In his political and pop-culture infused off-beat commentary known as Conner’s Burnt Orange Glasses, Jeff Conner gives his gift to Inside Texas readers: “A little perspective”.
I took a little break from C-BOG last week, but as Willie Nelson once opined, “You can’t make a record if you ain’t got nothing to say.” Space and distance leads to some perspective, which is absolutely necessary in life. When things become too heated in a family law case, as the lawyer I politely remind my client that I am not emotionally attached to the situation. That gives me objectivity and clarity that the client, emotionally invested in the children, ex-spouse and outcome, cannot have.
My beloved, mighty, fighting Texas Longhorns are no different. When I spend my time, money and support for UT, I figuratively and literally invest in the Horns’ Athletics Department and lose my perspective. I am no longer a college sports fan; I have Bruce-Bannered into the Incredible Longhorn Hulk. I rip through my shirt, shoes and lower part of my pants (notice how the comic book Hulk never shows what high doses of gamma radiation did to his ding dong), revealing the massive, mesomorphic, burnt-orange-skinned beast beneath. As I stomp around destroying everything in arm’s length, I make semi-sensical half-sentences that my mild-mannered alter ego would never say, like “Hulk smash Greg Davis!” Although I have and will continue to be an unremitting and unapologetic proponent of a Division I football playoff system, the time off between the conference championship games and bowl season gives all college football fans a little breathing room. We need some down time, away from the fervor and intensity of the regular season, to gain an ounce of perspective on what has and has not been accomplished, what has been gained and lost.
Now that the BCS dust has settled, I am beginning to appreciate how genuinely remarkable the 2008 season has been. If expectations mean anything in this world, then our ball club has vastly exceeded all of them. At least the preseason expectations.
Going into this campaign, we were pitifully thin at defensive tackle, uncertain about our young defensive backfield, adrift without a game-changing running back, questionable at receiver after Shipley and Cosby, worse than dreadful at backup QB and inconsistent at linebacker. Granted, not all of these problems have been resolved positively. Our pass defenders hit like a Volvo, but were often out of position. John Chiles was a major disappointment, both through the FUBAR Q formation, his inconsistent play and the hamstrung play-calling that dogged his cleanup time. Our running game was respectable – at any school but Texas. Our offensive line badly failed to live up to it’s potential in the Tech and A&M games.
But in the kingdom of the blind, even a one-eyed man can be king. Had you told me before the season started that we would finish 11-1, ranked third in the county, beating OU soundly, embarrassing Missouri and hammering A&M by a record margin of victory, I would have smiled politely and inquired about your recreational narcotics use. This has been, by any objective measure, one of the most productive and successful non-championship seasons in the history of the school.
And we still have the Fiesta Bowl to enjoy. Say what you will about Mack Brown, he is extraordinarily successful in the post-season, winning six of his last seven bowl games. Winning on national television in a respected bowl games gives the Burnt Orange incredible momentum for next season, especially this year, when the debate about “Should Texas have been in the Big 12 Championship Game?” is still unresolved.
The problem with this season was not the preseason expectations. The autumn of our discontent lies in what we wanted after the tenacity and talent of this team revealed itself. Being ranked third in the country is fantastic. It’s the converse of the comment Will Rogers made about government: “Democracy is the worst form of government in the world. Except for all the others!” Being rated third is the best – except for all the others above you – first and second.
Did the BCS screw us? Jiminy Cricket, get out the Vaseline. Should head-to-head competition break a tie? Is the Pope Catholic? Does a wild bear s**t in the woods? Will Oklahoma mess their britches before the entire country in the national championship game? Break out the Handi-Wipes. Should you as a Texas fan be angry? Like a Fox news reporter covering Barack Obama. But none of this diminishes the accomplishments of our football team. We are still the envy of the Conference and the country. We have, far and away, the best quarterback in all of college football. We have one of the very top defensive coordinators known to mankind. We recently moved into second place for all-time college football wins, trailing only Michigan. We have an admirable recruiting class coming in next year. Heck, this week we even had it confirmed that senior wide receiver Jordan Shipley would be back for a sixth year of eligibility. We enjoy an embarrassment of riches the whores running the BCS are unable to tarnish.
Unless we let them.
So, at this special time of year when good people of all faiths dream of peace on earth and good will toward men, when a tiny baby gave us hope and a new and better way to see the world, I make a conscious choice. I choose to count my blessings, see the glass as half-full, stop and smell the roses and be grateful for what I have.
If that makes me a homer, then so be it. But I still have a sheepskin from the University of Texas at Austin hanging on the wall of my office. No recession, depression, economic downturn or financial meltdown can change that fact. No poll, computer, ESPN story or blog can change the fact that our football team grandly, magnificently overachieved this season.
Santa, all I want for Christmas this year is to be Burnt Orange.
And a Blu-Ray copy of The Dark Knight.
Jeff Conner’s political and pop culture-infused Longhorn commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com. Hulk image from HulkLibrary.com (colored by Jeff Conner). Handi-wipes from InstaOffice.com.