Sarkisian’s Quarterbacks

Tua Tagovailo and Mac Jones were the quarterbacks of Steve Sarkisian’s offenses at Alabama. Both were first round draft choices and are starters in the NFL. Both are very accurate pocket passers. They are not threats to run and they rarely do.  As my favorite NFL analyst Greg Cosell says, they’re not second reaction quarterbacks. They each won National Championships at Alabama where they threw from the pocket to NFL first round draft picks Jaylen Waddle and Devonte Smith and were protected by future NFL offensive lineman.

In college football, it’s rare for top 10 teams to have pure pocket passers. Most are dual threat quarterbacks who make second reaction plays running and passing. Tagovailo, Jones, and Joe Burrows at LSU in 2019 are exceptions to the rule. Trevor Lawernce at Clemson was a dual threat quarterback who made many big plays running by design and scrambling.

In 2020, Clemson, Ohio State, and Notre Dame made the College Football Playoffs with dual threat quarterbacks Trevor Lawernce, Justin Fields, and Ian Book.

Texas has lost to Oklahoma the last three years to dual threat quarterbacks Kyler Murray, Jaylen Hurts, and Caleb Williams.  Arkansas’ K.J. Jefferson ran 10 times for 75 yards against Texas a few weeks ago.

Steve Sarkisian prefers to run an offense that features a pocket passer. That worked out well for him at Alabama. It’s not working very well this year at Texas. Yes, Texas’s defense is bad, but they’ve played well in the last two games against Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the first halves when the offense was performing well. In the second halves, when Oklahoma and Oklahoma State keyed on Bijan Robinson, the offense sputtered and the defense broke down.

Texas has been outscored in the second halves of the last two games 54-17. Texas has had 13 possessions in the second half of these games that ended with seven punts, two turnovers on downs, one interception, two touchdowns and a field goal. Second halves like these are going to result in losses to good teams almost every time.

Would Texas have won these games with a dual threat quarterback? Maybe. With the current offensive line, it’s going to be hard to sustain a good offense for four quarters against good teams relying on quarterbacks that aren’t a threat to make plays scrambling or on designed runs.

Can Casey Thompson make plays scrambling or running by design?  Not like Caleb Williams or K.J. Jefferson but I think he could be somewhat effective scrambling. He was the #14 Dual Threat Quarterback recruit in the 2018 class. Hudson Card was #2 in the 2020 class. Has Sarkisian coached Thompson and Card to stay in the pocket and try to find a receiver and disdain scrambling? It sure looks that way. I’m not sure Sark has any designed quarterback running plays in his playbook right now.

Maybe during the bye week Sarkisian can put some quarterback running plays in Texas’ arsenal and encourage Thompson and Card to scramble when they see opportunities to make a play. It couldn’t hurt.

Steve Holstead and Joel Klatt

Willie Earl reader Steve Holstead and Fox lead college football analyst Joel Klatt agreed that it was a major error for Texas defense to be playing a Cover 2 defense late in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma State. Cover Two is not the defense to play when you need to sell out to stop the clock-killing run game. Steve posted his observation on Willie Earl Saturday after the game and Klatt talked about it on the Colin Cowherd show Wednesday of this week. Maybe Klatt reads Willie Earl!

Sam Ehlinger

The Indianapolis Colts have waived Jacob Eason and have elevated Sam Ehlinger to #2 on depth chart behind Carson Wentz. Given Wentz’s injury history, there’s a good chance Ehlinger will play this season.

11am Kickoffs

Texas will play its fourth straight game starting at 11 am next week at Baylor. Evidently, lots of fans don’t like 11 am kicks. Other than the fact that being selected for an 11 am start probably means the Longhorns aren’t having a great season, I kind of like 11 am starts. It gives me less time to kill on a Saturday before the Longhorn game and it still leaves time in the afternoon for golf or other recreational outings.

Willie Earl’s Songs of the Week

“I Get by with a Little Help from My Friends” – “Turn Turn Turn” and more.

I grew up in the suburbs. I guess most people think of the suburbs as a place with all the disadvantages of the city and none of the advantages of the country and vice versa. But in a way, those really were the wonder years for us there in the suburbs. Kind of the golden age of kids.

Fun fact. I graduated from high school in the same year as Kevin Arnold, Winnie Cooper, and Paul Pfeiffer.

Hook ‘Em,
W.E.

Oklahoma State Over/Under Results

Clayton Frink and Wade Wallace tied for first place with eight correct answers. Wade prevailed in the tiebreaker picking winners Alabama and the Cowboys in the tiebreaker. Clayton picked the Mike Leach’s and the Patriots. One of the top two or three Over/Under players of all time, it was Wade’s first win of the season.

Mark Adams, David Bergstrom, and Wes Peoples tied for third with seven correct.

Of the 17 players this week, 13 predicted there would no lead change in the 4th quarter. Wrong. Other than that question, the distribution of answers was very even.

W.E.

Embedded Underachievement

Since the OU game, I’ve had conversations with two Texas fans, one a diehard fan since 1965, the other a more casual fan. The diehard told me, the loss to Oklahoma was for him, the most devasting loss since the 1984 Cotton Bowl loss to Georgia that cost Texas a National Championship. Before that conversation I hadn’t thought about ranking this most recent Oklahoma loss with other devastating Longhorn losses. The ’84 Cotton Bowl was devastating. The other loss that ranks with it for me is the 2008 loss to Texas Tech. Interestingly and surprisingly at 66, getting cut from the Junior Varsity basketball team 50 years ago next month (What might have been) is more painful for me than any Longhorn loss.   

The loss last Saturday to Oklahoma does not move for the needle for me because the 2021 Longhorns aren’t worth the emotional investment; the ’83 and ’08 teams were. This leads me to the conversation I had with the more casual Longhorn fan. We were talking about the defense and how we’re having the same issues that we’ve had for the last four or five defensive coordinators dating back to Manny Diaz. Mack Brown fired Diaz early in the 2013 season after his defense gave up 550 rushing yards to Brigham Young. During the conversation my friend commented that underachievement is embedded in the Texas Football program no matter who the coaches are.  I thought embedded underachievement was a nice turn of phrase. It won’t be until the embedded underachievement goes away that I can be emotionally invested enough for a Longhorn loss to be devastating for me. Don’t get me wrong, I want the Longhorns to win as much as about 95% of the fanbase. But after 10 plus years of mediocrity and now breaking in yet another new coaching staff and the grace period that goes with it, I’m shielding my heart with modest expectations.

Good News

Nobody except Dr. John Butler expected the Longhorns to go undefeated and compete for the National Championship this year but it was reasonable to think they could compete for The Big 12 Championship. As a few of the players said this week, that goal is still intact. Texas’ offense—despite a mediocre offensive line—is capable of outscoring all the opponents remaining on the schedule.

Speaking of the offensive line, as bad as it performs at times it’s been good enough to pave the way for Bijan Robinson to be the third leading rusher in the country and average 6.1 yards per carry.  Texas averages 44.5 points a game, fifth best in the country. So, as frustrating as its performance is at times the offensive line isn’t the biggest problem.

Bad News

The Texas defense is allowing 29 points per game, 95th in the country. It’s 106th in the country in total defense. These ignominious statistics include a shut out of Rice. Very Diaz and Orlandoesque.

Steve Sarkisian said on Monday after the Oklahoma game, and I’m paraphrasing, that when under pressure some of the players aren’t playing with the fundamentals that they’ve been taught and practiced. Tom Herman said almost the exact same thing. Anyway, is that the coaches’ fault for poor coaching and continuing to start players that abandon fundamentals when under pressure?  I don’t know. With million-dollar salaries at stake, should we assume that they’re playing the players that give them the best chance to win? I don’t know the answer to that either.

Speaking of coaching, do you think Xavier Worthy was told not to return a kick that went eight yards deep into the end zone?

*****

If you held a gun to my head and forced me to make a prediction, I would have Texas going 4-2 over its six remaining regular season games.

Oklahoma State

This game is a prime candidate for one of the two aforementioned losses. Mike Gundy’s teams are usually better coached than Texas and they always seem to have one or two playmakers that have good if not great games against the Horns.  Oklahoma State has won four of the last six, but Texas has won the last two in this series.

Keys to Victory

  1. Not starting the game flat. It’s an 11 am start coming after an emotionally tough loss. It would be nice if Casey Thompson could hit on a deep ball early that Sarkisian is sure to call.
  2. Slow down the Cowboys running game. I’d say stop the running game but who are we kidding?
  3. How ‘bout few if any holding penalties and false starts for the offensive line?

Final

Mike Gundy’s advantage over the Texas coaching staff should not be the factor it has been recently. Texas has enough playmakers on offense to put this one in the win column for the Horns.

Would you believe, Texas 48, Okie Lite 27?

Willie Earl’s Songsof the Week

“Let it Be” & “I saw Her Standing There” Performed by Paul McCartney and Billy Joel at Shea Stadium.

If you haven’t seen “The Last Play at Shea” . . . .

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Oklahoma Over/Under Results

D.R. Flower and Mark Stephan tied for first with nine correct answers in a very interesting OU Over/Under Contest.  D.R. prevailed in the tiebreaker with his pick of Iowa over Penn State. Mark picked Penn State. Both players picked Kansas City over Buffalo. That’s two wins in a row for D.R. a rare accomplishment. D.R. and Mark’s performance was outstanding in a contest where the average score was five. 

Dan Adams finished third with eight correct answers. Mark Adams, Clayton Frink, Steve Holstead, and Kelly Malek tied for fourth with six correct.

Willie Earl formulated yet another flawed question, Will there be a defensive or special teams score by either team? If either team kicked so much of an extra point that would qualify as a special teams score. The question should have been, Will either team’s defense or special teams score a touchdown. Six of the 19 players answered no. I credited them with a correct answer since I believe they interpreted the question the way it should have been written. So, every player was credited with a correct answer on that question.

Only three of 19 players picked A&M to beat the line against Alabama. Only three of the 19 players went under on, 27.5 passing attempts for Spencer Rattler. Tough break for the 16 who answered over.

W.E.

OU Smorgasbord

If you’re a fan of Texas, Oklahoma, or college football in general, you can’t taste the full flavor of the Texas-OU experience until you’ve attended this game.  In fact, you haven’t had the full experience unless you’ve arrived in Dallas at least by the Friday evening before the game and been out and about the city whether downtown, the west end, Greenville Avenue, or wherever Texas and Oklahoma fans are congregating. I’m not much of baseball fan anymore but to be in a bar in Dallas the night before the game amid fans adorned in burnt orange or red with a major league baseball playoff game on the television, this is my Octoberfest.

Then there’s the state fair. The folks, the fans, the carnival atmosphere and most importantly the smells or should I say the aromas. It seems like once or twice a year I’m at a high school football game, a Texas home game, or a restaurant bar with outdoor seating when for an instant the aroma of draft beer and fried food wafts by my and I’m wistfully reminded of the Texas-OU game.

*****

In October 1968, six years before I would set foot on the UT campus as a student, my parents drove from Vestal, New York to Austin to visit my brother Clayton who was a student at UT. Along the way, they stopped off in Dallas to visit with some old friends who had been across the street neighbors when we had lived in Houston a few years before. The trip was planned so my parents would arrive in Dallas on the Saturday afternoon of the Texas-OU game and meet Clayton on the fairgrounds after the game. During the game—my father reported—my mother asked a ticket-taker at one of the Cotton Bowl gates to let her in the stadium just for a few minutes so she could visit with her son. That of course was a no-go.

But something else my father told me about that day at the fair resonated the most to me. In relating the experience of being on the fairgrounds while the Texas-OU game was going on inside the Cotton Bowl he simply said, “The sounds billowing out of that stadium . . .” as he looked at me with wonder and slowly shook his head. I got it. I couldn’t wait.

*****

The 1968 Texas-OU game was the second of four straight victories for the Longhorns during a streak where they won 12 of 13. It’s impossible for Texas fans nowadays to relate to such success in this game. Not so much for Oklahoma. They’ve won 15 of the last 22, and five of the last six.

According to 247 Sports, the recruiting since 2010 has been pretty even in this series. Texas’ average ranking over those 12 years is 9.9, Oklahoma’s is 11.6. Since 2017, Oklahoma has a slight edge with an average rank of 9 versus Texas’ 11.8.

The above recruiting analysis indicates that one of the reasons Oklahoma is dominating this series is their superiority over Texas in developing talent. In my opinion the other factor in OU’s dominance is game planning and game day coaching.  During Mack Brown’s tenure, Texas lost the Oklahoma game five straight years from 2000 to 2004. Bob Stoops was interviewed on an Austin sports talk station this week and he told a story about telling his coaches on the Monday before the game in 2000 after he’d watched film on Texas, “We’re going to kick the hell out of these guys.” Yeah, they did 63-14. I doubt Mack Brown ever thought his team was going to kick the hell out of Oklahoma. This was reflected in his game plans that were painfully conservative exacerbated by Brown and his offensive coordinator coaching not to lose. Brown was tight. Darrell Royal and Fred Akers were never tight during the Oklahoma game. Since the Mack Brown era, Oklahoma has had the decided edge in coaching staffs. It’s not even close.

This year, Texas fans have reasons to feel optimistic. Steve Sarkisian has proven so far this season that he’s not a conservative play caller as evidenced by the deep shots in the passing game that he’s called in all five games including the loss in Fayetteville.  And unlike his predecessor he prioritizes putting the ball in his playmakers’ hands. Bijan Robinson had 35 carries against TCU and is the second leading rusher in the country. Freshman Xavier Worthy has 15 receptions for 253 yards and four touchdowns.  Jordan Whittington has 21 receptions for 324 yards and three touchdowns.

The challenge for Texas won’t be the offensive game planning or play calling. The challenge—and the game may hinge on it—is Casey Thompson’s ability to connect with open receivers 30 and 40 yards downfield at least a couple of times. Sarkisian can scheme his talented receivers free on those deep routes as he has in every game this season but first Hudson Card and for the last three games Casey Thompson have failed to connect on those opportunities.  

Thompson’s inability to hit on those deep balls may be the reason Hudson Card originally beat him out. Maybe Card—who the scouts believe has the superior arm talent to Thompson—hit those long balls more consistently than Thompson did in August.  I know none of you want to consider this but if Thompson misses opportunities in the passing game and the offense struggles on Saturday will Sarkisian send in Card?

******

The Thursday before the OU game in 1975, I went to the pep rally in Gregory Gym. I remember Marty Akins and Earl Campbell speaking and then Darrell Royal wrapped it up. The last comments he made were about the weather forecast for the game. It was going to be sunny and hot and Royal said that’s the way it should be for Texas-OU. Then he said it had been a while since we’ve won this one and it was time to get back in win column. Well, Texas played valiantly but in one of the greatest Texas-OU games I’ve been to, fell to Oklahoma 24-17.

Still, what Royal said in 1975 applies to 2021. It’s going to be sunny and hot on gameday and it’s been a while since we’ve won this one and it’s time to get back in the win column against the Sooners.

Oh, Wouldn’t it be nice?

Willie Earl’s Song of the Week

“Wouldn’t it Be Nice” written by Brian Wilson / Tony Asher / Michael Love

Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray
It might come true
Baby, then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do
Oh, we could be married (oh, we could be married)
And then we’d be happy (and then we’d be happy)
Oh, wouldn’t it be nice?

Hook “Em, and KICK THE HELL OUTTA OU
W.E.

TCU Over/Under Results

Either the questions were too easy, or the players are hitting their stride in October. The average score of 6.8 is the highest I can remember in quite a while. All 15 players answered correctly, over 10.5 points scored in the first quarter. 12 of 15 players said no, TCU would not ever hold the lead in the 4th quarter and 12 of 15 took Bijan Robinson over Zach Evans for more yards rushing. Only three players took Jordan Whittington over Xavier Worthy for more receiving yards.

Perhaps I’ve buried the lead. D.R. Flower posted a perfect 10 this week to take the victory. Without checking the archives, I believe D.R. is the only player this year with a perfect score.

Tom Yoxall and David Frink tied for second with nine correct answers. Mark Adams and Helen Frink tied for fourth with eight correct.

W.E.

Sarkisian versus Patterson

By now, TCU’s domination of the Longhorns since joining the Big 12 is well-trod ground. TCU has won seven of nine. More illuminating though is that TCU coach Gary Patterson is 1-1 versus Mack Brown, 3-0 versus Charley Strong, and 3-1 against Tom Herman.

According to 247 Sports, TCU’s recruiting class rankings nationally were No. 25 in 2018, No. 31 in 2019, No. 23 in 2020, and No. 53 in 2021. Texas’s rankings were No. 3, No. 3, No. 8, and No. 15. Obviously, this rivalry over recent years should be more even than it is.

TCU’s current dominance over Texas can be summed up by a famous Bum Phillips quote about Bear Bryant. “Bryant can take his’n and beat your’n, and then he can turn around and take your’n and beat his’n.” In the current vernacular, Gary Patterson and his staff has been “pantsing” Texas’s head coaches and their staffs.

Steve Sarkisian doesn’t have to account for Gary Patterson’s “pantsing” of former Texas coaches, but this game will be a difficult test for Sark. He failed miserably the test in Fayetteville and is looking for his first road victory as the Texas head coach in Ft. Worth. His road record is not good as I pointed out after the Arkansas game. Sarkisian’s record on the road as a head coach is 10-22. If you take out his first two years after taking over an 0-12 Washington team his road record is 7-14.

The TCU game is an opportunity for Sarkisian to pass a big road test and set up the Longhorns for good season. If Texas loses there’ll be a big road monkey on Sark’s back.

Blasphemous?

Hey, any chance that Casey Thompson is better than Sam Ehlinger?  Thompson is on kind of a roll leading Texas to 24 scores in the 27 drives he’s led. He makes quicker decisions than Ehlinger did and so far, he’s been a more accurate passer. Okay, it’s way too early to be talking about this and maybe Ehlinger would have been way better with Sark as his coach and offensive coordinator.

Gracious in defeat?

Gary Patterson whined earlier this week that SMU had pre-planned the attempt to plant their flag on TCU’s field after the game. So what if they did?  Does that mean they were confident of beating you on your home field Gary?

Patterson further claimed that an SMU player hit TCU assistant Jerry Kill with a helmet and gave him a concussion during the scuffle that ensued during the attempt to plant the flag. He revised his story to Kill being knocked down during the fracas though video confirms that Kill was knocked down by TCU players. Then Patterson revised his story again saying Kill was knocked down, but he doesn’t know by which team’s players but if there wasn’t the flag-planting Kill wouldn’t have been injured.

You go Gary!

Did You know?

TCU is 19-21 against over the past five years against Big 12 teams other than Texas. They’re 4-1 versus Texas over the last five years. I guess Texas has been saving Gary Patterson’s job.

Bijan vs Zach Evans

Speaking of recruiting, Bijan Robinson was the No. 1 running back prospect in the nation in 2020 according to 247 Sports.  Zach Evans was one spot behind him. Robinson and Evans were the No. 15 and 16 recruits respectively overall.

Through three games this season Evans has 330 rushing yards averaging 7.9 yards per carry. Uh oh.  Robinson, through four games, has 436 yards rushing and averages 6.2 yards per carry.

Robinson versus Evans is an interesting game within the game. It’s not Vince Young versus Reggie Bush but it’s not bad.

The Game

Sarkisian is going to have to do a better job than he did in Fayetteville adjusting on the fly his offensive tactics to beat TCU. My man Paul Wadlington in his TCU preview suggested that Gary Patterson could try to take Xavier Worthy out of the game and blitz frequently. Seems like Sarkisian would have an answer for Worthy being blanketed but I worry about the blitzing.

Defensively Texas needs to eliminate the running threat from TCU quarterback Max Duggan. Concede that Zach Evans will get his yards but don’t get fooled by play-action and get burned by the deep ball like they did against Arkansas.

As in every game, turnovers, if they occur, will be difficult for either team to overcome.

Texas is favored by 4.5.

I’m really looking forward to this one.

Texas vs TCU 1982

Earlier this week I was talking to a longtime friend of mine who is planning on going to the game on Saturday. He’s not exactly sanguine about the Longhorns W-L record in road games that he attends. I think he said every time he goes to the Texas-TCU game in Ft. Worth the Longhorns lose and some of his friends are taking up a collection to pay him not to go to Ft. Worth Saturday.

The conversation reminded me that Texas is 2-0 versus TCU in games that I’ve attended in Ft. Worth. I went in 2013 and 1982.

It certainly isn’t monumental in Texas Football history, but I have fond memories of my trip to Ft. Worth in 1982. I really liked our 1982 team though going into the TCU game the Longhorns’ record was an average by 1982 standards 5-2. Texas had lost a close game to Oklahoma that they had a chance to win late in the 4th quarter and suffered a heartbreaking 30-17 loss in Austin that was much closer than the score indicates.

In 1982 I was 27, living in Austin in a one-bedroom apartment on Barton Hills drive which was a three-minute walk from Barton Springs. I spent about half my weekends that year in Dallas hanging out with my friend and boss Mike Frank, my friend David Bergstrom and my girlfriend who was working as an accountant at Sanger-Harris, her first job after graduating from UT that spring.  In addition to having a great social life in Dallas, I owned a 1982 Mazda RX-7 that I really, really enjoyed driving so the otherwise boring drive up I35 was actually pretty fun for me. I recall one trip in particular when after passing through West, Texas, I set the cruise on 100. The speed limit in those days was 55 by the way. It was somewhere around Waxahachie when I spotted a cop car in my rearview mirror that I estimated was about ¼ of a mile behind me. This literally almost scared the piss out of me since I was traveling with some illegal substances. Of course, I slowed down to 55 and then pulled over in a rest stop where I watched the cop car continue driving north, uninterested, or unaware of the white RX-7 that had been doing 100 since West. Phew. Remind me of this the next time I accuse a 20 something of being stupid.

Anyway, after spending Friday night in Dallas, David Bergstrom our girlfriends, and I drove over to Ft. Worth for the game. I had a stress-free relationship with the girl I was dating because the relationship was low stakes since I knew it wasn’t long-term. I had someone else in mind for that.  Without reviewing the Texas Football archives my memory of the game is that it wasn’t the easy win for the Longhorns that I was anticipating but eventually the Horns put TCU away relatively comfortably. After reviewing the box score of the game, I see that TCU had the halftime lead 21-17 and that Texas pulled away in the 4th quarter winning 38-21. My memory that it was beautiful autumn football weather that day is confirmed by the box score that reports that it was sunny and 50 at the 2 pm kickoff.

During the game, we followed the SMU-Texas Tech game being played in Lubbock by watching the periodic posting of the score on the Amon Carter Stadium scoreboard. The Pony Express was in first place in the Southwest Conference, highly ranked, and a big favorite over Tech. The game was surprisingly close which got my hopes up for a Tech win which would put Texas back into the race with SMU to win the conference.

During the walk to our car after the game, we heard from someone who was listening to the SMU-Tech game on a transistor radio that Tech had tied the game with only seconds remaining. I was gleeful. A few minutes later, just as we arrived at our car, we got another report that SMU’s Bobby Leach had returned a kickoff for a touchdown at the gun to give SMU the win. Crap! How the hell did that happen?  David’s girlfriend laughed at my outrage and disappointment.

Oh well.

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Texas Tech Over/Under Results

It was a bit of an unusual Over/Under game this week. There was an invalid question, three questions that every player got right, and a perfect score.

Tahahj Brooks didn’t play so W.E. threw out that question creating a nine-question game. Every player predicted that both teams wouldn’t score on their first possession, that there would be fewer than five total interceptions, and that Texas would lead with six minutes left in the game.

With every player getting three of the nine questions right, the game was ripe for a perfect score, and that’s what happened. Pitching a perfect Over/Under, Andy Garrod is the winner this week. It’s Andy’s first win of the year and perhaps his first win ever. I’m sure Andy can confirm this.

Helen Frink and Kelly Malek came up one shy of perfection and tied for second with eight correct answers. Tyler Cotton, Mark Adams, and Mike Frank tied for third with seven correct.

W.E.

Facts, Figures, Thoughts, and a Gut Prediction

       Factoids

  1. Last year, trailing 56-41 with three minutes remaining the fourth quarter, Texas and Sam Ehlinger mounted a furious rally that included a successful onside kick to tie the game in regulation. Texas won in overtime 63-56.
  2. This is Casey Thompson’s first start versus a non-Rice opponent. It will be the biggest challenge of his career. Texas Tech has just enough film to prepare a defensive gameplan for Thompson.
  3. Tech’s defense has allowed an 54.7 yards per game rushing through three games this season. They give up an average of 1.8 yards per rush.
  4. Tech is 3-0 this season beating Houston, Stephen F. Austin, and Florida International. The cumulative record of these defeated foes is 5-5.
  5. Stephen F. Austin came up short on a 4th and goal with less than a minute before losing to Tech 28-22
  6. Tech is averaging 441 yards and 40 points per game. 270 yards per game passing and 170 rushing.
  7. Tech’s leading rusher, Tahj Brooks, is averaging 94.7 yards a game at an 8.1 yard per carry clip.
  8. Tech’s leading receiver, Erik Ezukanma, average yards per reception is 21.9.
  9. Tech’s quarterback Tyler Shough, is averaging 9.9 yards per reception. In case you don’t follow this metric, 9.9 per attempt is quite good.
  10. As of Friday morning, Texas is an 8.5-9.0 favorite. Figuring that the odds makers automatically spot the home team three points, they think Texas is about a touchdown better than Texas Tech.

Big Game for Sark

Texas’s next three games are Texas Tech, at TCU, and Oklahoma. In ascending order, each one will be the biggest of Steve Sarkisian’s career at Texas. If Texas doesn’t win at least two of these three matchups, it’s hard to conjure up Texas finishing the regular season with any better than an 8-4 record. I don’t know about you but 8-4 doesn’t excite me much.

Casey Thompson’s 16 for 18

Thompson has led Texas to 16 scores on the 18 drives he’s piloted dating back to the Alamo Bowl last year. So, I’m getting a little annoyed with Steve Sarkisian still going out of his way to state that Hudson Card will be playing (I’m paraphrasing) a significant role for the remainder of the season. Maybe he’s playing the long game in recruiting but can’t he just use the old cliché, Hudson needs to prepare each week like he’s going to play because you never know . . .?

Gut Prediction

Given the deficiencies of the Horns’ offensive and defensive lines, I don’t see Texas having an easy time with any of their remaining opponents. Save Kansas, I expect every game is going to be close. I expect the defense to disappoint most weeks, especially this one. I expect the offense will be the strength of the team and will keep Texas in all the remaining games.

If you’re looking forward to my gut prediction for this game, you may be disappointed. No, I’m not picking Tech to win. I’m not picking a winner in this one.  I do predict a game that will be decided late by less than six points. If Texas holds Tech to under 35 points, I think we have to be satisfied with the defense.

I will predict the final score will be something like 38-35 and it could go either way.

Willie Earl’s Song of the Week

“In My Life” – The Beatles

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more

For my money, this is the greatest love song of my generation.

I wept like Jack Paar when I rediscovered this opening of the “The Beatles Anthology” documentary from 1995.

https://archive.org/details/the-beatles-anthology-1995-dvd

Hook “Em,

W.E.

Rice Over/Under Results

Clayton Frink broke through this week for his first win of the season. Clayton scored seven correct answers.

Helen Frink, David Frink, Mitchell Frink, Greg Swan, Reed Ramlow, and Dan Yoxall tied for second with six correct answers.

All 18 players got right, “Will Texas go three-and-out on their first possession?”  All 18 players got wrong “Will Rice’s first score be a TD, FG, or safety? You can answer, Rice won’t score.”
David Frink was the only player to predict that Ovie Ogoufu would get Texas’ first sack.

The average score was 4.9. The low score was three.

Willie Earl apologizes to Bijan Robinson for calling him Bijan Johnson in question #4

W.E.

Dazed and Confused

I’m still in daze over the Longhorns meltdown in Fayetteville but after a few days of reading and reviewing key plays online, I’m not so confused.  Steve Sarkisian looked dazed and confused on the sideline during the second half in Fayetteville. His team was as ill prepared as any Texas team I can remember. This includes Tom Herman’s Maryland meltdowns, about 75% of the Charlie Strong era, and Mack Browns 63-14 and 65-13 losses to Oklahoma in 2000 and 2003.

Sarkisian lost the Arkansas game for the Horns before it started with a bad game plan offensively and defensively compounded by not being able to adjust when the tide started turning against them. Distilling what I’ve read this week, the fatal flaws of the Arkansas gameplan include a blocking scheme that Kyle Flood and Sarkisian prefer to run. Unfortunately, the personnel on the offensive line collectively doesn’t have the skill or talent to execute the scheme Flood and Sarkisian want to run. It turns out last year’s blocking schemes were more suitable to the talent currently available than Flood’s and Sarkisian’s.

During his Monday press conference this week, Sarkisian said (I’m paraphrasing) there were a few plays that had they gone differently, the entire game would have taken on a completely different tone. He didn’t itemize the plays, but I will.

  1. The Arkansas punt returner fumbled the punt inside their five-yard line and Texas’s Kitan Crawford recovered but with his toe on the line.
  2. Early in the second quarter on a third and 15 from the Arkansas 34, Card slightly overthrew a wide-open Jordan Whittington in the end zone.
  3. Trailing 16-0 late in the second quarter from the Texas 29, Jordan Whittington drops a relatively easy catch on the Arkansas 28.
  4. Darned if I can find the where and when but Card missed an open Xavier Worthy for a touchdown.
  5. Midway through the second quarter, Cameron Dicker muffs a snap and had his punt blocked and Arkansas recovers on the Texas 6-yard line.  


Yes, if these plays had gone the other way the game would have taken on a different tone, but Texas would still have been dominated on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball which still would have led to a decisive Arkansas victory. Texas’s quarterback and pass receivers need to make plays that they didn’t make in the Arkansas game. Even if they do, Texas fortunes still depend on the play of the offensive and defensive lines.

Sark’s Bad Numbers

To date, Sarkisian’s record on the road as a head coach is 10-22. If you take out his first two years after taking over an 0-12 Washington team his road record is 7-14.


He’s 12-20 versus ranked teams. And did I see a graphic on the screen during the Arkansas telecast that said Sarkisian was 0-18 when trailing at the start of the second half?  I hope that’s not what I saw.

Quarterback Shuffle

Naming Casey Thompson the starter for the Rice seems like the only thing Sarkisian can do now. Going back to the Alamo Bowl and through two games this year, Thompson looks like a decent quarterback. Unless he plays poorly this week, it’s time to end the quarterback shuffle and consign Hudson Card to mop-up duty. After the Arkansas game, I’m wondering if there will be any mop-up duty this year. Nothing against Card long-term, but I think it’s been well documented that a quarterback shuffle isn’t what’s best for the team.

I know some of my fellow baby boomers remember the Roger Staubach-Craig Morton shuffle. How silly was that?

Rice

Think what you will about Rice Football, but know this, they were tied with Arkansas through three quarters in Fayetteville.
Somewhere out there Mark Adams is saying, “Those pesky Rice Owls!”

Willie Earl’s Song of the Week

“Life During Wartime” – Talking Heads

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,
This ain’t no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey,
I ain’t got time for that now

Oh my god. This is “Greatness.”

Hook ‘Em,
W.E.

Arkansas Over/Under Results

Reed Ramlow returns to the winner’s circle winning this week’s contest with eight correct answers. Kelly Malek, Clayton Frink, Andy Garrod and David Frink tied for second with seven correct. The average score was 5.1.

Thought it was interesting that 17 of the 19 players answered correctly with under on 63.5 passing yards for Casey Thompson. He finished with 57 while scrambling out of the pocket three or four times instead of passing, including on his touchdown run. Dan Adams was the only player who correctly predicted that Arkansas would go over 310.5 total yards in offense.

W.E

Mauled

After the shortest honeymoon in history, excuse me while I wipe the egg of my face before I give you my order of shame in last night’s mauling in Fayetteville.

  1. In my first column of the year, I said I appreciated that Steve Sarkisian stated flatly that he was the play-caller so he’s number one on my list of who’s to blame for the blowout loss. His game plan depended on the offensive line being able to at least hold its own against Arkansas’s defensive front. When it was proven early and often that it couldn’t, Sarkisian didn’t adjust. He kept running Bijan Robinson up the gut where he was consistently hit three and four yards behind the line of scrimmage.  After consistently facing second and long throughout the first and second quarter, without consulting the box score, I can’t remember a single first down pass called by our play-caller. The few times that Robinson picked up four or five yards on first down, Sarkisian called another run up the gut that resulted in losses that put Hudson Card and the Horns in third and long. This happened three or four times in the first half.

I’m not an Xs and Os expert but I’ve watched enough football to know that when you face a fired-up defense that’s charging upfield on every snap, you try to take advantage of their all-out pursuit with a quarterback draw, a screen pass, a reverse or some kind of misdirection. How ‘bout an option play where Card faked a give to Robinson inside and kept the ball and ran in the opposite direction?  We saw nothing like that. I thought before that key fourth and one midway through the third quarter, Texas had an opportunity for a huge gain by suckering the Arkansas defense inside with a fake give to Robinson and then a pass or a Card Keeper. Nope, a run up the gut by Robinson for a one-yard loss. Game over.
First and foremost, the blame for this game is on the play-caller and head coach. It’s frightening to consider that Sarkisian is only a great offensive mind when he has a dominating offensive line.

2. The offensive line gets an F- if there is such a thing. Here’s my technical analysis of the collective play of Texas’s offensive line. They can’t block. Maybe Kyle Flood is only an outstanding offensive line coach if he as three, four, or five future NFL starters.

3. I hesitate to include Hudson Card on this list without knowing who told him that he wasn’t allowed to run for positive yardage when he couldn’t see open receivers and the opportunity availed itself. It looked like to me he had several opportunities for substantial gains running but instead, he danced around in the pocket before taking a loss. We saw Casey Thompson make some nice gains, including a touchdown when he tucked and ran, albeit long after the issue had been decided.
I guess a review of the tape will tell Sarkisian if Card held the ball instead of throwing to open receivers. Other than that, Card missed throws on a couple of potential touchdowns to Jordan Whittington. Whittington didn’t help matters much by dropping a perfectly thrown ball by Card that would have resulted in a huge gain.

In his post-game press conference, Sarkisian said that he thought the defense played well for as long as it could given the offense’s futility. I agree. Yes, the defense gave up 40 points and big yardage but I’m going to assign at least half the blame for that to the offense.
Sarkisian looked relatively composed during the press conference, but I was disappointed that he didn’t directly shoulder more of the blame for the offensive futility and the embarrassing loss.
After two games, I have no idea where the Horns go from here.

Hook ‘Em,
W.E.

Our Greatest Fears

Balzac—whoever he was—wrote, “Our greatest fears lie in anticipation.” I’m sensing what I believe to be unfounded fears in Texas fans of playing Arkansas in Fayetteville, theoretically a hostile environment.

When I look at Arkansas, I see a team that was tied with Rice through three quarters last Saturday. I see a team with experience that was 3-7 last year. Is that great experience? I see a team that lost in Fayetteville last year 52-3 to Alabama which had an offensive coordinator named Steve Sarkisian.

We have to look back quite a few years for a history of the Longhorns Ws and Ls in Fayetteville but here goes.

2004: W
1989: W
1987: W
1985: W
1981: L “The sea was very angry that day my friends.”
1979: L
1977: W
1975: W
1973: W
1969: W That was an exciting game.

Hmm, 8-2 over the last 10 in that hostile environment where the natives hate Texas with the heat of a thousand suns.

It’s only one game but what we saw in Texas last week was the closest thing to a professional operation that we’ve maybe we’ve ever seen as Texas fans against a team that—according to the experts—that is better than Arkansas.  Of course, paraphrasing an old saying, “On any given Saturday . . . but I think the 2021 version of the Longhorns can withstand a few bad bounces of the football in Fayetteville and still come out on top. I’m willing to bet we’re going to have to suffer a couple of 10+ yard runs by Arkansas’s quarterback KJ Jefferson and maybe even the Longhorns first turnover of the season. But when all is said and done, I see the Longhorns prevailing in Fayetteville tomorrow evening with their second straight 38-point output.

I’m calling it Texas 38 – 14 over those pigs from Arkansas.


Willie Earl’s Song of the Week

“All Gas No Brakes”
              Or
“Life in the Fast Lane”

I like this song but it’s not among my 100 most favorites. It’s not even in my top five of favorite Eagles songs. But its origin story might be my very favorite.

If you’re rock and or pop music fan and you haven’t seen the Eagles Documentary, “History of the Eagles”, you must see it. One of my favorite parts was Joe Walsh talking about his iconic guitar lick that became the opening for “Life in the Fast Lane.”  One of his fellow band members heard him playing it in his hotel room and asked him, what was that?  Walsh answered, “It’s just something I have.”  If you’re familiar with Joe Walsh’s speech pattern, you can imagine how funny that was.

Walsh explained it a little differently to Paul Schaffer. Here’s that clip.

Hook ‘Em,
W.E,

Louisiana Over/Under Results

Before I get to the results, I thought I’d give you just few quick thoughts on the game.

  1. As a play-caller, Steve Sarkisian comes as advertised, one of the very best college or pro. Formation is a part of play calling and Texas’ first touchdown, the pass to Bijan that he walked in, was about Sarkisian out formationing (A word I just made up) Louisiana’s defensive coordinator.  Also, the Hudson Card 3-yard touchdown was a brilliant call.
  2. Speaking of play calling, correct me if I’m wrong but I think Texas scored touchdowns on every one of their redzone possessions.
  3. Hudson Card, what a talent!  He could be the best we’ve had since Vince Young. I’ll go out on a limb and predict he’ll be a first round draft pick in 2023. What did I tell you about Sark going with the “talent’ right of the gate?
  4. So great to see Jordan Whittington breakout with seven receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown.
  5. The offensive line needs improvement. Too many sacks and holding calls. I’m guessing Sarkisian and Kyle Flood will get this right soon.
  6. Overall Texas looked like the best coached team we’ve had in a long, long while.

W.E.

David Frink wins the opener with six correct answers. We had an incredible logjam for second place with Andy Garrod, Tyler Cotton, Helen Frink, Greg Swan, Mark Stephan, Randy Bogard, Wes Peoples, D.R. Flower, Clayton Frink, and Reed Ramlow all answering five questions correctly.

I’m sorry about very poorly formulating the question about total yards rushing for Louisiana all though Randy Bogard was the only one who was even in the ballpark with his prediction of 64 yards. Louisiana had 76. I gave Randy credit for a correct answer.

With 19 entries I thought it was a great turnout despite the Delta variant and the technical difficulties we had early Friday afternoon.

See you Friday.

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Catch-up Football

I posted my last column before Tom Herman was fired and Steve Sarkisian was hired so we have a lot of catching up to do in a short amount of time. Here we go.

Steve Sarkisian           

I’ll bet I’m not the only one whose first reaction to the news that Texas had hired Steve Sarkisian was, “Huh, what?”  UT’s fallback from Urban Myer—the winner of multiple national championships and theoretically a sure-fire sure thing to bring the Longhorns a national championship within three years–was an offensive coordinator? Steve Sarkisian? The guy who was fired by USC for conduct unbecoming because of alcohol abuse? On the job? 

Then I caught myself.  I was being hypocritical for judging Sarkisian on what had to be the worst period of his life. I was leaning in the direction of believing, in terms of being qualified to be the head coach of a major college football program, Sarkisian was not redeemable.  I knew from personal experience that was wrong and not an analytical assessment of the quality of the hire and Sarkisian’s qualifications.

When I looked at Sarkisian’s qualifications I saw that he had been the head coach for five-and-a-half years of two power five conference football programs, Washington and USC. In 2008, he took over a Washington program that had been 0-12 in the previous year. In his first year, his team went 5-7 followed by three straight 7-6 years before finishing 8-4 in 2013. He took over USC in 2014 and went 9-4 finishing the season ranked 20th.  It was in 2015 that Sarkisian had his infamous inebriated public meltdown at a USC booster event and was fired about six weeks later after USC’s fifth game. 

For a fired college football head coach, the first step up from rock bottom is often as an analyst—whatever that is—for a college or NFL team.  Tom Herman is currently an offensive analyst/special projects for the Chicago Bears.   If memory serves, these jobs typically pay about $30,000 per year. You read right, $30,000 per year. Of course, recently fired head coaches don’t take these jobs for the money. In September 2016, Nick Saban hired Sarkisian as an analyst for Alabama.

In December 2016, while Alabama was preparing for the national championship game with Clemson, their offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin accepted the head coaching position with Florida Atlantic. On January 1, 2017, eight days before the National Championship game, Saban fired Kiffin and elevated Steve Sarkisian to replace him.  Remember this event because it illustrates what Saban’s opinion of Sarkisian is and what Texas has in the character of their new coach. Clemson beat Alabama 35-31.

In February of 2017, the Atlanta Falcons hired Sarkisian to be their offensive coordinator replacing Kyle Shanahan that had taken the head coaching position with the San Francisco 49ers.  This was just days after the Falcons had blown a 28-3 third quarter to lead and lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl.  It had to have been a tough time for the Falcons organization and under Sarkisian, in 2017 the offense declined significantly. Sarkisian was fired by the Falcons at the end of the 2018 season.

In 2019 Sarkisian went back to Alabama as the offensive coordinator. That year, Sarkisian’s Alabama offense was second nationally in total offense averaging 568 yards and 48.4 points per game. Alabama went 11-2. They scored 41 points in a loss to LSU and 45 points in a loss to Auburn.

In 2020, Alabama won the national championship and averaged 541.8 yards and 48.5 points per game.  Sarkisian won the Broyles Award awarded to the nation’s top coaching assistant and he won the FootballScoop Offensive Coordinator of the year voted on by previous winners of the award. When Nick Saban tested positive for Covid 19, he appointed Sarkisian interim head coach for the Auburn game.

Sarkisian was hired by Texas on January 2, 2021, 11 days ahead of Alabama’s appearance in the national championship game. In contrast to the way Saban handled the situation when Lane Kiffin had accepted a head coaching position before a national championship game, he did not let Sarkisian go. Sarkisian stayed and at the Frink household, we cheered on Coach Sark as his offense scored 52 points in a route of Ohio State for the national championship.

I think the most impressive lines on Steve Sarkisian’s resume are that Nick Saban hired him twice, chose him to be the head coach of his football team in his absence, and trusted him to remain on and prepare his offense for a national championship game. I’m sold.

I think a case can be made that Steve Sarkisian is the most qualified coach to ever be hired by Texas. Before becoming Texas’ head coach, he had six + years of head coaching experience at major college programs, he was an offensive coordinator in the NFL for two years, and he coordinated offenses at Alabama that finished first and second nationally in total offense.

Before I close on Steve Sarkisian, one of the many things I like about him is that he has stated flatly that he is calling the plays. Not his offensive coordinator, not a committee. The play-caller is Sarkisian. The buck stops with him.  Period. Have I mentioned that I’m sold?

SEC

My initial reaction to the move was that Texas in the SEC would be further away from a conference championship and playoff appearance than they already were. Heck, the Horns are consistently finishing in the middle of the pack in the Big 12, so what would become of them in the SEC? 

Not sure what to make of the move myself, I asked Professor John Butler—the most qualified person on the subject I knew to write a guest column for this here blog.

I envisioned his column to be about UT’s decision-making process and the business reasons for the move to the SEC. Professor Butler went in a different direction writing a full-throated endorsement of the move and a preview of fun and excitement to come with membership in the juggernaut conference.

The column helped me crystalize my thoughts. Moving to the SEC was a no-brainer for Texas and few tears if any will be shed for the Big 12.  After all, how dumb could the Big 12’s leadership have been a few years ago when they decided to stand pat with 10 teams. The Big 12 has 10 teams. It’s goofy and goofy has a limited shelf life.

How soon can we get to the SEC?

Louisiana Pre Game

What do these teams have in common?

  1. Iowa State
  2. Georgia State
  3. Georgia Southern
  4. University of Alabama Birmingham
  5. Arkansas State
  6. South Alabama
  7. Central Arkansas
  8. University of Louisiana Monroe
  9. Appalachian State
  10. University of Texas San Antonio

Give up? They were all beaten by Louisiana in 2020.  As a Texas fan, boy I’m scared.

I have never seen a UT opponent so overhyped as Louisiana. Oh, they were 10-1 last year. They’re preseason ranked #23. They return 20 starters.  Look out!  I’m not buying it. The game opened several weeks ago with Texas as a 16-point favorite. The line is now 8. If I was a betting man . . . .

Hudson Card

Remember back at the beginning of the 2003 season when Mack Brown went through the motions of starting junior Chance Mock for the first six games over redshirt freshman Vince Young?  Chance Mock wasn’t a bad quarterback but come on. Brown and Greg Davis had to know what they had in Vince Young but chose to start Chance I guess out of some unwritten rule about going with the experienced guy over the superior talent. In Vince Young’s case “superior talent” may be the understatement of the century. Vince Young took over as the starter in game seven of 2003. Remember when Vince Young was the quarterback?  That was great.

The reasons l like Steve Sarkisian keep on coming. I love it that he’s dispensed with any aforementioned rule and is going with Hudson Card, the superior talent, right out of the gate. If nothing else, Sarkisian knows quarterbacks and offense.

Kind of Interesting

That Dicker the kicker will start the season handling field goals, extra points, kickoffs, and punting. Erxlebenesque.

Prediction

Steve Sarkisian will prove early in his tenure that he’s not Tom Herman. The Louisiana game will be no repeat of the Maryland debacles. 

Texas over Louisiana 45-16.

Introducing

“One of My Favorite Songs for Various Reasons” A new weekly Wille Earl column segment.

“This ‘Cowboy” written by Toy Caldwell and performed by The Marshall Tucker Band
I gotta get back to Dallas
And tie up a few loose ends
I’m gonna work a week make a hundred dollars
Aw and hit the road again

I was in my brother Clayton’s living room hanging out late on a Sunday afternoon circa 1976 the first time I ever heard “This ‘Ol Cowboy.”  I had never heard anything like it.  I was thinking, this is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. Eventually, I figured out it was the fiddle and flute playing along with great lyrics that tell a great story that made me love the song.

Here’s what I found online about the song from the Monahan Song blog

We remember Spring days in the north when you were finally able to open the windows in your dorm because the sun had arrived and the snow was gone. Parties erupted on the sunny dry lawns and music blared from those dorm windows.

This Ol’ Cowboy was one of those songs. While it will no doubt come across to you as country, it was considered mainstream Southern Rock and The Marshall Tucker Band was in the forefront of that movement. Their infusion of jazz elements is obvious and this set them apart in our opinion. The flute playing by Jerry Eubanks takes the song to another level and the guest fiddle playing by Charlie Daniels and Andy Stein (Commander Cody), makes this an irresistible tune.

This song is the story of a guy who has been around the block, and one more ended relationship is not going to devastate him.

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

The Longhorns to the SEC

Guest Commentary

By John Sibley Butler

As social media goes wild with opinions and tweets, it looks like that The Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners will join the Southeastern Conference.  For decades, these two teams have staged one of the most intense rival games in college football.   Now that the Longhorns are going to the SEC, every game will be an OU game with the intensity on steroids.   Imagine that the Longhorns first two games are smaller schools looking for exposure; then we get into conference play and the Horns are in the SEC West.   The teams on the schedule could be Auburn, Alabama, LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Florida (a cross-over from the SEC East) and Texas A&M.   If the Horns win the SEC West, Georgia could be the opponent in the SEC Championship game.  The Longhorn nation will simply have to have a great team and wait until the end of the game, as most great games in the SEC are won by a small margin, usually as time runs out.

It is important to understand that simply because a team is in the SEC, it does not mean that it is all big and bad.  I attended LSU and have watched how over the years winning streaks have come and gone in the conference.  Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Florida, and Auburn all strut big time football traditions, as measured by winning “recent” national championships.   Mississippi, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, and Texas A&M are excellent programs that do not hang a big-time tradition, but certainly have had their spot in the national spotlight.  Texas A&M, for example, has come in no higher than fourth in the SEC West (Let’s not count last year’s Covid Year) and Arkansas has almost disappeared from the national spotlight since leaving the old Southwest Conference and joining the SEC.  Traditions tend to get on a roll, each dominating the conference for eight years or so.   Recently it has rolled from Florida, Tennessee, LSU and Alabama.   Remember that as good as Bama has been, most of their victories came in games where one play decided the victory. 

Here are some things to keep in mind as Texas rolls into the SEC.

Put on your Big Boy Pants

This conference is no joke when it comes to players getting beat up in big time games and then have to strap it on again and get beat up the next week.  This means that the teams that do well have the “next man up” attitude.  Excellent teams tend to be stacked with good players and it is a player’s league.   If you take a break with a non-ranked team like a Mississippi State or Kentucky, you still need to keep on your big boy pants.  In recent years Alabama lost to Ole Miss (two years in a row) and Florida was spanked by Kentucky in the Swamp. When LSU won the national championship in 2007, they lost in overtime to Kentucky and Arkansas. Florida was on a roll last year with over 26 seniors, ranked in the top ten, and lost to an LSU team made up of freshmen.  There is no letting up and help us all if Tennessee regains its top form that it sported until 2001, when they were rolling to a spot in the BCS Championship game and got blindsided by an average LSU team in the SEC Championship game. 

Big Stadiums and Big Time Atmospheres

Since leaving college, I have seen my Alma Mater play for the National Championship four times.   None of those games compared, in spirit and atmosphere, to home games at LSU. In the SEC, every game is like a Bowl Game with all the hype and traditions.  There is a concentration on the stadiums, which takes on a life of its own; and I can say as a graduate of LSU, I have never seen any stadium, college or pro, like Tiger Stadium.  My brother went to a Big Ten school, and I have visited college stadiums all over America (https://youtu.be/RQOpSTX8Td8).  The Aggies have also done a great job with their atmosphere (https://youtu.be/Y0_s9Hd26tY) and Tennessee does a good job.  (https://youtu.be/3nQnoEQH2x4).  The worst fans are as follows: Florida, LSU, Mississippi State and Arkansas.  Alabama, Tennessee, and Texas A&M tend to be more “civilized,” especially after a loss.   LSU has the worst fans after a loss and Florida fans are right behind.

The Cities

The best trip is to LSU and staying in New Orleans before the game is an option.  Add tailgating before the game and it is a good time.   I always make the LSU/Alabama trip and Tuscaloosa is a tough place to get into.  I stay in Birmingham and when the traffic is bad, it can be a long trip to Bryant-Denny Stadium.  Eating at Dreamland BBQ makes the hassle worth it.  I also tend to make the LSU/Auburn game by flying into Atlanta and renting a car to make the hour and a half drive.  Ole Miss is worse; I usually stay in the Las Vegas of Mississippi, Tunica, and drive to Oxford and park my car literally near the interstate.  I don’t get to Florida (because Texas usually plays OU that weekend) but it is also interesting to get to.  There is nowhere to land a plane in Oxford MS, College Station or Starkville (or Stark Vegas) MS.  Austin will be the charm of the SEC in the future, and I can envision SEC fans staying in Austin when they have a game scheduled in College Station.

The Longhorns and the Move

At this time, I have Texas going undefeated next season.  As Coach Sarkisian recruits, the Longhorns should be stacked at every position with great athletes in the coming years.   I think that he understands that players win games, and he is concentrating on recruiting pure talent.  Texas will take a big-time college tradition to the SEC, a tradition of national championships and winning big time games and producing Heisman Trophy winners.  The Longhorns are no “Johnny-come-lately” and should compete extremely well.  The new stadium is now an SEC stadium (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqkKCgSug0k) and I expect that the atmosphere will be like the Notre Dame game and the LSU game of recent years.  A typical SEC team will bring a ton of fans to Austin and if they do not have a ticket, it might be 20 thousand of them in the city, just following their team, camping out.  Get ready to host those Arkansas fans again.  The SEC network does a great job with covering the teams and the overall content is great.  Willie Earl’s blog will have a heyday.

Remember also that Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Florida and LSU, have great baseball traditions.  Kentucky is the prize of the SEC in basketball and everyone else is just hit and miss with LSU, Alabama trying to make a national presence.  Texas could do extremely well in baseball and OU should do well in women’s softball.  A great sport that the SEC has that Texas does not have is Women’s Gymnastics, and the arenas are packed.

Looking forward to a great future in the SEC.   It will be great to see the Purple and Gold in Memorial Stadium every other year.  The talk shows will be off the scale and a great time will be had by all.  It is time to take the Eyes of Texas and Hook ‘Em Horns to a great competitive conference.

John Sibley Butler is the J. Marion West Chair in Constructive Capitalism at the University of Texas at Austin. He has served three terms on the Athletic Council at Texas and was the faculty representative to the Texas Exes. He was the LSU Alumnus of The Year in 2012. He has served as President of the LSU Austin Alumni Association and as a member of the LSU National Alumni Association. He now serves on the LSU National Foundation Advisor Board. During college he was a walk-on to the LSU basketball team and played in the LSU Tiger Band for four years.

Colorado Over/Under Results

There was a nice “Holiday Season” turnout for the Colorado Over/Under with 15 players entering.  Jeff Otto scored a most impressive nine correct answers and wins the final contest of the season. I kind of think this is Jeff’s second win all time.

In a fine performance that in many weeks would have earned first place honors, Mark Stephan finished second with eight correct  

Reed Ramlow took third by himself with seven correct.

David Bergstrom, Steve Holstead, Greg Swan, Mike Frank, and Andy Garrod finished in tie for fourth with six correct.  

The question “More total yards from scrimmage, Bijan Robinson or Jake Smith” turned out to be a gimme as every player picked Robinson.  What was I thinking when I came up with that question?  I don’t think the question, “6.5 points scored by Texas in the first quarter” was a gimme but every player astutely got it right. Only four players went “over” for total points scored in the game.

The average score was 5.67.

All things being equal, Willie Earl’s Over/Under will be back Friday September 3, 2021. Looking forward to it.

W.E.

Alamo Bowl Questions

1. Which Team wants to win more?

2. If Texas loses will it increase the chances that Herman will be fired before the 2021 season?

3. Do we really believe that Sam Ehlinger is considering returning to the Horns in 2021?

That plus a real brain drainer Over/Under is the best I can do during this busy Holiday Season.

Cheers and,

HooK Em”

W.E.

Championship Week Over/Under Results

In a lightly subscribed Championship Week Over/Under Contest, Helen Frink, with eight correct answers, came away with her third win of the year. Can you say domination?

Reed Ramlow and Clayton Frink tied for second with seven correct.

The average score was 6.17, the highest of the year. All but one player got the first three answers correct.

I trust you all are as excited about the Alamo Bowl as I am and the turnout for the Over/Under Contest will be near a record high. 

But seriously folks, what else is there to do next Tuesday night? You skiers can’t ski at night and you hunters can’t hunt at night. Can you?

Cheers,

W.E.

Do Better

I don’t know if I would go all the way to mysterious, but the 10-year run of mediocrity by the Texas football program has been at the least puzzling. This run has been presided over by three head coaches, three athletic directors, three university presidents (the third time has not been the charm) and countless coordinators and assistant coaches. This run of mediocrity has been impervious to a never-ending capital-intensive campaign to upgrade the football facilities—four car garage and we’re still building on—and the heavy meddling of some of the University’s largest and most influential donors.

Maybe the common thread running through the regimes of three different presidents and athletic directors is ineptitude in overseeing UT Football.  The botched effort to hire Urban Meyer by Chris Del Conte and Jay Hartzell is the latest example.   

Del Conte and Hartzell failed to keep their efforts under wraps while Tom Herman and his team still had three games to go and were competing for a conference championship. I suspect the above-mentioned donors were the unnamed sources cited by the blogs including Inside Texas and Orange Bloods in their so-called reporting on the courting of Meyer.  

After the efforts to hire Meyer failed the blog sites kept stirring the pot claiming UT was now pursuing other candidates. Then Del Conte released the amazingly ambiguous statement that in part read, “I want to reiterate that Tom Herman is still our coach.”  Was the statement purposely ambiguous and released for the sake of recruiting and the early nation signing day that was just a few days away? Did Hartzell and the board of regents approve the statement before its release? Was Del Conte’s statement a reaction to Herman’s reported interest in the South Carolina vacancy? Del Conte later confirmed in a phone call with the American-Statesman that his statement means Herman will be the coach in 2021. Meaning January 2021, September 2021?  This situation is a mess and needs cleaning up.

The way that Hartzell and Del Conte have handled the failed attempt to hire Meyer and its aftermath gives me no faith in their ability to competently oversee Herman and the football program or an ongoing or future search and hiring of new head coach. For Texas Football to be better, Hartzell and Del Conte need to do better.

Tom Herman

I’ve been reading about what a sorry state Texas recruiting was for the 2021 class. After the early signing period Texas’ class is rated 17th by 247 Sports and ESPN.  Though it’s not the top 10 rated class that Herman has had the previous three years, 17th doesn’t seem like a disaster. If there is finally clarity on the coaching front before the signing day in February, the ranking will probably improve. Under the circumstances, Herman and his staff have done a good job in recruiting a 2021 class so far.

Recruiting hasn’t been Texas’ and Herman’s problem. Player development and game management are.

Herman has failed to develop the top 10 ranked recruiting classes into top 10 teams. He has failed to tailor his game planning—particularly on offense—to the talent and strengths of his players.

His game management has been fundamentally wrong on so many occasions during his tenure at Texas whether it’s when to go for it on 4th down rather than punting or attempting a field goal, managing timeouts and the clock or when to go for two after a touchdown.   His substitution patterns seem to be random with no regard to the game situation. Why against Iowa State, on the last drive of the game, did he have backup receivers in the game and not Brennan Eagles, Jake Smith, and Jordan Whittington? Get a clue, Tom. Also, on that last drive, couldn’t he make sure Sam Ehlinger understood that he absolutely could not take a sack?  Ehlinger should have known better but Herman should have made sure.

Herman needs to do better in many areas.

Inside Texas, Orangebloods etc.

These sites and probably others have lost credibility with me. I subscribe to Inside Texas almost exclusively for the writing and analysis of Paul Wadlington aka Scipio Tex. He doesn’t trade in rumors and unnamed sources as the other contributors do.  If they want to authoritatively report in column after column about the process of something as monumental and complicated as the firing and hiring of the UT head football coach citing unnamed sources they should expect to be embarrassed. They aren’t because they don’t have enough self-awareness to be embarrassed. Instead, they had a digital tantrum after Del Conte released his statement claiming the hiring and firing of the head coach wasn’t his decision to make. Del Conte may not have absolute authority but to claim he doesn’t have any is just silly and stupid. If you say something like that, I have little interest in any opinions you have on the subject. Grow up. Do better.

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

Urban Meyer and Fred Akers

In my discussion last week on Urban Meyer, I invoked a quote from the movie Wall Street, “The main thing about money, Bud, is that it makes you do things you don’t want to do.”  I can’t leave the Urban Meyer-Texas saga without invoking another quote from Wall Street. Bud Fox’s father talking to him about Gordon Gekko said, I don’t go to bed with no whore, and I don’t wake up with no whore. That’s how I live with myself. I don’t know how you do it.”  Chris Del Conte and Jay Hartzell just got diddled by the best.

Fred Akers

If the coach who follows Nick Saban at Alabama does as well as Fred Akers did in succeeding Darrell Royal, he’ll have done a whale of a job.

In 1983, during one of my very favorite Texas Football seasons, there were weekly lunches on Wednesdays for boosters with Coach Akers at Casita Jorges on sixth street. Akers spoke to the boosters about the upcoming game and reported as much “inside” information as he could afford to. Before he spoke, he sat down to a plate of enchiladas at a table he chose at random with a few lucky attendees.  The Wednesday before the Oklahoma game, Coach Akers chose the table where my brother David and I were sitting. I sat directly across from Akers. At one point during lunch, he said he was anxious to get back to the Oklahoma game film he had been studying. I admit to being a little starstruck.  “We beat Oklahoma that year 28-16. When I told Helen about this a couple of days ago, she remarked, “It was a more innocent time.” In some ways it was.

For the record, Texas finished the 1983   regular season 11-0 and ranked #2. I refuse to talk about what happened next.

If I had to pick my all-time favorite Texas Football Season, it would be 1977, Fred Akers’ first year as the Texas Head Coach.

I was a senior at UT during the 1977 football season.  My Texas Football confidants and I had been in favor of hiring of Akers over Darrell Royal’s defensive coordinator Mike Campbell because he was young and represented a new generation and new thinking and would transform Earl Campbell from a wishbone fullback into an I formation tailback. We just knew Earl would be one of the best, if not the best, running backs in the country if he was a tailback.  We really did.

Akers and Campbell led Texas—a 13-point underdog—to its first win over Oklahoma—ranked #2 in the country—in seven years in the most exciting 13-6 game you’ll ever see. I don’t care what anybody says, it’s my favorite Texas-Oklahoma game EVER. After the game, a wild celebration broke out on the Drag. My brother told me that it was so wild and crazy, and loud that he and the friend, standing on the corner of 24th street and the Drag, couldn’t hear each other talk over the pandemonium.  I almost wish I had been there. I, of course, having attended the game, was in Dallas celebrating with a date and my fraternity brothers at party in a downtown Dallas hotel ballroom.

The week after the Oklahoma game, Johnny Ham Jones—Earl Campbell’s running mate—scored a touchdown late in the fourth quarter as Texas beat #8 ranked Arkansas 13-9 in Fayetteville. There was another drag celebration as large and jubilant as the one the week before and I witnessed some of it from a window about 10 stories up in the Castilian dormitory as I was picking up my date for a Rusty Weir concert that night.

And . . . the week after the Arkansas game, Texas—now #2 in the country—beat an average SMU team in the Cotton Bowl on the same day that the #1 team, Michigan, lost.  Because everyone knew Texas would now be ranked #1 another massive Drag celebration broke out every bit as crazy as the ones after the Oklahoma and Arkansas game. Late on that warm, overcast, fall afternoon, sipping longnecks on the second-floor balcony of the Sig Ep house five blocks west of the Drag, John Scott and I heard a voice in the distance from a loudspeaker proclaim, “We ARE number 1.”

The Drag celebration was a thing now and some residents of the neighborhood just west of the Drag complained about the noise and partying—which including instances of public urination—that was spilling onto their streets.

One week after Texas routed Texas Tech at home, Larry Campbell and I ran from the stadium across campus to get back to our fraternity house before the craziness broke out. When we got to the Drag, in anticipation of the now weekly celebration, it was manned by Austin’s finest. The police weren’t there to break up the celebration but just to keep it somewhat civilized.  As Larry and I crossed San Antonio street, we noticed that several porta potties had been strategically set up to accommodate the partiers.

Texas went on to a perfect 11-0 regular season and on the night of December first, Earl Campbell won the Heisman Trophy. During that night’s Drag Celebration, as revelers, some in convertibles with the tops down, paraded slowly up and down the Drag, it began to snow.  

I still get teary eyed just thinking about it.

Nice job coach Akers.

Get on with it

The Kansas game has been cancelled and it won’t be rescheduled. The regular season is over. No later than this coming Monday, Chris Del Conte must fire Tom Herman or emphatically and unequivocally announce that Herman will be the coach of the Longhorns in 2021. I’m not sure the later is still a viable option.

I hear Bob Stoops is available. Just kidding, Mark Stephan.

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

Kansas State Over/Under Results

Oh ye Over/Underers of little faith. Only two of 13 players predicted Texas would win by 20 points or more and those two players finished first and tied for second in the Kansas State Over/Under. 

Despite every player correctly answering no, Urban Meyer would not be hired by 12/7 at 5pm, the average score was a low, low 4.15.  If Meyer changes his mind today, it won’t affect this week’s results.

After her unexcused absence from the Iowa State Over/Under, Helen Frink returned and chalked up her second win of the season scoring eight correct answers. Helen’s win was keyed by her predicting that Texas would win by 20 + points. Mark Adams and Andy Garrod tied for second with seven correct answers. Mark was the only player besides Helen who predicted Texas would win by 20+.

Wes Peoples finished alone in fourth place with six correct.

A season low 13 players participated this week.  I wonder if the regular players who sat out this week lost interest after the Iowa State loss or sat out in protest of my opinion about the potential hiring of Urban Meyer?  I’m guessing the former.

W.E.

Texas and Urban Meyer

I seem to be the lone wolf in Longhorn Land expressing the notion that hiring Urban Meyer with all his ethical baggage is desperate and distasteful. I’m surprised that UT President Jay Hartzell can look at Meyer’s background and agree that he’s the one. Clearly, he’s worried about fundraising if Texas doesn’t make a monster hire.  As the wizened stockbroker in Wall Street told Bud Fox, “The main thing about money, Bud, is that it makes you do things you don’t want to do.” For those not familiar with Meyer’s background, there’s plenty of information to be had by performing a simple Google search. For the Cliff Notes, his Wikipedia page is handy.

If Meyer takes the job, Texas fans should be aware that though he won National Championships at Florida and Ohio State, his tenure at those schools was only six and seven years, respectively. I suspect his tenure at Texas would be even shorter (if he has health issues at 56, how’s he going to feel at 60) and I think that’s problematic. When he left Ohio State, he did leave in his wake great players and in Ryan Day, an excellent head coach.  Not so much the case when he left Florida.

Stuff I’ve read.
I’d link to these stories but they’re behind pay walls.

From Adam Rittenberg at ESPN+

When I talk with coaches who face Texas, coaches who have worked at Texas and those familiar with the program, the same terms are used: Entitlement. Country Club, “it’s the softest group of kids you’ve ever been around. There’s no work ethic.”

We’ve been hearing this since the Mack Brown era.  Why is it like that at UT when it isn’t at other programs with plenty of dough like Oklahoma, Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Notre Dame and Georgia to name a few? Maybe those schools don’t have player’s individual lockers that cost $1,500.😊

More from Rittenberg

Texas is one of the nation’s best coaching jobs. But the Meyer factor could discourage other candidates, mindful they wouldn’t receive the same reception. If Meyer says no, would anyone else please the Longhorns’ base ore even get a fair chance to elevate the program?

If Messrs. Hartzell and Del Conte don’t land Meyers, they’ve created a real mess for themselves.

Interesting statistic from Inside Texas

Since 2017, Texas has only two 20 points victories in Big 12 play. Oklahoma has 13.

Great teams don’t routinely win close games because great teams don’t routinely PLAY close games, they blow teams out. Watching Texas in the Tom Herman era has meant watching the Longhorns struggle to generate wins on a weekly basis. Rather than reveling in Texas’ status as the most resource-rich program in the league, as the flagship program of the nation’s most football-crazed state, fans and alumni of the University have had to squirm for four quarters every Saturday as their team desperately fends off Texas Tech and Kansas and succumbs to Iowa State and Baylor.

Iowa State

Texas got off to a good start going up 10-0 midway through the first quarter (though it should have been 14-0).  But when Iowa State quickly closed the gap to 10-7, didn’t you just get the feeling that Texas was going to find a way to lose this pivotal game? I did.

Ehlinger Disappoints

I predicted that Sam Ehlinger would play one his best games against Iowa State but on the penultimate play of the game, he took a sack when he should have been looking for a short quick completion. The sack cost Texas a reasonable chance at a game-tying field goal. Essentially, Texas lost the game when he was sacked. Just a devastating mistake by Ehlinger.

Kansas State

This is about as interesting a game as one could be with virtually nothing at stake. No conference championship or bowl berth is on the line. Evidently Herman can’t save his job or even stave off getting fired with a win. But it will be interesting to see if the Texas players play hard and whether there’s evidence that the Texas coaches spent more time this week preparing a game plan or looking for their next job.

And I suppose it will be interesting to hear Urban Meyer comment on the game at halftime. Hey, what if Meyer is mysteriously absent from the broadcast?  Woo wee!

HooK ‘Em.

W.E.

Iowa St. Over/Under Results

When the first entry I graded this week had nine correct answers, I figured the scoring average would be high. Turns out it was just the opposite. The average score of the 18 contestants this week was 4.78, one of the lowest of the year.

Without further ado, Wade Wallace was the player with nine correct answers and easily wins this week. Zac Frank and Andy Garrod tied for second with seven correct. Michael W. Frank, Dan Adams, Mark Adams, and Greg Swan tied for fourth with six correct.

Wade and Zac Frank were among the only three players who correctly guessed that the turnover battle would yield a tie.

Not taking one for the team

Inside Texas is reporting this morning that Sam Cosmi—a redshirt junior—is opting out of the rest of the season. Will Cosmi be the first of many?

W.E.

Diatribes and Urban Meyer

During Tom Herman’s weekly press conference last week, he was asked about speculation that Urban Meyer would take his job in 2021 if not sooner. In summary his response was that reports in the press and blogs about his shaky job status were based on unnamed sources and was driven by people with an agenda.  Sounds about right to me.

I saw Herman answer that question on LHN and his response seemed strong but reasonable. But the media reported that Herman had launched into a five-minute diatribe in defending himself. Diatribe? By definition can a diatribe be only five minutes long? Anyway, I thought I must have missed Herman’s answer to a follow up question on the same subject, so I skimmed through the press conference again. I hadn’t missed anything. His answer wasn’t a diatribe.  And how did the reporter and the press expect Herman to answer?  Did they think he would say, “Yeah, I’m going to be fired if I don’t win the Big 12 and I’m very worried about my job security?”

Seems to me that asking that question was a waste of time. In fact, I find about 90% of the questions Herman gets asked in his press conferences are a waste of time and it annoys the heck out of me when a reporter can’t articulate his or her question in less than a 150 words.

Urban Meyer

Let me state this succinctly.  Do we Texas fans really want that creep heading our football program?  Are we that desperate?  I’m not.  I do hope that the next coach–unlike Tom Herman and Charlie Strong—has a resume that includes consistent winning as the head coach at a power five conference program.

Such as:

  1. Dabo Swinney – At least a 100-1 shot I know but you have to ask, don’t you?
  2. Brian Kelley – Kelley is in his 11th year at Notre Dame where his record is 100 – 37. That includes a BCS Championship appearance and CFP appearance. Notre Dame’s record in the four years prior to his hiring was 26-24. Before Kelley was hired, a consensus was developing that Notre Dame would never be an elite program again because of geography (Have you ever been to South Bend?) and academic standards. Kelley has proven that consensus wrong. Maybe Kelley would like the idea of living and recruiting in Texas and earning more than $1.66 million a year.
  3. Kirby Smart – Smart is in his fifth year at Georgia where his record is 49-14 including an appearance the CFP Championship Game in 2017. The last three years he’s won 13, 11, and 12 games. Maybe Smart would like to compete in the Big 12 rather than the SEC.
  4. Mack Brown – He fulfills my criteria of consistently winning at a power five program. Okay, just kidding. 😊

Iowa State

It just so happens that this is a huge game. Texas must win to remain in Big 12 Playoff contention and a loss would put Tom Herman’s tenure at Texas on its deathbed.  Iowa State needs to win to stay in control of their Big 12 Playoff hopes and prove they’re not a pretend contender as they’ve turned out to be so often during the Matt Campbell era.

Iowa State leads the Big 12 in rushing averaging 205 yards per game and Breece Hall is the conference’s leading rusher averaging 147.5 yards per game at 6.3 yards per rush.

They’re third in the conference in total defense holding opponents to 333.8 yards a game and fourth in scoring defense allowing 23.4 points per game.

Bottom line, statistically Iowa State is better than Texas. The latest line has Texas favored by 1 ½ points. Betting wise, given that the home team is spotted three points, Vegas thinks Iowa State is a better team than Texas.

Seems to me the difference in this game will be the choke factor for three of the most important participants.

  1. Will Brock Purdy choke? He’s overrated as far as I’m concerned. I expect a rested Sam Ehlinger to play great in his last game at home for Texas.
  2. Will Tom Herman get scared and play too conservatively on offense in big moments as he so often does in big games? Will he commit any major gaffes in clock management?
  3. Matt Campbell will not lose his job if Iowa State loses this game, but Iowa State has not a won a conference championship of any kind in more than 100 years, so the pressure is on.  If his team loses in an embarrassing fashion, Michigan may lose interest in him.

This should be an exciting game with plenty of drama. Too bad there will only be about 17,000 fans in attendance. Has anybody noticed that without Sam Ehlinger’s heroics versus Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, Texas would have lost those games and would have lost to Oklahoma by a wide margin? My gut tells me that Sam Ehlinger puts on the performance of a lifetime and Texas wins a nail bitter.


HooK Em,

W.E.

West Virginia Over/Under Results

Clayton Frink broke through this week and posts his first win of the season with seven correct answers. Second place was a clean sweep for the Sig Eps with: Jeff Otto, Andy Garrod, and Greg Swan tying with six correct answers.

The average score was a low, low 4.6.  That’s a W for Willie Earl.

Naming Texas’ leading tackler may have been a bit too difficult. Al Spell it Like it Sounds and Wes Peoples were the only players to answer correctly in naming Juwan Mitchell.  Only five of 18 players, including winner Clayton Frink, predicted there would be no lead changes in the fourth quarter.

16 of 18 players correctly predicted that Texas would rush for more yards than West Virginia.

The turnout was good with 18 players turning out.

W.E.

The Reports of Herman’s Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

Sports talk show host Colin Cowherd has a mantra about passionate sports fans wanting to be right more than they want to get it right. If I had a mantra about passionate sports fans, it would be in a similar vein to Cowherd’s: they want to be the first to predict more than they want to accurately predict. 

Since Texas’ loss to Oklahoma I have observed passionate Texas fans being guilty of both above foibles when predicting or flat out stating as a fact that Tom Herman will be fired after this season if not before. They want Herman to be fired and if they say it emphatically enough times, they think they can make it come true.

In the cold hard light of the win over Baylor and the stirring come-from-behind win over Oklahoma State, the prognosis for Herman keeping his job in 2021 looks pretty good. And, I don’t think Texas has to win its remaining four games for Herman to be retained.  If Texas wins three out of four and finishes 7-3 for the regular season Herman will remain, in my opinion. That would give him a 34-18 record. Not great but I think it would be a bad look to fire a coach who just went 7-3 and has won 65% of his games over four years. If Herman doesn’t win the Big 12 in 2021 or doesn’t have a Mack Brown like 10-2 regular season record without a championship, then he’ll be fired and his buyout will be more reasonable than it would be at the end of this season.

Texas’ Keys to Victory over West Virginia

  1. Texas has averaged 92.7 yards in penalties over the last three games. They had 142 yards in penalties against Oklahoma State. Texas can’t continue to be penalized at this rate and expect to win its remaining four games or even three out of four.
  2. Texas overcame penalties and an average offensive output to beat Oklahoma State because they forced four turnovers. They need to win the turnover battle over a West Virginia team that is fourth nationally in total defense and 19th in scoring defense.
  3. It was clear during the Oklahoma St. game from his play and his facial expressions that Sam Ehlinger was in pain. Between Texas’ porous offensive line and Herman’s penchant for using quarterbacks heavily in the running game, Ehlinger is beat up. Texas needs to protect Ehlinger the passer much better and Herman needs to rely more on his running backs and less on Ehlinger to run the ball.
  4. West Virginia average 32 minutes in time for possession. Texas can’t fall behind by double digits in this game and expect to win.

Final Observations on the West Virginia Game

Texas gave up 400 passing yards and 530 yards total to Oklahoma State. Texas overcame those ugly statistics with a heroic performance from Joseph Ossai and strong performance from Ta’quon Graham. It’s reasonable to expect those two to play well against West Virginia but not to win the game again this week.  I’ll go out on a limb and predict that if West Virginia total more than 500 yards of total offense they’ll win.
Texas was held to 287 yards and 3.8 yards per play and Ehlinger was sacked five times against Oklahoma State. I’ll go out on another limb and say if Texas gains less than 350 yards total offense this week they’ll lose.

Texas got a touchdown on D’Shawn Jamison’s 100-yard kickoff return. Without consulting the Google machine, I believe that’s two kickoff return touchdowns and one punt return touchdown for his career at Texas. So, a Jamison long return or return touchdown isn’t a fluke but it’s unlikely to happen two games in a row.

This is a Big 12 elimination game. The loser will be out of title contention. Will Texas come down off the high of the Oklahoma State victory and play a more consistent game offensively and defensively against West Virginia or play poorly for the third time this year in a game that starts at 11am?

HooK ‘Em.

W.E.

Oklahoma State Over/Under Results

Congratulations to the field of 17. Your average score at 6.4, is the highest of the year and puts this one in the loss column for Willie Earl.  The field was spotted a point when no one took the bait and guessed that the Horns would have a kick blocked.  Only player in the field was correct in going under on the largest lead of the game at 11.5.

The only player who got the largest lead question right was Al Locascio and his nine correct answers tied for first place with Mike Frank. Mike wins this week by edging Al in the tiebreaker by going one for two on the pick ‘ems. Al got both wrong by picking Penn St. and Dallas to beat the spread against Ohio St. and Philadelphia. Congratulations to Mike and Al.

Al, I wish you simplify the spelling of your last name, so I didn’t have to copy and paste it from your entry every time you make the news.

Mark Stephan took third place all by himself with eight correct. D.R. Flower, Clayton Frink, Greg Swan, and Tyler Cotton tied for fourth with seven correct.

I think I’ve mentioned this in years gone by but looking over the names of the entrants each week is like a “This is Your Life” television episode for me.

W.E.

As Time Goes By

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by                                  
                        From “As Time Goes By”
                                                                  -Dooley Wilson

If a kiss is just a kiss and a sigh is just a sigh, is a song just a song?   When a group of UT athletes demanded that the University ban “The Eyes of Texas,” I asked a friend what he thought of that. He answered, “It’s just a song.”  His answer became a mantra for people who were willing to jettison the school Alma mater.  Ironically, no one told the UT athletes that “It’s just a song.” Instead the University formed a committee to examine the history of the song.  That’s what I call “Higher Learning.”

Get Your Story Straight

During Tom Herman’s weekly Monday press conference, he was asked what he thought about Baylor coach Dave Aranda’s weird decision to punt from Texas’ 30-yard line. Herman said that he wasn’t aware of that happening. Huh? And that he had been so immersed in watching Oklahoma State film over the past 48 hours that the Baylor game now seemed like four weeks ago.  Then Statesman reporter Kirk Bohls asked Herman if he had noticed any weaknesses in Oklahoma State to exploit.  Herman replied that because of all his media obligations he had only spent about three hours watching Oklahoma State film. Around our household we might need to change Herman’s nickname from “Mensa Boy” to “Mr. Self-awareness.”

Evaluating the Baylor Game Performance  

I played in a golf tournament last weekend, so I didn’t watch the Baylor game, but I recorded it and despite my media obligations, I’ve had a chance to watch it.

A few observations:

  1. Ehlinger is taking too many hits in my opinion. If he keeps running as much as he’s been forced to so far this season either on called quarterback runs or scrambling, at the least he’s going wear down. At the worst he’s going to miss a game or more because of an injury as he did in 2018. Why not call Bijan Robinson’s number a little more, Ehlinger’s a little less?
  2. Keaontay Ingram, Bijan Robinson, and Roschon Johnson combined for 113 yards on 29 carries. The long run was 12 yards. This is workmen like not dynamic. Unless there’s dramatic improvement this week in run blocking, Texas running backs aren’t going to be major contributors against Oklahoma State who is 19th in the country in total defense unless it’s as pass receivers.
  3. Back to the “Get Your Story Straight” from above. I noticed that before Baylor punted from the Texas 30, they tried to incur a delay of game penalty to give their punter more room to pin Texas inside the 10-yard line. Texas was too smart for that and declined the penalty. So, Tom Herman declines that penalty but doesn’t remember Baylor punting from the Texas 30-yard line?  Why lie or prevaricate about this Tom?
  4. Texas’ pass protection is subpar. This will be a problem against Oklahoma State.
  5. Texas averaged about 18,000 in attendance for the TCU and Baylor games. According to the 25% capacity limit this year, Texas could have up 25,000 in attendance for a game.  So, are we to extrapolate that with this team, in a normal year, Texas would be averaging about 72,000 fans per game?  I know I’m just filling column space here but if you take a look up the road to College Station, the Aggies have reported 24,000 + attending their home games. From what I saw on television, I think they had about 50,000 at the Florida game. I’m just wondering if there’s an enthusiasm deficit this year for the Longhorns. Maybe it’s just that Texas fans are more careful about the pandemic than A&M fans.
  6. The defense looked good overall. The talent level appeared good across the board. Is that a reflection on Baylor or an improvement in Texas’ defense?  We’ll see tomorrow.
  7. Defensive end Alfred Collins needs to play more. Looks like to me he could be a star.

Oklahoma State

Texas is a three-point underdog. If I was a gambler, Oklahoma State would be a very tempting bet. I have an easier time imagining an embarrassing loss for Texas than a potentially job-saving win for Herman.

The writers on “Inside Texas” talk about the advantage on the “headsets” that most Texas opponents seem to have. Based on past performances, Oklahoma State has a decided edge on the headsets in this game.

I know it’s not going to happen, but I’d like to see Texas in the throwback white unis they donned against Baylor again this week.

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

Baylor Over/Under Results

Mark Homer Stephan broke through for his first win of the season this week—maybe his first win ever—with seven correct answers.

For the second week in a row there was a large logjam for second place involving players with six correct answers. Last week seven players tied for second. This week there were six that included Greg Swan, Mitch Lewis, Wes Peoples, Clayton Frink, Wade Wallace, and Helen Frink.

Game Notes

  1. It was another large field with 18 players.
  2. Only five players picked Baylor to score first which they did.
  3. Only one player picked Baylor quarterbacks to have less than 1.5 touchdown passes. Robert Brewer, excuse me, Charlie Brewer threw two.
  4. The average score was 5.1

Recently I was asked if I ever play Over/Under. I’m sure that’s been a burning question for many of you.  I did once maybe seven or eight years ago but my game is devising questions that limit the scoring average to around five.  I consider it a loss if the scores average six correct answers or more. I consider it a win if the winner has seven or fewer correct answers or if the scoring average is below five.

Pardon me while I pat myself on the back for winning this week.

See you Friday.

W.E.

Willie Earl Back On the Couch

Patient 191855

This was the patient’s first session since 11/16/18 when the Longhorn Football team was racking him with worry.

Session transcript from 10/22/20

Therapist: It’s been while. So, how ‘ve you been?

Patient: I’m okay, I guess. Do you know that Barry Manilow song, “Tryin’ to Get the Feeling Again?

Therapist: I’m not sure I’m familiar with that one.

Patient:  Well, the opening lyrics are,

Doctor, my woman is comin’ back home late today
Could you maybe give me something?
‘Cause the feelin’ is gone
And I must get it back right away

Therapist notation: The patient is a terrible singer.

Therapist: Are you and Helen having troubles?

Patient: It’s a little more serious than that. Remember when I was here a couple of years ago because the Longhorn Football team was driving me crazy?

Therapist: I do. Are they giving you trouble again?

Patient: It’s complicated. They’ve lost two in a row and their record is 2-2 which is really disappointing but they’re lucky not to be 1-3.

Therapist: So, you’re disappointed in team and you’re worried about their future?

Patient: No, that’s my problem! Remember the song.

Doctor, my woman is comin’ back home late today
Could you maybe give me something?
‘Cause the feelin’ is gone
And I must get it back right away

Therapist: These lyrics say something to you about the Longhorns?

Patient: Yes! “my woman” is the team and I don’t seem to care that they stink!

Therapist: Interesting. Do you often see your life through song lyrics?

Patient: Doesn’t everybody?

Therapist: To tell you the truth, in the 30 years that I’ve been in practice, you’re the first patient who wasn’t in a hospital who’s ever sung during a session.

Patient: So, you think I’m crazy?

Therapist: (Long pause) No, I, I don’t.  So, you’re not bothered by the team’s mediocre performance but that you don’t care that they’re mediocre?

Patient: Exactly! (singing)
I’ve been Up, down, tryin’ to get the feelin’ again
All around tryin’ to get the feelin’ again
The one that made me shiver
Made my knees start to quiver

I guess I really liked living and dying with the Longhorns and now that I don’t, I feel empty inside.

Therapist: Why, do you think you don’t care anymore.

Patient: I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m a fair-weather fan but they haven’t been any good in 10 years. The last championship they won was in 2009. Since then, they’re 73-58. In the 10 years prior to that they were 110-19.

Therapist: I had no idea the contrast was so stark. Let’s explore your feelings a little more. What’s gone wrong over the last 10 years?

Patient: Coaching. It started with Mack Brown. He was the architect of the 10-year 110-19 record from 2000-2009.

Therapist: Architect?

Patient: He was the head coach. His team won the National Championship in 2005. He followed that up with four more solid years that included another berth in the National Championship game and a Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State. Those years were glorious.

Therapist: I see. So, what happened after that?

Patient: I guess Mack Brown got tired. He coached less and less and played golf more and more and the team went downhill fast. He tried to “fix” it by hiring new assistants but then he delegated too much of the coaching to them and the whole operation became disjointed. After the 2013 season, the school president and athletic director asked him to resign. You might say he was fired.

Therapist: Fascinating. Sounds like a UT Business school case study. What happened next?

Patient: They hired Charlie Strong to replace Mack Brown. Strong had three good years as the head coach at Louisville and was considered an up and coming star in the college coaching ranks. Overlooked was the fact that he had only been a head coach for four years, all at Louisville. Coaching at Louisville bears little resemblance to being a head coach at Texas where you’re expected to compete for a national championship in short order.  To use your business school analogy, it was kind of like going from convenience store manager to Walmart Super Store manager in one step.

Therapist: Very interesting. Go on.

Patient:  In three years at Texas, Strong’s record was 16-21 and he was fired after the 2016 season. When it became apparent that Strong would be let go after the 2016 season, there was a consensus among the UT administration, big-money donors, and fans that Tom Herman, the coach at Houston, was a must-have as the next head coach. 

So, UT got in a bidding war with LSU for Herman’s services and won—paying  Herman a salary that made him the third or fourth highest paid college coach in the country.

At the time I wondered why everyone was so hot for Herman when his resume was remarkably similar to Charlie Strong’s.  Houston is in the same conference as Louisville. Not quite the bigtime. Not only that, he had only two years of head coaching experience.

Therapist: Sounds like UT made an impulsive decision to hire Mr. Herman.

Patient: Exactly! And after Texas lost the very first game of Herman’s tenure to Maryland—a game Texas was heavily favored to win—Herman revealed his not so pleasing arrogant and condescending personality.  Now, in his fourth year at Texas there seems to be another growing consensus that Herman will be fired at the end of this season.

Therapist: I can certainly see why you’re frustrated about Texas Football.

Patient:  But that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you! I’m not frustrated. I guess I’m weary and beyond caring as a diehard, orange blooded fan.  I have to say, watching the program’s travails is entertaining in cynical kind of way in the same way the Dallas Cowboys are entertaining.

Texas paid a premium to hire this arrogant you-know-what and then gave him a raise after a 10-4 season that Mack Brown would have called, “not our standard.”  And as you peruse today’s morning sports section, you’ll find Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and Kansas State in the top 25 and Texas isn’t. Not only that, SMU is # 16 and wait for it . . . the Aggies are #9! 

If they’re not already, Texas should be a laughingstock of a major college football program.

Therapist: In what you describe I can see the futility of UT’s efforts in the arena of bigtime college football.

Patient: (Singing again)

Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no

None the less.

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

Oklahoma Post Game Thoughts

Hard not to be emotionally involved in that one.  I wish we’d won.

During the game, I told Helen that Texas was a stupid football team.  How are they stupid? I don’t have the energy to count the ways.

Briefly

  1. I could argue that the two blocked kicks against Texas were the difference in the game. Texas has allowed two punts and one field goal to be blocked through four games. I don’t have the data, but it seems to me that teams that have punts and kicks blocked almost always lose.
  2. If I was Tom Herman, I would have seriously considered going for two points after the touchdown that tied the game at the end of regulation.  I have a witness. It’s possible that since Texas didn’t have any timeouts left, Herman didn’t think he had time to get a play called. Of course, that’s a terrible reason not to go for it since every game plan should include the play you’re going to call for a two point conversion.  I don’t think Herman is a quick-twitch thinker. To be fair, Herman would have been roundly criticized—not by me—if he had gone for two and failed.
  3. Of all the criticisms of Tom Herman I’ve read in the last 48 hours, the one that made the strongest impression on me was this.  Herman has his second-best offensive tackle playing center. Derek Kerstetter is good pass protector as a right tackle. He’s not a good center. In year four of his tenure, Herman doesn’t have a starting-caliber true center.
  4. On a sugar high after the Sugar Bowl, Chris Del Conte gave Herman a five-year contract extension. When will we ever learn?

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

Oklahoma Over/Under Results

Unlike the game in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, the Oklahoma Over/Under contest did not need overtime to determine a winner. Mark Adams wins with seven correct answers. It’s Mark’s first win of the year. Mark is a veteran player who has multiple wins over the years.

Kelly Malek, Andy Garrod, Dan Adams, Reed Ramlow, D.R. Flower, Mark Stephan and David Frink tied for second with six correct answers. That’s a seven-way tie for second for those of you scoring at home.

Game Notes

  1. The turnout was the largest of the year with 19 contestants.
  2. The scoring average was 4.9.
  3. Jake Smith aggravated a hamstring in pregame warmups and did not play costing 14 of the 19 players a shot at a correct answer.
  4. 15 of 19 players were wrong in predicting that Texas would exceed 30:15 in time of possession.

W.E.

Oklahoma Pre-Game

Texas Football in Crisis?

I read in one of Kirk Bohls’ column this week that the Texas fan base is “seething” after the loss to TCU. Besides the TCU loss, he wrote that the fans are “furious” about Tom Herman’s 27-16 record at Texas and his endorsement of his players’ snub of “The Eyes of Texas.” I guess he has evidence to back up these claims but doesn’t cite any in his column. 

I can share that I heard from three diehard Texas fans after the TCU game that they were no longer emotionally invested in the program because of years of mediocrity. I can relate but I can’t claim that those three are a representative sample of the entire fan base.

If it is accurate that a significant segment fan base is angry or disinterested, I would say that after one loss the anger is premature.  Further I would suggest that those fans who are angry had outsized expectations—again—of how good the Longhorns were going to be this season.

This is team coming off a barely above average 8-5 2019 season. The program was in such a state that Herman replaced both coordinators and some key position coaches. As I mentioned in the first column of the year, replacing that many coaches is not an earmark of a program on the rise.

If history has taught us anything, it is that four- and five-star recruits don’t directly correlate with elite college football players and that two or three consecutive top 10 recruiting classes don’t directly correlate with a top 10 team. 

Three games into his fourth season as coach, Tom Herman is doing no better than Mack Brown during his last four years at Texas and Charlie Strong’s brief three-year tenure at developing elite talent into championship teams. Three different coaches with different styles and personalities failing in a similar fashion. It makes you wonder, what gives?

It was reported and opined that in his last three or four years at Texas, Mack Brown took the “CEO” head coaching style too far and was delegating too much of his duties to coordinators and staff.  I heard second hand from a former player who was close to the program that Brown was playing golf with big-money-donors on Fridays before home games. That’s what I call delegation.

I don’t think it’s controversial to suggest that Charlie Strong at Texas was in over his head. The “Peter Principle” on display.

Hiring Tom Herman theoretically addressed the failings of his predecessors. He was a hands-on, fanatically detail oriented coach/executive.  And . . .  he was in Mensa!  I like to call him “Mensa Boy.” At 27-16, it’s too early to judge that Herman is not the answer for Texas, but it’s trending in that direction.

Even though Oklahoma is unranked coming off two consecutive losses and start a redshirt-freshman at quarterback, while Texas has Ehlinger, the Horns are a 2-point underdog. This suggests that the reputation of annually being overrated has caught to Texas.

While actual, real-life turning points are rare, this year’s Oklahoma game could be one for Tom Herman and the Texas program.  A game plan featuring sideways passes like last year’s and missed tackles in the double digits won’t get it done even against what looks to be Oklahoma’s worst team in more than 20 years. You don’t have to be in Mensa to figure that out.

Details

I attended the Texas-TCU game. It was little bit like going to a preseason scrimmage back in the 70s. Besides the friend I went with, no one was sitting within six feet of me. The fans behind me were two rows back and were the closest to me. There was no one within 20 feet of me to my right or left beyond my friend. Annoyingly, the jumbotron volume was literally ear-splitting. I suppose the people in charge are trying to compensate for the absence of about 85,000 fans. Bad plan, in my opinion.

The most lasting impression I took from of going to a Texas game in this most unusual year was what happened immediately after the game ended. We all knew that a large majority of the Texas players would not sing or acknowledge “The Eyes of Texas.” What had slipped my mind regarding the Longhorn post-game tradition was the players’ acknowledgement of the fans during the playing and singing of “The Eyes.” I don’t know what happened after the UTEP or Texas Tech game but it was a sad coda to the TCU loss that all but five or six players hastily left the field without acknowledging the fans after the game.

The detail-oriented Herman and Chris Del Conte should have anticipated this scene and come up with a plan, one way or another, for the players to acknowledge the fans after games.

A little levity
Scipio Tex’s used this diagram in his TCU Post-mortem to illustrate Texas’ defense on Max Duggan’s fourth quarter touchdown run.

BEAT The Hell OUT OF OU!

W.E.

Hook ‘Em,

TCU Over/Under Results

This week’s contest came down to photo-finish between Tom Yoxall and Wade Wallace who tied in regulation with seven correct answers.  They both went 1-1 in the pic ‘ems losing on Oklahoma and winning on Georgia. Both players predicted Alabama would blowout A&M. Tom’s margin was 34, Wade’s was 22. The actual margin was 28 so they were both six points off and still tied forcing the contest to go all the way to total points scored in the Alabama-A&M game. The actual point total was 76 on a score of 52-24. Wade’s prediction of 45-13 and 58 total points scored was nosed out by Tom’s 51-17 and 68 total points making Tom the winner. You follow?

Congratulations, Tom.

Wes Peoples, David Bergstrom, and Rick Mosher tied for third with six correct answers.

Over/Under Notes

  1. Seems like about once a year the staff formulates a flawed question and we got it out of the way early this year with #10: Which team scores the most points in the fourth quarter? If the teams scored the same number of points—always a distinct possibility—the question becomes invalid. Well, that’s what happened with both teams scoring 10 in the fourth.  Therefore, we threw out the question.
  2. Question #7 was: 6.5-point lead for Texas going into the 4th quarter.  16 of 18 players predicted over which was incorrect as Texas trailed at that point in the game.  Were the Longhorn fans’ expectations for the Horns too high?  Yes. As usual.
  3. With 18 players entering the TCU Over/Under, we scored the highest turnout thus far for the season and it was tied for the fourth highest turnout in history. 

Which contest had the highest turnout in history you ask? That would be the Texas-Oklahoma game in 2008 with 24 entrants.
Ah, those were the good old days.

W.E.

TCU Pre Game

Jump Around

In honor of the House of Pain let’s Jump Around.

Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin

Fox Sports’ college football analyst Joel Klatt said this week on the Colin Cowherd Show that Oklahoma is getting antsy because they haven’t won a National Championship since 2000. That drought is their longest since the 18-year dry spell from 1956 to 1974.  The Longhorns current drought is only 14 years and counting, so there.

Speaking of championship dry spells, the Longhorns haven’t won the Big 12 since 2009. Oklahoma has won seven since 2009 including the last five and have qualified for CFP playoff four out the last five years. Texas has yet to qualify.  Ouch.

Klatt and Cowherd were plugging the Texas-TCU game which Fox is carrying and Klatt is calling. Cowherd asked Klatt if this was a must win game for the Horns and Tom Herman. Klatt said yes because Texas should be the best college football team in the state. The Horns lost to TCU and Baylor a year ago. Herman is 6-4 versus TCU, Baylor, and Texas Tech since he became the coach in 2017.

Klatt also said Sam Ehlinger is likely a second-round draft pick in 2021 and could sneak into the first round if he has a Joe Burrow type year.

 “I got the skills, come get your fill”

With all due respect to Devin Duvernay, I think Joshua Moore has a chance to be the best Longhorn receiver since Roy Williams. Going out on a limb, I think he could end up being the best Longhorn receiver ever. Moor has size, speed, and excellent ball skills. We’ll see.

Tom Herman and the coaching staff deserve credit for successfully bringing Moore back into the fold after his 2019 arrest for gun possession. Obviously, Moore also deserves credit for turning his situation around.

“Get up, stand up (c’mon!) see’mon throw your hands up”

The TCU game time is 11am. Texas is 5-5 in 11am starts in the Tom Herman era.

“I’m coming to get ya, I’m coming to get ya”

Not so much for the Longhorn pass rush. Alan Bowman threw 52 passes last week and nary a sack for the Horns.

“I’m the cream of the crop, I rise to the top”

I hope Bijan Robinson’s career at Texas turns out better than the Horns’ last two five-star running back recruits. Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray weren’t exactly busts but their careers at Texas didn’t reflect their five-star status. During August I kept reading how Robinson was an irresistible force in preseason workouts. Though Keaontay Ingram and Roschon Johnson are solid veteran performers, I was hoping Johnson would emerge as the lead back. Through two games he has 12 carries for 50 yards with a long run of 12 yards.

For comparison, in their first two games, Earl Campbell gained 139 yards on 23 carries and Ricky Williams ran 24 times for 165 yards. While researching this, a smile came to my face when I found that in Campbell’s first two games his teammate, wishbone halfback Graylon Wyatt, was the Texas’ leading rusher with 210 yards.

“I won’t ever slack up, punk you better back up”

I read this week that Texas Defensive Coordinator Chris Ash was insanely detail oriented. C’mon man, stop writing and reporting that this coach or that coach is detail oriented. I can’t think of a bigger sports cliché.

“I came to get down, I came to get down”

Getting down with my game prediction, in what I see as a theme for the 2020 season, the Horns will trail late in this game before coming back for another heart-stopping victory. Call it 35-31.

“So get out your seat and jump around!”                    

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

Texas Tech Observations

  1. A blocked punt, a nearly blocked punt, a D’Shawn Jamison fumbled punt, an onside kick not recovered. So far, I’m not impressed with the much ballyhooed offseason hire of Special Teams  Jay Boulware.

  2. Tackling was once again an issue and one blogger wrote that it’s something that can be fixed quickly. Could be the dumbest thing written about UT Football so far in 2020 given that tackling has been an issue going on for—oh, I don’t know—a decade.
  3. Surprise, the catch-all excuse for college football coaches in 2020 is no spring practice.
  4. I admit that I wrote the game off when Texas Tech went up 56-41. Resigned to a loss and somewhat disgusted, I left the television for about three minutes doing grill prep for a Saturday night cookout. When I got back, Ehlinger was throwing a TD pass to Eagles to pull within eight points.
  5. I know the conventional wisdom in college football is to play defense first when you win the coin toss before overtime so you know when you get the ball if just a field goal wins the game. But I think Texas Tech coach Matt Wells made a big tactical error by letting Texas take the ball first in overtime when his defense was gassed and the Horns had all the momentum.  
  6. At times during the first half, I thought Texas varied the offense for the sake of varying the offense when they might have built an insurmountable lead if they had continued to do what was working. Overconfident maybe?
  7. I wrote last week: Alan Bowman is another in a seemingly endless supply of good passing Red Raider quarterbacks and I’m confident he will put up 300 plus yards passing versus what I believe are the overhyped individual talents in the Longhorn secondary. Told ya.
  8. Saturday evening, I wasn’t all that satisfied with the win but then I looked at Oklahoma and LSU. 2-0 is 2-0.

That’s all I got for now.

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

Texas Tech Over/Under Results

Texas Tech Over/Under Results

Andy Garrod and Helen Frink emerged from a large field of 17 players this week and tied for first place with eight correct answers.  Two strong performances in a week when the average score was a very average 5.7.

Andy and Helen both went 1-1 in the pick ‘ems. They both were wrong with TCU which was getting 2.5 points and lost by three. They both were right in picking Vanderbilt which was getting 29.5 and kept it close losing 17-12.

So, it came down to their predictions of the final score in our game. Neither one was very close but who foresaw anything close 63-56?  Andy Garrod wins at the gun by virtue of being closer in the point differential of Texas’ win with his 42-17 versus Helen’s 48-13.

Congrats to Andy and Helen.

David Bergstrom took third place by himself with seven correct answers.

Points of Interest

  1. Only two players guessed SaRodorick Thompson would go over 105.5 yards rushing. He ended up with 104 yards.
  2. Only five players guessed right on what Texas rusher would have the most carries. Roschon Johnson and Same Ehlinger were both correct answers with 16 carries. David Bergstrom was the only player who picked Ehlinger. Andy and Helen picked Johnson.

W.E.

Texas Tech Pre-Game

Setting the Lubbock Record Straight

Since 2000, Texas is 8-2 versus Texas Tech in Lubbock. Texas’ last Lubbock loss was in 2008, a game I refuse to revisit or discuss.   Despite this success in Lubbock, and because of 2008 and a bad 3-5 stretch from 1974 through 1988, some Longhorn Football fans of my generation have an irrational fear of playing Texas Tech in Lubbock. Since I am a totally rational individual—especially when it comes to Texas Football—I have no such fear of Lubbock. I actually have very fond memories of Lubbock. But that’s another story for another time.

What does concern me about this year’s trip to Lubbock

1. Aside from some garbage time yards in the second half, the Texas offensive line’s inability to open holes for the running game against lowly UTEP.

2. The Texas defense’s inability to put consistent pressure on the UTEP quarterback. 

If Texas doesn’t improve on these two fronts, they may end up in a scoring fest of a shootout in Lubbock.

If the game does become high-scoring shootout, I’m confident in Texas’ offense to hold up its end of the bargain with or without an effective running game. An effective running game would be a bonus as it could shorten the game and earn the defense a valuable respite from chasing Tech receivers all over the field.

Texas Tech 35, Houston Baptist 33

Do we all agree that the Horns should not be overconfident because of Tech’s close call with FCS opponent Houston Baptist?  After all, Tech did lead 21-3 midway through the second quarter and they did amassed a kind of balanced 430 yards passing and 194 yards rushing.  

Alan Bowman is another in a seemingly endless supply of good passing Red Raider quarterbacks and I’m confident he will put up 300 plus yards passing versus what I believe are the overhyped individual talents in the Longhorn secondary.  Whether that translates into a close game depends on which team wins the turnover battle and the timing of the turnovers.

I’m calling it a close game into the fourth quarter with Texas finally pulling away for 48-34 win.

The Human Ace Bandage Award

A couple years back, I got quite a chuckle when my favorite sports commentator, Tony Kornheiser, called Sam Darnold the human ace bandage. I think the descriptor is so useful that I’ve decided to create an award for a Longhorn who is struggling because of injuries to get on the field.

Helen, Tony and Willie Earl

So, without judgement or derision, the first ever Longhorn Human Ace Bandage Award goes to Jordan Whittington. Whittington missed all but the first quarter of the opening game of the 2019 season when he reaggravated a sports hernia injury.  In the season opener this year against UTEP, Whittington suffered a torn meniscus and will be out three to four weeks.

Here’s to hoping he gets well soon and stays well.

Program Stability

After losing three out of four games late last season, Tom Herman seems to have righted the ship with wins against Texas Tech and Utah to finish last season followed up by another top 10 recruiting class in 2020.

Herman did overhaul his coaching staff after last season which is not usually the earmark of a stable program, but the waters seem calm and I can’t recall hearing any suggestions recently that Herman is on the hotseat. 

I do think Herman’s seat will get quite warm if he loses to Oklahoma and three other conference foes in 2020 like he did last year, and I don’t think another Alamo or Texas Bowl win would help him much.

Okay, call me Captain Obvious but early in this weird season I’m straining for brilliant insights.

RIP Gayle Sayers

Even though Gayle Sayers didn’t play for one of my teams, he was one of my boyhood heroes. When you first saw Sayers play you were seeing something you’d never seen before. When I heard the news of his death this week, I was reminded of a conversation I had with my father during a trip too Rehoboth Beach in the summer of 1968 comparing Sayers to Red Grange.

Bittersweet.

HooK “Em,
W.E.

UTEP Over/Under Results

Most players showed their rust in the first week of the Over/Under competition for 2020.  In a large field, the average score was 4.9.

Rising above the carnage, Mike Frank posted 7 correct answers to win the UTEP Over/Under. Mark Adams, Dan Yoxall, Rick Mosher, and Mark Stephan tied for second with 6 correct answers.

On to Texas Tech.

W.E.

The Ins and Outs of Longhorn Football 2020

First of all, Season’s Greetings to all from Willie Earl. Now on with the show.

Lots of changes going on over there in Longhorn Football land so I thought it might be useful to provide you with a guide to who and what is in and out as we get started on what we hope will be a 12-game season for the Longhorns when it’s all said and done.

In

Campbell-Williams Field.

I’ve always thought it was dumb to name a field inside of a stadium and naming the field for a guy because he gave a zillion dollars to UT was crass (even for UT) to boot.

Renaming the field after the Longhorns’ two Heisman Trophy winners was one of the best things to happen around here in 2020. It really is sublime.  Kudos to Dahr, Randall, and Rob Jamail, Joe Jamail’s three sons for requesting the change. If that’s what really happened.

Out

34% of UT’s season ticket holders have opted out of the 2020 season. I couldn’t find out how many season ticket holders there are, but I’m guessing the number is around 60,000. That would mean about 39,000 are still in. Only around 25,000 per game will be allowed in the stadium. Seemingly, that would mean some season ticket holders won’t be able to use their tickets game-to-game.  My guess is the attendance for the UTEP game will be closer to 15,000.

After attending more than 90 % of UT home games from 1974 – 2016 I have attending about two games a year since. If 2020 was Ordinary Time, UTEP would not be one of the two games I’d go to. Just for fun and to be able to say I was there, Helen and I might go Saturday night. “Call me irresponsible.”

In

Texas has two new coordinators. Chris Ash on defense and Mike Yurcich on offense.  I think it’s unusual for there to be such optimism surrounding a team when both its coordinators were fired at the end of the previous season.  I don’t expect the offense to look any different. Hopefully Chris Ash has closely studied the game film from the Alamo Bowl. Rinse and repeat.

Out

151 receptions for 1945 yards with the departure of Devin Duvernay and Collin Johnson.

In

Joshua Moore returns after a yearlong suspension for a misdemeanors weapon charge. According to the arrest affidavit, Police monitoring downtown Austin on July 5, 2019 at the police department’s Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) noticed a man “remove a firearm from his waistband, walk in between two vehicles, appearing to chamber a round by pulling the slide of the gun to the rear, and then place the firearm back into his waistband.” When the police arrested Moore, they found a Glock 19 — 9mm pistol in his waistband with a 30-round magazine and a live round loaded into the chamber.

Hopefully, it’s onward and upward for Moore. He’s a talented deep-threat receiver with good size whose potential contribution could go a long way toward replacing the loss of Duvernay and Johnson.

Out

Brennan Eagles as a starting wide receiver. Eagles—for now—has been supplanted by graduate-transfer Tarik Black from Michigan. Bet he’s glad to be a Longhorn in 2020.

In

Receiver Jordan Whittington a 2019 Five-Star recruit is back after missing all but the first half of the Louisiana Tech in 2019. Five-Star recruits currently on the roster are Whittington, safety Caden Sterns, and freshman running back Bijan Robinson.

You might find this list of all time Texas five-star recruits interesting.

https://247sports.com/college/texas/Sport/Football/AllTimeRecruits/

Out

The Showband of the Southwest is out of Longhorn games for the foreseeable future.

In

“The Eyes of Texas” I guess they’ll play it over the PA system.

Out

Speaking of “The Eyes of Texas,” Caden Sterns, is opting out. There will probably be more Longhorns who will join him.

In

I’m all in on the strong possibility that by the end of the season San Ehlinger will join Vince Young and Colt McCoy on the list of 21st Century all-time great Longhorn Quarterbacks.  He does need to curb his tendency on occasion to abandon the pocket too early and run. I predict that he will have a better NFL career than McCoy and Young though that’s not a very high bar to clear.

Out

I’m out—for now—on the offensive line. Herman is pleased with depth that he has but outside of left tackle Sam Cosmi, that depth is comprised of journeyman Derek Kerstetter, who has been moved from right tackle to center this season, and a collection of unproven or undistinguished talents.

For this team to win a championship the offensive line has got to be better than it was in 2019.

In or Out?

Are you in on the expectation that in his fourth year it’s time for Tom Herman to deliver either a Big 12 Championship or a top five final ranking or both? Or is this a freebee season on expectations for Herman and all head coaches because of Covid 19?

HooK Em,

W.E.

Alamo Bowl Over/Under Results

With apologies for the tardiness, (I took a Holiday from anything remotely resembling work during the Holiday Season), here are the results of the Alamo Bowl Over/Under.

We had a pretty good turnout considering the Horns 7-5 regular season.  Mark Adams and Mike Frank tied for first place with eight correct answers.  They both went 1-1 in the first round of the tiebreaker by picking Baylor and Alabama so the contest came down to the Alamo Bowl score prediction. They both predicted the Horns would win but Mike’s prognostication of a 38-24 victory for the Horns gave him the win over Mark’s 28-21 prediction.  Certainly a fine performance by both finalists.

David Frink, David Bergstrom, Clayton Frink, Dan Yoxall, Kelly Malek, and Wes Peoples tied for third with six correct.

********

In years gone by I’ve threatened to author off-season columns but I haven’t since the summer of 2011 with The Unfinished Odyssey of Mack Brown

I’m threatening again.

Hook ‘em,

W.E.

The Unfinished Odyssey of Mack Brown

In 1996 the Astroturf which had applied countless world-class strawberries to the Longhorns’ finest since 1969 was replaced by natural grass in Texas Memorial Stadium. Also in 96, the first generation of our beloved Jumbotron was installed.  The seating structure and amenities remained basically the same way they had been since the early seventies with a seating capacity of approximately 80,000. There was one other change to the stadium though 1996. It was re-christened Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. That’s quite a mouthful and leads me to wonder: the next time they rename the stadium how are they going to do it? I think I prefer Darrell-Mack Brown Royal-Memorial Stadium to Darrell K Royal Mack Brown-Texas Memorial Stadium but I’m open to suggestions.

The readers of these pages know that no one is about to nominate me for the presidency of the Mack Brown Fan Club. And in the wake of the unmitigated disaster of the 2010 season: a season where, if you add up all his comments during and after, you have to conclude that Mack Brown took the year off feeling sorry for himself, I have spent much time reflecting on Mac Brown’ s career at Texas.  And even after 2010, if you compare the accomplishments and the contributions of Darrell Royal and Mack Brown I have concluded that Brown should be held in as high a regard as Royal in the history of Texas Football.  Brown is to Royal as Lincoln is to Washington. Lincoln preserved the Union, Brown not only preserved but resurrected and enhanced the glorious winning Hook Em tradition of Texas Football. 

It seems so obvious now but it really was the unique genius of Mack Brown that—unlike Fred Akers and John Mackovic before him—he figured out the way to start re-building Texas football was to bathe himself, the players, alumni, and fans in the rich glorious tradition of Darrell Royal’s Texas Football.  Mack reminded everyone of the great history and tradition of Texas Football and made the Texas faithful proud and excited about the Longhorns after a 4-7 season and before the first snap had been taken in 1998.  Whereas Akers and Mackovic were compelled by the ego to distance themselves from the Darrell Royal legacy, Brown saw Royal’s legacy as something to embrace, as shoulders he could stand on top off.  He recognized that the magic of Royal’s legacy could be leveraged for rebuilding the image of the program in the hearts and minds of the fans, the media and most importantly for recruiting. 

Ricky William’s Heisman Trophy in 1998 was a sublime climax to the first year of Brown’s campaign to re-build Texas Football. I use the word campaign purposely as 1998 would showcase Mack Brown as the best marketing and public relations professional in college football.  Ricky Williams certainly deserved to win the Heisman Trophy but it was Brown who convinced him to stay at Texas for a senior year when it was expected that he would go to the NFL and it was Brown who put the ball in his hands 30 times a game or more seven times in 98 including 44 times against A&M the last game before the final votes were in.  Most importantly it was Brown the charismatic salesman who was the frontman and campaign manager for Ricky Williams the Heisman candidate and he was not the least bit coy about promoting Williams as the player most deserving the award. Brown’s skill in marketing and public relations is his greatest strength as a coach and he has used it to stock his football teams with a top-five talent for the past 10 years. It also landed Texas a controversial bid to the Rose Bowl in 2005 which was Brown’s and Texas’ first BCS Bowl bid and was a springboard to the school’s first National Championship in 35 years.

It wasn’t always a bed of roses for Brown between 1998 and the National Championship 2005 season.  The very first game of the 1999 season exposed some of Brown’s greatest weaknesses as a coach.  North Carolinas St. blocked three Texas punts, returning two of them for touchdowns and upset a Texas in their home opener 23-20.  Special teams have always seemed like an afterthought for Brown. Every year he’s been at Texas there has been glaring weaknesses in the kicking game.  Lack of a kicker who consistently produces touchbacks and terrible kick-off coverage have been a hallmarks of Brown’s Texas teams. Game planning and game-day adjustments have also been average at best and it showed in that first game of 1999.  How could you not make adjustments to prevent more than one blocked punt in a game? 

Then there was the Chris Simms era which highlighted Brown’s tendency to coddle players and earned Texas a reputation of having a country club atmosphere and for being a soft team.  Remember the infamous press conference where Brown curtly answered a question that was directed to Chris Simms.  This coddling reached a climax in the 2001 Big 12 Championship game when Brown didn’t yank Simms in favor of Major Applewhite until he had thrown 3 interceptions and fumbled once all in the first half digging to deep a hole for Texas to climb out of.  A win would have put Texas in the National Championship game. Then there was Brown’s phone call to the Texas season ticket holder rebuking him for publicly criticizing Brown in comments to a New York Times reporter revealing his over-sensitivity to criticism.

Another thorny issue for Brown was a five-game losing streak against Oklahoma with two especially humiliating losses, in 2000, 63-14 and in 2003, 65-13. Critics said the game plans were too conservative, unimaginative and looked like Brown was playing not lose instead of playing to win.  In 20001 freshmen Cedric Benson didn’t see the field in a game where Texas failed to score a touchdown. Evidently Brown thought the Oklahoma game was too big a stage for a freshman.  Benson started the next game and as they say, the rest is history.  Amazingly Cedric Benson, Roy Williams, and B.J. Johnson never scored a touchdown and never tasted victory in a Texas-OU game.

Entwined in all of Brown’s controversies at Texas was Greg Davis.  I think the calls for the firing of Greg Davis started all the way back in 2000.  I found it ironic to hear people screaming at Greg Davis during games in Memorial Stadium. I didn’t know who Greg Davis was until fans started calling for his head.  When I found fault with coaches I was thinking Mack Brown while most others were thinking Greg Davis.  I guess people just couldn’t bring themselves to be directly critical of the charismatic Mack Brown.  Brown was steadfast in defending Greg Davis no matter how many sideways passes were thrown time and time again calling Davis the best in the country.  Davis survived long enough to have Vince Young run his offense winning Texas a National Championship and an Offensive Coordinator of the year award for Davis in 2005.

Despite these issues, the first six years of Brown’s tenure at Texas produced 60 wins and the beginning of a streak of nine seasons with 10 or more wins unmatched by any other team in the country during that time span. During those first six years, Brown laid the foundation for Texas to become one of the elite programs in college football in a class that only includes Florida, USC, Alabama, Oklahoma and LSU in my opinion. It’s getting boring and repetitive but I will mention that because of Brown’s football program Texas is number one in revenue generated by a college athletic program.  Voila, the Longhorn Network.

How ironic for the Longhorn Network to premiere on the heels of a 5-7 season, Brown’s nadir at Texas.  I think the 2010 team was the perfect storm of all the weaknesses of Brown’s program. The team was soft, there was little accountability for players or coaches and the game plans were bland, to say the least.  The first three offensive plays for Texas in the Oklahoma game encapsulated almost all of the criticisms heaped on Brown during his career at Texas.  First down, sideways pass completed for a loss of two yards. Second down, a sideways pass completed for a loss of 2 yards. Third down and 14 to go, a 7-yard completion to the tight end.  Soft, unimaginative, afraid and playing not to lose against Oklahoma. 

Mack Brown cleaned house after the 2010 season and rightfully so. The house cleaning swept away Greg Davis, Browns running mate since his days at North Carolina, the lightning rod for criticism of the program and the man who Brown called the best offensive coordinator right up until the time he fired him.  Brown has never publicly said a word about the end of his coaching relationship with Greg Davis. 

2011 is critical year not only for the Texas Football program but for Mack Brown’s career, his legacy at Texas and how he will be remembered. Will 2011 be the beginning of another run of 10 win seasons, BSC Bowls and possibly Brown’s second National Championship?  Or will it be the beginning of the last chapter of his career-ending like Bobby Bowden’s at Florida St. where he stayed too long, ending sadly and without dignity.  There’s an old vaudeville expression. – A good performer knows when to leave the stage, satisfying them and then departing with them wanting just a little bit more. 

Why the Alamo Bowl is a Big Game for the Longhorns

Here are 10 reasons you can use to tell yourself the Alamo Bowl is a big game.

1. If Texas wins, Sam Ehlinger can say, “I told you we were back.”

2. For Texas, finishing 8-5 looks much better on paper than 7-6.

3. It’s the only primetime game on New Year’s Eve.

4. Tom Herman can’t start drinking on New Year’s Eve until around 1030pm. At least let’s hope not.

5. A win over 11th ranked Utah would give Texas its first win over a top 15 team this season.

6. Thousands of suckers—I mean Longhorn Fans—are going.

7. If Texas wins, Tom Herman’s compensation will amortize to only $1 million per win this season.

8. If Texas holds Utah to less than 313 total yards they will move into the top 100 in total defense.

9. If Texas doesn’t give up a single passing yard to Utah their passing defense will move up to 121st.

10. If Texas wins they’ll have “Big Mo” for 2020 just like they had this year after winning the Sugar Bowl.

New Coordinators
As wise man being evaluated for dementia was asked who the President was. He answered, “It doesn’t matter.”

That’s what I think of the Longhorns’ new coordinators.

Hook Em and Happy New Year!

W.E.

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Texas Tech Over/Under Results

Old Veteran (or old vetran as the guys from Beaumont would say) Rick Mosher outclassed the field this week and is the winner with seven correct answers. It’s always heartwarming when an old vetran comes through with a victory.

David Frink finished second with five correct.

The averages score was a paltry 4.4.

I just read on Espn that Todd Orlando has been fired.  Inside Texas reports that passing game coordinator Drew Mehringer has also been fired and offensive coordinator Tim Beck is being reassigned.

According to the Willie Earl theory to be unveiled later this week, these staff changes portend the end of Tom Herman’s tenure at Texas.

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Texas Tech

It’s hard for me to work up much interest or emotion for this game but Herman desperately needs to win this one and a bowl game to pull this season out of the jaws of total disaster.

Over/Under

The One Year Before You’re Fired

You know the head coach has one, maybe two years left before he’s fired when he makes wholesale changes to his coaching staff.

I’ll have more in depth on this theme after the Texas Tech game.

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Baylor Over/Under Results

Michael W. Frank, aka MWF, turned in a solid performance last weekend winning the Baylor Over/Under with seven correct answers and staying to the bitter end of the Cowboys’ bitter loss in bitterly cold and wet conditions at Gillette Stadium Sunday evening.  Well done MWF.

Mark Adams, D.R. Flower, Andy Garrod, Clayton Frink, and Mitchell Frink tied for second with six correct.

The average score was 5.2

W.E.

Resumes

Tom Herman’s recent struggles got me thinking about what kind of experience is needed to be a successful coach at a high-profile, power five football program with a rich tradition and a demanding fan base. 

Herman’s resume was similar to Charlie Strong’s.  They both came to Texas after successful stints at mid-major programs.  Strong was the head coach at Louisville for four years. Herman came to Texas with only two years’ experience at Houston.

This week Herman comes up against Matt Rhule who was the head coach at Temple for four years before arriving at Baylor three years ago, at the same time that Herman arrived in Austin. Right now at 16-7, Rhule has a slightly better record for 2018 and 2019 than Herman’s 16-8.

Mack Brown’s first head coaching experience came at Tulane for three seasons before he went to North Carolina for 10 seasons.  Hmmn . . . Texas’ last successful coach had 13 years’ head coaching experience—three at a mid-major and 10 at a power five program—before taking center stage at Texas.

Food for thought if Herman ultimately fails in Austin.


Hook “Em,

W.E.

Willie Earl’s Texas-Baylor Game Model

This week Texas came out on the short end of a 39-31 score according to the unbiased model.

This Heartbreaker is on Herman

I rarely feel sorry for Texas players after a loss. This is one of those rare occasions. From midway through the third quarter until Texas’ last possession that started with 4:01 left in the game, this Longhorn team played with a grit I didn’t know they had. The sputtering offense scored touchdowns on consecutive drives of 10 plays for 80 yards and 15 plays of 89 yards between the end of the third quarter and 5:37 left in the fourth to take the lead. From Iowa State’s second possession of the second half, the defense held Iowa State to a field goal, three punts, and a turnover on downs to keep Texas in the game.  In my opinion, the players did what they needed to do to win. That disastrous offside penalty on Iowa State’s field goal should have never happened because Iowa State should not have been in position for the winning kick.

If only Tom Herman had put the ball in Sam Ehlinger’s hands when Texas had a chance to ice the win. I wrote on Friday that I feared an impending disaster because of the way Herman handled end of game situations.  For all of “Mensa Boy’s” intelligence and arrogance, he seems to have no instinctive feel for situational football. Especially end of game situations.  I’ve wondered for years in football and basketball what would happen if the players just played with no coaches. What if Ehlinger was calling the plays on Texas’ last possession?  I think Texas wins. It’s a shame when the coaches get in the way.

In a column I wrote 10 days ago, I questioned whether Herman and his staff sold out during the season and prioritized winning now over recruiting for the future.  After the Iowa State loss, there’s not much left to play for this season. So I’m changing my tune; Herman and his staff should prioritize recruiting right now so hopefully in the future he will have such an overwhelming talent advantage that his deficiencies as an in-game coach don’t matter.

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Over/Under Results

When the average score was 4.6, Reed Ramlow turned in a dominating performance with nine correct answers to win the Iowa State Over/Under.  David Frink also performed well above the average with seven correct answers to take sole possession of second place. 

Mike Frank and Mark Stephan tied for third with six correct answers.

W.E.