- By Kirk Bohls American-Statesman Staff
While I got ya, here are 9 things and one crazy prediction:
1. If Breckyn Hager isn’t my favorite athlete of all time to come through Texas, he’s certainly in the Top 10. Never has the school had a player quite as refreshingly honest, even about his own lack of production, and funny than the senior linebacker from Westlake. How many athletes will openly admit they didn’t embrace their new head coach, say something like “I have things the world needs to hear,” or that he has “a man-crush” on iconic actor Marlon Brando and that gets energized every time he sees the iconic Hollywood sign atop the Santa Monica mountains. Not to mention, going four years without getting a haircut. By the way, he threw shade on tight end roommate Andrew Beck because Beck reneged on a promise to keep his locks unsheared, too. He finally opened himself up to new head coach Tom Herman, saying, “I finally saw the light. It started creeping in like the Holy Spirit.” You go, Breckyn.
2. The flap between Herman and some of last year’s players who chose to skip the bowl game in a business decision not to get hurt before the NFL draft is a very intriguing subject on so many levels. DeShon Elliott’s caustic remarks about Herman and some of his coaching staff sends a terrible message that Herman is two-faced and bad-mouthed those players, an ominous shot that won’t help on the recruiting circuit. Elliott had a heckuva season as an All-American safety and clearly feels strongly about the subject, echoed by Connor Williams on Twitter. I don’t blame Herman for being mad at players who skipped the bowl game. The coach’s priority is and should be winning games for Texas, and Herman desperately needed a bowl victory. So if Herman bad-mouthed any of those players to NFL types, he should have also been critical to those players’ faces. Elliott is certainly obligated to look out for himself first, but I wonder if NFL front offices worry if athletes who skip bowl games might mail in performances in the NFL if they’re playing for bad teams. I have an issue with players bailing on their teammates.
3. Was taken aback by how frail Bill Snyder appeared. He’s as sharp as ever at age 78, but I wonder about the physical toll a football season can have on even a young, healthy coach. Can’t imagine him coaching beyond 2018 but hope he goes as long as he’s able. … One player who really impressed me was TCU linebacker Ben Banogi, who spoke eloquently about transferring from Louisiana-Monroe and said when he saw the Fort Worth campus, he was ready to come aboard. … Heard Oklahoma State’s offensive line could be its best in five years. That’s good news for fans of the Cowboys, who may have the league’s best running back in Justice Hill, although I’d take OU’s Rodney Anderson.
4. Checking in with Longhorns baseballers this summer. Mason Hibbeler, who shifts between first and third base, made the California Collegiate League Prospects Game as did potential 2019 closer Kam Fields. Big cruncher Zach Zubia launched four balls over the Green Monster at Fenway earlier this week during a workout there. And shortstop David Hamilton is second in the Cape Cod League in stolen bases with 11.
5. I like new personable Big 12 director of officiating Greg Burks, who told me he had to change his number after heated responses stemming from that controversial Texas A&M upset of No. 2 Nebraska in a game he officiated in 1998. … Burks blamed television commercials and a long halftime for the excessively long college games. Division II games, for example, he said, can play a game in two hours to 2:10 because they aren’t televised and don’t have replays. … Can’t wait to see the impact of the redshirt rule that allows players to play up to four games. It will allow coaches to play every player, at least on special teams, maybe find a star the first month of the season or save better players for the final four games of the year. Heck, Nick Saban could get four games out of quarterback Jalen Hurts and still redshirt him.
6. One man’s prediction of a lock for this year’s college football national championship game? “Georgia,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen told me. “They’re going to go 12-0. Have you seen their schedule?” Holgorsen just happened to see the Bulldogs’ schedule including non-conference games against Georgia Tech (5-6), UMass (4-8), Austin Peay (8-4) and Middle Tennessee (7-6). He adds that Georgia won’t play Alabama or LSU out of the SEC West. He’s a big proponent of an even number of conference games for all 125 Division I teams. West Virginia and Texas are the only two Big 12 teams that will play 11 Power 5 teams, joining Ohio State, USC, Purdue, Cal and Northwestern. Texas has done it since 2015. “Yeah, I’ve been giving (Mike) Gundy crap about it,” he said. Gundy’s Cowboys play Boise State but also Missouri State of the Missouri Valley and South Alabama of the Sun Belt. What if enough Power 5 schools voted in a rule that to be eligible for the CFP, a team must play at least nine conference games?
7. The University of Texas will host a women’s basketball regional in 2021 at the H-E-B Center in Cedar Park. That should be a very short drive for Kim Mulkey’s Lady Bears. Just kidding. A school cannot host at an arena where it plays the majority of its games. Besides, maybe the Erwin Center will be destroyed by then or at least before the sun explodes.
8. Kudos to Mike Hilsabeck for scoring his second double eagle. You read right. His second. He’s the golf coach at Rouse High School in Leander. Guess his players will listen to him now. Hilsabeck did it with a 6-iron at Copper Creek Golf Club in Colorado. Ironically enough, he’s never had an ace. He did some research and learned only 13 other amateur golfers have had multiple double eagles in casual play. “I’m constantly telling my kids to never give up on a shot,” he said.
9. Was thoroughly impressed with the documentary about Fred Rogers, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” Fascinating how this creative genius began such a heart-warming children’s show and perhaps single-handedly kept PBS afloat with his comments before a Senate subcommittee. Gave it 8 1/2 ducks.
10. Crazy prediction: Kansas coach David Beaty, a terrific recruiter, will be on Tom Herman’s staff in 2019.