Sept. 14, 2008
Bill Little, Texas Media Relations
AUSTIN, Texas -- Will Rogers said it, and Mack Brown keeps it as one of his favorite quotations: "Never let yesterday use up too much of today."
That said, the Texas Longhorns went back to work Sunday night following an unexpected trip to the "Twilight Zone" of football scheduling which saw their game with Arkansas postponed for two weeks.
At about 8 o'clock last Wednesday night, just as the assistant coaches were putting the finishing touches on a game plan for Arkansas and the players were mulling over their last full practice in preparation for the interstate rivalry, the world of college football in the state of Texas came to a screeching halt.
Because of the threat to the Texas coast of Hurricane Ike, there would be no football in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. For the first time in recorded history, a scheduled game had been cancelled or postponed.
As it turned out, the city of Austin would escape the physical wrath of the storm, even avoiding predicted high winds and much needed showers. But as Mack Brown said last week, this never was about just a football game. This was about what was abundantly important for the brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind.
This was about helping your neighbor, and standing together with hundreds of emergency personnel and safety officials and thousands of those whose road to safety led them to our city.
For the Longhorns, it was about teammates and their families whose homes were in harm's way. And for the University of Arkansas, it was about the safety of its players and its fans.
All of that was assured by the movement of the game to September 27, by happenstance an open date for both teams.
Now, it is back to the business of football, and while it will be odd a week from now to begin preparing for a team for which you have already prepared, now - more than ever - it is important to return to the tried and true cliché of all sports: "We are gonna take this one game at a time."
In a way, it is ironic that within days we are given reminders of reasons to reassess the values of life. It is hard to believe that it has been seven years since that awful September 11 in 2001 when our world did, indeed, stop turning. And with each passing year, we are more and more removed from that feeling of togetherness, the feeling of digging deep for what's important, that we felt that day.
Our politicians bicker, and we lose our way in our search for meaning, our search for truth.
That, of course, was a man-made tragedy.
Hurricane Ike, striking the Texas coast just a couple of days after the observance of the anniversary of the events of September 11 seven years ago, is an example of nature's fury at its worst. And it, like the falling of the Towers back then, gives us another chance to see the resilient spirit of a people.
This time, it again comes to a case of neighbors helping neighbors. And that is why a football game seemed less important as we watched the power of the storm hammer the Texas coast. In that moment, as giant waves crumpled history and 100-mile an hour winds ripped out windows in skyscrapers, we are, at last, insignificant.
Then, and only then, does it become apparent that the only way a people can rise above the storm is with our minds, our hearts, and our hands. And in the weeks and months that are to come, that will be important to remember.
Now, however, it is important to remember the words we started with…Will Rogers' philosophy of moving forward, and it is a marked difference between a philosophy of moving on and moving forward. The common thought behind "move on," often is one of "forget what's happened, and go on." There is some strength in that. But Rogers, the philosopher, was more bent on a philosophy that would have you learning from what has happened, and moving forward - taking with you the lessons of the past.
That brings us full circle to this 2008 Longhorn football team. The "sudden change," which Mack Brown has classified the rescheduling of the Arkansas game to be, is what it is. It serves no purpose to speculate whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.
So we are back to "take 'em one at a time." Whichever one that is at a time. In this case, it is Rice.
It will have been two weeks since they last played when the Longhorns host Rice Saturday, and it is time to begin again. That includes the team, and the 98,000 fans who can fill DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium. It will be fun to see this young team at home again, and see how the time since the 42-13 victory over UTEP has seen them grow.
In the midst of what has been billed as the toughest schedule in recent school history, the week off offered little to dispel that. College football in 2008 is a wild ride, and the Longhorns are very much a part of what appears to be a volatile and intriguing season. Rice is the next step on that ladder, which now will include nine straight weeks of football before a final break just before the last game of the season against Texas A&M.
It is the challenge of the student athlete to multi-task. A football player must focus on his studies, and his football, and at the same time possess the right to be absolutely human.
That is what Mack Brown likes most about this team. It is the character of the whole, an assembly of young people who are maturing as pieces of adults.
And it is in that space that we understand that missing a weekend of football may have been different, but it was not the most important thing Saturday.
There, caring is no longer about a win or a loss. It is about the value of a human soul, and all the bruises and battering it can survive. And that's what Mack and Will Rogers meant when they talk about today.