Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I Care

Usually, I don't care.

I'm interested, but I keep myself at a bit of a distance. I don't get too involved.

This time, though, I really care.

Yeah, I know: you think this is a post about the election. Fakeout. It's a post about Texas Tech.

I've written several times in the past that I've followed Texas Tech football for nearly twenty years. My best friend Mike grew up in Lubbock, graduated from Texas Tech, and converted me. So I've watched every televised Tech game since then, I've seen them in person several times, and if the game isn't on television, I pore over the box score.

Still, though, I've managed to stay slightly detached. I'm not the guy who screams at the television or puts his fist through a wall. I truly enjoy watching football, and I watch as much as I possibly can, but I generally do a good job of not getting too emotionally invested.

Last week, though, in the run-up to the Texas Tech--University of Texas game, the local UT honks were driving me crazy. Little digs about how Texas Tech was a "finesse" team. Lofty opinions offered that the UT defensive line was going to crush the Tech offensive line. A general opinion that Tech was terribly overrated.

In a word, dismissive. And I had to listen to it day after day.

Then, on Friday, Mack Brown (UT head coach) gave an interview where he said this: "This is the biggest game in the history of Texas Tech. This is not the biggest game in the history of the University of Texas. It's our biggest game of the week."


At that moment, I realized, much to my dismay, that I was ALL IN. My last bit of detachment melted when I heard Coach Snob.

Saturday, as soon as Eli's soccer game ended, I did nothing but think about the game for the next nine hours until the 7 p.m. start. It was brutal.

I decided to watch the game live, and I haven't watched a game live from start to finish in years. What I always do is record the game, start watching it after about an hour, skip all the commercials, and catch up to live in the middle of the fourth quarter. Somehow, it's less stressful to watch the game after it's already happened.

Not on Saturday, though. It was full-on agony for almost four hours. Tech punched them in the face for two and a half quarters (note: not a finesse team this year), built a nice lead, and then I had to watch as Texas crawled back into the game. With just over a minute left, Texas took the lead. Tech had the ball at their 38 with 1:21 left and only one timeout.

With :20 left and the ball on the Texas 30, a pass was tipped, and it went straight into the arms of a Texas cornerback. I lobbed a cluster of F-bombs at the television and walked off. I felt like somebody had reached into my chest and ripped my heart out.

Until I heard the announcer say "No! It's incomplete."

The ball went right through the guy's hands. Right through.

On the next play, Tech threw a deep pass to the sideline, the best receiver in the country (Michael Crabtree) caught it, and then he pulled away from a cornerback that was desperately hanging on to his jersey and ran into the end zone. With one second left.

I start jumping on the carpet with my arms over my head. In circles. I was like a retarded cat that had some kind of OCD. I just couldn't stop jumping--I kept going and going and going.

Gloria had never seen me like this, obviously, because I never get like this. She was laughing so hard that she couldn't stop.

It was one of the greatest finishes I've ever seen in a football game, given that Texas was #1 in the country and Tech was #7. It was incredible.

Here's the funny thing, though. You'd think that all of the agony would have been washed away by the win, but it wasn't. It was wonderful, but it wasn't relief, if that makes any sense. There was still this residue of misery left over, even though Tech won.

I don't know how people who live and die with their teams manage to survive. They somehow do this every week for three months. I think I need five years off after one game.

I'm still rooting for Tech (now #2) on Saturday against Oklahoma St. (#6), but I'm recording it, and I'll start watching after an hour.

For me, it's better this way. I can take 911 off speed dial.

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