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The SMO: Texas re-enters the national conversation behind a new legend at QB

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NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Georgia vs Texas Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Obligatory reminder: The Sunday Morning Optimist does not deal in logic or reason. It does not care about facts or figures. It is an emotional overreaction to the preceding game.

Sitting in the Sugar Bowl about an hour before kickoff, a golf cart with a dog kennel approached the Texas Longhorns sideline.

I knew what was happening — how badly ESPN & Co. wanted a photo-op between two animal mascots that — at no point — should be anywhere near each other. As I sat watching, I thought to myself: There is no way this is a good idea.

You know what happens next. Bevo set the tone.

Some have suggested the locker room mood changed when the team saw the video during pregame. The Horns were ready after that.

Texas was not grateful to be invited to the Sugar Bowl. Texas was not going to be deferential to Georgia. Texas believed it was the better team and was ready to prove it.

From the opening kick, the Longhorns absolutely dominated the Bulldogs in every facet of the game. It was a blowout — even if the score indicates a close game. Against one of the most physical teams from the “most physical conference,” Texas was more physical.

It was ten years of frustration let out all in one game.

It was two graduate transfers finally getting their moment to shine.

It was a senior tight end who committed to one head coach before playing for two more finally getting rewarded for staying the course.

It was an embattled defensive back who was tired of getting criticized.

It was a freshman linebacker becoming a household name.

It was two NFL-ready wide receivers who knew they could handle a dominant SEC defense.

It was a defensive lineman who wanted to come back for his senior season and leave a legacy.

It was 35,000 Texas fans who were tired of living in the past and wanted back into the national conversation.

It was a coach who eliminated all doubt that he was the right man for the job.

It was a quarterback who was ready to enter the conversation with Vince Young and Colt McCoy.

Texas now enters an off-season with relentless hype — and it’s well-deserved. The goal of this off-season will to be to build off a massive bowl victory that pushed the Longhorns to 10 wins for the first time in a decade by becoming more consistent across the board. A team that, two years ago, missed a bowl game after losing to Kansas.

We said it all year: When Texas plays at its best, it can hang with anyone in the country.

The 2019 season will be about consistently playing its A-game and making sure its B-game can beat just about anyone, as well. If they do that, the ceiling for next year is even higher than a NY6 bowl game.

Congratulations to this year’s upperclassmen — who have been through so much during their tenure in Austin. They leave an incomparable legacy, and all Longhorn fans everywhere are grateful for the turnaround that started with their buying into Tom Herman’s vision.

In the words of Texas’ newest football legend who has waited his whole life for this moment:

Longhorn Nation,

Weeeeeeee’re backkkkkkkkkkkkkk.