While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte and football coach Tom Herman joined forces to arrange a home-and-home series with Alabama, and there may be more where that comes from. Maybe even Texas A&M. “On the flight back from the Rio Grande Valley last night, Tom and I talked about scheduling more iconic brands home and home,” Del Conte told me Tuesday. “There are only about six or seven truly iconic brands.” (He named Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame, USC, Florida and Penn State, but I’d add Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Florida State and Nebraska.) “We want to play an iconic team every year,” he said. “The fans want to see games like that. Those are the games Tom and I are committed to.” As for playing the Aggies, Del Conte said he had a conversation with A&M AD Scott Woodward a couple of months ago and told him, “As our schedules permit, we should consider scheduling a game.” Was Woodward interested? “I didn’t get that. We never got to that point.” Texas is booked through 2027 (home against Michigan), and Del Conte said, “You could do something after that season.”
2. Without question, baseball coach David Pierce ranks as UT’s coach of the year not named Eddie Reese, who belongs in a separate category. It should go without saying he’s the Big 12’s coach of the year. “The job David and his staff did this year is outstanding, especially considering the tough schedule they played early,” TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle told me. “To hold all of that together and then peak at the right time is a credit to their staff and upperclassmen players.” Pierce had to piecemeal a pitching staff ripped apart by last year’s major-league draft that took away 11 players. One of the absolute best things Pierce did was find and develop versatile players that have gone a long way toward clinching Texas’ first Big 12 championship in seven years. Pierce moved an infielder (Masen Hibbeler) to outfield where he’d never played before, moved first baseman (Ryan Reynolds) back to his former spot at third base, recruited a terrific catcher (D.J. Petrinsky), made a closer out of a second-time Longhorn and used a talented freshman outfielder (Kamron Fields) as one of his valuable relievers who threw shutout relief against TCU. He also mined every bit of potential out of a pitcher (Josh Sawyer) who has undergone three operations. That, my friends, is excellent coaching. He remarkably stuck with his relievers to the point where he has them set up perfectly with Sawyer and Parker Joe Robinston setting up McGuire. As first baseman Jake McKenzie said of Pierce after Texas swept TCU, “He’s pretty calm under pressure.”
3. The Longhorns may not have a ton to play for in this week’s conference tournament except for possible better national seeding and momentum heading into regional play. They’re currently slotted as a regional host as a No. 12 seed by Division1baseball.com and are projected to host Houston, Cal State Fullerton and Pepperdine. Texas would be matched up with No. 5 seed Arkansas and have to travel to Fayetteville for a super regional if both advanced.
4. Armen Keteyian, who co-authored the 404-page book “Tiger Woods,” said on our “On Second Thought” podcast that he likened the 14-time major winner to once-in-a-generation geniuses like Shakespeare, Michael Jackson and Mozart but also “a cold-blooded assassin. Woods was groomed to have that type of killer personality mostly by his mother Kutilda as much as father Earl, and she instructed him ‘to step on their throats, step on their necks, so the next time they’ll remember.’” He talked about Woods’ “sense of entitlement” and his habit of “amputating people from his life when they are no longer useful.”
5. The Longhorns aren’t the only area baseball team riding a hot streak. Just down the road in Seguin, Texas Lutheran (38-9) won its first regional championship in school history to advance to the NCAA Division III World Series after beating Willamette (Ore.) Key in the victory were Thorndale’s Riley Schaefer, who had two hits to tie a 19-year-old TLU school record with 86 hits; Bowie’s Thomas Varner, whose single ignited the winning rally; and Round Rock’s Zach Perry, who threw in relief. … Texas Southern played just 14 home games all season and 39 on the road or at neutral sites. Two players, Kamren Dukes and Gaudencio Lucca, have been on the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award watch list. O.J. Oloruntimilehin drove in four runs for the second straight game to earn tournament MVP and help send the Tigers (27-26) to the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years. Dukes stretched his hitting streak to 32 games, the longest active streak in the nation, and has 81 hits.
6. So the first of the onslaught of preseason college football magazines is upon us, and Texas is ranked No. 20 by Athlon Sports. Oklahoma is the highest-ranked Big 12 team at 10th, and the Aggies are projected at No. 25.
7. Hard Knocks with the Cleveland Browns. Are you kidding me? A 30-person NFL Films crew at Browns training camp shooting in excess of 2,000 hours of footage of the worst franchise in the league. What could go wrong? I can’t think of anything worse for the Browns and Baker Mayfield than dozens of cameras following his every move for a month. The series debuts on Aug. 7. I’m assuming the first Browns apology will come Aug. 8.
8. Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to former Longhorns third baseman Joe Ayers, who once blew out his knee during a game but never left the field that day. When I asked what he’d have done if a batter had bunted to him, Ayers said, “I’d have thrown him out.” Sean Cartell tells me last week’s target, UT sharpshooter Danielle Viglione, lives in Sacramento and is co-owner of the Sacramento Skills Academy.
9. “Paterno” on HBO was excellent. Al Pacino at his very best as an out-of-touch-with-reality Penn State coach as his reputation was in tatters. Gave it eight ducks.
10. Crazy prediction: Manu Ginobili will join the Spurs’ front office.
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 TV journalist and author Armen Keteyian.
HOW CRAZY WAS HE?
Looking back at Kirk’s crazy prediction from May 24, 2017 — that the Golden State Warriors would sweep the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. So close! But wrong. The Warriors jumped out to a 3-0 lead but ended up winning in five.