HOUSTON — While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. The Nick Saban story, which reappears in a recent book, just won’t die. The truth is Texas’ high-powered donors – two, in particular – and the Longhorn fan base coveted Saban. But then-UT President Bill Powers continually told me Saban would not be the next Texas head coach, I think, in large part because of Saban’s age, the fear that he would be bigger than the university (and he might have been) and the view that the SEC operates by its own set of rules. Also, athletic director Steve Patterson, in general, despises dealing with agents and always felt super-agent Jimmy Sexton was using Texas to feather Saban’s financial nest in Tuscaloosa. Plus, Mack Brown did not want to step down and wouldn’t give his blessing to a regime change with Saban, which further damaged the deal. Originally, the chances of landing Saban “could have been 50 percent early on, but would have needed Mack’s consent,” said one Texas source heavily involved in the process. “Looking back, I think there was zero chance due to DD (DeLoss Dodds’) and Powers’ attitude about it. The whole ‘SEC are cheaters’ stuff. Patterson never had a real vote. Came too late to the game.” Was it a colossal mistake? Probably, because Saban’s the best college coach who ever lived. That said, Charlie Strong was a solid hire. Adds the source,”It would have been a short-term fix. I like what we have with Strong.”
2. Ran into Austin native and Los Angeles Angels coach Don Baylor around the batting cage on Tuesday. He still lives in Lakeway and still roots for the Longhorns. In fact, Darrell Royal recruited him as an Austin High tight end, but Baylor signed with the Baltimore Orioles instead. “Coach Royal wanted me to play only football,” Baylor said. “He told me he saved my baseball career by not letting me play football. I would have played with James Street and Randy Peschel.” He lamented the trade of Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies, whom he once managed. “If you trade him,” he said,”you’re not adding. You’re subtracting.”
3. Strong, perhaps with tongue in cheek, said Texas will be the next to explore satellite football camps in other states, especially the hotbed of Florida, which he has already mined for recruits. “They’ll really stop it when we start doing it,” Strong said. “We might do it in every state.” I’m totally against these camps. Assistant coaches are already overworked.
4. Kudos to Strong for his unique coaching technique in which he “invited” at least a third of his roster into a room at the football complex, only to be greeted by the entire coaching staff, which then all but did an intervention with an intense evaluation of each player’s skills and deficiencies. “If you’re a little defensive, that chair wasn’t very comfortable for you because there wasn’t much for you to defend,” Strong said. “Like I said, I would open it up and every other coach would join in. If you’re on offense, you had a chance to hear what the defensive coaches said about you. Sometimes you need those types of meetings so that guys could understand exactly how you feel and what you think about them.”
5. I would not vote for Alex Rodriguez for Comeback Player of the Year because his absence from last year was his own doing. And I’m a huge Yankees fan. Prince Fielder has earned it after a neck injury killed his 2014 season with the Rangers. Personally, I’m glad A-Rod is having a bounce-back year with 24 home runs, but I will not root for him to pass Babe Ruth’s 715 home runs. Babe, you’ll remember, only used performance-retarding hot dogs.
6. Glad the NFL upheld the four-game suspension of Tom Brady for the deflated footballs. The punishment might not fit the crime, but it certainly reminds that no one person is bigger than the game.
7. Caught up with pal B.G. Brooks, who is penning a retrospective of Colorado’s 1990 national championship with the tainted “Fifth Down” win over Missouri. When the Buffaloes were awarded a fifth down to allow quarterback Charles Johnson to score (did he even cross the goal line?) to beat the Tigers on the last play of the game, it was the worst officiating decision since Don Denkinger ruled Jorge Orta safe at first base in the ninth inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. Some Missourians got the shaft that day as well, since the St. Louis Cardinals lost that game and Game 7 to fall to the Royals. Brooks, who was there for the Rocky Mountain News that day, was on the sideline, chronicling every play. In the locker room, he told head coach Bill Mc-
Cartney his team had been given an extra down, at which point McCartney turned to his athletic director and said,”They can’t take it away from us, can they?” Colorado overcame a 1-1-1 start that season, beat Texas and won a split national championship.
8. Craig Biggio was a deserving inductee into the Hall of Fame as much for his daily grind as his four positions and 3,000 hits. I’ll always remember his professionalism. One time when a rookie catcher hit a home run in an Astros win and then lingered in the clubhouse lounge, Biggio marched in and yelled at him to get his butt to his locker and talk to the media. Reporters don’t ever forget that type of professionalism.
9. Loved “Ant-Man.” Count me among the skeptical that Paul Rudd could pull off the role of super hero, even though I love him as a comedic actor. But he did it. The movie had a ton of witty dialogue and funny lines. Gave it 8 ducks.
Crazy prediction: Texas quarterback Jerrod Heard will play more snaps than Tyrone Swoopes against Notre Dame.
Contact Kirk Bohls at 512-445-3772.