I Have A Problem (1/31/05)

I have a problem.

I'm not exactly sure how it all started, but I can't stand the Texas Longhorns. Call it sacrilegious. Call it anti-Texan. Call me a communist. I can't help it. It's an obsession that seems to control me. If I see a burnt orange jersey on television, I have to root against the player wearing it. If I see an article in the paper that has "UT" in the headline, I must read it. If I see the dreaded longhorn symbol on a car, I must stare at the the driver. I have a problem. I need help.

After much study and reflection,  I trace it all back to one lean, crackhead looking UT fan that was sitting in Memorial Stadium on a Saturday evening in the fall of 1983. I still can picture that guy: skinny, screwed up hair, an old UT shirt on. I was with a small group of North Texas students that had made it down to Austin to watch a (then) rare meeting between the Longhorns and the Mean Green. As the UT school song was playing, this fine, upstanding UT fan glared at the the North Texas crowd and engaged in conduct I still remember to this day: He alternated the "hook em horns" hand signal with one that has a much more universal and profane meaning. Welcome to, Austin!

Class guy, I thought. And my obsession with hating the Texas Longhorns was born. It's not that I hate the team - heck - there nothing but a bunch of college kids playing a game. Nope, it is that particular fan that I hate (and anyone so situated). Every Saturday when when the Longhorns lose (and that is, sadly, a rare occurrence these days) I hope that he is crying on his shag carpet in his modest home somewhere. I can picture it if I try hard enough. (Does it matter that UT beat North Texas soundly? Naaaa.)

But I doubt it it was that one "shooting the bird" incident that forever changed me. Maybe it was in the mid 1980s when I went back to Austin to watch a Baylor - UT football game for what would be the SWC Championship and a ticket to to the Cotton Bowl.  Memorial Stadium is a heck of a place to watch a game - a sea of orange in a monstrosity of a a stadium, but I was a bit taken aback that day when the two small contingency of Baylor fans (who were in opposite ends of the stadium) tried to fire up a "Baylor" followed by a "Bears" chant. The UT crowd would have no part of this and after the second "Baylor" chant went up, the UT crowd erupted with a "SUX!".  I  still remember it like it was yesterday and its been about twenty years.  I was beginning not to like Austin at all.  (Does it matter that Texas won the game despite Baylor have first and goal with less than five minutes left only to not score? Naaaaa).

So when my beloved Baylor Bears decided they would never win a football game again - ever- I had to find something to cheer for - or against. I love college football, I really do, and I had lost the source of any Saturday afternoon joy when Baylor turned into a wretched football team.  I always felt cheap adopting a college football team that I have no connection with whatsoever. I  mean, how can I cheer for OU, Florida or USC when I have nothing to link me to any of those schools? (I've thought about taking one Internet class from such a school so that it would make my cheering legitimate - but that seemed silly - for now- check with me next year). 

So, with no school to cheer for, I've decided to do the next best thing over the last ten years. I've chosen to root against UT. I'm more of an anti-fan than some people are fans. I eagerly await the first game of the Longhorn season, make the OU-Texas Saturday a sacred holiday, and constantly scan over the the Rivals Top 100 recruits to make sure that Texas isn't predominately featured in the recruiting wars. Last year I had my own private celebration with Adrian Peterson chose OU over Texas. And I grimace every time Coach Mack Brown gets a raise and swear that if I were him I'd give 90% of my salary to the poor - so I believe he should do the same. 

And it doesn't end there. I'll check up on the old UT players once they hit the pros and wish failure upon them. I smiled when Ricky Williams retired from the Miami Dolphins to smoke dope and I get depressed every time I see Roy Williams make an acrobatic catch for the Detroit Lions.

I have a problem.

In a couple of months Cedric Benson will be drafted in the top five by some NFL team. And next season that team will be my favorite team to watch - just to see if Benson turns out to be a bust.

Did I mention that I have a problem?

My obsession has continued over recent years even to the point of becoming  a traveling UT hater.  I've made it to the Cotton Bowl twice to see OU-Texas and traveled out to the Big 12 Championship game at Texas Stadium in 2001 between UT and Colorado (which might have been the greatest meltdown of a UT team in history as Major Applewhite replaced Chris Simms). Moments before the game, an upset had occurred in the SEC Championship game and all Texas had to do to go to the National Championship game was to beat the heavy underdog Colorado. They didn't. I remember walking to the parking lot that night in a sea of dejected UT fans - I'm not sure what the Bataan Death March was like, but I think I now have an idea.  Oh, such happy memories.

The pentacle of my UT obsession may have occurred a few weeks ago. Texas had managed to land a spot in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to play Michigan. Yep, they finally made it to a coveted BCS game. When I saw that Texas Tech would be playing in San Diego in the Holiday bowl, I decided to package up a trip.  Yeah, I'll travel halfway across the nation to boo UT.

So there I was on January 1 in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. The orange bloods had turned out in full force (see picture) and I found myself sitting on the line between the UT fans and the Michigan fans. Quite frankly, it was the perfect place to be. 

Now my distaste with UT fans is probably not fair - there are some great guys out there who just happen to be UT fans (David Spiller, Derrick Boyd, Chris Forbis, and Carol Ann Carson come to mind) but I can't picture those guys being involved in a new tradition that I witnessed. A tradition that has apparently developed over the last couple of years that makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.

The new tradition comes at the end of the Texas Fight Song - the one that you've heard all your life and, I'll admit, is kinda catchy. Anyway, the UT fans have now added a shocking twist to the end of the song by changing the lyrics and singing in unison "Make Them Eat Sh$#".   The first time I heard it, I thought I had to be dreaming. But sure enough, the next time it was sung the profane line came out loud and clear. So I began to study the crowd the next time the song was sung. Yep. Everyone was singing it. Not just most people - but everyone. It's the craziest thing I've ever seen. The drunk thirty year old beside me didn't really surprise me, but the mom with two small kids with her did. And it wasn't an isolated incident. I'm telling you: There were 30,000 UT fans that sang that line together - with no embarrassment, no shame, but with pride.  I pride myself on not being easily offended but this pretty much even offended my very ambigous sense of decency.

I don't get it. I don't get it at all.  The only good part is that it fired up my disdain for UT which gives me a great deal of satisfaction. You see, I have this problem.

For what's it's worth, UT fans got the best of me again on New Year's Day as UT won the game on a last second field goal. It just gives me more reason to hate them. (I am proud to announce that I was able to take a photo of a Michigan touchdown that I'm incredibly proud of)

So until Baylor begins to win again (which by my calculations with be 2033 at the earliest), I'll root against the University of Texas.  And the next time they lose, I'll think of that skinny punk in the stands in Austin in 1983.  Sadly, they win too darn much.  That may have something to do with all of this anyway.

Do you think I need to let this go?


Ok, a couple of quick movie reviews. I have never seen so much hype about a movie but you would think that Million Dollar Baby will be the next Citizen Kane. Every critic loves it, and if you check out the movie goer reviews on IMDB everyone, and I mean everyone, simply adores it. I would like to announce that I saw the flick and was bored to tears. For the life of me, I don't understand the hype. Boring. Boring. Boring. Someone please go watch the movie and agree with me so I won't feel like I'm on such an island.

The Woodsman is a movie that none of you would dare see. It is about a child molester (played by Kevin Bacon) who is released from prison after 12 years and tries to work himself back into society. Hey, if you don't think you would feel a  little compassion for a sex offender, go check out this movie. I liked it a lot. Unfortunately, it stayed in theaters about two weeks. (And there were a couple of guys in the nearly empty theater that I watched it in that kind of creeped me out).

Barry Green served as District Attorney for Wise and Jack Counties from 1993 through 2000. He is now a partner in the Decatur law firm of Smith & Green, P.C. and is Board Certified in Criminal Law.

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