A few things to ponder before I climb on a plane for San Diego today:
■ Whatever world event leads the cable-news networks this week, I hope it’s nothing like the world event that unfolded the last time Texas Tech played in the Holiday Bowl. In the days leading up to the Red Raiders’ 2004 upset of California, we were watching daily coverage of a terrible natural disaster — the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands upon thousands.
Thursday’s the ninth anniversary of that magnitude-9.0 earthquake.
■ Tech’s 45-31 shocker against Cal is aging well. Not only were the Golden Bears ranked fourth at the time, but they have 12 members of that team still active in the NFL.
■ The night Tech upset Cal, a skinny 200-pound San Diego high school kid sat in Qualcomm Stadium and took a liking to the Red Raiders. The next summer, he committed to Texas Tech. He wound up taking a Mormon mission to Sweden, never made it back to Lubbock and joined the Utah Utes five years ago as a walk-on.
Now about to turn 26, Utes standout Trevor Reilly is a 6-foot-5, 255-pound outside linebacker who former Dallas Cowboys vice president Gil Brandt ranks among the top 10 seniors for the next NFL draft. He had a team-high 100 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 81/2 sacks this year.
Think Matt Wallerstedt could have used him?
■ Another player high on Brandt’s list of NFL prospects — No. 41, to be exact — is Colorado State center Weston Richburg. If the name sounds familiar, he’s kin to former Texas Tech offensive linemen Aubrey and Nathan Richburg.
Weston Richburg, who came out of Class 2A Bushland, is another West Texas guy who’s making the recruiting services look bad. Rivals.com had him as a low two-star prospect.
This month, Brandt put Richburg as the center on his all-America team, and NFLDraftScout.com projects him as a second- or third-round draft choice.
■ Maybe you caught all or parts of East Carolina’s 37-20 victory Monday afternoon against Ohio in the Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Bowl. Maybe you saw Pirates coach Ruffin McNeill hoist the trophy. Noticed that ECU ended the year 10-3, only the second double-digit win total in its football history.
And maybe you wondered like I did if Ruffin McNeill — coaching in his home state, at his alma mater — thinks himself lucky to have not gotten the Texas Tech job after all.
■ You won’t catch me calling Florida State’s superduper young quarterback “Famous Jameis.” Not because of the recent sexual assault investigation against Jameis Winston that resulted in no charges. Because the nickname’s unoriginal, if not an intended rip-off.
Are FSU fans, in ACC country of all places, forgetting or just ignoring the original, “Famous Amos” Lawrence? After all, the North Carolina running back was the second player in NCAA history to rush for 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons (1977-80), and the moniker was pervasive back then.
The nickname should have retired with him.
■ If Ryan Bustin makes a field goal in the Holiday Bowl, he’ll pass Bam Morris for eighth place on the Tech career scoring list. If he makes two field goals, he’ll pass Byron Hanspard on the same list.
■ Late Monday, Texas Tech confirmed a report from earlier in the day that first-year staff member David Raih will coach the Red Raiders’ wide receivers in the Holiday Bowl. Those duties belonged to former co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie, who left for a spot on the TCU staff.
Raih has served as Tech’s director of high school relations this year. The last time Raih and the Red Raiders were together at a bowl game was the 2001 Alamo Bowl, when he was a backup quarterback for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
■ Everyone have a Merry Christmas today. We’ll speak to you again from San Diego.
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