Tennessee Stat Book
The Tennessee-Auburn game will be another battle between two longtime Texas foes: Auburn receivers coach Trooper Taylor and UT defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza.
The two have known each other for more than 20 years. They first faced off at opposing high schools in south Texas in the mid-1980s. The rivalry continued when Garza went to Texas and Taylor enrolled at Baylor. They met again when Garza and Taylor coached at Texas Christian and Tulane, respectively.
"If you let him tell it, he never lost a game," Taylor joked this week. "They beat us once in the playoffs (in high school)."
Taylor went to Cuero High. Garza attended Refugio High. Both schools were regularly championship contenders in football and track.
"He didn't want none of that 100 meters," Taylor quipped. "You can ask him about that."
Garza said the rivalry between Cuero and Refugio went back for generations.
"We were big rivals all the way back to my aunts and uncles and my mom," Garza said.
The two schools were in the same district, just about 40 miles apart. Taylor and Garza knew each other off the field as well. Garza would sometimes go to rodeos in Cuero. Taylor was a teenage bull rider.
"We knew each other in high school very well," Garza said.
Taylor, perhaps reluctantly, admitted Garza was a better football player, but claimed Cuero was more successful over the long haul.
"Willie Mack was probably the better athlete," Taylor said. "My high school probably won more games. But he was more highly recruited than I was."
Besides football, one thing has remained constant: Taylor still isn't afraid to talk.
"They always did a bunch of barking and talking," Garza said of Taylor and his Cuero teammates.