice. And it is this – that after a face plant against Wyoming on CBS and the home opener this weekend against Oregon on FOX, these Red Raiders are not ready for prime time despite their national exposure. After a summer of strutting and flexing, and getting many buy-ins from media and fans that this c...

  • Opinion: Raiders must walk McGuire's big talk

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Aug 29, 2023

    Nothing like August for college football fans. Except for a few early starters, every team is undefeated. The traditional good teams are going to reload. Those believed to be so-so just need a few kind bounces of the ball to win eight games. The also-rans, well, some teams are going to surprise this year – why not us? Then there are the ones who had a breakthrough season in 2022, return almost a fully loaded roster to build on that, and just know they have left those losing w...

  • Commentary: Rangers are a habit hard to break

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated May 9, 2023

    As a boy in the 1970s whose dad would put him on a tractor around 8 a.m. on a long summer day and often not get him off until a 9 p.m. sunset, a tractor radio broke up the monotony. It was a godsend. Even then, the Starland Vocal Band and Seals and Crofts began to wane as the day wore on in the Texas Panhandle. Just get me to 7:15. Not only did it start to cool by then and the end of the day was in sight, but the Texas Rangers pregame show would come on KGNC in Amarillo. At...

  • Commentary: This time right time for McCasland

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Apr 8, 2023

    Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt never did get around to calling me to see who he should hire as Tech’s next basketball coach. Come to think of it, he also never did two years ago the last time Hocutt and a committee went searching for a basketball coach. Had he either time, I would have told him to get Grant McCasland. He would not only be able and willing, but ready. He paid his dues and is ready for the big stage. Two years ago, Tech was reeling from the gut punch...

  • Commentary: Good job unexpectedly comes open

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Mar 18, 2023

    A year ago, Mark Adams was the toast of West Texas, a symbol of patience and level-headedness, an example of old-fashioned defensive toughness with a bit of the everyman modesty. He was almost revered in Lubbock and Texas Tech “for not getting on that plane,” a reference to when head coach Chris Beard stunned Red Raider basketball fans in leaving for rival Texas in early April 2021. As legend goes, Beard told Adams, his top assistant and defensive mastermind, that if he wan...

  • Commentary: With Mahomes, all we can do is watch

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Feb 8, 2023

    There’s a funny GIF out there on the information superhighway of then-Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury surrounded by three or four players. They are on the sidelines watching a play unfold against Oklahoma State. Then, almost in unison, their chins all fall to their chests. Whatever happened was not good. What happened was Patrick Mahomes’ first pass as a Tech quarterback in 2014. The untamed freshman entered the game in the second half for an injured Davis Webb and his fir...

  • COLUMN: Time to triple the fun and drama

    Jon Mark Beilue|Updated Jan 3, 2023

    So, did you like New Year’s Eve? No, not any late-night parties, but college football that afternoon and night. Did it get any better than the two College Football Playoff semifinals – TCU 51, Michigan 45, and then after catching your breath, a missed field goal with three seconds left the difference in Georgia 42, Ohio State 41? Changes in college football have often moved at a glacial pace. It took 133 years from the first game to the first playoff game. But lately it...

  • Commentary: Leach, Tech got best of each other

    Jon Mark Beilue, Syndicated content|Updated Dec 13, 2022

    Leach, Tech got best of each other To call Mike Leach an original is not too original. Of course, he was. This is like describing the sky as blue and water as wet. Whatever the beat of Leach’s drum, he’s about the only one who heard that particular pounding. You never knew what you were going to get with Leach – you just knew you were going to get something. He zoomed to prominence as Texas Tech football coach 20 years ago and controversy and fascination followed him to succe...

  • Commentary: Fight and grit? Raiders have plenty

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Nov 29, 2022

    Another Texas Tech home football game, another walk-off field goal in overtime, another storming of the field. The first two were in the bright sunshine and mid-80s of September, and the final one in the cold and mid-30s of nighttime November. It can be argued if two of them were actually worthy of such postgame fan spillage, but what can’t be argued is the fight and grit from the Red Raiders that got them to that point. The last one was the regular-season finale on T...

  • Commentary: Tech pushes past behind to earn bowl

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Nov 22, 2022

    As the shadows lengthened in the late afternoon on Saturday in Ames, Iowa, the biting cold was getting sharper by the minute. Game time was still a couple of hours away in this numbing nighttime test of wills between Texas Tech and Iowa State. Kickoff temperature would drop to 18 degrees and a wind chill of 7. And there were a number of Red Raiders, arriving at Jack Trice Stadium and walking on the grass turf. They were strutting bare-chested and doing a little hooting and...

  • Commentary: For Shough, his time may be now

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Nov 15, 2022

    In the beginning, there was Tyler Shough, followed by Henry Columbi, followed by Donovan Smith, followed by Shough again, followed by Smith again, followed by Behren Morton and followed by Shough again. For those trying to find the right number of pieces to the Texas Tech quarterback puzzle, it’s four quarterbacks starting seven times over the last 23 games. And to think, this was a program that once had one quarterback – Graham Harrell – starting 39 consecutive games over thr...

  • Commentary: Fourth-down gambles are a mixed bag

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Nov 8, 2022

    When it’s fourth down in the second halves of tight games, most fans will cup their hands and shout, “Go! Go!” to normally too-conservative coaches. At Texas Tech, with a head coach who seems to have overdosed on analytics, it sounds the same, but means something else: “No! No!” The Red Raiders had another fourth-quarter fade on the road Saturday at No. 7 TCU, seeing a 17-13 lead snowed under by three consecutive Frogs touchdowns before ultimately falling, 34-24, in a game th...

  • Commentary: Tech not as bad or good as it seems

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Nov 1, 2022

    There’s an old dusty manual of sports sayings somewhere, and in it is this one: A team isn’t as good as its best game and isn’t as bad as its worst. That one is true, especially for a program that’s still looking to escape annual mediocrity. Two weekends ago, after rolling West Virginia, 48-10, Texas Tech fans were rubbing their hands in anticipation of a five-game winning streak and trying to mentally calculate who needs to beat who down the stretch for the Red Raiders...

  • Commentary: What? Actual defense at Tech?

    Jon Mark Beilue, Sports columnist|Updated Oct 25, 2022

    There are any number of examples to illustrate the gross ineptitude and coaching malpractice of the Texas Tech defense over the last dozen years. All speak to the horror show that was a Saturday staple. There were the six different defensive coordinators in seven years, lowlighted by Matt Wallerstedt’s midseason firing in 2014, canned because his off-the-field issues were somehow worse than his on-field issues. Mike Smith, his interim replacement, later accused Wallerstedt o...

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