Since the offseason is always a great time to look back on past games, as whills did here, I was thinking about past games last night, good and bad. One game leaped into my memory: The 2001 Big 12 title game, almost universally considered the most painful loss in the Mack Brown era. I realized that I have never rewatched the game or even watched highlights of it after the fact. Of course, I never really wanted to do that, for fear that I might break something after doing so, but fans have to take in the bad with the good. I also wondered: Has nearly nine years been enough time? Is the game as bad as I remember? Are the images burned in my mind exaggerated by my anger and grief, or they completely accurate portrayals of what went down that game? To find that out, I struck up some courage and slowly typed out the words "2001 Big 12 championship" into the Youtube search bar. A few seconds later, a highlight video popped up, so I took a deep breath, clicked on it, and let the horrific memories come back to life for me. I'm not exactly sure why I do this to myself, but since I was only in high school during the game (which really didn't make it any better), perhaps I felt I should re-experience it as a graduate of the University of Texas.
Here's the video. Click at your own risk.
2001 Big 12 Football Championship Game (via Big12Conference)
Okay, after thinking about some happy times, let's move on.
A few thoughts about the game:
1. I watched it with surprising calm and took it in as history; it happened, it sucked, but in many respects, enough time has passed for me to at least watch the thing without turning away in disgust.
2. That being said, I have to say that, yes, it's just as bad as I remember. The game started so well and went sour so quickly, it was hard to wrap your mind around it. The defense got ran over, Chris Simms was awful, and a talented Texas team lost to a Buff team that they had walloped earlier in the season.
3. As calm as I was, I could feel some old emotions return as I watched these highlights. I grimaced and winced at every Chris Simms mistake, and I still shook my head in disbelief on his last interception, where Colorado returned it for a TD while Benson and Mike Williams knocked each other out of the game. I even went back and watched that part again just to torture myself. That is still one of the most absurd plays I have ever seen. And when Geigger hit the punter, I put my head in my hands and let out a very bitter, sarcastic laugh. Oh boy. I was ready to watch these highlights, but nonetheless, they reminded me that however crappy the MNC loss was and however bad the 2008 Texas Tech loss was, this one still takes the cake.
4. I have no doubt that there have been quarterbacks who played worse halves of football, but I am struggling to think of Texas one during Mack Brown's time. I've seen Colt and VY have bad games, but nothing like that. That was the mother of all meltdowns. I still feel much sympathy for Simms and his horrible treatment at the hands of many students, but goodness me, that was as bad as you could possibly script a half.
5. When Major came in and threw that 79 yard bomb to B.J. Johnson, I let out a small smile and slight pump of my fist, especially watching Applewhite defiantly gesture to the Colorado sideline that this game wasn't over. Because of guys like Major, Colt, and VY, I believe in that mysterious "it" factor for quarterbacks. Those guys had that fire. From a talent standpoint, Simms was far superior to Major, but Applewhite is the type of guy that you would follow eagerly into battle. It is unfortunate that he was unable to complete the comeback and add to his legend, but if he did, that might have created the most heated and divisive QB controversy in the history of college football going into the NC game against Miami.
Anyway, allow me to summarize the game in this manner:
-Texas takes early lead and looks to start the rout. ELATION
-Chris Simms meltdown begins. CONFUSION, ANGER, PANIC
-Cedric Benson and Mike Williams knock each other out of the game on a Simms interception. DISBELIEF, FURY
-Major Applewhite throws that bomb. ELATION, RELIEF
-Colorado continues to pound at the Texas defense. DESPERATION, ANXIETY
-Colorado stupidly goes for a fake punt that gets returned for a TD. ELATION, CONFIDENCE
-Colorado slowly crawls up the field. FRUSTRATION
-Colorado is forced to punt. CONFIDENCE
-Geigger hits the punter. FURY, PANIC, DISBELIEF... everything
-Colorado hits FG to put the game out of reach. DISBELIEF, SADNESS, ANGER
-Major leads a desperate Texas drive but Texas does not recover the onside kick. DEPRESSION
For those new fans who have never seen the game, if you are brave enough, try to find the whole thing and watch it. It will probably still bring out some disbelieving anger, and will certainly be a "ruthless memory" for a long, long time. Some fans will find recent losses worse than this one, but for me personally, this one is Mack's crappiest loss. Now, if time ran out on Texas in this past Big 12 title game, that one would probably win out, but luckily the right call was made and Hunter Lawrence bailed us out. Come to think of it, do we really want Big 12 title games to continue in Dallas?