I said I would be there and I kept my word. I felt like I was looking super fly but I will reserve final judgement until I see the official photos.
The other stops in the caravan were more well-attended than this one, and it seems the information passed along was robust and straight-forward. All the coaches were really pleasant and fun to talk with but they looked like I do at work happy hours — happy to have a drink in my hand but counting the seconds until it is time to go home.
I made a few jokes about this. A couple laughed politely.
While I think there is value to using the opportunity to glean further information about the depth chart, the connections that were strengthened were the most important. To wit, afterward my wife understood what I mean when I said it was ‘cool because you just get to chat with the coaches’. When we RSVP’d she said ‘I do not see how that would be cool at all.’
“I want to root for all of them now that I know them. It is silly” — My wife. Yes, the rationale behind your work team building exercises, happy hours, and socials is to use your natural desire to build human connections for the benefit of the organization. Now that you have met Grant McCasland and shared a laugh or two, you are going to support the program differently. Maybe that means more patience. Maybe that means a bigger check.
If all that reads as cynical, I do not mean it to be. NT is in a good place considering the recent past, but it is more pointed in the right direction, but not necessarily trucking with full momentum. Athletic Director Wren Baker and staff have laid the groundwork — the reorganization, the new organizational controls, setting baselines — but the actual change implementation is still ongoing.
Things like this are designed as opportunities to sell that vision and raise cash toward that end. But they also serve as the kinds of relationship-building that is required. Sure, it makes it easier to ask a guy for cash after you bought him a beer, but buying a beer and talking with him goes is just being a good friend also.
In some future iteration of North Texas Athletics that has reached the success on the field that we all imagine, these kinds of things will be relicts of the distant past. I cannot imagine a Nicky Saban out here glad-handing with randoms that did not fork over five figures for the privilege.
While I look forward to progress, it is nice to enjoy the view along the ride.