Saturday will mark Tom Herman’s first Red River Showdown at the helm for Texas, but he still hasn’t forgotten what happened in 2000.
The Longhorns’ head coach, who served as a graduate assistant at Texas from 1999–2000, has a fond memory of the 1999 matchup: a 38-28 victory over the Sooners. The matchup in 2000, however, wasn’t nearly as kind to Herman and the Longhorns.
“63–14, I still remember that score, it’s been embedded into my brain,” Herman said. “I think when you go into one of the most storied rivalries in college football history, if not the most, it is most important that you recognize that this is a big game for a lot of people in both states.”
With one of the most historic rivalries in college football comes an electric atmosphere. It also brings a fair amount of trash talk with it. Oklahoma quarterback and Lake Travis high school alumnus Baker Mayfield got off to a quick start this week, taking a jab at UT freshman quarterback Sam Ehlinger earlier this week.
When asked what he knows about the Westlake alumnus Ehlinger, Mayfield responded with, “He went to Westlake and he’s never beaten Lake Travis.”
However, other than Mayfield’s jab, both teams have been fairly silent leading into Saturday’s battle. Senior linebacker Naashon Hughes believes most of the talking doesn’t even come from the players — it comes from the fans.
“I remember my freshman year we had to walk through the OU side,” Hughes said. “There was a sea of crimson and I was like, ‘Man, this is crazy. Why would they make us walk through here?’ They would yell at us the whole time, ‘Hey you guys go to the wrong school, we’re about to score all day.’”
Saturday’s contest has been a long time coming for Herman, who will finally have a shot at redemption after the blowout loss in 2000.
However, he isn’t the graduate assistant anymore. Herman will stand in front of the team in the tunnel moments before the Longhorns take the field Saturday. And he knows exactly what comes with that.
“Responsible is probably the word that comes to my mind,” Herman said. “Leading this program is definitely a responsibility unto itself, but I would be naive not to tell you that this rivalry is important to a lot of people: a lot of stakeholders in this program, a lot of alumni, a lot of fans, citizens of the great state of Texas in general.”
Despite the anticipation for Saturday, Herman and the rest of his squad have said the same thing all week: their preparation and formula for success will not change. Herman acknowledged what’s at stake when it comes to the Red River Showdown, but he has made it clear that this is business as usual for the Longhorns.
“(It’s important) to make sure that your team knows the formula for success is not going to change,” Herman said. “It’s not going to change depending on the opponent, it’s not going to change on the location, it’s not going to change depending on what state your opponent hails from.”