Archive for the ‘2020’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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