Good morning. Breakfast is served.
It’s December 8th — 343 down, 23 to go.
And 9 till the very first bowl games.
YESTERDAY: Baylor introduced its new coach. Oregon found its coach, too (South Florida’s Willie Taggart). A former Texas coach got a new head coaching job — and it wasn’t Charlie Strong. The No. 1-ranked UConn women beat No. 2 Notre Dame by 11, the Huskies’ 83rd straight win. The Yankees inked Aroldis Chapman to a five-year deal. Former Texas Tech (and Texas A&M) men’s coach Billie Gillispie said he’s retiring. And Indiana State handed No. 16 Butler its first loss of the season.
TODAY: We find out if D’Onta Foreman is the nation’s best running back and whether Michael Dickson is the best punter at tonight’s annual College Football Awards Show (6 p.m., ESPN). The Chiefs and Raiders play on Thursday Night Football (7:30, NBC), which also probably kicks off your fantasy football league’s playoffs.
TOMORROW: Texas volleyball continues its quest for the Final Four with a regional semifinal against BYU (3 p.m., ESPNU). And Texas ex Tom Kite will celebrate his 67th birthday.
Dec. 8 has a sports history. On this date, Florida’s Tim Tebow won the Heisman Trophy (2007); Jose Uribe died (2006); Darryl Strawberry was indicted on tax evasion charges (1994); NHL history was made when Philadelphia’s Ron Hextall became the first goalie to actually score a goal (1987); Earl Campbell became Texas’ first Heisman winner (1977); the Yankees traded away Roger Maris to the Cardinals (1966); and SMU’s Doak Walker won the Heisman, some 42 years before the first Doak Walker Award was doled out (1948).
On Dec. 8, 1914, the Southwest Conference was born. Sparked by UT athletic director L. Theo Bellmont, the Southwest Intercollegiate Athletic Conference was established at a hotel in Houston with charter members Baylor, Oklahoma A&M (which is now Oklahoma State), Rice, Southwestern, Texas, Texas A&M, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Today’s sports birthdays: Dwight Howard (31), Philip Rivers (35), Vernon Wells (38), Kevin Harvick (41), Mike Mussina (48), Jeff George (49) and Steve Elkington (54). Other notables: Nicki Minaj (34) and Kim Basinger (63).
The Doors’ Jim Morrison would have turned 74 today.
Trivia question: In what city is Jim Morrison buried? (Answer’s at the end of Breakfast.)
Top of the menu: College football.
We’ve spent the last few months marveling at the seasons of D’Onta Foreman, who became Texas’ second 2,000-yard rusher, led the nation in rushing yards and broke Campbell’s 39-year-old record for consecutive 100-yard games, and Michael Dickson, who you can make the case is Tom Herman’s only sure thing on the roster for 2017. Tonight, we’ll find out if the rest of the country thinks as highly of them as we do.
Foreman and Dickson are the two Longhorns representing Texas (the school, but not just the state) at tonight’s annual College Football Awards Show, which is in Atlanta after a run of several years in Orlando. Nine national awards will be presented — the Maxwell, Bednarik, O’Brien, Walker, Biletnikoff, Outland, Thorpe, Groza and Guy awards. Brian Davis is in Atlanta for us; here’s his look at Thursday’s awards, which will have a distinct state-of-Texas flavor.
Our prediction: Foreman becomes Texas’ second player to win the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back, joining Ricky Williams, who won it twice. But Dickson falls just short of winning the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s best punter.
If you’re filling out your ballot a la the Academy Awards ballot, here’s our best guesses:
Maxwell Award (player of the year): Lamar Jackson, Louisville. Over Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield, Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers. Why? All three are headed to New York City for Saturday’s Heisman Trophy ceremony, but Jackson, play for play, was the best player in college football this season.
Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year): Peppers. Over Alabama’s Jonathan Allen, Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett. Why? Neither Allen nor Garrett will be in NYC this weekend. Peppers will.
Davey O’Brien Award (best quarterback): Deshaun Watson, Clemson. Over Jackson, Mayfield. Why? Because there’s a difference between being the best quarterback and the best player. This should be a close vote.
Doak Walker Award (best running back): D’Onta Foreman, Texas. Over Florida State’s Dalvin Cook, San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey. Why? Consider this makeup for Foreman not getting an NYC invitation. Pumphrey should end up with more yards than Foreman after SDSU’s bowl game, but Foreman will have played two fewer games. And Cook’s numbers don’t stack up:
- Foreman: 323 carries for 2,028 yards and 15 TDs; 184.4 average yards per game, with a long run of 74.
- Cook: 268 carries for 1,686 yards and 18 TDs; 135.0 average yards per game, with a long of 75.
- Pumphrey: 330 carries for 2,018 yards and 16 TDs; 155.2 average yards per game, with a long of 79.
Biletnikoff Award (outstanding receiver): Dede Westbrook, Oklahoma. Over Northwestern’s Austin Carr, East Carolina’s Zay Jones. Why? First, Wesbrook (74-1,465-16) has been absolutely electric all season. Second, his numbers are better than Carr’s (84-1,196-12) and Jones’ (158-1,746-8).
Outland Trophy (best interior lineman): Cam Robinson, Alabama. Over Ohio State’s Pat Elflein, Washington State’s Cody O’Connell. Why? When in doubt, it’s hard to go against Bama’s left tackle.
Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back): Adoree’ Jackson, USC. Over Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis, LSU’s Tre-Davious White. Why? Jackson has 20 more tackles than White and 28 more than Lewis, and twice as many interceptions.
Lou Groza Award (outstanding kicker): Daniel Carlson, Auburn. Over Arizona State’s Daniel Carlson, Georgia Southern’s Younghoe Koo. Why? Numbers matter. Carlson had better field goal numbers (26 of 30, compared to 23 of 25 and 15 of 21)), was a perfect 6 of 6 from 40 to 49 yards and was 5 of 7 from 50 yards or longer. Gonzalez had a 59-yarder, by the way.
Ray Guy Award (punter of the year): Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah. Over Texas’ Michael Dickson, Ohio State’s Cameron Johnston. Why? Well, we’re pretty sure an Aussie will win it — the top two punters, Wishnowsky and Dickson hail from Australia — but as much as we’ve been wowed by Dickson’s production this season, Wishnowsky’s was just a little bit better. Here’s how all three stack up:
- Wishnowsky: 60 punts, 47.9 average, a long of 66, 28 of 50-plus yards and 34 inside the 20.
- Dickson: 65 punts, 47.3 average, a long of 74, 25 of 50-plus yards and 28 inside the 20.
- Johnston: 49 punts, 46.2 average, a long of 70, 16 of 50-plus yards and 23 inside the 20.
What’s being written out there about the Longhorns?
The Big 12’s all-conference team, as selected by the coaches, was released on Wednesday. Three Longhorns made the first team — Foreman, Dickson and left tackle Connor Williams.
Meanwhile, remember Tom Herman’s introductory press conference when he stressed an open door policy when it comes to the state’s high school coaches? That played out last week when he made a quick trip to Elgin to visit with Elgin AD Jim Garfield, whom he’s known for years. The Elgin Courier talked to Garfield about the visit. And consider Wylie running back Eno Benjamin, a 4-star recruit, officially interested in Texas now; he decommitted from Iowa last week and says he’s looking forward to visiting Texas.
AROUND THE BIG 12: Baylor introduced 41-year-old Matt Rhule as head coach, and he sounded eager to turn things around in Waco. “We want to be a team that makes everybody proud,” Rhule said. “When you watch us play, I want you to say, ‘That’s my team. They play the way I want them to play.’” Here’s our coverage of Rhule’s presser. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Mac Engel likes the hire, but says Rhule has to have the backing from Baylor’s administration to really get it right. Rhule’s new hometown paper, the Waco Tribune-Herald, is calling for the new coach to practice what he’s preaching. Still, in the big picture, reaction around Waco was pretty positive, per the Trib. Over in Lubbock, Texas Tech is set to replace the 11-year-old FieldTurf at Jones AT&T Stadium this offseason, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. No word yet on cost. The Tulsa World set up this weekend’s Heisman Trophy ceremony with a look at the Norman-to-New York journey shared by Oklahoma teammates Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook, while Guerin Emig tackles the touchy topic of Oklahoma State’s dysfunctional football program that’s swirling with rumors surrounding Mike Gundy’s future. Emig’s point: It’s time for Gundy, T. Boone Pickens, Mike Holder and Burns Hargis to sit down and figure this thing out once and for all. In the basketball world, The TCU men are no longer undefeated; they were rocked by SMU on Wednesday night. And the Kansas City Star took a look at Kansas’ recent hot streak from beyond the 3-point line. And the UConn women, who have already dispatched Baylor and Texas, draw undefeated Kansas State on Sunday, and Kansas State (9-0) sounds like it knows how big of an opportunity this is.
AROUND THE FORTY ACRES:
Football: Let’s talk coaching. Willie Taggart’s move to Oregon has Tampa buzzing about a possible Charlie Strong-to-South Florida scenario, at least according to online polls and talk radio over there, the Tampa Times reports. The paper listed a handful of possible replacements, and this was its scouting report on Strong: “Though he couldn’t get it going with the Longhorns, he was wildly successful at Louisville (37-15 in four seasons). He also knows the state very well (four different coaching stints at Florida) and possesses some defensive chops, which USF desperately needs. It doesn’t hurt that his wife, Vicki, has family in Lakeland.” We’ll see. Cincinnati also is looking for a coach, and Strong’s been mentioned there as well, though the Cincinnati Enquirer reported Wednesday that Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell has emerged as one of the top choices. On the Major Applewhite front, the Houston Chronicle’s reporting that UH’s search should be done by the weekend, and that five candidates have been vetted — interim coach/defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, Applewhite, Alabama OC Lane Kiffin, Oklahoma OC Lincoln Riley and former LSU coach Les Miles, and that Riley is no longer in the running. On the former coaches front, Jay Norvell was hired as the head coach at Nevada. … Further complicating Foreman’s NFL Draft prospects, Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey declared Wednesday that he too is going pro. LSU’s Leonard Fournette already has as well.
Volleyball: The Austin Regional starts on Friday. The two semifinals are Texas vs. BYU (3 p.m., ESPNU) and Creighton-Michigan (5:30), at Gregory Gym. Saturday’s regional final is at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, with Friday’s winners for a berth in next week’s Final Four in Columbus.
Swimming and diving: Texas swept the Big 12’s swimmer and diver of the week awards announced Wednesday. On the men’s side, it was Jack Conger and Mark Anderson; on the women’s, it was Tasija Karosas and Meghan O’Brien. Conger had the nation’s top time in the 200 butterfly (1:40.24) and helped the 200 free relay to a top national time at last week’s Texas Invitational, where Anderson won two of his three events. Karosas broke her own school and Big 12 records in the 100 back twice at the meet, and ranks second nationally in the event. She also won the 200 back and helped UT to top-three national marks in the 400 free and medley relays, plus a school- and Big 12-record in the 800 free relay. O’Brien won the one-meter event.
On Dec. 8, 2010: SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft, with its SpaceX Falcon 9 craft.
On Dec. 8, 1980: John Lennon was murdered outside his New York City apartment building. The news was broken to the world by Howard Cosell during the Monday Night Football broadcast.
On Dec. 8, 1941: The United States, after a speech to Congress in which President Franklin D. Roosevelt called Dec. 7’s attack on Pearl Harbor “a date which will live in infamy,” declared war on Japan.
Trivia answer: Jim Morrison is buried in the same city where he died in 1971 — Paris, in the same Pere Lachaise Cemetary that houses the graves of Moliere, Chopin, Victor Noir and Oscar Wilde.
OK, Breakfast is over. Thanks for stopping by.
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