Posted December 2nd, 2010 by Jack
Filed under: Feature, Football, Recruiting

The Cam Newton ruling is stunning to me.  The NCAA says his father broke rules by shopping his son, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong for Cam to play stupid while boosters and Cecil Newton negotiated a private transaction.   I sort of get their point – if the school itself and the player itself didn’t do anything improper, what the heck are they going to do about it?

Jadeveon Clowney is the top recruit in the country according to Rivals.com.  He’s a bonecrushing 6’6″ defensive end from the Palmetto State that reminds scouts of Mario Williams, a former #1 pick in the NFL Draft and an All-Pro.  Cownley hasn’t committed yet but has offers from 13 BCS conference schools from Alabama to South Carolina to all the way out West from Southern Cal.  At this point, why commit to anyone?  Just get your dad to contact each school’s booster club and get the best price.   Rivals.com’s #3 prospect is a Virginia linebacker named Curtis Grant, who runs a 4.5 40 and is 6’3″, 222 as a high school senior.  There’s 22 schools after Grant and he hasn’t made a decision.  Why make any decision that doesn’t involve getting paid?  Just let your parents get a media spanking from the NCAA and smile as they cash the check.

I guess it’s nice to know that Texas has one of the wealthiest alumni bases in America, but now we face an ethical decision.  We share a conference with Oklahoma and Texas A&M – who have a long history of shady behavior and are going into the postseason while the Longhorns stay home this year.  If Pandora’s box has indeed been opened – the Ags and the Sooners both will be at the front of the line with their checkbooks open.  Texas can pay coordinators and position coaches more than the majority of head coaches in the FBS…but does any of that matter if OU and A&M start paying for five star athletes?  Just because RC and Switzer aren’t running things doesn’t mean those alums went away.

There’s probably some 14 year old freshman phenom right now leading his team into the playoffs this weekend that will become the first million dollar recruit if his dad plays this system right.  Coaches and scouts will flock to his games in 2014 watching him shred opponents while praying that their school’s rich alums and the phenom’s family can work out a deal behind their backs.  As long as the athletic department stays ignorant and the recruit’s parents tell him where he’s going to school, this is deemed acceptable by the NCAA.  He can roll onto his new campus in a 80K ride and have a 200K off campus condo if his parents bought it all for him, right?

All this talk about the NCAA closing this loophole is probably dumb.  That says that they don’t want a filthy program like Auburn to get punished for THIS season.  Auburn has faced sanctions a whopping 7 times since 1950.   This is a quote from former Auburn president William Muse after the NCAA dropped the hammer on Auburn in 1993 for alums paying players:  “If this program is to survive, there can be no more days like this one, intentional or unintentional.”

Guess you lucked out on this one, War Eagle.  Can Reggie Bush have his Heisman back now?

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Posted August 31st, 2010 by Jack
Filed under: Feature, Football

Mack was on the Dan Patrick show Monday and said that he feels that since Vince came in second after the 2005 Heisman Trophy vote, he should get it now.  Quoth Mack:  “I think you have to go back and really give that choice to the Heisman Trust. If they take it away, I think Vince should be awarded the trophy.  Vince was second in the voting, so even if they re-voted I would like to see Vince get it.”

The Heisman Trust would have to re-vote then.  They haven’t even taken it away from Reggie Bush yet – SC’s new AD just shipped the school’s statue back to New York.  So of course all of this is hypothetical.  It’s also really unnecessary.  If you think about it, they vote and award the trophy before the BCS bowls in the first place.  The Trust has never wavered from doing that, so awarding a trophy on a re-vote after the player’s greatest moment came in a bowl game – even five years later – is opening them up for some criticism down the road.

I guess that having another Heisman on display could help with recruiting and adds to Vince’s list of accolades collected as a player, but to me, I want the program to be concentrating on what’s in front of them.  This to me sounds like something a school stuck in the past would do.  Vince already got the most important trophy available – after beating Reggie and ESPN’s “greatest team of all time” in their backyard.  Besides, Vince is not a college kid anymore.  He needs to concentrate on leading his NFL team and not another trip back to Austin to get honored.  His legacy is putting an entire program back on top of the world five years ago.

I also don’t want any asterisks associated with the greatness that was the Longhorn’s 2005 BCS Championship run.  That lame 2008 Big 12 title asterisk on the wall at Moncrief-Neuhaus was embarrassing.  If Mack wants a Heisman to show off, let’s see if one of our current guys can pick one up after an awesome season.

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Posted August 30th, 2010 by Jack
Filed under: Feature, Football

We’ve had a rocky relationship over the years in a weird masochistic sort of way.  When we first all got together, back in 1996, you were an evil, determined mistress, a vision of perfection with no vulnerable, tender side.  You dismissed all who came before you – sometimes even violently and machinelike, with no real pleasure to speak of.  Color was irrelevant and so was location -your place or theirs, you had your way with everyone and they were forced to do your bidding.

Then when we really did hook up for the first time, on a cold December night in St. Louis, you weren’t exactly at the height of your power.  Arizona State came out and coldcocked you three months before.  In true Nebraska spirit, you took out your pain and agony on the rest of your schedule.  Some of our old friends were soundly thrashed by the Lady in Red, and when it came down to the end, you prevailed over mighty Colorado and were waiting to beat that little upstart Texas for your largely ceremonial dance ticket.

Well it didn’t happen.  I overcame everything that you had and everything that you stood for, and emerged from that dome with a smile and a trophy.  I rolled and left you a second embarrassment in a single season, something unthinkable to you and everyone you knew.  Of course, you chose 1997 to wreck havoc and take revenge upon all that had wronged you, in a year I’d like to forget.  You emerged unscathed, walking into Seattle and taking U-Dub’s lunch money early on.  You even brushed off Kansas State right after that, whom at the time you didn’t know was to question your power in upcoming years.  You were back where you felt like you belonged.

Then 1998 happened.  Solich happened.  Ricky and Major happened.  Something unthinkable happened.  I went to your house on Halloween, decided I’d had enough of you and your bullying, and hit you as hard as I could.  And you went down, and I left with all of your Halloween candy.  Nobody had invaded your crib and came out victorious in seven years.  I think that was the day our relationship changed.

1999 saw us both sleek and watchful, confident in our abilities but wary of our foes.  You didn’t survive a return visit to my place, but you did get the last laugh in San Antonio.  I was the only blemish on your dance card back then, but you could safely say this was not the one-sided relationship it used to be.   You could even make the case that maybe we were growing a little fond of each other, but we each had our own stuff going on after that.  We were both trying to get from good to great and besides, we both had K-State and Oklahoma to deal with.

By the next time we finally saw each other again in 2002, you were a mess.  You’d even let Iowa State and Oklahoma State push you around.  I left Lincoln for the second consecutive time victorious, an unprecedented feat.    Colorado even wiped their muddy boots on your once-hallowed carpet and strolled away whistling.  I wondered what was wrong with you but after kicking the crap out of you in Austin in 2003, I realized I had better things to do.  Nebraska could take care of herself.

I was a little busy in 2004 and 2005.  I’m not going to apologize.  You’d been where I was ten years before, so you understand.

2006 showed me in the position that you had in 1996, albeit a little weaker.  But that didn’t stop me from taking a third straight win in your house.  I was beginning to think about leaving a note on the fridge so you knew what I liked to eat when I came into town.  We were both trying to find ourselves again, being good but nothing special.  I’m not going to talk much about about 2007 besides you finally realizing a change was due and I beat you again.  I was proud of you for reinventing yourself but kept a healthy dose of skepticism.

2008 was crummy for both of us in different ways.  You had to deal with Missouri and Texas Tech’s best punches and you’re still feeling out this whole cougar thing.  Traveling to Oklahoma doesn’t sound like much fun – I mean, I always say I’ll meet halfway – and getting beat down there has to be worse.  That was the year I learned I don’t like pirates.

I can’t explain last year.  I was at the top of my game, feeling all of the rushes and pressure of 2005 again.  You rolled the clock back despite shocking losses to Iowa State and Texas Tech at home in back to back weeks.  You partied like it was 1995, your salad days.  I won’t get into how and why I get second chances and you don’t.  It just happened that way.  All of the hatred and the fear I had of you in the nineties, though?  It’s a complete role reversal.  I’m at the top of the hill and you’re trying to knock me off one last time before you go run off with your new friends.

I’m not going to wish you luck, as that would be completely asinine.  I do want to thank you for some great memories that have come at your expense over the years.  Sure, you’ll always have San Antonio…but I’ll always have Lincoln.

Love,

Texas

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Posted August 27th, 2010 by Jack
Filed under: Football

With the departure of Mike Leach from Texas Tech and the addition of Neal Brown to run Tuberville’s offense, things have changed on offense out in Lubbock.  Some folks think a spread is a spread is a spread, but the differences between the Prairie Pirate’s Air Raid and Brown’s NASCAR is striking.  The best example I can think of is driving a car versus racing in one.  (Side note:  Neal Brown is 30 and his predecessor at Tech was 27, ECU’s Lincoln Riley.  Thought that was interesting.)

First off, they have a common ancestor but are run completely differently.  I think 10 years after OU won the national title using a hybrid version left behind by Mike Leach and refined by Fat Mark, the original idea has evolved so much that it’s now a package for some teams.  The irony is the best example of the Raid in 2010 being a play package probably is OU.  They’ve changed things up quite a bit over the years to cater to talents like Adrian Peterson but can still effectively no huddle an opponent in a snap if they decide to.   If you really want to get into it – look at Case Keenum and Kevin Sumlin’s offense at Houston.  They’ve taken the best parts of the OU hybrid (with an Jenkins-era run n’ shoot receiver at OC), mixed in motion from a bunch of 4.3 40 wideouts jet sweeping and sluggoing you to death, and snap the ball every play when the whistle blows.

Mike Leach’s ideal vision was calling six plays repeatedly out of forty different formations and dreaming of going a full season without running the ball.  Huge line splits and calling “mesh” six straight times allowed Tech to go downfield 62 yards in 1:28 to knock off #1 UT a couple of seasons ago.  Leach’s style and attitude toward his offense fits his personality.  He’d see if a play worked, regardless of coverage, and put a check next to it.  Then he would try another one, and check or cross it off.  Then he’d set off with his improved game plan and try to extend the offense’s number of snaps over a game.  They did run a little more hurry up if the clock didn’t stop but it wasn’t a true hurry up no huddle spread.  He wasn’t going to adjust to beat you – he was more into finding something that worked and then dare a defense to try and shut it down.

Brown’s version is going to look much more like the Houston version than the one seen the past few years in Lubbock.  Every skill position player has a wristband and every play is called from the sideline.  They try and snap the ball within five seconds of the whistle. They’ll run less sets with more plays and try to catch you out of position.  Leach likes shallow crossing routes and spacing the field – Brown likes to burn out corners and runs his guys all over the place.  They’ll run the ball, too – I don’t think Tech has the personnel yet to do it effectively, but can you imagine a no huddle run-first offense?  If it’s clicking and the OL is dominating the front seven on D, damn right Brown will do it.  Troy ran the ball 49 times against MTSU and 45 against UNT, both wins with over 250 yards of rushing offense.

This was a quote from Chris at Smart Football when I asked him to characterize the two: “The Troy offense is a nice contrast: instead of trying to get in the right play, with the right route, and the right concept on each down and constantly getting completions, the theory is more like what Gus Malzahn does at Auburn: come at the opponent fast and furious, use your plays (which are good plays), and force them into mistakes. Leach’s is more probing: find your weaknesses, get in a good play, and keep making you pay.”

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Posted August 23rd, 2010 by Jack
Filed under: Feature, Football

Literally.  Since there’s some sort of footsie being played between the conference and BYU, I assume the LDS Board of Apostles is thinking they’ll get invited in a couple of years.  Maybe we ask for a ton of money as a buy in since we know they have it out there in Provo.  There’s probably a Scrooge McDuck vault under the Temple.  But what about the other spot?  I’ve thrown this idea out to a few other Orangebloods and the best I can say is that nobody hates it.

The University of Memphis.

A couple of months ago, around the Big 12 Missile Crisis, the CEO of FedEx said something along the lines of his Memphis based company being able to give ten million dollars a year to whichever BCS conference would take those sad little Tigers out of C-USA.  The Dirty Dozen has a spot and those cash-deprived Aggies dying for their share of the Colorado / Nebraska buyout money can be satisfied.  And frankly, why does Texas care?  Memphis is a Southwest flight away from Austin.  Sure, it lacks the granola flavor of Boulder or the midwestern charm of Lincoln.  It makes up for that in ease of travel and one of those big checks every year.  We’d only see them every other year – think about how long we’ve put up with Iowa State.  I know that a lineup of BYU, Memphis, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, and Mizzou doesn’t really excite anyone on the gridiron, but what other options that pay the conference ten million are out there?

TCU?  I’ve championed them for a while because it would weaken Tech, A&M, Baylor, and Oklahoma State significantly just being in Fort Worth.  I have to exclude Norman for being the only habitable town in the state and Austin is still Austin.  Line up Fort Worth against College Station, Lubbock, Stillwater, and Waco – it’s not even close.  Their annual home game against UT or OU could go into Jerry’s Death Star in Arlington.  We’re fully aware what they can do in baseball and the city would finally own them with BCS conference membership – just to have either UT or OU in town twice a year, really.  They’d join up so fast our heads would spin since BYU just ditched them and their crummy league.  I bet even a Horned Frog would rather go to Ames (or Memphis) than Fresno or Boise.  Really though, I don’t know what value they bring that Texas doesn’t have already.  It just sounds good.

Memphis makes sense.  Fork over the check and we’ll use the Kansas excuse that’s come in handy over the years – we’ll put up with your terrible pre-Mangino era football teams for basketball superpowers.  For that matter, why the heck would we want two stud programs joining up?  The NCAA isn’t going to take the Big 12’s BCS autobid.  If this really is the Longhorn Athletic Conference like so many say, adding two bleh teams for the money when the default title game is in October every year is important.  Texas sells out wherever the Horns go, and if we’re talking TV sets, Memphis plus most of Utah is about as close to replacing Denver and Nebraska as we’ll get. Talk about sticking a thumb in the eye of those Rocky Tops – stealing their TV’s and recruits by adding poor little Memphis to the big time.  It would screw up Arkansas, too, and that never stops being entertaining.

This could be fun!  C’mon, we’ve got starving Aggies to feed!

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Posted August 21st, 2010 by Jack
Filed under: Feature, Football

I know a lot of us burnt orange types are scoffing those little upstarts in Boise right now for being ranked ahead of Texas.  They play in the WAC, which might as well be the Sun Belt of the West Coast.  Well, they’re bringing back 20 starters from a team that beat TCU last season – no small feat, except that those Frogs came out of a weak-sister conference as well. I think anytime a team has gone 26-1 over the last two seasons and returns that many guys NOT placing them in the top 10 is criminal.  I’d be more alarmed at Florida losing Saint Tim and being ranked ahead of UT (they’re 4th, the Horns are 5th) than Boise’s AP ranking.

Bringing back 20 starters from an undefeated BCS win season is unreal.  I can’t bring twenty out of twenty-two socks back from the dryer, yet the Smurf Turf crew is loaded.  Heck, the one guy on defense they lost – Kyle Wilson – is probably going to start at corner for the Jets unless they get the Revis situation under control. Boise State has a little left-handed Major clone with the unfortunate name of Kellen Moore.  If he was in Lubbock last season, he would have worn a practice jersey with “Brock” or “Rusty” on the back.  This kid has lost one game over the past two seasons – some 3rd rate bowl in San Francisco to TCU, later avenged – and put up 39 TD’s to 3 picks in 2009.  I don’t care if he’s playing East Dillon 14 times a year – that’s impressive.  I can’t even do that on varsity mode on NCAA 10 with Colt and Ship.

Most Longhorn fans I know think Boise and remember a bunch of trick plays, a marriage proposal to a cheerleader, a dumbfounded Bob Stoops, and a night in January five years ago where they were every UT diehard on the planet’s second favorite team.  They do have some games this year that don’t involve weak conference play – opening at Virginia Tech and then having Oregon State coming to town two weeks later.  If they win both of those and run the table they can go to the championship game for all I care.  The David versus Goliath matchup against someone like Bama, Ohio State, or even UT will be compelling television and a probable mismatch.  Beating two loss OU was magical, sure.  These guys want to play with the grown-ups now, and they’ll be treated as such when the time comes.  I don’t think they’re the third best team in college football, but they can take a #3 ranking in the preseason when we’re comparing stats, past performances, and predicting the future.  Why not?  The paper is all there – starters returning, 09 won-loss record, and a favorable schedule.

Is it fair that they’ll play one, maybe two (if the Beavers knock off the Frogs in Jerryworld week one) ranked teams all year and Texas has a four game stretch with Tech, UCLA, OU, and Nebraska?  Hell no it isn’t.  There’s a very real chance we get to cheer on the BCS computers after the Horns go to Lincoln and win and the Broncos get San Jose State at home the same night.  The only real injustice a #3 preseason ranking does is if it results in shutting an undefeated BCS team out of the championship game.  If that happens, I’ll get back on my soapbox and whine.

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