Friday, September 04, 2009

100 Things Longhorn Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, by Jenna McEachern

100 Things Longhorn Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, by Jenna McEachern

As most folks that know me can attest, I do love my Longhorns! I finished this the day before the first game of the season and it certainly helped to put me in the right frame of mind. It should really have been called 100 Things Longhorn Football Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die because virtually every item is either about football or strongly related, but then football is the lifeblood of the University so I suppose that should be expected!

The book is a series of vignettes covering the history and traditions of Longhorn football. Sections on places (Memorial Stadium, the Drag, the Cotton Bowl), people (Vince Young, Clyde Littlefield, Rooster Andrews), and important years and decades make up the bulk of it, and McEachern admirably captures the essence of them all. For instance, when discussing the Texas-OU game she mentions Robert Heard’s quote, “There is no rivalry to rival this one.” She follows it with, “Just reading those quotes [sic] makes you want to drive to Dallas tomorrow. It makes your mouth water, makes your heart pump faster, and makes your breathing shallow.” Well said! Another fun story: Yards After Contact is a common football statistic; it turns out that UT was reportedly the first school to track it, although at the time it was called “Yards Made by [Earl] Campbell After First Hit by a Tackler.”

In places this book was entirely too repetitive and could have used some judicious editing. At one point we learn “the day Texas football was truly born was November 30, 1893, when The University of Texas Foot Ball Club accepted a challenge from the Dallas Foot Ball Club, the self-proclaimed champions of Texas.” On the very next page we are told “no game was more crucial than the very first one, when the Texas Varsity stormed into hostile territory to challenge the Dallas Foot Ball Club, self-proclaimed "champions of Texas."” This particular tidbit gets mentioned elsewhere too, but to be found on facing pages is a bit too redundant for me. Another oddity was the seeming lack of logic behind what items had dedicated sections and what ones were combined into overviews. For instance, the World’s Largest Texas Flag didn’t get it’s own section—it had to share with the Hex Rally and Pig Bellmont in the More Traditions category. However, both the color PMS 159 (burnt orange, naturally) and the tunnel at the Cotton Bowl got their own entries—with the actual Cotton Bowl getting yet another! Seems like odd logic to me, but the stories were all still entertaining.

First Sentence:
The University of Texas was legislated to be great.

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