Texas Volleyball Loses, Did Anyone Notice?
Penn State knock UT out of tourney
By Will Eidam, 1:36PM, Tue. Dec. 21, 2010
They were Texas' hope for relevancy this year. After the UT football program imploded (and continues to implode thanks to Will Muschamp leaving), the volleyball program was viewed as the bright spot in an otherwise forgettable fall season. Instead, they couldn't rise to the occasion and fell yet again to the now four time defending champs, Penn State.
It's not really important about how the Longhorns lost. They lost and that's the only thing that matters when talking about the final game. What I find so fascinating is that this year no one really cared.
There wasn't too much build-up for Texas' Final Four appearance. After all, Texas had been to the Final Four the past two years and made it to the championship just last year. At this point, for Longhorns fans, it was championship or bust. Anything previous to the championship game was just business as usual.
Even the Final Four itself wasn't too exciting this year. Granted, it's volleyball which doesn't bring the same kind of passion as football or basketball brings, but the past two years provided a lot of excitement in Longhorn country. This year, not so much.
There was no dominant team, whereas last year provided an undefeated Penn State team and a one-loss Texas team while the 2008 Final Four provided the top four seeds, including a Texas program that hadn't been to the semifinals since 1995.
And then there's the "been there, done that" mentality that attacks every fan base when there's no championship to show for it. After losing in the semifinals two years in a row, it's no surprise that Texas fans said, "I'm not getting excited until you actually bring home some hardware."
I have a buddy who is in the MBA program at UT. He and one of his professors were planning on driving up to Kansas City to watch the Final Four. But on Wednesday morning, the day before the tournament, they went golfing. With Wednesday being so cold, they were told by a golf pro that there were no reservations for golf, and that my buddy and his professor could golf all day for free if they wanted. So they did. And skipped the tournament.
Free golf over a Final Four. That only happens when tempered expectations set in. Or if the Final Four is for archery.
The Longhorns volleyball program is quietly becoming the early 1990s version of the Buffalo Bills. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Which is a shame, because the passion for the Longhorns is just as great as the passion that residents in Buffalo have for their Bills. After a while, though, when there's no championship victory, the passion fades and pessimism sets in.
With no standout leader for next year's team, we're looking at the down cycle of this Longhorns "Dynasty." No Destinee Hooker, no Juliann Faucette, no athlete to be prefixed with "All American" before the season begins. At a time when the Longhorns will need their fan support the most, I suspect they'll get their lowest turnout since 2007.
See, I'm already pessimistic. But maybe that will change after New Year's, a time when everyone gets a fresh start.
Everyone except the Bills, that is. They'll forever be bad. Merry Christmas, everyone! [Editor's note: Watch out for the Bills, currently riding a two-game winning streak!]