Getting your football "fix" during the offseason is different for every person. For me, it consists of finally polishing off the last two seasons of Friday Night Lights and reading Mike Leach's "Swing Your Sword." Others may be glued to ESPN Classic and NFL Network whenever given the chance. Maybe you're going through withdrawals in a padded room full of Mountain Dew for hours at a time, illuminated by 1080p resolution and the soft glow of the green XBOX 360 icon.
There is no wrong way to fight Football Withdrawal Syndrome, unless you're one of those guys who plays flag football. How dare you be athletic? And disciplined? And capable of running while holding or catching a football? This isn't Thunderdome!
Experiencing the thrill of Coach Taylor's seasons in Dillon, TX reminds me of what it was like to play high school football. Sure, it was only for one year and I was the backup to the backups, but it stuck with me. The feeling you get when you ran out to the band, the camaraderie in the locker room, and a sense of unity and bonding with kids from all walks of life are memories I don't ever want to shake.
Reading Coach Leach's book reminds me of what it was like to be a part of something special: a part of the most exciting offense in college football. We were the ultimate Underdog, but we were also the team in Black. All black.
Let's take some time to reminisce, shall we? This can be a form of therapy, or a form of release as we wait for the SMU game.
I want to go back to one of the best nights of my life: the night I realized that my love for Texas Tech was even bigger than I had originally thought. Let's hit the road down memory lane and head on over to November 1, 2008.
It's the day before THE game. I have some friends coming in from out of town to stay with me after work. We have every intention of getting up early for College GameDay the following morning, so our Friday night should be chill and uneventful.
It wasn't. We didn't make it to GameDay. None of us were truly surprised.
It seemed like the hype would never end.
"I deeply hope we beat their ass today," snarled Bob Knight. Corso picked us.
We were fed nonstop shots of McCoy and Shipley. They could do it all: sing, play guitar, room together, throw footballs to a receiver standing on a moving boat from the shore, be roommates, play pool, and share the same living arrangement. It was super neat!
Since I was fresh out of Tech the previous December, I still resembled a college student. I never saw my season ticket seat that year and found friends in the student section. We sat in the South End Zone.
The game started. The Jones was intense. Our defense was merciless. Our offense gathered momentum and began running away with it. Matthew McConaughey had the gall to walk through the end zone with his horns hooked and was greeted with a rousing din of boos. It was a delightful first half, but I knew better.
I remembered the Tech-UT game from 2006, and odds are, so do you. You remember seeing those kids in the tree by the northeast gate, and then seeing Colt McCoy look like 2011 RG3. It was soul crushing.
Then came the inevitable comeback and the final drive by the boys in burnt orange. Tech took the field. "INTERCEPTION!", I screamed. "Why aren't we kicking a field goal?", I thought. "HOW WAS CRABTREE STILL IN BOUNDS??" turned into silent joy. Just standing there, soaking in the moment. I still felt like it could fall apart at any time. I didn't rush the field. I couldn't talk. I couldn't move. And now, I was worried that rushing the field would cost us the game. I could see them running back that short kickoff all the way to paydirt.
They didn't. 39-33.
Driving home felt like being in real-life Dillon after a big win: horns were honking, flags were flying, and people were waving.
One of my best friends ended up watching the game at Buffalo Wild Wings, but he stopped by my apartment later to celebrate. We had the manliest of celebratory embraces at the end of a game which remains the #1 highlight of my life as a sports fan.
That day has forever changed the way I will feel about Texas Tech.
I want this to be a chance for us to think back on that day, and maybe share some experiences. We are approaching 5 years since our last great season, and I get the feeling a lot of us feel like history could repeat itself soon. I want to get in that mindset, and focus on the euphoria we felt during that time.
"Clear eyes, full hearts..."