This is Part 2 in a 2 part series on the thoughts about the Lion Football season This section covers the effect on the University and institution as a whole.
- Winning a national championship for a school usually means big time pride and good feelings all around. The first thing that this season did was expose the nation to the institution that is Texas A&M-Commerce. Back to back wins on national television showed what the school was made of from the students on up to the administration. When the spotlight finally came, it found our school and our team at it’s best, and when you are wanting people to see your school’s best, it is really something special.
- Something that was very important was finally naming the field Ernest Hawkins Field. For years, a man who had embodied everything about our institution never got the recognition that he deserved. That changed when Colby Carthel came to Commerce. Ernest Hawkins is the greatest coach you have never heard of and the greatest all time in the history of Lion football, and that is saying something. Naming the field after Coach Hawkins was not just about honoring a man, it was about sealing an identity as a program that had been forsaken for so long. The Hawkins legacy of excellence is now forever etched into Lion lore. We finally have identity.
- Luis Perez winning the Harlon Hill was something that just as important to the program as winning another national title. That may seem like a stretch, but if you think about elite programs in college football, they do not just win titles, they also have individual superlative winners. Southern California does not just have national titles, they have Heisman winners also. Gary Compton in 1990 and Eric Turner in 1992 laid the groundwork for have a Lion nominated. Luis being nominated last year was big but winning it finally gave the program something sorely needed. Something to note however is the Harlon Hill is only 31 years old. so having someone in the running for it 4 times is not too bad.
- I was reading a short story by Emerson the other night, and the moral of the story was when a wise man tells a middle aged man who finally fulfilled his potential, “What you found was never yours to find, for it was inside of you always.” For Texas A&M-Commerce, too long we focused on not having a nice enough stadium, not being called East Texas State, people asking “where is Commerce?” For the better part of 15 years, others were saying our institution was inferior and second rate just because of a few bad years. Now we stand as a school that is the second fastest growing in the state of Texas, the highest ranked Education and Teacher’s school in Texas, a Business school in the top quarter percentile of all Business Schools in the nation, world class facilities, and a legacy of excellence with alums that have done everything from wielding the gavel as the longest serving Speaker of the United States House of Representatives to All-Pro NFL quarterbacks and Super Bowl MVP’s to New York Times Best Selling Authors and Lead Singers of legendary musical groups. It was there when the campus was East Texas State, and it has now been rediscovered as Texas A&M-Commerce.
- For the Football program at Texas A&M-Commerce, excellence is no longer a destination, it is a continual pursuit. As long as Colby Carthel is in Commerce, you can expect championships to be won and Lion football to be excellent. What should excite everyone is that this could start a run that exceeds anything that has been done before, even under Bob Berry, Milburn Smith, JV Sikes, Ernest Hawkins, and Eddie Vowell, who are the 5 best coaches in program history. It is also important to continue to live up to the best in class mantra. In the next few months there will be ground broken where a new events center will be built, and that events center will be adjacent to Memorial Stadium and give even more pride to a school and an alumni base that has found it’s pride yet again. More people giving to the school and doing what they can to promote it. As Gary Segars said, “winning cures everything.” Indeed.