So, a Longhorn, a Bear and an Aggie walk into a bar … and the roof of the bar crashes on top of their heads.
That’s it. That’s the punchline.
Or, rather, call it the gut-punch line. Because the only joke was the final outcome of the game for the Longhorns. Oh, and the Bears. Oh yeah, and finally the Aggies.
As Labor Day weekends go, this one turned out rather laborious for the football teams at Texas, Baylor and Texas A&M. Check that. It was the weekend from hell. Emphasis on the weak.
You only thought “The Biggest Loser” was off the air.
What has exactly happened to these proud, flagship football programs? Let’s revisit the Triangle of Despair, as I’ve heard it called, and take an aerial view of the wreckage.
Texas was the first to magnificently fall on its face. Of the three, the Longhorns were the only ones ranked, so (supposedly) more was expected of Tom Herman’s team.
Instead, those Horns, then-ranked No. 23, seemingly forgot how to tackle in a 51-41 home defeat to Maryland. It marked the Longhorns’ first loss in a home opener since 1999. The Terrapins registered their first victory over a ranked opponent since 2010, and defeated a ranked team in an opener for the first time, period.
In the waning moments of the game, the Maryland fans in attendance in Austin naturally chanted, “Over-rated! Over-rated!” Now, forget for a moment what I’ve told you in the past, that these words comprise the most overrated chant in sports. In this case, the Maryland folks were right.
Texas should have never been ranked in the first place. On what exactly were the pollsters basing their opinions? Did they watch the Freddie Steinmark movie before sending their ballots to the AP? Were they hopped up on Royal-like nostalgia?
No, Texas is a “name” school, along the lines of Ohio State, Florida State and others. That’s not to suggest those schools don’t have stout teams or are somehow unworthy of their rankings. But in the hair-splitting exercise of voting on the Top 25, the name game can often be the tiebreaker.
In UT’s case, the ranking was ridiculous. The Longhorns scored 17 non-offensive points and still lost. That’s harder to do than Advanced Calculus.
Herman won big at Houston, and in time he may do so in Austin. But even more so than the right coach, Texas must find the right quarterback. They’ve been searching for that guy ever since Colt McCoy left, and that was eight years ago. Shane Buechele is just a sophomore, and maybe he’ll develop into a prolific passer in time, but he’s not there yet.
But if you thought the Longhorns were the biggest wiener of Worst-Fest 2017, think again. A couple of hours after the Texas-Maryland game ended, Baylor opened its season at home against Liberty.
Then the Bears went out at out-Texased Texas.
Yes, the Bears lost to the same Liberty that now employs Ian McCaw, Baylor’s old athletic director. (McCaw probably would have never imagined when he set up that contract with Liberty that he would end up on the winning side … with the Flames.)
Now, it’s challenging to give Baylor a fair grade on its opener, considering the number of absences due to injury. Unless that grade is an incomplete.
But new BU coach Matt Rhule and some of the players said on Tuesday that Baylor absolutely dismissed Liberty and didn’t take the Flames seriously enough. Honestly, that’s inexcusable. In the rebuilding situation Baylor is in, and after more than a month of preseason camp, the Bears should be treating every game like it’s the CFP title game.
Unlike Texas, nobody thought highly enough of the Bears to bestow any lustrous preseason rankings upon them. However, also unlike Texas, Baylor lost to an FCS team.
Don’t expect to see them in any Top 25 polls anytime soon.
Of course, as dejected as Longhorns and Bears fans felt after Saturday, the always passionate Aggies took low to a new level on Sunday. “Wait, you want to see something really crazy? Here, hold my beer …”
For about 2½ quarters, the Aggies were getting jiggy with it. They looked like world-beaters, or at least Bruin bashers, up 44-10 in the third quarter over UCLA in Los Angeles.
Then the Aggie defense decided to grab an early flight back to Easterwood Airport in College Station. Whatever mojo A&M had built evaporated, and UCLA stormed back for a stunning 45-44 win. Aggie fans who went to sleep after halftime awakened to a nightmare that was rather difficult to process.
As choke jobs go, the only reason this one didn’t rival Bills-Oilers (1993) or Red Sox-Yankees (2004) was because those unfolded in the postseason. But don’t be disillusioned – it was still a choke along the lines of gargling a rotten egg and toejam smoothie.
It was also exactly what Kevin Sumlin didn’t need. We’re in September, when the temperature outside still sizzles with short pant weather, and Sumlin’s office chair has been equipped with seat warmers. Translation: The guy will be lucky to be coaching A&M in 2018. Shoot, if this keeps up, he might be lucky to still be coaching in November.
It was quite a weekend, to say the least. If you’re a Frog or a Red Raider or a Sooner, you were probably laughing your fool heads off. The other guys, not so much. Oh, did you hear this one …
An Aggie, a Bear and a Longhorn walk into a bar.
Bartender looks up and says, “Hey, what is this? Some kind of joke?”