clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Video of Texas Tech fan pushing Texas player illustrates the risk of continuing to schedule the Red Raiders

Even for a fanbase known for its poor behavior, this crossed a line. Worse, it wasn’t even surprising.

NCAA Football: Texas at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

As students in the capacity crowd at Jones AT&T Stadium stormed the field after Saturday’s 37-34 overtime victory over the Texas Longhorns, a video that surfaced on Sunday shows a fan running up to Texas senior edge Ovie Oghoufo and pushing him in the back before appearing to run off.

Before the game, as Texas Tech fans changed “F*** UT” towards players and flipped them off, that type of behavior was easy to dismiss as nothing more than commonplace for a fanbase that throws batteries and tortillas on the field and sometimes worse — officials twice warned Texas Tech head coach Joey McGuire they would penalize the team if fans didn’t stop throwing drink containers at them. McGuire cracked a joke in return.

“That was right before halftime,” McGuire said, “so at halftime, they came (over) and the back judge said, ‘Man, I nearly got hit.’ They were pretty upset. I did ask them, did they take a drink if it wasn’t open? He didn’t think it was very funny at the time, because he was pretty (angry) that he nearly got hit.”

Ultimately the incident forced McGuire to plead with fans to improve their behavior during his press conference on the following Monday. So much for that.

And even though McGuire has had the job for less than a year, it’s not the first time that he’s had to ask fans to behave themselves during a game against Texas, releasing a video on Twitter before Texas Tech hosted former head coach Chris Beard and his team in February in the midst of extreme, unhinged vitriol directed by Red Raiders fans towards Beard.

“I’m so fired up about the game tonight and our job as fans — that is who we are,” McGuire said in a video posted to Twitter. “Tonight, we as fans make sure we do everything we can to create an environment that is tough for Texas to play in. That is getting loud. That is everything we do to give our team the energy. But we do nothing to take away from that. We don’t throw anything on the court. We focus everything on us winning the game and not them. And that’s making sure we show the nation tonight on TV and anybody in the crowd what this university is all about and making us proud to be Red Raiders, and not taking away from that.”

Following the 77-64 win over Texas, there was legitimate concern for the safety of Longhorns players and coaches trying to leave the court at United Supermarkets Arena. Fortunately, there weren’t any incidents, but the fan’s aggressive contact on a player Saturday puts into stark relief the actual physical risks posed by playing the Red Raiders.

And that’s something to consider as the Texas Tech administration accuses Texas of not following through on discussions to continue playing the Red Raiders across sports for 20 to 25 years after moving to the SEC. Texas Tech fans are demonstrating on a consistent basis that any game against Texas could quickly devolve into a dangerous situation — there shouldn’t be a palpable sense of relief after a game like the one felt when the players and coaches left safely after that basketball game in February. The regular pleas for fans to behave better illustrates that the administration understands that clear and present danger, too.

So after Del Conte finds out what the SEC football schedules are going to look like, he should consider the risks to his coaches and players if he wants continue playing Red Raiders in football and basketball in Lubbock unless the Texas Tech administration takes concrete steps to ensure their physical safety.

A Texas Tech spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the incident and whether the school took steps to keep Texas players and coaches safe after the game.

[5/25 8:45 p.m. Central update]: BON received the following statement from a Texas Tech spokesperson:

“A video clip of a fan pushing a University of Texas student-athlete was recently brought to our attention. This behavior is unacceptable and Texas Tech Athletics has turned the matter over to the Texas Tech Police Department. We will work together to identify the fan and take further action.

If anyone has information that can assist in identifying this individual, please contact Texas Tech Police Department at 806-742-3931.

Texas Tech has a postgame celebration policy which is submitted to the Big 12 before the season begins. The policy includes the placement of barriers and stationing of law enforcement and event staff to allow for the opposing team a path to their locker room. The policy is shared with the visiting team and game officials prior to each game.

Texas Tech is committed to providing a safe game environment and we will continue to evaluate our policies and procedures.”