The final week of preparation for the start of a season is a blur, a strawberry-peach swirl of activity, and of anticipation. As Saturday night's season-opener draws closer, so does the team.
So many good things have happened to this team and so many good people have talked with them as the season nears. James Street talked to the freshman and Chris Gilbert to the seniors. Darrell Royal and Spike Dykes stood in the midst on the practice field. Last week, one last, powerful speaker addressed the team before its final scrimmage.
Don Evans was chairman of the Board of Regents when Mack Brown was hired five years ago. Now, he sits on the most important "board" in the world. As Secretary of Commerce on the President's Cabinet of The United States of America. He has been there in the heat of battle with his good friend, George W. Bush Jr. He is one of a handful of people who are in the trusted circle of the leader of the free world.
Trust was what he talked about to the 2002 Texas Longhorns. Secretary Evans quoted the motto that has hung on the wall of UT dressing rooms since the days of the little trainer Frank Medina. Today, it is in Jeff Madden's strength and conditioning room.
"The pride and winning tradition of The University of Texas will not be entrusted to the weak or the timid."
And from listening to Secretary Evans, neither will the pride and tradition of this country. He told the team about the days right after Sept. 11 when President Putin of Russia visited President Bush.
"He told us that we were in a defining moment in the history of the world," Evans said.
He talked about how fortunate we were to have a leader who had the 100 percent trust of the countries with which The United States is aligned.
Secretary Evans wasn't trying to compare the responsibilities of running this country with the responsibility of playing college football, but he was making a major point about life. Teams and teamwork are about trust, whether it is on the world's stage or the floor of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
"When you line up, look to your right and to your left, and to the guy behind you, and ask yourself, "Can I trust him? And most important, make sure he can trust you."
Football is like life, as Brown has said many times. It is about taking a challenge and turning it into a champion, it is about finishing every play. It is about preparing to the best of your ability and giving 100 percent of your effort.
Before he left, Secretary Evans told one more story of President Bush.
"In the Oval Office, there is a picture on the wall with an inscription," he said. "It's a picture of some riders on horseback, going through some rough country and the inscription reads, 'A Charge To Keep I Have.' President Bush looks at that every day because he realizes how important it is to live up to the trust that people have placed in him, how important it is to honor that trust.'
The message is from an old hymn and it talks about honoring things such as God and the important time in which we live.
It was an inspiring talk, but it was important, because it wasn't only about a president, it was about common folk like you and me and the 2002 Longhorns football team. It was about the value of the heart and the strength of the soul.
Most of all, it was about how we can find something good in a commitment to excellence, and to each other. It was about trust and faith and the uncommon will to succeed.
It was about facing head on whatever comes your way and believing that together you can accomplish much. Coach Royal told Coach Brown a long time ago that teams don't get beat. Individuals get beat and if enough individuals lose, the team loses.
It works both ways. Teams win because individuals win and they don't shirk from the battle or the charge.