Saturday Tailgate: Texas Longhorns

AUSTIN, Texas -- Even after 15 seasons, Mack Brown still finds a way to enjoy these gamedays.

Yes, Saturdays for him are a job. They’re stressful. The season opener it always an uneasy kind of game, because there’s no telling what happens if you lose.

But this is Mack Brown’s 92nd career game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, and that isn’t lost on him. Under his watch, the UT Tower has been lit orange 150 times for victories.

Brown is ready for it to glow orange again. Three years of ups and downs have made him all the more grateful for the Longhorn fan base that fills the stadium with more than 100,000 on Saturdays.

And Brown is truly, honestly excited about this team. He’s confident this squad has a chance to be special, and he’s ready for fans to see that, too.

“I want them to yell, have fun and be loud,” Brown said. “We were fourth in the country in attendance last year. We were one of the schools that increased our attendance last year. I want them to have fun and enjoy this team.

“These kids and coaches have worked really hard the last two years to get us back to where we have a chance. We have a better chance than we have had the last two years to be really good, and everything is in place now and we have to do it but we need the fans’ help, and they’ll do a great job with that.”

They always have. Gamedays in Austin are as tradition-filled as you’ll find in college football.

It’s the thousands of fans dressed in burnt orange and cowboy boots tailgating around campus, smoking barbeque and telling stories.

It’s the many blasts of Smokey the Cannon and the deep booms of the Big Bertha bass drum.

It’s the roar of Texas Fight chants and the moment when Texas players and coaches join the crowd for a postgame rendition of “The Eyes of Texas.”

There are even new traditions, like the mob of Texas devotees that gathers outside the North Gate to cheer on players, coaches, cheerleaders and the Longhorn Band members when they arrive at DKR.

Once Brown passes through that crowd and walks onto Joe Jamail Field on Saturday evening, it becomes just another ballgame. After all these years, though, he still enjoys a good season opener.

“The thing that would excite me the most, I think, is seeing the improvement,” Brown said. “I want to see us run the ball out of the spread. I want to see David [Ash] manage the game like he did in the fourth quarter against Oregon State. I want to see a full house excited about this team moving forward.”

Brown will always find aspects of the season-opening performance that he loves, likes, dislikes and hates. All coaches do.

But as long as he and his players keep The Tower lit orange, it’ll be a good night.