Samsung wants to sponsor a post in which Texas Longhorns fans discuss their favorite sports highlights? We should all buy Samsung products. Gratefully.
Choosing a favorite UT sports highlight is... well, it's easy -- at least for those of us who weren't around to see the Longhorns' previous national championships in football. That would be 4th and 5, of course, so let me nod in agreement with Drew over his selection. On top of that, let's just go ahead and acknowledge that Vince Young's impossible greatness could reasonably account for more than half of a UT fan's Top 10 highlights list. The pump fake 80-yard run versus OSU. 4th and 18. The entire Rose Bowl against Michigan. The entire Rose Bowl against USC. Limas Sweed.
We could go on, but let's just put VY in a category of his own and use this thread to reminisce about our favorite UT highlights involving mere mortals. Take away 4th and 5, and choosing a favorite becomes much more difficult. But also more fun. So let's do it. Ten of my favorites after the jump. Yours in the comments, if you please.
10. PJ Tucker downs Providence at the buzzer. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be any online video of Tucker's game-winner in overtime against Providence. Not that any UT hoops fan needs it to remember the dynamic freshman's coast-to-coast drive and game-winning finger roll, which replay showed to be in his hands with 00:00 on the clock, but out of his hands when the red light on the backboard lit up a fraction of a second later.
9. Austin Wood pitches the most amazing 13 innings in college baseball history. Again no video, but on May 31st, 2009, Austin Wood led Texas to a record-setting win over Boston College in 25 innings in the Austin Regional. One night after pitching two scoreless innings against Army, Wood came on in relief and delivered 13 innings of scoreless baseball. Incredibly, that's not the most remarkable part -- not even close. Wood threw 169 pitches, 120 of which were strikes. Oh, one other thing: Wood threw 12.1 innings of no-hit ball. Absolutely incredible... Wood literally gave himself to that game. May it long be remembered as one of the best performances in UT history, in any sport.
8. Texas falls just short in triple-overtime thriller at Oklahoma State. With a rare ice storm locking down Austin in mid-January of 2007, UT basketball fans settled into their couches to watch Kevin Durant and the Longhorns battle Oklahoma State in front of a raucous crowd Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater. Fans of both teams were treated to one of the best regular season basketball games ever played -- as painful as it was in the moment to lose that game, you couldn't help but appreciate what you'd just seen. Connor, DJ, Durant -- even Mason! -- all hit enormous shots that kept Texas alive and with a shot to win. The comments in the BON game thread capture the intensity of the experience. You can watch the full video of the game here, but this one highlight says it all:
Yeah, that happened.... And still just one play of an epic, amazing game -- so great that even in defeat, it's still one of my all-time favorites.
7. Roll Left. Do I need to say anything about this one? I do not.
6. Texas stops USC on 4th and 2. Without 4th and 2, there wouldn't have been a 4th and 5.
(2:06 mark of the video)
5. Ricky's Run. Breaking the all-time rushing record is amazing enough. Setting the record with one of the most badass runs imaginable is... well, that's Ricky Williams for you. What a joy to watch.
4. Justin Tucker ends the series with A&M as time expires. The (poor) Aggie tears are so very delicious.
3. Kenton Paulino beats the buzzer, West Virginia in the Sweet 16. There are really only two ways that Paulino's unforgettable buzzer beater could have been better: first, if it had been for a trip to the Final Four, and second, if anyone other than Dick Enberg had been on the call. It was still absolutely amazing, and I still hugged strangers in a bar when it went in.
2. Stonie Clark stuffs OU at the goal line. It's funny how some of your all-time favorite memories can come from games and/or seasons that didn't amount to much. One of my all-time favorite UT games is a triple-overtime loss, and one of my all-time favorite plays comes from Texas' 8-4 football season in 1994. I remember watching with delight when ABC ran a pre-game feature on big Stonie Clark, lover of poetry. And then he delivered the win over the Sooners in the most unlikely fashion imaginable:
1. Stafford to Jones. And now for the one that started it all -- my first taste of the electrifying drama of football... and, as it happens, my earliest UT football memory that I can vividly remember. I was eight years old on November 17, 1987, when unranked Texas -- just 2-3 on the season, and fresh off getting pounded 44-9 to OU -- traveled to Fayetteville to take on the No. 15-ranked Arkansas (4-1 on the year). I usually watched UT football games with my father -- a professor at UT and member of the Faculty Athletics Council -- but my older half-brother (a freshman at Texas) came over to our house to watch the Arkansas game with us.
I honestly don't remember anything that happened in the game prior to Texas' final possession, but I distinctly remember the building anxiety I felt as Texas -- trailing 14-10 -- tried to cover the 56 yards it needed to get to the end zone before the precious remaining seconds ran out. After 10 plays, Texas had picked up 38 of those yards, but had run out of time. With just four seconds remaining on the game clock, Texas would get just one more shot, needing 18 yards, from a quarterback who was to that point in the game was averaging just 8 yards per completion.
The final play unfolded incredibly fast -- indeed, much more quickly and decisively than Arkansas seemed to anticipate. Taking the snap from under center, UT quarterback Brett Stafford took a quick five-step drop, planted his back foot to complete the sequence, and -- without surveying the field, or even the slightest hesitation -- quick-fired the ball on a direct line towards the end zone....
The speed with which Stafford executed the throw was shockingly fast. The television cameraman wasn't ready for it, and belatedly swung left, only barely in time to capture the ball's arrival. And most importantly, Arkansas wasn't ready for it. Stafford unloaded his pass at the earliest moment possible from a five-step drop; he fired it low (but just over the linebacker underneath), hard, and on a line; and he delivered the ball to arrive at the goal line at the exact moment Tony Jones got there. Stafford's pass hit Jones right between the numbers, slipping into the receiver's clutch just ahead of the two Arkansas defenders converging on him; had the pass arrived even a fraction of a second later, the Razorbacks would have been there to break it up. Stafford wasn't a great quarterback, but the game-winner to Jones was a great, great throw. Stafford didn't hit a hail mary, he threaded the needle to make the one and only pass that could beat Arkansas' defense.
Back in my living room in Austin, I yelled, jumped up and down, and mimicked Tony Jones' double fist-pump over and over again, but it was my older brother's reaction that made the experience. As soon as Jones caught the touchdown, my brother leaped out of his chair, and bolted full-speed out of the living room, ran straight to the front door of our house, opened it, and took one step outside onto our front porch. And then, looking and sounding every bit as possessed as Ray Lewis leading a pre-game huddle. he yelled at the top of his lungs: "F*CK THE RAZORBACKS!!!" A slight pause followed, and then: "TEXAS MOTHER-F**KING LONGHORNS!!!" Then he closed the door, walked back to the living room, and pumped his fist in the air while unloading an exuberant "Wooooooo!!"
Needless to say, I thought all of this was absolutely fantastic, but I'll never forget my father's reaction. From his face it was clear that he knew he should be wanting to admonish my older brother for his outburst, but that somehow he couldn't. He looked confused, but in a non-distressing way -- apearing to be both stunned and enthralled by the utterly surreal last 30 seconds -- almost squinting as he processed everything, clearly finding it all far too interesting to be bothered with disapproval. The touchdown itself, of course, but also my brother's reaction to the game-winning play -- which would have been... unusual under any circumstance, but was an especially odd outburst to unleash in front of his father and 8-year-old brother. After a few moments, though, he half smiled and half shook his head, and said, "That really was a hell of a pass."
Beating a rival on the road is always a great thing, but the win by the '87 team at Arkansas didn't mean all that much in the same way that, say, 45-35 did to the '08 Longhorns. But it was a great win, earned in the most dramatic and exciting way possible, and my first memory of pure, unrestrained elation from a big win on the football field. Who knows what possessed my brother to need to scream out the front door, but I thought that it was awesome. And that sports were awesome.
Perfect route. Perfect pass. Perfect timing. Touchdown. Victory, Texas Motherf**king Longhorns.
All big moments in life should be celebrated with a Tony Jones double fist-pump.