IRVING, Texas — First thing Tommy Tuberville did when he met his new Texas Tech football team was apologize.
Apologized for the mess the Red Raiders suffered through last December. The Mike Leach/Adam James mistreatment scandal. Leach's firing. A chaotic bowl game with an interim coach.
Tuberville had nothing to do with those events, of course, but he's a football coach, and the way he sees it, his sport and his profession let down those Red Raiders.
And now Tuberville is finished apologizing. There will be no remorse for not being Leach, the winningest football coach in Tech history.
The gridiron culture in Lubbock has changed. For better or worse, the Red Raiders no longer will be known for Leach's infatuation with pirates and an offense that fired 70 passes a game.
"We're there to win championships," Tuberville said Tuesday during Big 12 media days. "That's the reason I was brought in.
"Can you do it here? Sure, you can do it at Tech. But we're going to have a team. We're not going to worry about throwing for 500 yards."
That reads like a direct shot at Leach, but Tuberville's Southern charm softens the blow.
Tuberville hails from Camden, Ark., just down the road from Fordyce (Bear Bryant and Larry Lacewell) and Crossett (Barry Switzer). Tech fans, many of whom were incensed by Leach's firing, have rallied around Tuberville. As of last week, Tech had sold a school-record 30,709 season tickets.
Truth is, spend much time around Tuberville, and you get the feeling Tech won't fall from the Leach standard, which was the third-most successful program in the Big 12.
Don't believe in Tuberville? He was 110-60 in 14 years coaching at Ole Miss and Auburn; he was 85-40 in 10 seasons at Auburn, including a 13-0 season in 2004 and a conference record of 51-29.
The guy knows how to win.
Tech nose guard Colby Whitlock, the pride of Noble, America, said his school made the "best hire possible. It's a great change. It's a lot more structured now. You walk into the fieldhouse, you know what's going on from the start of the day until the end of the day.