‘Embrace the Hate’ tour continues as No. 8 Texas faces Houston

The Texas Longhorns, much like the beloved Dallas Cowboys, have become an enticing target for sports media pundits and rival fan bases. With their massive brand, passionate fan following, and a history of both success and recent struggles, the similarities to the Cowboys are striking. It’s almost as if they’ve taken on the mantra of “This is our year” and “Texas is back.”

This season, those who join the “Texas sucks” bandwagon have extra fodder as the Longhorns are set to join the SEC next year. Fans, media, coaches, and even the conference itself have turned Texas into a source of motivation as the “Embrace the Hate” tour gains momentum during conference play.

Head coach Sarkisian expressed his team’s mentality at the start of the season, stating, “We understand that as the University of Texas, we’re going to face hate and criticism. We’re aware that this is our last year in the Big 12. But we have a choice: we can either be a punching bag or we can take on our opponents head-on.”

Opposing fan bases, media outlets, and even other programs have all contributed to this narrative throughout the Texas Longhorns’ final season in the Big 12. Despite the barrage of criticism from the conference, the Longhorns have a strong team to back up their claims.

The “Embrace the Hate” tour received another jab recently when Dana Holgorsen, head coach of the Houston Cougars, commented on the pressure facing the Longhorns leading up to their Week Seven matchup. Holgorsen shared, “I’ve received a lot of comments from fans. They say, ‘Just beat Texas. We don’t care about any other game, just that one.’ Well, beating Texas won’t be easy. We’re aware of that.”

It’s intriguing to witness shots being fired from the Houston fan base, considering their recent addition to the Big 12 and the lack of an established rivalry with Texas.

In fact, the Texas Longhorns haven’t played at Houston or stepped foot in TDECU Stadium since 2001.

However, Holgorsen himself has a personal history with the University of Texas, having spent two decades in and around the Big 12 conference. He began his Power Five coaching career at Texas Tech and later became head coach at West Virginia. During his coaching career, Holgorsen struggled against the Longhorns, with a record of 6-11.

Regarding the upcoming matchup, Holgorsen stated, “It’s exciting for our fans. They’re more excited than I am. I’ve competed against Texas many times over the years.”

It’s apparent that other Big 12 teams are relishing the opportunity to capitalize on the Longhorns’ departure to the SEC. This anti-Texas sentiment is not limited to Holgorsen and the Cougars; it has been prevalent throughout the Big 12 this farewell season.

Before their Week Four game against Baylor, head coach Dave Aranda revealed, “Throughout the offseason, I’ve heard countless times, ‘Just win this one game, Dave.’ It’s been brought up to me repeatedly.

This sentiment reflects the pressure placed on coaches to send Texas off with a loss before their departure to the SEC.

Even Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark has commented on the Texas hate train. During a speech at the Red Raider kickoff club luncheon, Yormark said, “Coach, I won’t put any pressure on you, but I’ll be in Austin for Thanksgiving. You better take care of business like you did last year in Lubbock.”

It’s interesting to note that such rhetoric has not been directed at their fellow Big 12 departee, Oklahoma. Clearly, there is a palpable resentment towards the burnt orange and white within the Big 12, similar to the disdain teams outside of Cowboys rivalries have for them.

Regardless of the conference’s wishes, Texas is not quietly accepting defeat. While the rest of the Big 12 struggles internally, the only two teams finding success are the ones preparing to leave. Yormark and the conference may hope for a beaten and bruised Texas in their transition to the SEC, but they may be forced to witness Ewers and Sarkisian competing against the Sooners for a Big 12 title come December.

As someone who understands the nature of rivalries, it’s clear that Texas has been a thorn in the side of opposing Big 12 teams since the conference’s inception in 1994. However, despite the headlines, Holgorsen has responded with poise to the “just beat Texas” rhetoric.

Holgorsen shared his thoughts, saying, “If you asked me, ‘Do you want to play Texas and OU every year or not?’ I’d prefer not to. Those guys are really, really good, and they’re only going to get better. So let’s go, let’s see what happens. They’re the heavy favorites, so we have nothing to lose. Let’s play ball and have fun.”

Despite the Big 12’s desperate desire for Texas to exit the conference on a sour note, the Longhorns appear poised to leave on a high. They are likely to compete for a Big 12 championship this season, with their only loss coming against Oklahoma. Moreover, Texas has dominated their Big 12 opponents, winning by an average of 29 points and being favored by 23.5 points against Houston.

This season, Texas seems set to dominate the Big 12, leaving behind a conference that constantly undermines itself with an average of just 3.5 wins per team.

However, given the course this season has taken, it’s possible that those hoping to defeat Texas may not just lose “this one” game, but also struggle to secure a bowl game appearance.

Remember, when you provoke the Longhorns, you’re in for a tough fight. Don’t underestimate them.


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