The Masked Rider may bear a slight resemblance to the Lone Ranger (or The Hamburglar if you want to be mean-spirited about it), but the Texas Tech Red Raiders' mascot doesn’t know too much about solo missions. When the bandit bedecked in Scarlet and Black gallops into action, you won’t spy Tonto anywhere, but you will find 60,000 rabid Raiders fans who are ready to claim victory.
College football first came to Lubbock in 1925, debuting under some pretty dubious circumstances. In their inaugural gridiron contest, Tech neither won nor lost, as their tilt with McMurry University ended in a 0-0 tie. According to accounts of the game, the Red Raiders successfully kicked a 20-yard field goal at the end of regulation, but the referee waved it off. In town, a rumor circulated that the ref was still hurting from being passed over as head coach of the newly formed program. Fortunately, supporters weren’t too discouraged by the puzzling outcome, and the pigskin has been celebrated on campus ever since.
Field general Pete Cawthon patrolled the sidelines from 1930 to ‘40, and it was during this time that Double T began to make its mark on the national stage. In ‘37, the Red Raiders compiled a record of 8-4 and competed in a bowl game for the first time ever. The following year, the Scarlet and Black went undefeated during regular season play before suffering a loss on the Cotton Bowl stage. Cawthon also holds the distinction of having worked with the program’s first All-American, tight end Herschel Ramsey, who received the honor in ‘35.
In a lot of ways, Cawthon laid the groundwork for the resilient gridiron crew that most fans know today. It was only after his tenure that bowl appearances became commonplace and title aspirations were elevated. While Tech has booked numerous trips to the postseason throughout the years, coaches have always strived to clear the bar set by Cawthon. Out of all the play-callers who have tried, Mike Leach came tantalizingly close in 2008, when his Raiders club climbed all the way up to #2 in the national polls en route to an 11-win season. Wideout Michael Crabtree was the star of the team that year, and in addition to being a two-time All-American, he became the first player in college football history to capture the Biletnikoff Award (given to the top receiver in the country) two years in a row.
Just like every other athletics program in the state of Texas, Double T diehards have a hand gesture that signals their intentions. The “Guns Up” salute has been around since ‘61 and is meant to imply that Tech will “shoot down opponents.” It’s intimidating to say the least, and fans wouldn’t have it any other way. They love the possibility of an action-packed showdown and want foes to know that they won’t back down with the game on the line.