Bumped. Good stuff... PB
Lubbock is in a strange place lately. Yes, the town itself is strange, but more specifically there is something in the air. Yes, the air has cow shit in it, but more specifically the town has gone momentarily flat (okay, I’m done, but three Lubbock jokes right out da gates – up top). Folks talk a lot up here in the South Plains, as you might imagine given the lack of alternative amusement, and within the conversation lies a plump mixed-bag of perspectives on UT week. Naturally, there is a general accordance of desire to repeat 2008, but to which degree and in what method is surprisingly more diverse than one might expect.
As I described last year, I was taken aback by the Texas Hate Meter that Tech fans liked to crank up at any given chance. While I will try to avoid any personal beef and remain strictly observant, the most peculiar aspect of this remains how much I didn’t realize they hated us, which is a bit confusing at times as I tend to forget, seeing that I never had much to reciprocate. My guess is that somewhere deep inside, that’s what they abhor about us the most – that we’re too good to hate Tech back. <--Or perhaps it’s a sentence like that which boils their blood.
This is an odd group of people as it turns out (surprise!). Nothing new, I suppose, but worth observing if you plan to venture up Hwy 84 into the vastness that is West Texas. It is also deserving to note that there are a lot of great Red Raiders in the world. It may be hard to fathom, but it’s true – I am around them everyday. But even the best of fans, with the exception of those with some kind of tie to UT, will cringe or flush at the mention of The University of Texas, Mack Brown, Deloss Dodds, "Hook ‘Em", etc.
The tone has been the same, but the volume at which this town resents the University of Texas fluctuates with the wind. Of course, it was loud right around the game this past season, yet it remained fairly quiet throughout the rest of the season. With the firing of Mike Leach, fans were a bit preoccupied with the forthcoming transformation to the athletic program, and the town itself, coming into the offseason. Every now and then, a spike of rancor towards the Longhorns would find its way in papers, blogs, on the radio, on local TV, and on the flood of the ingenious originality that is a t-shirt bearing an upside down logo with the horns sawed off.
Early this year Tommy Tuberville came into Lubbock as the head coach of the Red Raiders. From his first day on the job, a number of new policies or initiatives were introduced. Facilities were enhanced, the office attire tightened up, and the overall image of the athletic program began to gravitate to the likes of professionalism. Tubs is doing everything he can to boost morale, build team spirit and clean up the reputation left behind by the crazy psycho balls pirate before him.
One such reputation is that of the fans. We can probably identify the stereotypes associated with every major fan base out there. For instance, I know that we are often viewed as cocky, arrogant, tea-sips, etc. Fair enough. Likewise, Tech has its own, but in such a recognized way that it makes it easier for me to mention it without necessarily calling them out, as it is common knowledge among the masses. Things you might hear people say about Tech fans: classless, insecure, accusatory (always someone else’s fault), little brother syndrome, foul, etc. I am not saying that I believe this to be true (universally or consistently), but merely what I have gathered as the most common description. I only mention this as it is likely expected by many Texas fans to encounter such personalities this weekend as the Horns come to Lubbock for the first time since the Crabtree catch.
Tech administrators are catching on. Maybe Tuberville has been the most vocal in calling it out, and with the recent retirement of AD Gerald Myers (May 2011), perhaps the attempt to turn a new leaf is well under way. One can simply connect the dots. A lot of money and resources are being dumped into the effort of achieving a Tier-One status for the school. Mike Leach was shown the door in abrupt fashion for the entrance of a polished, true southern gentleman in Tuberville. Renovations, new weight rooms, new club seats, expansion on the East side of the Jones, new wall hangings, new parking garage/beer garden, new full-service hotel & conference center. One of the new spirit building initiatives is the soon-to-be-tradition Raider Walk, in which fans can tag along with the team, band, and cheerleaders for a stroll across campus two hours before every home game (glorified pep rally). The list goes on, really, and should be expected to grow as Tubs leads the endeavor to rebrand the Red Raiders.
But atop this list of efforts, in this observer’s eyes, is the call to all Raider fans: Be a good sport. It has been a work in progress all year, but is now a rallying cry by the powers that be. Chancellor Kent Hance delivered a speech to the student body on September 9th concerning the behavior of fans. From the Daily Toreador:
SMU’s football team was booed when entering the field Sunday, its school song was drowned out by chants from Tech students and students sang a profane version of Tech’s fight song.
Hance said Tech is known for its friendly atmosphere but using vulgar words and not letting the opposing team play their song exhibits poor sportsmanship.
Now, I will just go ahead and say it: Tech is not known for its friendly atmosphere and it is pretty clear that the admin knows this. This town also likes them some PSAs up in harr. Quite literally, every day this season, I have heard the prominent sports radio station replay the announcement: We’d like to encourage Tech fans to come out, show their pride and root on the Red Raiders. We also like to remind fans to show good sportsmanship to the visiting teams and their fans. I’ve been meaning to write this down verbatim every time I hear it in the car, but Lubbock roads are bad, the cops are bored and you get the gist of the message to the people.
This week – "tea-sip week" – has been less about x’s & o’s and Potts vs. Sticks, though these issues are there. Each day seems to have a new mantra in preparation for the more abstract, intangible components of the biggest weekend of the year for this town. Today, it was about the fight song: Don’t swear. Lots of folks are upset about that as "beat the fuck out of Texas" comes from the heart, man. So instead, to maintain their own dignity, it has been decided that fans should just turn their back when Texas enters the field.
Debating what’s appropriate for the host crowd can be circled around all day. We do it with our own, and that’s cool. The point here is that there is a strong campaign by the Athletic Directors, coaches, board of regents, and the media to improve the reputation of Red Raiders. It will be interesting to gauge the success of these efforts when the Longhorns step foot into Lubbock this weekend.
On a totally different and random note, here’s a few factoids:
Texas is 44-15-0 vs. Texas Tech since 1928
Texas has won 9 or the last 11 games vs. Texas Tech
Mack Brown is 3-3 vs. Texas Tech in Lubbock
Texas is 9-9 vs. Texas Tech in Lubbock since 1974
Tommy Tuberville is 112-60 in his career to date
33% of Tuberville's opponents at Auburn were Top 25 teams
Lubbock, TX, Sept. 18: Record High 98°, 1997; Record Low 43°, 1971
via WSJ (poor res, sorry):