TexasBob.com is well-known for Texas high school football fans. It’s a go-to directory with a database of over 1,200 football stadiums across Texas. The man behind the site is Robert McSpadden. He also had his directory published into a book which is still available. His site is very resourceful for football fans in the fall (especially around playoff time when the chances of playing in an unknown stadium increase). I reached out to Mr. McSpadden and he was kind enough to answer a few questions:
Q: According to your about me section you are retired from the oilfield. What else can you tell us about yourself?
A: I was born and raised in Odessa, Texas and attended what is affectionately known as the “Other High School” (Odessa High School). I never played football but have always been a big fan no matter where I lived.
I currently live in Katy, Texas and consider myself a Katy Tiger fan. I’ve been following them since 1992.
I worked for Shell Oil Company for 33 years and retired in 2010. In my latter years with Shell I traveled internationally. The most unusual game I ever listened to was a Katy playoff game at 5:00 am one Saturday morning from Busan, South Korea via the Internet.
Q: Your website encompasses all things Texas from high school football, to traveling, to food. When did it start, what gave you the idea, and what was your vision from the start?
A: I’ve always enjoyed computers and tried to be a power user from the beginning. In 1998 the Internet was coming into its own and I wanted to teach myself how to create and publish a website. I enjoyed Texas History so I started with Historical Texas documents, then as I traveled around Texas I started a section called Texas Bob Travels, then Texas Bob Eats and started reviewing books about Texas and on it went.
In 2004 I decided to list Texas High School football stadiums.
Q: Is the stadium database the most popular feature of your website? Can you give us an idea of the traffic you see from the site?
A: The stadium database is by far the most popular part of the website primarily because it’s about Texas High School football and this is Texas. TexasBob.com overall averages 1.4 million hits a month. The lowest month, January, has about 800,000 hits and November, during the peak of the High School playoffs, gets about 2.6 million hits.
Q: Your guidebook for the stadiums contains 1200 stadiums and you have over 1300 stadiums in your online database. What are some of the trends you’ve seen in the addition of these 100 stadiums?
A: I actually have 1215 stadiums listed on the online database of football stadiums in Texas, however I have an additional 348 stadium listed in a national database, StadiumConnection.com
The biggest trend has been the increase in the use of artificial turf. In 2004 about 20% of High School Teams played on artificial turf, currently, based on the data I have 46% play on artificial turf. This trend is not limited to large schools either. In 2004 there were no six-man football fields with artificial turf, now there are 5.
Q: What are the criteria for being listed on the database?
A: The database list football fields / stadiums where a varsity team plays their regular season home games. This is usually easy to determine but sometimes normally non-listed stadiums are listed, for example if a private high school varsity team plays their regular season at a middle school field, that field is listed.
Q: When a new stadium is built for a new high school, what is the process like to have it listed? Do people usually come to you or do you have to seek them out?
A: In the beginning it was pure research, now I get most information from football fans and athletic directors. I also had one fan that sent information on stadiums in the panhandle for several years and another who did the same thing for southeast Texas and the DFW area.
All submissions and updates are made online through this online form: Stadium Input Form. Also I’m a member of most the major football discussion boards online and I usually make an annual plea for updates and for new schools playing varsity football for the first time.
I also watch for school bond news online.
Q: How many of the 1200 stadiums have you visited?
A: I drive across Texas a lot and I use to stop at every town and gather information and take pictures of the local football stadium. I also try to go to football games anytime I’m out of town on Friday night. So I would guess I’ve been to about 150 stadiums.
Q: What are your five of your favorite high school stadiums?
A: This is a hard question, there are so many stadiums I have not been to so I will limit this list to the stadiums I’ve visited. I will say new is not always better. Atmosphere and fan experience is what makes a great stadium.
Darrell Tully Stadium – Houston
Mustang Bowl – Sweetwater
Ratliff Stadium – Odessa
La Joya Stadium – La Joya
Alamo Stadium – San Antonio
Q: What is the best high school game you were in attendance for?
A: I have two:
In 1986 (1A) McCamey Badgers were hosting state ranked (2A) Reagan County Owls (Big Lake). The Badgers came out and stunned the Owls outscoring them by 3 TD’s in the first half. The Owls woke up in the second half and almost squeaked out a win.
Final score; Badgers 27 Owls 26.
2003 – (5A) State Championship Game; Katy Tigers vs Southlake Carrol Dragons.
Final Score: Katy 16 Southlake 15
Q: Do you have any future goals or ambitions for your website and database going forward?
A: Last year I started a “Texas Football Stadium Hall of Fame”. This is something I do have some passion behind but it is not easy. We have a lot of historic and significant Football Stadium but very little written history. I need help with this. If anyone has written histories of their stadium contact me. Let’s save it for posterity.
Update: Here’s an interview with Fox Sports Southwest TexasBob did a few years ago:
- Buddy Nix
- Jeff Ireland
- Bill Belichick
- John Idzik
- Ozzie Newsome
- Mike Brown
- Michael Lombardi
- Kevin Colbert
- Rick Smith
- Ryan Grigson
- David Caldwell
- Ruston Webster
- John Elway
- John Dorsey
- Reggie McKenzie
- Tom Telesco
- Jerry Jones
- Jerry Reese
- Howie Roseman
- Bruce Allen
- Phil Emery
- Martin Mayhew
- Ted Thompson
- Rick Spielman
- Thomas Dimitroff
- Dave Gettleman
- Mickey Loomis
- Mark Dominik
- Steve Keim
- Les Snead
- Trent Baalke
- John Schneider
Scan the above 32 names and with the exception of a few obvious names like Belichick, Elway, or maybe Newsome these guys could be postmen, attorneys, doctors…you name it. Those 32 names are the current general managers of the 32 teams in today’s NFL. Jerry Jones, the owner and general manager of the Cowboys, is the only owner in football that chooses to be GM himself. It’s a tired argument and has been well documented over the years.
The great thing about the obscure names above is that the majority of these guys are grinders. They’re film junkies and football junkies. They spend hours at their team’s headquarters devouring film and making it their job to scout and draft the best talent available. When they stop off at the grocery store at night, nobody recognizes them. They aren’t attention seekers. That’s their job. It’s their title. I’m fond of Jerry Jones, the owner. An NFL fan could not ask for a better owner than Jones. Jones as the GM is where it’s laughable. Today my displeasure in Jones the GM was brought to a new low when he was spotted in attendance at the dedication of the new presidential library of George W. Bush on the same day as the NFL Draft. Don’t get me wrong – it’s his team, his prerogative and he can do what he wants. More power to him…but his track record as GM speaks for itself and it’s easy to see why. Imagine how the other 31 NFL GMs spent their morning on DRAFT DAY!
Good articles from the past month or so:
Allen Iverson is struggling in retirement.
A detailed look at USC’s new hoops coach, Andy Enfield – the guy that made millions prior to sports.
An exhausting piece on the mess that is the Miami Marlins.
Remember when Don King was king.
A profile on former Ranger, Brandon McCarthy.
I think the Trivia Pursuit in bars thing has already left Dallas, right?
Real life tale of a guy that once ran a four-minute mile charged with murder.
Profile of a billionaire.
A very successful sports gambler.
An oldie, but a goodie: Tom Brady’s Esquire interview from ’05.
Growing up in a small town in East Texas, the nearest pro-sports team was two hours away. It was a luxury to go to a game. Baseball was my first love and I started collecting baseball cards. I lived during the peak of the card industry. Card shows and card shops were everywhere. The ’89 Upper Deck Ken Griffey Jr. card was the Holy Grail. So was the Billy Ripken error card. And the Dale Murphy reverse negative card. I shifted my fascination to caps. I wanted to own each cap from the then 28 MLB teams. At $20 a pop, that hobby dissolved quickly. My collection consisted of caps of the Expos, White Sox, A’s, and Rangers. In my teens, I had bigger and better dreams: I wanted to visit every single MLB park. I’m far away from realizing my goal, but I thought I’d count the stadiums and arenas I’ve entered.
My first experience came in the summer of 1987 at rickety-old Arlington Stadium to see the Texas Rangers. For me, it was nirvana. Bobby Valentine was in his prime and even had a steakhouse near the ballpark. The Rangers of my youth are obscure names today for outsiders. Guys like Pete O’Brien, Scott Fletcher, and Steve Buechele manned the infield while Pete Incaviglia, Oddibe McDowell, and a rail-thin Ruben Sierra roamed the outfield. I didn’t know it at the time, but the stadium was an aging park that pro players deemed minor league quality at best.
I made a pact with myself that anytime I travel to another city that was home to a pro team, I would go to a game if the team was in town. Here’s where I’ve been:
2. Houston Astrodome (Astros)
3. The Ballpark in Arlington (Rangers)
4. Busch Stadium (Cardinals)
5. Wrigley Field (Cubs)
6. Kauffman Stadium (Royals)
2. Cowboys Stadium (Cowboys)
3. Reliant Stadium (Texans)
2. American Airlines Center (Mavericks)
1. Neyland Stadium (Tennessee)
3. Amon Carter Stadium (TCU)
4. Gerald J. Ford Stadium (SMU)
5. Floyd Casey Stadium (Baylor)
6. Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (Oklahoma)
7. Darrell K Royal – Texas Memorial Stadium (Texas)
8. Cotton Bowl (Red River Rivalry)
1. Ferrell Center (Baylor)
2. Reed Arena (Texas A&M)
3. Sullivan Arena (UAA)
4. UNT Coliseum (UNT)
5. Frank Erwin Center (Texas)
Cameron Indoor Stadium (Duke)
Fenway Park (Red Sox)
Lambeau Field (Packers)
Century Link Field (Seahawks)
Madison Square Garden (Knicks)
Staples Center (Lakers)