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At first, the story went like this.
When people asked me how someone from Lafayette, Indiana (not Louisiana) ended up in Austin, I would tell them, "Because of Russell Crowe."
And then I made a little tweak after a few tellings, because I really ended up in Austin because of Russell Crowe’s band.
Well, one of Russell Crowe’s bands — TOFOG.
Thirty Odd Foot of Grunts.
There were five of them, you see.
The deeper background here, if you’ll hang with me, is that my mom developed a little, uh, crush on Russell Crowe as part of a deeper interest in Australia and a finding-herself journey she went through when I was in high school.
In fact, I bought an Eclipse stereo for my car that had a security feature on it that discouraged thieves — if the power source was disconnected, the thief would only have a limited number of opportunities to insert a master CD chosen by the owner.
I chose TOFOG.
That thing was either going to stay in my car or it was never going to play again for anyone. Maybe someone somewhere figured out a hack for it, but I felt pretty confident about in having the final decision about who was operating that stereo.
Anyway, mom decided to visit Austin in 2001 to see TOFOG (here’s a Chronicle review of the band from that time period) and re-connect with a friend from graduate school.
I was looking at at a handful of schools at that time — Montana, Montana State, CU-Boulder, a liberal arts college in Minneapolis, and Indiana as a back up. I wasn’t really sold on any of them and basically eliminated the school in Minnesota because I made the smart choice of visiting it in December.
Hard pass on somewhere colder than Indiana. And with more mosquitoes.
Mom and her friend decided I should visit Austin, so I did in October of 2001. My host is a still a professor at UT and gave me a fabulously conscientious tour of the city. The greenbelts, the murals, the beautiful campus, and the beautiful weather all made an immediate impact on me.
Golden-hued limestone with red stucco tiles from a fading evening son with a blue Texas sky above it all. A promise on a wonderfully-iconic building that the truth would set me free and that I would know it.
When I started thinking about on a business-like level, the combination of world-class academics with remarkably affordable out-of-state tuition rates helped it quickly become apparent to me that throwing my horns up was the obvious choice.
Austin resonated with me.
And I thought I looked pretty good in the burnt orange Texas shirt I bought on my visit. No one will ever tell me to this day that I did not, though some Aggies or Sooners might try.
I just had to wait to see if I would get accepted. I’d gotten in everywhere else I was still considering.
Finally, the letter came in the mail.
I was fixing to be gone to Texas.
I never looked back.
During my time at UT, I celebrated national championships in football and baseball and watched TJ Ford’s magical Final Four run as my introduction to Longhorns basketball.
I was extremely blessed to witness that run of success across the top sports. The success has faded in those sports in recent years, but it hasn’t diminished my love of being a Texas fan and alum.
Fifteen years later, thinking back on the decision I made to pick Texas, I realize that I can’t think of a single better decision I’ve ever made in my life.
I’m a Longhorn by the grace of God. And TOFOG.
P.S. Kacy Clemens wants you to know that OU still sucks.
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