Staff takeaways from Monday’s UT press conference:
Brian Davis: When sports, politics mix
We’ve received an avalanche of emails, voicemails and other messages in the wake of men’s basketball coach Shaka Smart’s comments on the election. And we’ll share those on Friday in our weekly Whys of Texas mailbag. On Monday, Charlie Strong wanted nothing to do with a question about the election and the locker room fallout. “I don’t want to talk about that now,” he said. “But we’ll talk about it at some other time.” Coaches usually avoid political talk at all costs. Smart never once criticized Donald Trump; he merely said his players felt like Trump’s victory was “a slap in the face.” Unfortunately, that’s now how most readers interpreted it.
Danny Davis: Don’t make it win-or-else vs. TCU
Texas has won some close calls (Notre Dame, Baylor, Texas Tech) and has been on the losing end of a few heartbreakers (Oklahoma, Kansas State, West Virginia). This week’s business trip to Lawrence, though, shouldn’t end up in either category. The Longhorns weren’t willing to give the Jayhawks any bulletin board material on Monday, so I’ll say it since Texas doesn’t pay my rent: The better team in Lawrence will be the road team. Texas only needs one win to secure a bowl appearance, but it won’t be a good thing if the Longhorns are needing to worry about beating TCU to reach that milestone. That business needs to get taken care of this week.
Cedric Golden: Win this one and sleep easy
Saturday is Texas’ bowl game for so many reasons. The Horns have to win to keep alive Charlie Strong’s goal of winning out and getting to 7-5. This team wants no part of a 5-6 record and a win-at-all costs finale with the capable TCU Horned Frogs. There’s no guarantee that 6-6 means Strong will be back for 2017, but a 6-6 that includes a loss to Kansas or a 5-7 would probably be the death knell. My best advice would be to work the Rock Chalks in similar fashion to the 59-20 beatdown you put on them in 2015. It would relieve a lot of pressure on Strong entering the season finale. Win the Lawrence Bowl and sleep easier next week.
Kirk Bohls: WVU loss casting a shadow
Texas players were very subdued on Monday after the heartbreaking loss to West Virginia. So was Charlie Strong, who was trying his best to stay positive in light of this tenuous job security and put a good spin on finishing strong. Texas’ players kind of seemed to go through the motions half-heartedly in discussing their hopes of gaining bowl eligibility with another win, but the team has never been overly emotional all year, so it’s hard to read much into that.
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