Their job was to beat Rice, and that is what they did.
James Michener, in his foreword to Red McCombs' book, "The Red Zone," talked about how sport reflects life.
"People in sports, no matter how they isolate themselves and defy change, reflect the outside world. They reflect it in a way that makes writing about them relatively easy, because they conduct a large part of their business in plain view."
In this case, "in plain view" meant a national television audience and a largely burnt orange crowd of 45,764 in Houston's sparkling new Reliant Stadium.
You've heard this before, but it is worth repeating. In working with five head football coaches and five head basketball coaches, each had at least one positive perspective that is worth remembering. Bob Weltlich, who coached the Longhorn basketball team during some pretty dark times, was one of those.
Asked for speculation of how a team would respond from a loss or a prediction of what would happen in the future, Weltlich said, "It serves no purpose to discuss that." Somewhere on Tuesday, Weltlich must have been amused.
After 10 of their teammates sat through 90 minutes of intense media questioning at the press luncheon on Monday following last weekend's loss to Arkansas, the players decided that it would serve no purpose to speculate or predict.
Just go play.
Texas had one job last week, and that was to regroup and go on. Losses hurt immensely, but nothing you can do will bring another chance.
So while we're quoting from greats such as Michener, let's throw in the great philosopher Will Rogers. He was the one who said, and I may be paraphrasing here, "don't let yesterday take up too much of today."
If the riddance of distractions helped the 'Horns to concentrate on the Rice game, it is hard to argue with the results. The first half of the game, as Texas built a 41-0 lead with excellent play in all three phases of the game, was a picture of precision.
In a weekend when five of the nation's top 11 teams got beat, Texas won convincingly over a team it was supposed to defeat. It was not news that Texas beat Rice. What was good news was they way they went about it.
It was an ironic twist of fate that placed Texas in Houston at the Omni Houston Hotel, because that is where the Kansas City Chiefs were staying. Priest Holmes, the star running back for Kansas City and one of the best in the business, had a chance to stop by the UT running backs meeting to visit with guys who are playing right where he did seven years ago.
Holmes is a great example of the choices you make in a career. At one point as a Longhorn, Sunday after Sunday while the varsity worked out following a game, Priest Holmes worked harder and longer, rehabilitating from a knee injury which could have injured his career. He made the choice to work through the pain, and to work toward something, rather than worrying about things he could not change.
Now, he plays on Sundays, but still is the same great guy we knew here. Whatever he told the running backs, it was a good thing.
When the buses pulled into Austin, the orange top on the tower was still shining, even at 3 a. m. For the 33rd time in their last 41 games, the lights were on. At dawn, the lights went off. Film reviews on Sunday and Monday will put the Rice victory behind them, just as it did the Arkansas loss the week before.
As Michener reflected on sports reflecting on life, so it is with challenges and successes. At some point, you can look back and reflect, but if you do that in the middle of a season, you're headed for disaster.
Try walking up a set of stairs looking backwards, looking at where you are standing, or looking only at the level of the next floor.
There is a great chance you will stumble on your next step.
Sports does mirror life, and in no place more certainly in the learning of lessons. A week ago, Texas learned a hard and painful lesson that if you don't come ready to play and somebody else does, you can get beat. Twenty-game home winning streaks are great to get used to, but they are not guaranteed and they are not permanent.
By the same token, the Rice game taught a lesson that if you are prepared and play your best, you are capable of some really special things.
Imbedded in that Rice win were some really exciting things for Longhorn football. But the key to lasting success in college football, and probably in life, is to not get too high in the high moments, or too low in the low moments. Sport is like a roller coaster in that way.
High points and low points are part of the ride, but when you get out of the car, it is important to land on your feet on level ground.