I grew up in Lubbock, Texas, home of Buddy Holly, cotton, and endless miles of flat dirt. Which means I also grew up as a Texas Tech fan. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of going to the Tech games with my grandparents. My Papa would always wear his red and black cowboy boots, and I’d cross my fingers and hope the Saddle Tramps would throw a little red football my way. Then when it got cold, we’d huddle under a blanket and drink hot chocolate out of a Thermos and ooh and ahh over the Goin’ Band from Raiderland. On a field trip once, we got to run out onto the field at Jones Stadium, and it was like a dream come true.
But when I was in junior high, we moved to the DFW Metroplex, and I soon discovered that Red Raider fans were practically non-existent outside of West Texas. Most people were either loved Texas or Texas A&M, and over the years, my allegiance to Tech waned in favor of the Longhorns.
It’s important to point out, though, that even then, I wasn’t really a big fan of any sports, college or otherwise. Yeah, I liked sports, but I didn’t pay much attention to them, preferring Star Wars, comic books, or any other nerdy endeavor to football or basketball. (My dad once tried to get me excited about baseball cards. To this day, I still don’t understand the appeal of them.)
It wasn’t until late into high school and into college that I started to get interested in sports, and it wasn’t until after college that my love of college football really took off. (Of course, I don’t think it helped that I went to the University of Texas at Arlington, the only college I know of that has a marching band but no football team.) Late bloomer or not, though, today I’m a college football junkie and a die-hard Longhorns fan.
But it’s not just Texas that I root for now.
In the last couple of years, I’ve gotten hooked on the TCU Horned Frogs, a team I’ve always liked going back to the days of the Southwest Conference but never really paid much attention to. Part of my new-found admiration, of course, is due to their rise as a football powerhouse under Coach Gary Patterson. And part of it is due to my rediscovery of the city of Fort Worth. I worked in Fort Worth a while back but it wasn’t until we moved into the city limits a few years ago that I really began to think of it as my home. And how can you not root for the home team, especially one with such a Cinderella story?
Until Thursday, that dual affection for both Texas and TCU was perfectly acceptable, seeing as how since the breakup of the SWC in 1994, they’ve been in separate conferences and rarely play each other. It was perfectly fine to wear my TCU purple while flashing a spirited “Hook ‘Em Horns” to a fellow Longhorns fan. But all that changed when news broke that the Big 12 had invited the Frogs to join their conference, thus reuniting them with UT and causing a potentially embarrassing conflict of interest. Suddenly, I was faced with a serious dilemma: Do I have to choose one team over the other? And if so, where do my true allegiances lie?
It’s not an easy question. There are those that would say that you can only really be loyal to one team, and if you didn’t go to that school, you aren’t even worthy of wearing its colors. Which again, creates an immediate problem for those of us that didn’t have a team to root for. I guess I could say that since UT Arlington is part of the UT system, I’m sorta justified in bleeding burnt orange. But then I could say that I should stand behind the home team, which is of course outsized by Texas in every possible way except for the cost of tuition. I’ve always been a champion of the underdog, and TCU, despite its recent successes, is the epitome of an athletic underdog.
But the truth of the matter is, I don’t wanna choose. I don’t wanna stop throwing up a “Hook ‘Em Horns” any time I feel like it or tagging half my tweets with “#GoFrogs”. I don’t wanna trade my purple or burnt orange in for a single shade of collegiate attire. Why can’t I love them both equally (albeit for different reasons), even if this time next year they’ll be facing off against each other in a Big 12 conference game? After all, I may not be as enthusiastic about the Red Raiders as I once was, but I’ve never stopped liking them (although I always hated Mike Leach). Heck, I even like Baylor!
Does that make me a sports hypocrite, a fair-weather fan instead of a lifelong devotee? Perhaps, I don’t know. But at the end of the day, I really don’t care.
I say, Go Frogs, Hook ‘Em Horns, and hooray for college rivalries reborn.