While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. At our annual selection committee meeting for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, I nominated Longhorns pitching great Greg Swindell for election. The three-time All-American left-hander was the second-best pitcher I ever saw in college, right behind legend Burt Hooton. Swindell had a 43-8 record and 1.92 career ERA with 32 complete games and 14 shutouts in 50 starts. Oh, and he also came out of the bullpen. Besides Swindell, other Longhorns on the ballot include offensive tackle Jerry Sisemore, maybe the best lineman Darrell Royal ever had; legendary end Hub Bechtol, who once played half a season with a broken jaw wired shut; first wishbone All-American quarterback Marty Akins; softball pitcher and two-time Olympic gold medalist Christa Williams; and senior associate AD Chris Plonsky.
2. Brian Kelly, in Austin last week to visit Notre Dame alumni, is very high on next season. “It’ll come down to consistent quarterback play,” the Irish coach told me, adding that Brandon Wimbush had a solid spring. “If we get that, which we didn’t have all year last season, I think we’ll be right there.” Kelly’s Irish are coming off a 10-win season and a bowl victory over LSU and return 10 defensive starters. He favors expanding the College Football Playoff to eight teams. “If I was to cast a vote, I’d be an eight-team guy. With three at-larges, it would help our situation immensely. If it’s four and we’re one of the four, you’ve left out two Power 5 conferences, and the politics get a little more difficult. But I think college football will be in the (four-team) cycle a few more years.” Kelly also admitted he’s on the hot seat — “it’s never cool at Notre Dame” — and said he’d favor the pending transfer rule with immediate eligibility only if there is an “academic component” as a qualifier.
3. David Pierce is a strong advocate of instant replay for Big 12 games and the entire postseason, not just the super regional and College World Series. “There’s no doubt we should,” the Texas baseball coach said Tuesday. He cited left fielder Masen Hibbler’s play Sunday night in the left-field foul-line bleachers where he almost made the final out before not securing the ball. “I think it was the right (safe) call, but it’s easier to say now that Chase Shugart struck the guy out.” He also said the timing of the major league draft in the middle of the postseason is “always a distraction and it’s unfair to the players at this time of the year with everything teams are dealing with. They don’t do the (NFL) draft in bowl season. They don’t hold the draft during the NBA postseason. It’d be nice if they can find a different time.” I couldn’t agree with him more strongly. … His Horns face a Tennessee Tech team that is hitting .338 as a team with a staggering 134 home runs. Eleven regulars are hitting .310 or better, and seven have double-digit homers.
4. Hailee Cooper has yet to enroll at Texas as a freshman, but she’s already making a name for herself. Cooper, 18, finished in a tie for 55th at 11-over par in the U.S. Women’s Open on Sunday. She played a practice round with former Longhorn Sophia Schubert, the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion who missed the cut. In 2016, Cooper teamed with UT sophomore Kaitlyn Papp to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at Streamsong Resort. She’s quite the accomplished young woman. Besides ranking No. 1 in the 2018 class by Golfweek, she was on the state championship team at Montgomery High outside Houston and ranked 24th in her graduating class of 640. Oh, and she was named prom queen. “That tells you about her personality,” Texas coach Ryan Murphy told me. “Everybody loves Hailee Cooper. Her short game is terrific and she has good length. Strong work ethic. She’s all in when she competes.”
5. Assuming Phil Dawson doesn’t retire but instead embarks upon his 20th NFL season as the kicker for the Arizona Cardinals, the former Longhorn will have the rare distinction of having been coached in college by Randy Rodgers and by Rodgers’ son, Jeff Rodgers, in the NFL. Dawson has made 84 percent of his career field goals, including 42 50-yarders.
6. Count ESPN’s Kyle Peterson among those high on Texas second baseman Kody Clemens, who was taken by the Detroit Tigers as the first pick in the third round Tuesday. “He looks like a major-leaguer to me,” the college baseball analyst said. “His power’s one thing, but he also has the ability to handle left-handed pitching, and his knowledge of the strike zone is elite.” Peterson calls Oklahoma center fielder Kyler Murray, the ninth overall pick of the draft by Oakland, “the most dynamic guy in the draft. What he has, you can’t teach. I think his speed is as elite as anybody’s in the country, but he’s probably had less than 300 at bats, which is two-thirds of a minor-league season. I think he’s the most intriguing guy going in the draft.” Murray said he wants to play football in the fall. “When you’ve got a chance to be the starting quarterback at OU, that’s a hard one to say no to,” Peterson said.
7. Texas, whose roster was decimated by last year’s draft that took 11 players and most of its pitching staff, could get hit hard again this week by the major-league free-agent draft. Texas will likely lose Clemens and perhaps its entire starting rotation of Nolan Kingham, Shugart and Blair Henley and may also say goodbye to top relievers Andy McGuire, Parker Joe Robinson and Josh Sawyer. Pierce will probably get back third baseman Ryan Reynolds, shortstop David Hamilton, catcher D.J. Petrinsky, Hibbeler and center fielder Duke Ellis. … Texas A&M could get hurt hard by the draft as well and probably stands to lose Friday starter Mitchell Kilkenny and possibly side-arming closer Nolan Hoffman and second baseman Michael Helman. There’s almost no chance they see Canada catcher Noah Naylor or Lufkin right-hander Grayson Rodriguez on campus. Coach Rob Childress does have ace John Doxakis and a top-10 recruiting class that includes Forney pitchers Mason Englert and Jonathan Childress.
8. Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to former Longhorns slugger Kyle Russell, whose 28 single-season homer record was threatened by Clemens and his 21 deep flies.
9. Rented “Lord of the War,” which wasn’t bad at all. Nicolas Cage has probably made more movies I’ve never even heard of than any other actor, but “The Family Man” ranks in my top 10 all-time favorites. I gave “Lord” six ducks.
10. Crazy prediction: Kody Clemens will be in the big leagues by 2021.
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 to talk about this week’s super regional.
HOW CRAZY WAS HE?
Looking back at Kirk’s crazy prediction from June 7, 2017 — that TCU, Texas A&M and Sam Houston State all would make the College World Series. That was wrong, but two out of three ain’t bad; the Aggies and Horned Frogs did indeed make it to Omaha but the Bearkats fell in the NCAA super regionals.