Golden: Can Texas avoid a repeat of its 2017 season-opening stumble?

There’s something about a new Texas football season that gets the hype machine up and rolling.

The Longhorns, ranked No. 23 in the Associated Press’ preseason poll, are 13 1/2-point road favorites over the Maryland Terrapins, who rolled into Austin last year and posted a 51-burger at Royal-Memorial Stadium.

That got me to thinking.

Before the 2017 opener, we asked Tom Herman what he expected from the Horns against Maryland.

“I know they’ve been trained,” Herman said then. “Now when the bullets fly, adversity hits, you know, that’s the one thing I don’t know right now. If we have a couple three-and-out drives to start the game, how are we going to respond? If we give up an early touchdown, how are we going to respond?”

On Monday, I asked Herman why things would be different in the upcoming opener as opposed to the shocker in his UT debut.

“That’s something that we talk about very often,” he said, “because of how happy the team is right now, how excited they are to be here, how they’ve embraced and bought in to the culture and have gone so, so hard in training camp, and everything’s great right now.

“But what are we going to do when we get down 10 points in Washington, D.C., if we do? What are we going to do when, you know, another team, you know, decides that they came to play too? So that’s something we constantly talk about.”

Sound familiar? Basically, the preseason stance doesn’t change much from program to program from Year 1 to Year 2. In Texas’ case, Herman says he’s seen a move forward in the development phase because he wasn’t taking over the program in January.

“I think it’s just there are so many more positive things that you can do in a year and nine months, versus nine months, and the biggest being stability and continuity.”

Translation: There’s no way this team can’t be prepared for Maryland because this is my second year as the head coach.

I hope he’s right.

The 2018-19 season will mark the first since 2003 that neither Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker or Tim Duncan will appear in a game for the San Antonio Spurs.

End of an era.

End of a dynasty.

End of interviewing one of the nicest guys in the business. On Monday, Ginobili announced his retirement after 16 seasons, bringing to an official close one of the best collaborations in sports history, which includes the famed Big Three playing for legendary coach Gregg Popovich.

“It’s been a fabulous journey,” Ginobili tweeted. “Way beyond my wildest dreams.”

Manu played every game as if he had been informed it was the last day on the planet and provided the blueprint for young players on how to make an impact on the court and in the community. He leaves ranked in the top five in games played (1,057), points (14,043), steals (1,392) and assists (4,001) while arguably ranked at the top of all-time fan favorites, right there with David Robinson, Duncan, James Silas, and the legendary Iceman George Gervin.

He will eventually find his way to the Pro Basketball Hall of Fame despite playing most of his career as a sixth man. The international accolades for his native Argentina adds to to his case as a shoo-in.

The biggest question entering the season has to be: how much longer will Pop coach.

The guess here is no more than two more seasons. Pop’s duties as the head coach of the USA Men’s national team will take up much of his time and with the Spurs expected to not be a top-three team West, he probably won’t stick around much longer.

My biggest pet peeve with NFL owners — besides colluding to keep several players out of the league — is placing meaningless preseason games with coveted regular-season contests, which gouges some paying customers who have no interest in watching fourth- and fifth-string players with no chance of making the team battle for jobs.

Take Dallas’ latest game, for instance. Stars Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott sat in the 27-3 loss to the Arizona Cardinals, dropping the Pokes to 0-3 on the season.

I’m wondering if those Cowboys faithful that put out some hard-earned greenbacks for Arizona is wondering if it will even be worth showing up for the one that will be mean something.

Yep, it’s just the preseason but Dallas hasn’t shown us much, even when the starters were playing.

Not a shock to top-seeded Simona Halep bounced from the U.S. Open. She’s easily the most vulnerable world No. 1 in decades. So much talent but so fragile mentally when things get tough. Assuming she got past Poland’s Magda Linette in the first round, that opens things up a big for 17th seeded Serena Williams.

Give me Novak Djokovic to win the men’s singles, by the way. He’s back to playing like he did five years ago. Roger Federer didn’t look good over the last couple of weeks in warmups. That forehand has been shaky lately. I see him losing before the semifinals.

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