Late to the Game: Perfect Hair Forever

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Assistant editor Chris O’Connell isn’t from Texas; he’s from New Jersey. That’s OK though—he’s here now. But without growing up in a place that cherishes college sports the way many parts of the South—and especially Texas—do, Chris has taken it upon himself to learn more about all aspects of college athletics in a series we like to call Late to the Game.

Let me level with you. There is almost nothing going on right now in the Longhorn sports universe, so I’m going to give out best hair awards for Longhorn athletes.

I mean: Baseball and softball are over, volleyball and football haven’t started, and Eddie Reese and men’s swimming and diving already won its millionth conference championship this year. Sure, beer and wine are coming to DKR this season, so there will finally be drunk people inside the stadium, but we all knew that was coming. And yeah, UT Athletics is undergoing a likely long and exhaustive review process, there’s a quarterback controversy on the football team, and a new basketball coach, and …

OK, so there’s always something sports-related happening on campus. I don’t care though. I saw Nick Rose walking around the Forty Acres a few weeks ago, and I had to get this rolling. I’m going with the hair thing. I present to you, the three best hair-wearers on campus right now, plus our inaugural induction into the Late to the Game Hairstyle Hall of Fame.

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Most Emotional Hairstyle: Nick Rose, football

I know what you’re thinking: Why does our kicker look like the keyboard player in a My Chemical Romance tribute band? Because why not, that’s why. Football players’ faces are obscured by masks, their hair cruelly tamped down by helmets. Until Under Armour designs a clear helmet, football players will have to find ways to stand out, and Rose is definitely doing that in interviews and photo shoots. The haircut is so awesomely bad that it inspired multiple parodies. Heck, if I were on the field for only a couple minutes each game, an anonymous leg there to do one thing and then get the hell back on the sidelines, I’d probably have purple hair down to my butt.

I’ll admit something here. In my halcyon high school years, my days were spent sleeping through class and most nights were filled with the music of punk and emo bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Jawbreaker. I had a shag haircut not unlike that of Rose, though it certainly was less extreme, and I played drums in a band called The Ascension Era. Back then, in the late nineties, every band had to follow the naming formula of The ___ [insert noun]. So I can identify with Rose. Kind of. The kicker gets points simply for putting himself out there. Three points. Get it? I’ll show myself out.

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Most Types of Hairstyles, All of Them Good: Courtney Okolo, track and field

I first saw sprinter Okolo the day before the track and field team left for the NCAA Indoor Championships, while I was following shot putter Ryan Crouser around for a day-in-the-life interview and photo essay. Reporters, like myself, were out in droves—five of us, at least—and aside from the hulking Crouser, everyone wanted to talk to this sprinter with awesome hair. Remembering only her hair, and not yet knowing her name, I scanned the track and field roster. I didn’t know who she was, me being the track and field philistine I am, but I figured she was important, and I was right. Apart from the multitude of excellent hairstyles, Okolo is the NCAA outdoor 400m record holder. She’s the 2014 NCAA champion in outdoor 400m and outdoor 4x400m relay.

Okolo rules, and her hair does too. See more of Okolo and the track team here.

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Most Envied By 13-Year-Old Me Hairstyle: Isaiah Taylor, men’s basketball

Taylor would be on this list even if he had declared for the 2015 NBA Draft instead of coming back for his senior season to play for new coach Shaka Smart. His hairstyle combines two great things: the flattop, recently re-popularized by Cavaliers forward Iman Shumpert and the television show Empire (Shump claims Empire stole his style—no word yet from Kid and/or Play), and shaving designs onto your head. When I was playing rec-league basketball in the mid-90s, I desperately wanted a flattop (impossible, with this paper-thin mane of mine) and a lightning bolt shaved onto my scalp (impermissible, with this unfair, domineering father of mine*).

Taylor’s slash-and-sometimes-kick style should look great in Smart’s up-tempo offense. Do you know what else will look great? It’s his hair. Catch up.

*He was right.

**Bonus Round**

Hall of Fame Inductee: Daniel Gibson, men’s basketball

Gibson made some odd choices in his career, most notably leaving Texas with two years of eligibility remaining when his draft stock was still low. A late second-round pick by the Cavaliers in 2006, the diminutive guard was mostly bench depth during his seven-year NBA career, all in Cleveland. Yes, once upon a time, Cleveland had bench depth.

His best choices, though, were when he felt the need to rep the state of Texas and his alma mater on his scalp. In the latter of those photos, Gibson is an attendee at the 2010 BCS Championship. That’s about all I’ll say about that game. Technically, Gibson’s best hairstyles came after he left the Forty Acres, but, as you may already know, rules in these parts are like the dishes in the Crandell house: made to be broken.

Photos courtesy UT Athletics.

Illustration by Melissa Reese.

 

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