The Texas Longhorns and Texas Tech Red Raiders have played annually since 1960, and last September Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt met with Texas AD Chris Del Conte to make sure the rivalry continues being played once Texas leaves for the SEC.
At the time, Texas assured Hocutt that they would indeed keep playing in every sport, especially football, for the next quarter-century. Now, a year later, Texas Tech feels like something is up because there hasn’t been progress to make that happen. In fact, Hocutt says that he believes that UT alumi are being told that the series would no longer continue.
“As I’ve talked to my counterpart at the University of Texas,” Hocutt said, “while all the right things have been communicated to me, it’s concerning that in the last couple of weeks I’ve heard from individuals in Dallas, in Fort Worth and in Midland that there’s different things being said from those folks representing the University of Texas and that a scheduling alliance against Texas Tech is not going to happen.”
With uncertainty surrounding the Longhorns’ future conference scheduling, whether they will play eight or nine conference game, Del Conte says that he thinks the discussions were all a bit premature.
“I wouldn’t say it was anything more than the idea of playing each other, the Texas schools,” Del Conte told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “That’s all way premature, to me. The issues were really just about playing Texas schools is the way I looked at it, and Texas Tech is part of that. I mean, I get it.
“But it’s all premature, because we didn’t know who we’re going to play (in the SEC) and how we’re going to play. That’s why I said, ‘Hey, I get the thought process. We’re just nowhere near there today.’ That was it. There’s nothing negative about it.”
Despite changing conferences, its important to keep geographical rivalries alive, such as the Longhorns continuing to play schools in their state like Texas Tech.
“From my perspective, playing Texas schools is something that we’re keenly interested in,” Del Conte said. “Moving forward, we’ve just got to know where we are with our conference. We have yet to know what the SEC schedule’s going to look like for the future. So we’re just focusing right now on the Big 12 for the next couple of years, and then we’ll see where it lands moving forward.”
After Texas and Oklahoma accepted invites to the SEC last summer, Texas Tech brass met with Texas Governor Greg Abbott not once, but twice, to explain the need for TTU and UT to continue playing annually.
“We had a chance on two occasions to share with him the importance of the competition between two large, public, state universities to continue,” Hocutt said, “and he completely understood that and gave his full assurance that we had his support for that to continue for a 20- , 25-year period. He pledged that he would be our champion and gave assurances that that was going to happen.”
Despite the Governor’s backing, this will need to something that Del Conte and the Longhorns make happen, and the longer that we go without hearing something official from UT, the more uneasy Red Raider leadership will get.
“We’ve talked multiple times about the importance of this, which he reiterates and confirms,” Hocutt said of Del Conte. “When respected leaders come to you and say there’s a different message being relayed to them, I think it makes you wonder what the truth is, with so many unknowns. There’s so many unknowns about the future, but we would like to memorialize it with signatures that there’s a commitment on behalf of both universities to continue this scheduling well into the future, because I believe it’s important to the state of Texas.”