You’re almost there, class of 2014.
In less than a month you’ll stand in front of the Tower and watch the building light up with the most spectacular “2014” you’ll ever see.
It’s a time to celebrate and reflect back on your best college moments: weekend nights spewing into mornings, evenings spent talking about nothing with friends and maybe even a class or two. But it’s a safe bet neither you nor I, a fellow 2014 graduate, will give much pause to Texas athletics — those memories are too painful.
Hopes were so high when we came to the 40 Acres. The football team had just lost in the national championship game. But a laser-armed quarterback, Garrett Gilbert, had almost toppled Alabama in place of Colt McCoy and was expected to continue Texas’ recent sterling quarterback tradition.
Instead, Gilbert led the Longhorns to a 5-7 record in 2010, the team’s worst finish since 1997 and the only losing record in the Mack Brown era. It’s hard to place all of the blame on Gilbert; entitlement had a lot to do with the struggles, but he became the symbol of Texas’ issues.
The next three seasons didn’t improve much for Longhorn football. Texas maxed out at nine wins and Brown stepped down after the 2013 season. There were a few highs — the Longhorns upsetting Oklahoma last season was a triumphant moment for seniors, as was sending A&M off with a loss in 2011. But defensive meltdowns and Case McCoy’s interceptions far outweigh the fleeting positives.
Heartbreak defines our fall experience.
The men’s basketball team didn’t provide much relief in the spring. Freshman year, Texas reached No. 1 in the country, only to nosedive to a second-round exit in the NCAA tournament. And that season still serves as the peak of our basketball experience.
Potential program stars Myck Kabongo, Cory Joseph and Tristan Thompson all left early, spurning the possibility of extended success. Texas even missed the tournament in 2013 for the first time under Rick Barnes in his 15 years at Texas.
Other sports have found success during our time in Austin. Men’s swimming and diving, volleyball and men’s golf all won a national championship over the last four years. Both baseball and softball have appeared in the College World Series.
None of those sports can cure the insufferable misery caused by football, though.
And, sure, the Eyes of Texas is great fun, school spirit all around. Going to games is always enjoyable, yelling for three hours with 100,000 of your closest friends. And, of course, “OU still sucks.”
But mostly, it’s been painful.
Texas will be back to national prominence, soon, I’m sure. But, for the current crop of seniors, sports success proved more problematic than going to a Friday afternoon class.
The Class of 2014 will forever remain loyal to the Longhorns. We just wish there had been a few more wins.