One of the more memorable moments in Texas Longhorn football history occurred on the field of the Cotton Bowl, moments before National Champion Texas met Roger Staubach and No. 2 ranked Navy in the 1964 Classic.
The television announcers, in an interview actually piped over the stadium public address system, interviewed the two coaches, Wayne Hardin of Navy and Darrell Royal of Texas.
Texas had already been crowned National Champion, since the polls were finished before the bowl games in those days (largely because perennial contender Notre Dame had a policy against going to bowls). But Hardin had taken exception to Texas' right to the title in his comments leading up to the game.
So when the announcer thrust the microphone in Hardin's face, he gave an answer that went something like "When the challenger meets the champion, and the challenger wins, there is a new champion."
Webster says that's "an invitation to compete in sports."
And that is what happened Saturday in Lubbock.
Texas Tech, fresh from a 70-10 home victory over Nebraska and bolstered by strong performances on the South Plains against Texas, threw down the gauntlet issuing a challenge to the No. 8 ranked Longhorns.
The odds-makers, based on a heavy run on bets on Texas Tech, even made the Red Raiders a one-point favorite in the game. The media predicted victory for the folks from Lubbock, the Tech fans were confident and the Longhorn fans were at best apprehensive. Fact is, most of them were down right scared.
But while other folks were talking, the Texas coaches and their players were working.
Greg Davis had put together a DVD of the best plays of his young quarterback, Vince Young, and he had him study himself. It was the classic case of going back to BEING Vince Young, rather than feeling you have to PROVE you are Vince Young.
While a lot of folks fretted about the quarterback's delivery styles, Mack Brown shared with his staff words on passing technique from an old book with a faded cover which he keeps on his desk.
"If a player throws the ball freely and accurately, his coach will not be worried about his method of holding it," it read, "As in the execution of other fundamentals, RESULTS COUNT."
The book, by the way, was published in 1946 by former Longhorn coach D. X. Bible, recognized as one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game.
So the offensive staff went about the business of concocting a game plan that would mix Young's skills as a passer and a runner with the running power game of Cedric Benson.
In the defensive staff room, Greg Robinson, Duane Akina, Dick Tomey and Mike Tolleson were actually having fun. Texas Tech offered a challenge to the men who love to compete. Some folks fear a challenge; these guys relished it.
Any time anybody talked of the Texas Tech game being a shootout, Robinson and the other defense coaches increased their determination to keep it from being just that. And so, they built a plan to dismantle the vaunted "Air Raid" of Texas Tech.
At practice in the "bubble," when Texas would work on its approach to attack Tech's offense, Robinson had a twinkle in his eyes. A guy who comes from a family of lawyers, he was about to present his case on Saturday.
Darrell Royal once quoted Plato as saying there are four kinds of people: those who don't know, and don't know that they don't know; those who know, but don't know that they know; those who don't know, and know that they don't know; and finally, those who know, and KNOW that they know.
And Greg Robinson knew.
The greatest gift of coaching is to be able to instill in your players a plan, and have them execute it. The mark of a coach is not what he knows, but what his players have learned.
Saturday night in Lubbock, it all came together for Texas.
You could make a case that the 51-21 victory over the Red Raiders was a victory of an era. It was the most complete victory over a very good football team by a Longhorn squad in a long, long time.
The offensive plan was based on ball control and no turnovers. At the end of the third quarter, Texas had held the ball for 29 minutes and 41 seconds. Twenty seconds into the fourth quarter, Texas Tech could have had the ball for the remainder of the game and still lost the time of possession ratio. At the end, Texas had the ball for 40 minutes and Tech, with a late flurry against the second team, had it for only 20 minutes.
When the Longhorns scored their final touchdown with 9:15 remaining in the fourth quarter to make the score, 48-14, Texas Tech had managed only 247 yards of total offense and had run only 45 total plays. Texas finished the game with 86 offensive snaps to only 62 for Tech.
Clearly, it was an important game for Vince Young, who was starting only the 14th game of his college career. It was classic Cedric Benson, who made his last appearance in West Texas just like so many of those that he had as a high school star in Midland.
You could go on and on about the heroes, about the offensive line and the much maligned receiving corps. You could single out almost every player on defense for a superlative effort.
But then, it was, as Mr. Bible put it so well, "As in the execution of other fundamentals, RESULTS COUNT."
It is important to remember that this Texas Tech game fell at a different place in the schedule than it has in recent years. Tucked just the week before Texas A&M in the slot of the next to the last game of the season recently, it has either set the table for a single-game finish or delivered a heartbreaking blow to post season hopes.
Now, there is much work yet to do. The Longhorns have two potentially dangerous road games against Colorado and Kansas, and two home games against South Division contenders Oklahoma State and Texas A&M remaining before the regular season is done.
So there will be only a short window of opportunity to appreciate what happened in Lubbock. Sunday, Texas practiced on correcting the things that didn't go well against Tech, as the coaches began their marathon hours of preparation Sunday and Monday to get in place to play Colorado.
The challenge of Texas Tech was met, and handled.
All of which brings us back to our original story.
In that pregame moment 40 years ago in Dallas, when the Navy coach delivered his challenge, the announcer then turned to Darrell Royal, coach of the National Champions, and asked him for his response.
"When the challenger meet the champion, and the challenger wins, then there is a new champion," Hardin had said.
To which Royal delivered a two-word answer.
"We're ready," was all that he said.
And Saturday night in Lubbock, so were the Longhorns of 2004.