Texas football progresses under coach Steve Sarkisian in 2nd year
While I’ve got you, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. From the bark of Sark. Texas’ Steve Sarkisian is getting more fiery by the minute, which is good. He was a bit Nick Sabanish on Monday when asked which quarterback was taking first-team snaps and he replied: “That’s for me.” It’s the first time he hasn’t been more candid about injured players. He was unresponsive to criticism and did not point fingers, save for a mild rebuke on Saturday night when he reminded us reporters that none of us or the national media had given Texas a chance. Of course, he’s right about that. None of us did. But I don’t really agree with the feeling that many losing coaches get when Sarkisian said: “I really didn’t think we lost. We just ran out of time. It’s right up there with Tom Herman constantly saying, “Winning is hard.” The 20-19 loss to Alabama was probably the best loss in school history since the Longhorns went from unranked to No. 21 in the AP Top 25. I had them at No. 20 on my ballot. UTSA will be far from easy on Saturday evening.
2. Could Jimbo Fisher be in trouble? Definitely not, but are Aggies fans a little tired that in fifth year he didn’t win more than nine wins in a season and upset Alabama last year, given the spectacular recruiting classes he brought? He better get it right ASAP or A&M will drill another oil well and buy it back. Of course, they won’t be doing it anytime soon, but it would cost around $81 million since last year they extended his contract to 10 years at $9 million apiece. … Doesn’t Fisher need to watch quarterback Max Johnson or even rookie Conner Weigman against Miami, where former Longhorn Rod Wright coaches the D line? I have to think Jimbo is looking to Johnson, the LSU transfer. Haynes King may not be the guy. But the offensive line wasn’t up to snuff either, although they did get center Bryce Foster, who was out two games with mono. … Appalachian State, which topped the Aggies despite a tight margin and held them to 186 yards and an offensive TD, is a damn good football program, even with just 13 three-star rookies. It’s about coaching them. There’s no shame in losing to the Mountaineers, but getting mauled by them at home is a whole other thing. Now, App State is also stealing a “College GameDay” appearance from A&M. Should make screaming leaders think twice before smearing their opponent as “college hillbilly” and wondering if their players can even read.
3. Is Nebraska a good job? I’m not sure of it. The days when the Cornhuskers entered school Prop 48 athletes who were academic hazards, attracted a million talented extras from the Midwest, tapped into the state of Texas with its presence in the Big 12, and was a place of destination for recruits is long gone. before the last 20 years where every game is on TV. Nebraska, which has had losing seasons in six of the last seven years, should never have aimed for the Big 12 for the Big Ten, where it has no natural rivalries and is an underdog. … If I’m Huskers athletic director Trev Alberts, I’d try to hire Chris Klieman from Kansas State as soon as possible. (That was my crazy prediction back in June.) If Klieman says no, I’d go after Kansas’ Lance Leipold, whose Jayhawks are 2-0 after beating West Virginia in overtime. Both are damn good coaches, used to winning off the beaten track, and could restore Nebraska football. If the two said no, that might be a tough sell for a proven and established coach, because Nebraska will never be Nebraska again, at least not as powerful as they used to be. Gary Patterson, Sarkisian’s special assistant, would be a great choice, but I doubt he’ll take it. He did not respond to a message. … Should we start calling the Sun Belt a Power Six league since that league has had huge wins over Notre Dame, Nebraska and A&M?
4. Lay eyes on the SEC. Greg Sankey didn’t share many ideas about when Texas and Oklahoma will join the SEC because it’s beyond his control. In the face of all the criticism the SEC and the Big Ten have received for expanding and endangering other conferences, the SEC commissioner said, “We are restoring rivalries. Like Texas-A&M. Oklahoma-A&M. Texas-Arkansas. Oklahoma and Missouri also played when they were in the Big Eight. The question is, do (the rivalries) happen every year? … Texas and OU athletic directors have been invited to a few SEC meetings, but can’t vote yet. … Sankey said a pod system with groups of four teams each in the eventual 16-team SEC hasn’t been mentioned in a while. “We focused on the individual divisions and then the number of games as a question and how you format the number of games,” Sankey said. “Pods haven’t been on the table for many, many months. Divisions float there, but the focus has been on a single-division format. … When I asked him if he felt any momentum for a nine-game SEC schedule, he replied, “I don’t suppose. When we vote, we will know. … Regarding the 12-team College Football Playoff, Sankey said, “I think the balls can stay on a high level.” He called the idea of a $2.2 billion a year salary from the playoffs “not our reality.” He approves of the importance of bowl games rather than having higher ranked teams put on a playoff game. And when could the 12-team field arrive? “Hope isn’t a word I’ve been using when I go to CFP meetings for the past 12 months. But we have a healthy dialogue. He added that the timeline for Texas and OU to join the SEC and CFP are “unrelated issues. It’s also way too early to talk about moving the season (until August). But now there are games everywhere. Week Zero had a couple and maybe one in Ireland. Now they are everywhere.
5. Convo with Koy. Had a nice chat with Ted Koy, the last surviving member of this Texas backfield which included fullback Steve Worster, halfback Jim Bertelsen and quarterback James Street, whose bronze bust was one of the four UT National Championship-winning quarterbacks who were unveiled in the South West Square of Gate 1 of the Royal-Memorial Stadium. Koy said three or four wagons of teammates from the 1969 and 1970 championship teams turned up for Worster’s funeral. “Steve was as tough as he could be,” Koy said. “Steve was all about the team.” Before Darrell Royal and Emory Bellard created the triangle in 1969, running backs all feared being benched. “One of us was going to sit on the bench,” Koy said. “Steve told me he was ready to go to Royal and say, ‘Put me on defense. I just want to play.’ He would have been a devilish linebacker. … Finally, Koy recalled one of the most violent drills he had ever seen when defensive end Bill Atessis collided with Worster. “He not only broke Steve’s face mask, but also his nose. The blood just flowed from his face. He said to me, ‘At least I’m going to come out of this exercise completely blank.’ Well Coach Royal called a coach to look at it and then told the manager to go get Steve a new helmet. Steve never missed a rotation in the exercise. It was harder than fingernails.
6. Saint Calipari. I’m starting to wonder if Kentucky is the second best team in the SEC after Georgia. Credit Mark Stoops with making the Wildcats a tough, physical team and – dare we say it – a school of football. Don’t tell John Calipari. They took him to the Gators after Florida knocked out Utah.
7. Are the Cowboys already finished? Probably, with Dak Prescott’s thumb surgery and the state of Dallas’ offensive line and receiver corps. I still can’t believe they let Cedrick Wilson get away. I would go hard after Jimmy Garoppolo because Prescott might not be Prescott all season. The 49ers backup has a 33-14 record. Jerry Jones could also “hire” an experienced quarterback like Nick Foles or Andy Dalton for a low draft pick to bide his time until Prescott heals. … Could you believe Broncos head coach Nathaniel Hackett’s horrible time management, losing a late timeout on a fourth-and-5 and trying a 64-yard field goal from Brandon McManus, which was 1 for 7 on attempts beyond 60 yards in his career? …Tell me again why the Packers didn’t go all-in with Aaron Rodgers in the last few years of his career and signed receivers like Allen Robinson, DK Metcalf, Robert Woods or Julio Jones, to name a few- one during the offseason. I guess Rodgers’ head is going to explode in a game before October. … Good to see ex-Texas Devin Duvernay find the end zone twice for the Ravens. … Are Justin Jefferson, Josh Allen, Pat Mahomes or Stefon Diggs the best players in the league?
8. Scattered shot. While wondering what happened to former Longhorns receiver Sloan Thomas, who was UTSA’s development coordinator. … Last week’s target, former Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells, works as an analyst for Oklahoma.
9. On the sofa. I’m not a fan of horror movies, but my kids convinced me to watch “Black Phone”. He had a lot of potential and some really scary moments but disappointed in the end. I gave him six ducks.
Crazy prediction: Quinn Ewers will be back for the Oklahoma game.