Back on July 28, I was one of the few college football analysts in America that agreed with all the pre-season hype that the Red Raiders of Texas Tech were receiving.
Not because I had a crystal ball, but mainly because all the reasons to doubt this Texas Tech team given by the naysayers were absolute garbage. You can read Version 1.0 of this article here.
They were saying things like “lack of tradition” or “can’t win the big one.” Well, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, players and coaches make the team. Not past players or past coaches, but the guys wearing the uniforms and the headsets today, right now.
Of course, like all college football fans, I love talking about tradition and the glory days of a program. You can even argue that the past defines a program’s future in many cases.
But when it comes to winning football games, it’s all about dancing with the one that brought you.
In Version 1.0 of this article, I mentioned why I thought Lubbock was a great college town and how Texas Tech had a respectable tradition its own right.
But as far as the glory days, the Red Raiders are living them right now. I’m not saying that there isn’t a good reason to be excited about the future of the program, but this team will always be endeared by Tech fans for decades to come.
The remarkable combination of Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree has been one of the exciting things to watch in all of college football this season. It was poetic that it was this same dynamic duo who connected for the winning touchdown against big brother Texas with one second left on the clock.
So much for not being able to win the big one!
In the pre-season, the Texas Tech fans I talked to were understandably excited about opening in the Top 10, about having two legitimate Heisman Trophy candidates, and being given a reasonable shot to win the Big 12 South.
But just about all of them still exhibited that hesitance, that burning feeling in the pits of their stomachs that maybe things wouldn’t work out.
Maybe Ruffin McNeil wouldn’t have the defense quite ready enough to survive a brutal conference schedule. Maybe the guys would fold under the pressure of having the almighty Longhorns come to town. Maybe a key injury would sack their dream season. In other words, they didn’t fully believe…yet.
Now, this is not a slight to Tech fans in any way. For a program that put up the kind of numbers they did year after year but still remained in the shadows of the Texas’ and Oklahoma’s of the world, they had a right to be skeptical.
But I think it’s safe to say that despite the all-night partying that no doubt went on Saturday, the churches in Lubbock were probably packed with believers on Sunday.
Red Raider fans, when I say that I understand…believe me, I understand. For as many thankful e-mails that I received from you after writing Version 1.0, I got twice as many e-mails from Raider Haters in Austin, Norman, Stillwater, and College Station telling me how much of a hack I was.
I just told them to admit that they were threatened by the talent at Tech and they didn’t want to let the up-and-coming program into the sandbox. Well, I don’t have to tell you that went over like a turd in the punchbowl. I also don’t care.
I also know what it’s like to knock off the No. 1 team in the land and rush the field. In 1997, my senior year at LSU, the Tigers beat Spurrier’s No. 1 Florida Gators, who were also the defending national champs.
I still have a Ziploc bag with purple and gold grass that I took from the field that night. It’s a memory that ranks up there with the two national championships I was fortunate enough to witness.
Now, I don’t want us to get too far ahead of ourselves just yet. While the Red Raiders have so far lived up to the hype, they still have a tough road ahead.
I’ve been to a game at Oklahoma and it’s no joke. The boys will not have that same warm, fuzzy feeling when they walk into Oklahoma Memorial Stadium as they had for the Texas game. Then there’s Oklahoma State, and a possible rematch with Oklahoma.
Before things get really out of control, take a moment to savor every last bit of it. You will be telling your kids and grandkids about this season, so make sure you soak it all in.
No matter what happens, this Red Raider team has taken a great fan base to the pinnacle of college football and you should be proud of them. Take it from someone who knows, being at the top is dangerous and short-lived, so enjoy it.
The point is, that while the Red Raider fans remain cautiously optimistic about the rest of the season, I hope you realize that you are witnesses to history. No, I’m not talking about the stupid election, I’m talking about the history of Texas Tech football.
You were alive to see the biggest game in the program’s history. You were alive to see the biggest game ever played in Lubbock. But most of all, you were alive to see your Red Raiders win that game.
What a great country! Guns Up!