I wasn't sure we were in the right place when our Avalanche-Journal staff pulled up to Grande Communications Stadium in Midland on Saturday afternoon.
The air was filled with the tantalizing smells of the kind of smoky BBQ I've come to know and love during my time in West Texas. We're not talking a couple hot dogs being cooked on a mini charcoal grill.
This was full-blown tailgating, campers lined up in droves with thousands taking in the game-day atmosphere, complete with bouncing castles and cooperative sunshine.
As reports rolled in Thursday that Texas Tech officals were meeting with Tubby Smith in Lubbock about the school's open basketball head coach position, point guard Josh Gray made it clear he would like as his coach next season.
"#WalkerOrNothing," the freshman wrote on Twitter late Thursday evening, "nuff (sic) said."
"How you going to break up a family? That's disrespectful..I rather not be around that situation."
Texas Tech has reached out to Southern Miss coach Donnie Tyndall about interviewing for its open basketball coaching position, according to a report by the website HoopDirt.com, which covers the college coaching scene.
A message left for Tyndall by the Avalanche-Journal was not immediately returned.
A Southern Miss official told the A-J he had not heard anything regarding Tyndall and a potential interview with Tech.
New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies said he was in Lubbock on Tuesday but has no interest in pursuing Texas Tech's open basketball coaching position, the Las Cruces-Sun News reported Tuesday evening.
An El Paso news station had earlier reported Menzies arrived in Lubbock to speak with Tech officials about the job.
Menzies told the newspaper, though, he plans to remain the head coach of the Aggies, a team he has led to three NCAA Tournaments in three seasons as its coach.
Eric Ward felt like he had unfinished business to attend to.
That more than anything, the Texas Tech wide receiver said Sunday, is why he decided to return for his senior season instead of taking his chances in the NFL draft.
“I just want to get better at things I think I need to work on,” said Ward, who caught 82 passes for 1,053 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. “Just fundamental things, keeping consistent and working on my hands.”
As fans of college basketball turn eager attention to the true start of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, Texas Tech will be continuing to search for the coach it hopes can return the Red Raiders to that stage – one they haven't graced since 2007.
In the week since Tech's season ended with a 28-point loss to Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals, athletic director Kirby Hocutt has been busy interviewing a handful of potential candidates for the job created by Billy Gillispie's resignation six months ago.
The Texas Tech basketball program is in the middle of a search for a permanent coach for the second time since 2011, when Billy Gillispie was hired to replace Pat Knight.
Gillispie left after one season, and Chris Walker served as the interim coach this season. He is one of the candidates for the job, according to Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt, but it's been less clear as to who else may be in the picture.
The situation was eerily similar.
After grabbing the rebound off a missed free throw in a game against West Virginia, the final seconds ticking away, Chris Walker called a timeout.
Rewind to Feb. 16. Tech was pushing the ball up the court with about 10 seconds left when Walker called time, the Red Raiders trailing by two points. It appeared as if Tech may have had numbers, but Walker said he didn't want to see the game end with his team turning the ball over, having been unable to get off a final shot.
Contact between Tech's new coaching staff and current players has been limited to this point, per NCAA rules, but Tech quarterback Michael Brewer said he can sense the energy the young coaches will bring just by being in the football building.
Chris Walker may still have an interim tag in front of his name, but that hasn't stopped the Texas Tech basketball coach from working hard on the recruiting trail.
As a result of that effort, Keith Frazier, a five-star guard out of Dallas Kimball, is expected to make an official visit to Lubbock later this month when Tech hosts Oklahoma State, the Avalanche-Journal has learned.
Frazier, a 6-foot-5, 185-pound hyper-athletic guard, is the 22nd ranked player in the country, according to ESPN, and he is one of the top remaining unsigned players in the 2013 class.