A Little Effort

This week, Bill gives us his take on what’s ailing our beloved Longhorns. As it turns out, they’re putting forth too much effort.


Bill Little commentary: Just do it

Every Longhorn player wanted to win so badly that they let their "want to" get in the way of their "get to."

Oct. 31, 2010

Bill Little, Texas Media Relations

Longhorn baseball coach Augie Garrido figured this out a long time ago. So did Nike.

Webster defines the word "try" as "to test; to attempt; to endeavor; to make effort."

Augie and Nike figured out how to look up the definition of "try" in the dictionary?

"If you set out to `try' to do something," says Garrido, "you'll never get it done. Don't `try' to hit the ball, just hit the ball." Nike's slogan has become "Just Do It."

Becoming a slogan is a gradual process. A company doesn't just come up with some phrase and then anoint it right there on the spot as its slogan. The words have to simmer for a while. Build up steam. Appear as the exclusive catchphrase in a company's print, television, radio and on-line ads for 20 years.

Then, one day it hits you. That zippy little group of words that you always thought of as just another trademarked advertising phrase? Well, it’s gone and grown into a slogan, right before your very eyes.

They grow up so fast.

I realize we are playing with words here,

The way Lennie plays with the rabbits.

...but Saturday night in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium may well have been a case of guys "trying" too hard. Wanting desperately to make a play, they got lost in the attempt and failed to achieve what they thought they were "trying" to do.

Maybe Bill should "try" not to wrap "quotation marks" around every single "fucking" "occurrence" of a word that he's "using" in its "literal" "sense." " "

You can test this for yourself. Drop a piece of paper on the floor and "try" to pick it up.

Done. The paper is in my hand now.

Your natural reaction is to reach down and grab hold of the paper.

Whoa... That's eerie. It's like Bill read my mind!

You didn't "try" to do it, you just did it. If you simply "try", it will just lay there.

That is so true, because as Bill noted above, Webster's Dictionary defines the word "try" as "don't do shit, but just stand there staring at the ground like a dim-witted meatstump wondering why you aren't picking up the piece of paper lying in front of you."

Good intentions are good,

And bad writing is bad.

...but that is kind of like what Darrell Royal once said; "Potential means you ain't done it yet."

No. It's not "kind of like" that. Those two concepts aren't even close to the same idea. To try means to attempt something and, possibly, fail. To have potential means that you have been judged capable of doing something without yet attempting it.

You know, I’m starting to think that Bill doesn’t actually know what he's writing about.

It is both the most gratifying, and yet the most frustrating, part of coaching a team. You appreciate it when your team plays hard--when it "makes effort" if you will

Very well, Bill. I'll indulge your little word-substitution game. But just this once. Don't push your luck.

--and yet you are immensely disappointed when that effort does not translate into success. You can't "try" to stop them; you "have" to stop them. You can't "try" to score, you just score.

This is a great lesson for the Longhorn football team: stop trying. It's not worth it. Really, there's no point. That paper lying there on the floor? Yeah, dream on. You're never going to pick it up. In fact, you're never going to amount to anything.

So why try? Just go home, plant your sorry ass on your couch, turn on Judge Joe Brown and start methodically stuffing fudgesicles and Cheetos into your rictus. And then sit there for weeks on end while the world marches on outside.

Feel free to sleep as much as you want. And possibly take an occasional trip to the shitter. You can even put on some bath slippers and stumble over to the 7-11 down the street to pick up more Cheetos and maybe some of those hotrod magazines that have buxom bikini-clad Latinas on the cover.

But, whatever you do, don't try. Attempting things only leads to failure. So, just say "fuck it" and sit around for the next few weeks with your thumb up your crack.

That’s the only way you’re going to win any football games.

And what happened Saturday night was that every Longhorn player wanted to win so badly that they let their "want to" get in the way of their "get to."

Actually, what happened was that they let their "offensive coordinator" get in the way of a "competent gameplan."

They also let their "starting safety" get in the way of their "All-American caliber, actual-play-making corner."

The result was a handful of big plays by Baylor, and too many dropped balls and penalties by Texas, that netted a 30-22 Baylor victory.

That is why, for the first time in the lifetime of most of the players on the field, Baylor got to celebrate a victory in Austin.

Yep. That is why we lost. It's the players' fault. They "tried" to win but didn't. So, they lost. Because they tried.

The coaches can’t be blamed. They didn’t try at all. Hell, they haven't been trying to do anything since before Spring practices. So you can't blame the coaches for trying and failing

Nope, this is all on the players and their bullheaded refusal to not try.

...It doesn't happen very often--the last time it did was 1991. It was Baylor's first win ever over a Mack Brown-coached Texas team, and only their second victory over the Horns in the last 18 years.

See what you get when you try?!?!?

The frustrating irony for the Longhorns, who are now 2-3 in the very balanced Big 12 South, is that they have had a final chance on the last drive of the three losses to tie the game.

“Irony” is Bill’s catch-all word. Like “widget” or “thingamajig,” he uses it to vaguely describe anything and everything.

Oklahoma won, 28-20. The Iowa State game finished at 28-21. And now Baylor stops a final drive for a 30-22 victory. When it has needed to get points inside the red zone, Texas has had to settle for field goals. Saturday, a remarkable Justin Tucker tied a UT school record with five field goals. Had two of those penetrations translated to touchdowns instead, the score would have been tied.

On the night when the Longhorns' honored history by retiring Colt McCoy's jersey, Baylor coach Art Briles made a point after the game of saying he and his team were not looking at the past, but rather looking forward. That is also the direction the Longhorns have to take as well. At 4-4, there is still a third of the regular season to play. Mack's saying of, "they will remember November" has never applied more than to this 2010 team. The media and the negative folks will dredge up all of the dire historical notes of what has happened so far, but what happens next is all that can be controlled right now.

Yeah, so stop talking about all of the failures of the recent past. Look to the future! We haven't failed in the future yet.

...True enough, in time all that may be will be a line in the record book, but the November games against Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Florida Atlantic and Texas A&M will ultimately determine how this team is remembered.

That is true enough. If Texas wins all four of its remaining games, we will all remember the 2010 Longhorns as an undefeated team.

Prior to this season, Texas under Mack Brown had never lost Big 12 regular season games to Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Iowa State or Baylor. The Longhorns' only losses in Big 12 regular season competition had come to Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Kansas State. The Wildcats, in Manhattan, are the next team on the UT schedule.

When a reporter asked Mack Brown in the post game press conference, "How do you fix this?" - his answer was simple. He didn't talk about "trying." He said instead, "You just keep working."

I believe that this incident was Bill’s inspiration for his article. His thought process must have run something like this:

“Mack explained how he would fix the team’s problems without specifically using the word ‘try.’ That means that he will not try to fix the problems. Because Mack will not try, it must be bad to try. I shall pen a brilliant exposition on the folly of effort!”

I remember when I was with The Associated Press in Oklahoma City in 1967 and the Longhorns were in the midst of a season that would end at 6-4. I had called the home of Darrell and Edith Royal about 10:30 on a Sunday night to get a quote about Texas' upcoming game with the unbeaten Sooners. Coach Royal wasn't home.

"He's at the office, Bill," Edith had said. Then she paused. "They are having to coach a lot harder this year."

WARNING: what you have just read is a superfluous Darrell K. Royal-related non sequitur. Its sole purpose is to distract you from the horrifying reality of the 2010 college football season. The esteemed editors of Barking Carnival advise you to wipe it from your memory.

The decade of 2000-2009 for the Longhorns produced the most number of wins in a decade of any team in the history of college football. The decade was also the most successful, percentage-wise, of any ever at UT.

PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE SEASON BEHIND THE CURTAIN!

Several times on Saturday, the crowd of over 100,000 arrived at a place which respected that what was happening on the field was only a game.

This magical location that is somehow capable of exhibiting respect is also known as “anywhere outside of the stadium.” Because there sure as shit weren’t 100,000 people in DKR-Memorial at any point during Saturday’s game.

...The first was the recognition of Colt, for all that he had meant. The second was the recognition of the significance of the players' effort to call attention to the lives--including many of their own--affected by breast cancer. Each player and coach had dedicated their game to someone in their lives who had been touched by the disease.

Finally, the silence was incredible as Aaron Williams and Blake Gideon lay on the field after colliding near the end of the game. In that moment, it was no longer about a game, but about real people, and real lives.

It always is.

Here's a little riddle for you: what is about real people and real lives in a particular moment, and is no longer about a game, but is always about real people and real lives?

Answer: it.

...Football at Texas has brought tremendous joy to hundreds of thousands of people over the last years. We respect that, and we treasure those moments. And players, coaches, and fans never expect that to change. But for fear of being philosophical here, it does. They call that life.

You keep working. You keep fighting.

You, keep massaging my feet! You, keep waxing the Dreamwagon!

...In the movie Star Wars, the Jedi Master Yoda put it another way: "Do or do not. There is no try."

Jesus. Bill just quoted a Frank Oz-voiced puppet. A puppet whose lines were penned by the Grand Dragon of Trite Hacks himself, George Lucas.

Is this what our season has come to?

...I say again, and here repeat:

I will both say something I've already said, and, additionally, I will repeat myself.

...a third of the season remains.

Fuck. Seriously? Someone please shoot me.

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