Archive for the ‘2013’ Category

West Virginia Pre-Game

Hawaiian Shirt Day

For those of you who are puzzled by the headline of today’s column, you need to rent the movie Office Space and watch it as soon as possible.  Briefly, “Hawaiian Shirt” Day is casual Friday at the fictional company Initech from Office Space. Anyway, today is Friday and I get a little giddy on Friday’s. As giddy about Fridays at age 58 as I was at 18 or 28. I don’t know if that means I’m young at heart or Lumberg immature. One thing I do know is that in my giddiness today, I can’t string together 1,000 words or more on a central theme so I’m taking the lazy way out and will spout off on random topics.

Texas – West Virginia

Texas’ performance against Kansas, for me, let a little air out of the idea that they had turned the page on mediocrity and had a serious chance of winning the Big 12 and a BCS Bowl invitation. Very good, hard-edged teams splatter a team like Kansas in the first half and give second-team quarterbacks plenty of playing time.  Mack Brown’s Texas teams have performed well on the road for years, but I have a feeling that if they have trouble running the ball, Saturday night could be a long one for the Horns and their fans. 

I think a loss to West Virginia, more than a loss to any of Texas’ other remaining opponents, would assure that Mack Brown won’t be back in 2014.

John Denver

“Take Me Home, Country Roads,” written and performed by John Denver, is played at every West Virginia home football game. I don’t care much for the song, but I found myself starting to like John Denver when I learned he had written “Leaving on a Jet Plane.”  I can’t think of John Denveranother song that articulates loneliness and regret, or any emotion, so vividly.  Nice job John Deutschendorf Jr.R.I.P.


I hate to disappoint any of you, but Nick Saban isn’t going to be the next Texas Head football coach. It seems clear that this idea is simply a ploy by Saban’s agent, Jimmy Sexton.  It’s a standard agent ploy at that.  Remember about ten years ago or so when Mack Brown was being mentioned as a candidate to be the Cleveland Browns next head coach?  Brown’s agent used that trial balloon to get Mack a big raise.  Saban is saying publicly that he’s not leaving Alabama, and during his recent interview with 60 Minutes, he said that he regretted mishandling his exit from the Miami Dolphins when he promised he wasn’t leaving just a couple of days before taking the Alabama job.  Call me naïve, but it seems more than plausible that Saban means it when he says he’s staying at Alabama.  Anyway, the entire concept seems about as plausible to me as the idea that Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie will be running mates in 2016.

Another One Bites the Dust

No, I’m not going to talk about the song by Queen. I’m talking about Oregon’s loss to Stanford, what a beat-down it was, and my bold prediction a couple of weeks back that Baylor would be the only undefeated team left at the end of the regular season and conference championship games.  Speaking of beat-downs, Baylor held up its end in my prediction last night. Phew, either Baylor has a much better defense than I thought or Oklahoma’s offense stinks. 

I am a little worried though, about Florida State and Ohio State. I guess I should have taken a harder look at those two teams’ remaining schedules before I made such a bold prediction.  I still think Alabama will lose somewhere along the line.

Steve Patterson

I don’t know any more about Steve Patterson than anyone reading this. I may know a lot less than some. But after hearing that at his press conference yesterday, he invoked Earl Campbell and Abe Lemons, I’m thinking he might enjoy Willie Earl.  Anybody have his email?

DeLoss Dodds

Are we sure that DeLoss Dodds didn’t just happen to be at the right place at that right time rather than being some kind of genius?  After all, Dodds is the man who brought us Bob Weltlich, David McWilliams (I like Mr. McWilliams but his hire as football coach was uninspired), and John Mackovic.  Also, if he had his way he would have hired Gary Barnett in 1997, not Mack Brown.  Just saying.


HooK eM,


Over/Under Contest

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Kansas Post-Game


The uninspired play of the Longhorns against Kansas last Saturday left this reporter uninspired. Were the uninspired Longhorns uninspired because the opponent was uninspiring? How many times can I use uninspired or uninspiring in one paragraph?  The answer to the former remains to be seen, the answer to the latter is seven. 

One player that did impress me against Kansas is running back Malcolm Brown. When healthy, he’s a tough runner who finds even the smallest of holes.  Now we’re beginning to see why he was such a hot property coming out high school. The Longhorns really need him to stay healthy.

I know a longtime and very knowledgeable Longhorn football observer who was so unimpressed with the Horns victory over Kansas that he’s predicting a loss to West Virginia by a score of 31-21. He doesn’t think the Horns will be able to run the ball which will force Case McCoy into some big mistakes. McCoy has thrown four interceptions and only one touchdown pass in the TCU and Kansas games. If Texas does lose to West Virginia the chances of Mack Brown returning in 2014 will be slim to none.

Speaking of which.

The irresistible force versus the immovable object

Some of you have probably been reading the same blogs and newsletters that I have that guarantee that Mack Brown will definitely resign or be forced out at the end of this season. The theory—and I’m calling it out as a theory because it is authored by the same theoreticians guaranteeing that Oliver Luck would be the next AD—is that the big money donors, IMG and ESPN have so much money invested in the program that they will not let the Mack Brown mediocrity continue. This could set up some high drama if the Longhorns win the Big 12 and go to a BCS Bowl.  I’d pay big money to see that show but it will be free to attend. So I got that going for me….which is nice.

Stoopes Over/Under Question

I tried to give everybody a freebee with the question concerning how many passes Tyrone Swoopes would throw in the Kansas game but more than half the contestants whiffed. Congratulations to those who got it right. The rest of you need to pay better attention.  If you’ve been doing your Willie Earl homework you would have known that Mack Brown is not going to give a backup quarterback meaningful playing time. Not in this lifetime anyway.

I will use the rest of this space to apologize for the tardiness and paucity of this column. Sometimes advertising intrudes in my life even more than it does in yours. Go figure.

See you in about 52 hours.

HooK eM,


Over/Under Results

Mark Adams is hot again. He wins for the second time in three weeks with seven correct answers. His victory was set up by answering the Tyrone Swoopes question correctly.  That answer provided the edge over Helen Frink and Mike Frank who tied for second place with six correct answers. Mark placed out of Willie Earl 101.

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Kansas Pre-Game


You may think that the Kansas game is boring match-up for the Horns this weekend; so let me give you all the reasons that the Horns’ game with Kansas on Saturday will be interesting.

1. It’s the first home game in six weeks.

2. Tyrone Swoopes might throw a pass

3. Texas hasn’t won five straight games since 2009 so we should be worried about this game.

4. It’s the first weekend of deer hunting season so there will be lots of good seats for sale cheap.

5. It’s going to be a beautiful day to be at a game.

6. If you’re not at that game you get to watch it on the totally awesome Longhorn Network.  Charlie Weiss

7. Kansas has a good defense that held Baylor to 59.

8. It’s always interesting to see what cute outfit Charlie Weiss will wear.


Nick Saban

Put me down as not in love with the idea of Nick Saban being the next Texas head football coach. I know it’s just monopoly money but $8.5 million seems absurd and too mercenary for my taste. Also, Saban is pretty much a jerk who, in his own style, makes even more ridiculous public statements than Mack Brown does. Finally, I’m ususally skeptical of the sure thing.

Over/Under Contest

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TCU Post-Game

What’s the Story?

One of my favorite team transformation stories is about the 1970 Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys lost their ninth game of the 1970 season 38-0 to the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday Night Football. The loss left them at 5-4 for the season and in third place in their division. The franchise was in turmoil. After last second NFL Championship game losses to Green Bay in 1966 and ’67 the Cowboys were supposed to be a dynasty in the making. Then in 1968 and ’69 they were routed in divisional playoff games by the Cleveland Browns. Now it was the Dallas Cowboys, the team that can’t win the “big one.” Dallas head coach Tom Landry was criticized as having an offense that was too complicated and that he was an unemotional automaton who couldn’t motivate players. Controversial Cowboy running back Duane Thomas infamously called Landry a “plastic man.” The blow-out loss to St. Louis was a national humiliation. The team seemed out of the championship picture. Fans and sportswriters were calling for Landry to be replaced. So what did Landry do?  He had the team play flag football in their first practice after the St. Louis loss.  They had fun. They relaxed. After the flag football practice they won their last five games on the 1970 regular season and went on to play in their first Super Bowl.

Duane Thomas and Dan Reeves in Super Bowl V

Duane Thomas and Dan Reeves in Super Bowl V

After Case McCoy hit Marques Johnson on a 65-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, it became clear to me that Texas was going to beat TCU, and beat them easily. There would be no backsliding after the Oklahoma game which led me to wonder, what in the wide, wide world of sports is going on with the Longhorns? Is there a “flag football practice” story here? How did a team that looked to be in total disarray at 3-2, heading into what was surely going to be another blowout loss to Oklahoma, suddenly turn itself around and thoroughly dominate, as the underdog, Oklahoma and TCU?  How did Texas transform itself from an over-rated collection of under-achieving four and five star recruits, into a serious contender for the Big 12 championship and a BCS bowl bid? Further, how did the Longhorns accomplish this while in the middle of heated controversy and turmoil regarding the job status of their iconic head coach?

What happened? Were there team leaders who finally stood up and demanded that their teammates get their acts together?  Does Greg Robinson have influence on the team beyond the defense? Did “Mack the Nice” make Bennie Wylie roust players out of bed at five a.m. to run the steps of Royal-Memorial Stadium? Maybe Mack had the players divide into teams and form a fantasy football league. Could it be a case of the old McCoy magic?

It’s a bit premature to count on Texas to be playing Baylor in the last game of the season for the Big 12 Championship, but if they do there’s an interesting story to be told.

Extra Points

Despite the lightening and rain, Homer Mark and I very much enjoyed our visit to Amon Carter Stadium Saturday night. The recently renovated stadium’s 50,000 seats are right on top of the field and they are wide, they have seatbacks and plenty of leg room. The concourses are also wide and roomy. The Jumbotron presentation is less loud and commercial than at Royal-Memorial. Everything is shiny and new but the game day experience has an old fashioned Ivy League feel. It’s quite a contrast from attending a game at corporate UT. Not that there’s anything wrong with corporate.

I predicted last week that Baylor would likely be the only undefeated team at the end of the regular season. By the way, fairly or not, I’m not counting Fresno State and Northern Illinois in this calculation. Anyway, my prediction is right on track as Texas Tech and Missouri lost on Saturday. This week at least one more undefeated team will fall when Miami and Florida State face off.  If you’re wondering about Alabama, I figure they’ll lose on the road to Auburn in the last game of the regular season.

HooK eM,


Over/Under Results

I enjoyed reviewing the Baylor-Kansas final score predictions this week with several of you guessing that Baylor would score 100 or more and one contestant had them putting up 139.  But the tie-breaker wasn’t necessary as veteran player Mike Yoxall, with eight correct answers, broke through with his first win in of the year. Bob Frink finished second with a seven and eight contestant answering six correctly tied for third.

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TCU Pre-Game

Unexpected Turns 

There have been some unexpected turns to the Longhorns 2013 season so far. The Horns trailed New Mexico State briefly late in the first half before turning  things around and winning 56-7. Then the team took a wrong turn down a narrow, unlit road and drove off a bridge in Provo, leaving David Ash concussed, defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’ career faltering in the murky waters, and Mack Brown’s tenure at Texas on life support.  The Horns fared no better on the brightly lit thoroughfares of Austin and Royal-Memorial, as Ole Miss left them choking in the dust and the sports writers, bloggers and commentators polishing Mack Brown’s coaching obituary. 

After a marginal win over a poor Kansas State team, a controversial win over lowly Iowa State, and with David Ash’s future uncertain because of lingering concussion symptoms, no one but Mack Brown believed Texas was on the right road heading into the Oklahoma game in Dallas.  Bright yellow warning signs appeared as Belmont hawked unsold student tickets for the Oklahoma game to disinterested, disheartened and disgusted Longhorn season ticket holders. Regular tickets were selling for face value and below. Woe was us.

Then, as suddenly as the road had turned dark and narrow, the running lanes widened in Dallas and Jonathan Gray and Malcolm Brown ran through them to daylight, giving Texas their biggest win in three-and-a-half seasons. It looks like Mack, Major, and Greg Robinson may have turned down the road that might take them to a championship. 

Phrasing a question the way my father might have, “Do we now believe Texas has become the team we hoped they would be before the season started?” 

“I don’t know, Dad. I think there are probably a few unexpected turns left this season, starting with the TCU game.”

What if the running road turns a little bumpy in Fort Worth?  Will Mack and company stay patient, or will they lose their way again by chucking the running game and instead chuck the ball all over the lot?   What if Case McCoy turns careless versus TCU or some other opponent? What if he gets injured and the Horns have to turn to Tyrone Swoopes, who has never taken a snap in a game above the high school 2A level of competition?

With all these sudden turns, the season already seems like it’s been a long one, but we’re only half way through it.  Caution! Sudden and unexpected turns ahead.


It’s been 19 years since the Longhorns have played TCU in Ft. Worth, and I’ll be there Saturday night. I have fond memories of the last and only time that I’ve been to a game at TCU’s Amon Carter stadium.  It was in 1982, one of my favorite Texas football seasons. The Longhorns featured quarterback Robert Brewer, Herky Walls (the 1982 version of Daje Johnson), defensive lineman Tony Degrate, and Kiki DeAyla, and linebacker Jeff Leiding.  Texas finished 1982, 9-2 for the regular season. I promise you it was the best 9-2 Texas team ever. The Horns lost a close non-conference game to Oklahoma 28-22. In their next outing they lost to #4 SMU in a game that turned on SMU’s  fourth quarter 79-yard touchdown pass from Lance McIlhenny to Bobby Leach. On the play, Texas’ Jitter Fields was in perfect position for an interception, but he let the ball bounce of his chest and right into the hands of Leach, who was behind him.  It was one of those darned unexpected turns. 

Texas won their next two games, 27-0 over Texas Tech and 50-0 over Houston. The TCU game was on November 13, and it was the eighth game of the season and the fifth Southwest Conference game. Texas was 5-2 overall and 3-1 in conference play, one game behind conference leader SMU.  Heavily favored Texas trailed 21-17 at halftime but rallied with 21 unanswered points in the second half for the win. After the game, it was reported that Texas quarterback Robert Brewer, who hadn’t played well, was suffering from the flu and hadn’t been expected to play.   I had a date to the game, and we were with David Bergstrom and his girlfriend Kim, who went to SMU.  Walking to our car after the game, we passed some people who were listening to the end of the SMU-Texas Tech game in Lubbock on their car radio. Tech had just tied SMU with less than 30 seconds left in the game. I started celebrating because a tie for SMU put the Horns in a position to possibly win the conference despite their loss to SMU.  My celebration was short-lived. On the ensuing kick-off, SMU’s Bobby Leach took a lateral pass from far across the field and ran 93 yards for the winning touchdown. Kim cheered and I stood there dumbfounded by yet another unexpected turn.  Good times and good memories nonetheless.

Love Ya Blue

The recent passing of Bum Phillips and Bud Adams reminded me of the years when we were all Houston Oiler fans.  It might be more accurate to say we were all Houston “Earler” fans, for it seemed to me that in 1978 and ’79 the Oilers with Earl Campbell were a natural extension of the 1977 Longhorns.  I dare say that even for Dallas Cowboy fans there was something more exciting and loveable about the Oilers at that time. That Oiler fight song was so bad it was great. We’re in the air and on the ground, always in control, and when you say the Oilers, you’re talking Super Bowl. ‘Cause we’re the Houston Oilers, Houston Oilers…..

And of course Earl’s 81-yard touchdown run in “The Dome” against Miami on Monday Night Football was one of the greatest moments in Texas sports history.



An old friend texted me late Saturday afternoon with a question, Are A&M and Missouri showing the SEC that the Big 12 can play with them?  I answered, no. Missouri and A&M are a year-and-a-half out from Big 12 play.  That’s an eternity in college football.  To sharpen that point, what does a Johnny Manziel A&M have to do with the A&M that last competed in the Big 12?  Absolutely nothing.  Here’s a prediction. Both Missouri and A&M will lose at least two regular season games from here on out. If Missouri makes the SEC Championship game they’ll lose.   I agree that the SEC is not as strong across the board as they have been recently, but I still think Alabama, LSU, Auburn, and probably South Carolina would win the Big 12 this year.  

Had an actual face to face conversation with a friend Sunday afternoon. He was wishing that the four team college football playoff would start this year because surely, there would be more than two undefeated teams left before the final BCS rankings.  Au contraire mon frère.  I predict that there will only be one undefeated team left at the end and that team will be Baylor. Baylor in the National Championship Game—pretty freaky eh?  If I’m wrong and there are two undefeated team, Baylor being one of them, there will be much consternation in Waco when the Bears lose out on a BCS berth to a one loss Oregon, Alabama, or Florida State.

HooK eM,


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