Know Your Foe: Texas Tech Red Raiders


The Missouri mens basketball team was shocked by the Oklahoma State Cowboys the last time they took the court, losing 79-72 in Stillwater. While the loss is disheartening, the Big 12 is notorious for being a difficult conference to get wins on the road, and it is only January meaning there is still plenty of basketball to be played. The Tigers have a great opportunity to bounce back to form when the Texas Tech Red Raiders ride into Mizzou Arena this afternoon.

In 1923, legislation was passed by the Texas legislature to establish a school in western Texas after pressure from Texas’ governor Pat Neff. That legislation created Texas Technological College, located in Lubbock, TX. The school officially opened in 1925 with six buildings and 914 people in the initial enrollment class. It featured four schools at its opening: agriculture, engineering, home economics, and liberal arts. The school expanded slowly at first, requiring a great deal of aid from New Deal agencies during the Great Depression to stay afloat. It contributed over 4,700 soldiers to World War II through the military training program adopted in 1936, and enrollment peaked at 5,366 after World War II.

By the 1960s is when the University really started to grow. It had expanded out of its original name and offered much more than just technological studies. Several attempts were made to change the name of the school, and at one point it was proposed that the school just be added to the Texas A&M system. Eventually, in 1969, the school’s name was changed to Texas Tech University, by which it is known today. At that point, all of Tech’s schools became full fledged colleges, and the school has added four new colleges since the name change.

Investments continued to pour into TTU and the school continued to grow. In 1996, the Texas Tech University System was created, which cemented its status as one of the major colleges in Texas. Today Texas Tech enrolls 32,327 students which study from 11 colleges, graduate school, and law school. In total, Tech offers 150 undergraduate degree programs, along with 100 master’s and 50 doctoral programs. These colleges all sit on the 1,839 acre campus, which is the second largest contiguous campus in the United States behind only Stanford. The University is the only institution in Texas to have a law and medical school on the same campus as its main academic university programs. It is also home to several libraries, including the Vietnam Center and Archive, the largest collection of information on the Vietnam War in the country.

The Red Raiders compete in the Big 12 Conference and field 15 varsity sports. In total, they have won 58 conference titles, including 11 in the Big 12, and three national championships (men’s polo 2006, rodeo 1956, women’s basketball 1993). The school’s oldest and most recognizable mascot is the Masked Rider, a female student dressed in all black who leads the football team onto the field atop a black horse, giving the school’s official hand signal “guns up”.

Speaking of Red Raiders football, Texas Tech has had a tradition of good football teams, but haven’t tasted greatness regularly. The Red Raiders did not have a season in which they were under .500 from 1993 up until this past year, when they finished 5-7. During this time the played in 16 bowl games, winning seven of them. The Red Raiders have played in a total of 34 bowl games, tied for 17th most all time, winning 12 of them. They arguably had the most success recently under head coach Mike Leach, who had winning seasons in each of his 10 seasons. His signature season may have been in 2008, in which Tech finished 11-2 and reached the Cotton Bowl, though lost to Ole Miss 47-34. The season was defined on the first day in November when the Texas Longhorns  came in to Lubbock as the No. 1 team in college football. No. 7 Texas Tech upset the Longhorns in front of a national TV audience and the College Gameday crew 39-33 on a thrilling last second touchdown pass from Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree, Tech’s Biletnikoff Award-winning wide receiver.

Unfortunately for Red Raider fans, Leach was fired amid scandal following the 2009 season. It came to public light that Leach mistreated Adam James, a player who had suffered a concussion. It was reported that Leach confined him to a small, dark equipment room during team practice when he was unable to play. Today the Red Raiders are coached by Tommy Tuberville, who led Texas Tech to their first losing season since joining the Big 12 in 1996. The 2011 season looked promising when the Red Raiders upset No. 1 Oklahoma in Norman to move to 5-2, but Tech lost their last five games, finishing 5-7, including a 31-27 loss at the hands of Missouri in Columbia.

Texas Tech’s basketball has made 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, but had their eleventh appearance and best season in school history vacated by the NCAA. In the 1995-96 season, the Red Raiders finished 30-2 and made it to the Sweet Sixteen in the tournament led by coach James Dickey. However, during the 1996-97 season it was discovered that two players were academically ineligible, which resulted in the vacating of the 1995-96 season and the loss of nine scholarships over the next four years.

After Dickey was fired after a 9-19 season in 2001, legendary coach Bob Knight was hired as his replacement. Knight was immediately able to improve the program, and returned them to the tournament in 2002 for the first time since 1996. It was at Texas Tech that Knight became the all-time leader in career victories at the time of his retirement, finishing with 902 wins. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski passed Knight’s mark earlier this year. Bob Knight retired in the middle of the 2007-08 season and was replaced by his son Pat Knight. Pat was fired at the conclusion of the 2011 season and was replaced by Billy Gillispie.

Gillispie has not had the most successful first season up to this point. His Red Raiders are 7-12 and 0-7 in the Big 12. They have struggled in several major statistical categories, most notably scoring. They average 62.5 points per game, 284th in the country, and have not scored more than 60 points since Dec. 30. They are led by freshman forward Jordan Tolbert (12.8 PPG, 6.4 RPG), but he is the only Red Raider who averages double digit points per game. They are riding a seven game losing streak, all in conference play, during which time they have been outscored by 17.7 points per game. The losing streak has come from sloppy play (17.4 turnovers during the streak) and poor shooting (35.5% from the floor).

The Raiders seem to be coming to Columbia at an opportune time for Mizzou, who were most recently upset on the road against Oklahoma State. It can be hard to paint a pretty picture for Mizzou fans after a disappointment like that, but it was only the second loss on the season for a very talented Mizzou team. There is still lots of basketball to be played, and plenty of time to put the loss to the Cowboys behind them. There would be no better way than to bounce back the next time on the floor, which just happens to be against a team that hasn’t won in the Big 12 since March 2 of last year. Mizzou has been dominant at home this season, winning all 11 games by an average margin of 27 points. Even if they still have a bad taste in their mouth from OSU, the Tigers should simply be too much for the Red Raiders to handle.