While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. NFL analyst Lance Zierlein hasn’t had time to evaluate Baker Mayfield’s draft status fully, but said, “I don’t have a grade on him just yet, but I’m starting to think he goes late first to mid-second round. The big questions surrounding him will be his size, playing in a (college) system and whether he can sit in the pocket and win against NFL coverages. I love his deep-ball touch and accuracy and his ability to extend plays and make challenging throws on the run.” As for his behavior issues on and off the field, Zierlein said, “His confidence and energy can easily be considered arrogance, but that doesn’t bother me since he’s never had a reputation of not being coachable or not being liked by his teammates. His antics will not be a turnoff to teams. (Johnny) Manziel was a much bigger concern.” ESPN’s Trey Wingo said if Mayfield were two inches taller, “he might be the first pick of the draft.” I agree.
2. Congrats to the College Football Playoff selection committee for a job well done. The 13-member panel didn’t change horses in midstream and honored their charge of picking the four best teams. Ohio State made last year’s Final Four without winning or even playing in their conference title game because the panel considered the Buckeyes better than Penn State; the committee chose Alabama in the exact same circumstances.
3. Jimbo Fisher understands the urgency of adding to his new Texas A&M staff one or more assistants with in-state ties to better connect with Texas high school coaches. That could well include former Longhorns recruiter deluxe Tim Brewster, who recruited Vince Young. One Aggies insider told me Fisher might bring only three of his Florida State assistants with him. … Interesting that, even with his 10-year, $75 million contract, Fisher also has bonuses for championship games and bowl games. Shouldn’t that come with the original sticker price? Fisher uttered the word “vision” 19 times in a 13-minute address at Kyle Field’s Hall of Champion. … He has developed and/or recruited as many as eight NFL quarterbacks, including No. 1 picks Jameis Winston and JaMarcus Russell as well as E.J. Manuel, Christian Ponder and Matt Flynn. Asked why he’s been so good at recruiting and developing quarterbacks, Fisher said, “Lucky, I guess.” I doubt luck had anything to do with it, but that Fisher trademark will go a long way in sending the Aggies to the elite level. Kevin Sumlin recruited the top quarterbacks but couldn’t keep them.
4. A lot of people are troubled by the thorny issue of college players leaving early for the NFL and bypassing their bowl games. Several things are at work, most significantly the risk of serious injury like that of Notre Dame linebacker Jaylen Smith, who is not the same player that the Dallas Cowboys drafted as the 34th pick after a severe knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl. These players have to think of their futures. That said, the trend will continue to hurt ticket sales and television ratings for the bowl games. I understand both sides. Penn State’s brilliant Saquon Barkley, probably the first or second running back who will be drafted next spring, has decided to play in his bowl game, but Texas junior defensive backs Holton Hill and DeShon Elliott have ended their college careers. We’d all love to see them playing for one final time, but the pattern may start to make these bowls glorified exhibitions.
5. Understandably, Fisher was asked about renewing the A&M-Texas rivalry. “If it benefits Texas A&M, you do things. If it doesn’t, you don’t,” he said. With new head coaches at both places as well as new presidents and athletic directors at the two schools, sure seems we’re headed down that path.
6. Big 12 officiating supervisor Walt Anderson told me the league had zero coaches challenges this year. That’s right. Zero. Big 12 coaches can challenge up to twice per game if they’re right on the first one. In the regular season, there were only a total of 55 challenges in entire FBS, Anderson said, with the highest amount coming in the SEC, which had 10 coach challenges. Of those 55, only five calls went the coaches’ way. The college football rules committee will meet in February and discuss changes like no longer stopping the clock when a first down is made except for the last two minutes of each half. That would be a smart change, given that games average 3 hours, 18 minutes. “There’s a mixed bag of opinion (of the coaches) on that one,” Anderson said. … Also interesting was the fact that only one coach was penalized all season for coming onto the field, and that was West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen in the opener against Virginia Tech with a Big Ten crew. “I have to give them credit,” Anderson said. “The coaches have worked really hard on that.”
7. So cool to see the Houston Texans’ J.J. Watt and Astros’ Jose Altuve named co-Sports Persons of the Year by “Sports Illustrated.” Wonderful to shine a light on two such positive athletes. Watt raised more than $37 million in Hurricane Harvey relief aid, and Altuve raised hope for a city with his team’s inspiring run to the World Series. Watt said, “All I did was give people a way to help … If I’m going to get an award, I feel like over 200,000 other people should too.”
8. Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to former Longhorns running back Butch Hadnot.
9. “Lady Bird” earned a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s about the trials of adolescence, family dysfunction and a challenging relationship between an independent, inquisitive teenager and her strong-minded mother expertly played by Laurie Metcalf. Gave it 8 1/2 ducks.
10. Crazy prediction: A&M will win the SEC within the next two seasons.
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 former American-Statesman sports writer Olin Buchanan, who’s now covering Jimbo Fisher for TexAgs.com.
HOW CRAZY WAS HE?
Looking back at Kirk’s crazy prediction from Dec. 7, 2016 — that the Texas men’s basketball team would win the 2017 NIT. That didn’t happen; the Longhorns went 11-22 and didn’t play in the postseason.