Good morning. Breakfast is served.
It’s April 18th — 108 down, 257 to go.
And 134 till the Longhorns kick off their 2014 season against North Texas.
YESTERDAY: Texas dropped its baseball opener to TCU. Texas softball lost its opener too, at Oklahoma. The Rangers won, the Astros lost. Duke’s Jabari Parker said he’s going pro. And the UIL state soccer tournament started.
TODAY: Texas vs. TCU baseball, Game 2 at the Disch (6 p.m., Longhorn Network, 1300). Texas softball tries to even its series in Norman. The Austin area’s lone entry in the soccer tournament — the Vandegrift girls — play their Class 4A semifinal. And former Texas player and coach David McWilliams celebrates his 72nd birthday.
TOMORROW: The Orange-White Game, though they’re calling it the “Orange-White Scrimmage” now (1 p.m., DKR, free admission, LHN). The NBA playoffs tip off with four games — Nets at Raptors (11:30 a.m., ESPN), Warriors at Clippers (2:30 p.m., ABC), Hawks at Packers (6 p.m., ESPN) and Grizzlies at Thunder (8:30 p.m., ESPN). The UIL state soccer tournament wraps up, in Georgetown. And the Texas Stars play their final game of the regular season. They’ll start next week’s playoffs as the AHL’s No. 1 seed.
April 18 has a sports history. On this date, Joe Montana retired (1995); Mike Schmidt hit his 500th career homer (1987) while Eddie Murray hit his first (1977); the Boston Celtics made Bill Russell the first black coach in NBA history (1966); Mickey Mantle played his first game, with the Yankees (1951); and Yankee Stadium — “The House that Ruth Built” — opened (1923).
Last year on April 18, Derek Jeter suffered a fractured ankle and was ruled out until at least after the All-Star break.
Today’s sports birthdays: Red Bryant (30), Miguel Cabrera (31), Derrick Brooks (41) and Wilber Marshall (52). Other notables: Conan O’Brien (51) and James Woods (67).
TODAY’S TRIVIA: When Joe Montana led No. 5 Notre Dame to an upset win over No. 1-ranked Texas in the 1978 Cotton Bowl, it opened the door for a handful of teams to win that year’s national championship. Who ended up winning it? (Answer’s at the bottom of Breakfast.)
TODAY’S LEAD: TEXAS FOOTBALL. The annual Orange-White Game, er, Scrimmage, is Saturday. Since Texas has closed its spring practice doors to the media and public, it’ll be our first real chance to see the early working version of what we’ll get this fall.
Not just the media, but the public too. And that includes UT’s students.
New coach. New staff. New direction. One suddenly-fragile quarterback, two missing running backs, a reshaped offensive line and a potentially overhauled defensive system all point to a lot of question marks over the 2014 Longhorns. What are the students at UT thinking ($), we wondered?
To get a snapshot, we sent Sebastian Herrera, a junior journalism major at UT who’s also interning this semester at the American-Statesman, on an assignment to interview and survey 100 randomly selected students on campus. He polled 75 men, 25 women.
Breaking it down further, there were 25 white males, 22 Asian or Middle Eastern males, 15 Hispanic males, 13 black males, 7 white females, 7 Hispanic females, 6 black females and 5 Asian or Middle Eastern females. Every one of them identified themselves as being a Longhorns football fan.
Sebastian asked them all the same five questions, with multiple choice answers. The major takeaways:
(1) The level of confidence in David Ash among those UT students? Not too good. Seventy-four of the 100 students surveyed were either “somewhat confident” (41%) or “not confident” (33%) in counting on Ash this fall.
(2) While there’s interest and excitement with the change in coaches, most (67%) thought 2014 will produce a third straight OK-but-not-special season when it comes to wins and losses. Sixty-seven of the 100 think Texas — which has gone 8-5, 9-4 and 8-5 the past three years — will end up winning 7, 8 or 9 games. Twenty-six others thought there’d be 10 or more wins.
(3) Mack Brown? Thanks for the wins, the winning seasons, the bowl games and the national title, but it was time for a change. When asked who’d they rather see on the sidelines this fall, 61% answered Charlie Strong, 35% answered Nick Saban and only 3% answered Mack.
It wasn’t a scientific poll. But we wanted a glimpse of what UT students were thinking.
Here’s how Sebastian — who’s a UT student himself — summed it up:
“As a student at Texas, I have sat in classrooms where these discussions have taken place. I have heard the chatter in the student section stands when Texas football does not look like we expect it to look. I have witnessed greatness from the program as a kid growing up, only to have the frustration of becoming a Longhorn right at the time the ship began to leak. Students want to set a rewind button, and are hoping desperately they can begin doing so on Saturday. Maybe then fans can stop holding their breath and begin to feel like their real Longhorns are coming back and here to stay.”
Some thoughts from students, on Strong, Mack, Saban, Ash and the program:
“I think (Strong) is doing a lot more with rules for the football players. I think players used to get away with a lot, and I think they really shouldn’t. I will give it a year or two to see what really improves.” — Sandra Reyes, sophomore.
“I read about Charlie Strong at Louisville and what he accomplished without a ranked recruiting class. Imagine what he could do here.” — Luis Hernandez, sophomore.
“Nick Saban is such a big figure. He is a great coach, but he would not fit at Texas and is not what we need. It would almost be a distraction because of who he is. What does Saban have to prove at a big program? He has already proven enough.” — Brandon Keaveny, freshman.
“I personally just think the student fan base here isn’t at par of what it should be. It is really going to be on the students to back the team up. It’s not just our team trying to rebuild, it’s the whole program. It’s our students and our fan base, too.” — Saleem Ali, senior.
So, what else is being written about the Longhorns?
TCU 3, Texas 0. That was the scene at Disch-Falk last night as the Longhorns dropped the opening game of their Big 12 series. Here’s our game story ($). And the Star-Telegram’s. Both centered on Brandon Finnegan, who struck out 11.
Big 12 baseball results from Thursday night: TCU 3, Texas 0; Kansas State 8, Baylor 2; West Virginia 7, Oklahoma 0; Texas Tech 4, Prairie View 3.
AROUND THE BIG 12: Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News opined on the daunting task faced each year by the Irving-based National Football Foundation, which selects the College Football Hall of Fame. As expected, former Texas A&M quarterback Matt Joeckel — who’s from Fort Worth — has transferred to TCU, which could really use him. He has one year of eligbility. And in the Morning News’ series on former DFW athletes that are NFL draft candidates, the paper broke down former UT receiver (and former Dallas Skyliner) Mike Davis‘ prospects, which may revolve around his ability to answer questions on his work ethic. An earlier draft series item examined former UT defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat too. The Dallas Cowboys had a draft workout that included TCU’s Casey Pachall and SMU’s Garrett Gilbert. Here’s what the Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote about Pachall, who thought he had “a good day,” and about Gilbert, who addressed his time as a Longhorn, saying “I loved Texas, but it didn’t work out.” Texas wasn’t the only Big 12 school that picked up multiple commitments this week. Baylor did too, including Plano center Sam Tecklenburg. The Waco Tribune-Herald wrote about him. Bad news from Norman: Oklahoma linebacker Frank Shannon — the Sooners’ leading tackler last season — has been accused of sexual assault. OU’s investigating, and it’s left his status up in the air, the Daily Oklahoman reported. As stated above, former Texas assistant hoops coach Frank Haith is expected to be named Tulsa’s new head coach today. The Tulsa World wrote about it. (By the way, a World online poll asked readers whether Haith’s hire was a good choice for Tulsa. The votes as of early this morning — 65 percent said No, 35 percent said Yes.) That’s a similar sentiment of the Kansas City Star’s Sam Mellinger, who wrote that the best thing Haith — who guided Missouri to two NCAA Tournaments and won a national coach of the year award in his three seasons there — could’ve done for the Tigers was to leave. Kansas has named its starting quarterback — Montell Cozart, who earned offensive MVP honors in KU’s spring game last Saturday. And Kansas State has given men’s hoops coach Bruce Weber a one-year extension, through the 2019 season.
AROUND THE FORTY ACRES: A quick sweep of UT teams …
Football: The annual Orange-White Game — they’re calling it the Orange-White Scrimmage this year — is Saturday (1 p.m., Royal-Memorial Stadium, LHN, 1300). It’s free to the public. The annual fan fest also returns. DKR’s gates open at 11 a.m., and you’ll get the chance to take pictures of Bevo and Smokey the Cannon. Vince Young’s also signing autographs at the official team shop on the west side of DKR — for $59 a pop. … Texas got a pair of commitments Thursday in San Jose, Calif. brothers Kirk and Collin Johnson, the sons of former Longhorns All-American safety Johnnie Johnson. Here’s our story ($).
Men’s basketball: Stay tuned on April 30. That’s when prized recruit Myles Turner says he’ll make his college announcement. It’s widely speculated that it’ll either be Texas or Kansas. … Former UT assistant coach Frank Haith is leaving Missouri to replace Danny Manning at Tulsa, according to reports. It’s expected to become official today.
Baseball: No. 6 Texas lost to TCU on Thursday, 3-0. TCU starter Brandon Finnegan threw eight innings of shutout ball. Finnegan’s 84 strikeouts this season were second-most in the country. He had 11 Ks Thursday night. Game 2 is tonight (6 p.m., LHN, 1300). Texas lefty Dillon Peters (5-2, 2.70) will get tonight’s start, opposite TCU righty Preston Morrison (4-3, 1.80). Game 3 is at 4 p.m. Saturday (LHN, 1300).
Softball: Texas lost to No. 16 Oklahoma in Norman last night, 4-1. Game 2 of the best-of-three series is at 6:30 tonight (Fox College Sports). … Freshman left-handed pitcher Tiarra Davis is one of 25 finalists for the national freshman of the year award, given by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. She’s 13-8, including 5-1 in Big 12 play. She’s also hitting .349. She’s the only Big 12 player among the finalists, which will be narrowed to 10 in early May.
Women’s track and field: Sophomore sprinter Courtney Okolo, who won last Saturday’s 400 at the Texas Invitational with a nation’s-best time of 51.36, was named the Big 12 female athlete of the week. It’s the second straight week a Longhorn has claimed the honor (Marielle Hall). … Texas competes in the Michael Johnson Dr Pepper Classic on Saturday, in Waco.
Men’s golf: Two Longhorns were named to the All-Big 12 academic team — senior Toni Hakula and Beau Hossler, a redshirt freshman. Sophomore Will Griffin made the second team. Hakula, an economics major, was named to the first team for the third straight year.
Women’s golf: Three Longhorns were named to the All-Big 12 academic team — junior Bertine Strauss and sophomores Tezira Abe and Natalie Karcher. Alyssa Morgan, a senior, made the second team.
Men’s tennis: No. 7 Texas fell to No. 6 Baylor on Wednesday, 5-2. The Longhorns (19-4, 3-1) still can clinch a share of the Big 12 regular-season title on Saturday, at Texas Tech.
Women’s tennis: No. 20 Texas hosts Baylor today, in the final regular-season match at Penick-Allison. It’s Senior Day for Elizabeth Begley and Juliana Gajic. Begley, who has an 85-45 career singles record, has won Big 12 individual titles the past two years. Gajic has won 31 singles matches and 28 doubles matches as a Longhorn. The dual match will be shown on the Longhorn Network at 10 p.m. (tape delay).
Men’s swimming and diving: Senior swimmer Reid Walker was named the Big 12’s men’s swimming and diving scholar-athlete of the year. The mechanical engineering major has a 3.93 GPA and last month received the Dr. Gerald Lange Academic Achievement Award, the Big 12’s highest academic honor.
Rowing: Texas’ regular season wraps up this weekend, at the Clemson Invite on Saturday and Sunday. It’ll be a three-session regatta with seven-lane racing. There are 21 schools in the field.
ON APRIL 18 …
1983: A suicide bomber destroyed the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killing 63.
1955: Albert Einstein died.
1831: The University of Alabama was founded.
TRIVIA ANSWER: No. 5 Notre Dame, on the merits of its 38-10 Cotton Bowl win over No. 1 Texas, ended up winning the 1978 national championship. No. 2 Oklahoma lost in the Orange Bowl, and No. 4 Michigan fell in the Rose Bowl. The Irish got the voting nod over No. 4 Alabama.
TODAY’S LITTLE NUMBER: 1. Times that UT’s baseball team has been shut out this season, in 39 games. It happened last night, a 3-0 loss to TCU.
TODAY’S BIGGER NUMBER: 7. Home runs for UT softballer Mandy Ogle, who hit one Thursday night in Norman.
TODAY’S BIG NUMBER: 13. Career pass attempts for Tyrone Swoopes, Texas’ lone scholarship quarterback available for Saturday’s spring game.
OK, Breakfast is over. Thanks for stopping by.
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