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Texas Tech History Lesson: Raider Red

This week Conner gives the history of Tech's second mascot, Raider Red!

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier in this series, we learned about the history of the Masked Rider. As any Tech fan knows, the Masked Rider is not the only mascot for Texas Tech. I was on vacation and was unable to produce a history lesson for Monday. So today will be a combined history and visual history lesson. I hope you enjoy learning the origins of Raider Red!

Raider Red was born in 1971. Prior to that year’s football season, the Southwest Conference, which Tech was a part of at the time, passed a regulation that prohibited livestock mascots from attending away games. Obviously, the Masked Rider could not be the Masked Rider if he could not ride his/her steed onto the field.

A Saddle Tramps member, Jim Gaspard, came up with the idea for an away game mascot. Contrary to popular belief, Raider Red is not a direct copy of the Yosemite Sam Warner Bros. character. While they do share similar characteristics, Jim actually got the idea of Raider Red from Lubbock cartoonist, Dirk West. Raider Red did not rely upon livestock to move around, so he was permitted to appear at away games.

For the majority of Raider Red’s lifetime a member of the Saddle Tramps portrayed him. However, beginning in 2005, a female organization, High Riders, entered a partnership with the Saddle Tramps to allow their members to portray Raider Red. The students who portray Raider Red are kept a secret until they have completed their tenure in the costume.

In recent years, Raider Red has begun to garner national attention. The 2012 Capitol One Mascot Challenge saw Raider Red voted as the top mascot in the country.  Following the vote, a banner was displayed at the United Supermarkets Arena for this accomplishment. (One a side-note, I was at the game when the banner was unveiled. Outside of a few games that season, I have not seen the banner since. If anyone knows where that banner currently is, I would love to hear about it and why it is not still hung up.)

In this history series, we have gone over both of the Texas Tech mascots. Tech seems to be at a crossroads for which mascot to highlight. The Masked Rider has the long-standing tradition behind it, but many recent alumni, current students, and the younger generation seem to think of Raider Red as the main mascot. The 2012 Capitol One Mascot Challenge would indicate that, nationally, most people think of Raider Red as the Texas Tech mascot. I am opening up a poll to see what the readers of Viva The Matadors think about the mascots. In addition to your vote, I would enjoy hearing your reasoning in the comment section below, or tweet me @ConnerCrisp. I will unveil my choice on Friday. Thanks for reading and GUNS UP!

Previous History Lessons:

Mike Leach

The Masked Rider

Zach Thomas' Pick-Six

1993 NCAA Champions

Kal Segrist

Darvin Ham Slam

Tim Siegel

Gerald Myers