football Edit

Gap Kid remembers 2001 game

There is a photo that humorously circulates the internet to this day of the events after Texas Tech's 12-0 home win against Texas A&M in 2001.
On Nov. 3, 2001, "The Gap Kid" photo, a newspaper picture synonymous with the event taking place, began taking shape as 13-year-old Vince Valdez marched along with a crowd carrying a goalpost and determined to drop it off -- somewhere. And it turned Valdez into a small piece of the Tech-Texas A&M rivalry.
"The whole backstory to the 'GAP' shirt and the visor was I volunteered for a fundraiser every year to work in a concession stand and we got to go to New York," Valdez, now a Tech graduate, said. "The fundraiser, you had to wear a blue shirt and a Dominos (Pizza) visor. Back then, I'm from Lubbock, and back then you could go on the field as a kid after the game to get stickers and stuff like that. That's why there a predominantly kids in the main picture.
"But I was working near the student section. After the fourth quarter started I went ahead and left the concession stand because it was a good game."
At the end of the game Valdez planned to jump onto the field like he had in previous games. But unbeknownst to him at the time, he led a charge onto the field.
"I felt like I could get out onto the field because I always had," Valdez said. "I was a kid and when I jumped as soon as the game ended the rest of the student section jumped.
"Everyone was apprehensive about it just because there were people on the field, not as many as there are now, but back then there were people guarding the field and they had already made the announcement not to do it. But I got right to the bottom of the student section and I was the first one to go for sure."
Once the crowd made their way to the field, the photographers started taking pictures and Valdez unknowingly got into prime position for them at some point in the march toward the Texas A&M fan section. But more on that later.
The crowd worked itself into a frenzy and tore down the south goalpost and began moving it. According to lore, it was meant to be taken outside the stadium but security blocked the exits big enough for the goalpost to get through.
So the crowd opted for Plan B. Taking it to the Texas A&M fans as a departing gift.
"It was really unorganized chaos," Valdez said. "People were jumping on the goalposts, it came down and I didn't know where it was going but the A&M fans were all over there. It was a mad rush and after that the goalposts came down and it just kind of began right there."
The crowd began making its way toward the Aggies at an underwhelming speed.
Once the goalpost arrived on the opposite side of the stadium, the two fanbases began exchanging words.
The Tech crowd tried to push the goalpost further into the Texas A&M section and some of the mob jumped into the stands to hoist the goalpost above the wall between the field and the stands.
Naturally, a skirmish broke out between fans wanting to put it in the Aggies face and the disgruntled.
William McKinney, an Aggie and friend of Aggie governor Rick Perry, and Perry himself would go on to bad mouth the Red Raider faithful. McKinney compared the stunt to the 'Battle of the Alamo.' The Aggies being the heroic Texan defenders inside Tech's Jones SBC Stadium, of course.
Former head coach Mike Leach questioned what Texas A&M fans knew about being classy and said Tech fans were just better than Aggie fans.
McKinney and Leach further angered their opposition.
Meanwhile, a photographer had gotten a shot of Valdez and it ran on the front page of the newspaper.
"My dad was a school teacher and the superintendent called my dad," Valdez said. "I thought it was pretty cool and then when I went to volunteer at the Spirit Arena the Wednesday or Thursday at the basketball game two Tech police officers came up there.
"I got a notice served that I was banned from all Tech property indefinitely… The Kiss concert was coming up soon and I was looking forward to that and didn't end up getting to go. The forums and websites took over at that time too. I was 12 or 13 and I was bummed out because I had always wanted to go to Tech. They kind of turned it around completely on the websites and it kind of developed into its own character."
Ultimately the ban was lifted and Valdez was accepted to Tech several years later.
"After I got accepted, I brought my letter up to show some of the administrators," Valdez said. "They just laughed. It wasn't anything in effect anymore. I ended up going to Tech, graduated a year early, had fun experiences at Tech and I just graduated in August."
Valdez subsequently moved to Dallas, but he'll be back for what might be the last game between Tech and Texas A&M in ages. It will be a little less than a month away from the 10th anniversary of the goalpost incident.
"I want to see tortillas being thrown, I kind of want to see a whole bunch of things happen because the Big 12 and everything seems to be changing," Valdez said. "I want us to be up by quite a bit, I know we're a second half team. I just want us to win. I think it will be a high scoring game, but I think we'll come out on top."