It was somewhat appropriate that the team that would finally pull the plug on Estudiantes Tecos was another Guadalajara team, Atlas. The rojinegros 1-0 victory over a half-strength Monterrey put an end to Tecos' 4 decade run in Mexico's first division.
Not that anyone really noticed.
Well, maybe their uniforms.
Tecos, née, Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, were founded in 1971 (a stellar year, if I may interject) as a Third Division squad. It only took them 4 years to enter the first division, and they did it the hard way: on the field, which is more of a rarity in Mexican soccer. Some clubs earn promotion by buying other franchises, which is what Puebla did to Union de Curtidores back in the early 2000's.
It's hard to play 2nd fiddle in Guadalajara. Or even 3rd fiddle. Or 4th. But there was Tecos, plugging along in their own Estadio 3 de Marzo as an afterthought to Chivas, Atlas, and Leones Negros (who might be the city's 2nd most popular team). Their stadium did host a few World Cup games back in 1986, including this game between Morocco and Portugal (Morocco's 2nd goal is a real gem).
It was probably one of the few times the 3 de Marzo was full.
I would suspect the attendance was pretty good 8 years later, when Tecos won their only title. With Monterrey's Victor Vucetich at the helm and Javier Hernandez (Chicharo the Elder) on the squad (albeit in a limited role), Tecos defeated upstart Santos Laguna in a memorable extra time thriller.
Hernandez the Elder was Tecos' first bona fide home-grown superstar. Despite moving on after 8 years with the club, el Chicharo returned to the squad for their one and only league title.
Tecos did not have the Cache of one of the bigger clubs, or even one of the smaller clubs, for that matter. But every now and then, they struck gold with one of their imports. Unfortunately, the last player that made any kind of major contribution was Daniel Ludueña, way back in 2003. "La Achita" turned out to be one of the league's best players for a spell, and even helped get Tecos to another final in 2005 before succumbing to Club America.
It was their last hurrah.
It was also not a good sign for the club when the ownership group, the Leaño family, could not find enough corporate backing for a shirt sponsor, and were left with promoting their own properties. Even a rebranding to "Estudiantes Tecos" a few years ago did little to move the needle.
In other words, the effort the front office was minimal. The players they brought in these last few seasons had their best seasons years ago. Ultimately for Tecos, it was never about "if" rather about "when" they would be relegated.
They also had the itchiest trigger finger in the league when it came to coaches. Since Mexico's season was split in the mid 90's, Tecos hired and fired dozens and dozens and dozens of coaches. They had so much turnover, it wouldn't be surprising if the coaching search was conducted by Today's Temps.
Atlas may have saved themselves this season, but they are going to be in the same battle next year. They do seem, however, to understand that it is much easier not to lose games by not giving up goals. Atlas has the stingiest defense in the league by virtue of only giving up 10 goals so far this year. They have yet to learn, though, that goals do help win games, as they have only bagged 5, cinco, in 15 games.
Tecos wasn't as fortunate, and with an ownership group who seems is at best indifferent about supporting the team they founded all those years ago, it may be a while before we see Tecos back in the top flight.