For the last 3-4 years, Texas Tech football has been at the receiving end of nonstop scrutiny from never satisfied fans, students, alumni and fans of other Big 12 schools. But, believe it or not, there was a time when Tech football was one of the best teams in the Big 12 and the country. A short time ago Mike Leach helped the Red Raiders return to national prominence that included a no. 2 ranking in the country with national title hopes and a no. 12 final ranking in the 2008 AP poll, along with being co-Big 12 South champions with Oklahoma and Texas.
Fast forward to now, the Red Raiders are coming off of a fourth consecutive sub-.500 season and we’ve got some ideas as to how fans of Texas Tech football can help our team get back to being among the likes of the best in the Big 12.
- My first idea for fellow fans is to do their research on the recruits coming in. Yes, bringing in 3-star and the occasional 4-star recruit isn’t the most exciting thing in the world but those are the guys who are often steals when they reach college ball. Lubbock isn’t a place where people want to go play, but when they do come here, they’re blue collar guys who will do anything to win.
- Secondly, you can never judge a coach off of one year with a team. Winning right off the bat is great but when it comes down to it, would you rather have a couple duds then start getting up to 6, 7, 8 wins consistently? Or, start off with a solid 6-6 or 7-5 campaign and it’s all down hill from there? I’d absolutely take the latter.
- While this idea could be split in two, I think they go hand-in-hand. Besides, these are my ideas, if you’ve got some of you’re own, leave a comment. The first part is to buy into what Coach Wells is trying to accomplish. He’s doing everything he can to get our team back to where it was in 2008, while that’s not the ultimate goal, it’s a start for a rise to the top. Let’s face it, this team coming in this fall, has got talent all across the board. The 2020 recruiting class is solid and the 2021 class jumped into the top 30 in the country earlier this week so I think that’s a big improvement. Ultimately, buying into what a coach is trying to do I believe does change the outcome on the field and if fans do just that, I think we’ll see our football program a lot differently. The second part is for fans to please, for the love of God, stop leaving at the half. There have been times, especially last season when we were on the brink of pulling off a big win and the crowd didn’t have the noise to give our guys on the field a boost. I’m a firm believer on a big crowd giving the home team a boost, so I may be a bit biased on this one.
- Fan engagement. Something I believe has come into focus for many sports fans around the world is the strength of social media. The COVID-19 situation, although stopping sports for the time being, has created an upsurge of engagement across social media platforms. I mean, you’re just sitting at home pretending to work anyways. Well guess what? Your favorite team, their representative blogs, their hordes of fans are all over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Grindr, you name it! There’s never been a better time to hop into the ongoing discussion around recruitment or rivalry. Additionally, take heed that a lot of high school players use mediums like twitter to communicate and observe the online presence of certain programs. You didn’t think our athletic programs started making cool videos and graphics just for the hell of it, did you?
- Remaining in the moment. No doubt: being a fan is a life drenched in highs and lows, but the best fans are those who can wade between not too high and not too low. An ideal spectrum, in my mind, is one that doesn’t allow any real harm to your day from the result of a game. The reality is that Texas Tech football just isn’t this tier one program we should be expecting to win. We can hope to win games, we can predict that we’ll win games, but it’s irresponsible (I think) to walk into any given Saturday and claim victory before you step on the field. Beard’s “respect every opponent” mantra should have seeped into our basketball fandom by now, so it’s time we shift it towards football. Celebrate the victories and mourn the losses, no matter how small. This is the way.
- BE a fan. This should be a book. A book that nobody would read, but everybody would talk about. Kap and Ryan both mention it so I won’t harp too much: if we’re going to say we are Texas Tech fans but we don’t even go to games the whole time then what are we really saying a fan is. I’ll be the first person to tell you football games are too damn long and feels even longer in the heat of the afternoon - but fandom is just that; doing outrageous things to support your club. These guys practice all week to make something of it on the weekend and what do we do? Make a couple brats, drink some beers, and somehow we get the audacity to say they’re ruining our weekend. Maybe after this whole COVID quarantine we’ll realize four hours on a Saturday isn’t a real loss at all - win or lose.
- First and most importantly, we need to come together and trust the process. The fact that I saw Tweets this year claiming it was time for the program to move on Matt Wells is a hilariously bad take. Texas Tech fans, in case no one has told you yet, we have no reason to act spoiled. Our last winning season was with an NFL MVP at Quarterback, and that was a 7 win season for Christ’s sake. One season is not an adequate sample size for a coach. Mike Gundy was 4-7 his first season at Oklahoma State. Nick Saban was 7-6 his first season at Alabama, Dabo 6-6 at Clemson, and Bob Stoops 7-5 at OU. You don’t turn a program around overnight. Wells is blazing the recruiting trail, give him a shot.
- Get to know the team. I know it sounds cliche, but it’ll make supporting the team so much more interesting. Pick a guy, know their number, follow their socials, keep up with their stats, and root them on every night (or morning). There are good candidates all over the place this season: Alan Bowman, SaRodrick Thomspon, TJ Vasher, Riko Jeffers. Those guys bust their ass in the West Texas summer heat to be the best version of themselves, and they appreciate your support more than you know.
- GO TO GAMES! I know Kap has already touched on this a bit, but seriously. Attendance dropped by nearly 6,000 from the beginning of the season to the end (which doesn’t those who left during). That is a pretty bad drop off. I can’t count the amount of times Wells said the team needed to “Protect the Jones”. Well, a 3-3 home record (two of those wins were cupcakes) isn’t really protecting your turf. While the team had some kinks to work out, your voice is needed. Some of the most successful programs are where the home field is LOUD (Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State). Look at your Red Raider basketball team! That team had plenty of holes but was able to take blue-bloods Kansas and Kentucky down to the wire cause the USA is so freaking loud and energetic. Have a couple brewskis, invite some friends, just do whatever it takes to pack every spot in that stadium next season.
All in all, I think we can all agree that fans have the biggest impact on game day. I’ve seen glimpses of what this football fan base can do and I hope that y’all will take these ideas and implement them this fall. Our football team needs us to rally for them, not spit in the face of the product we see out on the field. As Ryan said, we have nothing to feel spoiled over. So I say, let’s take that into consideration and this fall, we pack the Jones.