• Old Number 7

    Junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert scans the field during the Longhorns’ win over Rice in the season opener on Sept. 3. Gilbert is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder. (Daily Texan file photo)
    Junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert scans the field during the Longhorns’ win over Rice in the season opener on Sept. 3. Gilbert is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder. (Daily Texan file photo)

    I guess the guy was right when he said, "Don't mess with Texas."

    But who knew he was talking about members of the Longhorns football team?

    By far the most controversial story the Texan has published so far this semester is a rather light-hearted Page One piece about No. 7 jerseys being marked down at the University Co-op after Garrett Gilbert and Nolan Brewster -- the two players to wear the number this season -- were sidelined with injuries.

    The story, which was lacking a byline because of a production error, was written by Sports editor Trey Scott and simply quoted Co-op president George H. Mitchell explaining why the jerseys were being offered at 50 percent off. 

    It also quoted a student who said he wouldn't buy the jersey, even with the discount. The story also notes that Gilbert has taken a fair amount of public criticism for the Horns lackluster season in 2010 and that sales of No. 7 jerseys have been down since then. No new ones were ordered this year.

    That's about it, folks, but the public reaction has been quite remarkable, with at least four angry "Firing Line" letters to editor published on the Texan's Opinion page, so far. The writers are uniform in criticizing the Texan for taking cheap shots at Gilbert, an unfair scapegoat.

    Here's what Scott, the Texan Sports editor has to say:

    "I understand that, after all of what Garrett's been through, people are quick to attack anybody who says anything negative about him for the sake of the kid. The point of the article, however, was that the Co-op was in a spot it has never been before, that it has to mark down jerseys that it didn't even sell last year. There are 1,000 No. 7s waiting to be sold.

    "The president of the Co-op was sad to have to put the jerseys on sale, because he feels like Garrett has taken almost all of the blame for last year's 5-7 season. But he had to do it [mark them down] because it's a business, just like Mack Brown and the co-offensive coordinators benched Gilbert for the sake of the team — that's business as well."

    I say -- get a life, people! The Texan didn't mark down the jerseys. The Co-op and Nike, the manufacturer did. The Texan noted that this is the first time this step has been taken. That's news -- and that's what we're in the business of reporting. 

    I would ask where the angry letters are about the Texan story detailing the lawsuit filed by a national fraternity organization against a renegade local chapter that alleged that exotic dancers were hired as part of an initiation ritual. Is that standard operating procedure around the Forty Acres? Is any kind of deviant behavior acceptable as long as -- god forbid -- it doesn't have a bit of harmless fun with the hallowed football program?

    The football program that has won exactly one national championship since 1970? 

    Garrett Gilbert isn't to blame for that long drought and the Texan shouldn't be blamed for simply reporting the facts.