On his first official day as the new Texas athletic director, Steve Patterson mingled with fans, took notes, and watched the Texas Longhorns miss 14 free throws before, ultimately, beating the Vanderbilt Commodores in front of a handful of dedicated UT basketball fans. Patterson, who spent much of the game next to the student section taking notes, sat with former AD DeLoss Dodds, Dodds' wife, and Olympic gold medalist Ricky Berens.
In his burnt orange button down and khaki blazer, Patterson was a fixture not to be ignored by the Texas alumni on hand. He was approached often and did his fair share of handshakes and picture taking. He was even berated by one fan who pulled out his cell phone and tried to get Patterson to comment about something on camera. Needless to say, he's along way away from Tempe.
At halftime, Patterson spoke with the student section, who had some pretty interesting questions for their new athletic director. One topic that would not be ignored is the future of the Texas A&M game, an issue so polarizing that most fans choose not to discuss it anymore. When asked about the the rivalry game, Patterson laughed.
"We're working on it," Patterson said smiling. "It's under a lot of water. We had it when I was here."
When asked if the Vanderbilt-Texas game was his first Longhorn basketball game of the year, Patterson jokingly reminded the student that he's still new to town.
"First game? Try first day," Patterson told the student. "I had to get everything ready, go through HR, get a pencil sharpener (laughs). You know how it is."
If the rivalry game is brought back, it will not be slotted in its original Thanksgiving placement. With their new long-term agreement to play LSU on Thanksgiving week, the only possibility of an A&M match-up would have to come early in the season. That's likely going to be one of the many issues Patterson will face in the near future.
Patterson seems excited about the challenges ahead. His calm demeanor is much like that of his predecessor, though history shows the differences in both of their styles of management. Still, for a basketball-minded former NBA general manager, last night's game was probably hard to swallow. Now, all eyes are on how the new leader of college athletics' most successful brand fixes a relatively stagnant program.