I grew up in Lubbock. Because of that, I also grew up a big Texas Tech fan. I've heard all of the jokes and yeah, Lubbock doesn't have all of the cool stuff that we have here in DFW, but Lubbock is a great place to live. It's cheap to live there, the people are friendly and there is zero traffic, like, none. You have no idea what it's like to be on the highway and literally be the only car in the middle of the day.
Lubbock gets a bad rap because it's an easy target. A few years ago, The Weather Channel did a contest which named Lubbock the Worst Weather City in America. You know who they beat to claim the title? Fairbanks, Alaska. Seriously? Wind and dust storms suck, but you've got a screw loose if you think that's worse than living in Alaska. What's more, the voters picked Lubbock in a landslide. It got twice as many votes as Fairbanks and as far as I know it is the only National Title that Lubbock can claim outside of the Texas Tech Lady Raiders Basketball team in 1993. Lubbock was also recently voted the Most Boring City in America by Movoto, a real estate research blog. Admittedly, there wasn't a lot to do in Lubbock growing up, but there was Texas Tech athletics.
My parents had season tickets and I went to every home game as a kid. Mike Leach became my hero and his Air Raid offense was the most exciting thing going on in the Great Plains. My senior year in high school I watched with glee as Sonny Cumbie brought the Red Raiders back from a 21-0 deficit to blast TCU 70-35. I figured I would go to Tech, but I also applied to Texas A&M and TCU. I didn't know anything about TCU other than that my dad suggested I check it out and A&M and Tech were actually my first two choices. When I went to visit TCU it just felt right. The campus was beautiful, and I really liked the idea of living in a big city and seeing what else was out there after spending 17 years in Lubbock.
When the TCU acceptance letter came in the mail, I knew that I had made my decision. My sports heart though, still belonged with Mike Leach and Texas Tech. When I looked TCU up in Dave Campbell's Texas Football, I saw that we were picked to finish seventh in the Mountain West in our first year in the league. Oh well, I thought, I'll still get to catch a Tech game every now and then when I go home. On a side note, I have purchased and read DCTF every year except 2014 when Baylor was featured on the cover. I highly recommend it, as long as Baylor isn't on the cover. That first weekend of football season, my pledge brothers were going up to Norman to watch TCU take on OU. Okay, well have fun watching us get crushed, I thought. I went home that weekend to see my parents. We were at lunch when we realized that TCU was up 10-0 at halftime. So, we all went home and watched the second half of that game. Hey, maybe TCU was good at football after all.
My cousin went to SMU and the next weekend I went to Dallas to watch that horrible game. After that, I figured that the OU win was just a fluke. But then we went on to beat BCS buster Utah at home, BYU on the road and we just kept winning. A big group of us went down to Houston that New Years to watch TCU beat Iowa State in the Houston Bowl. I had to hurry back to DFW the next day though, to watch Texas Tech take on Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. Tech lost that game by the way, because that is Tech football. They never seem to win those must-win games that could take the program to the next level. Yeah, TCU football was a lot of fun to watch, but they were still only my second favorite team.
In 2006, I felt dirty wearing purple and cheering for TCU when Tech came to town. Sitting in the student section, I felt like I belonged on the other side of the stadium with the people wearing red and black. It hurt to watch a Mike Leach team lose 3-12. I had never seen anything like that. Nobody embarrassed Leach like that. Ever. Nobody but GMFP.
I guess that's when the tides began to shift. Leach had something special at Tech and that's what had always captivated me. I guess it took my alma mater beating my childhood team in true Gary Patterson fashion for me to realize that we had something special going on right here at my school. It took the rest of my college career for that transformation to be complete though. In 2008 I was sitting in class at TCU googling Texas Tech football when they were ranked #2 in the nation. The Red Raiders blew it big time that year and during bowl season, I was back home in Lubbock. I remember watching TCU beat Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl right before watching Ole Miss run all over Tech in the Cotton Bowl.
I guess that's when I realized that Tech was never going to get over the hump, honestly. As much as I loved Leach, I knew that Patterson was the one I could count on. TCU was a team that refused to be denied, while Tech was a team that refused to reach their potential. TCU confirmed that in 2009 as they battled their way to within one Big XII referee debacle of playing for a national championship. But of course, we had to let Texas get a second shot at that game winning field goal. Rules are rules. Right? Yeah, I had my doubts when we lost to Boise in that Fiesta Bowl, but the next year, once again the Frogs wouldn't be denied. 13-0 and Rose Bowl Champions.
As I got older, It became more clear to me also, that while Patterson is a guy who is idiosyncratic, Leach is very likely a certifiable crazy person. That being said, I value his word a lot more than that of Craig James, and I still wish that crazy pirate luck. I cheer for Wazzu every Saturday, but Leach just doesn't have that killer instinct like Gary. Gary will not be denied and, therefore, the Frogs will not be denied.
Since the Rose Bowl, I have been reminded of that time and time again. For one, the Boise State upset in 2011 when the Mountain West did everything they could to prevent us from winning the conference in our final year. But we still won. Then there was the double overtime victory in Morgantown in 2012, when we were in danger of having that season slip away from us. Last year, we were coming off a 4-8 season and people from my hometown were saying it was a mistake to have let us in the conference in the first place. Gary would not be denied. Even if it meant he would have to team up with his former enemy Sonny Cumbie and win with offense. Now we have a Big XII championship and are 19-1 since making that switch.
I could go on, but suffice it to say that I am one of the luckiest sons of Lubbock when it comes to college sports. I could have been in Omaha two years ago watching my team lose to TCU instead of watching my team beat Tech. I could have spent last year reeling in a 4-8 dumpster fire while thinking things like, well, at least our coach is really, really, ridiculously good-looking. Instead, I got to watch my team win the Big XII conference (something that still hasn't happened for the unlucky Tech fans) and dismantle Ole Miss in their own backyard. A lot more fun than watching them run all over my hometown team in our own backyard back in 2011. All of that misery and disappointment that I would have lived through has been replaced by excitement, good times and Ws. I wouldn't have it any other way.