There is a self-help course where they teach you that emotions such as angry, sad, depressed, etc., are good things. There is a piece of each of them that is not only insightful, it is beneficial. The key is to be able to go to that emotion, feel it, and then release it.
Darrell Royal once told a young man who informed him that he was scared about what was going to happen to his life, "Don't ever be afraid. Be concerned." There is a difference in the action of the words.
The loss to Arkansas in Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium generated all of those emotions. The key is to choose not to remain paralyzed in that state.
Just as the Texas-Oklahoma game was for years when it was a non-conference game, the Arkansas game represents a whelp, but not a scar. Everything that this season could have been--except perfect--is still out there.
Arkansas simply becomes "out of sight, out of mind." The Longhorns have suffered a defeat. Now, it is what we learn from it that matters.
Just a few weeks into the collegiate season, we have already seen that it will be extremely difficult for a team to ride through this season unbeaten. Upsets, or near upsets, have dotted the landscape.
In the Mack Brown era at Texas, the one which has produced among the most successful five-year periods in school history, there have been few losses. He has said this before, and he said it again to the team in the locker room, "Don't let this loss beat you twice."
That commitment would begin with Rice at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Saturday, but it more importantly lends itself to the rest of the season. This is the first time since Stanford beat Texas, 27-24, in the second game of 2000 that the Longhorns have lost this early in the season. And that group responded. Texas lost only to eventual National Champion Oklahoma as it closed with eight wins in its next nine games.
One of the great things about Texas football is that every season, folks begin the year dreaming of being National Champions. But the fact is, the ride to that spot isn't an escalator, it includes steps up stairs. And the No. 1 step, except for rare situations, is to win your conference championship. The exclusive field that is the BCS holds an automatic berth for the winner of the Big 12 Conference.
There have been obvious exceptions, but under normal circumstances, it will be from that space that any hope of playing in a National Championship game will come.
The next two games, against Rice and Tulane, are important for a young team trying to find its identity. But what we know most of all about the measure of a season is that, particularly this year for Texas, folks may notice September, but they will remember October and November. When Kansas State comes to Austin on October 4 and Big 12 play begins, the period of how history will remember this team hits high gear.
In 1998, Brown's first year, the Longhorns lost decisively to UCLA and Kansas State, but were only a weird loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock away from playing for the Big 12 Championship and the right to play in the Fiesta Bowl. That, by the way, is the Big 12's designated spot in the BCS, and what we know about Tempe is that it is warm in pretty in January.
It would be inappropriate to "what if" the Arkansas game, because the fact is, an inspired group with 16 returning starters from a team which played in the SEC Championship game a year ago just played better. We are better served to deal with "what is," and that is a work in progress that is the 2003 Longhorn football team.
It is as that self-help course said, it isn't about what has happened, it is about what you choose to do with it. History can play it either way. There have been seasons where an early loss caused a team to implode. But let's choose to look at others. Darrell Royal's first Wishbone team tied their first game and lost the second, and then won nine straight games and probably was the best team in the country at the end of the year.
In 1995, Texas survived a 55-27 loss to Notre Dame to finish the regular season in the Top 10 at 10-1-1 with a Bowl Alliance berth in the Sugar Bowl.
So as the Razorbacks return to the hills of Northwest Arkansas, the players and the coaches at Texas realize that it is time to go back to work. That's why they have game film, and that is why early season games are learning experiences, even if sometimes they are painful.
What the game proved most of all was that the old cowboy saying was right: "There never was a hoss that couldn't be rode, and there never was a cowboy that couldn't be throwed."
Now, it is important to remember how sore your bottom was when you landed ungracefully on it, and get up and go ride that horse, and not let it happen again.