A year to remember
The ten days that defined football in Texas in 2012.
The crystal ball has fallen, the champagne has been popped, the smooches have been exchanged. It’s 2013.
But before we dive headlong into the promise of a new year, let’s take a moment to look back at what was a banner year for football in the state of Texas. In 2012, we saw tragedy and we saw triumph, we saw victories and we saw defeats, we saw controversy and we saw change.
One thing is for sure: 2012 was most certainly not boring.
But of the 366 days that comprised 2012, we can narrow it down to the ten most important, the ten days that defined the year in Texas football.
So, here are the ten days that defined 2012 in football in the state of Texas.
10) January 7, 2012
Yes, almost a year ago is where we start our list, and with a game you probably don't remember (unless you're an SMU fan). That's when the Ponies topped Pittsburgh, 28-6, in the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama. Why is this so noteworthy? Because it closed out what was a collossally successful bowl season for the state of Texas, as each of the six Texas teams that went bowling came out with wins -- TCU, Texas, Baylor, Texas A&M, Houston and SMU. A perfect 6-0 bowl record to close out what was a fascinating season that featured a Heisman Trophy winner and lots of change.
9) April 26, 2012
It seems so long ago, but the NFL Draft was a terrific day for the state of Texas. Of the 32 first-round picks, five played their high school football in Texas, and three of them played their college ball in the Lone Star State. The first two picks – Stanford QB Andrew Luck (a Houston Stratford product) and Baylor QB Robert Griffin III (a Copperas Cove alum) – were the headliners, but don’t forget Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill (a Big Spring product drafted eighth overall by the Dolphins), LSU DT Michael Brockers (a Houston Chavez alum drafted No. 14 by the Rams) and Baylor WR Kendall Wright (a Pittsburg grad picked No. 20 overall by the Titans).
8) August 31, 2012
All of the anticipation of the high school football offseason built to the crescendo of the first Friday night across Texas, when stadiums across the Lone Star State lit up for another exciting year. And what a wild opening weekend we had: of the 75 teams that started the year ranked in their respective classes in 5A, 4A and 3A, a whopping twenty-five of them lost on the opening weekend. While most teams recovered – Denton Guyer, Cedar Park and Stephenville all lost on the opening weekend and went on to win titles – it was a harbinger of a wild season to come.
7) February 1, 2012
The silliest day of the year – National Signing Day. What a whirlwind day – or, more accurately, morning – across the nation, and especially here at home. There are a few big headlines – Houston nabbing nationally recruited WR Deontay Greenberry, and Texas A&M losing Fort Bend Hightower star Bralon Addison but gaining Dallas Skyline WR Thomas Johnson chief among them – but in the end, every team in the state had reason to feel optimistic about their recruit haul.
6) December 22, 2012
We already listed the first day of the high school football season…so it’s only appropriate to list the last! The state championship games at Cowboys Stadium were, once again, a rousing success – nine games in three days in a veritable football feast – and it all built up to the final day, with a trio of sensational matchups. Denton Guyer edged Georgetown in a shootout for the 4A Division I crown, Katy capped off a dominating season with a win over Cedar Hill to win the 5A Division II crown and Allen topped Houston Lamar for the 5A Division I crown in front of a near-record crowd of 48,000+. It was an appropriate end to another electrifying season on the high school gridiron.
5) November 7, 2012
The state of Texas stood still on November 7 after learning of the death of legendary Texas coach and administrator Darrell K Royal, who died at the age of 88 after a long fight with Alzheimer’s disease. In 20 years as Texas’ head coach, Royal led the Longhorns to a 167-47-5 mark with three national championships. He was such a fixture at UT that the school renamed Texas Memorial Stadium after him. On November 7, the state of Texas lost a legend.
4) October 9, 2012
Hopes were understandably high for TCU entering the 2012 season – its first in the Big XII -- but they careened off course in October when star QB Casey Pachall was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. This came just months after Pachall admitted to police that he had failed a drug test in February. On October 9, Pachall withdrew from TCU to seek treatment at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility, ending – at least for the time being – a tumultuous time at TCU. Trevone Boykin took over under center and performed reasonably well, guiding the Frogs to a 7-6 record and a berth in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, but we’ll never know what could’ve been had October gone differently for Casey Pachall.
3) December 12, 2012
Tommy Tuberville had flown the coop out in Lubbock, leaving his post at Texas Tech to become the head coach at Cincinnati, and the Tech athletic department wanted to act swiftly. Well, swift may be an understatement: it took just four days for athletic director Kirby Hocutt to announce that the Red Raiders had hired Kliff Kingsbury to be the team’s next head coach. Kingsbury, just 33 years old, was a star quarterback at Tech in the early 2000s, the first true superstar of the Mike Leach Air Raid offense. But recently, Kingsbury has been a hot name in coaching circles, after leading Houston’s high-flying offense from 2009-2011, and helping Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel win the Heisman Trophy as the offensive coordinator at A&M. Kingsbury is a risk – he’s one of the nation’s youngest coaches, and has just five years as a collegiate assistant to his name – but on December 12, Tech decided it was the right move.
2) July 1, 2012
Sure, it was a day that we all knew was coming, but arguably no day shaped football in Texas in 2012 quite like July 1. That’s because that was moving day, as Texas A&M officially joined the SEC while TCU officially joined the Big XII. They were monumental moves – seismic shifts to the entire state – and they changed everything about the way that we view football in Texas. But let’s not forget that A&M and TCU weren’t the only movers on that day: UTSA and Texas State also moved, leaping to the FBS by joining the WAC. All told, perhaps no day defined 2012 in Texas football quite like July 1. Except maybe…
1) December 8, 2012
A doubly defining day in Texas, starting out in El Paso. On Dec. 8, UTEP – on the heels of receiving coach Mike Price’s resignation after nine years on the job – hired Sean Kugler to be the new Miners head coach. Kugler, a UTEP alum who was most recently the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line coach, brings with him a sterling reputation and a big job ahead of him, turning around a UTEP program that’s been to one bowl in the last seven years and hasn’t won more than eight games since 1988, when Kugler played for the Miners. Only time will tell how Kugler does in El Paso, but Dec. 8 marked an important new era of Miner football. That normally would be enough to make our list, but then, that night...
C’mon. There was no bigger moment in the state in 2012 – and maybe in the country – in the football world than when Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy, the most coveted award in college football. Manziel smashed all sorts of barriers with the win, becoming the first freshman to ever win the award, and you can’t say he didn’t deserve it. The Kerrville Tivy product was the most electrifying player in the country, and also one of the most prolific, breaking the SEC record for total yards in a season and becoming the first freshman to ever throw for 3,000 yards and run for another 1,000 yards. He also kept the Heisman Trophy in the state of Texas, joining Baylor’s Robert Griffin III, Texas’ Ricky Williams and Earl Campbell, A&M’s John David Crow, Houston’s Andre Ware, SMU’s Doak Walker and TCU’s Davey O’Brien as a Texas Heisman winner. It was a fitting end to an historic season for Manziel, and a signature moment on a monumental year for football in Texas.
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.