In a few days, at the official luncheon, they will show highlights of the seasons of Texas and Washington State.
For Vince Young, the video he saw Saturday was what was important.
The teams of the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl gathered in the vast hangar area of the USS John Stennis at the annual Navy & Marine Corps Luncheon, where they were joined by young Marines and crew members of the nuclear powered Nimitz class aircraft carrier.
And as Vince visited with the young sailor seated next to him, he watched an incredible video of the power, and the heart, of what American service men and women have done in defense of freedom in Iraq.
John "Jay" Pavlica, who spent his last day at work as one of the sailors whose responsibility it is to keep the nuclear engines of the great ship running, remembers a clear day in the Pacific a couple of years ago. He had just gone off duty as the Stennis was headed to its home port here in San Diego. He got to a TV set just in time to see the second tower hit.
The Stennis quickly was called to duty to protect the West Coast, and soon after, she was deployed and headed to the North Arabian Sea, where she would spend the next months operating in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The engines that Pavlica helped keep running powered a ship that conducted 111 days of combat flight operations into Afghanistan, and completed over 10,600 sorties.
Pavlica, of Round Rock, will enroll at UT in January and study molecular biology.
Eric Hinistroza of Thorndale, who has been Pavlica's roommate, also is a engineering specialist who works with the nuclear engines. For him, having the Longhorns in the Holiday Bowl was special. In his third year of an eight year contract with the Navy, Hinistroza was thrilled that Texas was in San Diego.
His duty station this day was to show visitors around, but that was his job. His quest was to garner the autographs of Roy Williams and Cedric Benson for his sons, Eric Dirk and Caden Anthony Hinistroza, who are back home in Austin.
Though this is the third time in four years Texas has been in the Holiday Bowl, the meaning of the luncheon aboard the great ship is an experience that always is profound.
"It was beautiful," Young said. "Especially that video."
The video was a montage of what has happened in the country of Iraq over the last nine months. But it wasn't only about the "shock and awe" that set fires burning across the Baghdad skyline. It was about Marines hugging kids, and the joy of freedom. A "high five" from a Marine to an Iraqi boy. A female Marine cradling a Iraqi baby. A hospital, a market. A glimpse of a side of the war that too often the media neglects to tell us about.
That was what Vince and his fellow student athletes saw, and as they looked around, they realized that the men and women of the U.S. Military aren't all that different from themselves.
Saturday was the final day of heavy practice for Texas, and it came on a picture perfect San Diego morning. The field at UCSB was a bit damp, but the Longhorns got solid work.
At the luncheon, equipment manager Chip Robertson was selected by the coaches and team to receive the Admiral's Trophy, given to an individual whose contributions to the team have been in the total commitment of helping it succeed.
As the Longhorns strolled across the deck of the great carrier, which is almost four football fields long, the San Diego skyline rose dramatically over the blue water of San Diego Bay.
A pilot stood beside his Marine attack helicopter, talking to the visitors. On one of the helicopters, the pilot, a Texan from Arlington, had written "Hook 'em Horns."
Quickly, the mind flashed back to a scene from the video at the luncheon. An F18 Hornet about to take off on a mission, carried a painted message on its side: "Hijack This!"
At the other end of the flight deck, another pilot was talking about his missions in Iraq. He had flown there, not only during the 30 days of the initial invasion, but in the continued efforts to wipe out pockets of organized resistance. He had spent nine months there, fighting so that the young men with whom he spoke could have the freedom to celebrate holidays, wear what they wanted to, and play the game of football in peace. "It certainly wasn't fun," he said. "But it was worth it."
In that moment, and in the days that will follow, that will be what the players and staff who visited the Stennis will remember.
The speakers at the luncheon kept drawing parallels between the teamwork it takes to be in the United States Military and that which it takes to be part of a successful football program. Clearly, the message Saturday was about that, only the stakes are considerably different.
Most of all, Saturday aboard the USS John C. Stennis was about respect. Respect for the awesomeness of the great ship itself, for its immense size and devastating power. And as the teams rode across the Navy Base to and from the ship, past other great gray warriors docked here in San Diego, it was also respect for all that America is capable of in defense of freedom.
All of that was important. But the pictures that mattered to Vince and his teammates were about the people, the human side of trying to make this a better world.
There, it was about Jay and Eric, the 5,500 who live on the Stennis, and the thousands of others who serve their country.
They, like the Longhorns and the Cougars, are the young. They wear different uniforms.
And they have restored the meaning of words like battle, war, and most of all, heroes.