Texas Tech Pre-Game

   Piling On

Quoting Howard Beal, I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. Even so it’s worth noting that Texas—including the 2009 season in which they went to the BCS Championship game and counting this year’s win over Oklahoma, is 7-14 versus Top 25 teams over the past five seasons. We know things are bad worse than bad…The last six losses to Top 25 teams were by scores of: 41-20, 38-13, 63-21, 42-24, 38-26, and 55-17.  Instead of lamenting Colt McCoy’s injury in the opening minutes of the BCS Championship versus Alabama, Mack Brown should be thankful that the Horns didn’t have to beat a team ranked higher than #13 to get there in 2009. Brown can take solace; Darrell Royal’s record against top 25 teams in his final five seasons was 4-10-1. Royal resigned voluntarily after the 1976 season. At least I think it was voluntary.

         Howard Beale

Howard Beale

Looking forward to next year, if David Ash is unable to play, the quarterback position falls to Tyrone Swoopes and/or incoming freshman Jerrod Heard. In other words, the Horns will be starting from scratch at the most important position on the field.

Texas Tech

In my Oklahoma State Pre-Game column, I penciled in a win against Texas Tech. The Horn’s performance against Oklahoma State leaves me less confident about the Horns capability to beat any team that’s no worse than average.  Even though Texas Tech has lost their last four games and their most impressive win was against lowly West Virginia, they have a good offense that scored an average of 31 points in losses to Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas State, and Oklahoma. It appears to me that Texas Tech is better than any team the Horns have beaten, except Oklahoma.

If Texas does beat Texas Tech, all they have to do to win the Big 12 is beat Baylor and have Oklahoma beat Oklahoma State. Should Oklahoma State’s destruction of Baylor make Texas feel better about their chances to beat Baylor in Waco?  Maybe a little bit. Especially if they can get Baylor’s quarterback Bryce Petty to trip over his own feet on the one-yard line instead of walking in for a touchdown. This play I refer to happened in the first quarter with the score tied 0-0. If Petty scores that touchdown or if Baylor doesn’t fumble and punches it in from the one, the game may have unfolded much differently. Baylor evidently wasn’t quite ready for the big stage, on the road, in the cold. Count on them to be ready for Texas in Waco on December 7th.

Focus

In the wake of the Texas’ catastrophic 2010, season I read a story about the team’s preparations leading up to their last game of the season versus Texas A&M. To summarize, the story was that most of the coaches weren’t coaching because they were preoccupied with finding new jobs. Now I’m reading stories indicating that the current coaching staff all believes they will be looking for new jobs after this season. I wonder whether the possibility that Texas could still win the conference and go to the Fiesta Bowl is keeping the coaching staff focused on the last two games versus Tech and Baylor.  

Swoopes

Speaking of what I’m reading on the UT Football blogs, people are still talking about Tyrone Swoopes getting serious, early, and meaningful playing time Thursday night.  I’ll bet you a dollar right now that, unless Case McCoy gets injured, Swoopes will only play late in the 4th quarter if and when the game has been decided. If it all.

Thanksgiving Smorgasbord

My roommate had already left for the Thanksgiving break so I could go to sleep with my clock radio playing as loudly as I wanted in my Jester Center dorm room. It was a good thing. The three pitchers of beer I shared with Larry Campbell and David Bergstrom at Scholz that evening weren’t helping me get to sleep. I must have reset the timer at least six different times but each time I was still awake when the radio clicked off. I must have heard that freaking “Angie Baby” by Helen Reddy four times between midnight and three a. m. on the computer automated top 40 station I had the radio tuned to. Strange that I would be so excited that I couldn’t get to sleep the night before I was merely going home to be with my parents for Thanksgiving. There was no girlfriend in Reston that I hadn’t seen in three months. I’d never even had a girlfriend. After we had moved to Virginia I attended Herndon high school only a little more than a year before graduation so there wasn’t a crew of high school buddies that I would be reunited with. I was just so desperately homesick and lonely during my first semester at UT in the fall of 1974 that I wanted to get home. I couldn’t wait just three more weeks for the Christmas break, so my parents indulged me with a $300 (in 1974 dollars) round-trip ticket on Braniff Airlines to fly me home. Thirty-nine years later I realize that my empty-nester parents might have also been indulging themselves. 

As I mentioned it wasn’t a reunion with a girlfriend or high school buddies that every Thanksgiving has me thinking about that trip home in 1974.  It is the memory of the six-and-a half mile drive home with my father from Dulles Airport. On the way we stopped by the drycleaners to pick-up my father’s pressed white shirts which were pretty much required for IBMers, in boxes not on hangers. During the ride my father asked me if my first semester at UT had lived up to my high expectations. If for the Texas-OU game alone, the answer was yes. It was having my mother’s home cooking and eating dinner with my parents. Just the three of us as it had been for the five years after my brother David had left for UT. During those five years a bond developed between the three of us that existed uniquely within the boundaries of our entire family. That bond still holds.

Late that first night home, after my mother had gone to bed, my father had dozed off momentarily while we were watching an old movie on television. Just as he awoke and was on his way to bed, a commercial for a women’s product came on. In 1974, this category of products had only recently started to be advertised on television. Noticing the commercial, as a parting shot for the evening, my father said something I’ll never forget, “I can remember when things were different.”  The humor and the irony of what my father said didn’t strike me until I was lying in bed later that night. Since that night 39 years ago I have laughed hundreds of times about what he said and use that line often myself.

If my father’s line for the ages wasn’t enough to make my trip home memorable we did have some classic football that weekend. In 1974 the game with the Aggies was on the Friday after Thanksgiving. So on Thanksgiving we could focus our attention on the Cowboys and the Redskins. My hatred for the Redskins had become intense after we had moved to the Virginia suburbs of D.C. where it was all Redskins all the time. For me it was what it must be like for Aggies who live in Austin. The hated Redskins were leading 16-3 in the third quarter when Redskins defensive end Dave Robinson knocked Roger Staubach out of the game. Enter Clint Longley. The unknown Longley had become the Cowboys back-up quarterback after they had traded Craig Morton to the Giants. Longley led the Cowboys to two touchdowns in the third quarter, one a 35-yard touchdown pass to Billy Joe DuPree, to take the lead 17-16. The Redskins scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to retake the lead. With only 28 seconds left, they were still leading 23-17. The Cowboys had the ball at midfield, but were out of timeouts. The Redskins seemingly had the game won. Somehow though, the Redskins allowed Drew Pearson to get behind their pass coverage and Longley hit him for a 50-yard touchdown pass and the epic Cowboy victory. It was sublime.

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The broadcast of the Texas-Texas A&M game opened with a shot of male Aggie cheerleaders, crew cuts and all, in their white ice-cream man uniforms, doing cart-wheels down the middle of our field. I was enraged! Why were we letting them do that?!  In 1974 the Aggies were riding as high as they had ridden in years. They were 8-2 and ranked #7 coming into the game. With a victory over Texas, they would win the Southwest Conference and a trip to the Cotton Bowl for the first time in seven years. The Longhorns on the other hand at 7-3, were not going to win the SWC for the first time since 1967 and were only ranked #17.  It was stingingly cold and windy in Austin at game time. Other than that it was a perfect day.

A&M received the opening kick-off and on their ensuing possession they fumbled on the first play from scrimmage and Texas recovered. On Texas’ first play, Raymond Clayborn scored on a 24-yard touchdown run. The Aggies then fumbled the ensuing kick-off and Texas again recovered. The exact details of the touchdown that Texas scored after this fumble escape me, but I think it was also scored by Ray Clay. Texas was now up 14-0. I do remember all this occurred within the first: 53 of the game.  Pooorrrr Aggies. They weren’t quite ready for the big stage. Maybe their hands were cold.  Texas went on to win 32-3. In addition to the first :53 of the game, the other highlight that endures is Earl Campbell coming face to face with the Aggies biggest defensive star, maybe their biggest star period, their big, bad linebacker, Ed Simonini. Simonini had Earl one on one, straight up, face to face, in the open field and Earl ran right over him, putting him on his back and stepping on his chest in the process. Oh—my—god, it was pure ecstasy. The kind you can’t manufacture in a lab. By-the-way, have I told you lately that I love Earl Campbell.

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On Saturday of that weekend we had the USC-Notre Dame game for our viewing pleasure. Notre Dame was leading 24-0, when Anthony Davis returned a kick-off for a touchdown for USC just before halftime to make the score 24-6. Davis then returned the second half opening kick-off for a touchdown as USC scored 49 unanswered second-half points to win 55-24. It was a good dessert to top-off the Thanksgiving football feast.  This may make me seem like a small person but I really enjoyed this game (sorry Joe). You have to understand that some of us Longhorns were still smarting from the loss to Notre Dame in the 1971 Cotton Bowl that ended our 30-game winning streak and cost us a consensus national championship.

For some reason the memory of simply hanging out with my parents, just the three of us, and watching those three classic football games in our small cozy wood-paneled den in Reston, Virginia, that Thanksgiving holiday weekend is still vivid.

Happy Thanksgiving, and by all means,

HooK eM,

W.E.

Over/Under Contest

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4 Comments to “Texas Tech Pre-Game”

  1. W.E., it’s a warm and sunny 75 degrees on Thanksgiving Day in Amman. We head off soon for a fried turkey fest hosted by a Texas oilman and tomorrow we dine again at another incomparable feast hosted by a gourmand American friend, so no shortage of turkey dinners in these parts. Right, so we have the food, the weather, but we don’t have the football, a pretty large gap on a Thanksgiving weekend. It will be back to ESPN GameCast again to track the Tech game. We should pull off another win on Friday at DKR and then we have to take that trip to Waco. Regardless, it’s all a shameful mediocrity in Longhorn World. BB King said it best, “the thrill is gone.” You opted not to go with Howard Beale’s most famous line, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.” Maybe that’s because we’ve gone beyond the mad stage and resigned ourselves to the current state of affairs, unless Mr. Patterson shows he’s not such an agreeable fellow, after all, and resistant to the MB schmooze. Hook’ em, amigo, and thanks for sharing the resplendent and well-told memories.

    • Always good to get a national security update from our man in Jordan. I wish it was 76 here. I’m loathing the cold weather in my dotage. I prefer the Beale rant I posted because of the reference to steel-belted radials. Makes me laugh every time.

      Keep us apprised.

      W.E.

  2. Terrific video clip. Narrated by the great John Facenda, a Philadelphia weather guy until he was
    found and made by Ed Sabol of NFL Films.

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