Friday, November 25, 2011

The Texas Showdown Closes Down (UT wins!)

I did not expect UT to win the annual Thanksgiving game against Texas A&M.  Yes, the UT Longhorns were ranked, and A&M had slipped from ranking, but this year, UT's ranking fortunes have just felt like a fluke of other's misfortunes and some oddly-had luck more than the hard-earned rankings of the COlt McCoy and VY years.  While I do believe our defense has been fairly effective this season, its clear the Longhorn offense is still a mess.

In the end, it came down to a last second field goal kicked by UT's Justin Tucker, who has been near-flawless all season.  But it also came down to UT's defense uncharacteristically more or less rolling over to A&M's fairly punishing drive in the final minutes, looking for all the world like a team that was going to have the last word.  And, of course, Case McCoy demonstrating some clear thinking in the last minute that he really hadn't shown too much this season.

I hope Texas Aggies feel like it was a good game.  We were certainly consoling ourselves with this thought at the 1:25 mark in the 4th quarter when we watched the UT lead melt away.

But then Tucker made the field goal.  So, it was a good night to be a Longhorns fan.

Tucker gets tackled by jubilant Longhorns
Of COURSE the game means something.

But the Texas A&M/ UT game has always meant something.  This just happens to be the end of the match-up for a few years, so we'll take this with us, and the other 70-odd wins in 110+ meetings.

I've heard a lot about TV contracts, DeLoss Dodds' conniving schemes, profit sharing, etc...  At the end of the day, I still think its a damn shame that those are the reasons the match-up is ending for a while.

Just because money reared its ugly head seems like a point to be worked out by University administrations (administrations that routinely find joint projects and places to collaborate on virtually everything else, I might add).  And then to break off to a new conference and then (honestly or otherwise) react with dismay when UT doesn't bend over backward to find a place for A&M on their schedule for next year?

As a former student, an alumnus and employee of UT, I think of it this way:

In 1999, when the bonfire collapsed, neither A&M students nor UT students were concerned about TV contracts, athletics directors, etc...  and while A&M went about the harrowing task of dealing with a tragedy on their own campus, UT students lined up around the plaza in front of Main in order to give blood for lack of any other way to assist.

These weren't enemy combatants, or someone you look away from in time of need.  These were the kids we sat next to in class in high school who had simply picked a different university to attend.  Our competing universities were where many students have long distance boyfriends or girlfriends.  Its the alma mater of  business colleagues we'll have the rest of our lives.  Our neighbors will wear maroon, and we'll wear orange.

College football may be surrounded by grown men who spend 24 hours per day worrying about the business of the game, of sports-radio junkies believing nonsense narratives cooked up so there's something to talk about, and alumni with screwed up priorities and large billfolds... but in the end its about college kids getting together to play a little football.  No matter what else you try to put on it, that's what it is.  Neighbors, former classmates, and future friends.

That's what I think of when I think of this game.

So, yes, the money issue is an important issue.  I'm not denying that.  But as this evening's game closes the door on a rivalry over a century old, I'll always have a hard time believing such a fleeting, correctable issue was bigger than Texas itself.

The Longhorn band bids A&M adieu at half-time

Because that's what this was.

We won't match up again next year, it seems, and that's a shame.  I will genuinely miss the game.

But, if I can show a bit of team spirit - I will always remember that UT won at Kyle Field in a year when we weren't all that great, and it was a hell of a tough, fun game to watch where both sides dished it out and took it.

No comments: