WILDER'S WHOLE WORLD: I love me some Texas Tech

By Dwayne Wilder
Special to the Herald Democrat

I love every chance I get to write about Texas Tech University.

I know I’m bias, but my years there as a student were some of the best of my life. I don’t like to think how long ago it was these days, but let’s say my grandkids could be there if they wanted. I had the great – and I mean – GREAT fortune of working in the athletic department as a student assistant. I got to be part of and see things that most students never did. I am always grateful for that time.

I got to meet famous college coaches (Darryl Royal) and TV commentators (Keith Jackson, Brad Sham). I got to be part of decisions the department made about players and public relations and such. It was just so cool!

I was long gone when Coach Mike Leach took over for Red Raider football (2000-2009). I was working as a journalist and did sports on occasion. My connection to Tech got me an interview with Leach early on, but it was short and the article not memorable to anyone. I did get his cell phone number out of it! (But never used it again.)

Leach is an unusual guy; at the time he started as a Division I coach, he was only one of five that did not have a background in football; he had been a lawyer. He’s been a college head coach ever since with stints at Washington State and Mississippi State (currently) after he left Tech. He has given many interviews and has a way with words and concepts that approach the absurd, but somehow they work.

He has become so famous for his interviews and quotations that someone has gathered them in – not one, but two – books. And the coolest part? He’s a Tech grad like me and he’s local: Alan Burton, Sherman guy and current communications director for Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant. I know Alan from my years as a journalist; he worked in Sherman schools before SOSU and has been around the area most of his life. We have worked together on occasion and he’s a great guy!

And good author as well…

In June, a new Alan Burton book came out, “Squib kick It to a Fat Guy…….Vol. II” as a sequel to Vol. 1 from 2016. It covers some quotations and stories from Leach for the past five years. I don’t know the coach – I only talked to him once – but it’s fun to read some of the ‘crazy’ things he says. He’s interesting for sure; eclectic and off the wall sometimes, but he always has something to say. And Alan has done a good job researching and writing about it.

Here are some memorable quotations from the book: “I think it’s sometimes hard to get a tent over the circus.” And “We spent too many times as a team last year being surprised when something good happened to us.” And “It’s like Woodstock, except everyone’s got their clothes on.”

And a lengthy one about his offensive line at Washington State one year: “……Rather than respond with great technique, we’re going to hold. This will be addressed tomorrow. It will be an experience they won’t forget. They’ll be talking about it when they’re my age.”

Many people get a kick out of describing Leach including one who said, “There is a fine line between brilliance and crazy, and he (Leach) straddles it.”

Alan’s book immortalizes that as it records the wit and wisdom of Mike Leach; and now, there are two volumes of his quotations and musings on football and the world. You can get it for $19.95 on Ararene Books online at most major book outlets.

I love me some Texas Tech; and Leach has been a big part of the recent history of my college, so I’m glad to discuss it and enjoy time reading about it with him. I know he will have an opinion about whatever you ask.

Dwayne Wilder

Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at cmandad17@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.