Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian was spot on when he attempted to spin Saturday’s loss to Alabama into a win for the program.
For a game that is pretty definitively decided, there’s a lot of room for interpretation in football.
A win is a win and a loss is a loss, but the nuance within that is sometimes greater than the sum of the parts it appears to be. Take Saturday’s loss by the Texas Longhorns and how it isn’t really a loss beyond the obvious.
The 20-19 loss to Alabama fully counts as a whole loss against the program, but to take it at face value is missing the point.
That’s something that Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian wants to be explicitly clear about. After the loss, Sark boldly told reporters that it wasn’t Alabama that defeated his team rather it was the clock that did them in.
All the Longhorns needed was a little more time.
A normal reaction to this is to roll your eyes and chalk this up to Football Guy nonsense. Texas had a six-point lead in the third quarter at home against the best school in the country and couldn’t hold it. The rules of the game are what they are, and the Longhorns didn’t beat Bama within the allotted time every game is played.
What’s next, a comment about how if only Texas had more points they would have won?
Moral victories are the opiate of the coaching masses, but rather than be rude and snarky about Sarkisian’s comments let’s appreciate the fact that this is a rare case where nuance is relevant.
This is a dangerous thing to say, especially in a post-fact world in Texas, but it’s not what you say it’s how you interpret it.
Don’t focus on the fact that Texas blew the lead, it had a six-point lead on the No. 1 school in the country. The Longhorns didn’t lose, they let a National Championship finalist escape with one-point lead. Alabama didn’t win, it needed a miracle play to set up a last-second field goal to avoid losing to Texas.
The importance is putting the right emphasis on the right syllable.
Keep in mind the Longhorns tried to hold that lead with their backup quarterback, who replaced an injured Quinn Ewers and was also injured himself. Was it sloppy play that led to Bama being penalized more than it ever has been under Nick Saban’s rule, or was it Texas getting inside their heads?
What happens if Texas isn’t called for a highly questionable roughing the passer penalty that negated a safety in what ended up being a one-point game? Or that late missed facemask which would have extended a drive and both drained more clock in a game Alabama needed almost ever second to come back, and likely would have produced a touchdown not a field goal for Texas?
Perception is merely a lens through which reality is viewed, especially in college football and especially for a school as down on its luck as Texas has been.
Over the last handful of years, the only consistent thing about Texas football has been the number of jokes its been the butt of. Seeing TEXAS BACK doesn’t so much summon dread as it does laughs, and the school has deserved every bit of criticism it’s received. But Saturday went a long way in starting to shift perceptions, and for the first time in what seems like forever, there’s more hope than hopelessness.
We need to see how the Longhorns respond after the loss to get a good read on just how bright the light at the end of the tunnel is, but
Let’s also not gloss over what Sark is really saying and who he’s saying it to; He’s saying Alabama didn’t win the game rather Texas let them escape and the person he that’s directed at is Nick Saban.
When was the last time Texas had this sort of edge and it landed? Better yet, when was the last time Texas had any edge at all?
Texas is in SEC country now, and moral victories don’t produce championships, but the Longhorns played a style of Big Boy Football we haven’t seen them play in a very long time.