Big 12: Joel Filani

Texas Tech's all-decade team

January, 21, 2010
Despite its isolated location, Texas Tech became one of the prime stories in college football during the last decade.

Tech was an underrated program on the field, qualifying for a bowl game in every season under Mike Leach.

In building his program, Leach was known for his love of pirates and Sherlock Holmes and many other things that had little to do with football. He was a breath of fresh air in the coaching fraternity.

When he was fired after the 2009 regular season, it was a national story because of its abrupt nature.

The Red Raiders claimed 85 victories during the decade, trailing only Oklahoma and Texas. All but one of those wins was earned by Leach, who was fired shortly before Tech’s Valero Alamo Bowl victory over Michigan State.

The Red Raiders certainly were the Big 12's most entertaining program with a high-powered offense and the quirky Leach in charge. And when they were at their very best, the Red Raiders had an underrated defense directed by Ruffin McNeill that accentuated the team’s offensive firepower.

Here’s a look at my selections for the top moments and players for Tech from the last decade.


QB: Graham Harrell

RB: Taurean Henderson

RB: Baron Batch

WR: Michael Crabtree

WR: Joel Filani

WR: Wes Welker

OL: Brandon Carter

OL: Rylan Reed

OL: Luis Vasquez

OL: Daniel Loper

C: Dylan Gandy


DL: Aaron Hunt

DL: Adell Duckett

DL Brandon Sharpe

DL: Brandon Williams

LB: Lawrence Flugence

LB: Mike Smith

LB: Marlon Williams

DB: Dwayne Slay

DB: Kevin Curtis

DB: Darcel McBath

DB: Jamar Wall

P: Alex Reyes

K: Alex Trlica

Ret: Wes Welker

Offensive player of the decade: WR Michael Crabtree. Despite playing only two seasons, he became the most productive receiver in Tech’s history. He was a two-time winner of the Biletnikoff Award with 231 receptions and 41 TD grabs setting an NCAA record for two seasons of production.

Defensive player of the decade: S Kevin Curtis. A fiery, hard-hitting safety, Curtis was the most decorated and one of the most versatile defensive player of the decade for the Red Raiders. Curtis earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in 1999 and 2000 and second-team all-conference honors in 2001. He was a second-team All-American in 2000 while playing strong safety and a second-team All-America choice in 2001 after moving to free safety.

Coach of the decade: Mike Leach. He perhaps was the most influential coaching figure in Big 12 history as he helped push the conference from a stodgy run-based attack to one where cutting-edge passing attacks predominated. He also became a national figure because of his personality and his guest appearances on television shows as diverse as “Sixty Minutes” and “Friday Night Lights.”

Moment of the decade: Michael Crabtree’s late touchdown grab beats Texas in 2008. Graham Harrell’s 28-yard touchdown pass to Crabtree was one second left helped push Tech to an area it had never been before. It not only boosted them to a 39-33 triumph over Texas but also served as a national coming-out party for Leach, Crabtree and the rest of the Tech program. In the process, the Red Raiders earned an unprecedented share of the Big 12 South title that season.

Tech's wild 2006 bowl comeback ranks No. 20 on Big 12 list

June, 15, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over

  Gene Lower/WireImage
  Graham Harrell completed 36 of 55 passes for 445 yards and two touchdowns.

No. 20

Date: Dec. 29, 2006
Place: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Ariz.
Score: Texas Tech 44, Minnesota 41 (OT)

The 2006 Insight Bowl appeared to be an ordinary bowl game without much interest outside of the two teams playing. And after Minnesota jumped to a 38-7 lead over Texas Tech with 7:47 left in the third quarter, television sets were clicking off across America.

The game appeared over after Minnesota got a field goal on its opening drive of the second half. But Tech coach Mike Leach and quarterback Graham Harrell were only getting started.

The Red Raiders' comeback began with 4:58 left in the third quarter, when Harrell hit Phoenix-area native Joel Filani with a 43-yard touchdown pass that pulled Tech within 38-14.

That was all of the scoring until the fourth quarter, when the Red Raiders erupted for 21 unanswered points on a 8-yard touchdown pass from Harrell to Robert Johnson, a 1-yard Harrell touchdown sneak and a 1-yard plunge by Shannon Woods with 2:39 left that pulled Tech within three points after the conversion.

After another Tech defense stop, the Red Raiders had one more chance in regulation.

With no timeouts and 1:06 left, Tech marched 53 yards on eight plays, tying the game as time expired on a 52-yard career-best field goal by Alex Trlica.

Minnesota scored first in overtime on a 32-yard field goal by Joel Monroe.

Tech then claimed the victory -- the largest comeback in bowl history -- on a 3-yard touchdown run by Woods five plays later. The Red Raiders finished by scoring five touchdowns and a field goal on their final six offensive possessions. And Tech's defense set the stage by holding Minnesota scoreless on its final four possessions of regulation.

The previous record for a bowl comeback was 30 points, set by Marshall against East Carolina in the 2001 GMAC Bowl.

The numbers: Harrell went 36-for-55 for 445 passing yards and two touchdowns to win the game's MVP honors. Woods rushed for 109 yards and scored three touchdowns. Filani grabbed 11 passes for 162 yards.

They said it, part I: "We talked at halftime that we had a great opportunity to make history, and the reason people come to Texas Tech is to play all 60 minutes.''  -- Tech coach Mike Leach, who blinked away tears during a postgame interview after the wild comeback.

They said it, part II: "We're an offense that can score in a hurry, and everyone knows that. You never feel like you're going to run out of time with this offense." -- Tech quarterback Graham Harrell.

The upshot: Tech's bowl victory capped an 8-5 season for the Red Raiders, who finished with three victories in their final four games.

After starting the season 3-6, the Golden Gophers had won their final three regular-season games to finish at 6-6. Coach Glen Mason was fired two days later, despite taking the Gophers to five-straight bowl trips. The Gophers have gone 8-17 since then.

The countdown:

21. Reesing to Meier. Again and Again -- Kansas over Missouri 2008.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee."

Tech's garage sale provides neat trinkets all weekend

April, 17, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Looking for that special gift for a Texas Tech fan that has everything?

How about a game-worn Joel Filani jersey?

Or a helmet that might have adorned a Red Raider in the Big 12 trenches somewhere?

The school's athletic department is selling all kinds of cool Tech artifacts this weekend at its annual garage sale, which begins at 10 a.m. Friday in the west side lobby of Jones AT&T Stadium. It will also continue from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. 

Alan Berger of the Double T Zone told USA Today that he hopes the sale will generate more than $100,000 for the school this weekend. Products from the school's 17 intercollegiate sports will be sold.  

"It's a great way to combine a clearance sale and to recycle athletic department gear that otherwise would be going in the trash or winding up in a storage unit someplace," Berger told USA Today. 

Among the items will be 17 football helmets and about 500 jerseys from the late 1980s through 2000. 

Texas Tech bowl tidbits

January, 2, 2009

Posted by's Tim Griffin

Here's a look at some of factoids from Texas Tech's previous bowl history.

Bowl record: 10-20-1.

Current bowl streak: Won 2.

Most memorable bowl victory: The Red Raiders charged back from a 38-7 deficit midway through the third quarter to claim a wild 44-41 victory over Minnesota in the 2006 Insight Bowl in the greatest comeback in bowl history. Tech sputtered early after failing on fourth down on its first possession and three quick turnovers after that. But Graham Harrell passed for 445 yards and two touchdowns to lead the comeback. Joel Filani snagged 11 receptions for 162 yards as the Red Raiders tied the game at the end of regulation on a 52-yard field goal by Alex Trlica. After Minnesota kicked a field goal to start overtime, Shannon Woods scored his third touchdown of the game to spark the wild comeback that brought coach Mike Leach to tears afterward.

Most disappointing loss: The Red Raiders were making their first Cotton Bowl appearance since 1939, but little went right for them in a 55-14 thumping to Southern California in the 1995 Cotton Bowl. The Trojans jumped to a 48-0 lead, gashing the Red Raiders for Cotton Bowl records of 578 total yards and 435 passing yards. Keyshawn Johnson produced a Cotton Bowl record 222 receiving yards and three TD grabs. The loss marked the seventh straight Cotton Bowl loss for an SWC team.

Best individual bowl performance: James Gray sparked the Red Raiders' 49-21 victory over Duke in the 1989 All-American Bowl by rushing for school bowl records of 280 yards and four TDs. The victory was the last game at Duke for Steve Spurrier and was Tech's first bowl triumph in 16 years.

Record against Mississippi: Tied at 2-2. Tech won the most recent game, 49-45, in 2003. Mississippi has won both previous bowl games against the Red Raiders, claiming the Independence Bowl over the Red Raiders in 1998 (35-18) and in 1986 (20-17).

Common 2008 opponents: None.

The number: 9. Consecutive bowl appearances for Texas Tech through its current game -- a school record.