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Rivalry Week: who REALLY is Texas Tech’s primary nemesis in the new decade?

It’s time to identify Texas Tech’s No. 1 rival going forward; that’s not as simple an endeavor as it sounds.

NCAA Football: Texas El Paso at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Take a stroll down University Ave in Lubbock, Texas, and ask the first 20 people you encounter which school they would consider to be Texas Tech’s arch-rival.

Chances are you’ll get a quite a few Texases, Baylors, Oklahoma States and TCUs with a couple of Oklahomas and even an A&M in there for good measure. What can I say? We hate a lot of teams and, in fairness, a lot of teams hate us.

But it’s important to differentiate between the varying levels of hatred to determine which school best deserves the title of Tech’s No. 1 rival. Rivalries are good for sports, good for attendance, and good for revenue.

First, let’s establish the applicant pool (alphabetical order):

  • Baylor Bears
  • Oklahoma Sooners
  • Oklahoma State Cowboys
  • TCU Horned Frogs
  • Texas Longhorns
  • Texas A&M Aggies

Here’s my criteria for establishing a rival:

  1. The fan bases/alumni networks must hold an equally mutual and pronounced disdain or hatred for one another.
  2. The all-time head-to-head record between the two schools must be somewhat even or at least competitive. You can’t consider yourself a rival of a school that beats you in eight out of every 10 matchups. It has to be competitive, otherwise it’s not a rivalry at all.
  3. The schools must be in the same conference OR play each other annually in a non-conference game.
  4. There must be a mutual level of respect for the opposing team (Ohio can hate Ohio State all it wants, but they will never be considered the No. 1 rival because they are not respected as an adversary by the Buckeyes. It’s an extreme example, but it works.)
  5. The opponent must not have a rival it cares about more than you. Kind of goes without saying, after all, we are looking for a primary rival. Sure, Navy can consider itself Notre Dame’s rival, but the Irish care infinitely more about the USC game every year. Thus, Navy cannot be Notre Dame’s primary rival.

So let’s see if we can identify the best possible candidate for our No 1 rival going forward based on the above requirements.

Category 1: As far as hatred is concerned, Texas and Texas Tech absolutely loathe each other. Every state school is going to hate the flagship university regardless of location - they universally have more funding, more opportunities, more media coverage and bias, and a slew of Walmart bandwagon fans who have no affiliation with the university whatsoever but would sell their house for a high-five from the athletic director...I digress. Texas fans hate Tech because Red Raiders are exponentially more passionate (some would use the word “rabid” but fan is short for fanatic, so just chillax OK?)

Baylor’s not far behind, particularly after the Art Briles debacle a few years ago, which seemed to rapidly intensify Red Raider fans’ distaste for that program. If we’re going by volume and intensity of social media wars, the Tech-Baylor rivalry stands above (or below) the rest.

TCU also is in the mix, especially considering the number of current Tech students and alumni who hail from the DFW metroplex. There’s also the archetypal snooty-upper-class vs. humble working class theme to consider, as well. The DFW Red Raiders definitely despise TCU far more than the other rivals in most cases.

Oklahoma State, or Xerox U, is among the most hated of Tech’s foes for their brazen mirroring of Tech’s most valued traditions.

Tech also hates Oklahoma, but mainly because the Sooners have mopped the floor with the Red Raiders for more than a century. A&M has always been among our most loathed opponents as the other of the two schools competing for the No. 2 spot in Texas for so many decades, but the conference realignment regrettably deflated much of the animosity between the two schools.

It’s difficult to decide which school Tech should hate the most because, as previously mentioned, we hate a lot of schools. And each Red Raider has a different school they hate more than the next. It’s impossible to give a decision on this criteria alone, so let’s move on.

Category 2: All time records need to be close. Let’s see:

Texas Tech all-time record vs. Baylor: 38-1-39 (.494)

vs. Oklahoma: 6-21 (.222)

vs. Oklahoma State: 23-3-21 (.521)

vs. TCU: 32-3-27 (.540)

vs. Texas: 17-52 (.246)

vs. Texas A&M: 32-1-37 (.464)

Of these, only Texas and Oklahoma don’t meet the standards as described above. Consequently, both schools are now out of the running.

Category 3: All schools meet this requirement except Texas A&M. Sorry Aggies, you have been eliminated.

Category 4: All three of the remaining schools meet this requirement. As evidenced by the all-time records, Tech has delivered just about as many Ls to Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State as those schools have given to Tech. They’re all worthy adversaries.

Category 5: Another school is eliminated here. Don’t get me wrong, Oklahoma State hates Texas Tech, but not nearly as much as it hates Oklahoma. I lived in Oklahoma City after I graduated from Tech and let me tell you, they take Bedlam painfully seriously.

And so we arrive at a very intriguing quandary. If only Baylor OR TCU remained, we’d have our answer for our primary rival. But not only are the two schools nearly indistinguishable in regards to their relationship to Tech, but they actually may very well hate each other more than they hate us. After all, they’re both private religious institutions (the only two in the Big 12 Conference) and they’re much closer in proximity to one another than they are to Lubbock.

And again, Red Raider fans are probably split down the middle as to which school they despise more. Even acknowledging Tech’s recent metamorphosis into a basketball-baseball school hybrid, it’s still impossible to favor one rival over the other. Baylor is by far the worthier basketball opponent, but TCU is an undoubted baseball power steeped in tradition and success. We can’t make a determination based on either of those sports, it seems.

I think there are one of two ways to eliminate one final prospect. A) flip a coin, or, B) leave it up to our readers to decide. I’ve done all I can do. It’s up to you to take it from here.


Last school standing: Who should be Tech’s primary rival this decade?

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