For this Texas team, it is the joy of the competition which motivates them, moves them, and makes them jump.
Oct. 7, 2012
Bill Little, Texas Media Relations
In the modern world of texting shorthand slang, there are two acronyms that describe what happened when Texas and West Virginia played their first Big 12 game against each other at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Saturday.
The first is “OMG” - of which the most politically correct definition is “Oh My Gosh.”
The second is “VWP” which - if used at the final checkmate of a great game of chess - would find the conquered opponent saying to the conqueror, “Very Well Played.”
It has long been established that there are no “moral victories” when it comes to Texas football. That’s why the application of the ‘Horns’ “24-hour rule” (which allows reconsideration of the game for 24 hours, win or lose) is all the more necessary after the electric evening witnessed by a mega-national television audience and the largest college football crowd in state history.
When you win or lose, 48-45, in a football game that was more like a serve-and-volley tennis match, you can look at a handful of plays or events that made the difference for both the team that had the 48, and the team that had the 45.
It goes back to something that Longhorn legend James Street told his future Major League Baseball all-star son Huston:
“If you prepared as well as you could and played as hard as you could and the other guy wins, then walk across the field and congratulate him. Because on that night, he played better than you did.”
But for those who experienced the experience of the amazing crowd reaction and the quality of play by both teams, Saturday night should underscore the very best qualities of college football. In the state of Texas, college football is nigh onto a religion, and we worship it because it can exhilarate and depress - both at the same time. It is the perfect teamwork example that sport imitates life - a game played by imperfect young people who are pieces of adults.
The entire evening was a showcase of a new era of Longhorn football. In the last 50 years of football in what is now Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, there have been only a handful of games that this battle of new league foes could be matched against. Oh, there have been great opponents and great wins and a few significant losses, but the last time the Longhorns lost a conference shootout like this was a 14-13 game in 1964 when Darrell Royal and Frank Broyles of Arkansas ruled the old Southwest Conference. Losing close conference games in the final seconds has rarely been the Texas playbook in Austin.
Time will determine the place in history that this game will occupy and the immediate disappointment of the loss will give way almost immediately to the preparation for the upcoming Red River Rivalry battle with Oklahoma in Dallas this coming weekend. But for those who were there, it will forever be remembered as the night the stadium came alive. And because of one man’s quick decision, it will go down as the night we all danced.
Jeremy Armstrong is the new Director of Events for Longhorn athletics, and as such he is responsible for helping infuse the atmosphere at Texas games. Drawing from his experience in a similar role at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, Armstrong seized the moment when the Texas defense sacked quarterback Geno Smith and recovered the ensuing fumble for a touchdown that tied the game. While the TV replay booth examined the play, Jeremy whisked through his musical memory and ordered the playing of “Jump Around,” a 1992 song originally recorded by the group House of Pain. Soon, the Longhorn team had joined in, the student section had adopted it as their new theme song, and even the old folks on the west side were rocking and…well…jumping around.
The Longhorns who played this game will remember it as one that got away. It truly was like a tennis match, where you had to finally have two straight scores to win. It didn’t happen for Texas, and it did for West Virginia. In the locker room after the game, Mack Brown gave credit to the Mountaineers (who clearly could be the best team in the country right now), and he reminded his team that this season in the Big 12 has a long way to go. A quick glance at the weekend’s results reflects the power of what appears to be the strongest league in the country.
The game, and the night, will go to the bookshelf right alongside the last minute win at Oklahoma State just a week before. Your goal when teaching young people is that they will see what they did well, and learn from opportunities missed.
The credit to Saturday night, however, will come from the reaction of everybody there to House of Pain’s song. Perhaps unnoticed in the amazing scene of the Texas players and fans dancing was the fact that the West Virginia players were dancing, too. The Mountaineers’ outstanding quarterback Geno Smith addressed the atmosphere in his post game comments when he said, “we were having a blast.”
It is perhaps easier to do that when you win, and it is certainly not fun to lose, but in the grand scheme of things it is important to remember that this is a game, played by young people. They “get it” because they love to play. They are glad when they win and sad when they lose. Most of all, however, it is the joy of the competition which motivates them, moves them, and makes them jump.