Torchlight Rally Lights Up the Night

There was an electric energy on campus yesterday evening as hundreds of students gathered outside the Communication buildings for the annual Torchlight parade, which celebrated the 106th meeting between the UT Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners.

The sun had just set as UT service clubs such as Cowboys, Lassos, Navy ROTC, and Hellraisers gathered en masse to light their torches and march down Guadalupe with the UT band. There was a gust of wind that suggested fall in the air and with it, the idea that once again, UT and OU would square off in Dallas as highly ranked, undefeated foes.

It is important to note that the Hellraisers do in fact raise hell, and if you ever find one in the wild, please do not feed it or make direct eye contact with it unless you, too, are ready to raise some hell cheering on Texas.

It’s not like the students in the parade needed to be sold on being spirited, though. Considering this was my first Torchlight, I was somewhat amazed at just how massive the parade seemed. Walking down Guadalupe, with the band playing and traffic stopped, I felt powerful in my camraderie with my fellow UT students. After all, who is going to stop twelve hundred students, some of whom were carrying torches?

After marching down the Drag to 21st, we headed toward Littlefield Fountain and then up the South Mall to the Tower. I noticed some enterprising students cutting through West Mall, probably hoping for a better view of the show. Most students stayed the course, though, and by the time the parade had reached up to the Tower, the entire plaza was filled.

The Longhorn Network had their cameras up for the whole spectacle, so if they’re showing reruns of the rally, here are a few highlights. Texas Cheer and Pom are incredibly talented performers, and their “Swag” dance routine was certainly inspiring for the young men in the crowd.

We also saw an appearance by the band’s baton twirler and, well, I wish I were as good at breathing and walking as she is at twirling flaming batons. I sort of understand how football players do what they do; I have no clue how she can do what she does. It’s unreal.

Head coach Mack Brown thanked everyone for coming out to the rally, calling it the largest and most enthusiastic crowd he had seen in his years at UT. A lot of that has to do with the fact that both teams are undefeated and ranked in the top 10 for the first time since 2008. Of course, we all remember the epic 45-35 barnburner led by Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley. Hopefully, the new Shipley and McCoy models can provide the same type of performance.

Fozzy Whitaker and Blake Gideon were the offensive and defensive representatives for the senior class, and they both stressed just how important the fans are in the Red River Rivalry. “Keep it loud on Saturday, because we’ll need all y’all’s help beating OU,” Whitaker said. “Y’all do your part and we’ll get out the win.”

There were also some cheers led by strength coach Jeff “Mad Dog” Madden. I am terrified of this man and his ability to pop my skull like a grape, but he sure got results from the crowd.

Mack handed the official game ball to the Navy ROTC, who is right this moment running the 200 miles to Dallas, carrying the ball. If that wasn’t crazy enough, they will then play OU’s Navy ROTC in their own football game. They’ve played the game 15 times, and Texas has won 14 times. As my colleague pointed out, “Well, that’s because OU can’t recruit those guys from Texas.”

And with the handoff, Mack and the players departed to the band playing “The Eyes of Texas.” It feels like fall, with chants of OU’s ineptitude swirling through a crisper evening, the faint scent of Fletcher’s corndogs wafting down from Dallas to remind us that OU weekend is here. It is finally here.


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