Inside Texas Blog: Longhorns, Don't Listen

With trouble in Norman, the media is back on the Texas bandwagon, but IT's Clendon Ross longs for a return to the days (last week) when the Sooners were every pundit's darling. Texas players, close your ears. This is no time for complacency.

So last Wednesday, I'm about to pull out of town for a little beach R & R before the next several, hectic (but joyous) months of football, and I get a call on my cell from Ross (Lucksinger, our web editor here at who rather breathlessly passes on the news that reports out of Oklahoma indicate that Rhett Bomar and another player (turned out to be OL J.D. Quinn) have been kicked off the OU team for being paid for work they did not do.

Like many of you, I imagine, my first reaction was a bit shock (I didn't think they'd ever get caught up there!), and, I'll admit, a smile. Not necessarily that the news had much impact on Texas -- I've already explained in pretty good detail why I think the Sooners were over-rated vis a vis the Longhorns in the preseason polls -- but because it represented a bit of comeuppance for a cocky kid like Bomar who ridiculed Texas and coach Mack Brown back around Signing Day '04 and who has been a less than stellar role model and team leader while in Norman. (And that says nothing of his dad, who, after his mouthiness first towards Brown and then towards his son's Oklahoma teammates and coaches, also must be acutely feeling the pain of Rhett's failures.)

Alcoholism, injury... those are things I wish on no athlete, whether Sooner, Aggie or Trojan. But self-inflicted suffering like this, particularly due to such a selfish act, by such a seemingly selfish player, well, you get what you deserve.

But what I really want to comment on is something I read in the San Antonio Express-News while sitting in Manuel's in Port Isabel on Thursday morning. (If you haven't been, next time you go to South Padre, go! It's just to the northwest of the lighthouse before the causeway over to the Island. I recommend the Con Todo with Picadillo, add enchilada sauce. It's meal enough for two, but I do my darnedest every time to try to finish the whole thing off. My wife goes with the breakfast taco -- singular, because that's all you'll need, maybe for two breakfasts -- which, trust me, will redefine your idea of a taco.) Two lines in David Flores' column on the Bomar situation made me cringe. First:

Without Rhett Bomar, Oklahoma has no chance against a UT team that still will be mighty formidable despite the loss of Vince Young.

Followed later by this:

Texas beat the Sooners 45-12 en route to the national championship last year and should win the grudge match by at least three touchdowns this season.

Hey, I'm the first one to tell you that I think that Texas should walk out of the Cotton Bowl victorious on Oct. 7. But "Oklahoma has no chance"? Texas should win "by at least three touchdowns"? I'm starting to long for the long ago days -- like, before last Wednesday afternoon -- when the pundits (including Flores) were singing the Sooners' praises.

The underdog role, despite coming off the national championship with key returners on both sides of the ball, fit the Horns well, and set OU up for (what I expected to be) a big fall first vs. Oregon and then vs. Texas a few weeks later. Now, the onus, and the potential for big-headedness is back on Texas, with predictions of Longhorn blowouts and Big 12 South titles.

Which is not all bad, by any means, and arguably justified. But it heightens the need for strong leadership to keep complacency and that Bomar-like cockiness out of Moncrief-Neuhaus.

My first click here at IT when I got back to Austin on Sunday night was on Bill Frisbie's Title Defense Begins Now article, and it had welcome news on that front:

Safety Michael Griffin wore his national championship ring around his neck until Sunday morning. Now, it’s in a safe place and all Griffin wants is to win another one just like it.

"That was last year’s team," he said. "We’ve got players on this year’s team that didn’t even play in the national championship game. They’re just wearing the ring. You can be happy about the ring. Maybe you helped at the beginning of the season, or maybe you helped on the scout teams, or maybe you didn’t help at all. I just think it was last year’s team. Obviously, the ring says ‘2005’. This is a whole new season. We can’t go out there thinking about last year’s team. We’ve got to go out and get ready to play and not think about last year."

And not think about a Bomar-less OU, or an Ohio State minus last year's linebacking corps, or the Aggies, well, just being Aggies, or any other thoughts that seemingly lessen this year's challenge. Block those thoughts, and the media's fickle love, Longhorns. It remains a great challenge, requiring great focus, and then execution, week in and week out, regardless of who does or does not line up for the guy's in the other jerseys, and regardless of what us media types think.

Now, it's off to Denius for the first practice of August! Stay tuned to Inside Texas...

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