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Lessons Learned from the Worst Texas Losses in the Mack Brown Era

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This isn't the first time we've felt disgusted...

Bob Levey

Take a stroll down memory pain with me as I revisit excerpts from past blog entries that I wrote immediately following some of UT's most emotionally debilitating losses during the Mack Brown era. No doubt you'll see some recurring themes that may mitigate the conventional thinking that Longhorns Nation is on the precipice of irrevocable doom... or it may further galvanize the insistence by many that it's time to replace the current coaching regime.

Regardless, I think you'll find it somewhat therapeutic and possibly cathartic.

NC State 23, Texas 20 (9/4/99)

The honeymoon never lasts forever and the higher the expectations, the harder the fall when they're not realized.

Some people say, "54b, why so salty? Your team just gave Stanford a 69er shiner on National TV." I say, "horse pucky." The only score that mattered was 23-20 thanks to 3 blocked punts and a can of NC State whoop ass. Texas should be undefeated. People want to talk about "A New Hope" for the Horns this season. I say put your orange colored glasses back on, grab your light saber and get back in line for Star Wars you bunch of hard-ons.

OU 63, Texas 14 (10/7/00)

Accepting the blame can make the medicine go down easier, but only winning relieves the pain.

The only thing Mack Brown got right Saturday was that he was to blame. But even then he wasn't entirely right, those players need to be held accountable too. A sportswriter quipped that Brown should take the Horns off the helmets. As preposterous as it sounds, Mack better do something to make it real clear that representing the University of Texas is a privilege and playing like that is unacceptable.

Colorado 39, Texas 37 - Big XII Championship (12/1/01)

You have to be emotionally prepared to lose it all, to win it all.

"My life was ruined on Saturday night; it was one of the lowest points I can remember. I realize now that my life revolves around what this football team does and that my happiness is dependent on the outcome of a game. That kind of lifestyle will get me killed early. Not to be too pessimistic, but my Burnt Orange glasses are off and I'm seeing pretty clearly for the first time in a long time."

Tech 42, Texas 38 (11/16/02)

There's a thin line between immortality and ignominy.

How ironic that only after all hope for a National Title is gone do you truly start to gain some perspective. Texas lost a whole lot more than just a football game last weekend in Lubbock. They lost any chance of winning the Big XII Chamipionship, or playing in a Tier 1 bowl or even showing just how good this Texas team really can be. And I think that's what hurts the most. Sure, the Horns can win their last game against a 6-5 Texas A&M team and possibly go to the Cotton Bowl where they can beat up on some SEC team with 4 losses, but that's nothing for them or their fans to hang their hat on. Not when the expectations were set so high. And why shouldn't they be? Texas supposedly has the best talent in the country, according to the recruiting gurus, and more money than Davey Crockett - plus facilities most professional athletes don't even have access to."

Arkansas 38 - Texas 28 (9.13.03)

Beware the recruiting hype machine as titles in the spring don't always guarantee victories in the fall.

Since two-a-days, all we've heard out of Austin is how Mack Brown is getting tough and yelling at practice. How the running game will be vastly improved because Benson is well again and how the O-line is made up of players who would just as soon kill you as look at you. I guess if you drink the orange Kool-aid long enough, you have no choice but to believe the hype....Mack Brown is a great salesman, and if you don't believe me, ask yourself why anyone in his right mind pay $70 a ticket to go see Texas play Rice. The man can sell, no doubt about it. As for his prowess as a head coach, I'm not so sure. Calling for his dismissal after one loss is rash, but a lot of the things that led to Saturday's revealing 38-28 loss to Arkansas are indicative of Mack Brown's teams during his tenure as coach of the Texas Longhorns -- players going through the motions and ill-prepared to play, unbalanced, one-dimensional offenses, a bend but don't break defensive philosophy, inconsistent Special Teams play, no sign of adjustments being made after half-time and after the game, pampered players so deep in denial that they actually say things to the media like "Arkansas was lucky - if anything, they snuck out of here with a win" and a coaching staff that's only answer for why Texas lost is "we just didn't get as many breaks as they did today." Hey, the writing was on the wall all along, but we were just too busy strutting around on top of it to read it.

OU 65, Texas 13 (10/11/03)

Scar tissue from previous heartbreaks can actually strengthen your resolve.

After watching Mack Brown make the same mistakes four years in a row, I guess you just go numb. Four years ago, Texas got "surprised" by the Sooners losing 63-14. And though most fans, including me, tried to commit hara kiri with a corndog on the way out of the State Fair, we got over it and chalked it up as a learning experience. Mack was only in his 3rd year and most of the starters back then were young and inexperienced. But this year was supposed to be different. Brown and his coaching staff are now in their 5th year, and there is an abundance of senior leadership on the team, not to mention several high draft picks. Most fans find themselves wishing for an easy explanation for the Longhorns latest setback, but sometimes there just aren't any excuses left. Sure, OU is a great team and will probably win the national championship, but if Texas is supposed to be a national title contender and team on the rise, they can't go out and get beat by 52.

OU 12, Texas 0 (10/9/04)

At Texas, 2nd Place often feels like last place.

A veteran sports writer of many years described Mack Brown in his column last week as being "pretty painfully good." I don't think I've ever pegged Mack quite as well. Even the harshest critic can not argue that Mack Brown hasn't brought Texas out of the dark ages of the late 80s and early 90s and back into national prominence. But until he faces some harsh realties, there's no doubt in my mind that his Texas teams are always going to be destined to fall short.

A&M 12, Texas 7 (12/2/06)

Exuberance even after the most monumental of victories can seem fleeting compared to the lingering taste after a loss.

Less than a year removed from winning a National Championship, a game widely regarded by many UT fans as the greatest win of their lifetimes, the Longhorn Nation now finds itself back in the bread line wondering how a season that once held so much promise turned so quickly into the winter of our discontent.

K-State 41, Texas 21 (10/3/07)

Don't confuse coaching culpability for athlete accountability. The buck always stops with the head coach, some just stay at the table a little longer than others.

Not sure what I'm more amused by after a monumental Longhorns loss: the race to lay blame by the Texas fans and media or the race to claim blame by all the coaches. Before the media even had a chance to ask Coach Brown a question about UT's miserable 41-21 defeat to K-State last Saturday, Mack began the post-game press conference by saying, "We've said since day one that coaches lose games, kids win games and that one goes back to me and us."

Honestly, I don't "blame" Mack for trying to deflect the criticism off his players and onto himself. I'd probably do the same if I were in his $2.4 million shoes. After all, it's easier to say "it's my fault" than try to make excuses or explain to a bunch of diehard Texas fans who just got their hearts broken that their beloved Longhorns are inexperienced, immature, and probably victims of unrealistic pre-season hype and expectations.

And while I'm sure Mack's sentiments make the players, the parents, and the recruits feel all warm and fuzzy, I think his eagerness to accept blame and move on leaves most Texas fans feeling frustrated and without recourse. What happened to we win as a team, we lose as a team, and everyone, players included, are held accountable?

But if the coaches are so fond of taking the blame, then for once I'd like to hear one say, "I did a shitty job preparing my team to play this week even though I've known this game was on our schedule for the last 8 months and therefore if I do an equally poor job of preparing the team next week I will resign." Now that's accountability. Otherwise, it's just culpability and lip service to the press and the unforgiving masses.

The 2010 Season (November, 2010)

Sometimes it really is what it is and you have no choice but to laugh at the rain.

I think I'm finally beyond being mad-angry and just going mad-crazy. In fact, my wife got really upset with me last night because I just started laughing after each time the Horns shot themselves in the foot (against K-State). For a team that is less than a year removed from a national championship berth, it just seemed so impossibly ridiculous that they couldn't do anything right. And in my mind anyway, there was nothing left to do but laugh.

So why is this happening? I don't know and I'm not going to waste your time with some crazy theory about there being some huge conspiracy or internal turmoil. I don't think Mack's lost the team. Believe me, those players want to win just as bad as Mack does, if not more, and for no other reason than just to stop getting yelled at. And I do agree with Mack, they probably have lost confidence. You would too.

So now what do we do? Nothing, we laugh at the rain. This season is beyond salvaging, so let's embrace the suckage knowing it won't last forever.

From experience, we know our fortunes will change sooner or later. You know this because the talent is still there and still coming to Texas. Sure, Mack Brown may also have to make some coaching changes in the off season, maybe even including himself, but something will happen.

Until then I'm just going to enjoy the ride and embrace what it feels like to head into a game having no idea what Longhorns team is going to show up. The only thing I can control is me. And I choose to remain.


"(I went) on a roller coaster...Up, down, up, down....Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick, so excited, and so thrilled all together. Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out of it."