Not so long ago, Lubbock, Texas was one of the last places Big 12 football teams wanted to play. Known for rowdy crowds and an electric atmosphere, Jones AT&T Stadium earned a reputation as one of the most intimidating college football environments in the country.
Aided by the play on the field, Tech fans deserve a lot of credit for making the Jones a fantastic place to watch football. The Mike Leach teams from 2000-2009 won a lot of football games, and fans responded with enthusiastic support.
However, Tech’s home-field advantage started to lose its fire in 2010, the first year of Tommy Tuberville’s tenure. That’s what happens when your team loses Big 12 games at home, which Tuberville did eight times in three years. Needless to say, Tech’s reputation as a raucous venue took a hit.
Things changed dramatically with the return of former quarterback Kliff Kingsbury, now head coach of the Red Raiders. With a 5-0 (2-0) start to the season, Tech is 3-0 at home, including a 20-10 win over then-No. 24 TCU to start Big 12 play and propel the Red Raiders into the Top 25. Who does Kingsbury credit for the return of Tech’s home-field advantage? Students.
“It’s been incredible. That student section, I’ve never seen one like it,” Kingsbury told the media during a Monday morning press conference. “I know our players feel that; to have their peers in the stands cheering for them, that goes a long way.
“It really shows what Texas Tech’s all about, to have that type of school spirit.”
Junior tight end Jace Amaro, current Big 12 leader in receptions with 38 grabs this year, said it makes all the deference for the team to have student support during games.
“Its incredible how many people come out there even before we’re warming up,” Amaro said. “Gets us fired up and it really helps us get ready for the game.”
The Jones averages 13,900 students per game this season, including back-to-back games against Stephen F. Austin and TCU where they broke their own attendance records with 14,915 and 16,092 , respectively. The official student section capacity is 12,548, according to Texas Tech, so overflow into areas normally reserved for season ticket holders made the record breaking attendance possible.
I think it’s safe to say the once-feared West Texas football atmosphere is finally back at Texas Tech. All Kingsbury and the Red Raiders need to do now is keep winning.