Burnt Orange Glasses: Major, Come Home

Wow. It's been a weird, hectic month for the Longhorn faithful.

Pre-bowl boot camp. Spanking Arizona State before a national audience. Men's basketball ranked in the top five. Coach Akina reassigned. Coach Rucker changes jobs. Coach Mac Duff given a pink slip. Jamaal Charles says, "Toodle-oo." Jermichael Finley says hello to fatherhood (again). Coach Muschamp agrees to stay for at least one season. Darrell Scott flirts with the Horns. The men's basketball team takes an unexpected nosedive. The Major sees Tuscaloosa in his rear view mirror.

It's enough to make one's head spin. It's like sitting through an episode of "Lost" without knowing the whole bizarre, confusing, convoluted thing will resolve itself in the next three seasons. It's like a non-scary version of watching the Republicans try to pick a presidential nominee. It's like hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold Bobby Petrino waking up in the morning, trying to remember who's bed he crawled into last night: Louisville? Atlanta? Fayetteville? How drunk was I?

Thank goodness ol' Lubbock Horn is here to make sense of things for you. As your prophet, philosopher, soothsayer, and general smartass, I am uniquely qualified to guide you through these times of change, murkiness, uncertainty, and general head-up-the-buttness. Let's begin, shall we?

When I was in law school, the Daily Texan ran an article on an Austin concert by the Ramones. The punk band's show was nowhere as controversial as the Daily Texan headline, which screamed in huge font: "The Ramones are god!" Since lead shouter Joey Ramone died of lymphoma in 2001 and barre chord guitarist Johnny Ramone passed away from prostate cancer in 2004, I seriously doubt their divinity. The Daily Texan's intentionally obnoxious blasphemy was soon forgotten, and the Ramones were eventually inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In the same way, we must also forgive those drooling sycophants who would bestow godhood on Major Applewhite. Yeah, he really turned Rice's offense around, which is harder than getting Bill Maher to actually be funny. Yeah, he was good enough to be hired by Nick Saban, the man who is to coaching what the video game "Guitar Hero" is to playing a real guitar – a watered-down version of the real thing with lots of bright lights, noise, and colors but without any artistic merit. Major's a good coach – maybe a great one some day – but the gushing, effluent praise for him at this point in his career may be a bit much.

The way Inside Texas posters have gone on and on, you'd think Major could walk on water, cure AIDS, single-handedly dismantle the entire OU Athletic Department, and get the Sopranos back on TV. Longhorns want to name their kids after Applewhite, have a life-size sculpture of him adorn our front lawns (posed like Michelangelo's David), give him their child income tax deductions, and bestow upon him the right of prima nocta to deflower their virgin daughters.

In all seriousness, putting too many expectations on such young shoulders rarely ends well. It's like going into business with family members: It sounded like a good idea at the time, but often leads to resentment, lack of appreciation, and dysfunction. I want to remember Applewhite the way he was – one of the most overachieving athletes I've ever watched, a kid who took modest physical skills, honed them with an intense knowledge of and love for the game, and played far above his ability. As he develops his coaching career, I don't want to see Major burned out, booed, cursed, or ridiculed for not meeting our grossly exaggerated expectations that never were realistic.

So please, in the same way we let Reagan be Reagan, let's let Major be Major. Let him grow and learn and find his own voice, so to speak, without carrying the weight of the Longhorn nation on his back.

The rest of the news basically comes down to this: Coach Mack evidently wants to hang another one on the wall.

Let's face it, the guy is way out of his comfort zone: firing Coach Mac Duff, demoting long-time friend Coach Akina, bringing in young, tough-minded drill sergeants like Coach Muschamp. This is not the kum-ba-yah, Michael-row-the-boat-ashore-hallelujah let's-sit-around-the-campfire-and-roast-marshmallows Mack Brown we've come to know and love. He's acting like he's serious this time, and that's extremely bad news for the rest of the Big XII.

What hath the Aggies' victory wrought? Not only did they not get to keep their coach, but the Gomers' second straight win over Texas inadvertently got Coach Mack out of the ten-wins-per-year-is-good-enough third gear he's been in since the national championship season. It's like General Yamamoto's quote at the end of the Pearl Harbor movie Tora! Tora! Tora!, when asked about taking the Americans out of the Pacific War: "I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

No wonder five star kids like RB Darrell Scott are giving the Horns a second look. It's not surprising fans are excited and traffic on the Inside Texas boards is up. This stuff is more entertaining than watching the really bad "American Idol" singers pout after being shown the door, which reminds me of West Virginia's whining since Rich Rodriguez left – people who think they have talent and clout when they actually don't suddenly bursting into a hateful, spiteful, and bitter rant, claiming those in charge don't know their heads from a hole in the ground. Come to think of it, with Coach Mack on this new "get serious about winning" kick, that may also describe A&M football for the next decade as well.

Hook ‘em.

Jeff Conner's political and pop culture-infused Longhorn commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com.

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