Football is a unique game, largely in part because there are so few of them. Since they come but once a week, each team has six days to live with the previous week's result. If you won last weekend, you have a week to hear how you're never going to lose again. If you lost, you're told for six days how you'll never win another game.
Texas has lived through both of those spectrums already this season. The Longhorns opened with a frustrating, perplexing 34-29 loss to Maryland, a game in which UT fell behind 24-7, fought back to take the lead, and then lost it again.
The Longhorns were treated like losers after a 28-21 win over Tulsa, but then vaulted to the top of the world following a 37-14 defeat of USC and a 31-16 win over TCU the next week.
And now at 4-1, Texas -- ranked 19th after starting the year at No. 23, not receiving a single vote after the Maryland loss, then climbing back in after the TCU win -- heads to Dallas to face No. 7 Oklahoma. It's going to be a very noisy game, both literally and figuratively.
If they win Saturday, Texas players will wear all week, all month, all season about how the Longhorns are officially BACK. If they lose, the talk will be about how the Big 12 still belongs to Oklahoma, has always belonged to Oklahoma and will heretofore belong to Oklahoma until the end of time.
Hearing is the process of sound entering the ear canal, but listening is the process of that sound traveling up the ear to the brain. No one can stop the former, but Texas head coach Tom Herman says the latter, the act of listening -- of hearing a thought, an idea, an opinion and accepting it as your own -- is up to the listener.
"Human beings are very unique. Any animal can hear, human beings have the option of whether we want to listen," Herman said Monday. "All of that is a choice. Listening is a choice. It's inevitable that you're going to hear some things, but whether you choose to listen is up to you."
Though he's talking about his team specifically, Herman's thoughts apply to every football player at every level -- to any player, any team told he's never going to lose again, to any player told he's God's gift to football, or to any player told the only reason he doesn't play more is because the coaches have it out for him. The talk is there, but you get to choose if you listen to it.