I was sitting on my front porch drinking some whiskey the other day when a car turned onto my street with a USC Trojans sticker on it. It made me feel a certain type of way, it took my mind back home. I live in Southern California, Long Beach to be exact. I’m from Texas, Austin to be specific. Home of the Texas Longhorns – and with college football season upon us I wandered back to the greatest game in college football history. Texas vs USC in the 2005 National Title game, the game where Vince Young showed us why he is without a doubt the greatest college football player of all-time.
I took a sip of my whiskey and I replayed the legendary Keith Jackson’s classic call in my head, “4th and 5 – the national championship on the line right here.” And then as only Keith Jackson could, he proved that sometimes less is more as Young pranced into the end zone, “He’s going for the corner…. HE’S GOT IT!”
Texas and USC will forever be linked together because of that game, for a special moment in time they had the college football stratosphere on edge. There are no professional teams in the Austin area, that meant the world stopped for a few hours on Saturday’s in the fall when the Horns suited up. The city’s energy is electric, everyone is outside BBQ’ing in burnt orange gear. There’s no place I’d rather be in the world than Austin, Texas on a Saturday evening after the Longhorns pull out a big win. We as a city collectively come together for a common cause, and there is nothing more I’d rather be apart of.
Saturday, September 1st, 2018, will mark the first season opener away from home for me. My girlfriend Leslie and I moved out to SoCal about 9 months ago. I got the opportunity of a lifetime that I couldn’t pass up, so we took it. Since moving here we’ve experienced our first NBA All-Star weekend, Super Bowl, NBA playoffs, and college football championships away from home. But this is different, I’ve always told people that the only thing I love in the sports world more than the Los Angeles Lakers are my Texas Longhorns. And being away from all the shenanigans has only deepened my love.
Last year, I was in Los Angeles for the third weekend of the college football season when Texas and USC squared off for the first time since the 05 title game. My boys Vinny and Anthony, plus my boss made the flight from Austin to LA game day morning to go house hunting. We flew into LAX to a sea of Longhorns fans, it was like I was back home, that was until I left the airport and we hit Venice. Every other person I saw was decked out in USC gear as they prepped for that nights game. It reminded me that this was going to be my new reality, and what I’m about to say I’ve never told anyone before. It made me sad, I realized that everything I ever wished for came true. I remember as a kid I couldn’t wait to leave Austin and one day call the LA area home. Now that it was here it was bitter sweet.
Before we left Austin I remember how much I cherished those two first games of the season last year. I knew they’d be my last as a resident of Austin and I spent a lot of time thinking to myself how I’d feel a year later. Would my feelings for the Longhorns fade? Would I still go to bed the Friday night before season kickoff with butterflies in my belly like I did every year before? I could replay that scenario over one thousand times and I’d never be able to guess I’d feel like I do now.
College football always marked a special time for me in the year. I knew with football came cooler weather, family BBQ’s, and a new chapter in my life. As a kid many of my heroes laced up the pads and played football on the 40 acres. Vince Young, Derrick Johnson, Michael Huff, Jamaal Charles, Quan Cosby, Limas Sweed, Cedric Griffin, the list can go on and on. Now, I watch a new generation of kids heroes with the likes of Sam Ehlinger, John Burt, Kris Boyd, and Colin Johnson add their part to this rich history of excellence.
Being 1,200 miles away from my family has made me appreciate things a little bit differently. I’ve learned to take in experiences in a new light, especially the firsts. As I’m growing older, I’m learning that the first times grow further and further away, but that’s ok. It just means that you’ve been living life to the fullest. You may not remember all those firsts times, but what matters is that you take a second to enjoy it, because no matter how hard you try, special moments can’t be duplicated.
I’ve watched every Longhorn season opener since I was 8 years old. This means that for the last 20 years I woke up one Saturday morning in the fall and started making memories that will last me a life time. This year will be a little different being so far away, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I may live down the road from USC now, but it gives me a chance to bring some of that rich Longhorn tradition out west and show these boys how we roll in the great state of Texas. Los Angeles has always been my dream city, Las Vegas is probably next due to the trajectory I’m on, New York is after that if I play my cards right and it all goes as planned. But, no matter how far I roam, it’s always HOOK EM!