Cedric Golden

American-Statesman Staff

Column

Golden: In Acho vs. Boyd, a Texas ex tackles the loyalty vs. business quandary at ESPN

Posted October 31st, 2018

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Story highlights
  • Texas ex Emmanuel Acho, an ESPN analyst, drew the ire of Texas cornerback Kris Boyd after some pointed online criticism during the Texas-OSU game.
  • Boyd responded on social media by tellling Acho to be quiet and to not come to campus.
  • Acho has to balance his loyalty to his university with his professional life.

When does love for one’s football program trump paying the bills?

It’s a question that Texas ex Emmanuel Acho has probably asked himself several times over the last few days. Acho, in his first year as a college football studio analyst at ESPN, has a job to do. But sometimes a hot take can produce a volcanic eruption of response.

Acho, who started at linebacker on UT’s 2009 team that fell to Alabama in the BCS national championship game, played 20 games in two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. He injected some humor onto his Twitter account after a weekend of cyber-fireworks involving current Texas cornerback Kris Boyd, who was on skates for much of Saturday night’s 38-35 loss at Oklahoma State.

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“Just landed in Austin and looking for a safe house,” Acho tweeted Tuesday night. “Somebody send me the coordinates.”

Acho was making light of an Internet threat thrown his way by Boyd, a fiery senior who rarely holds his tongue.

“Definitely not the Texas locker room,” one of Acho’s followers replied.

Former Texas Longhorn Emmanuel Acho, a linebacker with the Philadelphia Eagles, gives a Hook'Em before taking part the session, Paid to Play: The Future of College Athletics during South by Southwest 2014.
Former Texas player Emmanuel Acho, now an ESPN analyst, caught some heat this past weekend for a critical tweet about current Longhorns player Kris Boyd; Boyd responded angrily back at him on Instagram. [RODOLFO GONZALEZ/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]
Boyd had major problems in Stillwater. Cowboys wideout Tylan Wallace caught 10 balls for 222 yards and Boyd was on the business end of several of them, including a mistimed jump on Wallace’s 36-yard touchdown to close the first half. Boyd wasn’t at his best after he entered the game following a first-quarter suspension for being late to a team function.

“Bruh, you can’t be late to meetings THEN come out here and get mossed,” Acho tweeted during the game. “Your team needs you.”

Any fan of a good Twitter beef knew Boyd would erupt once he checked his mentions. We just didn’t know he would go in on Acho as hard as he did.

It’s called a clap-back. And Boyd clapped hard on Instagram.

“@themanacho keep running your mouth,” Boyd wrote, with an expletive included. “Don’t show up around this facility. You was warned at practice…Running your mouth further than your football career took you. You an outsider just like everybody else. UT Football has no affiliation with you.”

If I had a dollar for every time UT coach Tom Herman has said the only opinions that matter are the ones inside his locker room and on his coaching staff, I could eat steak every day for a week. Boyd met with his coach, who provided some sage advice.

“You want to silence any critic, the best way to do that is keep your mouth shut and go play really good,” Herman said. “And again, why — if you’re concerned about the critics, then you’ve probably got bigger issues. So we did talk about that, but again, I think it was Kris’ ill-advised way to kind of show everybody that the only people whose opinions matter are his teammates and coaches. So it was a learning moment.”

Acho respectfully declined to answer a question via text about balancing his love for UT with his journalistic duty to the World Wide Leader, which promoted him from the Longhorn Network to national studio host with a multi-year deal in July. He isn’t the first UT player-turned-broadcaster to be confronted by someone within the program for his opinions.

Popular local sports personality Rod Babers, who works for 104.9 The Horn, resigned as the sideline reporter for Texas radio broacasts back in 2013 after then -coach Mack Brown and members of the athletic department expressed dissatisfaction with critical comments he made on his afternoon show on KVET.  The former UT All-American cornerback remembers getting called into Brown’s office on multiple occasions to explain comments he’d made that had gotten back to the coach.

“It’s probably one of the most difficult professional hurdles I’ve had to overcome in my career, in that playing where you have that allegiance of being a lifetime Longhorn,” Babers said. “My situation was different from Manny and Brian Jones (a Texas ex who is a national studio host for CBS Sports). They’re national and I was  local. (Texas radio voice) Craig Way told me a long time ago it’s not always what you say, but how you say it. Manny is a super-intelligent guy. He will learn from this and have a great career.”

Acho may not be as popular among current players in his new role as he was with LHN, but business is business and sometimes honest criticism comes with a cost.

There is value in paying that price.

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