The Texas Tech Red Raiders and Texas Longhorns have played each other in football every year since 1960. However, the annual meeting between the two in-state rivals appears to be coming to an end, according to a report published by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
The report suggests that Texas is no longer interested in keeping Texas Tech as an annual opponent when the Longhorns leave the Big 12 to join the Southeastern Conference (SEC) no later than 2025, despite previous reports that the two programs had agreed to maintain the annual meeting.
Texas Tech Director of Athletics Kirby Hocutt told the Avalanche-Journal that Texas Athletics Director Chris Del Conte agreed in September 2021 to keep the Red Raiders as an annual opponent in all sports, especially football, for 20 to 25 years after it joined the SEC.
Hocutt said UT leadership affirmed they would work with Tech to ensure the football series would continue.
Now, Hocutt said he has heard about UT leaders telling Longhorn alumni groups that there are no plans to continue a series with Tech.
“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.
Del Conte told the Avalanche-Journal he understands the importance of the Longhorns playing other Texas schools. Still, he cannot commit to scheduling future non-conference games until he knows how many conference games the Longhorns will be playing when they move to the SEC.
Del Conte added that he disagreed with Hocutt’s characterization of discussions revolving around a 20- to 25-year series.
“I wouldn’t say it was anything more than the idea of playing each other, the Texas schools,” Del Conte said. “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.”
The rivalry elicits not only high emotions for fans of both programs but also has high stakes for the economy. That has forced key stakeholders, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, to advocate for the game.
Texas and Oklahoma accepted invitations on July 30, 2021, to join the SEC no later than the summer of 2025. Soon after, a delegation from Texas Tech met twice with Gov. Abbott to convey Tech’s need to maintain an annual football game against UT.
“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.”
Mark Miner, a spokesman for Abbott, said the governor’s position has not changed.
“The governor remains committed to seeing Texas Tech play the University of Texas,” Miner told the Avalanche-Journal.
The Longhorns’ trips to Lubbock every other year from 1962 through 2020 have been the top ticket seller on the Red Raiders’ home schedule, 29 seasons out of 30. In two of those seasons, games against Texas were listed as complete sellouts.
Cody Campbell, a Tech University System Board of Regents member, said Texas playing football in Lubbock makes “easily an eight-figure per year impact on the local community,” greatly benefitting Lubbock-area hotels, restaurants, and other businesses.
“Plus, it impacts our ability to sell season tickets,” Campbell said. “It drives TV viewership. The impact is massive. It raises the profile of the university. It gets more butts in the seats.
“And then also it’s a traditional rival that we’ve played for a very long time, and we’d love to see that continue. I see UT doing exactly what A&M did to UT whenever (Texas A&M) left for the SEC. They were just refusing to play them.”
The Longhorns lead the all-time series 52-15 against the Red Raiders, including winning the last four meetings. The two programs will meet on the gridiron for the 63rd consecutive season on September 24 in Lubbock, TX.