What you learn about people is that you can learn a little something from everybody and this is the most important thing I learned from former Longhorns basketball coach Bob Weltich.
Once, when a reporter had asked him a hypothetical question, he replied, "It serves no purpose to discuss it."
So it is with the Texas/Oklahoma game. In the midst of a Big 12 campaign and a still-promising football season, it is better to remember one of the axioms of Mack Brown's philosophy, never let a defeat beat you twice.
What we know about the events that unfolded Saturday at the Cotton Bowl as Oklahoma defeated the Longhorns is that "it serves no purpose" to replay it. The series stands as it has always stood: one of momentum. In the game, one team will have it for a while and then the other. So it is a streak that usually has winning streaks.
Texas has won 8 of the last 14 games. With Saturday's 35-24 victory, Oklahoma has now won three straight. Prior to that, the Longhorns won three in a row. All of that we know in logic. In emotion, it hurts, just as it would have for the Sooners had they lost. When the No. 2 and No. 3 teams in the nation play, somebody gets to win. There are no ties in college football anymore.
The nation saw a televised showcase of Big 12 football. Football's a tough game to play or to call. It was a game of field position, turnovers and the kicking game. The Longhorns' average starting field position was their own 29-yard line, while the Sooners started at their own 41. Going in, that's what Brown said would decide the game and it did.
For the casual viewer who didn't have an orange or red stake in the game, it was a great one to watch.
Each team had its heroes of the moment, and in the end, the Texas defense just wore down from having to stay on the field too long.
The Longhorns are mad, the Sooners are happy and that really sums it up. There was a time when the Texas/Oklahoma game carried an entirely different meaning than it does today. Back then, it was a non-conference national battle. Now, it is an important league game in the middle of the season. Look no farther than a year ago to figure that one out. UT lost the game, won six games in a row and still played for the conference championship.
That's why it is so important to employ Bob Weltich's philosophy. It serves absolutely no purpose to dwell any more on Texas and OU.
A poet once wrote, "You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what's that? Get up with a smiling face. It's nothing against you to fall down flat, but to lie there is a disgrace."
That is the challenge that faces Texas. For the third consecutive year, the Longhorns go on the road following the Oklahoma game. What we know about the two teams who play in Dallas every October is that most of the time, they each have a game the next week. The Longhorns are in the midst of 10 straight weekends of football and their trip to No. 17 Kansas State to play a very fine Wildcats team was going to be a challenge regardless of Saturday's outcome. It is after that, that UT returns home to play No. 9 Iowa State (which plays Oklahoma this weekend) and then to Nebraska the following weekend. It is a hard schedule, a year where a team already struck with a number of injuries has a physically demanding challenge.
By winning Saturday, Oklahoma gave itself an advantage in the Big 12 South Division. In 2000, the Sooners took advantage of it and won all the games. Last year, losses to Nebraska and Oklahoma State let Texas play its way back into the title race. In the three years Bob Stoops has been at Oklahoma, Texas has won the Big 12 South twice and Oklahoma once, but this year, the league is more balanced than ever.
A loss does not knock a team out of the league championship. or if the pattern to date holds, a chance at the National Championship.
In the old west, when the wagon trains came under attack, the best method of protection was to circle the wagons and defend your territory. So is the way in the world of college football. Two seasons ago, a grim Longhorns team went to Boulder and defeated Colorado, 28-14, in a game that was as important to the program as any in recent years. Last season, Texas rallied from an early 10-0 deficit to beat Oklahoma State, 45-17, in the first of six victories that put the Longhorns in the Big 12 Championship game.
Now, all of the focus has to be on the trip to Manhattan. It is the first meeting between Texas and Kansas State since 1999. Kansas State defeated Texas, 48-7, in Manhattan in 1998 with a defensive effort so strong it even bottled up Ricky Williams. Then, in 1999, the Wildcats handed Texas a 35-17 loss in Austin, which happens to be the last home defeat for UT.
This is a big game and it will be followed by big game after big game. Certainly the Oklahoma game will always be important, but we learned last year that in Big 12 football and college football in these times, what happens after it may well be more important.