Happy Holidays to one and all.
A few weeks ago I suddenly wondered just how many of the 831 games Texas has won had I been witness to in one fashion or another, and how many of those victories had occurred in my period of interest with the Longhorns. So, I did most of the research that is related deeper in this post and then let it stir around in my mind until I came across the propitious moment.
Then something disconcerting happened a couple of days ago. The Austin American-Statesman rolled out a front page of sports feature about Texas eclipsing Notre Dame in total victories. Somewhat close to what I had in mind, but not quite. On top of that, the AA-S put the jinx in. Notre Dame won last night, whipping up on Hawaii, and now we're tied. I deduce they were actually afraid ND would win and tone down their slack time, no-big-news, front-of-the-sports-page filler. I would have put Slinging Sammy Baugh's funeral on that page anyway; better story and it actually was news. But that would have been more holiday work, so....
Let's jump down to something for which we can be thankful.
I started my time of viewing Texas Longhorn football right around 1960. Our local football coach, my neighbor for many years, would take a bunch of us down there in his beat-up old green station wagon; tickets were just a dollar in the Knot Hole section in the north end zone.
You couldn't have lived in the Austin area without knowing about the Longhorns, but the scale of just walking into Memorial Stadium the first time stunned my small town outlook. Reading the sports pages was one thing; watching on black-and-white TV another, but being there was altogether different. Simply put, I was hooked. Have been ever since. I still haven't figured how many games I've seen eyes-on in this period, although roughly it's about 20%. However, how many Texas won can be figured quite accurately.
So, I counted games by 10-year generations for this, from 00-09:
* Decade W-L-T
* 1960s 86-19-3
* 1970s 88-28-1
* 1980s 73-42-2
* 1990s 74-44-2
* 2000s 96-18-0
As soon as you lay eyes on this, you can see the flow of Longhorn fortunes. The glories of the '60s with two MNC's and several close misses, but those middle years from 65-67 added to the losses. The good years continue into the 70s, more victories, but the number of losses start increasing as DKR's career waned a bit.
Obviously, the 1980s and 1990s were far worse, at the rate of nearly one less win (and another loss) per year.
The late 90s even enjoyed the benefit of a couple of Mack Brown years in this calculation (18-8: 9-3, 9-5).
Here we are in the new century and it is obviously a golden era. Those of you who have gone to Texas since 2000 have experienced something that might not be repeated. Not only are 96 victories the most for a decade - any decade since 1893 - the good news is that there is a bowl game and next year still to go, with a total of 111 victories possible [edited from 114]. This is really where Mack Brown and staff should receive all our accolades, for this is an incredible achievement.
That's 10.67 wins per year and only 2 losses for the last 9 years..
Of course, more scheduled games and consistent bowl appearances (Texas is second only to Alabama in those) have bloated some of the numbers, but you still have to win the games. When 9-3 (2000) is the worst record in the decade, that says a hell of a lot. Darrell K. Royal perhaps could have equaled this in his 60s heyday with the additional game - the 19 losses are the key. Darrell won 75.6% in that '60s period while Brown is coasting along at 84.2%, so even that is conclusive.
Of Texas' 831 victories, 417 have been won from 1960 onward. In the period of 1893-1959 Texas garnered 414 wins, a little over 6 wins per year. Of course, it wasn't until 1901 that the Horns even played a 10-game schedule, gong 8-2-1 that season. We ought to change centuries more often.
Now, perhaps, it is more understandable why the University wants to sustain continuity of this coaching regime. This is unprecedented success. Texas just didn't get better and join the elite once again: they just muscled their way in and then found the process and the means, the coaches and players, to stay there in the clouds of Mt. Olympus.
I know we expect a hell of a lot from the Horns, and we have the word count to prove it. But, we are also so lucky to be a part of such an era, to share in so many great victories, to create a community where we can interact and get they whole wave of information and just let this luxury wash over us. The players come, the players go, but the constant remaining is Longhorn victory on the field of play.
This is a special age. If you follow sports at all, you understand how rare such occurrences are. So cherish this for what it is. Merry Christmas.
And tell the Big Orange Santa Hook 'Em Horns for being so good to us.