Yesterday was supposed to be the best day of my life. After seven years of hard work and dedication, I was officially selected as a Judge Advocate General for the U.S. Army. I've dreamed about that moment for years, and the setting was perfect. My girlfriend was in town from New Jersey, my family was in Austin, and we had planned a day trip to the Alamo. The most important people in the world to me were in town to celebrate the watershed moment of my life. After being overcome by the news and sending out an e-mail to friends and family, I found myself thinking one thing: maybe THIS will make me feel better about last night. But, of course, as soon as that thought popped up into my head, I knew the battle was already lost. Sure enough, and soon enough, the numbness resurfaced.
And that's what this post is really about--numbness. It's not about anything associated with "What If's," as those scenarios have been endlessly discussed on all forums. It's not about giving our team their well-deserved pat-on-the-back, as others have effectively done. It's not even about lip-licking over the 2010 defense or 2011 offense. It's about dealing with how last night seems to have created an unexpected feeling (numbness) over an unfamilar event (losing a football game) to a significant number of fans. I've been devastated, I've been furious, I've even been mildly annoyed, but I dont think I've ever been completely and entirely numb.
After the jump, I want to attempt to contextualize the overall experience and offer a suggestion...
I sat in my room last night endlessly flitting between and refreshing the various Longhorns websites, hoping that someone could framework my feelings and then snap me out of my funk. Several of my friends today said they did the same thing...read, refresh, and keep searching for the solace that wasn't there. There can be no immediate solace when a loss doesn't feel like a loss, but it doesn't come close to feeling like a win, either. We were losers who were not beaten at our best, but each of the stated or presumed victories from the game feel too hollow to offer any actual short-term comfort. I'm sorry, but saying "at least SEC Fans cant say that they dominated us in the championship game" or "we would have won with Colt" isn't going to make me sleep easier tonight. I'm proud--damn proud--of our team and coaches for never giving up, but that's not enough right now. I'm proud enough to avoid being angry or disappointed, but I still find myself playing the "what if game" enough--and on so many different levels--to remain unable to let go of the loss.
Time will try to heal all wounds, and we've had quite a few of them lately. The back-to-back-to-back championship losses in baseball, volleyball, and football loom large over the staggering success of our most popular sports. The nature of these losses only exacerbates the disappointment, as each title felt within reach before we collectively watched defeat get snatched from the jaws of victory. There's no magic salve to immediately fix these mental wounds, especially the ones caused by the football game. However, while 2010 may be solely remembered by Longhorns fans for what happened (and didnt happen) on Thursday evening, this year isn't over yet. Not by a long shot. In case you forgot, "We're Texas," and that extends past our success on the gridiron. That singular reminder is what is helping me try to move forward, and I want each of you to come along for the ride.
Football may be King in this school and at this state, but there are some Princes who deserve your immediate attention. While one magical team was decimated five plays into a championship game, our other magical team is in the middle of an incredible season. A third highly-ranked (and potentially magical) team is still waiting for their season to start. We will never see Colt McCoy hoisting up a crystal trophy, but we might get to see Damion James cut down a piece of a net in Indianapolis. We will never see Earl Thomas intercept another pass or Sergio Kindle sack another quarterback, but we might get to see Taylor Jungmann toss his glove twenty feet in the air before being suffocated in a dogpile on the mound at Omaha. And we might see each of these things within the next few months.
If you want my suggestion to snap out of feeling numb, here it is. Do yourself a favor and print off a basketball schedule. Do yourself another favor and circle the Kansas game on February 8th. Then put a gold star next to that circle, just to make sure you dont forget. Next, circle the calendar for March 1st, which will be the Senior Day for Damion James, Dexter Pittman, and Justin Mason--cant miss that, can you? Finally, do yourself a final favor and buy general admission tickets to the game against Colorado tomorrow afternoon. It's conference season, and it's time to shine.
If none of that works--and even if it does--I suggest reading the passage from Awiggo that concluded our initial Roundball Roundtable. I think it remains one of the most powerful and prophetic things ever written on this site.
Awiggo: On BON, we've talked about what it will take for the basketball team to move to the next level. The next level where the football program has lived, realistically or not, for a long time. The next level where good is not good enough and great is expected every season. Rick Barnes' arrival and subsequent recruiting successes have made this discussion possible. The alignment of young talent combined with the decisions of Dex and James to stick around for another season make this season the arrival of that level.
The season ticket holders may still stay home till conference season, the press may not pay attention until after Pasadena, and even most BON readers may not feel the passion, but this is the season. If moving to the next level means demanding and expecting a championship, then let me say that is what I expect. I know that March is crazy and anything can happen in a single elimination tournament. However, if this team is healthy in March, then I expect to cut down the nets in Indianapolis.
If you wait to watch this team until March, that's your fault...