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‘Pirate’ heads west to guide another ship
My college career at Texas Tech began with absolutely no desire to go to Red Raider football games. I was dragged into one by my hallway roommates and was instantly hooked on the odd calls and amazing offensive stretches down the field.
When I went to college Mike Leach, who used to be offensive coordinator for the Valdosta State Blazers from 1992-1996 and then Kentucky from 1997-1998, was the “Pirate” in charge of the Raiders and he had weapons like Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree. In 2008, during the best season of football Tech had ever played I sat in line for the Texas game at Jones AT&T Stadium at 8 a.m. and waited until close to 7 p.m. for them to let students inside.
That night Crabtree scored in the last seconds of the game to upset Texas, with fans rushing the field not once, not twice but three times (one time for the touchdown, the second time after the extra point and lastly at the end of the game).
My team went into 2009 without its major weapons, but gained new ones. Taylor Potts was all right even though it felt like the entire college wanted to see Steven Sheffield be quarterback. We were still under Mike Leach and he led us to 9-4 (5-3 in Big 12 play). We beat Oklahoma in 2009 and that was revenge for 2008’s crushing loss and three-way tie with Texas and Oklahoma.
But Tech lost its “Pirate” at the end of regular games. He was fired for the alleged abuse of Adam James, Craig James’ son. Everyone at Tech seemed to know that couldn’t have been the case and that it must have been our athletic department and school who were at odds with Leach.
Now he’s at Washington State after a hiatus that saw him announce a couple of games as a sportscaster. Leach is excellent at bringing nothing schools to the top of their leagues. The Jones AT&T Stadium should be named after Mike Leach for putting bottoms in seats (we really just stood up the whole time).
I’d like to say my team is Washington State now. I’ll always be a Red Raider, but Tommy Tuberville’s team is not the same as what I remembered. He tries to be known as the “Riverboat Gambler” but that’s nothing compared to a real “Pirate.” I wish Texas Tech the best and look forward to watching televised games whenever I can here in Georgia, but now I’ll have another team to root for in that offense-crazy PAC-12 division, the Washington State Cougars.
Leach, whose head coaching record is 84-43, should bring some excellent recruits to the Cougars who are in dire need of them after the school’s lowest winning percentage of all time, 9-40, with former head coach Paul Wulff.
“Pirates function as a team. There were a lot of castes and classes in England at the time. But with pirates, it didn’t matter if you were black, white, rich or poor,” Leach said in an ESPN article. “The object was to get a treasure. If the captain did a bad job, you could just overthrow him.”
Next year should be an interesting one for Washington State, and I hope they enjoy Leach’s personality like we did in Lubbock.
Derek Moy is a staff writer for the Sylvania Telephone and 2011 graduate of Texas Tech University.