Archive for the ‘2017’ Category

The Grinch Who Stole Recruiting

In case you didn’t know, Wednesday (December 20) was the first day of the new, three -day signing for high school football prospects to sign a 2018 letter of intent with a college football program. As of today, according 247 Sports, the recruiting class Tom Herman has signed is ranked #2 nationally. Great news right? Maybe, but not if you base it on the recent track records of Charlie Strong and Tom Herman in developing three, four, and five-star recruits after they’ve become Longhorns.

Charlie Strong put together three recruiting classes that ranked 17th, 10th, and 7th nationally—yet his teams finished 6-7, 5-7, and 5-7. As he walked out the door, he famously or infamously said, “The cake has been baked.”  His meaning was that he left his successor a roster loaded with talent that was ready to win Big 12 Championships and compete for a spot in the four team National Championship playoff.

At 6-6, evidently the cake needs to stay in the oven a while longer. I’d be more impressed with Tom Herman’s #2 ranked class if he and his staff had developed the players on the 2017 roster into a team that won at least eight games.  Aside from the great work Todd Orlando did with the defense, we don’t know yet—as we didn’t know with Strong—whether Herman and his staff can spin recruiting gold into power conference championship teams.

Below are charts comparing Texas’ recruiting classes and conference wins over the past five years to Big 12 rivals Oklahoma, TCU, and Oklahoma State.  The highlighted numbers on the recruiting chart are Oklahoma, TCU, and Oklahoma State recruiting classes that were ranked lower than Texas’. Draw your own conclusions.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and all the rest.



Recruiting Class Rankings
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Average
Texas 2 17 17 10 7 25 2 11.4
Oklahoma 12 16 14 15 19 8 8 13.1
TCU 29 35 43 39 21 28 17 30.3
Oklahoma St. 31 31 27 40 45 38 28 34.3
Big 12 Wins
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Average
Texas 5 7 5 4 3 5 4.8
Oklahoma 8 7 5 8 9 8 7.5
TCU 4 2 8 7 4 7 5.3
Oklahoma St. 5 7 4 7 7 6 6.0




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Less than a week after Tom Herman assured everyone that Sam Ehlinger wouldn’t do “that” again (“that” being an excruciatingly, situationally stupid interception), he did it again.  The soul-crushing interception Ehlinger threw with 2:06 to play was a high school mistake that makes you wonder when he is going to realize he’s not at Westlake anymore. Though, I suppose it’s fitting that the quarterback of a high school offense—and I’m being generous here—is making high school mistakes.  Ehlinger could have been saved from the infamy of throwing the game away by a coaching staff smart enough not to call a pass play when you’re leading by three, with 2:06 to play, on third and two, from your opponent’s 37-yard line, when your opponent has no timeouts. Run any kind of running play and assuming you don’t fumble or run out of bounds, the worst thing that can happen is you punt on fourth down and leave Texas Tech with at best a first and ten on their 20 with a minute left to play and no timeouts. Shouldn’t it be a baseline expectation that this coaching staff understands situational football?

The interception wasn’t the only reason Texas lost to Texas Tech, a team coming into the game with Big 12 conference wins against only Baylor and Kansas. Texas ran eight plays inside Texas Tech’s three-yard-line for a net minus one yard. Let that sink in.

It’s like our worst fears realized. Offensive-minded and most cherished hire Tom Herman produces a 6-6 record in his first season with an offense that finished #57 nationally in total offense. Herman came to Austin with swagger and bravado and made sure the UT public relations machine informed the fan base that the Moncrief-Neuhaus training facility was immaculately painted and outfitted with $8,700 lockers under his leadership. He exits the regular season visibly shaken in his Texas Tech post-game press conference.

In his Monday press conference after the Iowa State game, Herman was asked if he was happy with his offensive coaching staff. His first reaction was to feign not understanding the question—and then feigning further puzzlement, he said, “Interesting question.”  Yes, it is, but don’t expect Herman to make any major changes to his offensive staff. On more than one occasion over the course of the season, he has stressed the importance of staff continuity for player development and pointed out the lack of it before his arrival.  If Herman doesn’t shake up his offensive staff, we’ll find out how effective continuity is for continuity’s sake.

A cautionary tale for Herman is Charlie Strong sticking with offensive coordinator Shawn Watson after the 2014 season, even though the offense had finished #113 out of 128 nationally.  That included a school-record low of 59 yards total offense against Arkansas in the Texas Bowl. Strong demoted Watson after the first game of the 2015 season against Notre Dame, when Texas scored only three points with 160 yards of total offense.

Tom Herman needs to understand that although he’s led the program for only one year, the patience of the Longhorn fan base for bad offense and six win seasons is exhausted. After the Texas Tech game, Herman’s grace period is over.

Parting Shot

How much involvement does Herman have with the defense?

Hook ‘Em,


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Texas Tech Over/Under Results

Mitch Lewis, playing in only his third game all year, won the Over/Under season finale posting eight correct answers. Clayton Frink finished second with a seven correct and Mike Frank, Mitch Frink, and Joe Grubbs tied for third with six correct.

The average score was 4.47

2017 Over/Under Champion

Clayton Frink played hard every single week of the season and on the strength of his consistent performance and two wins he amassed 87 points and is the Champion Over/Under Player for 2017.

Greg Swan is the 2017 Runner Up with 77 points. Greg also had two wins on the season but missed the Kansas State and Baylor games leaving Greg to ponder “What If” until 2018 rolls around.

David Bergstrom missed only one game all season and ran hard down the stretch to finish third for 2017 with 73 points.

Joe Grubbs, D.R. Flower, John Scott, Mike Frank, and Helen Frink earned Honorable Mention for 2017 by finishing with 60 or more points.

Presser Final Results

David Bergstrom edged Greg Swan 31-29 to win the Over/Under Press affectionately known on these pages as the Presser.  I have no doubt that Bergy has also won many golf Pressers over the years.

Greg, having finished second for the season and the Presser will, like Avis, try harder.

Mitch Lewis, on the strength of his Texas Tech win, finished third with 22 points.

All in all it was exciting wasn’t it?

Hook ‘Em,


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Can the Longhorns Stand Prosperity?

I was ambivalent about the Longhorns Rockettes dance on the sideline during the fourth quarter of the West Virginia game.  It was an impressive win for them and it was nice to see the players have something to celebrate for a change. At the same time, the Longhorns need to keep in perspective that they’re 6-5 and they could still finish with a losing record. Texas Tech has the # 10 passing offense in the country and Texas is unlikely to knock Texas Tech quarterback Nic Shimonek out of the game in the first quarter. Tom Herman and the players are saying all the right things this week about finishing, but I’m always wary of premature celebrations whether it’s one of my golf partners, favorite football team, or favorite basketball teams.

Speaking of 6-5, for further perspective, know that the cumulative record of the Longhorns’ vanquished foes is 23-43. The record is pulled down by Big 12 opponents Kansas and Baylor who have only one win each. On a positive note, three of Texas’ wins came against teams with winning records.

Sublime to Bitter

So there I was, in the comfort of my home, enjoying my fourth cup of coffee, watching the Longhorns with the sound muted, and listening to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 for the week ending 11/17/73 (oh the bittersweet memories).  The Longhorns were on their way to at least a 17 if not 21 point lead in the third quarter. The total experience was absolutely sublime. Then, Sam Ehlinger decided to see just how far he could throw a football with his backside parallel to the ground. I watched the pick-six to the Rolling Stones “Angie.” My sublime afternoon was spoiled—temporarily. I’m still bitter. As my brother David said in a text exchange, “He HAS to stop that incredible foolishness!”   Yes, he does, before it costs Texas anymore football games.


Cade Brewer and Patrick Vahe are the latest in a long line of Longhorns to be lost to debilitating injuries. I read somewhere last December that Herman’s teams get pretty beat up by the end of the season because of his grinding practice regime.  I don’t know if there’s anything to that and the rash of injuries this year may be just plain bad luck, but I’d be surprised if Mr. Mensa (Herman) doesn’t  conduct some kind of study to see if there’s something he can change about his team’s practice and training to cut down on the injuries.

Warren to H-back/Tight end

Is it just me or does it seem that Chris Warren III is a much better fit at H-back/tight end than running back?  He’s a good receiver and his straight-up running style is more suited to running with the ball after a catch than from standing start from the backfield. Could be good.

Friday after Thanksgiving 1996

One of my many, many great memories of Longhorn Football is the 1996 51-15 beat down of the Aggies the day after Thanksgiving.  The game started at a little after 10 a.m. and it was cold and wet. Ricky Williams, James Brown, and Mike Adams had big days as Texas turned the game into a rout in the second half, by which time I had taken off a couple of layers of clothing as the day had turned from cold and damp to sunny and mild.  It was kind of poetic.  After we celebrated the victory in the LBJ Library parking lot with friends and family, Helen and I took advantage of an extension from our babysitters (my parents) and went to Sullivan’s for an early dinner.  As we ordered, Helen asked me if I wanted to split a baked potato.  I said it was the kind of day that we should each have our own baked potato.

We’ll be tailgating in the LBJ Library parking Friday for the first time since that Friday in 1996. I’d like to think the symmetry bodes well.

Hook ‘Em,


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West Virginia Over/Under Results

David Bergstrom won the West Virginia Over/Under with nine correct answers.  David joins Clayton Frink and Mike Frank in the 2017 nine correct answer club.

Mark Adams finished second with eight correct. There was a six-way tie for third that included, Joe Grubbs, Helen Frink, Andy Garrod, Reed Ramlow, Greg Swan, Wes Peoples.

From the highlights department, all 17 contestants correctly predicted over for Texas defensive sacks and for Texas points scored in the second half.

The averages score was 6.2

Going into the season finale, it’s a three-horse race for the championship between Clayton Frink, 81 points, Greg Swan, 73 points, and David Bergstrom, 68 points. A host of players have a mathematical chance to finish as high as second for the year.

Bergstrom and Swan are neck-and-neck in the presser but it’s still a wide-open contest with 12 players still in contention.

We’re excited to announce that yes there will be Bowl Game Over/Under Contest with fabulous prizes!

Coming Wednesday.  Can the Longhorns Stand Prosperity?

Hook ‘Em,



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