Texas Tech football: The top Red Raider from each season of the Big 12 era

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Fans pose for a photo with the Will Rogers and Soapsuds statue. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

The Big 12 is celebrating 25 years of existence in 2020-21 so let’s take a look at the best Texas Tech football player from each season the conference has been in existence.

The Big 12 is now a quarter of a century old.  That’s something the conference will be celebrating throughout the 2020-21 athletic season.

That commemoration will begin with the upcoming 2020 football season. And of course, the first Big 12 football game ever is one Texas Tech football fans won’t soon forget because it gave us our first taste of Big 12 officiating incompetence.

Toward’s the end of the first half of Tech’s 21-14 loss to Kansas State in Manhattan, the Red Raiders were twice robbed of a TD on the same drive.  The first was when receiver Donnie Hart caught an apparent TD pass with both feet in bounds but was ruled to be out of bounds.  In the era prior to replay, Tech forced to simply accept the call.

Meanwhile, just a few plays later, as QB Zebbie Lethridge sent a pass his way, Red Raider Sheldon Bass was tackled at the goal line before the ball arrived but no flag was thrown.  This play would have set the Red Raiders up at the one-yard-line with a first down which would have almost certainly led to seven points.  Instead, KSU would block the ensuing field goal attempt and Tech would come away empty-handed.

But we won’t continue to bash the Big 12 officials.  Thankfully, the worst, Mike Defee, is no longer in the conference as he’s accepted a front-office position with the NFL.

Rather, let’s celebrate the best players of the Big 12 era of Red Raider football.  That’s part of what the conference will be doing this season as iconic players, teams, and coaches from the Big 12’s existence will be remembered by the league as part of the celebration.

“While our nation is certainly in the midst of trying times, we still want to acknowledge this significant Conference milestone,” said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “There have been many iconic individuals, teams and moments that have shaped our 25-year history and we look forward to reminiscing throughout the upcoming year.”

Overall, Tech has compiled a winning record in 18 of the last 24 seasons.  But in only eight of those seasons have the Red Raiders posted winning marks in conference play.

Tech has also seen five head coaches lead the program during Big 12 play.  That’s an average of just under five years per coach, which is less than ideal.

We are still waiting for the coach that can deliver our first Big 12 title.  In fact, we are still waiting for our first appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game.

But while we also wait to find out what the 2020 season will look like in the face of the ongoing global pandemic, let’s take some time to reminisce.  So here is a look back at the best Texas Tech football players in Big 12 play, one from each year.  Because, while not all will be honored by the Big 12, they all deserve to be remembered for their contributions to the Red Raiders.

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