I wish Tim Riggins were a real person. I also wish he were a 2014 recruit from some small, football-is-everything town.
The booze swindling, womanizing, power running back from the fictional East Dillon Panthers was one of my favorite television characters. Riggins, portrayed by actor Taylor Kitsch, was a member of the Texas high school football powerhouse for the first three seasons of NBC’s Friday Night Lights.
Riggins had his share of off-the-field issues, more so than any other character portrayed, but he was still easily my favorite. There was something more real and human in Tim Riggins. He cared about football, but not as much as everyone else in his town. He cared about others, but always let them down. He ran over defenders and slept with his paralyzed best friend’s girlfriend. He showed up to practices drunk, won a state championship, and dropped out of college.
How many of these players exist in real life? My guess is not many. Most coaches would likely pass on Riggins given his lack of commitment and careless attitude. However, based on the Panthers’ success (three straight Texas state championship appearances) and Riggins’ play, he would have undoubtedly drawn some interest as a three-year starting running back for one of the best teams in Texas.
Riggins actually was recruited in the series by the fictional San Antonio State College. He spent a few days at the small school before quitting the team and returning to Dillon, Texas, giving up his last opportunity to play football. Classic Tim Riggins.
But let’s pretend Riggins is a real football player and let’s pretend he’s a four-star running back recruit.
Riggins would certainly only entertain Texas schools, so this is how I would imagine his recruitment would go.
Coach Mack Brown likes what he sees on tape. A bruising running back who can pick up short third downs and pass block. The Longhorns will have a crowded backfield in 2014, but Brown still thinks Riggins can contribute. Riggins is aware of Texas’ interest and Brown arranges an in-home visit. On the day of the visit, Riggins forgets Brown is coming over and begins drinking alone. By the time Brown gets to his house, Riggins is smashed.
Brown: Tim, we want to offer you a scholarship to play safety at the University of Texas.
Riggins: Please leave. (As he chucks an empty beer can at the door.)
The Aggies are relatively young at the running back position heading into the 2014 season. After starting running back Ben Malena graduates, it’s nothing but freshmen and sophomores on the depth chart. Coach Kevin Sumlin is aware of Riggin’s off-the-field issues, but believes he can discipline him into a nice compliment for Johnny Manziel.
Riggins takes his official visit the weekend of the Alabama game. Riggins doesn’t care about the game, but he will be staying with Johnny Football all weekend. After the game, Manziel takes Riggins to the biggest frat party on campus to drink away the pain of a heartbreaking loss. The pair talk women, football, beer, and national title dreams. They appear to be identical and inseparable. Riggins drives back to Dillon in the middle of the night without an explanation to Coach Sumlin. Manziel wakes up the next morning with a black eye, unable to recall last night’s events.
Sumlin: What happened last night Tim?
Riggins: Jason Street and Matt Saracen (East Dillon quarterbacks) are the only quarterbacks I’ll ever play for. (Throws phone at the wall.)
Riggins’ style of play doesn’t really fit with Texas Tech’s air raid offense, but 34-year-old head coach Kliff Kingsbury has taken a liking to the troubled teen. Kingsbury wants to prove that he can recruit the state of Texas against the powerhouse programs so he sees an opportunity to steal a power back. The former Texas A&M offensive coordinator sees a piece of himself in Riggins and wants to help him.
Riggins has little interest playing in a pass heavy offense, but he also sees a piece of himself in Kingsbury. Kingsbury surprises Riggins at his home and Riggins insists they spend a night on the town. Riggins and Kingsbury go to a local bar where they are hit on by women from the time they walk in till the time they leave, roughly four hours later.
Kingsbury: Tim, I want you to come play at Texas Tech, can I get a letter of intent?
Riggins: Coach, with all due respect, I think we both know how this would turn out.
Tim Riggins gets into his pick-up truck and drives off toward the sunrise.