Share “ESPN’s James has another gig: Rancher”

by Mel Bracht Published: December 26, 2008
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Craig James, who will be part of ESPN’s Holiday Bowl broadcast team Tuesday night, is a big-time rancher in Texas. A resident of Celina, near Denton in north Texas, he owns several ranches and buys and sells ranch land.

A regular on ABC’s college football studio show, James is best known for teaming with Eric Dickerson in the famed "Pony Express” backfield at SMU in the early 1980s. In the 1980 Holiday Bowl, James rushed for 225 yards and two touchdowns in SMU’s 46-45 loss to BYU. He went on to play for the USFL’s Washington Federals and NFL’s New England Patriots.

James’ sons also play football. Adam is a redshirt freshman tight end for Texas Tech. Andy, a senior tight end at Celina, is being recruited by Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Georgia Tech. James also has two adult daughters.

James took time to discuss his ranching business and the Holiday Bowl featuring Oklahoma State and Oregon.

Do you enjoy ranching?

I love it. I enjoy the country, and I’m a really big hay and cattle producer. I may run 3,000 to 5,000 yearlings at any given time. I’m also probably one of the biggest hay producers in the state of Texas. I have my spurs on quite a bit and get out and enjoy the fresh air. I probably own 15,000 acres and I just sold a 27,000-acre place. This is a different side of me than what people see on TV.

The Holiday Bowl is usually one of the more higher-scoring, exciting bowl games. Why do you think that’s so?

It seems to breed excitement by the teams. And that excitement, which you may miss in some of these other lackluster bowl games, adds to the offensive production. I credit San Diego, the atmosphere and all the previous great games that have been there. All the coaches and the players, they know that.

I’ll never forget, four years ago, when Texas Tech played out there against Cal. Cal didn’t want to be there. Tech wanted to be there and Tech just pounded them (winning 45-31). Late in the fourth quarter, (Mike) Leach is still throwing the ball. I remember in a postgame party I was with Leach. I said, "What the heck were you thinking still throwing the ball.” He said, "Hey, all I have in my head is it’s late in the fourth quarter, we’re up 14 points and all I could hear is you guys in the announce booth saying, ‘Don’t go away folks, this is the Holiday Bowl.’”

What kind of challenge does Oregon present for OSU?

Offensive coordinator Chip Kelly, a second-year guy who came from New Hampshire, of all places, really made an impact on the team last season.

by Mel Bracht
Copy Editor, Sports Media
Mel Bracht is a copy editor on the presentation desk and also covers sports media. A 1978 graduate of Indiana University, Bracht has been a print journalist for 34 years. He started his career as sports editor of the Rensselaer (Ind.) Republican...
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