Archive for the ‘2013’ Category

Post-Game Oklahoma

Reflections on a Great Day

Long time coming eh? This is the team and the game we’ve been awaiting for three years. I think most of us are hesitant to believe that the performance the Longhorns put on a very hot and humid day Saturday in the Cotton Bowl is the new norm.

Since the middle of the third quarter on Saturday I have been trying to figure out how Texas could suddenly play this well and what does it mean for the rest of the season. I was thoroughly confused. Then something came to me in a way that thoughts often do, through the context of a book or a movie that has become iconic in my mind. There’s a moment in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, when the patriarch of an upper class family—played by Spencer Tracy—living in San Francisco in the mid-sixties, comes to the realization, after much angst and contemplation, that he approves and will give his blessing to the marriage of his daughter to a black man—played by Sidney Poitier.  At that moment he is by himself, in his bedroom, getting ready to go down stairs to tell the families of the perspective bride and groom what his feelings are on the marriage. Until that moment he doesn’t know what he’s going to announce when says to himself, out loud, “son of a bitch.” Then he goes down and delivers, in my opinion, one of the greatest speeches in movie history, in which he outlines the pros and cons of the marriage and, stunningly, why he approves.

Anyway, I had a “son of a bitch” moment this afternoon when I came to the conclusion that this combination of players and coaches has hit their stride and that the performance we witnessed on Saturday is not just possibly the new norm. It’s probably the new norm.  After all, Greg Robinson has just been here a month and Major Applewhite and Darrell Wyatt have only planned and executed six game plans together as co-offensive coordinators.  Does the fact it has taken Mack Brown two-and-a-half seasons to get things “fixed” reflect poorly on his performance?  Yes, absolutely it does, but, as he has said repeatedly during the past three weeks, Texas can still win the Big 12 and go to a BCS Bowl, which would constitute a very successful season. So after much angst and contemplation,my pre-season prediction of 9-3 suddenly is looking good and now I can add a Big 12 Championship to that prediction.  Predictions are a lot like opinions and opinions are like, well you know what they’re like, and everyone’s got one.  At the very least the Longhorns should now be fun to watch for the rest of the season.

 

What it was like at the Game

1. The combination of heat and humidity were the highest of any of the 35 OU games I’ve been to. I don’t sweat much but there were thousands of soaked-through burnt orange shirts in the Cotton Bowl and thousands of fans who retreated to the shade of concourse to watch on the jumbotron.

2. The Texas crowd was as loud as I can remember for this game, certainly as loud as 2008 and 1977, deafening at times. 

3. At one point during the third quarter as I walked up the aisle, I was high-fived by about five total strangers in a row and even slapped on the back by one Longhorn fan an as I passed by. An unprecedented show of jubilation for the historically more stoic Longhorn fans. Or maybe they just knew who I was.

4. Curious game plan for Oklahoma in not running a running quarterback against a defense that has been struggling, to say the least, against the run.

5. I put the binos on Mack Brown several times during the game. He was very calm and all business. His best side line demeanor in quite a while.

6. My post-game beer in a paper cup was one of the best ones I’ve ever tasted.

Next year will be my 36th year to attend the OU Game.

HooK eM,

W.E.

Over/Under Results

Not surprisingly, the scores this week were very low with mostly twos and threes and a couple of fours and one five.  However, two young men, amazingly, hit the mark. Mark Stephan, aka Homer Mark and Mark Adams finished far ahead of the field. Homer, in a very Homer like performance, nailed the answers to eight out of ten questions.  Mark Adams, who already has multiple racks mounted on the mantle, now has another one, scoring an almost perfect nine. 

Hey Mark, “It’s the Holiday Season! Let’s binge ‘em up!”

 

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Pre-Game Oklahoma

A Pregnant Widow

On the recommendation of Helen and Bob I’m reading a very good book, The Pregnant Widow, by Martin Amis. Amis adopted the title from the writing of Alexander Herzen.

The death of the contemporary forms of social order ought to gladden rather than trouble the soul. Yet what is frightening is that the departing world leaves behind it, not an heir, but a pregnant widow. Between the death of the one and the birth of the other, much water will flow by, a long night of chaos and desolation will pass.

As for the 2013 Longhorns, I think we’ve got a pregnant widow on our hands. As for the Texas-Oklahoma game this weekend, for many of us, there are years when it’s much more about the event than it is the game at hand. 2013 is one of those years.

Why I Love OU Weekend

Prelude

I was at my first college party in late August of 1974 at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity house in Austin. Other than my blind date whom I had just met, I knew exactly one person at the party, Mark Adams, an elementary school friend from the years that our family had lived in Houston. I was 19 and had just arrived in town from Reston, Virginia.   I was shy but not without wit and I quickly discovered that being from somewhere other than Texas gave me a good line when I was asked, “Why did you come to UT from so far away to go to school?”  “Because they have a good football team,” I answered dead pan. This drew laughter every time I said it that night. A couple of the guys who laughed are friends of mine to this day and may be reading this now. Anyway, it wasn’t a joke. There were three reasons I came to UT: My older brothers lived in Austin, it got me to the Sun Belt, and I was fanatical about Longhorn Football.

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By the second Saturday in October of my freshman year, I had: gone through Rush week and pledged a decent fraternity (thank you, Mark Adams), taken my first round of tests as a college student, thrown up outside of the Sig Ep house in front of my first match date—she was tall, dark and stacked—after  drinking too much hurricane punch (no wonder I never got another good match date the rest of my frat career), and watched my first Texas game in Memorial Stadium as a college student.  Those were defining experiences, but the most defining, life altering experience of that fall was the Texas-Oklahoma game and OU weekend. 

I was in my seat in the first row of the upper deck of the Cotton Bowl an hour before kick-off for that Texas-OU game in 1974.  I love the Cotton Bowl. The first time I was there was in early December 1963 to watch the New York Giants play the Dallas Cowboys.  My family had moved to Houston from upstate New York by way of Kensington, Maryland, in January 1963 and we were Giants fans. The crowd was relatively small, and we were able to move freely about the lower deck, angling for better vantage points.  It was a great time, and we were lucky to see the Giants of Tittle, Gifford, and Shofner, who went on to win their third straight Eastern Conference Championship in 63—just prior to their steep demise. The trip to Dallas for the game had been planned months ahead of time, but a few days before the game my older brother Clayton was worried that the trip would be cancelled.  He was worried because the assassination of President Kennedy had occurred just nine days before the game, and he thought my parents might cancel a trip to Dallas for a football game out of deference and respect for the mourning of Kennedy.  We went to the game as planned, and just before the National Anthem, the P.A. announcer asked the crowd to observe a moment of silence for, “Our late President John F. Kennedy.  At eight years old, I was stunned by the solemnity of the moment.

My second game at the Cotton Bowl was the 1972 Cotton Bowl game between Texas and Penn State. The Cotton Bowl had been upgraded; most notably, the seats were now aluminum with backs in place of the wooden bleachers we’d sat on in 1963.  Throughout the game that New Year’s day, I was thinking, “If these seats could talk.”  It was the Cotton Bowl, where the Cowboys had lost that dramatic, heat—breaking reaking 1966 NFL Championship game to the Packers and James Street and the Longhorns had pulled out the last second victory over Notre Dame in the 1970 Cotton Bowl to preserve a National Championship.  I felt a reverence for the stadium and considered myself lucky to be there, even though the Longhorns took it on the chin to Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell that day 30-6.

I hadn’t seen nuthin’ yet.

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In the stadium an hour early, I watched Texas and Oklahoma warm up. It was sunny and hot, a trade mark of the OU game.  Oklahoma looked bigger than Texas and almost invincible in their crimson and white uniforms. I hated them already. Although the stadium was less than half full when I got to my seat, it was 75% full by the time warmups were over and The Longhorn Band took the field.  As I mentioned, I had been to Texas games that fall at Memorial Stadium. But this was different.  Oklahoma was our most formidable opponent, the rivalry was our most intense, and we were sharing Cotton Bowl with about 36,000 Okies. And they were louder than our 36,000 when they cheered for their team. They were louder still when they booed the Longhorns. I loved every minute of it.

It was during the 1974 OU game when I first appreciated that there was something special about watching a game in the Cotton Bowl.  I couldn’t put my finger on it right away.  It slowly dawned on me how excellent the view of the game was for me even though I was sitting on the goal line. The seats were angled toward the 50 yard-line and were closer to the field than in any other stadium I had been in, including small high school stadiums.  And the 72,000 spectators were in close proximity to one another. At Memorial Stadium in Austin, the field and the opposite side of the stadium seem off in the distance. In the Cotton Bowl, you were right on top of the field, and you could actually make out familiar faces on the other side of the stadium. The cozy Cotton Bowl.   From inside the stadium you can see the State Fair’s roller coaster and Ferris wheel.  The Texas-Oklahoma game actually is played in a carnival atmosphere.

When the Longhorn Band played Texas Fight and March Grandioso, the Texas fans cheered and my heart was reaching capacity as I blinked back tears and tried to clear the frog in my throat—and we hadn’t even gotten to the Eyes yet. I was glad that in the excitement my Sig Ep pledge brothers I was sitting with didn’t notice my condition.  I don’t know why I react to these events this way, but my reactions have been the same all 34 times have been to this game. 

The future Willie Earl with Pledge Brother, Greg Bowers in 1974

The future Willie Earl with Pledge Brother, Greg Bowers in 1974

In 1974 Texas was a 17-point underdog to Oklahoma, who went on to win the National Championship that year.  As the game went on and the Longhorns hung tough with Oklahoma, the intensity of the game became wonderfully unbearable.  When Earl Campbell rumbled seven yards untouched into the end zone right in front of me, the Longhorns took the lead late in the third quarter.  My Sig Ep pledge brother, David Crawford, sitting next to me, repeated several times, “We’re going to win this game, Frink.”  I didn’t say anything, but I wished he would quit saying that out loud.  Ultimately we did not win the game, losing a heart breaker 16-13. 

For the first couple of hours of the aftermath, I was devastated.  My devastation slowly numbed into disappointment.  I didn’t appreciate the Fair before or after the game in 1974 as I have come to appreciate it, win or lose, in all the years since. 

The Texas-Oklahoma game, with the traditions so rich, the rivalry so intense, the teams perennially so excellent—could stand on its own without the neutral site of the Cotton Bowl, the parties, and the Fair.  But with all those elements and more, such as the drive up I-35 on Friday shared with all the other Texas fans on the road, the Texas-Oklahoma game and OU weekend stands alone among all the many sports traditions I have celebrated.

For me, there was much at stake in the Texas-Oklahoma game in 1974, and the loss was tough to take.  I didn’t experience a victory in the OU game until my fourth trip to Dallas in 1977.  There was much more at stake in 77, and in many other years than there was in 1974. There have been many glorious victories unmatched by others in their pure joy and there have been several disappointing defeats.  But since 1974, for me, the stings of the losses to Oklahoma only last for a few minutes.  How can you be down for very long engulfed in Longhorn camaraderie, surrounded by close friends and family, while drinking beer from paper cups at the State Fair of Texas?  That’s the real beauty of this thing.

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P.S to Bob, Molly, and others to whom this may apply,

Some October after I’m gone and you’re ambivalent about going to the OU game.  Go and soak up every glorious moment of OU weekend.  I don’t know where I’ll be then,kids, but I’ll know about it and I’ll be happy.

OK, OK, I’m just kidding….sort of.

HooK eM,

W.E.

Over/Under

[contact-form-7 id=”296″ title=”Over Under Contest”]

 

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Iowa State Post-Game

Change

In a previous life I managed convenience stores.  At the peak of my responsibilities I was in charge of three stores with a total of 18-20 employees.  I had no retail management experience when I took on these responsibilities.  I wish I could say that I was a fast learner, particularly when it came to managing employees.  But I wasn’t.  Maybe it was out of wanting to believe the best about people or maybe it was just in desperation that I believed certain employees when they said they would never be late again for an opening shift. Or that they would never be rude to a customer again, or lock the doors so they could go to the bathroom again. Or trade beer for a blow… uhh never mind, you get the idea.  Eventually I did learn that when an employee was late for work at the beginning of their employ, they would be chronically late to work. If I told a manger to let an hourly employee go and then I would see that employee behind the register a couple of days later, I learned that that manager was going to have a problem with my authority across the board.  My experience in the convenience store business didn’t make me so cynical that I believe people are incapable of change, but I do believe that a real, definable, change in habits or character is rare.  

That’s why I enjoyed the surprise and then the near outrage of fans and bloggers when Mack Brown didn’t play Tyrone Swoopes in the Iowa State game. I even suckered almost all of the Over/Under contestants into answering yes to the question about playing time for Swoopes. Mack Brown has a consistent history of not including real game playing time in his training of back-up quarterbacks. In 2000 and 2011 Brown played two quarterbacks on a regular basis so Major Applewhite in 2001 and Case McCoy last year, as number two quarterbacks, had ample experience. Vince Young had regular playing time as a back-up and eventually became the starter in 2003.  Other than those three out of Mack Brown’s 15 years at Texas, the paucity of playing time for back-up quarterbacks is amazing. Here are some highlights.

2010: Back-up Case McCoy appeared in two games. He had zero pass attempts for the season.

2009: Back-up Garrett Gilbert had 26 pass attempts before he was called on in the national championship game.

2008: Back-up John Chiles had 13 pass attempts in his second season as the back-up.

2007: Back-up John Chiles had 9 pass attempts.

2006: Back-up Jevan Snead appeared in three games and threw 18 passes before coming in for the injured Colt McCoy in the first quarter of the 11th game of the season versus Kansas State.

2005: In blow-out after blow-out after blow-out, back-up Matt Nordgren attempted 11 passes for the season.

2004: Chance Mock appeared in five games and attempted 21 passes.

My point is, if you expected Tyrone Swoopes to get meaningful playing time or even play at all against Iowa State, you were expecting a 62 year-old to change his habits forged over 28 years as a college football head coach.  Not bloody likely. 

What do you think the likelihood of Brown’s team starting out the Oklahoma game very conservatively, or dare I say scared?

 

OU Week Extra Points

The combined record of the teams Texas has beaten this season is 3-12. For Oklahoma, 12-16.

Oklahoma is 17th nationally in rushing offense, 6th in scoring defense.

Texas is 48th and 77th respectively in those two categories.

Since Bob Stoops has been at OU the team that has scored first in the Texas-OU game is 10-4 in the series.

Oklahoma is ranked #10. Texas hasn’t beaten a top 10 team since 2008. The highest ranked team Texas has beaten since 2008 was #13 Oklahoma St. in 2009.  Texas beat #14 Oregon St. last year in the Alamo Bowl. 

 

HooK eM,

W.E.

 

Over/Under Results

 

Mitch Frink, even though he predicted that Tyrone Swoopes would play, wins this week with eight correct answers.  Good to see Mitch back in the winner’s circle. Rick Mosher, the only player to correctly answer the Tyrone Swoopes question, finished second with seven correct answers.

I’m not sure but there may have been a glitch in the system so I may not have received all the entries for the Iowa State game. Either that or there was a lack of interest in the game because we had a record low turnout for Over/Under. 

If you entered and believe you answered eight are more correctly please let me know so I can work on correcting the glitch.

 

 

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Iowa State Pre-Game

Ode to James Street

“When he shall die,James_Street_10
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”

―William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet 

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Do We Believe?

I’m amazed. I really am. I’m hearing and reading commentary about the huge talent gap between Texas and Iowa State. Therefore, Texas should hold out David Ash and Mike Davis to save them for the Oklahoma game, because Iowa State is a gimmee. I see.

Let me tell you my pre-game assessment of Texas-Iowa State. First of all, I’m not a believer in the idea that Texas has a huge talent advantage over Iowa State or any remaining opponent on their schedule. OK, maybe Kansas is the exception (and even so, Texas didn’t exactly demolish the 1-11 Jayhawks last year). Remember Texas’ last game against Kansas State? The pundits and commentators were saying that Kansas State was terrible and the Longhorns should have no problem beating them. Yet, if not for Kansas State’s butt fumble on Texas’ four yard line, we were looking at a three-point game with about two-and-a-half minutes left.  Given that Texas is facing Iowa State in Ames, I rate the Cyclones just as formidable as Kansas State. And the game is on Thursday Night on national television. Party on Cyclones!

By the way, has it really come to this? Playing on Thursday night?  I thought Thursday night was for East Carolina, Rutgers, Louisiana Tech and the like.

I Know What I Don’t Know

I’m sure by now most of you have heard what former Longhorns Earl Campbell and Chris Simms have said in the past week about Mack Brown. To summarize, they both said it was time for Mack to go. Specifically, Simms criticized Texas’ practice of signing recruits during their junior year in high school and pointed out that very few Texas players were graduating to the NFL during the past four years.

 Quoting Earl, “Nobody likes to get fired or leave a job, but things happen. I’d go on record and say ‘yes I think it’s time.’”  Earl continued, “I’d just say this, I take my hat off for USC for what they’ve done. They didn’t mess around with it. They just said ‘let’s do it now.’ I think at some point our university’s people are going to have to make a decision.” Quite harsh for the famously soft-spoken Earl.

I have a feeling that Campbell and Simms, as former players, know more about what’s going on inside the program than you and I do, and that’s the reason they’ve gone on the record with such strong statements about Mack Brown.  Among lots of other things, maybe they know that Rod Babers, the sideline reporter for the Longhorns’ radio broadcasts, didn’t resign but was fired by Mack Brown because he was too negative about the team. Who knows? But I’ll bet Campbell and Simms know more about the current state of Texas football than just their won-lost record.

Good News, Bad News

After West Virginia upset Oklahoma State last week, the good news for Texas is that Oklahoma State is probably not as good as advertised. The bad news is West Virginia isn’t as bad and is improving as the season goes on. Imagine that.  A team that improves as the season goes on. Speaking of improving, that would be Oklahoma, who looked awfully good in beating Notre Dame in South Bend. It’s hard to believe that just three weeks ago the guys at Orangebloods and other bloggers were counting the OU game as a probable win for Texas.

Oh by the way. I know where you can get OU tickets. Lots of them. Cheap.

HooK eM,

W.E.

Over/Under

[contact-form-7 id=”296″ title=”Over Under Contest”]

 

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Is Bellmont Embarrassed?

Texas Football vs. Oklahoma tickets

 

"We've never done this before"

“We’ve never done this before”

 

 

 

 

 
Dear Bill and Helen,

As a Longhorn Foundation member, we would like to offer you the opportunity to purchase up to four tickets — in addition to any you may have already requested — for the Texas Football vs. Oklahoma game (AT&T Red River Rivalry) on Saturday, Oct. 12 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

These tickets were originally held for UT students, but are now available for purchase by Longhorn Foundation members and Texas Football season ticket holders. They are $110 each, located in the north upper deck sections of the Cotton Bowl, and available on a first-come, first-served basis until sold out.

HooK eM,

W.E.

 

 

 

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