Culpepper: The Major and DKR

Major Applewhite at the Alamo Bowl in 2012. (Will Gallagher/IT)
Major Applewhite at the Alamo Bowl in 2012. (Will Gallagher/IT)

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Major Applewhite deserves the opportunity to be the Head Coach at Houston. The Cougar fans are to be commended for their enthusiasm at the games I saw on TV (Oklahoma and Louisville) last season. The Longhorn fans need to renew their season tickets and come into next season ready to get behind their new leader and football players as well.

Applewhite did a fine job for Coach Herman at Houston. He used the talent available particularly at the QB position. The Houston QB, Greg Ward Jr., moved from a WR position and lit a fire that didn’t go out this season. Major used the running and quick passing ability which took pressure off the team.

I know Major appreciates the many Texas High School coaches that lobbied for him to get the head job at Houston. You can believe he learned a lot from Coach Herman. Not only did Herman show passion, dedication, but love for his players in a unique way. There is also lots of Greg Davis in Applewhite’s approach to offensive football. The former Texas OC under Mack Brown suited his offensive schemes to both Applewhite and Vince Young with great success.

The rigors the Texas players are going through at the moment should make them stronger in the long run. Everybody loves to beat the Horns – It’s always been that way and when TCU students began the “Just Like Football” chant as the Frogs were beating the Horns in basketball at Fort Worth – it was significant.

Coach Gary Patterson practices tough and his team’s reflect it. This man works up a sweat every game and keeps the Horned Frogs team alert to say the least.

On another subject involving NFL football teams in the playoffs, I have to go back to a memorable time with Coach Royal in his retirement years at a restaurant in Lubbock. It was really a Mexican diner with college football blaring on the TV. Coach Royal flew out with Mack Brown’s Longhorns, who were to battle Tech that night, and he called me to ask if I was going to the game. When I told him I was he said to come by the hotel and pick him up for lunch on Saturday.

As best my memory serves me, Coach Royal picked the place and the restaurant owner put us in a good spot where we could watch football on TV – I think it was Georgia versus another SEC team – maybe Ole Miss.

The Rebels went ahead late in the game and as I remember tried a downfield pass on 2nd and 5, which was intercepted by the Bulldogs. It led to a thrilling comeback win for UGA. I do not remember who was coaching for Ole Miss but I’ll never forget Royal’s words. He picked up his fork and pointed at the TV which was showing the anguish of the young Ole Miss coach and said, “That coach hasn’t lost enough games.”

So I think about the Dallas Cowboys spiking the ball late in the game against Green Bay instead of running the ball and the clock to make sure Packers’ QB Aaron Rodgers did not score or win the game. I think about the Atlanta Falcons who were in field goal range versus the Patriots in Super Bowl 51 and tried two passes – one big sack, then another pass attempt which incurred a holding call and a critical penalty. All this when a field goal by the Falcons would have made a Patriots comeback near impossible.

Both the Falcons and Cowboys have young coaches guiding them and Royal’s words kept coming back to me.

My interpretation is that at the end of games in that fourth quarter, a coach needs to be aware of one thing – winning the game – stats be damned.

Thank goodness our new head coach at Texas was able to bring members of his Houston defensive staff with him. It allows him to concentrate on his offense as they put players in place this spring. The same can be said for his S&C Coach, which is the lifeblood of college football programs.

This is really a new deal for the Longhorn football program and represents the swift action by AD Mike Perrin. He saw what we all saw – Strong’s football program just didn’t work at Texas. He recruited well, he made some necessary changes but the offense, defense, and kicking game broke down at crucial times. Perrin saw it and had to act – he did, to his everlasting credit.

Once this football team gets put together, it will be interesting. I gladly put my season ticket order in, which included two for the Red River Shootout in Dallas.

I still feel part of the Longhorn Football Program because of my playing career and brief stint as an assistant coach. Of course at that time I didn’t realize how lucky I was to be apart of Darrell Royal’s first bowl victory in the Cotton Bowl over Ole Miss after the 1961 season.

To be an assistant on the 1963 National Championship was a lifetime memory, and being on the road recruiting with Coach Royal when there were no cell phones and we could talk and I could ask questions, was unforgettable to say the least.

In many ways I feel responsible for Texas Football even though I am certainly on the outside looking in but I’ll never quit on my Longhorn Football devotion.

I supported Mack Brown and Charlie Strong through good times and bad times, and I intend to be 100% for Coach Herman and his staff.