A Little Show Tune For You

Bill Little commentary: The air of confidence

In the end, the success of the Texas Longhorns will be determined by their belief in themselves.

Sept. 4, 2011
Bill Little, Texas Media Relations

Alriiiiight! College football season is finally here! The annual four month celebration of everything manly. Tackling. Hitting. Battles in the trenches. Cannons firing. Hot chicks dancing around in chaps for our entertainment.

This is our time, fellas. A months-long testosterone-fueled festival of unbridled machismo. Embrace it and rejoice in what it means to be a man living in the greatest, most ass-kickingest country in the world. So fire up your grills, grab a cold American beer, and enjoy Bill Little's first chronicle of the 2011 Season of All Things Masculine:

In the musical, The Sound of Music,...

Oooff! Aaaarrggghh....

My energy... sapping. Testosterone... flowing from... weakened body. Cannot fight... feminizing effects... of Bill's first sentence.

Head sinks. Beer slips from feebled hand to ground. FKT marches defeated into house to watch "Dora the Explorer" with kids while wife jets off to spa appointment scheduled at kick-off time.

...the Julie Andrews character of Maria sings "What will my future be? I wonder." Maria must have known about the atmosphere in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Saturday night.

Little known fact: Julie Andrews is the most precise forecaster in the history of meteorology.

For just less than a year, Texas football has been talking about moving forward.

Excerpts from Bill's Lab Journal:

Entry #251. Jan. 17, 2011

Eureka! After years of painstaking research, including endless hours of trial-and-error experiments, frustration, and doubt, I have finally achieved the breakthrough of the century. Texas football - the entire abstract concept - can speak!

Texas football's first utterance was, admittedly, slightly garbled. It sounded something like "wuhnehdtahmuffvahwahhd." But the idea was clearly there. He (or she. Or it. Who knows?) was clearly expressing a desire to move forward. In words. Spoken words!

Needless to say, I cannot even begin to describe the rush of excitement this breakthrough has caused! All of my hard work has finally paid off! Time to break open the champagne and then, tomorrow, dive back into the project with new found vitality.

...

Entry # 308. Mar. 20, 2011.

Progress continues, albeit slowly. Texas football's enunciation has markedly improved. The words are now clearly understandable. "We need to move forward." In the two months since the first breakthrough, however, Texas football has not expressed any interest in topics outside of its (his? Hers? Still unclear, despite exhaustive search for reproductive organs.) desired direction of locomotion.

Now that the basics of speech have been mastered, we can start working towards building a broader repertoire of expressed concepts.

...

Entry #429. June 14, 2011.

Still all about "moving forward." Our conversations are now a broken record.

"What would you like to talk about, Texas football?"

"We need to move forward."

"Of course, but what about the global economic crisis? Would you like to discuss that?"

"We need to move forward."

"Fair enough. I understand. Have you any interest in movies? Books? Gourmet cooking?"

"We need to move forward."

You get the idea. My enthusiasm is waning, but I need to remember just how difficult this initial breakthrough was. Texas football is talking. Talking! That in itself is Nobel worthy. Expanding the subject of conversation is just icing on the cake, right?

...

Entry #638. August 30, 2011.

Aaaaarrrrrrggghhhhh!!! "Move forward! Move forward! We need to move forward!"

SHUT.

THE.

FUCK.

UP.

All this jabbering idiot wants to talk about is "moving forward." I am at my goddamned wit's end! Remind me - why in the ever-living hell did I teach this abstract conceptual agglomeration of people, events, and things to talk in the first place???

I swear to God in Heaven - if I ever figure out Texas football's anatomy, I will stick a 12 gauge to its head and pull... the... fucking... trigger. Life in prison for first degree murder of a talking abstraction would be well worth it at this point.

...It has embraced its rich tradition, with the caveat that you respect the past--both the good and the not-so-good--and move toward the future.

Texas football doesn't just speak. For the right price, it is also willing to make out with other abstract notions. It will even embrace its own tradition, if you get my drift. *wink wink*

...Conversations centered, not on the missteps or the championships, but on the "now."

Wait. Fuck. What the... What's going on here? I'm lost.

Just two sentences ago, Bill told us that Texas football has been talking about nothing but the future. Now he does a 180 and claims that Texas football, in fact, has been talking mainly about the present. That doesn't make any sense.

Maybe the next line will add some clarity.

And so the 34-9 win over Rice Saturday night was a blending, and a beginning.

Nope!

Are you lost? I am. Let's get lost together, shall we?

Come! We're going to figure out this semantic riddle by summarizing the main points of Bill's first six sentences:

1. Meteorological conditions in DKR last Saturday demonstrate that Julie Andrews was clairvoyant.

2. Texas football can talk, but only about the future.

3. Texas football talks mainly about the present.

4. Ergo, Texas' victory over Rice involved a food processor.

Are we all together now? Okay, let's move on.

All of the ingredients were there.

Right. The ingredients were in the blender, ready to become a blending. Got it.

...The new Longhorn Network launched its inaugural game with class, in a continued showing of what has been a series of rave reviews of those who have had a chance to view it. As Texas-based Grande Communications jumped on board on Friday, 140,000 homes in Central Texas were added to the more than four million viewer base already developed for the fledgling UT exclusive network.

The season opener had been described as the most anticipated in years at Texas, and the packed house of over 101,000 fans got what they came for. The youth movement - both on the field and in the coaching staff - reminded us all that youth is served best...

Cold?

..., not by the "what has been" but by the "what can be."

Well, if Texas football can speak, then why not have sentence fragments serve youth in some capacity? Perhaps as a butler or waiter or something? When life deals you crazy, might as well double down, right?

Now, here's the connection to Maria's song: while to some Saturday may have been about tradition and trick plays, touchdowns scored and those not allowed, most of all it was about confidence. Mack Brown has said over and over again that his program is built on "communication, trust, respect and a common purpose."

That point didn't make sense to me and I was fully prepared to mock it, until I grabbed my handy copy of Webster's Dictionary and looked up the definition of "confidence."

Confidence, n. 1. Communication. 2. Trust. 3. Respect. 4. Common purpose.

Bill Little, 1. Mr. Smarty-Pants Blog Guy, 0.

The quest for a new beginning had been forged by a winter of discontent after the 2010 season ended. Good coaches and great people left the program for a variety of reasons. Mack was left with the challenge of reconstructing a staff and redefining his mission. And as the first game for the new staff approached last week, the learning process was an interesting one. The challenge for the staff on Saturday became blending the divergent experiences and ideas from a bushel basket of respected universities and professional teams,

A whole bushel basket full of respected universities? *whistle*. That's a lot! I mean, it's not quite a truckload of municipal governments. But it's a lot more than a barrel of multinational conglomerates, that's for sure.

...with those worthy standards which have reflected the Mack Brown era at Texas for the past 13 years. Everything from pre-game to bench operation would be new in this initial contest of the new version of Texas football.

And that was before you ever got to the game.

Not me. I got there early!

I also wore orange, be'd loud and stayed late.

Maria, you see, sang of "wonder," but she sang most about "confidence."

And that is really where our story begins.

Oh. My. God. Bill's crappy story is just beginning? Ugh.

First, Mack had to have confidence in his new hires, and the coaches had to have confidence in their boss and the UT establishment. Then, the staff had to have confidence in each other. That is how Bennie Wylie had begun the important summer work with the counseling of his friend Jeff Madden. It is how Manny Diaz took the knowledge and wisdom of the veteran Duane Akina and blended it with the youth and ideas of Oscar Giles and Bo Davis, both of whom had coached defensive linemen who were part of national championships.

And it was the golden thread that bound Bryan Harsin, Darrell Wyatt, and Stacy Searels with the young ideas of Major Applewhite and the stability of the veteran Bruce Chambers.

History tells us...

Now history is talking.

...that James Street, who was one of the winningest athletes in Texas Longhorn history, used to walk away by himself before games, just to focus his thoughts. Saturday night in the DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium press box, I saw Bryan Harsin do the same thing. And then, he went to work.

Cool story, bro!

Collectively, they had to believe in themselves. Most of all, however, they had spent a spring and a gruelingly hot summer trying to get their players to do the same thing. If Saturday night were Christmas morning, 7 p.m. meant it was time to open their packages.

Uh.... what?

With a theme of unity and a mantra of "brick by brick," the first phase had been to get the players to understand the meaning of the poker term "all in."

A Scene from the First Phase:

Coach: Okay, guys. Let's go over this one more time. What is the meaning of the poker term "all in?"

Player 1: Uh, it means, uh... that, you know, you put most of it in?

Coach: No. But that's pretty close. Anyone else know?

Player 2: Maybe it means that you put some of it in?

Coach: No. No, that's not right. Let's just-

Player 3: I know, coach! It means that you put NONE of it in! Right?

Coach: *sigh*. Okay, maybe we should just start over...

...They had to do that. They had to be that.

Diaz had promised an attacking defense which would protect its end zone at all costs, and with Emmanuel Acho, Keenan Robinson and Kenny Vaccaro leading the tackling, they did that. Both sides of the ball promised to play a lot of players.

Bill Little's brain is like the set of a Sid and Marty Krofft show. Texas football can talk. So can history. Meaningless sentence fragments are butlers. The geometric properties of a ball can make assurances. Dreamwagons. Etc., etc.

Shall we make another comparison? Why not, he does it all the time. Bill Little's brain operates like Peter Sellers' untamed hand in Dr. Strangelove without the Nazi agenda, synapses connecting where they shouldn't, conclusions arriving off schedule, at the wrong stadium, in a different conference, in blurry light -- all unintentionally for your entertainment! These are the gifts bestowed upon those who ride the Dreamwagon. Just be glad you have a ticket ...

...The defensive statistics chart (which does include special teams plays)...

Take THAT, unidentified person who presumably said that the defensive statistics chart doesn't include special teams plays!

...included 26 different players who made at least one play.

Offensively, Harsin's innovative attack included seven players with rushing statistics, four different players who threw passes, and eight who caught at least one. Of all the reclamation efforts from last season, however, Harsin's bench mark was at the quarterback position. That had begun with the instilling of the final piece of the confidence message.

The composition of that paragraph had ended with the writing of a long string of prepositional phrases.

You can have confidence in your head coach, you can have confidence in your position coach, you can believe in faith, family and friends, but...

...just lay off of my blue suede shoes!

...in the end, your success will be determined by your belief in yourself. In the summer work when the NCAA rule prohibits coaches from instructing players on football business,...

National Collegiate Athletic Association Official Rulebook

Rule 1: In the summer work, coaches are prohibited from instructing players on football business.

The End.

...the quarterbacks who hoped to play checked their egos at the door and accepted the responsibility of learning the fundamental principles of the offense Harsin and Applewhite had melded from Boise and Texas.

What did the quarterbacks who hoped to not play do?

...In learning together, they also bonded together, and the friendship that developed between Garrett Gilbert, Case McCoy and Davis Ash has permeated the "brick by brick" philosophy. Under Harsin's tutelage they each have a critical role in the position, and they have each other's back.

That same trait is spread throughout this team that is an interesting blend of a few veteran seniors and juniors and a host of sophomores and freshmen. Seventeen freshmen played Saturday night.

This team is a blend of seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen. For example, a lot of freshment played. QED.

..."Unity" has been a major emphasis. That is why you won't find a lot of conversation about rankings or opponents. For this team to continue to grow, it cannot be about "them" and "outside influences." What you saw the beginning of Saturday was a team that has been forged on the simple principle of being about "us."

Oh, "we" get "your" drift, "Bill."

...Admittedly, they have a long way to go, but you get the feeling that whatever their final destination, they are going there together.

Just as young people are pieces of adults,

I don't think Bill knows how babies are made.

...Maria's song in The Sound of Music has pieces that will be a part of the determination of what this team learns, and where it may actually go.
"Face my mistakes without defiance"..."with each step I am more certain"...

I like to think Bill dictated this article while singing in the shower.

So it was Saturday. The defense shut Rice down in the second half, and the offense scored on three straight touchdown drives of 72, 99 and 94 yards in a ten-minute span in the middle of the second half. What it all came down to was Maria's final line in The Sound of Music song:...

Oh, come on. Did Bill really need to tell us that? Does he actually think we're that stupid? Everyone who watched the fourth quarter of the Rice game understood that the game's outcome hinged on the final line in Rogers and Hammerstein's famous show tune, "I Have Confidence." That's just basic football.

..."I have confidence in confidence alone! Besides which you see, I have confidence in me!"

And though there is a long way to go and opening games are far from perfect, that's a great place to begin.

Q: What is a great place to begin?

A: Confidenceness: the pure extract of confidence. The most very perfect trusting relationship ever between an idea that something will happen and the certitude of making it so.

Do you have it?

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