Q&A with former Texas Tech safety Josh Rangel


Josh Rangel was a Texas Tech safety from 2001-04 under former head coach Mike Leach. He capped his Red Raider career with a memorable defensive performance in the 2004 Holiday Bowl against current NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers and No. 4 California for one of the biggest wins in program history.

He currently lives in the Dallas suburb of Wylie, Texas with his wife, Bess, and son, Jaedon.

I sat down with Rangel to catch up on his life since his playing days in Lubbock and get his thoughts on the state of the football program.

What have you been doing since you graduate from Texas Tech?

I graduated and started working with a staffing recruiting firm and I did that for about five years, helping people find jobs. That’s my passion is helping people. I kind of fell along this nutrition club line about a year and a half ago. I’m all about helping people live healthier, doing free fit camps, wellness evaluations, and just making sure people get good nutrition.

What do you miss most about at Texas Tech?

I miss the fans. There’s no other moment you’ll get than running out in front of 60,000-plus people. The smoke going and running across the field at the beginning of the game. I miss the fan interaction the most. I miss the campus and only get to go back once a year.

What’s your favorite memory of playing at Texas Tech?

The one thing that gets talked about the most is a play against Oklahoma in 2004 when Adrian Peterson was a freshman. It was a play at the goal line and I had a solid hit on him and I kind of strolled down his legs and he walked into the end zone.

One of my best games came against Kansas State when we played up there. My mom’s from Kansas so all her brothers were up there and I had a big following.

Obviously, the [2004] Holiday Bowl was a fun game to play because I went back to California. I had probably about 50 people in the stands there.

As a California native, why did you decide to commit to Texas Tech?

I wanted a different culture.  I felt like playing sports in California my brothers were always under my wings. I just wanted to get away so they could have their own life.  I got recruited by Tech and I loved the defense because it kind of fit my personality as a safety. I loved coach [Mike] Leach and I saw him doing some good things and I wanted to be a part of that. Playing in the Big 12 you got to play against Nebraska ,Texas A&M, Texas, and Oklahoma. That always intrigued me as a child to be a part of that.

I was recruited by Oregon and Oregon State. The other schools I was talking to were Nebraska and USC after I committed to Texas Tech.

What was it like playing for Mike Leach, and do you have any interesting stories about his antics?

There’s a lot of great stories about Leach.  He came to my house to visit when he started recruiting me, and I remember my dad was cooking dinner. I really didn’t know what to expect. I was sitting with him on the couch and having a conversation when he realized we had an ab wheel on the floor. So in the middle of the conversation he gets on the ground and starts trying to use it while asking me questions.

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We used to go to the movies on Friday nights before a game and then we would come back as a team and he would give his final talk and game-planning session. Before the 2003 Texas game, we watched “Master and Commander” and he gets out a whiteboard and starts drawing this war with all these battleships and how the pirates came in and protected it. We were there listening to him about it for maybe two hours and he just always had the biggest kick, sharing stories about what pirates did. Everyone knows his history and love of pirates. That’s where the whole “swing your sword” kind of all developed. He always would say “whenever you’re trapped and you have nowhere to go, you just ‘swing your sword!'”

How did you feel when Texas Tech fired Mike Leach?

I think it might have been the right time and change for the program.  I think coach Leach did what he could do there. I want to see Tech win a national championship. When I was there, Leach got better as a coach every year, but I had my doubts as him being a national championship coach. He was just more of an offensive coordinator at that time. He definitely got better as you saw with that 2008 season when we were so close. I think a lot of things were going on internally, and I think it was the right time for him to leave.

What I didn’t like was the way it all went down and the way the administration handled it. I think we lost a lot of faith in the administration staff and the athletic department.

I thought [Tommy] Tuberville was an awful hire from the start. I knew he wouldn’t fit the culture and what Leach brought. He didn’t understand the culture because Lubbock is a unique place. What Leach did was develop a brand, and Tuberville was completely opposite of that brand. As much as I wanted to support the team and program, it was hard to be behind a coach who said two different things all the time.

I love the decisions that went through to hire Kliff [Kingsbury]. He’s a great hire and a great coach. A lot of those guys who are coaching there are guys I played with. Kliff Kingsbury, Kevin Curtis, Mike Smith, Trey Haverty, and Eric Morris are all guys with great character, work extremely hard and want the best for the program. It’s really exciting to see what they’re doing.

How do you see the future of the football program with Kliff Kingsbury as head coach?

He’s a young coach and proven himself as an offensive coordinator. I think he’s going to have a lot of growing pains. The whole staff is really young, but they’re really great with the players. I really think we could see some really big things happen with the program in a few years.

Many question the safety of the game and debate if they will let their children play football. Will you let your 2-year-old son play as he gets older?

I’m not going to hold him back. If he has a passion to play, I encourage him to do it. I’m not going to push him to play football.

It’s been 10 years since I’ve played and I still have injuries that pop up from my playing days. Injuries are always in the back of your mind, but it’s a fun sport and it provided an education for me. It provides a good living for a lot of my friends and a lot of guys I played with.

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