It was bound to happen. Willie Nelson had been cruising through the bracket with very little competition. It’s not surprising at all that George Strait, who endured a second-round battle with Janis Joplin, would upset the tournament’s up-until-now hottest Texan. And he did. Though Willie had a commanding lead through most of the day, the after-work crowd apparently voted Strait ticket all the way. By midnight, “King George” squeaked by the Austin legend with 53% of the vote.
In the other contested matchup of the day, Dan Rather held a considerable early lead over Audie Murphy in the Wildcard category, but the newsman’s bid to upset two Medal of Honor winners (he defeated Roy Benavidez in the second round) was defeated in a late flurry of voting for the World War II hero. Murphy ultimately came away with 56% of the vote.
Tom Landry never was in danger of losing to Longhorns and Houston Oilers legend Earl Campbell — he remained near 60% of the voting throughout Tuesday. And Lady Bird Johnson is now the de-facto Cinderella of the tournament. The No. 6 seed defeated fellow hometown favorite Ann Richards convincingly with 61% of the vote.
Tomorrow is Texas Independence Day and the day you select the Most Texan of all Texans from the championship matchup. Before then, you’ll have to vote in the two semifinal matchups:
SEMIFINAL No. 1
George Strait vs. Lady Bird Johnson
The cowboy gentleman would no doubt remove his hat for the well-respected First Lady, but his fans aren’t likely so chivalrous as to give up the contest. After defeating the Willie juggernaut, Strait has to be considered the favorite among the Final Four. Mrs. Johnson is extraordinarily well-respected by Texans of all political stripes for her efforts to maintain and improve the beauty of her home state. She was clearly a Texas icon whose gentle dignity is fondly remembered, but … Strait is not called “King George” without reason. His unblemished image and No. 1 hit song after No. 1 hit song is likely to send him to the championship. Click here to vote.
SEMIFINAL No. 2
Tom Landry vs. Audie Murphy
The legendary Dallas Cowboys coach is likely the favorite over the tournament’s only remaining No. 1 seed. But Murphy has come up against worse odds than these before and succeeded spectacularly. For his actions during World War II, Murphy won every award for valor that the U.S. Army had to offer (including the Medal of Honor) as well as significant honors from France and Belgium. Landry, a Christian man of quiet dignity who also served during World War II, would no doubt give way to Murphy, if given the choice. But Landry is near-deified by many Cowboys fans for his 29-year stretch as coach and his two Super Bowl titles. Click here to vote.