It was a regular occurrence, coming at high noon on a Monday in the fall.
As the Longhorns football coach held his weekly news conference, Texas Gov. George W. Bush jogged around the track in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, far below the ninth floor of the stadium building.
Under the Freddie Steinmark Scoreboard, a Texas Department of Public Safety plain-clothes man waited. The jogging governor was a familiar figure in Austin and he secured a special place in the athletics department at The University of Texas.
After the track was removed from the stadium, Bush usually chose the treadmills in Assistant Athletics Director Jeff Madden's strength and conditioning room in the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletics Complex. There, he would visit with Longhorns players and his friends in the department.
What we saw then, and what America sees now, is an exceedingly down-to-earth man who has been called to serve as our President in an exceedingly critical time.
It was Election Day 2000 when Mack Brown stopped by the weight room on his way to get a hamburger and hollered good wishes down to his friend.
"Fourth quarter," Bush shouted back over the drone of the treadmill.
Bush was no stranger to the sports world when he became the Texas governor. So when he won his first election, those of us at The University of Texas figured we would see him a lot and we did.
But what impressed us so was the sincerity, the essence of the man.
When we first received word that he wanted to come to one of UT's basketball games shortly after his inauguration as governor, we set aside seats on press row. But it was hard to figure out which one was the governor. He came, but he was wearing a light jacket and open collar shirt. The men around him were in coats and ties.
In subsequent visits, what became obvious was that here was a man who was about as far from the stereotype of a politician as anybody we'd ever seen. Some men seek public office to achieve a position of power. It was clear with Bush that he didn't have to be governor. He had been immensely successful in business, had a great family and could easily have sidestepped any political thoughts.
A great friend of Texas athletics, the late Dick Dozier, who with his wife Marian are tremendous supporters of every UT program, was hugely successful in the fast food business. Dozier set a standard held today in their company's stores with his motto "Here To Serve."
As governor, it seemed Bush was there because he thought he had something to give. He spanned political parties and bridged bickering. He worked for the people.
Longhorns players remember him as a "regular guy," even when the single Texas DPS guard swelled to an entourage of Secret Service personnel.
One of my best memories came at a Texas/Texas A&M football game, long before he was a presidential candidate, when ABC wanted his dad, the former President, to come on television during the game. They wanted him to talk about the Bush Library, which was being built in College Station, but George W. knew his dad didn't want to do the interview.
As the senior Bush struggled with the decision, the Texas governor said "No, we're not going to do that." He was polite, but it was clear there was no appeal.
Later at a basketball game he explained, "I knew Dad didn't want to do it, but he's too nice to say no, so I figured I'd be the bad guy."
Taking responsibility and taking charge are traits we Texans saw and admired about Bush.
It was a touching moment for us when, after his powerful speech at the National Prayer Service, his dad reached over and gently grasped the President's arm. That defense of his dad way back at that football game didn't come from stubbornness. It came from love.
As we, and the rest of the nation watched our President leading this nation in its darkest hour, we who saw him in our Texas Longhorns athletics arenas couldn't help but think and be thankful for the gifts he brings to the battle.
He struggled a long time before he decided to run for President, and after being there for a while, it appeared some PR types had him going in the wrong direction. He's not a suit and tie kind of guy. But the jacket he wore when he walked with the rescue workers in New York looked a whole lot like those he wore to those basketball games and to and from the treadmill.
It is not an accident that this man, who understands so much about sports, has surrounded himself with a tremendous set of advisors and leaders. I think you call that a team.
As we watched the National Prayer Service, and the trip to New York, a lot of Texas pride along with the pride of a country bruised but not broken came shining through.
We had the feeling of watching a man who ran and was elected, not for a political purpose, but for a greater purpose. Destiny is indeed a strange traveling companion.
A President elected by the narrowest of margins ever is now The People's President - a regular guy who wanted to make a difference and isn't afraid to make the tough decisions and lead us, even in the face of perhaps the greatest danger the modern world has ever faced. An exceedingly human President, who is there to serve at a time when we need somebody the most.