Archive for the ‘2020’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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