Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Leaving Big 12: A Longhorn history of success in the conference

Kennedy Weatherby
Quarterback Quinn Ewers holds up the 2023 Football Big 12 Championship trophy during the postgame celebration after the Longhorns won the game against Oklahoma State on Dec. 1, 2023.

Since 1996, the University of Texas has called the Big 12 Conference its home for everything and all things related to athletics. For nearly 28 years, the Longhorns have proven themselves a staple of the conference, exceeding standards for athletic play in every collegiate sport. As Texas currently prepares to join the Southeastern Conference, and Big 12 competition has now come to a close, a major chapter in the program’s saga has come to an end. Before the University can look forward to new horizons and new levels of competition, it is important to look back and remember some of the greatest moments in the Longhorn’s long athletic history.

Women’s volleyball – Back-to-back national championships (2022-23)

For two consecutive years, the women’s volleyball team proved themselves immaculate on the court. The Longhorns have collected their second consecutive NCAA national championship this past season and their fourth all-time. These victories over the past two seasons have not only demonstrated Texas’ dominance on the court but have also cemented head coach Jerritt Elliott’s status within Texas athletic history. Even coming into this past season’s tournament as a lower seed, Texas powered through the competition, closing out their opponent in sets, an accomplishment they have now done in their past three championship matches. 

Men’s and women’s Tennis – Three national championships since 2019 

Perhaps one of the more overlooked aspects of Texas athletics is the men’s and women’s tennis teams. Both teams have achieved some of their biggest accomplishments in each program’s history in recent years. For the men’s team, these accomplishments include their only national championship win in program history back in 2019. Taking on Wake Forest in the final match of the season, the Longhorns came out on top, dominating 4-1. Only a couple of years later was the men’s success followed by the women’s when they won their first national championship since 1995 during the 2021 season. They maintained this victorious trajectory when they repeated as champions the following season. Led to victory by current pro-Peyton Stearns, Texas had proven itself a powerhouse within women’s collegiate tennis. Stearns also became the only player in program history to claim a singles crown in the NCAA individual championships. 

Track and field/cross-country – The Olympics 

Venturing as far back as 1952, Texas track and field athletes have been competing in the Olympics. Currently, 72 Longhorns are recorded as having participated in the Olympics at least once in their career, 28 of whom medaled in their event. The 2024 Olympics are quickly approaching and a number of Texas athletes are expected to participate including Texas great Ryan Crouser. Crouser, who graduated in 2016, is vying for his third gold medal in shot put in his third Olympics. Crouser is currently the world No. 1 in shot put. 

Baseball – One of the winningest programs in college baseball history

Even before they joined the Big 12, the men’s baseball team was an accomplished program, having garnered four national titles from 1949-1983. After joining the Big 12, the team’s success did not end, in 2002 and 2005 the Longhorns once again saw themselves crowned national champions. Headed by coach Augie Garrido and multiple All-Americans, these Texas teams proved themselves the standard for both college baseball and Texas Athletics. Currently, the team holds one of the highest winning percentages in all of college baseball. 

Men’s and women’s basketball – Big 12 tournament success and countless accomplished alumni

Women’s basketball has proven themselves formidable opponents on the court in the Big 12 era. The Longhorns have claimed the Big 12 tournament titles three separate times since the conference’s founding back in 1994. Two of those three victories came in the past three seasons when Texas won their second in 2022 and their third this past year. In the national tournament, the women’s team has only missed the NCAA tournament four times in the past 30 years. Five of these appearances saw the team reach the elite eight one of which ended in a final four appearance in 2003.

Texas Men’s basketball hasn’t always had much success in March Madness, with its last Final Four appearance dating back to 2003. Despite any struggles the Longhorns may have in the tournament, they certainly have no struggles in producing NBA-level talent. Since 2000, 22 Longhorns have been drafted into the NBA including notable players such as Tristan Thompson, Jarrett Allen, P.J. Tucker and two-time finals MVP and 14-time all-star Kevin Durant.

Football – A storied history

There are countless noteworthy moments in Longhorn football history, arguably its most notable sport. Some of these moments include 2018’s Red River Rivalry game against Oklahoma and a last-second game-winning field goal, Texas’ last game against Texas A&M when Justin Tucker cemented his name into Longhorn history, even a recent CFP appearance may be mentioned due to its exclusivity and last time ever in a four-team format. There are many worthy moments, but for the four-time national champions, one moment comes to every Longhorn’s mind above all others. The 2005-06 team’s national championship victory over the University of Southern California.

USC, on a 34-game win streak, came into the game as the No. 1 seed with the previous year’s Heisman winner, Matt Leinart, at the helm. Described as one of, if not the greatest college football games of all time, the Rose Bowl victory for the Longhorns will never be forgotten. In an unforgettable game, with unforgettable plays, one play stands above the rest, a fourth and five runs that cemented Vince Young’s name into the history books. In a school of countless championships and victories, this one holds a special place in the memories of many Longhorns and has gone down as one of the greatest in Texas’ history.

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