Disappointing football games and a loser’s lamentation

It’s Saturday, September 26, 2020, 8:22 pm EST and I just watched the Texas Tech University/University of Texas football game on TV, channel 10, Fox Sports, played at Lubbock, Texas.

Texas Tech has not been a super-star winner at anything I know of in sports. Last year they had a great basketball team almost winning a national championship. But in football they have never been a national winner, despite having promise, year after year. As I recall Tech beat Texas last year, for the first time in history, and I thought it was going to happen again today, but it didn’t in one of the most improbable games I ever saw, or played in.

I was, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the youngest and smallest Class A high school starting quarterback in the US in 1954, the second highest scorer in Class A high school football on the South Plains of Texas in 1958, all district four years in high school basketball, among other things, at Frenship High School at Wolfforth, Texas, ten miles southwest of Texas Tech.

Tech was behind at halftime after being ahead at the start of the game, so I assumed as usual they would fade away in the second half. After a nap I woke up surprised to learn they were ahead. They led by one touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

And then, amazingly, one of Tech’s running backs got loose on a long run putting them ahead two touchdowns, as if the Texas defense let him loose, after being surrounded by Texas tacklers, increasing Tech’s lead to either 15 or 16 points.

And then the Texas Tech coach, or someone on Tech’s coaching staff, with two minutes and forty-eight seconds remaining, as I recall, decided to kick a strange kickoff, a high lofting kick that landed on about the forty yard line of Texas, where Texas took possession. It’s possible the Tech kicker somehow flubbed this kickoff, but I cannot see how. Seems to me it had to have been done on purpose. I also used to kick kick-offs in high school. Why in hades Tech didn’t kick the ball into the Texas end zone, which would have wound up on the twenty-five yard line with Texas in possession amazes me. Trying to burn a few seconds off the clock I suppose.

Well, anyway, to make this sorry story short, with about two and one-half minutes remaining in the game and 15 or 16 points behind Texas scored two touchdowns and tied the game at 56-56, having to score in the process at least one two-point extra point to tie the game, and recover an on-side kick-off. And then they proceeded to win the game in overtime. It was as if the Texas offense in the last two and one-half or so minutes magically got about three times better than they had been and the Tech defense got about fifty percent worse than they had been.

It’s commonly known that national political races in the US between dim Dems and repugnant Repugs are now manipulated and rigged as much as corporate money can buy, but before now I never thought college or any kind of amateur sports might be rigged. But now, thanks to this University of Texas/Texas Tech University football game of 2020, and the 2020 USian presidential race, I am beginning to wonder.

Surely the powers that be in collegiate and TV finance are not now so desperate for revenue that they are manipulating college football games to make them more exciting and exhilarating.

I am not accusing anyone of rigging the Texas Tech/Texas game but the weirdities and improbabilities of this game did make me wonder. Maybe the Covid plague and social distancing visible in the stands had something to do with it.

I have a grandfather who managed the chemistry lab at Texas Tech and a father who studied agronomy there, and I have three degrees from Tech. I was a member of a social fraternity at Texas Tech, Phi Gamma Delta. I sat in the stands for Texas Tech football games when I was in high school seriously impressed by the grandeur of the players, coaches, bands, and fans.

For all I know Texas Tech has never beaten Texas in football. I have watched one or two Texas Tech football games each year on TV for the last fifty years. Because of writing this comment, it came to me that Tech beat Texas last year. Is that right? I believe it is.

In another exciting, exhilarating, improbable football game this Saturday I watched the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana University-Lafayette on ESPN beat the Georgia Southern Eagles of Statesboro, Georgia. I taught management in the business school at Louisiana Lafayette in 1969-70 after finishing my doctorate at Texas Tech, moving on to Georgia Southern in the summer of 1970, where I taught management thirty-five years, retiring in 2005. Georgia Southern won four national championships in football during my tenure as a GS professor.

My wife and I are now living our last days aboard Spaceship Earth within the confines of the beautiful Georgia Southern University Golf Course six miles south of Statesboro. My yelling, cussing, and cheering in our great room watching the Texas Tech and GA SO Univ games did no good this football Saturday, a surreal afternoon of dashed aspirations.

Richard John Stapleton, PhD, CTA, is a certified transactional analyst, octogenarian emeritus professor of management, educator, writer, editor and publisher.

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