Archive for the ‘2020’ Category

The Reports of Herman’s Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

Sports talk show host Colin Cowherd has a mantra about passionate sports fans wanting to be right more than they want to get it right. If I had a mantra about passionate sports fans, it would be in a similar vein to Cowherd’s: they want to be the first to predict more than they want to accurately predict. 

Since Texas’ loss to Oklahoma I have observed passionate Texas fans being guilty of both above foibles when predicting or flat out stating as a fact that Tom Herman will be fired after this season if not before. They want Herman to be fired and if they say it emphatically enough times, they think they can make it come true.

In the cold hard light of the win over Baylor and the stirring come-from-behind win over Oklahoma State, the prognosis for Herman keeping his job in 2021 looks pretty good. And, I don’t think Texas has to win its remaining four games for Herman to be retained.  If Texas wins three out of four and finishes 7-3 for the regular season Herman will remain, in my opinion. That would give him a 34-18 record. Not great but I think it would be a bad look to fire a coach who just went 7-3 and has won 65% of his games over four years. If Herman doesn’t win the Big 12 in 2021 or doesn’t have a Mack Brown like 10-2 regular season record without a championship, then he’ll be fired and his buyout will be more reasonable than it would be at the end of this season.

Texas’ Keys to Victory over West Virginia

  1. Texas has averaged 92.7 yards in penalties over the last three games. They had 142 yards in penalties against Oklahoma State. Texas can’t continue to be penalized at this rate and expect to win its remaining four games or even three out of four.
  2. Texas overcame penalties and an average offensive output to beat Oklahoma State because they forced four turnovers. They need to win the turnover battle over a West Virginia team that is fourth nationally in total defense and 19th in scoring defense.
  3. It was clear during the Oklahoma St. game from his play and his facial expressions that Sam Ehlinger was in pain. Between Texas’ porous offensive line and Herman’s penchant for using quarterbacks heavily in the running game, Ehlinger is beat up. Texas needs to protect Ehlinger the passer much better and Herman needs to rely more on his running backs and less on Ehlinger to run the ball.
  4. West Virginia average 32 minutes in time for possession. Texas can’t fall behind by double digits in this game and expect to win.

Final Observations on the West Virginia Game

Texas gave up 400 passing yards and 530 yards total to Oklahoma State. Texas overcame those ugly statistics with a heroic performance from Joseph Ossai and strong performance from Ta’quon Graham. It’s reasonable to expect those two to play well against West Virginia but not to win the game again this week.  I’ll go out on a limb and predict that if West Virginia total more than 500 yards of total offense they’ll win.
Texas was held to 287 yards and 3.8 yards per play and Ehlinger was sacked five times against Oklahoma State. I’ll go out on another limb and say if Texas gains less than 350 yards total offense this week they’ll lose.

Texas got a touchdown on D’Shawn Jamison’s 100-yard kickoff return. Without consulting the Google machine, I believe that’s two kickoff return touchdowns and one punt return touchdown for his career at Texas. So, a Jamison long return or return touchdown isn’t a fluke but it’s unlikely to happen two games in a row.

This is a Big 12 elimination game. The loser will be out of title contention. Will Texas come down off the high of the Oklahoma State victory and play a more consistent game offensively and defensively against West Virginia or play poorly for the third time this year in a game that starts at 11am?

HooK ‘Em.


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Oklahoma State Over/Under Results

Congratulations to the field of 17. Your average score at 6.4, is the highest of the year and puts this one in the loss column for Willie Earl.  The field was spotted a point when no one took the bait and guessed that the Horns would have a kick blocked.  Only player in the field was correct in going under on the largest lead of the game at 11.5.

The only player who got the largest lead question right was Al Locascio and his nine correct answers tied for first place with Mike Frank. Mike wins this week by edging Al in the tiebreaker by going one for two on the pick ‘ems. Al got both wrong by picking Penn St. and Dallas to beat the spread against Ohio St. and Philadelphia. Congratulations to Mike and Al.

Al, I wish you simplify the spelling of your last name, so I didn’t have to copy and paste it from your entry every time you make the news.

Mark Stephan took third place all by himself with eight correct. D.R. Flower, Clayton Frink, Greg Swan, and Tyler Cotton tied for fourth with seven correct.

I think I’ve mentioned this in years gone by but looking over the names of the entrants each week is like a “This is Your Life” television episode for me.


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As Time Goes By

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by                                  
                        From “As Time Goes By”
                                                                  -Dooley Wilson

If a kiss is just a kiss and a sigh is just a sigh, is a song just a song?   When a group of UT athletes demanded that the University ban “The Eyes of Texas,” I asked a friend what he thought of that. He answered, “It’s just a song.”  His answer became a mantra for people who were willing to jettison the school Alma mater.  Ironically, no one told the UT athletes that “It’s just a song.” Instead the University formed a committee to examine the history of the song.  That’s what I call “Higher Learning.”

Get Your Story Straight

During Tom Herman’s weekly Monday press conference, he was asked what he thought about Baylor coach Dave Aranda’s weird decision to punt from Texas’ 30-yard line. Herman said that he wasn’t aware of that happening. Huh? And that he had been so immersed in watching Oklahoma State film over the past 48 hours that the Baylor game now seemed like four weeks ago.  Then Statesman reporter Kirk Bohls asked Herman if he had noticed any weaknesses in Oklahoma State to exploit.  Herman replied that because of all his media obligations he had only spent about three hours watching Oklahoma State film. Around our household we might need to change Herman’s nickname from “Mensa Boy” to “Mr. Self-awareness.”

Evaluating the Baylor Game Performance  

I played in a golf tournament last weekend, so I didn’t watch the Baylor game, but I recorded it and despite my media obligations, I’ve had a chance to watch it.

A few observations:

  1. Ehlinger is taking too many hits in my opinion. If he keeps running as much as he’s been forced to so far this season either on called quarterback runs or scrambling, at the least he’s going wear down. At the worst he’s going to miss a game or more because of an injury as he did in 2018. Why not call Bijan Robinson’s number a little more, Ehlinger’s a little less?
  2. Keaontay Ingram, Bijan Robinson, and Roschon Johnson combined for 113 yards on 29 carries. The long run was 12 yards. This is workmen like not dynamic. Unless there’s dramatic improvement this week in run blocking, Texas running backs aren’t going to be major contributors against Oklahoma State who is 19th in the country in total defense unless it’s as pass receivers.
  3. Back to the “Get Your Story Straight” from above. I noticed that before Baylor punted from the Texas 30, they tried to incur a delay of game penalty to give their punter more room to pin Texas inside the 10-yard line. Texas was too smart for that and declined the penalty. So, Tom Herman declines that penalty but doesn’t remember Baylor punting from the Texas 30-yard line?  Why lie or prevaricate about this Tom?
  4. Texas’ pass protection is subpar. This will be a problem against Oklahoma State.
  5. Texas averaged about 18,000 in attendance for the TCU and Baylor games. According to the 25% capacity limit this year, Texas could have up 25,000 in attendance for a game.  So, are we to extrapolate that with this team, in a normal year, Texas would be averaging about 72,000 fans per game?  I know I’m just filling column space here but if you take a look up the road to College Station, the Aggies have reported 24,000 + attending their home games. From what I saw on television, I think they had about 50,000 at the Florida game. I’m just wondering if there’s an enthusiasm deficit this year for the Longhorns. Maybe it’s just that Texas fans are more careful about the pandemic than A&M fans.
  6. The defense looked good overall. The talent level appeared good across the board. Is that a reflection on Baylor or an improvement in Texas’ defense?  We’ll see tomorrow.
  7. Defensive end Alfred Collins needs to play more. Looks like to me he could be a star.

Oklahoma State

Texas is a three-point underdog. If I was a gambler, Oklahoma State would be a very tempting bet. I have an easier time imagining an embarrassing loss for Texas than a potentially job-saving win for Herman.

The writers on “Inside Texas” talk about the advantage on the “headsets” that most Texas opponents seem to have. Based on past performances, Oklahoma State has a decided edge on the headsets in this game.

I know it’s not going to happen, but I’d like to see Texas in the throwback white unis they donned against Baylor again this week.

HooK ‘Em,


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Baylor Over/Under Results

Mark Homer Stephan broke through for his first win of the season this week—maybe his first win ever—with seven correct answers.

For the second week in a row there was a large logjam for second place involving players with six correct answers. Last week seven players tied for second. This week there were six that included Greg Swan, Mitch Lewis, Wes Peoples, Clayton Frink, Wade Wallace, and Helen Frink.

Game Notes

  1. It was another large field with 18 players.
  2. Only five players picked Baylor to score first which they did.
  3. Only one player picked Baylor quarterbacks to have less than 1.5 touchdown passes. Robert Brewer, excuse me, Charlie Brewer threw two.
  4. The average score was 5.1

Recently I was asked if I ever play Over/Under. I’m sure that’s been a burning question for many of you.  I did once maybe seven or eight years ago but my game is devising questions that limit the scoring average to around five.  I consider it a loss if the scores average six correct answers or more. I consider it a win if the winner has seven or fewer correct answers or if the scoring average is below five.

Pardon me while I pat myself on the back for winning this week.

See you Friday.


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Willie Earl Back On the Couch

Patient 191855

This was the patient’s first session since 11/16/18 when the Longhorn Football team was racking him with worry.

Session transcript from 10/22/20

Therapist: It’s been while. So, how ‘ve you been?

Patient: I’m okay, I guess. Do you know that Barry Manilow song, “Tryin’ to Get the Feeling Again?

Therapist: I’m not sure I’m familiar with that one.

Patient:  Well, the opening lyrics are,

Doctor, my woman is comin’ back home late today
Could you maybe give me something?
‘Cause the feelin’ is gone
And I must get it back right away

Therapist notation: The patient is a terrible singer.

Therapist: Are you and Helen having troubles?

Patient: It’s a little more serious than that. Remember when I was here a couple of years ago because the Longhorn Football team was driving me crazy?

Therapist: I do. Are they giving you trouble again?

Patient: It’s complicated. They’ve lost two in a row and their record is 2-2 which is really disappointing but they’re lucky not to be 1-3.

Therapist: So, you’re disappointed in team and you’re worried about their future?

Patient: No, that’s my problem! Remember the song.

Doctor, my woman is comin’ back home late today
Could you maybe give me something?
‘Cause the feelin’ is gone
And I must get it back right away

Therapist: These lyrics say something to you about the Longhorns?

Patient: Yes! “my woman” is the team and I don’t seem to care that they stink!

Therapist: Interesting. Do you often see your life through song lyrics?

Patient: Doesn’t everybody?

Therapist: To tell you the truth, in the 30 years that I’ve been in practice, you’re the first patient who wasn’t in a hospital who’s ever sung during a session.

Patient: So, you think I’m crazy?

Therapist: (Long pause) No, I, I don’t.  So, you’re not bothered by the team’s mediocre performance but that you don’t care that they’re mediocre?

Patient: Exactly! (singing)
I’ve been Up, down, tryin’ to get the feelin’ again
All around tryin’ to get the feelin’ again
The one that made me shiver
Made my knees start to quiver

I guess I really liked living and dying with the Longhorns and now that I don’t, I feel empty inside.

Therapist: Why, do you think you don’t care anymore.

Patient: I hope this doesn’t sound like I’m a fair-weather fan but they haven’t been any good in 10 years. The last championship they won was in 2009. Since then, they’re 73-58. In the 10 years prior to that they were 110-19.

Therapist: I had no idea the contrast was so stark. Let’s explore your feelings a little more. What’s gone wrong over the last 10 years?

Patient: Coaching. It started with Mack Brown. He was the architect of the 10-year 110-19 record from 2000-2009.

Therapist: Architect?

Patient: He was the head coach. His team won the National Championship in 2005. He followed that up with four more solid years that included another berth in the National Championship game and a Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State. Those years were glorious.

Therapist: I see. So, what happened after that?

Patient: I guess Mack Brown got tired. He coached less and less and played golf more and more and the team went downhill fast. He tried to “fix” it by hiring new assistants but then he delegated too much of the coaching to them and the whole operation became disjointed. After the 2013 season, the school president and athletic director asked him to resign. You might say he was fired.

Therapist: Fascinating. Sounds like a UT Business school case study. What happened next?

Patient: They hired Charlie Strong to replace Mack Brown. Strong had three good years as the head coach at Louisville and was considered an up and coming star in the college coaching ranks. Overlooked was the fact that he had only been a head coach for four years, all at Louisville. Coaching at Louisville bears little resemblance to being a head coach at Texas where you’re expected to compete for a national championship in short order.  To use your business school analogy, it was kind of like going from convenience store manager to Walmart Super Store manager in one step.

Therapist: Very interesting. Go on.

Patient:  In three years at Texas, Strong’s record was 16-21 and he was fired after the 2016 season. When it became apparent that Strong would be let go after the 2016 season, there was a consensus among the UT administration, big-money donors, and fans that Tom Herman, the coach at Houston, was a must-have as the next head coach. 

So, UT got in a bidding war with LSU for Herman’s services and won—paying  Herman a salary that made him the third or fourth highest paid college coach in the country.

At the time I wondered why everyone was so hot for Herman when his resume was remarkably similar to Charlie Strong’s.  Houston is in the same conference as Louisville. Not quite the bigtime. Not only that, he had only two years of head coaching experience.

Therapist: Sounds like UT made an impulsive decision to hire Mr. Herman.

Patient: Exactly! And after Texas lost the very first game of Herman’s tenure to Maryland—a game Texas was heavily favored to win—Herman revealed his not so pleasing arrogant and condescending personality.  Now, in his fourth year at Texas there seems to be another growing consensus that Herman will be fired at the end of this season.

Therapist: I can certainly see why you’re frustrated about Texas Football.

Patient:  But that’s what I’ve been trying to tell you! I’m not frustrated. I guess I’m weary and beyond caring as a diehard, orange blooded fan.  I have to say, watching the program’s travails is entertaining in cynical kind of way in the same way the Dallas Cowboys are entertaining.

Texas paid a premium to hire this arrogant you-know-what and then gave him a raise after a 10-4 season that Mack Brown would have called, “not our standard.”  And as you peruse today’s morning sports section, you’ll find Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and Kansas State in the top 25 and Texas isn’t. Not only that, SMU is # 16 and wait for it . . . the Aggies are #9! 

If they’re not already, Texas should be a laughingstock of a major college football program.

Therapist: In what you describe I can see the futility of UT’s efforts in the arena of bigtime college football.

Patient: (Singing again)

Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don’t think that I can take it
‘Cause it took so long to bake it
And I’ll never have that recipe again
Oh, no

None the less.

HooK ‘Em,


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