First Dates and Hopeless Romantics

You look in her eyes; the music begins to play.
Hopeless romantics, here we go again.
— Don Henley / J.D. Souther / Glenn Frey

I had a lot of first dates in my college years. When I say a lot, I mean way more than other people I knew. I’m guessing in those four years I had about 40 during spring and fall semesters and in my hometown, Reston, Virginia, in the two summers I was home.  I approached most of those dates thinking, “This could be the one.” Sure, I knew ahead of time that some of those girls I wasn’t going to marry or even go out with more than once, but most of the time I was hoping this one might be the one.  No matter how often I was disappointed, no matter how many times I had my feelings hurt – which  was more than a  few – I didn’t get discouraged, I didn’t quit dating. I kept looking and kept hoping that maybe that this next one could be the one.

In particular, I remember a first and only date I had for the first Sigma Phi Epsilon party of the fall semester in 1976. It was a blind date set up by one of my roommate’s girlfriend, although my roommate was unaware of the arrangement.  Those of you familiar with the Greek social scene would know what I mean when I say it was on pledge line night.  I remember which sorority she was in, but I don’t remember the girl’s name. I have a vague memory of what she looked like – five, four or five, five with chin-length medium-brown hair parted in the middle – though I couldn’t identify her in the 1977 UT yearbook that I consulted not more than ten minutes ago. I remember that she was a junior like me that she had a great sense of humor – she laughed at all of my jokes – and she made several witty remarks and observations herself.  We had a great time. I was attracted to her, and I thought we had chemistry. We were among the last to leave the party, and when I was walking her to the door of her sorority house, it started to sprinkle large drops, portending an eminent hard rain.  As we got to the door, in the brief moment that I was wondering if she wanted me to kiss her good night, she scrunched her shoulders, girding for the rain and said playfully something along the lines of, “Hurry up and kiss me before we get soaked.”  I did and it was a pretty good kiss, not perfunctory.  As I drove away in the rain, thoroughly smitten, I was already planning on asking her out for the next weekend.

At this point if you’re confused, let me assure you that you are reading Willie Earl’s Longhorn Blog.

The next day, my roommate asked me if I had a good time at the party, and when I told him I had he asked me who my date was.  When I told him, he was surprised because he knew the girl and that she was in a pretty serious relationship. He asked his girlfriend about this and found out that the reason she accepted a blind date with me was because her boyfriend wasn’t back in Austin for the semester yet.  My roommate, being one of the nicest and most honorable guys I’ve ever known, thought that the girl behaved shabbily in accepting a blind date to the party with me and leading me on .  He wasn’t too pleased with his girlfriend for setting it up, either.

How did I react to hearing this news?  Well, by now you must know I was a hopeless romantic. So, being a hopeless romantic, I knew that the girl really liked me. We laughed together. We had chemistry! She couldn’t be that mercenary. 

Though I was a little fazed, I called her a couple of days after the party and asked her out.  She politely declined and told me that she had a boyfriend. 

Wah-wah.  A metaphorical cold shower and a lesson in the mysteries of human nature.  Bloodied but unbowed, within hours I was on to finding my next first date.  I think it was Connie.


I had my first date with 2019 Longhorns last Saturday.  I’m thoroughly smitten.  I’m smitten with the overall talent level and team speed.

As I mentioned last week, I’m pretty taken with Sam Ehlinger. Obviously the La Tech game was just a warmup for him for LSU. I suspect he was working with only about 40 percent of the playbook. 

I love the way Keaontay Ingram ran against Louisiana Tech. The preseason hype about his added bulk turns out not to be hype. He’s definitely bigger with the same twitch he had last year.  As for the worry over Ingram being the only healthy scholarship running back, I can remember when the number two running back didn’t play much more than the number two quarterback.  Quick, tell me who the backups were for Ear Campbell, Ricky Williams, and Cedric Benson?  So maybe I’m a little infatuated to draw a comparison between Ingram and Campbell, Williams, and Benson but I think he can carry the load for a few weeks.

As the offensive line goes, so goes the team’s chances of winning and I loved the way the offensive line blocked last week and I like the depth of the unit. In addition to the starters, Zach Shackelford, Parker Braun, Junior Angilau, Derek Kerstetter, and Samuel Cosmi, Denzel Okafor is really a co-starter at right tackle and Tope Imade is an up-and-coming left guard. 

I loved Devin Duvernay’s role last week as a slot receiver/running back.  Besides Ehlinger, he could be the most important player on offense versus LSU. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a combination of 15 receptions and rushes this week.

I also loved the way Jake Smith handled himself in his first college game receiving punts and catching passes. 

I expressed my abiding love for Colin Johnson last week.

As for the defense, to start with, I’ve been a big fan of Malcolm Roach since the first game of his freshman year. He’s up to the role of team captain and leader of the defense.

Deondre Coburn looked solid at nose tackle in the first start of his career last week.  Sure, he’ll have growing pains but I think he’s a potential All-American as is linebacker Joseph Ossai who had one interception last week and interception return for a touchdown that was negated by a penalty.

The Longhorns have good to great players all over a defensive backfield lead by senior safety Brandon Jones and sophomore safety Caden Sterns.

The cornerbacks need to tackle better (what else is new) and maybe Kobe Boyce shouldn’t be a starting cornerback. The only thing I really didn’t like last week was when Boyce seemed to be celebrating breaking up a pass while the Louisiana Tech receiver was catching the ball and running down the field.


The hopeless romantic that I am, I’m allowing myself to believe that the 2019 Longhorns just might be the “one” and I’m confident that my affection for the 2019 Longhorns after our first date will be reciprocated with a win over LSU Saturday night. 

One final thought. 

Tom Herman was born to win this game.

Hopefully I’m more perceptive now than I was on that late August night 43 years ago.

Hook “Em,

LSU Over/Under

  • Tiebreaker: required

    Pick the winners against the line

    Texas A&M + 17.5 @ Clemson
  • Miami -5 1/2 @ The Mack Browns

4 Comments to “First Dates and Hopeless Romantics”

  1. And to paraphrase Phil Harvey, Helen was “rest of the story,” putting an end to all that first date nonsense, but I do get it, there was always some excitement in those first dates, and we all shared hope for outcomes that remained largely in our imagination. Let’s hope our visions of victory tonight are not imaginary…

  2. Bill, that was Helen
    You went beyond the call of duty
    in love with her. Nobody else could believe she seemed to like you, as she still is a lot purtier. I’ll hold to the story, as I’ve NO idea who would room with you for 2+ years
    Less of all know the female

  3. We’ll just have to call u “Smitty” … or ‘lil smitty

What Say You?