Bill Little commentary: Learning from the memories
Oct. 22, 2010
Bill Little, Texas Media Relations
Reunions, it seems, are good for two basic things. The first is the combination of memories and camaraderie. The second is that they are reminders of how old you really are.
I thought of that as I listened Friday morning to the “Bucky and Bob Show” on our Longhorn flagship station of KVET-FM, and heard the alumni band, conducted by Vincent R. DiNino, play the “Eyes of Texas” and “Texas Taps” (the actual name of the fight song), right there in the studio at Penn Field in South Austin.
The match-up with Iowa State Saturday is a critical step for this 2010 football team, and Mack Brown has asked that all hands report on deck for support in this one. Coming off a great win at Nebraska, Brown feels it is critical for the Longhorns to not take a backward step as they begin the second half of the season.
The day will also include several significant recognitions. First, UT Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds will be honored by the Texas Exes with their Distinguished Service Award. Dodds is one of only a couple of people to be so honored who were not UT graduates, but have been honored for their many contributions to The University of Texas.
It’s also Alumni Band Day, and that’s why Vince and the gang were playing in the KVET studio on Friday morning. And it reminded me that 50 years ago, I was a freshman at UT attending summer orientation. I remember finding the Band Hall in the old barracks beside Clark Field where the Performing Arts Center now stands, and introducing myself to the band director, a fellow named Vince DiNino.
A trombone player from the award winning Winters High School Band, I was hoping to find a place in the Longhorn Band. Turns out I was too late. Vince was nice, but said he already had more than enough trombone players. At that time, the band usually marched with 16. He had committed to 20 already.
So I went away, took my journalism major to the Daily Texan and to a job as a student assistant in the Texas Sports Information Office, and the rest is history. It is true that when a door closes, a window opens.
Saturday, Vince and approximately 1,000 former members of the Longhorn Band will take the field with today’s version of the “Showband of the Southwest” and prove that, even though the body has changed, the heart is still the same.
At 92, Vince will climb the ladder and direct the band for yet another time as director emeritus of the band. His is a legend, all its own. In the history of the Longhorn Hall of Honor (which was started in 1957), only three people have been inducted who were not in some official capacity involved with Texas men’s athletics. Vince is one. The late Frank Erwin, a former member of the Board of Regents, and the late Lou Maysel, a former sports writer who became the football program’s unofficial historian are other two.
The most significant “old memory” of the day, however, belongs to Mack Brown himself. Thirty-two seasons ago, in 1979, Brown was a receivers coach at Iowa State University, and he was on the sidelines when the Cyclones shocked the Longhorns with a 9-0 halftime lead, before falling to one of Fred Akers’ best teams, 17-9. He, better than anyone, knows the passion the Cyclones will bring into Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
This 2010 football season, which is just beginning its second half for most teams (including the Longhorns), has turned out to be the most unpredictable in recent memory. Just when you think you have things figured out, think again.
Iowa State is a perfect example. The Cyclones came into the season on a high, after winning seven games last year, including a victory over Nebraska in Lincoln and a win in the Insight Bowl. Seven of their opponents rank in the top 22 of the national rankings this week. Their 3-4 record includes a pounding of Texas Tech, and losses to top 10 teams Iowa, Utah, and Oklahoma. They have the biggest offensive line the ‘Horns have faced, and despite back-to-back lopsided losses to Utah and Oklahoma, Brown and his staff are preaching respect and diligence to the Texas team. They need only remind them, and the media and the Texas fans, that they forgot to do that against UCLA and a 16-game home winning streak came to a screeching halt.
The back-to-back losses to the Bruins and the Sooners seemed a distant memory after the Longhorns’ 20-13 victory over Nebraska. The “second season” includes a schedule that has the Longhorns playing at home in five of their final six games. It would be easy, of course, to project what might happen if Texas won them all, but right now Mack and the staff are intent on focusing on the fact that the most important game remaining on Texas’ schedule is…The Next One.
When I was a kid, back before I headed over trying to make Vince’s band, my grandmother left me a poem which I wound up reading for a UIL competition more than those 50 years ago. I won’t trouble you with the whole thing, but you will get the point when I tell you that the poem, which had no title and no listed author, began, “This is the thing I would have you learn, nothing is yours to keep….”
And the ending said simply, “he that shall come to the best life has must give to the world…his best.”
For reunions, for memories, for hopes and for dreams—past and present—that pretty well sums things up.