I Don’t Care If Texas Tech Ever Plays the Longhorns in Football Again
In a few weeks, the Texas Tech Red Raiders will play the Texas Longhorns for the 72nd time. It's one of the most storied and long-running series that Texas Tech plays. The next installment in the Longhorns-Red Raiders saga will be played in Lubbock and could be the final time the pair of teams ever plays in the Hub City.
Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal wrote about the seemingly contentious conversations between the administrations involved in getting a long-term deal done to have the two teams continue playing after the Longhorns bail to the SEC, which could come as soon as the summer 2023. The piece is well written and contains quotes from Texas Tech Athletics Director Kirby Hocutt, Texas Athletics Director Chris Del Conte, a spokesperson for Governor Greg Abbott, and Texas Tech Regent Cody Campbell.
Campbell, a former Texas Tech football player in addition to his various roles post-graduation, had additional comments when he shared the piece on Twitter.
Go read Williams' article if you want the thoughts and opinions of the people in charge who matter. It's a great read. If you want my opinion, Rob Breaux, a man who is not in charge and doesn't matter to either administration, I'm happy to oblige.
I want to preface what I'm about to say with this: I get the value of playing Texas. The history isn't in Texas Tech's favor in the matchup, but that doesn't make it not history. The Red Raiders have played them for nearly 100 years with the first matchup in 1928. They've been non-conference opponents, Southwest Conference rivals, and Big 12 rivals.
The needle moves when Texas comes to Lubbock, and the needle moves when Texas Tech goes to Austin. The City of Lubbock would benefit from Jones AT&T Stadium selling out every other year and history tells us that nobody sells out The Jones like the Longhorns do.
Not even Texas Tech.
Here's my question, though. If Texas Tech has the best college football fanbase in the world like they recently proved on FOX College Football's fan poll, why do they need the Longhorns to help sell out The Jones?
Would I sign up for a home-and-home matchup between the Longhorns and Aggies that rotated on a four-year basis? You bet your sweet ass I would. Playing in Austin and College Station every other year while having A&M and Texas in Lubbock every two years would be awesome.
What I don't want to do is have to beg the University of Texas to help out Texas Tech one more time before they leave us in the dust and mediocrity of the fractured Big 12. For one, I'm bullish on the future of the Big 12 conference. I think once the playoff expands and the same teams are still winning every year in the Super Conference, the Big 12 that's had a new champion every year is going to become the people's conference.
I don't want to run toward the corporate stooges of the SEC; I want Texas Tech to dig in their heels and say 'we're the flagship university in the State of West Texas and we own it.' I want them to be able to claim, 'our incredible fanbase fills the stadium when Texas Tech is playing, regardless of who the opponent is.'
As Texas Tech embarks on its Centennial, maybe it's time to forge a new path where success isn't contingent on what the Longhorns can provide you. Houston returns to the Big 12. Texas Tech has nearly as much running history as both Baylor and TCU, who remain in the Big 12. That's three Texas universities that will be on the schedule from 2023 to the foreseeable future. Let's focus on selling out those games in Lubbock.
The Texas Longhorns and Red Raiders have a history, but it's hardly a rivalry. There's little to no respect, even though there's plenty of hate. As we move forward into a new era of Texas Tech football, one that's hopefully as prosperous as any era before it, I just want to move on from depending on anyone but the Red Raiders to make the Red Raiders great.
I just don't care if Texas or Texas A&M are ever on the football schedule again.
Now, if we're talking basketball or baseball? It's a brand new world. Meet the Longhorns at a neutral field every year in baseball until baseball ceases to exist. Play one midweek in Lubbock and one in Austin every year. Play at Minute Maid or Globe Life in one of the classics every season. In basketball, get them on the SEC/Big 12 Challenge rotation. Pray for a 3/6 matchup in the NCAA Tournament. Play in Madison Square Garden.
Neutral site games are worth it in both baseball and basketball. Football? A home and home series or walk away.
For some strange reason, I just don't trust the Longhorns to figure out an even way to work out a football deal.
For that reason, I'm walking away.
If you read Don's article referenced earlier like I told you to, Hocutt and Campbell make it pretty clear that they thought a deal was done to play an exclusive home and home series for a long period, and Texas is being snake-like by claiming that didn't mean Texas Tech, just schools in Texas. I, for one, am shocked Chris Del Conte and the UT administration would be pulling a fast one.
This comment from Hocutt was particularly great in response. "We sell their tickets, right?" Hocutt told the A-J. "We fill up their basketball arena, and we fill up their baseball stadium, fill up their football stadium. So no different than any other university in Texas, when the Red Raiders come, we bring the Red Raider nation and it financially benefits them through their ticket sales."
Side note: Texas Tech also fills up arenas and stadiums in Fort Wort and Waco.
Late in the piece, Hocutt had another zinger.
"There's so many unknowns about the future, but we would like to memorialize it with signatures that there's a commitment on behalf of both universities to continue this scheduling well into the future, because I believe it's important to the state of Texas," he said.
From the Campbell quote tweet above and Hocutt's sentiments laid out by the A-J, I don't doubt that Texas Tech leaders understand dealing with the Longhorns from a position of strength. Something that seems to be new territory for Texas Tech. This isn't your grandma's Texas Tech, though. The university is growing and dumping money into athletics like never before. I'm not breaking any ground here.
I also know they want to play Texas at face value, but I also think the leadership at Texas Tech finally agrees that they don't need the Longhorns anymore. If Texas doesn't want to play on a level playing field or in Lubbock, they can enjoy their time in the SEC without any West Texas ties. As a matter of fact, cut that West Texas PUF money that the University of Texas is flush with while you're working on the football schedule, Governor Abbott.
Let's take that West Texas pride we've been talking about all summer and prove it's more than just a cactus emoji and that we really believe it around here.