While I gotcha, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. Shaka Smart doesn’t want one-and-dones. Check that. He doesn’t want all one-and-dones. He’ll take some. He just doesn’t want a roster full of them. The third-year Texas basketball coach has had one so far in center Jarrett Allen, who stayed one season before being drafted by the Brooklyn Nets last June, and he will almost certainly have another in freshman center Mo Bamba, already projected as a lottery pick in 2018. “If you look at the best teams in college basketball, there’s always at least some level of experience, even with Kentucky’s best teams,” Smart said. “Obviously they have phenomenal freshmen, but also on those teams there have been a couple or three guys who have experience. It’s dangerous to try to be like them. For us, I’m excited about us moving to the point that we have more and more upperclassmen leadership guys who understand what we’re about, who understand our culture and take the bull by the horns to drive that culture every day.” Translation: give Shaka one or two one-and-done players and a bunch of solid, dedicated program guys. John Calipari can get away with recruiting only off the top shelf, but even his lone Wildcats NCAA title team in 2012, which had freshmen Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, also started sophomores Terrence Jones (who later played for the Rockets) and Doron Lamb and had senior Darius Miller as a valuable sixth man. Going back to his first season in Lexington in 2009-10, Calipari’s had 22 first-round NBA draft picks but just the one title.
2. Baker Mayfield is starting to look like a deserving lock for the Heisman Trophy. I’m not sure what could knock him off as the frontrunner for the award. In fact, I’m not sure anyone other than Stanford’s terrific running back Bryce Love is even in the conversation at this point. What’s interesting is if Mayfield wins the Heisman, he’ll become the third quarterback from Central Texas to win the Heisman in the past seven seasons and the third one who was lightly recruited. Mayfield walked on at Texas Tech and then at Oklahoma. Johnny Manziel, the 2012 winner, was recruited by Texas A&M and Oregon. Baylor’s Robert Griffin III was recruited as a quarterback by the Bears and Houston’s Art Briles. The Longhorns didn’t recruit a single one as a quarterback. Is there a better walk-on in college football history than the former Lake Travis star?
3. I’m not sure the Columbus Crew will be able to work out details with the University of Texas if the MLS franchise moves to Austin and needs a temporary stadium home for a season or two. Allowing the Crew to use Myers Stadium could be problematic because Longhorns soccer and track and field coaches have concerns about their locker rooms; the facility is used by tons of student-athletes; and the parking lot just south of Myers has been designated as the likely site of a new basketball arena once the Erwin Center is razed in the next five years. “As previously stated, we have no opposition to exploring possible collaborative opportunities with the MLS,” said Texas men’s athletic director Mike Perrin. “However, my first priority is to our 400-plus student-athletes. The idea of the MLS using Mike A. Myers Stadium creates significant logistical issues that would impact roughly 25 percent of our student-athletes who use that facility on a daily basis. There are a lot of dynamics at play to consider.”
4. Is this the worst NFL season you can remember? Any great teams? Four current division leaders had losing records last season and a fifth (Minnesota) finished 8-8. The four out front after their 2016 struggles: Jacksonville (3-13), Philadelphia (7-9), New Orleans (7-9) and the Los Angeles Rams (4-12).
5. Jerry Jones is getting his comeuppance. Just months after he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his Cowboys have lost their star running back to a suspension, and Jones is being taken to task by his fellow NFL owners for threatening to sue the league and other owners. He’s also been removed as an ad hoc member of the competition committee that is considering an extension of commissioner Roger Goodell’s contract. Still, Jerry has several good points. The owners have almost 18 months before Goodell’s contract expires. Why not more fully evaluate him? Does anyone like or approve of Goodell any more? Don’t players detest Goodell? Cedric Golden, Danny Davis and I were knocking around potential candidates the NFL could consider as a replacement: Steve Young; Herm Edwards; ESPN chief Bob Iger; Bill Polian; Condi Rice; Jimmy Johnson. Just kidding about Jimmy, Jerry.
6. Pretty rotten year for the football teams in Texas. Of the 12 FBS teams, six have losing records or are at .500, and three more have all won six games this season. Seven of the 12 teams are fifth or worse in their respective divisions or conferences. An outstanding TCU team (8-2) and Houston (6-3) are in second place in their conferences or divisions, but when North Texas is the lone Lone Star State football program in first place, something’s wrong. Salute to the Eagles and their 7-3 record, but UTEP is winless, and Baylor and Rice have single victories. Oh, and the Cowboys (5-4) and Texans (3-6) appear doomed to mediocrity as well. The Cowboys lost their running back star, and the Texans lost their franchise quarterback. All FBS teams in our state are a combined 52-66. At least, we can claim the World Series champion.
7. It will be interesting to see how much stock the College Football Playoff committee places on strength of schedule and opponents’ records. For instance, Clemson has a 12th-ranked strength of schedule and a 3-0 record against teams ranked by the CFP. Oklahoma’s schedule is rated only 49th with a 50-50 combined record for its opponents, but the Sooners have a 3-1 mark versus CFP top teams and may be the hottest team in the country. Then there’s unbeaten Wisconsin with a 62nd SOS and a 45-55 record for its opponents.
8. Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to former Longhorns wide receiver Lovell Pinckney.
9. “Thank You for Your Service” is a powerful, moving film about post-traumatic stress disorder and the lives of the military after they return from war. Miles Teller did a superb, under-stated job in the lead role. Gave it eight ducks.
10. Crazy prediction: Kansas will not win the Big 12 men’s basketball title.
BOHLS, GOLDEN PODCAST
Catch columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden during their weekly “On Second Thought” podcasts, which pop up on Thursdays. This week’s guest is American-Statesman writer Rick Cantu, who’ll talk about the high school playoffs.
HOW CRAZY WAS HE?
Looking back at Kirk’s crazy prediction from Nov. 16, 2016 — that Tony Romo would finish his career with the Denver Broncos. That didn’t happen. Though he has called a Broncos game this season from his CBS broadcast booth.