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Bohls: A burnt orange weekend

By Kirk Bohls - American-Statesman Staff



While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:

1. Texas looked helpless in basketball against Oklahoma in yet another road loss, but the school had a huge weekend, winning three Big 12 titles in taking the women’s track and field indoor championship and sweeping the men’s and women’s swimming and diving titles. Combined with the volleyball championship in the fall, this gives the Longhorns four league titles in nine sports so far. Don’t forget, Texas played for the Big 12 football title on the last day of the season and was tied 3-3 with Baylor at halftime. Nice that men’s swim coach Eddie Reese has finally atoned for that second-place finish to SMU in his first year on the job and won the last 35 league titles in a row. And the softball team swept five games in the Texas Invitational behind sophomore masher Lindsey Stephens, who hit .706 with 10 RBI. Also, the baseball team won all three of its games at the Houston College Classic behind a pitching staff that had an 0.67 ERA to offset a .233 team batting average. Only C.J Hinojosa (.400) and defensive star Kacy Clemens (.364) hit above .222.

2. If Phil Bennett had the first pick of the NFL draft in May, there’s no doubt whom he’d take. “To me, it’s no question,” the Baylor defensive coordinator told me. “I’m a production guy. I’m taking Johnny Manziel. Johnny’s not the prototype quarterback, but he wasn’t the prototype quarterback in high school either. Look at Drew Brees. Nobody in Texas wanted him out of high school except Purdue. Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas said Manziel “made plays in college, and it’s all about making plays. Plus, he’ll have a chip on his shoulder and will try to prove people wrong.” … Bennett has some reservations about Blake Bortles and said 160 of the 301 passing yards the Central Florida quarterback had against the Bears in the Fiesta Bowl came on bubble screens behind the line of scrimmage. But he likes Bortles’ strength and effective running ability.

3. Despite giving up 52 points in the Fiesta Bowl, Bennett expects big things from his defense in 2014 and said he really loses only four starters, not seven, because he played backup defensive ends and safeties more than half a game since Baylor had such big leads. He also is very high on 6-2, 235-pound senior linebacker Bryce Hager. “He’s going to be a first-round draft pick,” Bennett said. “He missed our last five games with a torn abdomen and abductor muscle, but he can run a 4.5 (in the) 40.”

4. Thurman Thomas may have been inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame last week, but didn’t win a whole lot of friends. The Pro Football Hall of Fame running back from Willowridge trashed both Texas’ Fred Akers and Texas A&M’s Jackie Sherrill for recruiting him to play defensive back, something Akers denied Sunday. Thomas went so far as to name all four running backs on both the Longhorns and Aggies roster at the time, then arrogantly told the audience, “Who? And they were set?” Asked if he wanted Thomas to play defensive back, Akers said, “No, not unless he wanted to. He was a heckuva player.” Thomas also questioned the credentials of then-UT back Edwin Simmons, the best running back specimen I ever saw and, according to Akers, “the only one we had who could have ended up being a close second to Earl Campbell.” Thomas also during his acceptance speech asked if Akers was in the TSHOF and said he hoped not. Akers is not, but I’ve been pushing his induction for years and will keep doing so because he won 73 percent of his games and twice was on the lip of national titles.

5. Texas is trying to schedule a basketball game in China, probably as the 2015 season-opener against Washington, although neither school has signed off on it. It’s still in the talking stages, but the Longhorns would spend up to six days there, touring and providing clinics. … Connor Lammert made the All-Big 12 academic first team while Javan Felix, Demarcus Holland and Prince Ibeh are on the second team, impressive since freshmen aren’t eligible.

6. Drayton McLane’s group just purchased the rights to Texas Football Magazine and plans to extend its brand digitally and through television and radio to “make it a 365-day brand.” The legendary Dave Campbell founded the magazine 54 years ago. The former Houston Astros owner, who guesses he’s seen 3,000 MLB games, misses his involvement with baseball. “I miss the competition, the intrigue of the game,” he said. Asked if he thinks MLB commissioner Bud Selig will really retire next January, McLane said, “We’ll see.”

7. Don Trull says he still gets asked about his Baylor team’s 7-0 loss to eventual national-champion Texas in 1963. “If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked, I’d be a millionaire,” the quarterback said. “I’ve probably made 200 calls for the Bear Foundation, and every third call was about that game.” He said Texas quarterback Duke Carlisle, who was put in at safety for that one play on a whim by Darrell Royal and made the key interception in the back of the end zone, “made a helluva play. I didn’t even know he was in the game, but I certainly know now.”

8. Did you know three sons of former Texas quarterbacks are living together in Los Angeles and trying to make it big in Hollywood? Coy Aune, son of Jon Aune, is trying his hand at producing and has assisted acclaimed producer Peter Berg on several projects while Hays McEachern, the Oklahoma backup quarterback and son of 1977 Texas quarterback Randy McEachern, and former baseball player Juston Street, whose father was James Street, have made some commercials and print ads. Juston will play a widower who meets a mermaid in “Kingdom By the Sea.” Hays had a role in the comedy “Flashbangers.” Says Randy, “Like quarterbacks, they must like the up-and-down life. One day you’re a star, and the next day you’re on the bottom.” Randy also said he likes Charlie Strong’s “very stern, very demanding style.”

9. Loved “Three Days to Kill” because it showed Kevin Costner can stretch himself. Great suspense and better character development. Hailee Steinfeld, who had her breakout role in “True Grit” and plays Costner’s daughter in this movie, is a budding star in the making. Gave it 7 1/2 ducks.

10. Crazy prediction: Two Big 12 basketball teams will go further than Kansas in the NCAA Tournament.

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