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A Texas Tech Football Season In Review: 1989

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1984 through 1992 Texas Tech Football helmet, courtesy Helmet Project

Editor's Note: Sadly, I am not a Texas Tech football historian. Because there are so few internet references I am looking at the Texas Tech media guide and looking at the years before and the years after to have an understanding of the importance of the season of the current review. If anyone has anything to add, I encourage you to leave a comment, you'd be helping me by educating me, but you'd also probably be educating a number of other Texas Tech fans.

A Texas Tech Football Season In Review . . .

The Year: 1989

The Record: 9-3

The Bowl Game: All American Bowl

  • September 9: Arizona (20), W, 24-14
  • September 16: New Mexico, W, 27-20
  • September 23: @ Oklahoma State, W, 31-15
  • September 30: @ Baylor, L, 15-29
  • October 7: Texas A&M (19), W, 27-24
  • October 14: Arkansas, L, 13-25
  • October 21: Rice, W, 41-25
  • November 4: @ Texas, W, 24-17
  • November 11: TCU, W, 37-7
  • November 18: @ SMU, W, 48-24
  • November 25: @ Houston (13), L, 24-40
  • December 28: Duke (20), W, 49-21

This was arguably Spike Dykes' best year, his 2nd year as the head coach. An incredibly amazing ride as the Red Raiders were able to beat Arizona, Texas A&M and Duke, all ranked teams. This was also Spike's 3rd season as the Texas Tech head coach. In 1987 he was only able to manage a 6-4-1 record and in 1988 a losing record of 5-6. You think there's any doubt that Spike felt the pressure and needed a winning season? Perhaps too, it was a combination of finally getting some of his players that he recruited into place that finally paid off.

It's obvious that the play of running back James Gray was instrumental in the success of this team. The problem is that success didn't last. Tech managed only a 4-7 record in 1990, but played 5 ranked teams that year (Ohio State, Houston, A&M, Miami, Fla., and Texas). Spike hovered in mediocrity for a number of years thereafter:

  • 1991: 6-5
  • 1992: 5-6
  • 1993: 6-6
  • 1994: 6-6

I don't think it's much of a stretch to say that 1989 led to much of Dyke's longevity at Texas Tech. He beat Texas and the Aggies in the same year, not to mention ranked Arizona and Duke. Although I do not recall that season in particular, this was the year that cemented Spike as a West Texas and Texas Tech legend.

When picking a season, this year just jumped out at me, there was no rhyme or reason to me choosing this particular year, but I find it utterly amazing that it wouldn't be a stretch to say that it literally took one year to create this legend of Spike Dykes. Think about it, only 5 winning records out of 13 seasons. Compare that to Leach, 6 seasons, 6 winning records.

That my friends is the greatness of Leach. Rather than mediocrity, Leach has made Texas Tech relevant. Taking a look back into the history of this institution, Spike created a certain amount of success that I do believe helped Leach create a winning atmosphere, but what Leach has done is amazing and when taken into perspective with what the coaches before him did, it's so impressive, oh so impressive. To say that Leach isn't secure is ridiculous, in fact it's ludicrous. If anything, it is a matter of Leach's wandering eye, if he has one, but not a result of his team's performance on the football field.

This isn't to take anything away from Coach Dykes. He was a savior himself, which we'll get to when we review the year 1976, he turned around a miserable program, a program that was languishing in losing records and coaches that couldn't win in conference. Remember this, we are damn lucky to have Coach Dykes who started Tech on the winning path and Coach Leach who has continued and improved what Dykes started, especially when we consider where this program has been over the years.

I apologize for the digression.

Back to 1989. The unfortunate part of this little project is that there are so few stats or box scores from games prior to the internet, thus it's hard to gather what this team really accomplished. Nevertheless, I've given it my best from my limited resources. You'll also note that there are almost no defensive statistics available. I just haven't been able to find them.

Here's a photo of the helmet used during this year.


Image from Southwest Conference Helmets

Some gracious soul has posted two YouTube clips from that 1989 Texas Tech team. The first highlight reel is from when the Red Raiders beat the Longhorns:

The next clip are the highlights from Tech's victory over Duke in the All-American Bowl:

Random Notes from the Media Guide:

  • James Gray rushed for 5 touchdowns versus Rice.
  • James Gray was the most valuable player in the All-American Bowl.
  • Charles Ordine was a 1st team All-American tackle while James Gray was a 2nd team All-American running back.
  • Tom Mathiasmeir was an academic All-American defensive end.
  • Tracy Saul was a 1st team freshman All-American.
  • All Southwest Conference: RB, James Gray; OG, Nathan Richburg; OT, Charles Odiorne; C, Len Wright; DE, Tom Mathiasmeier; LB, Charles Rowe; DB, Sammy Walker; DT, Charles Perry; KR, Tracy Saul.
  • Team Awards:
    • Pete Cawthon Memorial Team MVP Award: James Gray.
    • Dell Morgan Memorial Courage Award: Clifton Winston.
    • Donny Anderson Sportsmanship Award: Charles Odiorne, OT; Charles Perry, DT.
    • E.J. Holub Double Tough Leadership Award: James Gray, RB.
    • Dare to Be Great Award: Tommy Webb, OT.
    • JT King Award (Most Improved Player): Anthony Lynn, RB.
    • Clint Ramsey Academic Efford Award: Tommy Webb, OT.
  • James Gray had a number of single game rushing records in 1989 and is 4th all time at Texas Tech where he rushed for 1,509 in a single season, is 5th all time is single season rushing attempts, and had 20 touchdowns in 1989:
    • 280 yards against Duke
    • 234 yards against Arizona
    • 232 yards against SMU
    • 227 yards against Rice
    • 209 yards against TCU
  • Quarterback Jamie Gill led the team with 12 passing touchdowns and finished the year with 105 completions, 186 attempts and 1,464 passing yards.
  • Travis Price led the team in receiving with 23 receiptions for 389 yards and 5 touchdowns.
  • Lin Elliott had 34 PAT's that year, which is still tied for 9th all time at Tech.
  • Freshman, Tracy Saul returned 30 punts for a 10.0 yard average.
  • This Tech team had the most takeaways for a Red Raider ball club in a season with 35 and the Tech opponents that year lost 16 fumbles.
  • Team Stats:
    • Scoring Offense: 311 points for 28.3 points per game.
    • Rush Offense: 2,505 yards for 227.7 yards per game.
    • Pass Offense: 1,634 yards for 148.5 yards per game.
    • Total Offense: 4,139 yards for 376.3 yards per game.
    • Scoring Defense: 260 points for 23.6 points allowed per game.
    • Rushing Defense: 1,481 yards for 134.6 yards allowed per game.
    • Passing Defense: 2,879 yards for 261.7 yards allowed per game.
    • Total Defense: 4,360 yards for 396.4 yards allowed per game.