As Oklahoma State piled up points early and often Saturday, Texas Tech fans kept streaming for the Jones AT&T Stadium exits.
And they weren’t even looking to get a jump on nightlife. A rout that wound up being an all-time worst 66-6 was far along by shortly after lunchtime.
The Red Raiders left their fans with the worst possible taste in their mouths in the final home game.
“Well, they’ll get a chance next year, September,” Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. “We won’t be back here this year. You can’t blame our fans. We weren’t very good last week and the week before that and this week.”
Tech announced 57,205 tickets sold for the game, making the final home attendance average 55,347. But after the Red Raiders lost four home games for the first time since 1990 and four conference home games for the first time since 1984, getting fans to come back next year could be more of a challenge.
“It’s not their fault. It’s our fault,” Tuberville said. “We’re not going to point fingers at anybody. I’m just glad they showed up and they were in (the pre-game) Raider Walk. We’ve got to do our part.”
There were gaps in Saturday’s crowd. Actual attendance was probably in the 40,000s. By the fourth quarter, no more than 10,000 were scattered out in the stands.
Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt acknowledged all involved are disappointed, but said the Red Raiders still have a lot to play for.
“What I’ve seen in the last seven months is we have as passionate and committed fans and supporters as anywhere in the country,” Hocutt said. “We’re going to stay the course and believe our fans will continue to support the program and the young people that compete in it, knowing they’re giving it everything they have and will continue to do so. There are going to be better times ahead.”
Hocutt said he’s committed to Tuberville, who has Tech at 5-5 after the 10th game of the season for the second year in a row. Before last season — when Tech rallied to win its last three and finish 8-5 — the last time the Red Raiders went into their next-to-last game looking for win No. 6 was 1999.
“Tommy has our 100 percent support,” Hocutt said, “and he knows how to win at the highest level in the game of college football. His expectations are to win at the highest level and compete for championships. He’s as frustrated as we all are, if not more. We’re going to continue to give him all the support and resources he needs to get our program to the top.
“Tommy continues to have our full support. We’re all frustrated, but there are going to be much better times ahead for the Red Raiders.”
Hocutt was asked if the Red Raiders’ situation was comparable to his years at Kansas State. As a Wildcats linebacker from 1991 to 1994, he was on the front end of Bill Snyder’s building the program to a consistent winner. The Wildcats dipped from 7-4 in 1991 to 5-6 in 1992 before posting two nine-win seasons during Hocutt’s junior and senior years.
“My second year at Kansas State, we had a disappointing year,” Hocutt said. “I remember getting beat at Utah State (28-16) was a big disappointment and letdown, but Coach Snyder had a system, had a plan and we were consistent with that plan.
“Same thing with Coach Tuberville. There are going to be highs and lows. Obviously, we’re at a low point right now, but we’re going to stay consistent to his plan and we’re going to get to a much better place than where we are tonight.”
Tech wide receiver Eric Ward said fan reaction is predictable given the team’s year-long struggle at home.
“They’re with you when you win, but when you’re losing, they kind of get skeptical,” Ward said. “We (players) always look at each other, because that’s all we got. Whether we win or lose, we’ve got to stay together, because fans are going to be fans. Fans are just human. When stuff goes their way, they’re with you, but when it doesn’t, they start to back down.”
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