Bill Little commentary: The 'R' word
Aug. 13, 2012
Bill Little, Texas Media Relations
Little could they have known, these football Longhorns of 2012, that even as they were about to be challenged to fulfill its meaning, the word represented by the first letter of their theme for the year would be played out by a fellow Longhorn on the planet's biggest stage half a world away.
With a little less than three weeks remaining before the start of the 2012 season, the theme of "RISE," is now being put to the test. The team picked it -- each letter of the word as part of an acronym with a powerful message. The "E" is emotion. The "S" represents sacrifice that translates to swagger. The "I" is for intensity. But it is the "R" -- representing the word relentless -- that will initially determine how it all plays out.
Webster tells us that the word "relent" means to slacken, to soften, to become more mild, and finally "to yield."
Relentless simply means "incapable of relenting."
Now, it is time to prove that the word isn't simply lip-service. It's a chance to show that they mean it. On the practice field, day after day and sometimes twice a day, the Longhorns drill and drill and drill. The hot summer takes its toll, the aches and strains can challenge the day, and it tests a person in a simple way: You have to love this game to play it. Coaches drive hard, it is their charge. On the field and in the meeting rooms, there is little room for error if you mean it when you say your goal is to "Rise."
If you are to be relentless, it means you never stop. The sea, the wind, the summer heat -- all are relentless.
Durant scored a game-high 30 points and ripped down nine rebounds, and at the end he was part of an all-star cast of super heroes who deflected personal credit in deference to the goal of the team.
In the theme of the Longhorns team, each letter carries significant weight. Each plays on the other. When former Longhorn Dusty Renfro spoke to the seniors at a dinner prior to the start of practice, he suggested you could tie the first two letters together and make it read "relentless intensity." There is strength in that. Certainly it is appropriate not to discount the importance of intensity. But the power of relentless is that it means you never stop coming. Think, for example, of the sea. The waves come, over and over again. Sometimes bigger and with awesome power. And sometimes less, but always, always, rolling in. The wind has its moments as well, but from the storm's force or the gentle breeze, you always know it is there. And undeniably, that is always the case with the Texas heat.
Relentless on the football field means your opponent always knows you are there, and that you are a force to be reckoned with.
That is why this weekend is significant to this Longhorn team. The players picked their theme, and committed to the words. It is easy to be pumped at the start of practice, and when game week comes in a little over ten days, you expect the normal excitement.
It will be in the grind of the days of August, when the calendar serves no purpose and time is measured only on where you are to be and when the true character of relentless will come.
Just a week into practice, the Longhorns will soon hold their first scrimmage and begin to get a gauge of how things are progressing. The players understand that the team goal is to achieve an excellence where a lot of players will play, and Mack Brown has challenged each person to find something that they can do to help this team win. When you have a lot of good players, success is determined by playing a lot of good players, and the coaching staff is committed to finding a way to do that.
It is significant that Kevin Durant's shot put the U.S. ahead, but it took great plays by a lot of great players to win the game. When the defense focused on Durant in the fourth quarter, other all-world players stepped up to seal the victory.
They won, and they won for one simple reason. They kept coming. Even when things were not going well, even when they were behind. They found a way to win. They defended, they shot, they rebounded, they drove and they scored. And Spain always knew they were there.
They were, after all, relentless.