Greetings, football fanatics! It’s been a long time, yeah? A couple of things have gone down on the 40 Acres since we last had a mint julep on the veranda. We saw an end to the Mack Brown era, and then there was a lot of chaos and screaming. Although I didn’t comment on it at the time, I was following very closely. In the aftermath of Coach Brown’s retirement, there was prognosticating, reading the tea leaves and some entrails, looking for truths in the clouds. Were you around for the Nick Saban debacle? I consumed everything I could about who was flying where, who was meeting with whom, whether Saban renewed his contract, all of it. Why? Well, not because I wanted Saban. Full disclosure: he’s obviously an accomplished coach and very good at his job…in Alabama. Whether he would fit at Texas was a bigger question mark for me.
Ultimately, the big-money alumni (The Big Cigars) did not succeed in their coup. Which is probably best for the University—someone had to stop the madness. The Athletic Department threw some shade, threw their weight around, and ultimately ignored what the Big Cigars wanted. So we said goodbye to Mack Brown, with heartfelt gratitude. I truly appreciate what he did for the program.
I truly do not appreciate the condition in which he left the program. If you need any proof of that, chew on the fact that NO TEXAS PLAYERS WERE TAKEN IN THE REGULAR NFL DRAFT. They found places as free agents, but can you even internalize that? Does. Not. Compute.
The Texas football program had fallen into some weird funk, where perception ruled, celebrity status was endowed on certain people, and hard work took a back seat. Into this vacuum stepped new head coach, Charlie Strong. Welcome, Coach Strong! There are approximately 10,000,000 logos we can create with your name! And thanks for bringing a sound work ethic back into a program with more than its share of divas. We all learned early on that Coach Strong is not having it. He’s not having your not-going-to-class nonsense, he’s not having your lack of camaraderie, he’s not having all the bagels you were used to eating and he’s not having your disdain for a hard hit and some sweat on your brow.
We are witnessing the dawn of a new program at Texas. One with strict rules and high expectations and one with coaches who will follow players to class and make sure they attend.
I personally welcome our new football overlords.
Not all the players felt this way. Granted, I am not sweltering under the Texas sun for two-a-days or having every carb counted (although maybe that would be a good thing?). I don’t have Coach Strong and his formidable personality scrutinizing how I come off the line, make a hit, or run a route. But I’m not a student athlete! I just play one on the Internets. We said goodbye to a slew of players for various reasons. I cried, I tore my clothing, I threw ashes in my hair. Some players left on their own, some were removed. Again, Coach Strong is not having it. Breaking the team rules—that includes respecting women—is not tolerated. This season, we will no longer have these players as Longhorns:
We do have a whole mess of ‘em left, and they’re the guys who can hack the rules and the tough workouts and are dedicated to bringing the program back from the dustbin of history.
And now, football is upon us. In a few short days, the ‘Horns will start playing again, hidden from my sight on the Longhorn Network. I’ll follow as best I can from out here in the land of Sasquatch and Portlandia. First up, or so I’m led to believe since I can’t watch it myself, is North Texas. This will be a good game to debut the new and slightly battered ‘Horns. It should seem very familiar—coaches are saying the Texas defense looks pretty good, and the offense can use some work. North Texas lost their entire defensive line, so the Texas offense should be able to make some progress and maybe even dish out a little punishment. My spirit animal, Johnathan Gray, and human wrecking ball Malcolm Brown team up again for the best 1-2 punch in the Big 12. I didn’t make that up—it’s actual conventional wisdom among all the dudes who write about sports. David Ash is back! We will all hold our collective breath when he takes his first hit but he claims to be very strong, and ready to get back on the field. We may even see a little Tyrone Swoopes on Saturday. Well, some people will, anyway (but I’m not bitter). (Yes, I am.)
The defensive starters will sound very familiar, thankfully, as they had some really great moments last season: Davis, Jackson, Brown, Reed, Jinkens, Edmond, Hicks, Thomas, Diggs, and Thompson. Everyone seems healthy and ready to go.
Wait, you say, what about Jaxon Shipley? Well, he tweaked his hamstring, so I do not expect him to play on Saturday. Why risk exacerbating his injury? Give him another week off. We need him at 100% coming up.
So grab your beverage of choice on Saturday, get down to the stadium (I hope you sunburn! In the shade!), or find a comfy spot to cheer on the ‘Horns. Kickoff is 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Texas is favored by 25 points. This is a season where we should not assume a victory is won until the final seconds tick off the clock. I don’t think we’ll take that for granted, at least not for awhile. Make no mistake: Texas is rebuilding. But when they’re done, they will be an indestructible monument to football greatness built out of bricks and adamantium and kryptonite. Count on it.
And, if you need cheering up in the meantime, watch this Vine of Michael Sam making Johnny Clipboard eat turf. Ha ha!