Seth: Hey you! It’s been a while, like since January of this year, which is a long time. Let’s start with the offseason, the spring and the summer workouts and the introduction of Rusty Whitt. I’ve opined plenty on this subject, namely that I think that Whitt makes a difference, and it says something about both Kliff Kingsbury, hiring Whitt, and Whitt as a motivator and a person. What’s your two cents on the subject?
Travis: Man, it has been a long time. I love the Whitt hire and what he’s been able to bring to the table. Something I think about is the idea that the off-season is really a race to see who can show the most improvement. You can work your tail off and improve, but you can never forget that everyone else is doing the same. The winners are the ones that tip the scale ever so slightly. I think a guy like Whitt could very well be a scale tipper.
I’m really excited to see Mahomes’ progress after a full off-season with Whitt and away from baseball. Do you think he’s a legit dark horse Heisman candidate?
Seth: I think he’s a dark horse candidate, but the Heisman has evolved into the best player on a really good team and I don’t know if Texas Tech wins enough games for Mahomes to reach that platform. Mahomes’ stats would need to be unbelievable for him to get into that conversation. So, yes, I think he’s a dark horse candidate, but the only thing holding him back are the wins and losses of Texas Tech. Now, if Mahomes stays another year, then yes, he’s at the top of the list, without question.
One of the themes of the offseason has been the uncanny confidence that Kingsbury seems to have in the defense. He’s said on a handful of occasions that the defense should be much improved, that the defense is going to surprise some people. Kingsbury isn’t one that praises just to praise, but I have a tough time rationalizing an improvement on the defense. Perhaps I’m too scarred as fan to think that there can be serious improvement over the course of a year. What do you think about Kingsbury’s optimism and do you think the defense will improve from last year?
Travis: Kingsbury has never seemed to be a guy that minced words, so if he believes the defense will be improved, I have a tendency to believe him. I think there are the makings of some solid pieces but several of those guys are going to be thrown into the fire right away. They’ll surely be tested early by ASU, but the rest of the schedule is a bit backloaded, so that should give the unit some time to grow. As is always the case, momentum and tasting periodic success could be determinative. However, I’m fully prepared for my phone to blow up on several Saturday’s this fall with definitive statements of the team’s continued failure and imminent fate. Gotta love it.
So I’ve been thinking, you’re probably one of the most straight-laced guys I know. Pretty matter of fact. But do you have any guilty pleasures, any little things that might surprise people? My family and I never miss an episode of Big Brother. It’s so much fun to watch. Yes, it’s debauchery and idiotic, but it’s just fun to watch strangers trapped in a house for the summer. Do you have anything like that?
Seth: I actually thought hard about this and believe it or not, I don’t really have a guilty pleasure. Well, maybe. The one thing that I enjoy that’s really just for me, something I enjoy that doesn’t add much of anything to what I normally do is this stuff. Everything from the blogging, to designing graphics, thinking about how make something better, or trying to learn new HTML or figuring out CSS. I still don’t watch shows (more on that here in a second) so my free time is doing this. And probably drinking beer, or trying new beer. I actually keep track of what I drink when I drink something new.
This only confirms what you think about me, which is that I am incredibly straight-laced and my idea of fun is blogging.
I can recommend one new show that I’ve started with my wife, it’s called The Last Kingdom and it follows an orphaned Dane in 9th century. It’s based off of a handful of books, but the series is pretty terrific. There’s only one season out now, but a second one is on the way in 2017 I think.
So, I got a son since we last left off and you got a new dog. Or maybe it’s more accurate that Claire got a new dog. Is this the firs time that your kids had previously lost a pet and what went into Claire’s decision in deciding to get you a new puppy dog?
Travis: I love that you keep track of the beers you try. That’s perfect.
— Travis Hale (@LubbockElitist) August 27, 2016
Yeah, the whole puppy thing was a long process. Claire had a very methodical mind (she’ll probably chronicle her beers someday,too) so we knew there would be several steps to climb before she was ready. She was heartbroken after Lola died and it took her a while before she was ready to even consider a new puppy. Meanwhile, the boys have their own idiosyncratic ways. Cade, who just turned seven, is a lot like me. He never wants to think about or consider anything bad. The whole idea of death and heaven freaks him out. But Cash is all about talking about things like that all the time. One of the first things he realized last week when we got Stella is, “we’ll have Stella but if she dies she’ll go to heaven and we’ll get another puppy.” Cade started to cry and the rest of us tried to ignore him. #SuburbanLyfe
But your story is a lot more important than ours. What’s it like with two boys in the house?
Seth: The first week it was incredibly weird managing two boys, but since thing, we’ve managed pretty well. First of all, Youssouf is really good about figuring things out. He sorta just gets it even though I probably sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher to him. I do enough pointing and gesturing, he sort of knows what I’m talking about. And although I did learn some French to help with the process, it’s really Lingala that’s the main language in DRC, so my French helped on a few occasions, but there is no “Google Translate” for Lingala.
Even so, Youssouf is picking up English well, he’s starting to put sentences together. He’s only been here since the middle of May, so the fact that he’s coming along is great and I think he understands a lot more than he can speak. When he gets home from school, he’s always got some story from school that he’s trying his best to translate to me, so I just sit there as wide-eyed as possible as he rumbles through things. We went on vacation in July, something we haven’t done in four years. We went to Taos, a family friend let us stay at their house in Taos for the week and it was one of the best things that could have ever happened. Here’s two quick anecdotes:
* Fitsum isn’t an entirely new person, but I feel like he grew as a person quite a bit during this trip. Fitsum has always lacked certain motor skills. That is part of growing up in an orphanage for the first year and a half of his life. He had terrific care and the women who cared for him and his mates loved him dearly, but they could have only done so much. Fitsum has always lacked nimbleness and dexterity. There were times that I wasn’t sure what I would expect with him hiking. He would need to focus and watch his feet and be able to hop from stone to stone to cross a stream. More than anything, he would need to be brave and realize that he can do these things. It wasn’t easy convincing him, but by the end of the trip, he was a new person. He would balance on this half-wall at the house where we stayed and that’s something he never would have tried to do before. He hopped from stone to stone (he did still fall in the water on occasion, but that’s okay) to cross streams. He was/is finally starting to figure out his long-lanky body and how it’s supposed to work. He challenged himself and he won. The kid really needed a win. The other deal that has cropped up is how Fitsum is dealing with Youssouf being home. There is some resentment and anger and it has been tough for him to mentally absorb that he’s no longer the only one here. I’m reading Jim Harrison’s Dalva and this quote struck me, “I began walking at your age because the natural world seemed to absorb the poison in me.” I don’t know if this trip helped absorb the that anger and resentment and poison, but he could not escape to television or his room full of toys. He had to walk and talk with his brother and they had to pick each other up lots of times. It was the four of us and we had the opportunity to figure some stuff out along the way.
Had a good first day. It’s stormy and windy now but it’s still awesome sitting outside with a book and a beer. pic.twitter.com/aUmSgkJyYU
— Seth Jungman (@SethC_J) July 25, 2016
* About Youssouf, my wife said it best on the second to last day of our vacation, “That kid just wants to be loved.” Every time we would praise Fitsum for hoping across a stream or bounding a rock, Youssouf would yell, “Look me! Look me!” Youssouf is already nimble and quite athletic. It was hardly any trouble for him to hop across streams and bound rocks, but he wanted our attention too and of course we always praised both of them, but he wanted to make sure that we were watching him too, just as intently as Fitsum. Nevertheless, he is physically gifted, more gifted than normal four year old kids. But physiologically, Youssouf wants to know that we’re giving him the same attention as Fitsum and we’re watching him too. We are. One other interesting note, which is that on the last day, we hiked a trail that had a lot of waist high vegetation, or what you might call weeds. In any event, as we’re walking along, Youssouf would occasionally break the top of a piece of tall grass or weed, almost like he’s gone through the jungle before marking where he had been so he knew how to get back. I’m not even sure if it was something that he was doing that was conscious, but he was doing it.
Alright, let’s talk about this game. There’s no spread, but do you think Texas Tech by more or less than 35?
Travis: Those stories are so great and I’m glad y’all had a chance for a long vacation, they’re important I think. We were so deep in basketball all summer that we didn’t have a chance to do much of anything else, but we’ll save that for a later convo. As for the game, it’s hard to tell. Tech has been kinda erratic in openers recently so it’s a difficult guess. I’ll go ahead and say they win by 100.