Texas Tech’s Meat Judging team won its 12th consecutive National Championship over the weekend and it’s official— Texas Tech University is a meat judging school. The Red Raiders earned their 15th title in program history, surpassing the football team’s total number of bowl wins since it was founded in 1925. Only Oklahoma State has more national championships with 19, but the last 12 have gone in favor of the team from Lubbock, Tex.
Well the Texas Tech meat judging team just won another natty on the good news out of Lubbock until basketball season…
— Mikayla (@mikaylashlyn) November 2, 2020
Meat judging, like college football, is built around recruiting, facilities, scholarships and rivalries, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. The teams compete against one another and are scored based on their ability to evaluate cuts of beef, pork and lamb. Each school moves through a series stations known as classes and use specific defining factors to determine whether the 10 cuts of meat at each station fit a checklist of USDA standards. For example, one class asks the judge to estimate the amount of fat and muscle on a cut of beef down to fractions of an inch with only his or her eyeball measurements.
Each school can send as many representatives as it would like, but only four competitors count toward the team score and each student is limited to only one season of eligibility at the collegiate level. Twenty or so schools typically compete at the International Intercollegiate Meat Judging Contest in Dakota City, Neb. every November, but the powerhouse programs come from agricultural hotbeds; Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Colorado State and Kansas State.
Some competitors grow up competing in meat judging at 4H competitions, some start in high school with the Future Farmers of America, and some start when they get to college. No matter when you begin, learning the quick-decision making and critical reasoning that is required to stand in silence for upward of six hours and judge meat in a room that is essentially a refrigerator isn’t easy.
While there is no telling what the teams will look like next season, one thing is for certain; Texas Tech head coach Dr. Mark Miller is running a dominant program that has been compared to Nick Saban and Alabama.