BY RUSSELL HUFFMAN
The Tarleton Texans rewrote their record book over the weekend and became a .500 program without ever taking the field.
If you don’t remember the headline here on The Flash last Saturday, it read, “38-0 shutout win over Northeastern lifts Tarleton to 500th victory.”
It’s a long way to 500 wins.
If you’ve ever caught the movie “Knockaround Guys” starring Vin Diesel, he explains that it’s a long way to 500 street fights, and at No. 500, you can consider yourself a legitimate tough guy.
After explaining his theory, Diesel’s character proceeds to wipe the floor with his antagonist and chalks up win No. 501.
In this tale, Tarleton’s Nathan Bural will fill in for Vin Diesel and help lift the Texan to .500 as a program while adding win No. 501 with a trusty calculator’s aid.
Tarleton State’s football team picked up win No. 500 (senior college wins), or so we thought over the weekend with a 38-0 blowout of Northeastern State, and it brought about talk in the press box about how the Texans’ all-time record as a senior college was one win away from the .500 mark.
The Texans (once known as the Plowboys) stood at .498 prior (308-310-3 before a correction) to their shutout of the Riverhawks, which would mean Thursday’s game against East Central Oklahoma was a chance to climb up to .500.
Making this story even tastier is East Central back in 1961, was the team sent Tarleton below the .500 mark with a 21-6 loss.
It has taken 60 years to climb out of that hole.
Following the Texans’ win Saturday, Bural, who serves as assistant athletic director over the athletic communications department, was a part of the .500-mark conversation. He was inspired to take a closer look at the Texans’ win and loss record.
Bural pulled out the record books and perhaps even a slide ruler and found out Tarleton’s victory against Riverhawks was actually No. 309 as a senior college.
Somewhere along the way (probably when the records went from print to digital), a win got dropped off the left side of the column, and after a check and recheck, it turns out Tarleton State is already a .500 senior college team.
That would have to mean that the Texan football program (the top NCAA squad in Texas since 2018) is a legitimate tough guy.
Coach Todd Whitten is Tarleton’s “Knockaround Guy,” and no Texans coach has posted more “knock-arounds” than his 84. Whitten has a 68-percent win average coaching the Texans and has 27 percent of Tarleton’s wins since 1961.
That’s right, the team that sent Tarleton into the ranks of sub .500 was East Central Oklahoma, and Thursday, East Central can be the stepping stone into the Texans becoming those even tougher legitimate tough guys.
Coach Whitten isn’t one to keep up with exact numbers when it comes to program wins or being a .500 program, but he does realize the significance of Tarleton crossing that mark.
“Being a .500 program was a number I haven’t kept up with,” Whitten said. “There are a whole lot of schools that are below the .500 mark, and it’s a compliment to all the players that have come through here.
This is Whitten’s third time at the Tarleton helm, and back when he arrived in 1996, the Texans were coming off a 1-10 season, and the recruiting trail was dry and dusty.
“There’s no question that we have been able to elevate our program, and one of the benefits has including recruiting,” Whitten said. “Next year’s schedule is going to be our toughest ever, and winning these games while we are in transition is very important to our recruiting.”
While football fans and sportswriters like to get caught up in the “numbers game,” it’s just not something that coaches like Whitten are focused on; however, he does admit a little astonishment it’s been 60 years since Tarleton was a .500 team.
“We really do take things one game at a time, and we treat it as the most important thing,” Whitten said. But when I look back and see it’s been 60 years to get to .500, it is more of an accomplishment than I realized.”
By the Numbers
1—Tarleton has been above .500 as a program just one time.
60—The number of years Tarleton has been below the .500 mark.
84–Whitten’s record number of wins at Tarleton.
20-14—The score of Tarleton’s first win over Southwestern Oklahoma and the last the team was over. 500 back in 1961.
309—Tarleton’s wins as a senior college
309—Tarleton’s losses as a senior college.
1—The number of wins Tarleton needs to become a plus .500 team.