I've enjoyed DTN since I discovered the site in the early days of the Coach Leach fiasco while seeking any information I could find about what was going on at my alma mater. I've come to look forward to reading the daily postings of Seth and other talented contributors not only for the timely information about Tech happenings but also for the frequent humor and the occasional poignant posting about such highly personal (i.e., "real-life") topics as adoptions and career challenges.
I've formed the impression that most DTN members seem to share my belief that the university administration, abetted by a certain ESPN commentator and his son, shafted Coach Leach. (My opinion has not wavered since I read thoughtful, candid discussions of the situation provided by Graham Harrell, Coach Riley, and others close to the team in the days shortly after Leach's suspension.) I hope, but am not optimistic, that Leach will get justice in the courts. I was disappointed when Coach McNeill wasn't selected as the new head coach after leading the team to a victory in the exciting Alamo Bowl game, but I was elated when Ruff was selected as the ECU head coach and took much of the suddenly unemployed former staff with him to his alma mater. Go Pirates!
Nevertheless, like most DTN members I am excited about Coach Tuberville and what he and his new staff might accomplish at Tech.
Another impression is that most DTN members are at least a generation younger than I. This is my first attempt at a personal contribution to the site. I'll hit the send button with trepidation knowing how tough the audience can be. I hope that at least a few of you younger Tech fans will find this old-timer's musings of interest.
My love for Tech and particularly its football program began even before I enrolled in 1959 as a 17-year-old freshman in what was then still known as Texas Technological College. I remember the day some years earlier when Tech was finally admitted to the Southwest Conference. For several hours, one (perhaps both) of Lubbock's TV stations ran a simple static message on the screen stating, "We're in!"
During junior high and high school, I lived on the same street as E. J. Holub in northwest Lubbock. This future Tech legend was a couple of years ahead of me in school (and living on a different planet in terms of size and social status) so he was oblivious of my existence. However, I often had the privilege of sacking and carrying out groceries for his gracious parents at a small store on Clovis Road. I was a rabid fan throughout his storied college and professional career. E. J. was Tech's first consensus All-American playing as a fierce linebacker on defense and center on offense. (This was during a quaint era of limited substitutions when teams would take a penalty before a punt in order to get in a defensive specialist or two.) Although known as "The Beast," my recollection is that E. J. stood 6'4" but weighed only about 215 pounds -- too small to play either position by today's standards. In addition to his on-field exploits, E. J. also is famous for his dozens of knee surgeries that began while he was in high school long before today's less painful and damaging arthroscopic procedures.
My four years at Tech overlapped with Dewitt Weaver's last two and J. T. King's first two seasons as head football coach - inglorious years for Red Raider football despite fantastic performances by Holub during his junior and senior years. These were losing seasons with no bowl games. I graduated a year too soon to see Dave Parks' great senior season, when he was the top pick in the NFL draft, and a couple of years before the glory days of Donny Anderson. (In June 1963 needing a name starting with a "D" to maintain a family tradition, I presciently named our firstborn Donny knowing how great his namesake was going to be.) As I recall, this record-setting running back and receiver also played linebacker during that long-ago, single-platoon era.
Despite the dismal won-lost records, I have a couple of pleasant memories associated the 1959-1962 Red Raider football seasons. I had fun during my daily walks between the campus and my car watching up close (read in the way) as Jones Stadium was expanded from less than 30 thousand seats to slightly over 40 thousand by moving back the east stands (a marvelous engineering feat) and digging out a bowl for the new seating sections. As hard as it might be to believe today, I remember lining up - men in suits and ties and women in dresses and high heels - to sit in the student section of Jones Stadium to watch the games despite the teams' losing records.
I spent the next six years in the military far away from Lubbock (but thankfully not in Viet Nam like some of my less fortunate ROTC colleagues). Those days were before the Internet and ESPN. Tech was seldom on TV, and real-time updates of scores - not to speak of play-by-play game tracking - were still well in the future. I remember sitting in my car many nights in California trying to pick up an AM radio station carrying any SWC ballgame hoping to get a Tech score.
My dad was my usual source of information about the games. If the telephone rang about the time the game would be ending, I knew the Raiders had won and that we would have an enjoyable conversation about the victory. If it didn't ring, I knew Dad was too upset to call that night, and we would wait until the next day to commiserate about the loss. Dad and Mom held jobs at Tech and had season tickets for several years after my two younger brothers and I graduated. Dad died 8 years ago. At the perfect suggestion of our youngest brother, we buried him wearing a tie adorned with the Double T logo. I miss our many wonderful discussions of Tech football.
My family and I have lived in Albuquerque for the past 40 years. The smaller distance plus technological advances have made keeping up with the Red Raiders much easier over this time. In our early years here, my wife and I would accompany two sets of aunts and uncles plus friends on an annual pilgrimage to Lubbock to watch a game. Still dressing up to go to the games, I remember getting soaked by a drenching rain while wearing a new suit at a Texas game.
I used my newly acquired pilots license to fly my two brothers on then only sister-in-law to the 1972 Sun Bowl game where we watched the Raiders lose a heartbreaker thanks to a dubious call against the Tech coaches or bench that brought back a touchdown. (My youngest brother later told me that he and our sister-in-law, who were sitting in the backseat of the small plane, held hands and prayed for our safe return to Albuquerque during the entire trip.)
I recall once scaring my pre-teen sons almost to death by screaming too loudly after a Tech score, I think against Arkansas, while listening to a game as we drove in the mountains to our weekend camping site.
I've attended most of the games over the years when Tech comes to Albuquerque to play the Lobos. I especially remember one in which Zach Thomas and another linebacker whose name I can't recall turned the game around by creating and returning a fumble for a long touchdown. My two sons and their wives are UNM graduates (I'm also an alumnus), so it's probably just as well that I had to work and missed the 49-0 shellacking Kliff Kingsbury and company put on the Lobos a few years back.
My older son works for Under Armour, which supplies Tech's uniforms, and an annual trip to Lubbock with all-access passes and seats on the lower floor of the magnificent press box has become a wonderful tradition for my mother, two sons, youngest brother, and me. After what I recall (perhaps incorrectly) as a close loss to Texas in 2006, we watched Tech upset Oklahoma in 2007 and then enjoyed the unforgettable, game-of-a-lifetime, upset of top-ranked Texas in 2008.
Guns up! November 1, 2008
We chose the A&M game for our get-together last season. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for the rest of us, my son came down with a case of excruciating pain in the posterior that required surgery a few weeks before the game, so we were spared sitting through that debacle.
We've chosen this weekend's Texas game, which will be played on Mother's 90th birthday, for our next gathering in Lubbock. In addition to our usual group, my older son is bringing his wife and two sons. We'll be in our usual spot in the press box, and Tech is even going to do a birthday greeting on the scoreboard during the game. I can't wait. Good luck, Coach Tuberville and staff! Guns Up, Red Raiders! Beat Texas (again)!