Bill Little commentary: The 'I' in RISE
Aug. 23, 2012
Bill Little, Texas Media Relations
"Across the fields of yesterday
In the spring of 1963, as the Texas Longhorns practiced in preparation for a fall season that would produce The University's first national championship in football, a referee at a scrimmage missed a penalty call.
From the sidelines, All-American tackle Scott Appleton screamed at the man in the striped shirt, "Come on! We're not out here for FUN!"
Welcome, my friends, to "intensity" -- the second letter in the "RISE" theme.
The little poem by Thomas S. Jones, Jr., reminds us of what might have been, while Scott Appleton plugs into the theme of the 2012 Longhorns like a jack hammer pounding on concrete. A week or so ago, we talked about "relentless," and how you have to have a commitment to stay the course, regardless of the obstacles.
In the theme chosen by the team, intensity reminds us that, in the language of today, you have to "bring it" every play.
The subject in the poem is one who had great intentions. We all have been there. You plan on doing something. You have every intention of getting it accomplished. Lost in the equation, however, is the fact that desire doesn't equal accomplishment without a healthy dose of intensity.
You have heard the expressions. There is pressure, and then there is "intense pressure." The same is true with heat, and "intense" heat. Former Longhorn Dusty Renfro, when he talked with the seniors on this 2012 team, suggested that the first two letters be combined to read "relentless intensity." There is validity in that.
There is no way to describe the mindset created by a college football training camp. Each day at the practice field, the Longhorns look up at a sign that counts down the days until the first game. During the camp, days run into each other, and meetings blend into practice. Meals and sleep are important. Long days dissolve into the next as the calendar and the clock click down. Tuesday, the Longhorns held their 20th practice of the training camp.
And yet it is here that the mettle of champions are tested. The letters -- Relentless, Sacrifice or Swagger and Emotion -- cannot be successful without Intensity, and that is what Mack Brown and his coaches are demanding from themselves, and from their team, right now. The training camp ends on Friday morning, and it is now that everyone is challenged not to ease up.
It is important to understand, however, that while intensity can translate into determination, it doesn't necessarily equate to reckless abandon. An intense mindset doesn't mean swinging wildly. The boxer who lands the quick strike jab often delivers the knockout punch while his opponent is raring back to clobber him.
It will take too long, and will make little sense, to deliver a lesson on the fine art of spinning a top. But it is worth it to make a point. Back in the day, you would wrap a heavy string around the bottom of the cone of the top, and with a quick motion fire the missile toward the ground. The secret, of course, was how tightly you wound the top. Too loose, and it didn't work. Too tight, and it wouldn't unravel. Done perfectly, the strike ejected the top, spinning on its steel point.
So it is with intensity. It is imperative. It is vital. Intensity, unbridled, can translate to "out of control."
But with apologies to Scott Appleton, intensity, coupled with just plain fun, is a combination that is hard to beat. Football is a very hard game, so it is darned important to have fun when you play it. It is in that space that you finish -- not frustrated with what might have been -- but with the creation of a stepping stone as opposed to a stumbling block.