Fourth Down Showdown

In October of 1977 (there he goes again with the 1977), a week after Texas had defeated Oklahoma in heart-pounding game that concluded with a fourth down goal line stop by Texas in which Johnny Johnson knocked himself out when he tackled Thomas Lott, Texas was playing #8 Arkansas in Fayetteville. Once again the outcome wasn’t decided until late in the fourth quarter when Ham Jones, capping off an 80-yard drive, scored the only touchdown of the game, on 1-yard run that sealed a Texas win 13-9. The touchdown was set up by a 28-yard screen pass and run by Earl Campbell. Though Earl had 188 yards on 34 carries, he lost three fumbles during the game. Two weeks in a row and two dramatic wins over highly ranked bitter rivals that were exhausting watches for Longhorn fans.

I watched the game with my brother David at his duplex off of Barton Springs Rd. Just minutes after the game ended, the phone rang, and I answered. It was my father calling from Reston, Virginia. A nano second after I answered, my father screamed “I’m sick of this s – – t”!  The s – – t he was referring to were the dramatic finishes to the Oklahoma and Arkansas victories.

Back in real time, I’ll bet there are Texas fans that are sick of the current excrement coming from the Texas football team. I’m not one of them. It’s been several years since I’ve been perturbed by UT football, and you know my opinion on Steve Sarkisian.

Bad look?

Squatting on the sideline, staring at his big, laminated play card looking for answers as his team falters down the stretch, Steve Sarkisian looks in over his head.

Just the facts ma’am

Courtesy of Rod Babers here are some bad facts on Steve Sarkisian’s coaching record.

– He’s 1-6 in road games in 2021 and ‘22

– He’s lost 5 games in which Texas was leading in the second half in 2021 and ’22.

– Dating back to 2010, 80% of college football teams that have the lead to start the second half win.

-Dating back to 2010, 84% of college football teams that have the lead starting the 4th quarter win.

– In his tenure at Texas, 4 of his 7 wins have come against non-power 5 opponents. For the record, those wins were against ULM, UTSA, Louisiana, and Rice.

-He’s 3-6 in the Big 12.

– His overall record at Texas is 7-9.

– In his head coaching record overall, he’s won 38% of the games versus head coaches that have won 60% or more of their games.

Texts

After the Texas Tech game, a reader texted me his observation that the Texas offense was vanilla and stale with a lack of varied formations and motion during the second half.  This is a point that Rod Babers has been harping on and breaking down all week on his talk show. Willie Earl has readers that are experts.

During the game a reader texted me that Pete whatever his name is, the Texas defensive coordinator, should be fired after the game. I agree. During the game another reader texted me that Texas will win no more than 5 games this season. I can’t go all the way to agreement with that but give me a few days. I also received a text offering testosterone replacement.

A reckoning?

I read a book a few years ago by an author who was an alcoholic and after ruining yet again another family gathering with her drinking, she decided to quit drinking forever. And I read that George Bush 43, woke up hungover after bender celebrating his fortieth birthday and decided to stop drinking.

Could Steve Sarkisian, after blowing yet another second half lead against Texas Tech by repeating for the umpteenth time some of his coaching bad habits, have decided this week to stop ruining family gatherings (Texas football games) and break those habits?

We may soon find out.

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.         

Author’s note        

The title for this column was partially inspired by the Chip Hilton book, “Fourth Down Showdown”. I read it when I was in the sixth grade. Good read.

Willie Earl’s Song of the Week

This song is a shout out to Tom, Andy, Bob, Molly, Kate, and Zach

Texas Tech Over/Under Results

Wow. What an exciting Over/Under contest that came down to the final tiebreaker. David Frink, Wade Wallace, Dan Adams, David Bergstrom, Clayton Frink, and Greg Swan tied for first with 7 correct answers. That’s a 6-way tie folks.

Wade Wallace, Dan Adams, and David Bergstrom were eliminated by picking Baylor and North Carolina against the Spread. Baylor was right, Carolina was wrong. David Frink, Clayton Frink, and Greg Swan got both picks right. David and Greg both predicted a Texas win by 38-20. Clayton Frink predicted a Texas win by 33-18. Obviously, Greg, David, and Clayton were way off the mark on their score predictions, but someone has to win and that someone was Clayton who was slightly more measured in his optimism gets the W.

There were 10 money ball players so Clayton bags 50 big ones for his effort. I might actually pay him. 😊.

The contest took a big turn on question #8 which was 40.5 yards for the longest run by Bijan. His longest run was 40 yards. If Bijan had gone for 41 on that run, David and Wade would have finished in tie for first all by themselves with 8 correct answers and David would have won because Wade picked North Carolina. In the infamous words of Maxwell Smart, David missed it by that much.

There were 18 entrants in all. Only two players predicted that largest lead of the game would be under 12.5. Only 3 players picked Tech to score first. The average score was 5.7.

I will give you my reactions to the game probably tomorrow evening. To quote Lyndon Johnson on his reaction to Robert Kennedy entering the primaries for the Democratic nomination for president. “You might not want to hear all my reactions this morning.”

W.E.

The Era of Good Feelings

Without reading further, do you know what and when was described as “Era of Good Feelings.”?

Give up? Here’s the Wikipedia description. “The Era of Good Feelings” marked a period in the political history of the United States that reflected a sense of national purpose and a desire for unity among Americans in the aftermath of the War of 1812.

This week, hearing the good feelings of Texas fans and sports writers and commentators ranging from Kirk Bohls to Joel Klatt, I thought, we are in a time of good feelings about Steve Sarkisian’s Texas Football team. The phrase “Era of Good Feelings” was specifically what came to my mind. I knew the phrase from somewhere, so I used the Google machine to research it and voila there it was. I think I learned it in my sixth-grade history class. Sixth grade was one of my favorite years. Avid readers of this blog know this, but I digress.

It’s been a while since good feelings have surrounded Texas Football.

In August of 1998 a few weeks before Mack Brown’s debut, I ran into and old fraternity brother Mike Barragan. He remarked ironically something to the affect that there sure is a positive vibe about Mack Brown, but we haven’t played a game.

In this current era of the positive vibe, Texas has beaten two teams with about 10% of UT money and resources and played a tantalizingly close game against Nick Saban’s Alabama dynasty. I might be the only Texas fan who took that close loss with a grain of salt. But I’m always the cynic.  

The Texas Tech game this afternoon in Lubbock presents Sarkisian and his Longhorns a chance to validate this current era of good feelings.  It’s the first road game of the year for Texas and the sellout crowd will be loud and hostile. Texas has won six in a row in Lubbock, the last loss was that game that we don’t talk about here. So, if we’re to believe that this 2022 version of Texas is better than past teams the Horns should roll against this Tech turnover machine. Two Texas Tech quarterbacks have combined for seven interceptions, (two of them pick sixes).

Tech’s defense has been statistically good giving up only 294 yards a game but are really kind of a paper tiger when you consider their opponents so far: Murray State an FCS team, Houston a 1-2 team that is sputtering on offense and North Carolina State, the 12th ranked team in the country attributable mostly to their defense which is 16th in the country giving up only 12 points per game.

So, it’s put up or shut up time for Steve Sarkisian and his Longhorns. Sarkisian hasn’t been shy this past year about touting this team’s leadership and culture. If he’s right about that, combined with Texas’s overwhelming advantage in talent and depth versus Texas Tech, his team should take the tortilla flinging crowd out of the game early and cruise to a 34-16 win.

Lose, and this era of good feelings could be the shortest era on record.

Follow up

Last week I mentioned that I was getting the feeling that Quinn Ewers would start the Tech game. Now I’m thinking the news that Ewers has practiced this week and is making the trip to Lubbock might just be a feint by Sarkisian to make the Texas Tech coaches think a little more about game planning. We’ll see.

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Willie Earl’s Song of the Week

The Boz. Reminds me of hanging out at the Sig Ep house in the fall of 1976

https://account.venmo.com/u/Bill-Frink

UTSA Over/Under Results

We had quite an exciting contest this week that included the first week of Over/Under Money Ball. 9 players wagered this week.  Wade Wallace, Helen Frink, and Zach Moorhead-Rosenberg tied for second with seven correct answers. Seven was an exceptional score this week because the staff had to throw out the question on the second leading receiver by receptions for Texas because two players had 5 catches. Bad on us for formulating a flawed question.

I said that it was an exciting contest, and it came down to the tiebreaker. Dan Yoxall and Mark Adams tied with eight correct answers which means they only missed one question. Mark Adams nosed out Dan by an eyelash by picking Miami and OU which were both winners against the line. Dan picked A&M and Oklahoma. Dan, I know you’re a levelheaded guy, but how could you pick the Aggies. 😊

Congratulations to Dan and Mark.

Mark takes home $45 for his win this week. Mark, please stay your humble self.

W.E.

UTSA Pre Game II

A few more thoughts on the Longhorns from my fertile football mind


1. It’s not breaking news and it doesn’t take a lot of expert knowledge to see that Quinn Ewers might just live up to his five-star hype. I’m not a recruiting expert so correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Ewers was the nation’s highest rated quarterback recruit since Vince Young.

Steve Sarkisian is going to have to find a way with Texas’s inexperienced offensive line to protect Ewers from the kind of shot he took that knocked him out of the Alabama game.

Reading between the lines on the reporting on the quarterback situation going into the UTSA game, I’m thinking Ewer’s injury may not be as serious as initially feared. I’ll go out on a limb and predict he’ll be back for the Texas Tech game next week.

2. Running against the grain of all the good feelings coming out of the Alabama game as I did yesterday, I’ll point out that Texas failed to make a few critical plays that would have turned the tide and scored them the victory.

Xavier Worthy failed to make a very makeable catch on a beautifully thrown ball from Ewers in the endzone in the first quarter.

You’ll need to help me here but either D’Shawn Jamison or Ryan Watts muffed an easy interception that may have resulted in a pick six for the Horns.

Ryan Watts had a clear path to sack Bryce Young for a sizable loss that probably would have derailed Alabama’s game winning drive and secured the win for Texas. This kind of missed opportunity has haunted Texas for the last 12 years. To have a breakout season, Texas needs to make these plays.

3. What the hell were Sarkisian and his defensive coaching staff thinking on conceding Alabama underneath pass routes at the beginning of their game winning drive. From my perspective, Texas basically let Alabama get to the Texas 40-yard line playing your basic prevent defense. This was a glaring strategic failure by Sarkisian and his coaching staff. You know the saying about the prevent defense, it prevents victory. It also gave Sarkisian his sixth one-loss game during his brief tenure in Austin.

Theoretically, Texas is still in the playoff race. The rule of thumb is losing a game early in the season to a quality opponent doesn’t eliminate you from contention for one of the four playoff berths for the national championship.

Further, Texas is still undefeated in the Big 12. 😊

Come on Horns, make some plays!

Hook “Em,

Willie Earl

For easy reference if you haven’t submitted your Over/Under guesses.

Pre Game UTSA

I went to Austin Shoe Hospital this week to see if they had burnt orange/bronze shoe polish for a pair of my golf shoes that are only about a year old but have faded quite dramatically in Texas sun.  The clerk assumed that I was so excited about the Longhorns performance that I was looking for burnt orange shoe polish for general purposes. I wasn’t. It was totally coincidental that I was in the neighborhood of this location a couple of days after the Alabama game. I had needed some special polish for these shoes for some time now. The clerk went on about how great Texas was now yada, yada, yada. 

A longtime friend of mine and reader of the blog called me to discuss the Over/Under results and wanted to know why I hadn’t made it a money game yet.  He also went on to gush over how great Texas’s line play was on both sides of the ball was versus Alabama.  My friend and the Shoe Hospital clerk are a pretty accurate reflection of where the Longhorn fan base is right now.

I’m thinking, let’s all calm down a little bit and reflect a little bit more coolly about the where the Longhorns are after the Alabama game.  Here are a few facts about the game that we should all take under advisement.

1. Alabama committed 17 penalties. This was not normal for them by a long shot and certainly was a big factor in keeping the game close.

2. Alabama rarely plays on the road in September and coming into Austin and playing in a hostile environment was a new experience for them.

3. My friend gushed over Texas’s line play, but our offensive line got their first and second team quarterbacks injured. Also, Texas rushed for only 79 yards and averaged just 2.9 yards per rush.

4. Texas scored only one touchdown on five trips to the redzone. That’s just like the Texas offense for the past oh, I don’t know, 12 years?

I will elaborate more on this Friday evening or Saturday morning when my work and family obligations have calmed down a bit.

Until then,

Hook “Em,

W.E.

I finally got some feedback on making the Over/Under a money game. This is what the staff at Willie Earl has decided.  There will be two options for players.

1.Enter the money game with a $5 entry fee. Winner takes all.

2. Enter just for fun. No entry fee required. This type of entry is ineligible to win the pot.

3. Helen Frink is not eligible for the money game. She’s just too good and it wouldn’t be fair. 🙂

To enter the money game, send $5 via Venmo to me @Bill-Frink. If you don’t have a Venmo account get one. It’s free. If you’re too old and tired to learn Venmo, contact me via email and we’ll work out a payment option for you.

https://venmo.com/

Alabama Over/Under Results

David Frink and Mark Adams tied for first place this week in a hard fought battle with lots of bumbs and bruises with 7 correct answers. David outlasted Mark in the tiebreaker going 1 for 2 in the pick ’ems with Tennessee, right, USC, wrong. Mark had Pitt and USC which were both losers. Both players played outstanding with 7 correct given that the scoring average was 5.05.

Mitch Frink, Homer Mark, Wade Wallace, and Tyler Cotton (classic QB name) tied for second with 6 correct answers.

W.E.

Alabama Pregame

 

An Austin sports talk host asked listeners to text him the outcome for the Alabama game they hoped for since Texas couldn’t be expected to win. Some listener texted that Texas needed to keep it no worse than a two-score game. Another one just wanted to Texas to beat the line which is currently 21. Joel Klatt on the Colin Cowherd show said beating the line was where the Texas fan base was. A loyal reader of this here blog mused that he was hoping for a monkey pox outbreak that would force a cancellation of the game.

What the bleep happened to the Texas I used to know? Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh? “Ooh, we’re afraid to go with you, W.E., we might get in trouble.” Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I’m not gonna take this. Saban, he’s a dead man! Young, dead! Anderson

Seriously though, folks, I don’t think Texas can beat Alabama. The offensive line and the quarterback are too inexperienced. I’m setting the over/under on sacks for Alabama at 4.5.  I don’t think the defensive line can stop Alabama from averaging five plus yards per rush. I think Texas’s secondary looked vastly improved against ULM but if Bryce Young has five seconds to find open receivers he’ll put up big numbers against any secondary. And I don’t like the matchup between Nick Saban and Steve Sarkisian.

With that being said,

Willie Earl’s Keys for Texas to Win

1. Start fast: Texas can’t afford three and outs early, especially if Alabama receives the kickoff and scores first. You might say a fast start is always a key to winning but note last week Texas’s first drive ended on a third down Ewers interception. Texas also went three and out on their first drive versus Louisiana last year and still won easily.

A couple of three and outs early by Texas that yield good field position for Alabama and the game will probably get out of reach early. Texas went three and out on three of their first four drives against Arkansas last year and you remember how that turned out.

2. Sarkisian adjustments: Last year I thought Steve Sarkisian failed to adjust his offensive play calling. Even after starting the second half behind 16-0 to Arkansas, he stuck to his script of a Bijan rush on first down followed up by two passes which were usually incomplete or completed for little or no gain.

3. Excellent Special Teams Play: Texas got a touchdown last week off a blocked punt. Alabama had a punt blocked last week versus Utah State. See where I’m going. Texas needs to prevent Alabama from gaining good field position from long punt and kickoff returns. And it would be nice if Bert Auburn made all his field goal attempts including 45 – 50 yarders.

4. Take advantage of easy opportunities: Defensive players must catch the ball if they have an interception opportunity. Texas can’t afford to muff freebees. Oh, and receivers also need to catch the ball.

If the Texas offense is presented with a short field they must score. A touchdown would be preferable. Anytime Texas gets to the redzone they must score. Again, a touchdown is preferred.

5. Don’t Play Scared:

Remember those OU games when Mack Brown and Greg Davis played not to lose?  They played scared. Steve Sarkisian can’t call a game not to lose or to keep the score down. He has to take some chances.

6. Play good situational football:

Speaking of not playing scared, there likely be situations when the right call will be going for it on fourth down.  For example, going for it on fourth and one from Alabama’s 36-yard line instead of trying for a 54-yard field goal.

In the red zone, Quinn Ewers needs to know when to live for another play and not try to squeeze the football into a tight window and risk an interception especially on first and second down.

Good clock management also comes under this heading. This includes being decisive on play calling and substitutions so you don’t waste timeouts or incur delay of game penalties. Mike Frank, feel free to elaborate on this point. I know it’s your favorite subject.

7. Push: My man Rod Babers gave a detailed analysis of Texas’s offensive success rates out of various formations in 2021. It was interesting and informative. He referred to his analysis as Steve Sarkisian’s “Cheat Code” for competing with Alabama. I can’t possibly regurgitate it for you here but that’s not my point.

Also, this morning I read a column on “Inside Texas” by Ian Boyd. It contained headings such as, Create Space for Bijan, Attack the Edges, and Protect Quinn Ewers.

All well and good but I internally chuckle at Boyd’s column and Rod Babers’ analysis. When it comes to breaking down schemes and Xs and Os, I always default back to Jeff Wards’ simple analysis he made years ago as a radio talk show host.  He said there’s no scheming that will help you if you can’t push the other guy around and if the other guy can push you around. Football is a simple as that. Amen. 

I’m pretty sure Alabama will win the push around game versus Texas, and I think that’s all that probably matters, game, set, match. But maybe if Texas can limit the extent they get pushed around on the offensive and defensive lines and play a near perfect game, they may get themselves into a one score game in the fourth quarter. Wouldn’t that be fun?

“Maybe we’ll win by 21” – James Brown 1996 before the Big 12 Championship game against Nebraska.

Hook ‘Em by God,

W.E.

Willie Earl’s Song of the Week      

Young at Heart

Fairy tales can come true
It can happen to you if you’re young at heart
For it’s hard, you will find

To be narrow of mind if you’re young at heart

Songwriters: Carolyn Leigh / Johnny Richards

Over/Under Results ULM

I think the Louisiana Monroe Over/Under contest was more interesting than the game itself.  It was a light turnout for the first game of the season with 15 players. 15 Players is average for the middle of the season, but the first game enthusiasm usually yield 20 or so entries.

Anyway, Helen Frink won the season opener with eight correct answers. Well done Helen especially considering that Helen nor any other player picked Keilan Robinson to be the Texas player to score the first touchdown of the season. 13 of 15 players picked Bijan and two players picked Xavier Worthy.

There was a logjam for second place with Dan Adams, Wade Wallace, Tyler Cotton, Greg Swan, and Steve Holstead all coming in with seven correct answers.  

13 of the 15 players predicted Qwen Ewers would throw more than 2 touchdown passes. He threw two. 13 of the 15 players predicted Ja’Tavion Sanders would catch more than 2 passes. He caught six.

The average score was 5.47.

Money Ball

There have been discussions at Willie Earl headquarters about making Over/Under a little interesting with a $1 or $2 entry fee with the winner taking all. Please let me know if you’re interested in participating and if so do you prefer a $1 or $2 entry fee. Those who want to play but don’t want to bet will still be welcome to play but won’t be eligible to win the pot.

https://account.venmo.com/u/Bill-Frink

W.E.

Louisiana Monroe Pregame

It’s About Sarkisian                                                       


Last season on Willie Earl’s Longhorn Blog

Heading into the offseason, I’m far from confident that Steve Sarkisian will be successful in turning the program around. To me, the aura of his program feels hauntingly like Charlie Strong’s.  Unless Sark and his staff hit it out of the park in recruiting and the transfer portal between now and February, it’s going to be a long couple of years for Sarkisian and Texas Football.

You may have heard that Sarkisian and his staff did indeed “hit it out of the park” in recruiting and the transfer portal. According to 247 Sports, Sarkisian hauled in the fifth ranked recruiting class in the country featuring desperately needed offensive line help with the signings of five-star interior lineman Devon Campbell and five-star tackle Kelvin Banks. Banks is projected as the starting left tackle.  Cole Hutson, a four-star recruit from the 2022 class is projected as the starter at right guard.  Texas also hauled in four-star offensive lineman Neto Umeozulu, Cameron Williams, and Malik Agbo.

You can’t overstate the importance of bringing in four and five-star offensive lineman to the program. I believe, as your offensive line goes, so goes your team. Evidently Steve Sarkisian shares my belief.

It is problematic though for 2022 that Texas is starting two true freshmen on the offensive line. Offensive line is probably the hardest position to play for first year players. Are Banks and Hutson up for facing Alabama’s defensive line in the second game of their careers?  Hmm . . .

As for the transfer portal, you may also have heard that Texas nabbed five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers who earned the starting job beating out Hudson Card. Technically Ewers is a redshirt freshman having been a third or fourth team backup at Ohio State last year. But considering that Ewers played only a handful of snaps and hasn’t thrown a pass since high school in 2020 he’s, shall we say, “raw” coming into 2022.

Evidently, Texas losing is no big deal not only to me but to some of the players as well. Seems like the last three coaches have been trying to root out that attitude with no success. 10/11/21

I wrote the above in reaction to the rant at the team by Texas defensive line coach Bo Davis after the 30-7 loss to Iowa State. In case you missed the story, Davis was quite mad at the casual demeanor of some of the players on the bus after the loss.

Regarding the attitude of some of the team last year, Steve Sarkisian told ESPN a couple of weeks ago,

 “The kids knew not everybody in that locker room was all-in last year,” Sarkisian told ESPN. “I think they could feel it, and they wanted to weed out some of the warts, some of the bad apples. I think they got a sense of reality about some of the things we were talking about and trying to instill last offseason. I don’t know how much they gave credence to it, and then those same things reared their ugly head in-season.

“They came back in January with this mindset of, ‘We’ve got to take these things to heart because they will show up again.’ They’ve made that investment and bought into every aspect of it, and you can feel it amongst our team.”

In my opinion for Sarkisian didn’t take the high road in making these comments publicly. It sounds like he’s shedding the blame from himself for 5-7. If Sarkisian is reading the year’s team’s attitude correctly why state it publicly? Hey Steve, why don’t you wait and see how your team’s attitude is if they go on a three-game losing streak against Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State.  

As a Texas fan, what concerns me is the possibility that Steve Sarkisian is just a poor gameday coach. Yes, he’s a good play designer. Maybe he’ll be a good recruiter and maybe he’ll foster a great “culture.” But I have seen nothing this year that suggests he’s anything but a liability on gameday when the bullets are flying.  11/19/2021

If you’re a college football fan you’ve probably heard that Scott Frost’s record in one-score games while head coach at Nebraska is 5-21. This storyline led me to research Steve Sarkisian’s record in one score games. I didn’t count his first year at Washington in 2009 since he was taking over a team that was 0-12 in 2009. Overall, in his six and half years as head coach from 2010 to 2021 his record is 13-13. That includes going 2-5 in one score games last year.  It’s not a terrible record but it’s nondescript.

Sarkisian’s overall record as a head coach (again taking out the 2009 season) is 39-29. Again, nondescript. With seven and a half seasons to judge, the jury is still out on Steve Sarkisian as a head coach.

*******

While the effectiveness of Quinn Ewers will be one of the keys to Texas’s success, Austin sports talk host Rod Babers voiced the best insight I’ve heard this preseason on Texas. Talking about the choice between Quinn Ewers the gunslinger and Hudson Card the game manager he said Bijan Robinson is Texas’s game manager. Amen. Sarkisian is an outstanding architect of the passing game, but his fortunes and Texas’s in 2022 would best be served if he put the ball in Robinson’s hands 30 times a game or more. Can you say Earl Campbell in 1977?  

*******

I had lunch with David Frink the other day and he said that an 8-4 regular season record in 2022 would have to be considered a success. I understand his thinking, but after more than 10 seasons of mediocrity or worse, I can’t get too excited about 8-4.  I want a Big 12 Championship now.

*******

The first time I ever heard about the “It” factor was when my father compared John Kennedy to Robert and Ted Kennedy. He said that Robert and Ted didn’t have “it.”  During the 1968 presidential campaign he changed his mind on Robert. He never did on Ted.

At this point and time, I don’t see the “It” factor in Steve Sarkisian. While he’s very well spoken on the subject of football, I don’t see the inner confidence that he can do the job. I sure hope I’m wrong.

As Dan Yoxall always says, “Let’s put the boot to the ball!”

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Willie Earl’s Song of the Week        

Seems apropos for college football fans for the first game of the season. Also, a little Frink Family inside baseball.

I wished that you were there
I looked across the room
And saw you standin’ on the stair
And when I caught your eye
I saw you break into a grin
It feels so good feelin’ good agai
n

W.E.

The Pecan Plantation Golf Championship, Arch Manning, Bijan Robinson and Earl Campbell

This weekend I played in the annual Pecan Plantation Golf Championship hosted by Mike Frank and his sons Josh and Zach Frank.  Many of the players were old college friends (old in more ways than one) and Willie Earl readers.

On Friday and Saturday evening after the golf, the conversation inevitably turned to the upcoming Texas football season. No new ground was trod here. The most notable topic was whether Arch Manning would be as good as the hype. Nobody expressed a strong opinion either way and the consensus was, nobody knows. I found it mildly interesting that nobody mentioned Quinn Ewers until I did and then nobody was interested in discussing the Longhorn quarterback most likely to be the starter for the first game of the year against Louisiana Monroe.

Anyway, I was flattered when a couple of the guys told me they were looking forward to another season of Willie Earl. I am as well, and I expected my first column of the year would be published as usual on the Friday before the first game of the season. But after reading Kirk Bohl’s column this morning on Bijan Robinson I was inspired to write here what would have been in years gone by my letter to the editor commenting on the column.

In the second paragraph referring to Robinson Mr. Bohls writes, After all, he’s the best running back in America, bar none. The 6-foot, 221-pound Texas junior is one of the best in school history. He’s got Earl Cambell’s stiff arm, Rosevelt Leak’s power, the late Cedric Benson’s toughness, Ricky Williams’ tackle breaking, Eric Metcalf’s versatility and Jamaal Charles’ explosiveness. Did I omit anything?

Don’t get me wrong, I love and revere all those Longhorn greats but if I was writing a column about Bijan I would write, After all, he’s the best running back in America, bar none. The 6-foot, 221-pound Texas junior is one of the best in school history. He’s got Earl Cambell’s stiff arm, Earl Campbell’s power, Earl Campbell’s toughness, Earl Campbell’s tackle breaking, Earl Campbell’s versatility (I bet you didn’t know or forgot that Earl blocked a punt versus Arkansas in 1974) and Earl Campbell’s explosiveness. Did I omit anything?

See you soon.

Hook “Em,

W.E.