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The Return of Texas Tech's Swagger

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The quick rise and fall of Red Raider football and how Kliff Kingsbury has returned the swagger to Lubbock.

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Growing up, I was a fan of the Texas Longhorns. I grew up watching Jordan Shipley, the former Longhorn, catch touchdowns from Stephen McGee, the former Aggie, in high school for the Burnet Bulldogs. At the time he was a hero to the younger generation of the town like myself. When he signed to play for Mack Brown at the University of Texas I naturally became a fan of the program.

In 2007 another program caught my attention. This was the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Everything about the program caught my interest. The uniforms were spiffy, the offense was a one-of-a-kind force and one of the best shows in sports, the name Red Raiders is pretty original, and Mike Leach always made for an entertaining interview. Tech was the new style, "cool" school, especially compared to Texas. The colors, red and black, became the freshest combo in sports. Tech took on the role of the outlaw school of the Big 12 and that was every bit of cool. I remember the first Texas Tech game I ever watched was that year against the #3 ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Tech was an offensive machine that game and the fans were going crazy. Seeing them rush the field in the excitement of a big upset gave me goosebumps I can still remember today.

After that season I can say that I was a low-key fan of Texas Tech. That was until the 2008 season. Tech was receiving a lot of pre-season hype going into that year and many people including myself were buying into the hype. Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell were on the cover of Dave Campbell’s magazine with coach Mike Leach and were expected to have huge seasons. Tech did more than live up to the hype as they were undefeated heading into a November 1st battle against the #1 ranked Texas Longhorns at The Jones. That game was by far the best football game I have ever witnessed. The atmosphere was insane! Seeing the passion and pride of the Lubbock fan-base was inspiring. Then there was "the catch". I can honestly say that is when I became a die-hard fan of the Red Raiders. Tech had slayed the Big 12 giant in historical fashion and became the coolest team in college football, Crabtree was receiving Heisman hype along with Harrell, and Lubbock was buzzing with even more school spirit and pride.

That was when the school had reached the ultimate "swagger" level.

After the 2009 season head coach Mike Leach was investigated and eventually forced to leave Tech just after nearly reaching the top of the college football world. Then came in new coach Tommy Tuberville. The "cool" swagger of the Red Raiders had disappeared and Tech was no longer a topic of discussion for Big 12 contention. Tuberville did a mediocre job as a coach as he tried to find an identity at Tech. He also did a mediocre at best job at recruiting talent, which Tech is just now recovering from today. Ultimately, during his time Tech had lost its "mojo". His tenure wouldn’t last but three seasons as he led the Red Raiders to a 20-17 record.

Then came Kliff Kingsbury (coach "cool") and all of his swagger. Tech fans instantly became excited as they heard that the former successful quarterback and student of Mike Leach was announced head-coach. With him came the return of Leach’s Air Raid offense. He received a lot of publicity for his good looks and similarity to Ryan Gosling, which he still draws attention for to this day. He is one of the youngest head coaches in football so naturally he is great at finding connection with the younger generation of players. Texas Tech football became a YouTube sensation as they held host to a dance-off  during a spring practice in which Kingsbury busted a few moves himself see here. With two freshman quarterbacks, Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield, he led the Red Raiders to an 8-5 record that included an upset over #15 ranked Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl in his inaugural season. This seemed to be just the beginning of what might be a very successful career at Texas Tech.

Even after a poor 4-8 season in 2014, Kingsbury was able to savor the "swag" with a big finale against Baylor and the introduction of freshman quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Last season Kingsbury and Mahomes continued to light up the scoreboard and led one of the nation’s most elite offenses. He has found a great defensive coordinator in David Gibbs, who hopes to turn the defense around, he has his quarterback in Mahomes, and he has also recruited some great talent in his three short years at Tech. With momentum building, Kingsbury is ready to take the next step and lead Tech to Big 12 title contention. The "buzz" is in the air just as it was eight years ago with Harrell and Crabtree, the red and black uniforms are still leading the new wave of style, the talent is there to make moves toward the top of the Big 12, and most importantly The Texas Tech Swag has returned to Lubbock.