The hardest part about compiling today’s list of Texas Longhorns we don’t hate was this: after basically owning Texas for much of Kansas State Wildcats ‘s shared conference history with the Horns, it’s probably harder to find people from the Forty Acres that you hate than it is to find those you don’t. Off the top of my head, I can’t even really think of anyone from Texas that has hurt my heart except for Vince Young, Kevin Durant, and Sam Ehlinger.
So today’s belated offering was the result of a great deal of indecision on the part of the staff, although there’s one guy we don’t just not-hate. We love him. We love him forever and ever. Other than him, though, our list today is a shotgun blast — so much so that we’re forced to make this list seven Longhorns we don’t hate, and there’s a strong showing from the female contingent.
7) Laura Wilkinson
Wilkinson won gold in the 10m platform at the Sydney games in 2000, charging to the top despite sitting in eighth place and nursing a foot injury. This is almost certainly the only chance we’re going to have to give a diver a nod here, so here we go.
6) Sanya Richards-Ross
If we don’t have an actual reason to hate you and you have four Olympic gold medals for the USA, you’re on this list. Richards-Ross was part of gold-winning 4x400m relay teams in 2004, 2008, and 2012, and captured an individual gold in the 400m in 2012 as well. She’s also got five world championships golds and an indoor worlds gold.
And she was clean. Respect.
5) Derrick Johnson
We could hate Derrick Johnson. After all, he was part of the 2002-03 Texas teams which beat K-State twice by a total of seven points, almost certainly costing the Wildcats a BCS bid in 2002 and giving us all ulcers in 2003. Worse, both of those Texas teams held K-State to its lowest scoring output of the season, and Johnson had a whole lot to do with that.
But then, after two consensus All-America selections, Johnson went 15th overall in the 2005 draft... to the Chiefs, where he spent 13 years, made four Pro Bowls, picked off 14 passes, and ended up as Kansas City’s all-time leading tackler. He did go to Oakland Raiders for one year after the good guys exercised an option to void the final year of his contract, but after playing only six games he signed a new one-day contract to retire as a Chief.
As far as we’re concerned, 13 years as a Chief outweighs four as a steer. We’re good with Derrick.
4) Cat Osterman
Four-time All-American in softball, and a member of gold and silver medal teams in the Olympics. She’s the Big 12’s all-time leader in wins, ERA, strikeouts, shutouts, and no-hitters. As a Longhorn, Osterman threw seven perfect games. She was pretty damned good at the softballing, and since K-State doesn’t have softball, we have no reason to hate her.
3) Earl Campbell
The Tyler Rose never played against K-State, so we’ve got no reason to hate him anyway. But even if he did, Campbell probably be on this list because he was just amazing. Campbell did not run past you or around you. He ran over you, and that was that.
Campbell earned two first-team All-America nods while rushing for almost 4,500 yards and 40 touchdowns over his Longhorn career. He capped that career off with a 1,744 yard senior season which won him the Heisman Trophy. The moribund Houston Oilers selected Campbell with the first pick in the 1978 draft, and he immediately became a star; his 1,450 rushing yards in 1978 was a rookie record.
Campbell went on to rush for almost 1,700 yards his second year, and in 1980 he led the league with 1,934; he’d have become the league’s second 2,000-yard rusher if he hadn’t suffered a minor injury in the third game of the season against the Baltimore Colts, which in turn caused him to miss the following week’s contest with the Bengals.
After that, though, his style began to take its toll. He did have two more 1,000 yard seasons, giving him five for his career, but 1980 was the last time he’d lead the Oilers to the playoffs, and he was done by 1985, closing out his career with 24 games for the Saints. His final career rushing totals don’t seem all that fantastic; 9.407 yards, 74 touchdowns in eight seasons.
But let’s look at just his first four years in the NFL: 6,457 yards and 55 touchdowns. Holy jeebus.
Campbell was the first Longhorn ever to have his jersey retired. He’s in both the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, and is also in the Titans Hall of Fame — although, and this is yet another reason to like the guy, he refused to show up for the ceremony, saying “I was a Houston Oiler, not a Tennessee Titan.”
He’s also owned a sausage company for the past 30 years, and those are some pretty passable hot links.
2) Priest Holmes
This may surprise you, since memories of the Priest are still fresh enough to make his career seem not-that-long-ago, but Holmes never played a game against K-State. As a result, his seven years in Kansas City made him an absolute lock for this list.
Priest’s college career wasn’t even that impressive. He only gained 1,276 yards in four years, albeit with 20 touchdowns. His senior year, after missing the previous year due to a knee injury, Holmes sat behind Ricky Williams and Shon Mitchell on the Longhorn yardage list; he usually did get the ball at the goal line, however, and led Texas with 13 rushing touchdowns.
Between the injury and the limited usage, Holmes went undrafted in 1997. The Ravens signed him, and after Bam Morris and Earnest Byner left Baltimore at the end of that season, Holmes had his chance. He started 1998 as the third-string running back, but ended up leading the team with 1,008 yards and had the NFL’s best single-game day that year with a 227-yard effort against the Bengals the Sunday before Thanksgiving. But he tailed off again in 1999, and lost the starting job to Jamal Lewis in 2000. At season’s end, carrying a fresh Super Bowl ring from the Ravens destruction of the Giants, he signed with the Chiefs.
He immediately led the NFL in rushing yardage, the first undrafted player to do so. In 2002, he rushed for even more yards than he had in 2001 despite missing two games and won the AP Offensive Player of the Year award. The following year, he set the NFL record for rushing touchdowns in a season (since broken) with 27. But exactly midway through 2004, he suffered a season-ending injury. At the time, he was having his best season ever, on pace for 1,784 yards and 28 touchdowns.
He got hurt again in 2005, the injury so severe that it cost him the entire 2006 season as well. That was pretty much the end of the line. He was replaced by Larry Johnson, and an attempted comeback in 2007 was a disappointment. After another injury in November, he hung up the cleats.
What a career, though. In what really amounted to only four seasons in Kansas City, Holmes set the Chiefs career rushing yardage, rushing touchdowns, and total touchdowns records. (The rushing yardage record has since been eclipsed by Jamaal Charles, another Longhorn.) In 65 games as a Chief, Holmes ran for 76 touchdowns, caught seven more, and amassed 6,070 yards.
Sadly, however, Holmes only got to play in one post-season game for Kansas City, the nightmarish playoff loss to the Colts in 2003. Still, he’s beloved in Kansas City and is in the Chiefs Hall of Fame. Besides, your benevolent despot absolutely wrecked a fantasy league with him the one year he got suckered into it.
1) Garrett Gilbert
There’s a reason we call him the Greatest Quarterback in Kansas State Wildcats History. On November 6, 2010, in the Great Kleining of Texas, Gilbert completed more passes to K-State players than Collin Klein even attempted as the Wildcats rolled Texas (which began the season ranked fifth!) 39-14. Gilbert tossed five interceptions while Klein, who only threw four passes the entire night, ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
Go ahead. Waste an hour.
Really, nothing else about Gilbert matters. That one night puts him atop this list, because such greatness in the service of EMAW can only be recognized with love and honor. We can’t hate Gilbert, because he brought us inestimable joy.
TJ Ford, Royal Ivey, Jamaal Charles, Mo Bamba, Ricky Williams, Tom Landry, Ben Crenshaw
Next week: TCU.