As if he were describing an incurable disease, Mack Brown referred to a "sense of entitlement" on multiple occasions last fall when explaining away the travails of the disastrous 2010 football campaign. What Coach Brown meant by that is debatable as he didn't go into great detail, but I think we can reasonably infer that he felt the players and coaches lacked the urgency and effort necessary to play championship level football because they probably figured they could beat most teams on talent and reputation alone.
But was a sense of entitlement the key reason the Longhorns experienced their first losing season in over a decade? Well I'd probably argue that overall talent level and immaturity at key leadership positions played bigger roles in the demise, but if the players and coaches (as well as fans and media) were and are convinced Texas could and can still win most games simply by showing up, I'd include that as a pivotal factor as well.
Put another way, if we think the Emperor might have pneumonia, refusing to explore the idea that he might not be wearing warm enough clothing can be just as bad as, if not worse than, telling him all he needs to do to get better is surround himself with better doctors.
That said, the idea that a sense of entitlement can have a deleterious effect on a football program is hardly an assertion anyone would waste much time arguing against anyway. And its literary divulgence is far from novel. In fact, our fearless editor PB wrote an excellent (and somewhat prophetic) article in the 2009 edition of The Eyes of Texas Preview Guide in which he elaborated upon his theory as to how the "We're Texas" mindset has been unhelpful to the development of the football program, most notably UT's tardiness to the integration party.
But I'm not here to put a fresh coat of poly on Peter's bean or remind you that the "must have" gift for Longhorn diehards this Christmas-in-July shopping season is the 2011 edition of The Eyes of Texas Football Preview Guide (shameless plug).
No, I'm here to pose the question: Where does this sense of entitlement, this incurable disease, come from?
(Find out if I actually make a salient point after the jump...that explains why they call it "the jump" anyway.)
Is it simply the product of overconfidence gleaned from being part of a football program that averaged 10 wins a season for the better part of a decade and appeared in two National Titles?
Is it the result of unrealistic expectations created by modern day snake oil salesman masquerading as recruiting experts and a ratings-driven media, both of whom appear to care less about reporting facts and more about cashing in on hype?
Is it because the players are from what demographers have dubbed "Generation Y" or "Millennials," a portion of the population roughly defined as children born after 1980 (and 67% of BON readers). The basic theory is that because this generation benefited from childhoods that that coincided with a time of economic prosperity (the 90's and early OT's) as well as a movement by parents to lesson the competitiveness of childhood activities like sports by awarding trophies just for participating, this group of kids has a greater sense of entitlement and do not respond well to traditional means of motivation such as "breaking a kid down to build them back up" - something the Army and football coaches alike made their livings on for the better part of the 20th Century.
Or could it be that in this brave new post consumerism era we live in where we tend to blame the institution before the individual,Longhorn Nation as a whole and its "We're Texas" zeitgeist are the source for this sense of entitlement? ("I learned it by watching you, dad!")
It's no mystery that we fans of the University of Texas have always walked a fine line between swagger and arrogance. And no where is that dichotomy more prevalent than in our institution of higher learning's handcrafted tagline, "We're Texas."
When we win, "We're Texas" is an affirmation of our confidence. When we lose, it's an albatross of arrogance run amuck.
And whether you love the phrase or think it's just the pipe dream of two doped up ad agency copywriters throwing tag lines against the wall, the reason it ultimately stuck and was able to tap into the Burnt Orange Zeitgeist is because it does reflect the UT bravado as a whole and it is an extremely efficient and addictive catalyst for unleashing the the pride we feel inside.
Problem is, in my eyes anyway, "We're Texas" isn't an imperative. It's a statement of fact. When you think about it, the phrase practically assumes we've already won because well, "we're Texas and you're not." Unfortunately, we're also 5-7. And I don't hear anybody yelling that with pride and I've yet to see a bumper sticker or T-shirt with "We're below .500" on it.
Regardless, I still don't know that I'd argue that our overzealousness is the sole source for this sense of entitlement anymore than I'd argue that we should even try to cure ourselves of it.
But should the Longhorns' marketing machine or even Mack Brown himself be in the market for a new theme for 2011, I'd recommend a catalytic imperative that has gotten the job done before and one that I know will get it done again...