Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Athletic Director

The deed is done.  Effective September 15, 2015, Steve Patterson is no longer the Men’s athletic director at The University of Texas.  And it only took one flyover banner.  I wouldn’t be surprised if former Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis thought he got off easy.
In an email to Texas faculty, students and staff, Greg Fenves, President of the University of Texas noted:
"Steve brought important ideas and changes to our athletics program, and I appreciate the good things he accomplished in his time at UT. I wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Patterson was on the job just 22 months, and by the end, it seems his social shortcomings far outweighed any positive impacts he made during his stay. 

When Steve Patterson replaced DeLoss Dodds after a 22 year tenure, it was time for some new blood. Fans were clamoring for coaching changes as both the football and basketball programs were in a bit of a slump.  Patterson, hired out of Arizona State and of corporate sports marketing fame, was somewhat of an unlikely choice to fans, who considered Texas alumnus Oliver Luck of West Virginia the more attractive choice.  Still, Patterson, a UT undergrad and law school graduate pledged to do right by the University, and the journey began.
One of the ways he was going to do right by the university?  Revamp the coaching staff for the football, and basketball programs.  Patterson executed this plan by replacing football coach Mack Brown with Charlie Strong and basketball coach Rick Barnes with Shaka Smart.  While the removal of both of these coaches was well in progress by the time Patterson took the job in November of 2013, it doesn’t take away from what I believe to be great hires for the University.  Good, solid moves.

Unfortunately, the execution of these decisions shines as an example of one of Patterson’s major flaws:  his own personal branding.  Those close to Patterson and the program admit that Patterson struggles to stay ahead of his messaging by communicating honestly and openly, often trying to duck accountability and choosing not to foster relationships with high profile donors.
One of the main complaints against Patterson was that he appeared arrogant.  Which is so ironic, because if you can show me a Texas fan who hasn’t been accused of being arrogant, then I’ll show you some oceanfront property in Arizona I’m looking to sell. To the point, DeLoss Dodds was often arrogant, having most famously responded to the question of “are you trying to keep up with the Joneses?” in respect to collegiate athletics with the response “No.  We are the Joneses.”   But Dodds was sitting atop an empire of dominance in revenue, facilities and athletic competition.  And Dodds’ arrogance, for the most part, wasn’t directed at donors, faculty and students, and the fans in the way Steve Patterson’s appeared to be.  There’s a difference between being the proud, confident face of Longhorn Athletics and being inaccessible and defensive

The absolute bumbling and amateur theatrics surrounding the Rick Barnes “resignation” was embarrassing for everyone involved and highlighted Patterson’s inability to manage people or his messaging.  Prior to his 18th season as basketball head coach, Barnes chose not to bend to Patterson, who had laid down an ultimatum for the coach to either make sweeping changes across his coaching staff or clean out his locker.  Barnes chose the latter.  Then, according to reports, Patterson leaked to the media in Austin that Barnes was out.  Many speculated that Patterson wanted to embarrass Barnes, who had voiced opposition to Patterson’s “globalization initiative” program, which as it stood would have his student athletes away from campus for a multiple week stretch just before finals.
In fact, Patterson’s obsession with going global seemed to be a major point of contention during his term.  According to The Sporting News, when members of the Basketball staff expressed concern over the stress that opening the 2015-16 season in China would cause for the program, Patterson put those oft spoken of people skills to good use by replying with two words “We’re going.”   Patterson’s motives for this obsession are not clearly known.  While the claim is that the University can gain exposure to future students (currently about 12% of Texas undergrads are from foreign countries), I don’t buy it. 

Patterson, for some reason, has never tried to hide his fan-boy feelings for Pac 12 commissioner Larry Scott, and the move for the China season opener against the University of Washington almost comes off as a strange ploy to win the approval Scott, who launched the Pac 12 Globalization Initiative in 2011.   I don’t know what to make of the relationship, but it’s slightly embarrassing when your Athletic Director seems to be following around the Commissioner of another conference like a puppy. 
“Larry Scott wants to play a basketball game in China….I will make sure it is my team.”

“Larry Scott wants to play a football game in Mexico.  I want to do that too.”
Then there’s Dubai.  I won’t lay Patterson’s infatuation with Dubai on Larry Scott…instead I think it is fueled by Patterson’s other loves: Money, power and ping pong.  Wait, what?

Patterson recently sent a full-on entourage to Dubai to check things out.  The crew, consisting of Mack & Sally Brown, David Thomas, Ricky Brown and Mrs. Steve Patterson (aka Yasmin) went on a “football-related trip meant to explore future possibilities for Texas athletics” in April of this year, according to the Austin American Statesman.  Why?  Who knows.  Not Steve Patterson, who in the span of one press conference made several unrelated and strange statements regarding his globalization goals:
“It's [Dubai] also the country that paid Tiger Woods $2 million and skip the Phoenix Open each year,” Patterson said. “What does that mean with what we might do with a golf team?” (Money)
““Was anybody buying a Kobe Bryant T-shirt in China 40 years ago? No. Was anybody watching the NFL all over the planet 40 years ago? No. That's not about dollars and sense; it's the projection of our culture.”  (Brand Recognition)
“Forty-five years ago, China and the US were at war. What opened the door? Ping pong? The same people that are going what the heck are you doing in Dubai were the same people who said why are you playing ping pong in China?” (Ping Pong)
“If the entry path happens to be sports, great,” he said. “It's a de-politicized path that people can rally around similar to music, entertainment. When the Berlin Wall fell, half the reason was people wanted to buy jeans and Michael Jackson records.” (World Peace)
These ramblings represent a big part of the problem with Steve Patterson: how he manages his personal brand.   The fact that he’s never out ahead of his messaging painted him green – and people began to perceive that he cares about one thing and one thing only:  Money.

And it’s not just when he’s talking about Texas athletics on a global scale that Patterson’s message falls apart.  While the resignation of Rick Barnes makes it clear that there appears to be a disconnect between the coaches and Patterson, at least in that instance we can kind of overlook it - Barnes was perceived as already on the way out prior to Patterson’s arrival. 
On the football side, we can see an example of Patterson’s strange aloofness from his coaches by his refusal to settle or help settle the contract buyout lawsuit against Joe Wickline.   His refusal to drop $593,000 to square the suit away has been embarrassing for the university and the Big XII.  Because the University of Texas wasn’t specifically named in the suit, Patterson feels it isn’t their problem.  A shining example of how NOT to handle your relationships with coaches.  In a season where our football team and coaches certainly don’t need any distractions, this lawsuit dragging out is not helping.

An even more disturbing example of this disconnect was the complete meltdown that occurred between the AD and the tennis program – a situation where money, miscommunication and mistrust all collided. The Texas tennis facility, The Penick-Allison Complex, was demolished last June at the discretion of the University, not the athletic department.  To compensate, Former President Powers pledged $15 million of University (not athletic department) funding to build a new facility – a promise that current President Greg Fenves confirmed to still be the case.  Yet Steve Patterson has never given any indication that he understands this money exists, and has been insisting that the athletic department must pay for it themselves, and that funds must be raised to do so.   Why?   Who knows.  But women’s tennis coach Danielle McNamara resigned over it, assistant coach Fendick-McCain turned down a promotion and resigned over it, and several potential replacements also gave Patterson the ol’ Heisman when offered the position.  Amidst this, the women’s Athletic Director, Chris Plonsky, sent an announcement regarding the resignation that included the phrase "we are feverishly fund raising to ensure that our men's and women's teams benefit from this new facility within the time frame of construction plans (which are in the early stages)."  This caused Fenves to have to declare (again), that the facility had been funded prior to his time and remained funded. 
You may be asking yourself: what the hell did I just read?  Honestly, I have no idea.  I’ve read about this situation several times from several different sources and still have no idea what is happening.  The only thing of which I am sure, is that Steve Patterson wasn’t on the level, he completely lacked competent communication and damaged his reputation with several coaches and staff in Texas athletics in this fiasco.  And to what price?

Was Patterson using the tennis facility to exaggerate how much funding he was being required to raise?  I can understand he would need something to justify the huge increase in staff he’s acquired in order to help him raise those funds.   More incredible than the increase of 35+ employees in the department is the fact that several of the PR, sports information and communications staff remains vacant after Patterson fired 23 year veteran Director of Football Media John Bianco – giving him 5 minutes to access his computer and get out of Belmont.  Others staffers quickly followed suit, leaving a gaping hole in an area where Steve Patterson could definitely use more than a little support – Public Relations.
We’ve also heard rumors that Patterson and Coach Strong didn’t always see eye to eye.  Coach Strong notably fought to give his quality control coaches more competitive salaries (and by more completive, we’re talking about University of Texas coaches making 47% less than the next lowest paying Big XII School at that position, Kansas).  Patterson’s inability to bend cost the university 6 of those 8 coaches.

And it’s not just athletic coaches.  Dr. Rob Carnochan, who served as the Texas band director also left the university under Patterson’s watchful eye.   Carnochan felt he couldn’t ensure a great student experience for his band when faced with $250,000 in budget cuts in addition to a ‘membership’ fee being placed on student band members and less travel for the full band, even to in-state games.
So let’s just talk about the money and get it all out there.   We’ve all heard or felt it:  Patterson worships the almighty dollar.  It’s so engrained in us that when the concession stands in the upper deck at the home opener last week ran out of hot dogs before halftime, my immediate response was “Oh man, Steve Patterson is going to be pissed he missed out on all that hot dog money.”

In addition to (maybe, but probably not) having to raise $15 million dollars for the tennis facility, Patterson circulated a memo explaining that the rising costs to cover student athletes food, scholarships and stipends, etc. would total $2.55 million dollars over the previous year’s costs.   Being generous and assuming Patterson just wanted to break even, here’s my suggestion on where the $2.55 million could have come from:

$159,996 – 6 First class round trip tickets to Dubai
$92,970 – Food and hotel for six people for five nights in Dubai
$500,000 – Mack Brown’s 2015 Consultant Salary
$120,000 – One season of Jet-Pack Guy at the stadium
$95,000 – Study to determine that Texas Athletics make up 2.5% of Austin’s Tourist Economy
$899,177 – Unsold 2015 Season Tickets because people think Patterson is a Scrooge
$450,000 – Consultant paid to make games less enjoyable for the fans
$194,000 – Salaries of employees paid to help Patterson raise money
$2,560,963 – I did it!!

Okay, so I had to make up some of those numbers, but you get my point.  There are always ways to find money in a budget, a lesson everyone has learned at some point – usually when deciding if that last $20 should be spent on groceries or beer.
Instead Steve Patterson chose some of the following ways to recoup that money at the expense of the students, athletes, faculty and staff:

* Charging the remaining football season ticket holders a 21% average increase in tickets.
* Charging the season ticket holders for parking
* Charging tailgaters to pay for tailgating in areas that used to be free
* Making the band pay for their own football tickets, uniforms and practice gear
* Threatening to deny future tickets to season ticket holders who resell tickets (because if the athletic department doesn’t get the money, no one should).
* Cutting coaching ticket allotments
* Charging coaches to eat with their players (if they choose to eat with them more than 30 times)
* Charging Alumni and former letter winners to hang out on the field.
* Raising basketball tickets an average of 7%
* Increasing the cost of faculty and staff tickets over 150%
* Reducing budgets for baseball and basketball travel

The items on this list, as compared with other revenue sources are just laughable. The real money is generated by advertising, branding deals and sponsorships, which totaled roughly $35 million in 2014.  And you can bet Steve Patterson had his eye on a Nike deal comparable to the $169 million dollar payday Michigan just saw.  Texas also sees NCAA and Big XII distributions – about $24 million in 2015.

And there are other measures Patterson was willing to take to raise the bottom line.  Against former President Power’s wishes, Patterson took a bullying approach with Austin city officials in an effort to strong arm them into footing the bill for the replacement for the Frank Erwin Center.   There’s also the proceeds from the Longhorn Network that the athletic department splits 50/50 with the university to the tune of $7.5 each annually…for 20 years.  This particularly was a point of contention between Patterson and Powers – Patterson felt that the university didn’t deserve their half of the revenue.
And last of all, in 2015, in addition to $34 million in ticket sales, the athletic department took in around $30 million in “contributions”.   
Everyone, especially the students, faculty and fans of the University of Texas know what a cash cow (pardon the pun, Bevo) the athletic program at UT is.   We’re always at the top of the list for revenue generation.  Always.  For God’s sake, we fractured the Big XII in three simple words: The Longhorn Network. 
This “nickel and diming” of the fans, staff, students and everyday donors isn’t even a drop in the bucket compared to the revenue that’s being raked in annually, and EVERYONE KNOWS IT.   All it’s done is alienate Patterson from the masses, and make him look like a jerk.  I’m sorry, but there’s not a more sophisticated way to say it.
And all this might be okay, if Patterson was just a little better about managing his image.  For example:
* When raising season ticket prices by over a 20% average, don’t do creepy cartoon math to make it sound like it was an average 6% increase.  Everyone knows this is a lie, and it just makes them madder.  Just own it.
* When the Texas Tech tweet machine pops off that you’re charging their band to come play in Austin, get out there and throw the real truth down right away to shut everybody up – especially since this is an instance where you didn’t do anything sketchy
* Be nice to your alumni and letter holders.  When they have a reunion, don’t charge them to go take pictures on the field.  It makes you look like a chump.  Say this recoups $1,200 a weekend.  Are you kidding me?  You could have made that money up by having stocked 300 more hot dogs at the game last week. 
* Suck up to the donors.  I’m not talking donors like me.  I’m talking about donors who have buildings named after them.  Donors who contribute more money than I’ll make in a lifetime on the regular.  Everyone knows you are terrible at this, and it comes off like you think you’re better than everyone else.   If, when asked, if you think you’ve pissed off donors by being inaccessible and your answer is “I don’t know. Perhaps,” that is the wrong answer.  When I’m at work, I don’t want to suck up to my clients, but I do it anyway.   If you want to cut chartered jets for the basketball team budget, you can make it up to them by having three cocktails with a donor willing to loan you his jet to fly people around.  Need $15 million for a tennis facility?  (The answer is no, but let’s pretend you do).  I’ve heard there were a couple donors willing to fund that….but that you couldn’t be bothered to have lunch with them.
Everybody understands that the athletic program is a business.  It’s a revenue machine, it’s a beast.  I don’t know anyone who has a problem with it being run as such.  But the mere pennies being turned up by hassling the fan base is unnecessary, almost as if Patterson was intentionally trying to undo anything good he implemented in his tenure. 

Shaka Smart, Charlie Strong?   Good.  UT regent Tom Hicks, when speaking of the hiring of Coaches Strong and Smart noted “I think we'll get the benefit of that for many years, along with some of these long-term contracts with advertisers and sponsors. I'm just sorry for Steve that he won't be here to enjoy it. It's his own fault.”   Yikes. 

Beer sales at the events? Good (though probably also greedy, but who cares?!)
The donor tier system and the concierge for foundation members – good.  I’m on board.  It’s good for everything to be transparent, and nice to have a representative who knows you and gives you accurate information – that wasn’t always easy in the past. 
No re-entry policy?  Good.  I loved seeing a full stadium (well, as full as it was going to get) in the third quarter of the football game.

Too bad no one cares about any of those things.  All that will be remembered is the punchline that the University will let Patterson pack up his office, but that they’ll charge him per box to do it.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Rapist

I just finished reading the Texas Monthly article “Silence at Baylor”  about Bears via Boise State defensive end Sam Ukwuachu.  From the article, it sounds like this kid has at best a violently bad temper and at worst is a rapist and violent criminal.  

Disturbing is the fact that less than 90 days ago, Baylor DC Phil Bennett insinuated that Ukwuachu would be playing for the Bears in the fall – even though he knew full well that Ukwuachu had been accused of felony sexual assault to the extent that he was going to stand trial in Waco before the end of June.

Ukwuachu, who transferred to Baylor in the spring of 2013, was removed from the Boise State team for violence against a fellow lady student.  Boise State chose not to grant a waiver for Ukwuachu to be eligible to play in the 2013 season, citing they would not be supporting Sam in his athletic career moving forward.  He then was suspended for his first eligible season, 2014, for “some issues.”

Some issues?  Like the fact that he’s a rapist?  Gotcha. For God’s sake, Baylor paid for this particular rapist to go to school for two years (and graduate).

Yet, despite yesterday’s guilty verdict of second-degree sexual assault, I haven’t seen any mention of Ukwuachu being kicked off the team.  That seems like a no-brainer to me, and maybe it's implied.  Are we supposed to derive hidden meaning from this generic Title IX statement issued by Baylor after the verdict:

“Acts of sexual violence contradict every value Baylor University upholds as a caring Christian community. In recent years we have joined university efforts nationally to prevent campus violence against women and sexual assault, to actively support survivors of sexual assault with compassion and care, and to take action against perpetrators. We have established and fully staffed a Title IX office that employs a Title IX Coordinator and two full-time investigators. Maintaining a safe and caring community is central to Baylor’s mission and at the heart of our commitment to our students, faculty and staff.”

It sure doesn’t seem like sexual violence contradicts every value at Baylor, unless the university harbors different values than its football program.  Why has Ukwuachu remained on the team, allowed access to football facilities and been touted as on the 2015 roster when the University has known since October 20th of 2013 that he has been accused of sexual assault and more recently has had pending sexual assault charges against him?

Oh, because between October 20th, 2013 and August 17th, 2015, Baylor conducted their own “investigation” of the assault complaint and cleared him. This Deadspin article has the best summary and commentary I’ve run across. The investigation included reading text messages, interviewing the accused and the victim, interviewing a friend of the victim, looking at results of a polygraph taken by the accused, and interviewing the roommate of the accused. 

I left out the other parts of the investigation because…there weren’t any.  This unacceptable and shoddy investigation did have two points of interest.

One: The polygraph reviewed was commissioned by the accused independently, and the investigator was not present for it.  Which is not at all suspicious, in fact, it’s so legit that courts almost never allow them as admissible.  Oh, wait. 

Two: The roommate of the accused said he was home in bed at the time of the assault and heard nothing, but actually his cell phone records show that his phone was in a different part of town at that time.  I don’t know many college kids that are EVER five feet from their phone.  I’d give him the benefit of the doubt, but the roommate was so hesitant to testify in court that he had to have an ankle monitor fitted because he was in contempt of court for missing his grand jury summons.

It’s worth noting that the investigator did not bother to examine the results of the victim’s rape kit or speak with her psychologist.  Just saying.

Shame on the Waco Police Department, who’s shoddy at best handling of the assault and complaint delayed justice for this victim.  According to the Texas Monthly article:

“While Jane Doe went to the hospital immediately following her encounter with Ukwuachu and spoke with an officer there, detectives suspended the case after taking a report and investigating. But it wasn’t until months later that the details made their way to a prosecutor’s desk—and once they finally did, assistant district attorney Hilary Laborde found enough in the investigation to pursue felony sexual assault charges against Ukwuachu. The incident between Ukwuachu and Doe occurred on October 20, 2013, but he wasn’t indicted until June 25 of the following year.”

Shame on Baylor.  I guess the pressure to be the “One True Champion” has forced you to make some bad decisions in the ethics department.  I refuse to believe that the Baylor Program made frank and direct contact with the Boise State Program and was left with insufficient information to know that this kid is bad news.  If, indeed Boise State representatives refused to tell them why the player was released, it should have been clear that it was something pretty serious.  Red flags go up when Freshman All-Americans are cut from teams in a shroud of secrecy.  

Just for fun, I read news articles citing Ukwuachu's dismissal from 2013 and the comments sections were filled with innuendo and references as to why he was dismissed.  While it’s true that “the comments section” of a web article isn’t conclusive proof, it should have raised enough concern to be looked into.  I’m sure Baylor’s athletic department is filled with lackey employees who can spend a few hours doing some Google searches on a player you’re thinking of picking up.

Shame on Coach Briles, who now claims he knew nothing about Ukwuachu’s previous history with violence or why he was let go from the Boise State program. It’s no big secret I’m not a fan of Coach Briles, but honestly, short of a polygraph test, you will not be able to convince me he didn’t know what the deal was with this kid.  

And just to be clear, I’m not talking about an Ukwuachu commissioned polygraph.

Briles claims that when he spoke to then head coach Chris Peterson at Boise State about Ukwuachu, there was "No mention of anything beyond Sam being depressed and needing to come home [to Texas]," Briles said. "So that was our information. And that's what you go by."

In fact, according to The Washington Post, Coach Peterson said in a statement that "After Sam Ukwuachu was dismissed from the Boise State football program and expressed an interest in transferring to Baylor, I initiated a call with coach Art Briles. In that conversation, I thoroughly apprised Coach Briles of the circumstances surrounding Sam's disciplinary record and dismissal." 

But Briles still insists "No, No. That's not true.  Lord, no.  No, there's no truth.  Find out who informed us and talk to them, please."

Tsk Tsk...I know you're a Christian University, but I wouldn't bring God into this one, Arty.

If Peterson is lying, that’s a pretty bold faced one.  If I had to choose between Briles and Peterson in a truth competition, it would be no big surprise who I’d side with.

Also, am I supposed to believe that when the investigation into the allegations was conducted at Baylor that Coach Briles wasn't informed?  Well, I don't.  But if you do, I've got a ticket in the Longhorn's section of the National Championship game I can sell you. 

Sidebar: Noted rule follower, Texas Head Coach Charlie Strong weighed in on domestic violence this summer, purporting that much of the responsibility for players making it to the NFL despite having a history of violence against women, lies with the colleges.

“Part of the problem is, if we allow it to happen in college, when they make it to the NFL there is not much we can do because we have allowed it to happen,'" Strong said. "So now, their hands are tied. I look at it like this. Some of the things we allow to happen just baffle me. "There is no way a guy should hit a woman," he said. 

"There is no reason for it. If it happens, you need to find somewhere else to play. It isn't hard. Sometimes people think it's hard. You have values. Treat women with respect. No drugs. No weapons. How hard is that? I don't get it"

Coach Strong has kicked players off the team for much less than RAPE.  And he’s done it swiftly and mercilessly.  Like less than 24 hours after he finds out about a rule violation.  

Don't misunderstand me, I love it.  Also, loveable is the assertion that he "didn't kick them off the team."  Oh, Coach Turtleneck, I heart you: End Sidebar.

I love college football, I love my team, and I love our players.  But under no circumstance do I want my University to hide or conceal crimes or harbor criminals in the program hoping they can get away with it.  There’s no convincing me that Baylor wasn’t “trying to get away with it.”

I didn’t make the best decisions in college, but I can sure as shit promise you that I wasn’t raping people and expecting to get away with it.  (To be perfectly clear on that statement, I wasn’t raping people at all.) 

College athletes are under immense pressure to preform, and know full well that the four (or so) years they have on that field are nothing but a long and publicly scrutinized job interview for the NFL.   Is it impossible to not deal drugs, drive a boat stoned, shoplift crablegs, beat the hell out of women in bars, and rape women?  Just for four years?

The entitlement, lack of remorse and accountability that exists in college football programs is sickening.  Not only are players giving themselves a bad name, but the Universities they play for and their law-abiding teammates who are working hard to achieve their dreams as well.  Those players, the good ones, should be taking a stand against the teammates & administrations who let them down.  The behavior will only continue as long as it’s tolerated.  And rewarded.

To sum it all up, when referring to the outcome of the trial, Briles said it was "unfortunate for everybody concerned."

Certainly not unfortunate for the rapist who was convicted.  "Unfortunate" indicates you have befallen an unfavorable circumstance out of your control.

Not particularly unfortunate for Briles & the Baylor Administration. They are fortunate to rid their program and institution of a violent rapist.  Even if the price was to have been exposed for what they truly value. 

But it is unfortunate for the victim, who was raped, forced to re-arrange her schedule, forfeit her dream of playing soccer for Baylor, now suffers from PTSD and had justice dragged out just shy of two years.

All so Coach Briles and the Administration could protect their “values”

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The False Statement

Interesting read on regarding the Texas OU game.

“I've been on that side where I did let it get too big,” McCoy said. “In this game, it's one of those deals where you just can't turn the ball over. It's a rivalry game and, in this rivalry game, you have to decide it's OK to punt and kick field goals. We're going to take care of the ball and execute. You take care of the ball in rivalry games and the rest will play itself out.” 

No, it's not okay to kick field goals, not the was we're kicking them now.  Hush.

The Legends

I thought this article on, where legends give wisdom/advice to Charlie Strong on the Red River Shootout was pretty darn cool.

Some things I thought were interesting:

Barry Switzer, head coach, Oklahoma (1973-88): [The Longhorns] are playing [against] a program, in my estimation, that has a greater tradition than them. That's something that isn't easy for Texas to swallow. But all you got to do is check the records. Check the record book. Go back to the war. Don't give me this 1800s bulls---. Oklahoma has more national championships, won more games than they have. We're a step better.

...except when you play head to head?

Oklahoma vs Texas
 Texas          60
 Oklahoma    43
Ties             5

Billy Sims, RB, Oklahoma (1976-79): You can throw out the records. Both sides are going to come to play.

Case McCoy, QB, Texas (2010 - 13): Just talking about it gives me chills. There's really no words to describe it unless you can actually go experience it.

Derland Moore, DT, Oklahoma (1970-72): The hard hitting. The emotion. The lack of cheap shots. It's straight-up. Everyone hits you between the hashes. Texas is a very, very worthy opponent. I remember some teams we played would cheap-shot you. But Texas, nope, they're coming right at you. They're going to let you know they mean business.

Meeeeh...I will say a lot of calls aren't called....I've seen a lot of cheap shots (on both sides of the Red River) in my 16 Texas-OU games.

James Brown, QB, UT (1994-97): [Charlie Strong] He'll have many more. Don't get caught up in the venue or the long history of the Texas-OU rivalry. He needs to make his own history and he can start on that Saturday.


Tony Casillas: I would say to not to eat a lot beforehand.


And my favorite, the statement I think sums it up the best:

Derland Moore, DT, Oklahoma (1970-72): A lot of emotion. It's the greatest game in the world. There's nothing more exciting. Nothing riles the fans up more than this game. It's a classic. And it doesn't matter who's better. It matters who wants it the most.

The Bears

Prediction wise…I was right and wrong….for some reason I was convinced this game was in Waco.  Maybe it was wishful hoping…a drive from Waco to Dallas saves me a good 3-4 hours in the car as opposed to driving to Austin.   Regardless, we lost … as predicted.

Our defense played so well!   And according to this article, we’re not the only ones who think so. 
“He [Briles] said, 'This is the first time we've been shut down,'” Strong said. “I said, 'Well, I understand that, but I would have loved to have gotten that win.'”

(I’d like to take this time to say that everyone always talks about what a classy guy Coach Briles is.  After this game, I’m not so convinced.  I know our game play likely threw a wrench in his plans, but I didn’t care for his antics on the sidelines (or the field, rather) on Saturday.   Ironically, Gary Patterson and I might actually agree on something for the first time.

Those not at the game may not have noticed some of the strange things the Baylor coaching staff did this weekend.   For one, in what can only be described as an attempt to ice our offence, Coach Briles stepped onto the field and called a delay of game.  Which the refs totally went with…but more on that later.  In another instance, while refs discussed an on the field pass interference ruling, a Baylor Coach took the liberty of walking on the field, picking up the flag and handing it to the refs while still conferring.  What?!  Sideline warnings, and what appeared to be an amazing amount of coach to ref contact…I wasn't a fan.)

I digress.  I’m so pleased with our defense, holding Baylor to ZERO offensive touchdowns until halfway through the third quarter.  After that, the wheels popped off a little and we lost control.   And, unsurprisingly, our offense was not able to score. 

The saddest thing about that is this stat:
Total Yards:
Baylor – 389
Texas – 334

We controlled the ball six minutes longer than they did.   We drove the ball 99 yards in one drive, just to fumble and turn the ball over on the goal line.   Two interceptions.  There's clearly a lack of 

Penalties...though I wanted to shake John Harris for his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, we did well.   I think Baylor was feeling pressure like they hadn’t before, attributing to 10 penalties for 95 yards. 

The reffing was some of the most terrible I’ve ever seen.  Not bad calls, necessarily, I think those rarely change the outcome of a game.   It was mostly what I would call flat out incompetence.  

From the phantom false start they were trusting Art Briles on, to the 4th down stand they were determined to take away from us, I heard things on the ref microphone I’d never heard before.
“Holding, on the kicking team, half the distance to the goal”… excuse me?  “Oh, we meant receiving team.”  How about “the ruling on the field stands. Texas ball.”  Then they talked about it for 8 minutes, got back on the microphone and proclaimed “correction, it was 3rd down.”  Uh, yeah, one down ago?   I’ve asked people that watched the game on TV, and they’ve said that none of this was really discussed during the broadcast.  It’s hard to explain to people that weren’t there how TERRIBLE the officiating in that game was.

I’d like to know why Coach Strong thought our (at that time) 3-6 field goal kicker was capable of making a 32 yard field goal.   That blocked attempt lead to the only score of the quarter.  Kind of how I felt after Coach Strong made comments I didn’t agree with regarding the defense at the BYU game, I felt a little like he knew nothing about his team.  When they lined up to kick, the entire stadium sighed. 

All in all, we put up such a great defensive showing against Baylor, it’s hard to be too upset.  I am so proud of that side of the ball.  Hopefully we keep things tight and take advantage of the rain against OU.  And maybe this is the week that the offense (and special teams) get it together and come to play real ball.

The Jayhawks

In light of the Kansas game, I get to talk about one of my favorite things:  The Texas Defense.
Finally a shut-out!!  I mean, sure, a shut-out against Kansas is kind of like kissing your cousin, but in all honesty, I think our defense needed to be able to look at a game and see conclusive results of their hard work. 

Not only did the defense shut out the Jayhawks, but:

They did it on the road
They turned the ball over four times
They didn't allow a rush longer than 20 yards

I can’t say I was super concentrating when I watched this game, so I don’t have a ton to say.  I was at a sports bar and the game was being shown on a tiny TV in the corner…if it wasn’t hard enough to watch from that angle, the Texas A&M / Arkansas game was playing and I wanted very much for Arkansas to win.  It didn’t help that Fox Sports changed the channel of the game at the last minute and this was just a little too much for the TV Wrangler at the bar to comprehend.

Prediction wise, I was totally on point:

I’m loving when I can see John Harris or Jaxon Shipley connect on a nice pass, and we got to see that against Kansas.  Six receptions each, averaging just over 14 yards.  

I’m thrilled that three defenders had takeaways: Duke Thomas (had 2), Jordan Hicks and Quandre Diggs, who is one of my favorite players, all had interceptions.

I’m not exactly sold on our kicking game yet.  Nick Rose missed an extra point (no excuse!) and a 48 yard field goal.  While Rose did nail a 42 yard field goal, it was his career long and he is 3 for 6 this far in the season.  Maybe I’m spoiled after years of AMAZING kickers like Kris Stockton, Dusty Mangum, Justin Tucker, Ryan Bailey, and Hunter Lawrence.  Even Anthony Fera pulled it together for a great 2013.  

Unfortunately, in this time of darkness when the offense can’t necessarily score touchdowns, a kicker with a higher than 36.6 yard average is valued and preferred. 

Instead, we have the 162nd ranked kicker in FBS.  Out of 175.  I’m just saying.  That’s not going to get it done.

All that being said, I’m happy with our defense.  Even though we weren’t playing the greatest team, I hope the confidence has been boosted on all sides of the ball to give us a little momentum in the weeks ahead.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

The Bruins

Oh UCLA…I had such great hopes for beating you.  And my dream was so, so very attainable.  Until it wasn't.  Our dreams went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in a swing of 3:10 seconds.

With 4:17 seconds left in the game, Texas, up 17-13 recovered a fumble on the Texas 25.   The offense chose to completely waste this opportunity by spending 1:11 seconds on the field and going 3 and out.  UCLA promptly returned our punt 45 yards, and five seconds later, UCLA scored a passing TD pushing the score 20-17.

Texas, with three minutes left and the chance to win the game, chose again to completely waste a possession by showing another three and out for four whopping yards for one minute and ten seconds.  UCLA spent the next 1:50 running out the clock for the win.

I am convinced that if we are going to win any games, the defense will be required to score all of the points.  I am unimpressed by what our offense is attempting to do.

That being said, here are some things we did well:
No turnovers:  Good
Defense:  Good
Time of Possession: Good

That is all. 

Prediction wise, I was close...except we lost by just a little.  

I’d like to point out that many UCLA fans (also many Texas haters), as well as many media outlets have claimed the game was only so close because UCLA had to win the game with their back-up quarterback. 

Am I delusional?  Isn't Texas also playing with their back-up quarterback?  Whenever I point this out, I am met with scoffs.  Simply because the Swoopes name has been around Texas for so long, people forget that Tyrone took less than 20 snaps in 2013. 

Frankly though, Swoopes simply wasn't ready to play in 2013.  And IMHO, he’s not ready to play now.  Regardless, he’s our starting quarterback.  Considering the coaching staff doesn't appear to have plans to burn Jerrod Heard’s red-shirt, I can only assume he’s not ready to play either. 

Mediocrity at quarterback doesn't have to equal disaster, but bad on the field QB decision making will.

The Cougars

Well, BYU came and went.  While my prediction was wrong, I may not have been too off point on my points.

Most notably, we did nothing to contain Hill.  And the beast unleashed on us a wrath of 181 yards passing and 99 yards rushing. 

Below are some comments that Coach Strong made about the game that I can’t say I’m totally on board with: 

"We gave up 28 points in the third quarter, allowed their quarterback to think we went into this game saying that we were going to stop the quarterback from running the football and we did not allow that to happen," Strong said. "You can't do that if you think you're going to play great defense. It wouldn't ever happen. We've still got a ways to go.”

"It's the second ballgame," Strong said. "I don't know how much of a reality check, but the reality is we need to come prepared and play great defense if you want to go play and compete.

The score at halftime was BYU – 6, Texas – 0.  Going into the locker room, BYU was held to 2 field goals and no TD’s, offensive or otherwise. 

To me, it appeared that two teams went into the locker room and only one team made offensive adjustments.  That team was not Texas.  Unless you mean backward adjustments.  In the 3rd quarter, Texas had two straight drives with less than one yard gains…well, three if you count the fumble by Marcus Johnson on the kick return
The fourth quarter wasn’t much better.  Four drives:

5 snaps for 17 yards
3 and out for 17 yards
5 snaps for 11 yards
3 and out for 5 yards

It’s true, the defense did not contain Hill in the second half – but I would imagine the defense had trouble keeping up because they had been on the field 10 minutes longer than the offense.  A three and out offense doesn’t do much to keep our boys on defense rested.  Four turnovers doesn’t give the defense much time to prepare and adjust. 

Our defense wasn’t the problem in this game.  If the offense can’t stay on the field and make something happen, it’s going to be a long season with very few wins.