Monday, November 23, 2009

Game 11: Texas 51, Kansas 20.

With temps in the lower 60s, our last home tailgate was perfect football weather, or as Dede saw it, Snuggie weather!
Former Longhorn great (and Dallas Cowboy) Don Talbert paid us a visit. He was a regular visitor this season!
We watched Ohio State-Michigan and Tech-ou and later caught the UConn-Notre Dame game.

Dede and I walked over to Longhorns Ltd. While we were on that side of the stadium, we checked out the new Frank Denius Veterans Plaza. On one side is the memorial to Texans killed in World War I. Before the massive remodel, this used to be displayed in the north endzone (and over our heads when we had those awful seats in '01).

The newest addition to the plaza is "The Doughboy," a statue dedicated this past Veterans Day. Although it depicts a World War I soldier, it is meant to honor veterans of all wars. Frank Denius, the UT alum and D-Day hero, commissioned the statue and was there for the piece's dedication.

While on the north side of DKR, Dede and I cast our vote for Colt for the Davey O'Brien Award. We also got a chance to pose with the trophy.
Back at the tailgate, it was time to start cooking dinner! It takes a while to brown 20 pounds of ground beef!
Mmmm, chili!

Later we had a visit from a special guest: Tommy Nobis. Nobis paid our tailgate a visit last season, too, but it was still such a thrill to have him stop by. The guy is a true legend in Longhorn lore (starting on offense AND defense for his entire college career!), and he was the #1 pick in the NFL draft and Rookie of the Year as an Atlanta Falcon.

Nobis ate some chili and then was kind enough to share some stories with us. He talked about playing for Coach Royal and winning the national championship in '63. He also talked about how much he loves the University—the Tower and everything else about it. He mentioned how he was at training camp for the Atlanta Falcons when he heard about the Tower shootings in '66 and how devastating that was.

With all of his storytelling, it's not surprising that Tommy had a crowd around him while he was with us. It was interesting to listen to passersby. "Hey! That's Tommy Nobis!"

A couple of younger girls at the tailgate were asking who he was. Their dad told them it was Tommy Nobis, but that name didn't ring a bell. I told them that the opening video played before every game shows five former players: Bobby Layne, Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Vince Young and Tommy Nobis. Putting Nobis in an elite group with Vince seemed to make an impression on those young ladies! Truly, those five names are the ones on our stadium's version of the "Ring of Honor." It's nice to know that this big-time football star is such a down-to-earth gentleman—and a guy who likes his chili on the spicy side!

FINALLY, after a long day at the tailgate, it was gametime!

The senior introductions are always bittersweet.

Notice the trophy down there by Bevo? Ooh, I can't even type its name lest I jinx it, but ABC was promoting a certain January ballgame.

In the fourth quarter, when the game was well in hand, we knew Colt's time was almost up. He was shown on the Godzillatron joking around with Coach Brown, even talking on Mack's headset. Sure enough, Mack sent him back into the game for one more down. After that snap, all the senior starters were pulled off the field so they could get their ovation. On KU's next possession, the defensive senior starters had their moment of recognition. That kind of thing happens at basketball games all the time, but I don't remember seeing that at previous senior nights for football. Nice touch.
At the end of the game, we all celebrated Colt's record: the most career wins in Division 1 history!

After "The Eyes," the seniors took off on their victory lap around the field. They shook hands, fired Smokey the cannon, and Colt even beat on Big Bertha, the giant drum.

Then most of the seniors headed for the center of the field for a giant dogpile. Their joy was palpable! Colt, by the way, didn't join them. He was still jogging around the perimeter, shaking hands and high-fiving fans and security guards along the way. You could tell he was drinking in every last moment on that field.

I was, too. It's no secret how much I love these football weekends, and even though I still have at least one more game to attend, I'm still sad to see the home season end. That's why I tried to soak in every cheer, every high five, every note from the Longhorn Band and make the most of this last '09 home game.

After the game we headed back to the tailgate and took it down, packing everything away—for a couple of weeks, at least, since we'll have a mini-tailgate at the Big 12 championship game at Jerry World! Still, it was sad to see our spot cleared and dark and empty.
Until next fall...

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