The world of big-time college football is like one of those revolving restaurants that are located atop tall buildings. Just when you get to a really great vista, the room turns.
Every now and then, you'd just like to stop the world and say, "that was way cool."
Here is the scene: A warm-for-the-season day, with the sun beating down on Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Sweat pours from the players, hard at work.
In conditioning drills with the strength coaches and the trainers.
Such is the life of the Texas Longhorns, a day after a tremendous victory over Nebraska. There isn't time to stop and enjoy it. Upstairs, coaches are reviewing videos, getting ready for a team meeting. By the end of the day, the only visible part of the win will be the remnants of the "victory dinner" the team will share for the evening meal.
But in this space on this day, it is appropriate to look back at a completely wonderful complete victory over a very good program, and a very good team.
Entering the game, a key was considered winning the turnover battle. Texas did not. Another was getting an edge in the kicking game, and both teams did some good things there.
What is darned amazing, and way cool if you would, is that Texas beat Nebraska -- make that dominated Nebraska -- 31-7, without winning the turnover battle or the kicking game. This one belonged to rock-solid defense and an offense that is evolving each week.
"Where," asked the deacon in the church, "did we all of a sudden get a football team?"
First of all, that's a trick question. This was a team that had played six really good games and two bad ones. Teams that are ranked among the nation's Top 20 do not qualify as chopped liver. But there are a couple of very important points here.
It serves no purpose to replay either the Arkansas or the Oklahoma game on paper. You can't undo what is done. Arkansas was good enough to climb into the Nation's Top 10, and Oklahoma is a solid No. 1. Texas turned the ball over five times against one and six against the other.
At 4-2, after the strapping from Oklahoma, this team -- these coaches and players -- had a decision to make. There were six games left to be played. On the road at Iowa State and at Baylor, hidden from view because the games weren't televised. Texas went back to work.
And each week, this very young team, following its veteran leaders, is growing up.
One of the popular heroes of Broadway theater is a little boy in the musical "Les Miserables." The feisty kid is named Gavroche. And at one point in the show, he challenges the big bad guy who represents all that is wrong with French authority in 1815.
"We may look easy pickings," he bravely sings, "but we've got some bite. So never kick a dog, because he's just a pup...we'll fight like twenty armies and we won't give up. So you'd better run for cover..."
"When the pup grows up."
Let's make something very clear here. This is a great chance for Texas fans to take a day and feel very good about where this team was on Saturday. It is not, nor should it be, a bold prediction of what might be. We'll leave that to the scribes of the local papers, who two days before the game wanted to banish Texas to a bowl the writers deemed as a consolation prize. Sunday, the same folks had the Longhorns as a strong candidate for a BCS bid. Such is the nature of today's media.
Fact is, either is possible, and as Mack said on his Sunday conference call, "There will be more discussion about the BCS than there will be about Iraq over the next weeks. And nobody has any idea what is going to happen."
How, for example, do you figure that one week West Virginia kills Virginia Tech, and the next week, Virginia Tech manhandles Miami? Face it, the only thing consistent in this football season has been Oklahoma, and the Sooners even stuttered in a game that was in doubt in the fourth quarter at Colorado.
And Saturday -- and let's make sure we are talking only about Saturday -- Texas was the clearly the second best team in the Big 12, a really good football team in the shadow of what may be a great team in Oklahoma.
Now, as the guys ran and worked on Sunday, they have to file Saturday away and get ready for an excellent Oklahoma State team on the road in Stillwater -- a team that shares with Texas the fact that both were beaten handily by the Sooners. Both teams have 7-2 records.
The Cowboys will be the fifth team out of its 10 opponents which Texas has played that at some point during this season earned a Top 10 ranking.
Brown has used an effective message to his team in his years of coaching, saying folks will "remember November." And the first game of this November, 2003, will rank as a very special victory. Saturday night in Stillwater may be an entirely different story. It is a year of the weird in college football. Youth is exciting, but part of what makes it so is you have absolutely no idea what is going to happen next. This is a team that is learning as it grows, and growing as it learns.
Our little buddy Gavroche, however, didn't hesitate to jump out there and challenge folks. And neither does this football team. © Copyright 1998-2003 University of Texas. All rights reserved world wide.