We ran into legendary Rice coach Wayne Graham in the elevator Sunday night following Texas’ NCAA regional win over Indiana at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Graham attended the regional as a guest of both UT coach David Pierce — his former assistant — and UT athletic director Chris Del Conte.
“I’m wearing this Longhorn shirt and I haven’t worn this color in a while,” said Graham, who played at Texas in 1956 and 1957. “They gave it to me, so I was like, ‘Why not?’”
Graham, 82, led Rice to 23 NCAA postseasons in his 27 seasons and a national championship in 2003, eliminating defending national champion Texas along the way. But he was told by Rice AD Joe Karlgaard that his contract wouldn’t be renewed after this season.
Rice went 26-31 and didn’t qualify for the NCAAs. If he doesn’t coach again, Graham’s career record will go down as 1,173-528.
Kirk Bohls asked him Sunday night if he was going to join Pierce’s staff. “No,” Graham smiled, “they have enough coaches.”
Pierce worked for Graham in 1991 and again from 2003-2011, mostly as a pitching coach on staffs that included included Wade Townsend, Joe Savery, Jeff Niemann, David Aardsma and Philip Humber. All but Townsend — my favorite Dripping Springs athlete — went on to play in the majors. Before that, he coached MLB greats Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte at San Jacinto College.
Vince Young being placed on the College Football Hall of Fame ballot (along with fellow Texas ex Kenneth Sims) is a grim reminder of how long it’s been since Texas has won a national championship. It’s 12 years and counting since the night Young put up 467 yards of total offense in the BCS title win over USC, concluding a 30-2 career run.
There is a tendency to take greatness for granted when it is happening and an ensuing regret that comes along once a program returns from the stratosphere. Texas had it with back-to-back legends in Young and Colt McCoy and those players (with help from others) took the program to special places.
As Tom Herman continues the rebuild, the question still remains: Does he have a program changer on campus at quarterback? Perhaps there’s a good player in there between Sam Ehlinger, Shane Buechele and the newcomers but color me skeptical. Herman is smart enough to know he won’t win in this league without an alpha dog behind center.
We’ll get our answer this fall.
Golden State swingman Andre Iguodala hasn’t played since bumping knees with Houston’s James Harden in the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, but he provided a lesson to young players about staying engaged.
After Warriors forward Jordan Bell committed a careless foul against LeBron James in the fourth quarter of Game 2, Iguodala pulled him aside and counseled him during a timeout about guarding James. Bell went in and forced LeBron into a turnover and cameras spotted Iguodala smiling in delight behind the bench.
It was a great snapshot of how a teammate can impact a game even when he isn’t playing.
What do Serena Williams and the U.S. men’s singles contingent have in common? Both are out of the French Open.
At least in Serena’s case, it’s because of a injury. Williams withdrew from the tournament on Monday with a pectoral injury, giving fourth-round opponent Maria Sharapova her first win over Williams in a decade by walkover.
Meanwhile, the majors drought continues for American men. With Jon Isner’s straight-sets loss to Martin Del Potro, the U.S. has gone 58 consecutive majors without a men’s champion. The last was Austinite Andy Roddick, who won the 2003 U.S. Open. It’s been so bad lately that only one American (Sam Querrey) has reached a semifinal in a major since 2009. That also was Roddick, who lost a soul-taking five-set Wimbledon final to Roger Federer.
While women Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys are holding up their end, ranked American men Isner (No. 10), Jack Sock (14), and Querrey (15) are all 25 or older but have yet to play in a grand slam final.
So if Tiger Woods can hit a 3-wood off the tee over 320 yards — which he did in Ohio this weekend — then why would he even pack a driver in his bag?
Woods’ still has that great length but his putter abandoned him in his 23rd-place finish at the Memorial. Had he not missed seven putts inside of five feet, he would have been in great position to get into a playoff.
He will win again. That’s evident after he went 72-67-68-72 to finish nine-under par. He’s been in the mix for the most part lately and there will come a day when he puts it all together and takes a tournament. Will it be at the upcoming U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills? Tiger is a 14-1 favorite to win. World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is going off at 9-1 while Jordan Spieth is 12-1.