November 8, 2012
10 things I'm thinking on a Thursday
1. Darrell Royal knew how to live.
In the aftermath of Wednesday's news that the iconic Texas coaching legend had passed away at the age of 88, that was the single most dominant thought in a head that was producing collections of them. It's a credit to the man that Royal was and had become that so many people could have so many different memories and feelings from their heart about the things that defined him.
Personally, I'm reminded of a comedic skit that I watched so many years ago that I can't remember who performed it, but the topic was living and maximizing the time we have on this earth. The truth of the matter is that the amount of time you live matters much less than what you do with the time while you have it. I remember the comedian joking that he would rather live the 64 years that Sammy Davis Jr. compiled on this earth than 100 years of just about anyone else.
That's exactly the way I feel about Coach Royal. Give me 88 years of Darrell Royal living and I'll be a blessed and thankful man. You can talk about his football accomplishments all you want, but the thing that truly made him dear to everyone that ever crossed paths with him was his mark as a man.
Every day was full of love, laughter, brotherhood and the chance to share time with those that could warm his heart, and vice versa.
When I had a chance to spend some quality time around him a few years ago at the Swing for 44 golf tournament, my heart melted at the site of former players such Bill Bradley and Jerry Sizemore acting like young schoolboys around the man that they probably loved as much as any other outside of their own fathers.
Of all the lessons Royal passed along in his 88 years, it as his thirst for living and maximizing the time he had on this earth that are his truest lessons.
A proud Longhorn alum is famous for saying these words in a movie: "You just gotta keep on livin', man. L-I-V-I-N."
Few men knew how to live like Coach Royal. That's his ultimate legacy.
2. More than losing a special person, the city of Austin lost a little bit of its soul on Wednesday. Whenever I think about the city of Austin before all of the high-tech boom, my mind takes me to a place where Coach Royal is hanging out at a Willie Nelson show backstage with a cast of characters that likely defied definition. Beer is being consumed, a joint is probably being passed around by many and laughs can be heard from every direction. God, how I would have loved to have gone honky-tonkin' with Royal in his prime. Can someone find the hot-tub time machine and take me to the mid-70's?
3. The greatest thing Mack Brown has ever done as the head coach in Austin was to go out of his way to get Coach Royal and his wife Edith back into the fold of the Longhorn family in 1998 when Brown was first hired. The family atmosphere within the program was basically dead, as former Longhorn players and Coach Royal really didn't have a welcome home on the 40 Acres in the years when John Mackovic was the head coach, but that all changed when Mack arrived and was determined to use this program's proud history as a plus, rather than some shadow that was forcing you to forever look for an escape. Attaboy, Mack. Some of us will remember the little things more than the big things when it's all over.
4. I think it's an incredibly cool move on the part of Mack Brown and Co. to announce that they will run their first play of scrimmage on offense on Saturday out of the wishbone. Call me crazy, but I'd love to see them roll out a few plays out of the wishbone on Saturday. Hell, I want to see a touchdown out of the formation if it's not too much to ask for. Just cross your fingers that there's not a botched snap or fumbled exchange during the process.
5. Iowa State is going to come in on Saturday looking for a fight. That's a 5-4 team looking for a sixth win that assures them of a bowl game and a chance to add a signature victory to their season. The Longhorns need to bring the fight at 11AM in Austin just like they did at 2:30PM down in Lubbock a week ago.
6. Questions of the day: How exactly will you feel about this season if the Longhorns finish 9-3 and the 9-3 record includes a close game in Manhattan? You won't be able to argue that progress wasn't made because last year's Longhorn team didn't win its seventh game until Case McCoy ran through the ghosts of dead dogs on Kyle Field in the final seconds to set up Justin Tucker's game-winning field goal in game 11. What would that have you thinking about 2013?
7. Has anyone else noticed how much more personable Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder has become this year? I mean he's almost turned into a regular jokester at the age of 70. I'm telling you right now, this 2012 team is the group he's waited his entire life for and he's enjoying every second of it. Right on.
8. I haven't seen many people talking about, but the 2012 NFL draft class has a chance to go down as one of the all-timers down the road. In doing some homework for the radio show this week, I was taking a look at the first round and my jaw dropped at the amount of instant playmakers in the class. If you look at nothing but the top 10, you're talking about direct hits with nine of the top 10.
Andrew Luck and RG3 are stars. Trent Richardson is one of the freakiest backs in the league. Matt Kalil has been a hoss on that Vikings offensive line. Morris Claiborne has had his side of the field on lockdown for the Cowboys. Mark Barron is a day-one playmaker for the Buccs. Luke Kuechly is probably your Defensive Rookie of the Year at the midway point. Stephon Gilmore has started every game for the Bills. Hell, even Ryan Tannehill has been flat out balling in his rookie season.
This doesn't even include the likes of Doug Martin, Bruce Irvin, Dontari Poe, Quinton Coples, Kendall Wright, Chandler Jones, Dont'a Hightower or Harrison Smith.
What a class the 2012 group is turning out to be.
9. Damn, I'm enjoying my week of Springsteen. Sometimes my weekly music project can feel like a dark cloud chasing me for six days, but this has been like a ride in a convertible down the Jersey short on a beautiful summer day. How in the world am I going to cut his list to 10? I'm not thinking about that just yet.
10. Finally, I leave you with my favorite picture from out Swing for 44 golf tournament in July of 2007. Its Coach Royal having one hell of a time with Bill Bradley (left) and Fred Akers (right).
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