I transferred to Texas Tech from the University of Missouri after my sophomore year, and one of the first phrases I heard when I got to campus was “Lubbock or Leave It.”
I understand the sentiment. People typically are either enamored with or repelled by the city of Lubbock, and I think a lot of that is contingent upon where you’re originally from. I was born and raised in Austin, so my perception of Lubbock was “desolate, dusty puragtory.” Please, Lubbock friends, take no offense to these words. They are simply a product of my upbringing in the shadows of UT.
In any case, I always wondered how successful the athletic programs would be if the university had been established elsewhere. As one of the Big Three universities in Texas (UT, A&M), I always felt like Tech had so much more potential if it were just located in a more geographically friendly city. How many recruits chose a lesser athletic program just because they didn’t want to live in Lubbock? For that matter, how many regular students turned down the university for that reason?
I know many of you are thinking of the old Spike Dykes quote, “‘if you have to convince a recruit to come here you have to convince that kid to play hard,” but that, in itself, is a recruiting tactic. Let’s take off our fan hats and put on our objective, realistic hats. We all know there are thousands upon thousands of kids who chose other schools based on location who play just as hard, and they have the championships to show for it. So let’s drop that excuse right now.
Without any further delay, let’s entertain the idea Lubbock was blown away in a dust storm, or the citizens voted to displace the university—whatever imaginary scenario you choose, so we can look at where a good place would be to relocate.
5. Corpus Christi
Corpus Christi is an interesting location because there’s already a university that’s thrived, athletically speaking and relative to the size of the school, in Texas A&M-CC. If Tech moved to the opposite side of the state and changed from a desert school to a coastal college, that might sway students and athletes alike to become Red Raiders. The city itself is slightly bigger than Lubbock, so there’s still a community-like feel, and the geographic location is decent. Being closer to San Antonio and Houston would certainly be a strength, but it is considerably farther from the DFW metroplex than Lubbock. This site would be a unique destination with its proximity to the ocean and the talent in South Texas, but I don’t know how much of an improvement this would be over Lubbock.
In moving to Tyler, Tech fans could hold onto the remote feeling they so oddly cherish. With just 100,000 citizens, it’s actually smaller than Lubbock, but in a prime location. It’s just 100 miles southeast of Dallas and 98 miles from Shreveport. It’s also much closer to Houston, just three hours away. On top of all that, East Texas is a hotbed of football recruiting in Texas, and Tyler is in the heart of it. Tech would immediately replace UT-Tyler as the city’s beloved university, and it wouldn’t take long for TTU to established a stronger foundation in the Louisiana area as well. There truly are very few cons to this location, and I could see it panning out well for all of Red Raider Nation.
3. San Antonio
Population: 1.4 million
Now we’re getting to the heavyweights. San Antonio has a higher volume of universities than the aforementioned locations, but, like the others, Tech would immediately become the flagship university of the city. No one would care about UTSA or Incarnate Word, or St. Mary’s, or any of the other small schools. The San Antonio fan base is loyal and passionate, and I think a huge portion of students would start applying to Tech instead of the other local schools. Again, recruiting-wise, you have Central Texas and really South Texas as your major pipeline, and they’re both talent-rich areas. There really aren’t any drawbacks to moving to San Antonio. Seriously, all of these cities are immensely more advantageous in every category than Lubbock.
Population: 2.196 million
Texas Tech already has a tremendous following in Houston. There are sports bars exclusive to Red Raider fans, and an alumni base as big as the city can hold. The recruiting benefits of moving to Houston are obvious and expansive, but the first real challenge arises with the presence of UH and, to a smaller degree, Rice. U of H is one of those schools on the rise right now, and gaining ground on joining a Power-5 conference. They’e a well-rounded athletic department whereas Rice is only a threat to baseball recruiting. At any rate, the city of Houston itself would feel like home because of the alumni and because of the large volume of students already at Tech from the city, but going head-to-head with U of H would certainly be a speed bump in becoming an elite program.
Population: 1.258 million
Dallas is unequivocally the top choice for relocation. Tech would step in and immediately become the biggest, most athletically successful university in the city limits and the DFW metroplex is the No. 1 area in the south for recruiting in football and basketball. Convincing Dallas recruits to stay in the city and go to Tech vs. having to drive four hours out west to the middle of nowhere would go such a long way in securing and retaining commitments. The obvious hurdle would be competing head-to-head with TCU for DFW prospects, but Tech is already doing that, along with the rest of the Big 12. Seriously, the amount of talent in the DFW area is enough to fill the roster of almost every school in the conference, it’s ridiculous. Allowing athletes to stay at home and play for one of the Big Three schools in Texas would be a huge, huge recruiting advantage. I haven’t even mentioned the proximities to Oklahoma City, Arkansas and Louisiana. If Tech moved to Dallas, I truly believe it would have a chance to become a national powerhouse, and I’m about the furthest thing there is from a homer.
There you have it. My top-five cities to which I’d relocate Texas Tech. Where would YOU move the Red Raiders? Leave your opinion in the comments section below!