Several years ago, a friend and passionate Longhorn Fan who lived in Dallas told me that if the Horns lost to OU, he wouldn’t look at the Dallas Morning News coverage of the game. A loss was just too painful to revisit. I don’t know if he kept the paper around the house and eventually read some of the game stories. I’m guessing not. If my count is correct, I’ve been to 44 Texas-Oklahoma games, and I always read the Morning News coverage of the game win or lose. The coverage was so comprehensive and interesting that I enjoyed reading it.
In the waning years of the Mack Brown era, a college friend and Longhorn fan wrote me in an email exchange that he could no longer muster any emotion while watching Texas games. I concurred. I imagine that he has regained—briefly—and lost his passion for Texas Football a few times—as I have—since then. I wonder how he’s feeling now. I should check in with him to find out though I’m pretty sure I know.
After Texas losses from the late 80s through the early 2000s, I would occasionally call into post-game talk radio shows to vent and comment. For the last decade or so, up until this year, after a loss I would head straight to Barking Carnival and Inside Texas to read post-game analysis by writers that I respected for knowing more about football than I did. In addition to trying to be better informed, I was looking for confirmation of my critiques of the Longhorn coaches and players. Did it make me feel better and more philosophical about the loss? No. That, and not wanting to devote any more of my weekend to Texas Football after the game is over is why I’ve changed my post-loss routine this year. I don’t read Inside Texas, the Statesman, or listen to talk radio after games Saturday or Sunday. Monday I’ll usually read Kirk Bohls’ column if there is one. By Tuesday or Wednesday I’ll see if there’s anything interesting on Inside Texas. Then I’m ready to start writing my Willie Earl column for the new week.
Saturday shortly after the Baylor game, Helen and I were out and about and running errands like nothing eventful had happened and I commented, “Remember when Texas losing would be a big deal to us?”
I first became a Longhorn fan in 1965. They were ranked #1 before they lost to Arkansas that year and ended the season 6-4 which was the first of three straight 6-4 regular seasons. In the 1968 season, Texas embarked on a 30-game win streak over three seasons that included three conference and two national championships.
Texas won five outright conference championships and shared another. In 1977 and 1983 the Horns had two national championships in their grasp before they slipped away in Cotton Bowl losses to Notre Dame and Georgia. They finished the 1981 season ranked #2, in 1972 #3, and in 1975 #6. The Longhorns were undefeated at home from 1968 to 1975. Let that sink in a minute. Their worst season during this span was 1976 when they finished 5-5-1
The last year of Fred Akers’ tenure and the beginning of David McWilliams were lousy years with losing seasons in 86, 88, and 89 and a cumulative record of 21-24.
The Longhorns seemed to be back in 1990 with a conference championship, and a #3 ranking heading into the Cotton Bowl versus Miami. After losing to Miami 46-3, the Horns finished with a 10-2 record and #12 national ranking. The Miami debacle sent Texas into a downward spiral. They lost their first two games in 1991 and finished 5-6 leading to the firing of David McWilliams.
John Mackovic’s first two years, 1992-94 were lackluster with a combined record of 11-10-1. Texas finished the 1994 season with three straight wins that included a win over Mack Brown’s North Carolina team en route to an 8-4 record.
Texas went 10-2-1 in 1995 to win the conference championship in the last year of the Southwest Conference. The season included the Horns’ first win over A&M in five years and only the second in 12 years dating back to 1983. How did we survive that? The season did end on a bit of a sour note with a loss to Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl.
Texas followed up their Southwest Conference Championship in 1995 in ’96 with a Big 12 Championship in its inaugural year. Roll Left! Sure could use a play-call like that now.
Texas went 4-7 in 1997 which featured Route 66, the 66-3 loss at home to UCLA. Mackovic was fired at the end of the season.
Bring on Mack Brown!
From a historical perspective, we’re living in a very long bad cycle.
When does it end?
Oh well, to paraphrase Bill Belichick, “On to Iowa State.”
Willie Earl’s Song of the Week
“Wedding Bell Blues” Written by Laura Nyro. Performed by Marilyn McCoo and The fifth Dimension
I love you so I always will
I look at you and see the passion eyes of May
(Eyes of May)
Oh but am I ever gonna see my wedding day
I was on your side Bill when you were losin’
(When you were losin’)
I’d never scheme or lie Bill there’s been no fooling
(There’s been no fooling)
But kisses and love won’t carry me
‘Til you marry me Bill
I used to get that all the time 🙂
Speaking of Marilyn McCoo, Wow.
Sorry about the grainy video. It’s great anyway.
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