It's okay to dream.
Mack Brown embraced it Saturday as the first day of practice brought high hopes and dreams.
"I understand some things about Texas a lot better now than I did when I came three years ago," Brown said. "I understand that preseason rankings are a sign of respect for the program and we welcome that."
However, when the Longhorns kick off against New Mexico State three weeks from Saturday in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, it will be time to go to work.
In the list of goals for the Texas football team, there is no final destination called Pasadena, but it would be folly to think that every member of the team, just as every Longhorns fan, hasn't dreamed of a National Championship.
Bob Moses addressed that with the Longhorns seniors at their annual dinner at the Browns' house on Thursday night. Moses could speak well to the subject.
It is not without irony that the night before that first game, Moses and team members of the 1961 Longhorn team will gather for a 40-year reunion. They, too, dreamed of a National Championship. The seniors like Moses believed they could get it. They even knew how hard it was to make the run. As sophomores in 1959, they had been part of a Texas team that flirted with that championship. They had ridden unbeaten through eight regular season games and only TCU and Texas A&M stood in the way of a perfect season. They were No. 2 in the country when TCU came into Austin and stole away with a 13-9 victory in the ice and snow.
But it was different in 1961. This team knew the stories. They had heard of the famed 1941 team, the last Texas team to be ranked No. 1, the one featured on the cover of Life magazine. They knew about the stunning 7-7 tie with Baylor and the 14-7 loss to TCU that shattered that dream.
This, however, was a Texas team ranked No. 1 in the country. A team that rolled over opponents, averaging 35 points a game. And this TCU team, why it was a 2-4-1. Until that day in November when it shut out Texas, 6-0.
Moses and his teammates remember the 50-yard flea flicker pass that a lanky quarterback named Sonny Gibbs through for the trick-play touchdown and the many, many times Texas got inside the 20 and failed to score.
A year later, the dreams were there again, when Texas knocked off Oklahoma and Arkansas to hold its No. 1 ranking, only to be tied, 14-14, by a Rice team which finished a miserable 2-6-2 on the season.
Finally, in 1963, Texas did run the table, but in the final regular season game of the year, it took a dramatic come-from-behind victory against a Texas A&M team that finished 2-7-1 to seal the deal.
As arguably the most athletically talented and deep team in almost 20 years opened practice at Frank Denius Fields on Saturday morning, a crowd of more than 1,500 fans where there to cheer them on. Brown said two years ago his Longhorns had been visiting that neighborhood of the Top 10 and pretty soon his group wanted to buy a house and stay there permanently.
However, it is really important to understand that the only way to win all the games is to win each game, one at a time and learn from history that all the talk of an "easy" schedule means absolutely nothing.
In the days of the Southwest Conference, one of the great legends was Rice coach Jess Neely, who build some awfully good football teams during the Owls' glory days in the 1940s and 50s.
Late in his career, Neely brought a Rice team to Austin to play Texas, a team that had been ranked No. 1 in the country before losing at Arkansas the week before.
Rice was a 24-point underdog and the Owls shocked UT, 20-17. It was one of two games Rice won all year. In the postgame interview, the media asked Neely how his team did it, after all the "experts" had them doomed to lose badly.
"Who are the ex-purts?" Neely asked in his famous southern drawl. "Are you an ex-purt?" he asked as he surveyed the shrinking reporters. There are no Ex-purts when young boys get together and play."
Computer rankings, talk shows, the Internet and sports television networks have come since Neely uttered those words in the visiting dressing room at Royal-Memorial Stadium so very long ago.
To realize a dream, it takes, as Brown has said, "Practice winning every day." It also takes a fan base that will be there when those hard games come, and they will come, pulling with every fiber and not getting negative.
Most of all, it takes thinkers who create a plan and builders, who put it in place.
It is about believing in something and being willing to work hard enough to get it. It is about never underestimating your opponent or resting in cruise control when you need to accelerate to climb a hill.
Moses told one other story from that long ago team to the seniors. He told them that after the season, a lot of the guys went to Vietnam. When they came back, people asked them how it was to fight for their country.
"I wasn't fighting for my country," one of his teammates said.
"Oh, I can understand," replied the listener. "You were fighting to survive yourself."
"No," said Moses' friend. "That guy next to me in the foxhole, I was fighting for him. I was fighting for my teammate."
When the gentle breezes rippled the lake, the seniors thought about that.
Since Moses' team, Texas has been in position to win the National Championship eight times. There are three National Championship trophies (1963, '69, '70) on the second floor of the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletics Complex. Five other teams didn't make it. Three of them, Darrell Royal's teams in 1961, '62 and '64, missed it by a total of 10 points.
We will never know why one team made it and another didn't. What we do know is that all of them dreamed.