In Wes Shaw’s article, Texas Tech Needs A Rival, he explains why he thinks that Texas Tech and Texas A&M should restart their rivalry. I started to write in the comments section on why I think that Tech needs a new rival and who it should be. Very quickly, my comment grew very long and I decided to make an article out of it. Wes is right. The Red Raider-Aggie rivalry was awesome and it would be awesome to see it again. But, as Wes notes, there are reasons for both sides to not restart the rivalry for more than the periodic home and away series. For the reasons he lists, this rivalry being played, on a consistent basis, is done. I’ve always thought that to be huge rivals, the match-ups need to be played each and every year. With the Aggies now in SEC, that will never happen again. It’s time to move on from the Aggies.
Tech is one of those few major schools that just does not have a historic, both sides hate each other, equally, rival. When A&M was in the Big 12, the Tech-A&M rivalry was my absolute favorite. However, all the Aggies I know always really wanted to beat us, but as far as rivalries go, we were the appetizer to their big rival, Texas. The Texas people I know feel the same way. We haven't won near enough against UT for us to be their main rival now that A&M is gone. Plus, UT is one of those schools that have/had two "main rivals" A&M, and UT still has a huge Big 12 rivalry in the Oklahoma Sooners. Iowa State has Iowa. K-State and Kansas have a geographic and conference rivalry with each other. West Virginia is too far away, from anyone in the Big 12, for the fanbases to interact and develop that loathing that is paramount to have a real rivalry.
I've heard a lot of Red Raider fans clamoring for TCU or Baylor to be Tech’s new main rival. The Horned Frogs and Bears have played each other a lot, but, until recently, these games were played between two perennially lousy teams, but it has been a fairly even series, with Baylor leading the all-time series 52-51-7. In recent years, the competitiveness of the teams has changed. Both those teams have moved up to elite status in the world of college football, while Tech has sunk to mediocrity since the James family got Mike Leach canned. As long as Baylor and TCU are contending for Big 12 titles and Tech is not, it makes sense for TCU and Baylor to be each other's main rivals. Last year’s Baylor-TCU game was one of the best college football games played. Plus, the schools are separated by only 90 miles and can compete to be the top football Christian school in the state. There is so much fertile ground for a great rivalry for years to come between Baylor and TCU.
So that leaves us with one last conference rival, Oklahoma State. There are so many reasons why this rivalry could and should be huge.
Little Brother Syndrome: Like Tech does with Texas, Oklahoma State views Oklahoma as their major rival. However, Oklahoma fans seem to view Oklahoma State in the same way Texas fans view Texas Tech, as a secondary rivalry. Yes, there is more disdain from Sooner fans to Oklahoma State than there is Longhorn fans to Texas Tech, but I have a step-family full of die-hard Sooners and they don't have near as much disdain for the Cowboys as they do for the Longhorns. Other OU fans I know feel the exact same way. Red River Rivalry > Bedlam. Why should the fans of the Red Raiders or the Cowboys continue this charade when there is another team, in conference, in the same standing in the Big 12 hierarchy?
Offense: Tech and OSU both have their own version of the "Air Raid". Both teams can easily hang 30+ points on an opponent. Remember how much fun that 56-53 win over TCU was a few years ago? This rivalry could have that, every game. Since 2000, this match-up has had high octane shootouts 6 times. Unless you are a defensive coach or player, who does not love watching a good shootout?
Competitiveness: The Red Raiders and the Cowboys have had similar runs of contending in the Big 12 for a few years and then falling back to mid-pack, and then repeating this cycle. They both have had a season in where they were national championship contenders, TTU in 2008 and OSU in 2011. Combined, these teams have one Big 12 title, the Cowboys’ title in 2011, so it’s not like either have stuck around the top of the Big 12 for significant amounts of time. Tech leads the all-time series, 21-18-3. Oklahoma State leads the series 10-9 since the Big 12 was formed. As fans of the Cowboys will note, OSU has won the last 6 games of the series, with 3 of those games beings blowouts. Last year, Tech held their ground in Stillwater until QB blunders and penalties contributed to the Red Raiders falling 45-35. The competitiveness gap seems to be closing as OK-State begins to slide down on that cycle I referred to. However, Tech has to end this 6 game losing streak soon, or this potential rivalry could soon become very one-sided and ruin any chances of becoming a major rivalry.
Team Similarities: They have their version of "Guns Up", and us Red Raiders have ours AKA the real one! Both share all but one main jersey color. The Cowboys' jerseys are orange, black, and white. The Red Raiders jerseys are scarlet red, black, and white. It takes red to create orange, so that one different color is not unrelated. Both teams even have similar ugly grey jerseys. Both teams are known for their rowdy fanbases. Heck, both teams even have former quarterbacks as their current head coach!
The big question is how to make a rivalry that first started in 1935, when the teams were known as the Texas Technological College Matadors and the Oklahoma A&M Aggies, into something big? The most preferable way, for both teams, is for the match-ups to mean something. Only twice in 52 meetings have these two teams met up at a time when both were ranked in the Top 25, 2008 and 2012. The #2 Red Raiders dominated the #8 Cowboys 56-20 in 2008. The #22 Cowboys returned the favor 59-21 to the #21 Red Raiders in 2012. Obviously, those important match-ups weren’t the most riveting games, but maybe the third and fourth times will be... Another way, is just to play close games. Even though Tech lost 45-35 last year, it was an exciting game to watch. Neither team was head over heels better than the other team. More games like that can go a long way to establishing a rivalry, even if both teams are mediocre. For example, fans of the Southern Methodist University Mustangs and the fans of the University of North Texas Mean Green Eagles can’t stand each other, even though neither teams have had much success in the last 30 years. So it can happen! It’s just not as fun… The final major way, and the least preferable, for the rivalry to explode is to have some sort of controversy brew. It could be Coach Kingsbury and Coach Gundy trading verbal jabs (or a dance-off, my money is on Kliff), fanbases crossing each other, or something happening on-field that is so controversial that it sticks in the mind of everyone affiliated with both teams for years to come... The only other issue I see that would impede on this becoming a big rivalry is geography. However, I believe that if any of the above scenarios come to fruition, the geography would be overcome. Or, move the TTU-OSU game to AT&T Stadium, where both teams have a strong fanbase, instead of Tech and Baylor playing at JerryWorld. Oklahoma State is a public college, so that means that it possesses more current students and alumni to attend the game than private college Baylor possesses. As anyone who has followed the Dallas Cowboys under the Jerry Jones regime knows, they like making lots of money. With a bigger fanbase for one of the participants, there is more money to be had with a TTU-OSU game. Makes to sense to schedule a, potentially, more lucrative match-up to me.
Those are my thoughts on who should become the Red Raiders’ main rival. How would you feel about the Cowboys of Oklahoma State becoming the main rivals for the Red Raiders? Do you agree with me on why I think our new rival should be OSU? Is there something that I did not address that could help or impede this rivalry from blossoming? Either comment below or tweet me @ConnerCrisp with your thoughts. Thank you for reading and Guns Up!