Don’t blame students leaving early for Longhorns’ football failures

Eric Nikolaides

I didn’t go to the football game last Saturday. However, had I have been there, it’s possible I would have joined in the so-called “tragedy” of hordes of students bolting toward the stadium exits with eight minutes left to play in the fourth quarter. Though this might outrage many of the Longhorn faithful, when the football program fails to provide the student body with a team that can deliver on the field, it is our prerogative — and possibly even our duty — to spend our hard-earned money and our precious time on something that is actually worthwhile.

As I begin my fourth and final year on the 40 Acres, I can’t help but look back fondly on nearly every experience I’ve had as a Longhorn. I’ve met lifelong friends, learned more than I ever thought I could and made memories that will last forever. 

But my experience with Longhorn football — and I mean my entire experience — has been fraught with disappointment, frustration, anger and disillusionment. As a senior in high school, I was thrilled to watch the Longhorns in the 2010 national championship game, and I couldn’t wait to be in Austin in the fall to watch Garrett Gilbert, who then looked like a promising young quarterback. But that excitement quickly gave way to confusion and then just as quickly to frustration. Before I knew it, the once-mighty Longhorns had fallen to their first losing season in 13 years.    

It only got worse from there. The debacle that was the Longhorn Network not only meant that students would lose access to several games every year as cable providers refused to pick up the channel, but it also spelled the end of our historic rivalry with Texas A&M — the real Texas football tragedy of the last three years. 

Gilbert, our five-star quarterback recruit of the future, was a flop who got hurt and then transferred to SMU. A promising defense failed to deliver and we were stuck with a mediocre win in a mediocre bowl game, two years in a row. And then, as if all of that wasn’t enough, we saw the total collapses at BYU last week and again against Ole Miss on Saturday. When I decided to attend this school, I expected to get more from our football program. And we, as the student body of the University of Texas at Austin, have the right to do what we can to ask for it.

I love our Longhorns and want to do whatever I can to see them succeed. However, when the University spends such an unthinkable amount of money and resources on our football program, and when expectations are so high — both on campus and around the nation — it’s easy to see that the performances in the last three years are simply unacceptable. The real tragedy isn’t that students walked out with eight minutes to go in the game on Saturday, it’s the consistent failures on and off the field since 2010. The University owes us a better product, and until we get it, I see no problem with heading for the exits as we get walloped by yet another non-conference opponent. 

Nikolaides is a government and Spanish senior from Cincinnati.