Golden’s nuggets: A true Texas revival not complete without football

In sports, winning is cyclical — not just for teams, but entire athletic departments.

Maybe, just maybe, Texas is on the way back to the top.

Our weekend review of the past school year revealed that the 20 varsity programs on campus all made it to the postseason, which has to give hope to Longhorn Nation that greatness will soon return to campus among the major team sports.

Back in 2002, a Sports Illustrated cover story ranking the 324 Division I athletic programs at the time had Texas and Stanford ranked at the top. In Texas’ case, the ranking came as the Horns were in the middle of what we can now clearly see was a golden age. The baseball team had just won its first of two College World Series titles under Augie Garrido and the men’s and women’s basketball teams would make it to respective Final Fours the following spring. Two years later, another CWS title was in the books before Vince Young, Mack Brown and Co. delivered a long-awaited football national championship.

Spring forward to present day. While the Horns are competitive in every sport and elite in swimming/diving and volleyball, the bigger challenge is to achieve elite status in the major team sports.

Kudos to baseball, which took a step forward in David Pierce’s second year with a CWS appearance. But we all know the athletic department’s national relevance will ultimately come down to what happens in football and, to a lesser degree, men’s basketball. Tom Herman broke a five-year winless drought in bowl games but the expectations are exponentially higher given his pedigree and salary. Shaka Smart has to disassociate himself from that 50-50 record through his first 100 games here and show that winning burst that made him the ideal candidate to replace Rick Barnes.

Could a new winning era be upon us? Perhaps, or it could be simply having too many conversations with ultra inspiring athletic director Chris Del Conte.

A tale of two superstars headed in opposite directions. The Cleveland Cavaliers will shout to the high heavens if LeBron James decides not to opt out of the final year of his contract and return for a final year at a clip of $35.6 million. James could better compete for a championship in a place like Philadelphia, Boston or even with the Lakers and boss Magic Johnson, who is undoubtedly scheming how to convince the San Antonio Spurs to part with Kawhi Leonard for a superstar pairing with LBJ.

Then there’s Carmelo Anthony, the only player in league history to average over 20 points per game for 14 or more seasons and not win a league MVP. He just informed the Oklahoma City Thunder that he plans to exercise his player option for $27.9 million. Shocker.

It’s funny how the Cavs are dying to give LeBron whatever he wants if he stays while the Thunder are left holding a very expensive bag of Franklins for a player who is clearly in decline.

Speaking of Kawhi, Spurs legend Bruce Bowen blasted him for his role in what could be the end of what was a very successful partnership over the the last seven seasons. Leonard clearly wants to play in Los Angeles and the Spurs are left with the choice of trading him or risk getting nothing for him if they hold on to him for the final year of his contract.

Bowen didn’t hold back in an interview with Sirius XM NBA Radio on Thursday night.

“There’s nothing but excuses going on,” Bowen said. “First, it was, ‘Well I was misdiagnosed.’ Look here: You got $18 million this year, and you think that they’re trying to rush you? You didn’t play for the most part a full season this year. And you’re the go-to guy, you’re the franchise and you want to say that they didn’t have your best interest at heart? Are you kidding me?”

Bowen is a Spur through and through. He still lives in the Alamo City and showed his loyalty three years ago when he allowed coveted free agent LaMarcus Aldridge to wear his No. 12, which had been retired by the organization.

With that said, Leonard has the right to pursue a trade, despite any mistakes he may have made during this entire episode. San Antonio may be the best fit for him, but he clearly doesn’t agree.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Sports gambling is legal, and the SEC is open to eventually releasing injury reports
Sports gambling is legal, and the SEC is open to eventually releasing injury reports

The legalization of sports gambling will change college sports, but Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey isn't quite sure how. Beginning the conference's annual football media days here at the College Football Hall of Fame, Sankey said his league began to research sports gambling in 2011 and has been corresponding with the NFL, NBA, MLB...
Martina Navratilova may be retired, but she still wants to win
Martina Navratilova may be retired, but she still wants to win

At 61, Martina Navratilova was the oldest of the 16 participants in the Wimbledon women’s invitational doubles, an exhibition event for retired players during the second week of the tournament. Navratilova owns another superlative, according to her peers: most competitive. “Martina, hands down,” said Marion Bartoli, laughing. &ldquo...
A champ at 19, France's Mbappe is beyond compare
A champ at 19, France's Mbappe is beyond compare

At this point we 7 billion residents of Earth really ought to hone a skill at which we are hopelessly, unrelentingly lousy. We should practice - don't laugh - restraint as we envision the staggering future of Kylian Mbappe, who is still somehow five months shy of age 20.  We must refrain from comparing the French lad to Pele or the Brazilian Ronaldo...
NFL's helmet rule will leave players, refs, fans scratching their heads
NFL's helmet rule will leave players, refs, fans scratching their heads

On the screens rimming a Renaissance ballroom Friday, Ezekiel Elliott hits the line, veers right and is loose. Twenty yards later, Patrick Peterson finally catches up. A moment before the Cowboy and Cardinal grapple and tumble to the turf, Elliott greets Peterson in his customary manner, helmet to helmet. Blink, and you miss it. So Al Riveron shows...
World Cup 2018: The winners and losers
World Cup 2018: The winners and losers

France won the World Cup, but that is far from the whole story. So many players and teams came out of the tournament on towering highs or devastating lows. Here are some of the winners and losers of the 2018 World Cup. Croatia: It’s odd to call a team that just lost the biggest game in its history a winner, but Croatia did everything but lift...
More Stories