Tom Herman said "I hope that all 50,000 students show up," regarding Texas football’s Student Appreciation Day Practice that took place on Saturday afternoon. Aaron Torres of the Austin American Statesman ultimately estimated that “about 300 students were there.”
There were a few factors working against the Student Appreciation spring practice. The most glaring error in the scheduling of the event was that it occurred on the morning after “Round Up” events began. For those not in the loop, Round Up is a weekend-long unofficial festival hosted by the Interfraternity Council. Musicians who have played at Round Up include Migos, Waka Flocka Flame, and Travis Scott. It’s a wild weekend of overcrowded frat houses, fanny packs, and neon clothes that has become a University of Texas tradition.
So, competing in football drills against elite athletes is the last thing most of the Texas student body wants to do on the Saturday morning following Round Up.
Secondly, it’s simply really difficult to get students to be passionate about a team that has been sub .500 for three straight years. Older Longhorns remember the glory years and may stick with the program through thick and thin, but teenagers and kids in their early 20s are frankly fickle followers. If the football team isn’t killing it, there are more entertaining activities for college kids in Austin to do than hang around a sinking ship on the gridiron.
Maybe that’s why a decent chunk of attendees for the scrimmage portion of Student Appreciation Day weren’t students, but older people observing the team from the bleachers.
Students are also perhaps tired of sports writers like myself consistently hyping up the new quarterback, the new system, the new coach in the spring only to be disappointed by the third week of fall. What’s the point of attending a spring practice when the media and coaches have been hyping up spring performances, only for the team to be bad when the real season rolls around?
However, though the fifth installment of Texas’ spring practice wasn’t a smash hit, it was a creative idea that should be replicated again — especially if next year the Longhorns are coming off of a winning record. It’s encouraging that Herman clearly cares about getting students involved and excited about the football program and is using original ideas to do so.
There were plenty of positive takeaways from Student Appreciation Day. Being so close to the players in action was a unique experience — from seeing just how huge Tristan Nickelson is up close, to watching the poised freshman Sam Ehlinger take snaps under center. Though he entered the NFL draft, D’onta Forman also was present for practice, and took pictures with fans just like the other active players.
I also got to watch an offensive lineman mosh pit, the tail end of which I captured on video (you’re welcome).
Plus, they had goodie bags, and everyone likes goodie bags. However, I must say that the women’s hot pink apparel I received in my bag will probably not be a good look for me. The five free Plucker’s wings and free Taco Deli breakfast taco coupons make up for it.
Ultimately, though there weren’t many students who actually showed up to Student Appreciation Day, this student sees potential for the event down the road.
And let it be known that I appreciate you too, Texas football.