Burnt Orange Glasses: Ain't Easy Being Green

Thank goodness for TiVo. I love that little box, because, during the middle of the Longhorns' basketball game against Baylor, Mrs. Lubbock Horn wanted to stand in line in the cold for an hour so we could squeeze into the ancient Lubbock High School Westerner basketball gym and listen to Bill Clinton (or, as the alien on "The Simpsons" pronounces it – Clin-TAHN) spout about Hillary.

There are precious few presidential campaign speeches in Lubbock, and even fewer from Democrats, so I was glad to go. It was fun being a part of the process and all, but after sitting on hard, wooden bleachers, listening to an hour and fifteen minutes of "When I left office ..." I was ready for the sensation to return to my butt, some Longhorn basketball, and a little Arby's – and they damn well better have given me enough Horsey sauce in the drive-through.

So I'm watching the game on TiVo in beautiful HD (where our burnt orange road uniforms look especially fetching), and my beloved, mighty, fighting Texas Longhorns take their 6-point halftime lead and swell it up to double digits with an 11-2 run to start the second half. Augustine is not shooting well, but what else is new? The big men are getting their points, and future NBA Rookie of the Year and former Longhorn standout Kevin Durant is in the house, which is great publicity even if he wears his ball cap backwards and cockeyed like a faux gangstah dorky white junior high kid from the suburbs who wears baggy britches and slurs things like, "Yo, yo, yo, dawg!" Gary Johnson, playing with a broken nose and clear plastic face mask, looks stronger and seems to be trusting his teammates more and more every game. The Horns are scoring some transition points, and Baylor, despite its team quickness and capacity, record-setting Ferrell Center crowd, can not seem to buy an offensive rebound or cut into UT's double-digit lead.

Then two completely, totally unrelated events suddenly converged, like Roger Clemens' wife coincidentally shooting human growth hormone when the Rocket had no freaking idea such a thing even existed and didn't even have the letters "H," "G," or "H" on his computer keyboard. Who woulda thunk it?

At any rate, our elderly Chihuahua mutt Yoda cut the cheese so potently it simultaneously watered my eyes and peeled the paint off the wall. At the exact same moment, with 2:15 left in the game and Texas sporting a 12-point lead, TiVo made that dinging sound and asked me if I wanted to "Delete the recording now" or "Don't delete." Evidently, telling TiVo to record the Baylor game meant it cut off exactly at 7:00 p.m., so like Katie Holmes' marriage to Tom Cruise, I was left ... uhm ... unfulfilled. Thanks for asking my deleting preference, TiVo, but I didn't want to delete or not delete. What I wanted was to breath dog-fart-free air and watch the rest of the stinking game.

But everything is cool, right? I mean, the Horns had a 12-point lead with two minutes left in the game. Nothing could go wrong, could it? Even in a hostile Big XII road environment with a team that was out to get us because they hadn't beaten us since the Clin-TAHN administration, we couldn't possible lose, right? Nobody blows a 12-point lead that late in a game, right?

Evidently, like Renee Zellweger marrying Kenny Chesney or the Indiana Hoosiers hiring Kelvin Sampson, things didn't work out exactly as planned. The Bears made a late run, hitting a few timely threes, pulling within one point with under thirty seconds left. But, as has happened so consistently over the past decade, Baylor found a way to lose a basketball game to the Horns. Calling a timeout when your team has none left is a technical foul screw-up dating all the way back to Chris Webber and Michigan's Fab Five in 1993, but Bear Senior Aaron Bruce was unhappy to give us a history lesson. Bruce's error led to UT free throws that eventually put the game out of reach.

Although he'll be teased within an inch of his life, I'm sure Bruce will survive. As far as I know, "Thou shalt not boner thy teammates' comeback" was not something Moses brought etched in stone from the mountain from his committee meeting with the Almighty. Besides, even Baptists believe in forgiveness – well, the non-insane ones, anyway – and in basketball there's almost always time for atonement. I know if we keep playing Baylor long enough (my Baptist friends would add, and if the Lord doesn't return anytime soon) they will eventually beat us. But for right now, as Kermit the Frog says, "It ain't easy being green."

On a somewhat related note, the whole Kelvin Sampson thing is grounds for humor on so many levels, I barely know where to begin. First has been the crap some Sooners have been spouting to the effect that they got rid of Sampson because they knew he was trouble. If you've been following Dirt Burglar basketball this year, you know that's about as believable as Lyle Lovett claiming he kicked Julia Roberts out of his bed because she grew her toenails too long and he could do better.

Next is the sheer number of telephone violations committed. In Norman from 2000 to 2006, the NCAA found Sampson or his staff made 577 excessive calls. What the heck is going on? How could you possibly make that many calls in that period of time? What could you possibly have to say to a high school kid that many times?

Imagine you're in the home of Jamail Bigslam, a high school power forward from Cowpie, Missouri. He's at supper with his mom and sister, and the phone rings. As Jamail unfolds his phone and sees the number, he rolls his eyes and sighs deeply. "Hello. Yeah, Coach, it's me." Jamail's mother sighs loudly enough to be heard on the receiver and drops the bowl of green beans hard enough on the counter to make an audible sound. "About the same as when you called in fourth period. And in second period. And at lunch. Yeah, Mrs. Johnston is a real ball breaker." Jamail laughs, but it's cut short as Mrs. Bigslam clears her throat loudly and shoots Jamail a dirty look. He shrugs his shoulders at her and keeps going. "Uhm. Spaghetti. No, with sauce. I don't know. Prego, I think. No, no mushrooms. Uhm. Green beans. Milk. I don't know, two percent, I guess. Yeah, it does taste the same as whole. Listen coach, I really gotta get ... What? No, Coach I have no idea what you're wearing. Yeah, I'm sure you look great in crimson. O.K. Well, thanks for calling. Do I what? No, Coach. Listen, I have ..." At this point, Mrs. Bigslam destroys the phone as it flies past Jamail's head and smashes into the wall.

All of which makes us appreciate Texas Coach Rick Barnes even more. Wins over Tennessee, UCLA, St. Mary's, and Kansas. No cheating. No lying to the NCAA. No lying to the school. No shame. No humiliation. No explaining to do.

No kidding.

Now if we can beat the Gomers tonight, we'll be set for a great tournament run.

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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