By Ted Poe, U.S. Congressman
In coffee shops, barber shops and even in the beauty salons all across Texas, the talk is the same: How’s the team gonna be this year? It’s that time of year, a time that folks in Texas and across the South prepare for all year long, Football season. Football in Texas is its own religion, where even the preacher cuts the sermon short on Sundays to get you home in time to watch the game. Nowhere else on earth will you find a culture so linked with football like in Texas.
Texas football is that of both legend and legacy. It has spawned countless books, movies and TV series, providing a look into a way of life that is so proudly unique. It’s the Junction Boys, the Tyler Rose, the last-minute touchdown run by Texas Longhorn Vince Young in the Rose Bowl for the national championship. (I was there by the way with my son, Kurt. What a game, what a memory.)
Most Texans, if you ask them, have at least one team in which their loyalty lies. One thing I can say without a doubt is that Texas Tech fans love their football. It is the rich heritage of tradition that sets Texas Tech apart from all the rest. It is Bangin’ Bertha, the Saddle Tramps and the Masked Rider. It’s Raider Alley, the Double T Saddle and Raider Red. Raider Red fires two 12-gauge shotguns after every touchdown and field goal—only in Texas.
The Mike Leach era at Texas Tech began in 2000 when he arrived from Oklahoma (OU Sooners) to take the head coaching position. During his first season, Coach Leach’s offense produced records in nearly every passing category. In his following nine seasons, the Red Raiders surpassed each of those passing records and doubled their yards per game.
Everyone can agree that Leach has one of the greatest offensive minds in football history. Leach coaches outside the box; he trained Tech in the art of air assault operations.
During his subsequent football seasons with Texas Tech, he was awarded three national Coach of the Year awards: the Woody Hayes, the George Munger and the Howie Long/Fieldturf. He never had a losing season in his nine seasons at Tech. His record speaks for itself.
Seventeen of Leach’s Red Raiders were drafted into the National Football League, and another 21 signed free agent contracts under Leach’s tenure. In addition, while coaching at Tech, Leach’s graduation rates increased and remained above 70 percent.
Not only is Mike Leach a great coach, but he is also a lawyer. He earned his law degree from Pepperdine, and credits his law school education to his successful coaching career. According to Leach, “a law degree is a degree in problem solving. My Juris Doctor has helped me solve a number of problems I have faced throughout my coaching career.” A lawyer who thinks outside the box sounds familiar.
In 2009, he was fired from Tech over a controversy for allegedly mistreating one of his players. Leach denied mistreating the player and is currently working for CBS College Sports as an announcer. As legendary Coach Bum Phillips is credited with saying, “There are two types of coaches - those that have been fired and those that will be.”
Leach recently wrote a book about his path into coaching and he looks forward to getting back on the sideline.
Among Red Raider fans and those who have met him, played for him and learned from him, Mike Leach is wholeheartedly considered a legend in his own time.
So this weekend, grab the family, put on your team colors and head to the game. Grab some hot dogs and a coke and take part in one of Texas’ finest traditions. You will see some of those folks that you went to high school with and some of the same old guys sitting in the same seats as they were in 20 or 30 years ago.
I wish all the players, the coaches, the trainers, the cheerleaders, the drill team and all those people that volunteer their time to support our kids the very best luck. Know that you are all a part of something very special, a Texas religion—Texas football.
And that’s just the way it is.
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