Sunday, September 13, 2015

Love the win, but …

I graduated from the University of Texas. While there I was a sportswriter for the student newspaper. I had the privilege of getting to know head football coach Darrell Royal more than most folks and we became even closer associates when I left school and went to work at UPI, which, back then, operated the coaches college football poll. Coach Royal would call me every Sunday evening to tell me his top 25 teams and we would chat for some 10 to 20 minutes about what was happening on campus. This was in the late 1960s and early 1970s and there was plenty to talk about. Much, much later I became good friends with and a confidante of Texas coach John Mackovic and we planned to co-author a book, a plan that was scuttled when he was dismissed as the Longhorns coach. I’ve always maintained if you slit my wrist, the blood would come out burnt orange. I proudly wear a t-shirt the says "I graduated from Texas. To save time, let’s just assume I’m always right." I defend the brand.

I can stomach a Texas loss, even though they leave me with a bitter aftertaste. But it drives me absolutely nuts to see the brand embarrassed, and embarrassments have been too frequent of late. I’m not even going to mention all the lopsided losses of last season, but that 38-3 manhandling by Notre Dame a week ago was horrendous, a total beat-down. Texas was completely and utterly dominated on both sides of the line of scrimmage. It was like seeing a professional football team playing a high school squad. It was painful to watch, even more painful when I saw how close Virginia came to defeating Notre Dame yesterday.

Today, a lot of Texas supporters are celebrating a 42-28 victory over Rice. You’ll have to pardon me if I’m not one of them. Again, Texas was dominated at the line of scrimmage, especially by Rice’s offensive line. Rice amassed 462 total yards against the Texas defense last night (compared to only 277 for the Horns). Rice had 30 first downs, Texas 11. Rice ran 96 plays against the Texas defense. The Horns only had 38 snaps. Out of the total 60 minutes playing time, Rice was on offense for almost three-quarters of the game, 44:02 minutes. If Rice can do that, I hate to see what the Baylors, the Oklahomas, the TCUs, the Oklahoma States and the West Virginias of the world can do. Heck, I’m concerned about California next week.

Texas won last night because Rice turned the ball over four times (including one interception in the end zone and one close to the goal line), because the Owls gave up too many big plays (seven of more than 25 yards), and because Texas’s Daje Johnson had three punt returns totaling 118 yards and one touchdown.

But what Notre Dame and Rice showed the football world is that you can successfully run the ball right at Texas all game long. And that has me worried.

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