Friday, December 7, 2007

The Texas Tech Connection

It's really amazing how many connections there are to be made. Especially out of DFW.

Really - as I've contributed to this blog - even over the short time we've done it - I have become more aware of the influence that Texas Tech has had on people. How so many amazing people have come through Lubbock and go on to other endeavors. As Techsans we really do bear our banner far and wide.

While I was away I made a few jobs through various airport terminals. Only a week ago today - I met a college football legend in person. Once again I was humbled. Humbled by his grace and his charisma. And humbled because I really know so little about Texas Tech.

I was at DFW at our C Terminal gate reading my magazine as I noticed an older fellow and his wife sit in front of me and my wife. When someone is wearing a throwback jacket with "SBC Cotton Bowl" embroidered on it - and a rolling suitcase with the same logo on it - well, I pay attention.

I knew his face but couldn't place it right away - and this was going to kill me so I had to get some more clues. Clue number one was the big ring on his right hand - a championship ring of some sort - with a green rock in the center. Okay - I THINK I know who it is - because I'm not gonna make a fool of myself - I may be flying American, but I'm not a total idiot.

So when we are boarding the plane, I happen to board in one of the first groups - this fella is in the later groups. I sit on the aisle so that I might get the final clue, and as he rolls on by, I read the name on his luggage tag and confirm that I was right...

It dawns on me - I think I'm the only sonovabitch on this plane that knows who this guy is! Shazaam - I know I am the only guy on the plane who knows who this guy is!

So do I bother him? I don't want to. I have a history of acting very un-James Bond when I'm around guys like this. Maybe one day I'll tell the Tim Duncan story - on the other hand maybe I should just keep that one to myself...

Anyhow - the plane lands and we're at baggage claim - I reach for my cell phone which is in my left pants pocket and tell my wife that I'm going to snap some photos - she tells me I'm nuts - we spent all that money on that NICE camera - I better use that one...but I still haven't decided if I'm going to "bother" him.

Fate intervenes.

His luggage is passing right in front of me as he makes it to the conveyor belt. He's clearly miffed that he's going to have to wait for it to make the round again...I know I would be as well.

So here goes...I make eye contact with him and suggest non-verbally that I'll get the luggage for him. He's clearly thankful.

So as he approaches me he tells me "Thanks. I appreciate that."

BJB: "My pleasure - it's an honor really. I'm pretty sure I'm the only guy in this airport that knows who you are - would you mind if I got a picture with you?"

Legend: "Not at all. Would be happy to."

BJB: "You don't mind if I wear this hat do you?"

Legend: "Not at all, after all, I coached at Texas Tech you know. Even got my first coaching job coaching at Lubbock High. My wife is a Tech graduate and was head cheerleader at there."

BJB with jaw on floor: "Did you know ____ _____? He's my uncle and was head coach at Lubbock in High in the 19__s."

Legend: "Of course - you uncle is a good man - and a good coach."

And so on and so forth as we discuss why he's made this trip - and what we're up to. What a pleasure it was to meet Grant Teaff.

Grant Teaff. I got to meet Grant Teaff. As soon as I got home I pulled up his bio at the College Football Hall of Fame site:

Grant Teaff played football in the 1950's at Snyder, Texas High School, San Angelo junior College, and McMurry College. He was a center and was team captain at all three levels-high school, junior college, and senior college. In later life he was a famous speaker, and he often said "I fell in love with football. At age 14 I said my life goal was to be a football coach." A football coach indeed. Grant Teaff had this record: 1956 assistant coach Lubbock Texas High School, 1957-59 assistant McMurry College, 1960-65 head coach McMurry, 1966-1968 assistant Texas Tech, 1969-71 head coach Angelo State, 1972-92 head coach Baylor. He was 23-35-2 in 6 years at McMurry, 19-11 in 3 years at Angelo State, 128-105-6 in 21 years at Baylor. His total for 30 years: 170-151-8. The Baylor job earned him national recognition. When he arrived, the Bears were considering dropping out of division I football. In 5 years they had won only 7 games while losing 43. Teaff persuaded them to keep trying. His team won two southwest Conference titles and were in 8 bowl games. He was named the conference Coach of the Year 6 times and in 1974 was national Coach of the year. He was chosen 12 times to coach in post-season all-star games - the East-West Shrine Game, Blue Gray Game, Hula Bowl, and Japan Bowl. Teaff served one year as Baylor director of athletics. In 1993 he joined the American Football Coaches Association as executive director. In this job he continued his impact on the game of football and the way it is coached and administered.

On another note - I learned this week that a former Texas Tech coach will be walking the sidelines as the enemy on January 1 in Jacksonville - Al Groh.

From Al Groh's bio at

From 1973-77, Groh served as an assistant at North Carolina where he coached Lawrence Taylor, whom he later coached with the Giants. He joined Parcells at Air Force in 1978 as defensive coordinator before moving to Texas Tech in 1980 and becoming head coach at Wake Forest in 1981.

Interesting that there is also a Bill Parcells connection as well since Bill Parcells was also at Tech.

I'm thinking DT! may need to work on a Texas Tech coaching tree - that would be quite an undertaking - but it sure would be fascinating.

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