Friday, July 29, 2005

BlogPoll Question #4

This week's BlogPoll Roundtable Question is brought to you by the letters B, G, S and the number 4.

This week, we're talking rivals. Not the scam artists at Rivals.com, but college football rivals where both programs really hate each other and will play above their heads every time they meet. And no one does it better than college football. Yeah, there are some rivalries at the pro level, but free agency has lessened the hatred as favorite players often wind up playing for a "rival" the next year.

1. Who are your rival(s)? The big games. The ones you always get up for, no matter how poor the teams might be during any given season. While we all might have a general sense of what the well-known national rivalries are (Army/Navy, Auburn/Alabama, etc) this is a chance to expound a little bit on your own personal bloodfeuds. Give us a little history, a little flavor, maybe a piece of lore or a notable prank that happened in the course of this feud. Also, feel free to use this question to talk about some rivalries in your team's history that may have faded away over the years.
I'm one of these college football purists that thinks a rivalry is about mutual hatred, so it's hard to think of cases where Texas Tech has a rival in the classic sense. Tech has always measured itself academically and athletically against the other state schools, Texas and Texas A&M.

Tech fans hate Texas because West Texas is very conservative and they regard UT as "The People's Republic of Austin." UT fans, however, try to ignore Texas Tech.

Texas A&M is another story. For most of A&M and Tech's existence in the same conference, there hasn't really been much mutual hatred. Texas Tech always felt like it had something to prove, while A&M has never really cared. In the last 10 years, however, it's become closer to a true rivalry for a number of reasons. First, Tech has dramatically improved on the gridiron while A&M has fallen off. Second, A&M suddenly seems to have the yips every time they make a trip to Lubbock. Finally, Tech seems to have acquired a reputation in Big XII circles similar to what Philly fan has nationally, and this ticks the allegedly more honorable A&M fan off to no end.
For better or worse, those are the two games Tech gets up for.

I recall three interesting games with Texas A&M. In 1999, Spike Dykes' last season, Texas Tech barely held off a Top-10 ranked A&M team in Lubbock 21-19. The students ran onto the field, tore down the goal post and paraded it down University Avenue. (I still have a piece of the goal post.)

Two years later, Tech upset A&M in Lubbock again, and again the fans in tore down the goal post. Unfortunately, the fans decided to deposit it in the visiting fans section of Jones Stadium and a riot ensued in between the A&M fans and Tech fans. Among the spectators for A&M was the chief of staff for Governor Rick Perry, who got punched in the melee and blamed it on a Lubbock resident. Later it was discovered on videotape that Perry's chief of staff got hit by a fellow Aggie.

(Perry made good later by speaking at Tech's graduation and carried just about every county in West Texas in the gubenatorial election)

I can't remember if it was a year or 2 years after that, but the The Texas A&M Media guide wrote that Tech fans were "classless clowns" and that Texas Tech deserved to have Bobby Knight. A&M lost to Texas Tech on the football field and went 0-2 against Tech in basketball.

Incidentally, there's a statue of Will Rogers on a horse on the Tech campus (Rogers was a big donor to the Tech band). The horse is facing west and to the north in such a way that the other end of the horse points toward College Station.

My best memory of a Texas Tech-Texas game was Kliff Kingsbury's senior year where Kingsbury threw 3 touchdown passes to beat the Longhorns and "Chrissy" Simms.

2. Size up your chances in your rival games this year. Pretty straightforward. Try to be objective.
This is probably the best team A&M has fielded in 4 years. So it will definitely be close. However, The game is in Lubbock, and it's a potential look-ahead game for A&M with Oklahoma the next week. Plus the last time Reggie McNeal came to Lubbock, he had a bad game.

As for Texas, well, they need to figure out a better way to stop Vince Young than the game plan they used last year.

3. If you could start up a new rivalry with another team, who would it be? Is there a team out there that you think would make a perfect rival for your team? Maybe you've played them a few times in the past and the games got a little heated, or perhaps there's an oldtime rivalry of yours that you'd like to rekindle. Pick a team (or two) that you'd love to battle year in and year out.
We've tried to establish regional rivalries with New Mexico, SMU, and TCU, but it hasn't worked out because Tech keeps blowing them out and the ADs get ticked at us.

I'd like to get the Air Force Academy in on a regular basis. Wouldn't that be a great clash of two completely opposite styles and personalities? The wishbone vs. The Air Raid. The straight-laced Fisher DeBerry vs. Mike Leach. Plus, you could probably charter a few buses to bring servicemen from Dyess AFB and Goodfellow AFB who might want to go.

4. Overall, what do you think the best rivalry in college football is? Try to pick one that doesn't involve your own team. What makes that rivalry so much better than all the others?
Best rivalry? It's like picking between my future children. But if you were to interrogate me James Bond Villain-style, I'd probably say Michigan-Ohio State since it always seems to have some bearing on the national picture.

5. Lastly, game trophies. What are the best and worst rivalry trophies out there? There's a lot of crazy stuff changing hands every football season: Golden Axes and Beehive Boots, Old Wagon Wheels and War Canoes. Which trophies are cool? Which trophy would you be embarrassed to see your team hoist aloft after winning a rivalry game? Here's a cribsheet to help you pick out your favorite and/or most ridiculous. And if nothing seems to fit, and you'd like to design your own trophy, you can mention that too.
I think the best trophy, because of it's uniqueness, has to be the Iron Skillet, which goes to the TCU-SMU winner. The worst trophy is any kind of bell, cup or plain trophy. It shows that the two schools really haven't put much thought into the award.
I'd like to see them award a pair of golden goalposts to the winner of the A&M-Tech game just because tearing down the goalposts have seemed to define the recent rivalry.

Monday: Trade Winds
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