National Championship game stuns fans, provides hope for future

Ben Wermund

A disappointed silence fell over the crowd at Cuatros bar in Austin when the University of Alabama recovered the ball for the last time in the fourth quarter, ending the Longhorn’s last chance for a comeback.

The packed bar had been at its most energetic, exclaiming rounds of “Texas Fight,” while only trailing by three points, 24-21. A win was again in sight in the 2009 National Championship game since UT led the game in the first quarter.

The final score of the game was 37-21. Longhorn fans were disappointed to end a perfect season with a loss, especially without the presence of quarterback Colt McCoy, who was injured during the 5th play of the game.

“I’m nervous for the horns without Colt,” Neal Davis, one of the many fans braving the freezing temperatures at the outside portion of the bar to watch the game on the big screen, said at halftime. “If he doesn’t show up our offense is done. It’s up to the defense to stop the Tide.”

Davis’ concern summed up the communal loss the crowd seemed to feel at the half, without McCoy in the game. Freshman Garrett Gilbert replaced McCoy.

“I’m devastated Colt went out,” said Janna Burleson during the third quarter. “But Gilbert is doing a great job and our defense is kicking ass.”

Burleson, who said she was a member of the UT band from 1977 through 1982, said winning or losing was personal.

“I know it’s just football, but it means so much more to me than that,” she said. “I don’t know how to explain it.”

Burleson said she was heartbroken by the loss.

“It takes a long time to overcome [a loss] when you bleed orange like so many people in this town do,” she said. “Still it doesn’t diminish this team’s incredible achievements — a 13 and 0 season. There will always be next year and the fans will be stronger than ever.”

As the final seconds ticked down, some left the bar in bursts of anger, while others stayed back, embracing and crying as they realized their hopes were finally shot.

“I’m sad,” was all UT nursing graduate student Amy Kowalski could muster as she tearfully embraced her friend.

UT sociology senior Mary Parsamyan showed pride for her team.

“I’m a senior and I’m just really excited we finally made it this far,” Parsamyan said.

Likewise, UT history senior Seth Summers saw the silver lining.

“We’ve got a lot to look forward to,” Summers said. “They’re going back to Alabama — we still get to live in Austin, Texas.”