I know I sound like a broken record, but spending seven years at Texas taught me a lot of life lessons. In fact, most of the important lessons in my life--in a variety of fields--occurred during my time on the Forty Acres. But, thankfully, I started following the Longhorns well before arriving on campus. I was only in middle school when Mack Brown became our head coach, but I fully remember the circumstances of his arrival. More specifically, I remember the losing seasons that both predated and ended John Mackovic's tenure on campus. Most specifically, I remember crying during 66-3.
To this extent, in reading this year's version of The Eyes of Texas, I especially enjoyed the articles that dissected the early portions of Mack Brown's tenure on campus. In looking back at older versions of our running game, QB developments, and the state of the overall program, it really helps place his 12-year tenure in context. Essentially, to understand where we are ("Romancing Each Other Since 2004"), it's important to remember where we've come from. It hasn't always been our birthright to win 10-13 games every season. In fact, winning 10 games was something that David McWilliams and John Mackovic were able to accomplish exactly twice during their combined 11 years as head coach. And, as I'm learning, that essential sense of perspective is something lost on the current generation of UT students.
I know that nothing from the last paragraph is a surprise to the readers of this site. We're Texas, but now, thanks to Vince/Mack/whoever, We ARE Texas. It's simple enough, and I don't mean for this post to merely rehash well-covered ground. The purpose of this post runs a bit deeper. After the jump, I'm going to anecdotally examine the effect of Mack's dominance on the perceptions of the most recent groups of UT Graduates. You know, the ones who first started following the team when Vince Young was our quarterback.
Most of my best friends went to Texas, but, thanks to law school, I've been able to broaden my circle of friends over the last few years. Last weekend, I went to visit a friend from law school at his ranch house. He went to A&M for undergrad and bought season tickets for Kyle Field this year. Over dinner, we were joined by one of his hometown friends who'd been living in Lubbock. In making the necessary introductions, my friend said that I was "one of the only tolerable UT students our age that I've ever met. He loves the Longhorns, he even *writes* about the Longhorns, but he's not an insufferable douche about them. It's almost like he remembers things that happened before 2004, and he doesn't constantly belittle the other teams in the conference."
His statement caught me a little off-guard. In pushing him (and later others) for a further explanation, my friend said that he usually only enjoys associating or talking shop with older UT alumni. In his opinion, which has been echoed by others, the majority of young UT alumni have become increasingly and aggressively arrogant about our place in college football and obnoxiously address any questions over any potential shortcomings by declaring that Will Muschamp will be EVEN BETTER than Mack Brown. These unequivocal declarations of superiority forever and ever by Texas fans serve as both the starting and stopping point of any relevant discussion. The perception of most people I talked to--usually A&M or Tech grads--is that the worst offenders are the ones who had the most tenuous connections to UT before arriving as a student. As a Texas fan who mostly associates with other Texas fans, I dont have enough of a perspective to say whether they're wrong, but it wouldn't surprise me if they're right.
But, before further analyzing whether they are right or wrong (or what it even means), it's important to understand the nature of their claims. I don't think their point was that Texas fans shouldn't be proud of our school. We should be. All those 10+ win seasons happened, and they are officially part of our history. We did win the national title in 2005, and we have won 69 of our past 78 games. That's pretty good. Additionally, I don't think their point was that they should never be forced to listen to insufferable blowhard UT fans. Those types of fans are inevitable in every sport. It's happened for the Lakers, Yankees, Cowboys, and will soon enough happen for the Miami Heat and a slew of other teams. Finally, I don't think their complaints were connected to any forms of t-shirt fans from San Marcos, San Antonio, El Paso, or Arlington. They were connected to recent UT graduates, not people who never attended the school.
In analyzing this claim--that the majority of recent UT graduates are aggressively arrogant fans who can't engage in productive discussions--it's worth questioning whether the claim is solely based on petty jealousy. The "they hate me because they ain't me" argument, if you will. While that's a possibility, the nature of the complaint seems to be more related to a failure to understand how UT's present success relates to its past.
And, at some level, I get that. There isn't a single college football program that is immune from the surprisingly perilous nature of success. Programs rise, programs fall, and the seemingly unbeatable can see it all fall apart in the blink of an eye. Or the blink of a Heisman Trophy winner scandal, if you prefer. Just naming the most successful programs of my lifetime immediately brings memories of high-profile failures alongside with their incredible success. Seriously, just name them off...Florida (Zook), Oklahoma (5 losses!), USC, Ohio State (John Cooper), Michigan (Rodriguez), LSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Michigan, Tennessee, FSU, Nebraska, etc. The list can go on and on, and for a variety of reasons. Injuries can happen. Early draft entries can happen. Bad hires can happen. Recruiting busts can happen. Things can just happen, and it's silly to pretend they cant or wont. Because they've happened to us, and, at some point, they'll happen to us again. As I've said, 10 wins isnt a birthright.
I'm quite proud of our program, but I'm always interested to hear how others think the success of our football program has changed the perspectives of our younger alums. Just last year, a friend of mine--who will cringe when he reads this--wanted Mack Brown fired less than an hour after we beat Nebraska. It may not even just be our younger alums that have been affected. If we lose 3 games this year, then I suspect we'll see a lot of fans (of all ages)
request demand that Mack Brown step aside to let Will Muschamp take over the team.
Writing this post about how our younger fans have allegedly become intolerable reminds me of one of the douchiest quotes of all-time. After the 2006 Rose Bowl, USC AD Mike Garrett decided to confront John David Booty, who would be replacing Matt Leinart as the team's QB. According to reports, here's what he told him:
Garrett came into the locker room after the game and looked at JD and said 'We don't lose football games here at 'SC.' And he looked right at JD and said 'Don't ever lose a game here.'
It looks stupid when other people say it, and it will eventually look stupid if people are saying it about our own program. I don't know if Texas fans have become as intolerable as what I've heard, but I can only hope that our fans will avoid making these types of bombastic statements. At least, not until we win another National Title, at which point all bets are officially off.