There is little doubt that football Saturdays in Lubbock are some of our strongest memories as students at Texas Tech. There is nothing better than cheering on the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Jones AT&T Stadium with fellow alumni, students and fans. These weekends shaped our college lives and created moments that we'll never forget, driving everyone to come back as alumni and try to replicate those memories we've held onto so tightly.
If you have not been to Lubbock in the past several years, it will be hard to recognize the next time you visit. For me, nine years were spent in Washington, D.C., after graduation. I made the first two homecomings post-college, but the visits came fewer and further between after that. Before my wife, daughter and I relocated to Dallas last spring, I had not been to Lubbock since my sister's graduation in 2010. I couldn't believe the development on the east side of University. The Center opened right after I graduated, but addition of other apartments, restaurants, shops and a hotel all shot up in between visits. I couldn't help imagine what college life would have been like with all of that there.
So, how has a fall Saturday changed over the last 10 years? Let's find out.
The following four questions are answered by myself -- a 2006 grad -- and Kyle -- a 2014 grad who still lives in Lubbock, takes grad school classes at Tech and knows the lay of the land as well as anyone.
1. The Fridays before game weekends are special, with campus wrapped for the weekend and an indescribable buzz. After class, where was/is the best place on campus to grab lunch?
Zach (2006) - Since I had been at Chimy's the night before and knew I'd be back there that night, I didn't want it for lunch. I almost always ate lunch on campus since my off-campus options were very limited. The union (I hear it is called the HUB now?) was where we met. It was only a couple years old and there was nothing like crushing a Chick-Fil-A sandwich or roast beef sandwich from the place across from the bookstore. If we didn't go to the union, the Market was our only other real option.
Kyle (now) - Lol. The spot you're referring to is called the "SUB" now, short for "student union building". Sorry for laughing, I've just never heard it called the "HUB" or the "union". It's still a pretty popular spot on campus as Chick-fil-A has stood the test of time. I worked at Talkington Hall the first two years it was open, and its dining hall called "The Commons" was popular when it first opened. But my friends and I really like the Market the best (the dining hall at Stangel-Murdough). Great food and it was 50 percent off if you had a meal plan. Hard to beat that.
2. Waking up the morning of game day is great -- depending on your pace Friday night. Where was/is the best place to grab friends and tailgate before the game?
Zach (2006) - Most of my Saturday morning memories consist of Raider Gate and the parking lot east of the stadium. Raider Gate was where you could find a lot of people that have had their smokers going since the night before and cold kegs everywhere. Raider Gate, which was in the parking lot between Stangel and the chemistry building, always had a solid music act. I believe my junior and senior year we had Pat Green, Eli Young Band, Honeybrowne, Wideawake and Josh Abbott all play before games. Not a bad lineup. After music, brisket and beer, it was time to head over to the east parking lot (sans the new suites, so much bigger lot than it is now), and drink until the gates opened. If your fraternity wasn't posted at Raider Gate, it was in the east parking lot, so plenty of friends to see in both spots.
Kyle (now) - Interesting. Raider Gate (I believe it still goes by the same name) has declined in popularity I think. I don't recall any big names playing there in recent years (though Josh Abbott came for the halftime performance against TCU in 2013), and it seems like the university has to advertise a lot for it despite not hearing many people talk about actually attending. Maybe just my circle of friends never went/talked about it, but it sure seems like it isn't a popular spot anymore. With all the new Overton development, it seems like most people either tailgate at the apartments just east of the stadium/campus or in the parking lots of the restaurants in the same area. But the beer, brisket, and football hasn't changed, and probably never will.
3. We all know that after a Red Raider win it is time to take it to bars and celebrate. Where was/is the place to go after the game?
Zach (2006) - Chimy's had not been open very long, but it quickly became the place to go when I turned 21. They closed at midnight, so it was across the street to Crickets when it turned to Sunday morning. Other places you could find us was Cafe J or in the Depot hearing music at Blue Light or having a beer at the Library.
Didn't make the cut but good spots on certain nights -- Bash's, Conference, Tom's Daiquiri for a Call a Cab, and La Diosa.
Following the bar: Big E's BBQ in the Depot or Josie's on 19th.
Kyle (now) - Chimy's until midnight then across Broadway to Cricket's is still a popular move. A sports bar that probably wasn't on Broadway (or at least was called something else) when you were at Tech is "Local". Or if you prefer more of a dive bar, Bar PM is right around the corner on University. People mostly go to Bash's for penny pints on Monday nights.
It also seems like the Depot District has declined in popularity among students, and is now more of a destination for Lubbock locals. The Josie's on 19th is closed, but a new Whataburger across the street from campus is a late night place to eat for a lot of students, along with Cane's chicken fingers right down the road from there.
Worth noting: food trucks recently became legal in the city of Lubbock, but I haven't really seen many near campus. Anyway, that could be a potential change we could see in a few years if the concept takes off in Lubbock.
4. What is the best football memory from your time as a student at Tech?
Zach (2006) - I have many, including the 70-10 win over Nebraska on homecoming of my junior year, and never losing to A&M. But the one that stands out was the 23-21 win over Adrian Peterson and the Oklahoma Sooners in 2005. Taurean Henderson scored on a two-yard touchdown run as the clock expired.
I went through multiple quarterbacks during my time at Tech, with little drop off of production. If I was only on the five-year plan though I would have had one year of Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree though. I graduated a year too early.
Kyle (now) - Admittedly, and unfortunately, there weren't many marquee games during my time at Texas Tech. Knocking off #5 West Virginia 49-14 in 2012 is up there, but it's tainted by Tuberville's presence and the fact that West Virginia wound up being a mediocre team that year. A few weeks later was the triple overtime win in Fort Worth over a top 25 TCU squad. And I'll always appreciate the Holiday Bowl victory during Kingsbury's first season.
But my favorite football memory during my time as a student was the night they announced Kliff Kingsbury was hired as the new head coach. The students went crazy, especially when the ones who hadn't been Tech fans for very long learned who Kingsbury was (when the girls saw pictures of him it helped, too). Everyone formed a mob at memorial circle, the news crews were there, and it truly was a jolt to the program, even if we haven't seen immediate tangible results. That night was better than any singular football game.
Zach - I was in my apartment in DC with my wife when Kirby's tweet went out with Kliff giving the guns up. We celebrated, but I'm sure that didn't compare to Memorial Circle. That would've been a great thing to be a part of. Also, I feel bad for everyone that was in school during the Tuberville-era. That's not what Texas Tech football is supposed to feel like.
So, what about our VTM readers? Let us know what your weekend looked like while you were in school.