We are the Joneses.
The famous words uttered by DeLoss Dodds to demonstrate the primacy of Longhorn athletics or - to be more precise - its available resources. Quickly adopted by our fans (including me) as a rallying cry, without putting a lot of thinking into what it actually means.
It's one of the few rallying cries that actively celebrates Stockholm Syndrome.
The Longhorns lead the nation in college apparel sales. For seven years running. In fact, I see more Texas gear in various cities around the country than I see gear of most other Texas schools in Texas.
Texas has more revenue than any athletic department in the nation. 150 million dollars in 2010-2011. Football alone is worth half of that.
Texas has a slick network solely devoted to all things Longhorn, that puts a smooth 15 million a year into Longhorn coffers.
Texas has top notch facilities, world class resources, unmatched academic resources, and offers a fantastic, well-regarded education.
Texas has highly ranked recruiting classes each and every year, dominating the mind share of the state's best athletes.
We are the Joneses, aren't we?
Of course, when we praise a coach for revenues or a recruiting class, it only as likely predictors of success, useful only as means to the end of actual winning. Absent the actual winning, we're really just discussing a bunch of resources. A big lump of potential.
Paid for by the fans.
And here's the part, Texas fan, you may not want to hear, but here goes:
When Texas fans brag "We Are The Joneses" while citing athletic department revenues, a highly ranked recruiting class, facilities, or apparel sales, while winning a conference title two of every fifteen years in our primary revenue driver, completely botching most of our women's sports, and settling for mediocrity in several other sports, we are bragging about unfulfilled potential. We're celebrating underachievement.
I understand that we've moved the national culture over the last decade and a half to valuing self-esteem over actual achievement, but let's walk it back a little, shall we?
Let's be clear about where those profits come from.
When we brag about profits, at least with respect to football, we're gloating over being taken to the tune of $75 per ticket with a corresponding $1,000+ Longhorn foundation donation needed to land a 10 yard line seat, for the right to be barraged by an unceasing parade of obnoxious marketing, and to see the Longhorns beat Rice.
I'm not decrying profit. I'm an unapologetic capitalist, and we want revenues, the LHN, high salaries for our coaches, and anything else that makes the structure of our programs sound, but the only place where the fan actually sees the benefit of all of these assorted means to an end is in wins and in enjoyment of the actual product.
That's our only pay-off. Anything else is simply pride over what our resources suggest we might achieve.
Bragging about vast resources absent production, great potential without achievement - you're welcome to it, if that's your thing.
"We Are The Joneses" absent a payoff to the fan, whether in reduced prices or increased wins, is mindlessly bleating a catch phrase that you don't currently benefit from, straight from your pockets.
Carry on, Joneses.