Life gives you stories that resonant within. Stories like a young shepherd boy picking up five smooth stones and slaying a giant with a simple sling and a faith in God. Stories like a band of brothers completely encircled by German troops in WWII and when rescued by Gen. Patton claiming that they didn’t need rescuing, they were holding their own just fine. Stories about a rag tag bunch of colonies winning a war against the greatest world power of their time because they believed they could. Stories about a 6 seed Villanova defeating Georgetown for the NCAA championship, not because anyone else thought they could but because they thought they could. A runner survives 26 miles to warn his countrymen. A black woman refuses to move to the back of the bus. Stories like these inspire and bring hope because everyone of us is weaker than someone, smaller than someone and faces obstacles of our own.
Remember the advice Coach Switzer gave Coach Leach when he was offered this job? Don’t do it, you can’t win there. That in a nutshell is the world’s belief about our school. You can’t win there. Tech is too remote, too small and too inconsequential to compete. Tech faces too many giants, from storied programs such as OU, UT and Nebraska to programs that are better funded. All but Tech and Baylor in the Big 12 are land grant universities within their state. They have celebrated their 100th year of this and that. We weren’t even around 100 years ago. They are big. We are not.
But did Coach Leach listen to his mentor? No, he thought it could be done. He saw the promise. He believed in himself. He went to work. In many ways, success at Tech becomes Coach Leach. The pirates that Coach Leach is fascinated with battled world dominating empires such as the British, French and Spanish. As the pirates are to the British, French and Spanish, so Tech is to OU, UT and Nebraska. I think Leach recognized this when he started with the pirate theme. All the talk of Leach taking this job or that job seems silly to me. Can you see a Pirate becoming a British Commodore? This misfit who never played college football who is still viewed as a nutcase by traditional football powers fits here like a sword in a scabbard. West Texas is the outpost colony where only a pirate can thrive.
So Leach began to build the base and the persona of a team, a team that could challenge. He took them to war and continually crafted the approach with phases such as “swing your sword” and “do your job.” He defied the traditionalist and rallied Raider Nation with his views that his fans were as good as any and that sometimes a pirate beats a soldier. Sometimes he does indeed, sometimes he does indeed. He drilled his team on execution, execution, execution. Now you hear stories of one of the top QBs in the country spending hours in the summer with the best receiver in the country throwing routes over and over again. Doing their job and swinging their sword during the summer of Texas sweat and heat. Why work so hard boys, don’t you know you can’t win at Tech? Listen and you will hear “yes we can” in the whine of the spirals in the Texas heat. “Yes we can” in the smack of the pads against each other. “Yes we can” in the clink of the weights on the bench.
So how will the story end? I don’t know but I can tell you this. I am looking forward to seeing this team go mano a mano against OU and Stoops, the de facto King of the Big 12 hill at their house. Leach and his marauding band of brothers have already knocked down traditional power Nebraska and current power UT, who between them have over 10 MNC. OU claims 7 MNC and beyond OU is Florida, Alabama or possibly USC. Line’em all up I say, those MNC trophies don’t play a position on the field. They all started with zero trophies just like us. If and when this team wins the MNC they will probably have defeated programs with over 20 MNC between them. This team won’t win a MNC the easy way like BYU or Colorado. Nope, this team is going to have to flat out earn it by beating the hell out of the British, French and Spanish of the world. When you come from Texas Tech you know that respect is fought for and earned and the same will be true of our football team. I wouldn’t have it any other way, would you?