I've been ambivalent about this bowl from the get-go. Should I invest much in its outcome? Should I treat it as a glorified send off for our outstanding seniors? I haven't really been able to decide.
Until today. I think - maybe - that I've got a theory. And let me back that slam dunk of a statement up with some explanation.
This bowl game is about two things. First, the seniors, for obvious reasons. We're sending off national championship winning Longhorns. Guys that will be forever etched in our memories. Selvin Young, Tim Crowder, Brian Robison, Kasey Studdard, Lyle Sendlein, Justin Blalock, Aaron Ross... 41-38, man. These guys are legends.
But aside from that, there's one more reason that this bowl matters - Duane Akina. I've said it before, and I'm convinced I'm right: the defensive coordinator job is Duane Akina's, barring a collapse in the Alamo Bowl.
Really, it's a messed up situation. Think about it for a second. Really think about it. Mack Brown surely knows whether or not he thinks Duane Akina is capable of being defensive coordinator of his football team. There's simply no possible way that Mack is thinking, at this moment, "Well, I'm pretty sure that Duane could handle this job, but let's see if things go well in the Alamo Bowl."
You don't judge Duane Akina on the Alamo Bowl any more than you'd judge Mack Brown for the 2006 Kansas State game. Mack has made his mind up - in the affirmative, I'd guess - that Akina can be Texas' man. And yet, this bowl game is Akina's debut, so to speak. It's true. Those pretty Texas girls walk out there and do that ridiculously difficult bow and - even if they topple over - it speaks nothing of what kind of lady they are. Well, this is the same story. Akina's either the guy, or not the guy. And Mack already knows.
And yet, Akina's chances of landing the job depend solely on Texas having a good defensive game. And why's that? Because if Texas loses to Iowa because the defense doesn't play well, Mack Brown will want to change the tone in the press. He'll want the buzz to be about some "savior," instead of about "the guy who clunked the Alamo Bowl." And so, in a bit of high, bizarre, drama, Duane Akina enters this game with everything to win... and lose.
That's the real story of the Alamo Bowl. Will Duane Akina get jobbed out of the defensive coordinator position or not? For his sake, I hope the defense shows up to play.