Jon E. Garrett
Writing the future of journalism one post at a time


October 22, 2012

The Horns defense still stinks, but Portman’s presence points to better things to come

There is a lot of bellyaching going on these days at the 40 Acres.

Natalie Portman made an appearance at Saturday’s 56-50 win over Baylor by Texas. Perhaps it is a sign of better things to come for the Longhorns.

Whether it’s University of Texas football fans lamenting the team’s 5-2 record, players publicly doubting their own teammates’ work ethics on defense or even the biggest man on campus, Mack Brown, decrying the Longhorn Network’s negative affect on the team – times are hard in Longhorn Country.

It’s almost enough to make a Texas ex blessed to have once been part of that proud organization such as myself shed a tear, or at the very least turn the channel and not risk a heart attack every time the defense comes on the field to try to find new and interesting ways to blow leads. Luckily, whether it’s in the stadium or on my couch, one thing I won’t do is turn my back on the team that gave me so much as an undergrad.

When I’m not covering them for work, win or lose I ride or die with the Horns. It is a lesson I try to impart on those with whom I watch games now. Complain about the coach, players and direction of the team all you want on your own time – but when it is game time it is time to show love for the one’s you profess to have so much for.

It’s good karma and karma has a way of repaying her debts.

Saturday Texas fans were remunerated in full for having struggled through watching the first half of this season and still turning up at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on game day.

Yep, on a day on which I know personally of some dyed-in-the-wool Orangebloods who made the trip to College Station to watch our former rivals play LSU in a “better game”, when before the game more than a couple of people were calling for Brown to lose his job should we lose a third game in row to the once lowly Baylor Bears and the Texas defense was only slightly less terrible than the worst one in the nation (fielded by the Bears) – we finally got a sign that maybe things will be alright after all.

Just hours after the Texas A&M Aggies fell to LSU 24-19 on Kyle Field, rocking a leather jacket and a shirt that barely qualified the job there was Natalie Portman on the Jumbotron, television screens and most importantly in the stadium.

Mathilda, Padmé Amidala, the freaking Swan Queen was in the building and the offense played a game benefitting the audience of an Oscar winner as Texas powered to a 56-50 win over Baylor. The defense was still horrible, but perhaps some leeway is in order considering it was facing the second best offense in the nation statistically, and with Portman in the building it is hard to blame a guy for taking his eye off the ball now and then.

So, what if she was filming scenes from a project by uber-director and Austin resident Terrence Malick Project and probably isn’t a fan of either team. No one cares. Her simple presence at the game reminds us something that every man, woman and child that has ever draped the burnt-orange across their skin can attest too.

No matter how bad things get, no matter how many games the Longhorns lose or coaches are given the boot, Texas football will never be irrelevant. Sometimes it will be down and other times our friends in College Station or even those tortilla-tossers in West Texas might grab a larger share of football glory in a particular season, but like the school motto says, “We’re Texas.”

We’re a school entwined with a city that helped invent casual cool, full of risk-takers, winners and those that take the road less-traveled more often than not, one with a proud tradition of football and academic excellence striving to improve on the high standards in both set in the past instead of just maintain the status quo.

No matter how things play out after the upcoming bye week (even with our defense Kansas should rate as an easy win), whether the Horns run roughshod through the toughest stretch of the season to somehow wheedle their way back into a BCS bowl or end up on the outside looking in of the bowl picture at 5-7 – in the end things will be OK.

Mack will be back, his contract and record demand it despite what some naysayers may tell you. So, will most of the guys who comprise this year’s pleasantly surprising offense and thus far talented but disappointing defense with nary a senior on the team. A busload of blue chips and maybe even a coordinator or two will arrive on campus and these dark days will likely be forgotten a couple of years and a championship or so down the road.

If things don’t work out that way it’s OK. We’ll do what we do with all our heroes in Texas when they have to be replaced, put him in bronze on a pedestal and have him keep watch over the next generation of coaches and players as they try and live up to a lofty tradition of excellence that he had a great part in creating – and lament his absence when they don’t.




About the Author

Jon E. Garrett



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