Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Collin Klein took a knee, Kansas State fans rushed onto the field, the Big 12 Championship trophy was lifted and Texas went home. Thirty minutes after the game, a fog descended on Bill Snyder Family Stadium. A thick, impenetrable, unintelligible mass that hung in the air long after any fans hung around.
Perhaps it’s fitting that Texas’ regular season came to an end under such murky conditions.
In a game that meant almost nothing to the Longhorns in terms of standings, they would have finished third in the Big 12 either way, Texas put on a dazzling show of mediocrity in its 42-24 loss to the Wildcats, ending its perfect road record and finishing its regular season with almost as many questions as when it began. Who will start as quarterback? Case McCoy, starting for the first time this season, was brilliant at times and inept at others, throwing an interception on his second pass of the game before beginning a stretch of 17 straight completions, second in school history behind his brother, Colt McCoy. What of the coaches? Recruiting?
Mack Brown is as much an institution as Rick Barnes, as Auggie Garrido, the untouchables as they might be called. He’s not going anywhere. Brown has already cleared the benches with his staff, it would be hard to see him doing it again without putting some of the blame on himself.
Texas will always produce top recruiting classes, but the trend may be shifting. Texas’ top prospect, Ricky-Seals Jones, already de-committed and is heading to the less-glamorous (but much more entertaining) Texas A&M, now the darling of the national media and an emerging force in the Southeastern Conference. The times are changing and yet a quick glance at this year’s results and the story could be oh-so-different.
Maybe Texas’ defense holds Tavon Austin to one less touchdown in its four-point loss to West Virginia. Maybe one of those David Ash interceptions becomes a touchdown and Texas Christian University goes home with its horned tails under its legs. Maybe Case McCoy gets points on his first drive against K-State, points for Texas instead of gifting a touchdown to the Wildcats on a crucial interception that put them a yard away from a score. Maybe instead of 8-4, a record only one loss better than last year, Texas is 11-1 and playing in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. “Maybe” could have been asked many times this season, too many times for a program supposedly as powerful as the once mighty Texas.
What have we learned this season that we hadn’t seen in the past three? Nothing, really. Texas Football, flashes of brilliance among long stretches of mediocrity. Unsure of itself, unsure of its identity, caught in a three-season-long state of flux. “We Are Texas,” the saying goes, though I can imagine that nobody, not even the players, are quite sure what that means anymore.