While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. This may not be D-Day or even D-Week for the future of soccer in Austin, but the importance of this week as to the prospects of the Columbus Crew relocating here cannot be overstated. It’s quite possible that not only will the city’s evaluation of McKalla Place as the recommended site for a new soccer stadium be revealed Friday but also Crew owner Anthony Precourt’s own proposal with specific benefits to the city then as well. Precourt Sports Ventures needs to beef up the benefits package with greater access for AISD events, scholarship programs and affordable ticket packages. Major League Soccer announced Cincinnati as another expansion franchise Tuesday, which should come as good news for soccer fans in Austin given the unlikelihood that MLS would desire two Ohio franchises in such close proximity, although anyone who has lived in the City of the Weird knows full well there’s no such thing as a done deal in Austin. Cincinnati has more than proven itself with attendance records at 35,000-seat Nippert Stadium and an average of 24,417 fans this season for its USL team while the under-siege Crew has averaged 10,010. Cincinnati has promised almost $400 million in community benefits, including a new $250 million stadium, for a city starving for soccer with a strong youth base in the sport. I’d give Austin a 70 percent chance of landing the Crew.
2. So a familiar name is coming to Austin for the baseball regional. No, not Texas Southern. If you think the Texas A&M-Texas rivalry is no longer, just set foot in UFCU Disch-Falk Field and be reminded. When I asked UT coach David Pierce if the rivalry was still alive, he quipped, “I didn’t know it ever died.” He added that “everyone in this state grows up as either a Longhorn or an Aggie.” Several Longhorns had already exchanged text messages with friends on the A&M team. Chase Shugart heard from Beaumont buddy Allonte Wingate about a showdown. Asked if he expects more messages, he said, “I think there will be some explicit content. All in good fun, though.”
3. Regrettably, Wayne Graham was pushed out as Rice baseball coach despite being only 82 years old. Pierce paid homage to his former boss on Monday when he said Graham has been “a huge part of my development as a coach.” Pierce also said he wears his “favorite watch” every year in the post-season, putting on a gold timepiece he got when he was an assistant coach the year the Owls won the 2003 College World Series as a reminder of the intensity of playoffs. Personally, I’d love to see Pierce hire Graham and bring him on as a pitching consultant.
4. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, who leads this week’s conference meetings, tells me the league revenue will increase over last year’s $34.9 million thanks in part to the new football championship game, and he hopes to have a new football officials coordinator in place within the next 60 days. He and associate commish Ed Stewart have interviewed several candidates, one of whom may be Mountain West coordinator Greg Burks, a former Big 12 referee who officiated the first CFP national title game and who Bowlsby says “has the expertise we’re looking for.” Bowlsby also said the leaders will discuss the new transfer rule, which would allow athletes to “notify” their schools they are leaving rather than ask for permission, and the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gambling. “West Virginia is considering a law that would give 2.5 percent of a bet to Marshall and West Virginia if money in their state is bet on their games,” he said. “But I don’t know if it’s the largesse some people think it will be. We could have five different rules in five (Big 12) states. The big loser in all this is organized crime. Why would anyone place a bet with a bookie any more?”
5. Here’s a petition for two NBA awards: The Best Player award (LeBron James until he retires) and the Best Season award (James Harden). If anyone really thinks Harden is the best player in this league this one season — and he was damn good until his three-point shot deserted him in Game 7 — let’s have a draft and see who the No. 1 pick would be for one season. Hint: He doesn’t play for the Rockets.
6. The magic for the Texas men’s golf team ran out Tuesday when the Longhorns lost to Duke on the last hole to be eliminated from the NCAA championship in Stillwater, Okla. Blue Devil Jake Shuman eagled a putt to beat Doug Ghim 1-up. “The competitors that we are, this will sting for a while,” Longhorns coach John Fields told me. “We overcame quite a bit of adversity, won an NCAA Regional and finished fifth at the national championship. I’m excited for Doug and Scottie’s future as professionals, and Cole Hammer and (brothers) Parker and Pierceson Coody will bring talent and enthusiasm to next year’s team.” … Hammer, who is No. 51 in the world amateur rankings, recently won the Azalea Amateur, the USGA 4 Ball and finished sixth in the Terra Cotta. Pierceson Coody just won the AJGA Thunderbird. With Spencer Soosman and Steven Chervony, who won Tuesday matches, and Drew Jones back, Texas should be another serious threat in 2019. “Soosman and Chervony could have All-American years next season,” Fields said. “We probably didn’t play our best golf today, but seniors Scottie (Scheffler) and Doug have been two of the best players who have ever played at Texas. They both are blessed with an extra gene of competitiveness.”
7. Kudos to St. Edward’s University’s Tanner Lawson for being named a three-time All-American as a second-team pitcher, and to outfielder William Hairston, who was listed on the third team by the American Baseball Coaches Association. Lawson finished 11-3 with a 2.75 ERA, struck out 91 in 98 innings and threw three shutouts as a junior. Hairston becomes the program’s 19th All-American after leading the club with a .394 batting average on 82 hits, 10 of them home runs.
8. Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to All-American safety Mossy Cade, who served time for a sexual assault conviction.
9. “Deadpool2” is flat out funny. The cabbie steals a lot of the scenes. Loved the parachuting scene and the Muppet legs routine. The death scene drags way too much. Gave it 7 1/2 ducks.
10. Crazy prediction: At least two No. 3 seeds will advance out of the 16 baseball regionals.
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 Texas baseball coach David Pierce.
HOW CRAZY WAS HE?
Looking back at Kirk’s crazy prediction from May 31, 2017 — that Texas baseball would make it to the 2017 College World Series. Didn’t happen. The Longhorns fell to host Long Beach State in the Long Beach Regional.