I think it is fair to say that everyone associated with Lion football, from the coaches, players, fans, and students are all disappointed in how this season has gone. Last Saturday’s loss….the worst in the Bailiff era, erased any doubt about the Lions making the playoffs. They had been hanging by a thread for weeks, and it appeared that thread was getting stronger, but now that thread is gone. The best the Lions can do is win Saturday, assuring a 8th straight winning season and hope that the Heart of Texas Bowl Committee offers them the LSC at-large bid, which should happen unless something very strange happens.
It is hard to admit that a team that wanted and expected so much more is going to be playing for less than what they wanted, but this is going to teach them a very important lesson in life, how to handle disappointment. We all have dreams, and often times no matter how much we want those dreams to come true, they don’t. Disappointment is one of the toughest of all emotions to feel, because you knew that at one point, there was hope of something amazing coming true. Maybe it was a job, or a relationship, or feeling that somewhere was a place you belonged, and it didn’t happen. Usually these disappointments do not just subtly happen, they are usually a disaster. You work hard, put in the effort and time necessary to achieve a goal and it just does not happen.
This is one of the life lessons that these guys, and especially the COVID Seniors are experiencing. They did everything right. They stayed in school, they put off promising careers, they worked, my gosh did they work. They dedicated themselves to their jobs, and in the end, they did not get to where they wanted or expected to be. Now, they are playing for winning season, a bowl birth, and a possible LSC title (if Angelo loses, the Lions will be Co-Champions with them and MSU). Some of that is in their hands, some of it is not. Just focus on what you can do and play the next play.
Sometimes in this life, you know the end of a chapter is near. You don’t know exactly when, but you know it is coming. How you finish that chapter is what builds and reveals character. Sometimes in this life, you might get pushed out of a job, a relationship, a friendship, or something that you wish you had. You know you will miss it, but in the end you cannot fight the inevitable. This team’s maturity, what they have really learned will be put to the test this Saturday. It will be about finishing well.
A national championship may not be on the line, or a trip to even play for one, but do you what else is aside from a winning record, a shot at a bowl, and the ability to lift a trophy for the final time? Pride. Pride is on the line. Pride is what you will be playing for. Pride in your school, your team, your program, and yourself. But, let’s also take a few things into consideration. We will not be a top ranked team in the AFCA poll when the season ends, but do you know what we will be # 1 in? The amount of players we have graduated. We will also be number 1 in the number or players who will be on the Commissioner’s list for academic achievement. That matters for something, sometimes winning games is not all a football program can or will do, there will always be a lean year or two.
Speaking of, lets keep this in context. If this team wins this Saturday, gets to a bowl and wins that game, that is an 8-4 record with a postseason win. That is a down year at Texas A&M-Commerce now. I know many programs that would kill for what we have left to play for. That also speaks to the success that our coaches, administrators, and everyone associated with the program has had, and where the program is in comparison to others.
Finally, to the Seniors, We are Lions. You are Lions, and you are always a Lion. You have done a fantastic job in the 4 years you have been playing for the school, wearing the Blue and Gold, and you are always a Lion.
You have one, possibly two, chances to wear that blue and gold. Count yourselves fortunate that you have been able to play for the school that produced 2 national championships, 25 conference championships, multiple bowl wins, and some all time NFL and collegiate greats like Harvey Martin, Wade Wilson, Dwight White, Curtis Buckley, and others. You are in that fraternity, always.
You are playing to say at the end of it all, “I am always a Lion.”