For the forlorn sports junkies out there, an April without sports is especially cruel. No Final Four. No Major League Baseball. No playoffs in the NBA or NHL. Fortunately we are in the era of YouTube, and the memories of great moments past are only a few clicks away.
So fall down any rabbit hole of video you like, but here are a few ways to relive Texas sports history on YouTube.
UT-El Paso Basketball Triumphs
The NCAA released a new and restored 55 minute rebroadcast of the historic 1966 Championship Game last week. That night in College Park, Maryland, UTEP – then called Texas Western – upset Kentucky, and did it with five black starters on their team, something never done at that level before. The game of basketball was very different back then in so many ways, but after that night, it would never be the same.
Their head coach, Don Haskins, was still at UTEP in 1992 when the Miners went on a run to the Sweet Sixteen. In a wild week, UTEP lost its conference championship game on an amazing buzzer beater by Brigham Young, but still got into the NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid. In the second round they upset the No. 1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks to shock college basketball once again.
Eyes Upon Texas Football
There is no shortage of highlights and rebroadcasts of the 2005 National Championship Game between the University of Southern California and Texas. That legendary night may turn out to be the game of this century, but it was a December matchup in 1969 in Fayetteville, Arkansas that became the first “Game of the Century.” ABC television shrewdly moved the Longhorns-Razorbacks game to the final day of the season, and both teams ended up being 9-0, and ranked first and second in the U.S. when the contest kicked off.
Arkansas took a 14-0 lead, but Texas responded with an exciting fourth quarter comeback to win 15-14, and later earn a unanimous National Championship under head coach Darrell Royal. A full rebroadcast is available to watch, but a one-hour-and- 23-minute ESPN Classic version, complete with interviews from participants that day, is worth the time.
The Ryan Express
No one captivated Texas quite like Nolan Ryan, and complete rebroadcasts of his fifth, sixth, and seventh no-hitters are easy to find on YouTube. His most remarkable night to watch is No. 7 from May 1, 1991 for the Texas Rangers in a crisp two hours and six minutes.
He did it against the eventual Eastern Division champions from Toronto, and struck out future Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar to end it. He did it less than one year after throwing his sixth no-no against another great lineup in Oakland. He did it at age 44 on three days rest, and he did it at home.
Houston Rockets first NBA Title
After Hakeem Olajuwon experienced bitter disappointment in back-to-back NCAA Championship Games for the University of Houston in 1983 and 1984, he finally stood atop the NBA mountain top 10 years later.
It took seven games for the Rockets to outlast the New York Knicks in a great finals series. Very few watched Game 5 on June 17, 1994 after news broke of a car chase involving OJ Simpson and a white Ford Bronco. The Knicks took a 3-2 lead that night, and headed back to Houston to try and close out the series.
Game 6, just two hours and six minutes long when re-aired, was the best contest of the series, and a narrow, two-point victory for the Rockets. Two days later they were the champions.
The Greatest Comeback that Never Was
Texas high school football is full of drama and heartache every year, but no game can quite match the insanity of the November 26, 1994 playoff game between Plano East and John Tyler in Irving, Texas.
Plano East trailed 41-17 with three minutes left, but somehow managed to recover three straight onside kick attempts after three straight touchdown scores, and lead 44-41 with just seconds remaining. That’s when John Tyler took their last chance kickoff return all the way back for their own touchdown to win the game and inspire broadcaster Denny Garver to exclaim, “God bless those kids. I am sick; I want to throw up.”