Bohls: For Fred Akers, honor amid grief


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

1. Fred Akers received one of the biggest honors of his life in one of the lowest moments of his life. Just more than a week after his son, Danny, died at age 54 of renal cell carcinoma, the former Texas head football coach was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame on Tuesday. Akers was one of the best Longhorns coaches in any sport that I’ve ever had the privilege of covering, but he’s never gotten his due. There’s no statue, no name on a football building for the Blytheville, Ark., native, who had to replace the legendary Darrell Royal without the support of all the DKR acolytes. Akers blew up at me regularly for my daily coverage of the beat, then treated me and every other reporter more professionally than any Texas football coach since. He was a man’s man who basically got a raw deal at Texas, being fired after one losing season. And he came within a win of two national championships.

2. Former Texas guard T.J. Ford, who also was inducted into the Hall of Fame, was Kevin Durant before Kevin Durant. Not sure Texas ever lands Durant without Ford taking the Longhorns to their first modern-day Final Four in 2003.

3. Earl Campbell was on hand in Waco to celebrate Akers’ induction at a luncheon and had everyone in stitches. On Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer: “We’re old now, so we can tell these things. Barry Switzer told me, ‘You come to school here, and we’ll take care of clothes and anything you need.’ I told him my people have sold themselves enough. I’m not for sale.” On his speed: Campbell said he ran a 4.7 in the 40, but Akers interjected, “If you ran a 4.7, it’s because you were carrying two tacklers.” On being the No. 1 NFL pick in 1978: Campbell said the Houston Oilers were set to draft Oklahoma State running back Terry Miller, but Texas defensive coordinator Leon Fuller was in town and went to see Bum Phillips. “He told Bum they should take me instead, and Bum went back in the staff meeting and said, ‘We’re going to take Earl Campbell.’ ” Miller went fifth to Buffalo, lasted parts of four seasons and totaled 1,583 yards. Earl almost had that many on a Monday night against the Dolphins and finished with 9,407 yards.

4. Don’t expect A.J. Hinch to look backward even after the Astros’ turnaround season that got them within one inning of a berth in the American League Championship Series. Houston should be even better with the addition of potential closer Ken Giles from Philadelphia — although Hinch said he hasn’t named a closer yet — and another starting pitcher in Doug Fister as well as having for a full season rookie of the year shortstop Carlos Correa, outfielders Carlos Gomez and George Springer and starter Mike Fiers. Fister would only agree to a one-year deal and could fit in anywhere from No. 2 to No. 5 in the rotation. The Astros used 13 starting pitchers last season. “It changes the way we’re looked at,” Hinch said. “People are looking at us as a contending club. I did watch the World Series. I watched every game. We were five wins away from the World Series. I wasn’t ready to let go.”

5. So impressed with the job Shaka Smart is doing. The team never panics. Isaiah Taylor is playing under control. Every player has improved, none more so than Prince Ibeh. Would have liked to have seen Smart coach Myles Turner. Smart’s development of Ibeh should be recruiting magic for young big men considering Texas. And shouldn’t Texas be ranked in the Top 25? After all, it has four wins over Top 15 teams North Carolina, Iowa State, West Virginia and Baylor. Eyeballs don’t lie.

6. And for those curious if Texas senior center Cam Ridley could take a medical hardship season, forgo a comeback late this season and return next year, I’m told his 11 games are one too many for consideration, and Ridley is still bent on returning late this month even though he can’t put weight on his broken foot.

7. Had a terrific time at the RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities) Austin banquet last Friday, where Angels closer Huston Street and his wife, Lacey, were honored for their contributions to the program to give underprivileged, inner-city kids a chance to learn baseball and be mentored. The program’s operating budget has grown from $52,000 serving 118 kids in 2011 to $416,000 and 810 kids playing on 48 teams. And don’t forget the 47 adults such as special honoree Dennis Reyes serving as mentors for East Austin fourth-graders and older. At the banquet, 30 adults expressed interest in becoming mentors.

8. National analyst Bobby Burton of 247Sports told me Tuesday he still expects Texas to finish “10th or better” in the nation in recruiting. “It’s going to be an avalanche here at the end,” Burton said. “I think Texas is going to add at least 10 recruits. That number includes (Katy running back Kyle) Porter.”

9. Rented “Trainwreck.” Have always loved Amy Schumer, and she’s really top-notch in her debut. LeBron James was passable, but too wooden. Gave it 7 ducks.

10. Crazy prediction: Johnny Manziel will win a pro football title in two years. The Grey Cup.



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