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Mr. Red Raider

“Tommy McVay is Texas Tech football. He is Mr. Red Raider.” – Matt Wells

Photo CC: @stillstrongttu

The recent news that Tommy McVay suffered a fall requiring hospitalization and surgery hit the Texas Tech community hard, myself included.  The number of lives he has touched over the years was immediately evident with an outpouring of prayers and love from current and former coaches and players.  Anyone who has spent time around the Texas Tech football program knows who Coach McVay is.  His effervescent presence has been undeniable as he has served so many roles for varying coaching staff going all the way back to Spike Dykes.  Consider for a moment how multiple regimes from both a football and administrative standpoint have considered him invaluable to Tech football, and you’ll begin to have an understanding of who he is.  Tommy is presently listed under the title of Director of Football Operations, which does a serviceable job of expressing his importance to the program, but it still feels like it falls woefully short.

My personal interactions with Tommy over the years have been mostly brief, but nevertheless extremely memorable.  They were largely things such as an offhanded observation or quip from either of us when we happened to be nearby each other on the sidelines of football practice.  These always came with a smile, and your day was always better for having talked to him even for a few seconds.  I was just some wide-eyed kid there enjoying practices and taking notes in a semi-official capacity, and Coach McVay had no real reason to even acknowledge me, yet he always did when our paths crossed.  It has been over a decade since I’ve seen him in person, but I’d half-expect him to remember me even now (or at minimum, make me feel like he did).  Not that I was particularly worth remembering to a man of his stature, but that’s just who Tommy McVay is.  He’s perhaps the most personable and genuine man I’ve ever met, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone anywhere with something bad to say about him.

Photo CC: Mark Rogers/A-J Media)

Speaking as someone hailing from and currently residing in Austin, Coach McVay epitomizes the West Texas friendliness that drew me to Texas Tech in the first place.  Tech and Lubbock are special in that regard, and he’s one of our finest.  Tommy has roots in Oklahoma and Kansas as well, but I’m gladly claiming him as ours based on the massive impact he’s had on Tech football and anyone he’s come in contact with over the past several decades.  He’s the caliber of person that I greatly miss down here in the land of the Evil Empire where most are either too busy or inconsiderate to give you the time of day.  There are far too few like him in this world that will greet you like an old friend whether he knows you or not and strike up a pleasant conversation about anything or nothing.  Not because he wants something from you, but because he simply doesn’t know how to be anything but just about the nicest guy there is.

This may all come off to some as an exaggeration of Tommy McVay’s character and the legacy he has built at Texas Tech and beyond, but I assure you that it is not.  Many people will never meet anyone like Tommy in their lives and will be far worse off for it.  I consider myself very fortunate for having done so, and I will be praying hard along with many others for his recovery.  I’m not sure Texas Tech has a better ambassador than Coach McVay, and I fully understand that this is saying quite a bit considering some of the great men and women who have come through our football program and university.  It would be fair to change Tommy’s title from Directory of Football Operations to simply “Everything” to describe his role at Texas Tech in terms of both the scope of what he does and his meaning to the program. He has been everything for us, figuratively and literally, so please keep one of our very best in your thoughts and prayers.

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