While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. To know Spike Dykes, you only need to know this. He once walked onto an airplane holding a chicken leg in his hand. That’s Spike. He died Monday and may have been the most unassuming, friendliest, genuine people I have ever met. When Spike did an in-home visit to Bart Reagor years ago, the defensive back’s mother had made fried chicken for the occasion. “When he came in, he took his shoes off, put his feet up on the coffee table and said, ‘I’m at home,’” Reagor recalled to the Lubbock Avalanche Journal. “I knew at that moment Texas Tech was going to be my home. He grabbed my heart. I wanted to be under the leadership of the one and only Spike Dykes.” It’s so tough to say goodbye to Spike, someone I’ve known and admired and respected for almost half a century. There’s not been a more grounded, authentic person in all of sports. … He loved his players. And he loved food. When university publicist Chris Cook came to Lubbock for his job interview years ago, he went to the athletic dining hall for lunch. “To see Spike was awe-inspiring,” Cook told me Tuesday. “But I immediately saw how down to earth he was. During lunch that day, Spike walked around the dining hall, patting athletes of all sports on the shoulders and talking to everyone. He did this with a chicken fry in his hand. Literally in his hand.”
2. Spike beat Texas and Texas A&M regularly in Lubbock. I’ll never forget him schooling John Mackovic, taking the wind instead of the ball at the coin toss and racing to a big first-quarter lead en route to a win. Spike was a West Texan at heart and personified Texas Tech. He connected with people and always saw the humor in life. … Spike once told me that wife Sharon had dropped a ham on the floor before a lunch with Texas Tech dignitaries, picked it up and served it anyway. When you worked for pennies as a high school coach as long as Spike did, you didn’t waste food. … He was old-school when it came to practice and once said about his short practices, “If you can’t get it done in 90 minutes, you can’t get it done.” … And lastly, one more food story. When soccer legend Mia Hamm was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame along with Spike in 2008, she said, “I learned something from Coach Dykes. Always eat dessert first so you don’t miss the tastiest part of the meal.” I loved Spike Dykes.
3. Got a private tour of SunTrust Park, the Atlanta Braves’ new home which will be christened officially with the home opener Friday. It will be the 29th different major-league stadium I’ve been to (not including five different venues for seven clubs). My youngest son, Zach, just took a job as the Braves’ mascot coordinator after working with the Sugarland Skeeters. Was blown away by some of the novelties like refrigerated cup-holders, LED lighting, Monuments Garden with a bigger-than-life bronze statue of Hank Aaron (my first bat growing up was a Hank Aaron model), food choices like pork butts, blackened catfish po’ boys, Asian noodles and dumplings, Hall of Fame plaques, water fountains a la Kauffman Stadium and a kid zone where youngsters can electronically compare their runs to first base and try to beat Braves players and then ride a zipline. Way cool.
4. I don’t grasp why players need to retire on the roster of the NFL or NBA or whatever team that they were most associated with in their careers if they finished elsewhere. So it’s even more puzzling to see Tony Romo suit up with the Mavericks and go through shooting drills and the layup lane in warmups, fully dressed out in an NBA uniform. What’s next? The Rangers suit him up? Heck, Tom Herman should invite him to put on a Longhorns uniform for Saturday’s spring game. Romo was a poor man’s Dan Marino with tons of yardage and guts and playing hurt without a Super Bowl on the résumé. The ever-humble Romo on Tuesday called accepting the Mavs’ offer “a no-brainer to say yes,” and added that he didn’t feel he deserved it. I hope this trend doesn’t catch on. He added, “I feel they’re all 7 feet tall out here. I look like a turtle out there next to these guys.”
5. Ben Crenshaw isn’t the least bit worried about Jordan Spieth’s psyche. “His expectations are way up there,” Crenshaw told me Monday. “He’s disappointed, but I have no reservations that he’ll be fine.” Crenshaw saw nothing technically wrong with Spieth’s golf swing at the Masters. “He’s like a racehorse. He wants to get at it so bad. Sometimes, he looks over-anxious and a little fidgety once in a while. I think he was trying so hard, but he finished beautifully (with birdies on three of the last four holes after the pressure was off). Maybe he was pressing a little bit.”
6. Newly crowned Masters champion Sergio Garcia may be in line for multiple majors now that he’s ended his drought of 73 championship starts without one. “It sure should make it easier for Sergio,” Crenshaw said. “He knows how to do it now. That great pressure is off. He’s entirely capable of having an extremely great year. I definitely see him contending in other majors, he’s playing so good. His ball-striking really shows up.”
7. Doesn’t Russell Westbrook have to be the MVP? Any player with 42 triple doubles deserves that honor. James Harden may throw out the fact his Rockets won more games, but if that’s the standard, Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs should be the MVP.
8. I’m with Maryland president Wallace Loh in spirit. He thinks North Carolina deserves the death penalty for its academic fraud. That won’t happen, but the NCAA has to take away at least a year of basketball and football post-season eligibility if not more for having sham classes and allowing tutors to handle athletes’ classwork. Without a strong penalty, the NCAA should no longer use the term “student-athletes.”
9. Saw the convoluted “Assassin’s Creed.” Save for one great chase scene, was awful. Gave it two ducks.
10. Crazy prediction: Garcia will win this year’s British Open.
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 Danny Davis.
HOW CRAZY WAS HE?
Looking back at Kirk’s crazy prediction from April 13, 2016 — that Bryson DeChambeau would win a golfing major by the end of 2017. One year later, how did that work out? It hasn’t. Not yet, anyway.