A theme can be defined as a specific and distinctive quality, characteristic or concern. Every year, Texas votes on one theme. That theme will become the specific and distinctive representation of what the team stands for and strives for.
This season, Nate Boyer, fresh off a trip to Afghanistan, nominated a theme he’s used to hearing. Based on a military background, the long-snapper suggested “for the man on my right and the man on my left.”
“What that means to us in the military is all the training you’re going through, everything that you’re doing when you’re in combat or in a situation, it’s about making sure the guy next to you is successful, keeping him safe, keeping him alive,” Boyer said.
While this new motto has a military basis, it directly applies to football. Similar to the military, according to Boyer, there is a tight brotherhood in football. Since it’s such a rough sport, athletes create a bond through the grit and toughness they
“There’s nothing like the camaraderie like what there is on a football team,” Boyer said. “Maybe it’s the nature of the sport. It’s a very physical game. You earn your respect by how tough you are basically on the field. That holds true in the military, as well. I think that’s why that bond is so strong.”
Boyer wasn’t the only player to suggest a theme for this new—hopefully revamped — Texas season.
“I think most of the players ended up voting for it, which is really cool,” Boyer said. “I was able to explain to them what it meant actually right before we voted. So maybe that helped. I think it’s a strong theme. It’s selfless which is important if you want your team to be successful. It can’t be about individual successes, it’s got to be about 11 is 1 basically.”
Most Longhorns are excited about this new motto. Universally, the coaches and players think it’s an appropriate way to look at their training camp and season.
“It’s true,” senior Mike Davis said. “If the man on your right doesn’t do his job it’s really hurting the whole team. With the man on the left it’s the same thing. If we all do our jobs we will be successful. We really like it so we’re gonna keep pushing it.”
The Longhorns have adapted multiple themes through the past three seasons. In 2011, to signify rebuilding, Texas stapled in a new motto of “brick by brick.” Last season the Longhorns created the acronym R.I.S.E, meaning Relentless, Intensity, Swagger (or sacrifice) and emotion.
Both themes had a solid foundation and meaning but as the results show, neither produced the real outcomes expected by the program.
“Over the last number of years we have told the players, if they want a team theme, it’s up to them, but it’s not something that our coaches care about, it’s theirs,” head coach Mack Brown said. “If they’re going to have it, they need to live by it.”
Boyer couldn’t help but hammer in the fact training for football is similar to military training. Brown agreed with him, adding the fact that at practice last week, three active marines talked to the team and mentioned how a football team is similar to a military division.
“When you line up in football you literally line up with guys on your right and left and you have to be able to trust them,” Boyer said. “You’re playing for that guy and to make him successful. In the military, it’s all about the guy next to you. Everything you can do to keep him alive.”