I apologize in advance for a long post...
I did not grow up a TT fan, and when I went to Lubbock in 2002 for graduate school, I'm not going to lie, I didn't have any real intentions of becoming a huge red raider.
That all changed during the first game I went to. Tech played NC State at home, and while we lost the game 51-48, I marveled at the way the team came back...Tech was down 21 or 28 points in the second half (beers were involved...exact memories hazy), but Kingsbury threw touchdown after touchdown and made a real game of it...it was inspiring, and I was hooked.
My love for TT was confirmed a couple weeks later when I traveled to College Station to watch Tech win the classic OT thriller 48-47 when aggie couldn't make an extra point...it was glorious, and I knew I'd be a Red Raider, and a Mike Leach fan for life.
Over the next few years we all watched something happen. I moved to Atlanta, and where in the past nobody would have known (or cared) about TT football, people came up and wanted to talk about it. "How do you guys put up so many points?" "500 passing yards? Really?" "What's up with the pirate thing?" A true tradition was being born...one made not only of ridiculous offensive stats, but also of national attention and respect.
Of course, we all remember the magical game in 2008 - the blackout, the national TV audience, the catch, Chris Fowler's expression (http://www.thewizofodds.com/the_wiz_of_odds/2008/11/fowler-caught-in-the-act.html), the fans rushing the field, all of it. Texas Tech was on top of the college football world, and we had one person responsible for it: Mike Leach.
TT's administration got cocky after that. I think they really started to believe that little old TT, deep in West Texas, was a true, legitmate MNC contender. I think they were right, but what they failed to realize was that TT wasn't a legit contender, Mike Leach's TT was.
Let me get to the point. Mike Leach was creating TT's tradtion. This is going to sound mean, but I'm sorry guys, the tortilla tossing and whatnot in the past just doesn't cut it. I hate aggie's traditions but at least he has them. I hate bevo, but damn if he doesn't have a legacy and tradition. You can go down the line of the big schools around the country who have long-standing traditions, and nothing against TT, but I'd argue that on a national scale, TT just never had that...until Mike Leach. We had pirates, and we loved it. We wore black, and we loved it. We threw the ball 100 times a game, and we loved it. Our coach was mildly insane (weather forecasts, dating tips, etc.) and we loved it. a 5th year QB starting for the first time (BJ, Cody, Sonny) was an instant Heisman contender, and we loved it. We went for it on 4th down, and we loved it. We pulled our kickers out of the stands after halftime competitions and we loved it. We loved it all.
I didn't grow up with the red and black and won't pretend I did. But I can tell you that for someone growing up in Houston, I knew nothing of TT and didn't care. Why would I? And that was the attitude when I went to Lubbock, but Mike Leach changed that. He turned casual fans into rabid fans, and rewarded those of us who became rabid fans with some of the best moments of our sporting life. Why do you all think you are still here reading DoubleTNation? Why did this blog get so huge? Because we wanted to read more about Leach, because we were rabid fans, and we loved it.
I'm not saying he was perfect, but I'm saying he helped TT to start building a true, homegrown tradition. I'll always root for TT, but I don't know if I'll ever have that rabid fandom I had. Last year when we lost to UH I was so angry, so frustrated..."Why didn't he kick the field goal? We would have won!" When we lost to Iowa State a couple weeks back I was enraged "How could we give up 52 points to Iowa State (who just got shutout by OU, by the way)?" But something horrible happened yesterday. I pretty much expected us to lose, and when our performance underwhelmed my already low expecations, I just shook my head. The team had no energy, the crowd had no energy, and it just generally sucked.
Like I said, I'll always root for TT, but our tradition and our captain was taken away from us and I just don't know if it will ever be the same.
Sorry to not have a more uplifting message, but that's where I stand. Have a great week everyone, and Guns Up.
ps: I'll let you know all know when I'm next in Lubbock so we can have a beer or 30 and reminisce...