Bohls: Sarkisian arrives fresh off latest win in Alabama dynasty
While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. Sark the spark. One thing is clear about Steve Sarkisian. The new Texas football coach breathes and breeds confidence. As he put it in his first full press conference Tuesday, "I came here to win championships. We're here to chase greatness to win championships," Sarkisian said the day after he won a national title as Alabama's offensive coordinator. "That's what's going to drive us every single day. How do you put yourself in a position to be successful? All of these things will start to add up to where we become that championship program. And I truly believe that day will come, and I don't think it'll take us as long as many might think." Good to know since he has to break in a new quarterback, a top receiver, two or three starting offensive linemen, two safeties and replace his All-American pass rusher. He can expect to inherit a roster that he called "very talented with speed and athleticism" and could return 13 starters from the Alamo Bowl win over Colorado. "I think hype is good. I think hype is great. But we can't live in a fantasy world. Now we need to go to work."
2. Houston, we have a GM. OK, the Texans have a new general manager in New England's Nick Caserio and may not be all that bad next season. Sure, the Texans went 4-12, but they had the toughest schedule in the league. They're $15 million over the salary cup, which will rise. Their losses came against teams that were 57 games over .500 and to five clubs that won their divisions, and Houston got Pro Bowl-caliber play out of its elite top five quarterback, who unfortunately is very disgruntled. I’m betting offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has a real chance at the head coaching job, but the Kansas City Chiefs are still busy. There is absolutely no chance Houston trades Deshaun Watson, who is the sole reason the Texans lost eight games by only one score and not more. Hiring Bieniemy would help heal the fractured relationship between the club and Watson, who's still upset he's not throwing to DeAndre Hopkins anymore and whose input for the GM was ignored. The Texans don’t have a draft pick in the first or second round, but have eight selections the last five rounds. Houston could trade star defensive end J.J. Watt — I would — and should draft a running back and a right guard and then commit to a defensive overhaul.
3. Fallout in Philly. If I’m the Texans and can't get Bieniemy, I’d hire Doug Pederson, who was unfairly fired in Philadelphia because the quarterback position was broken (along with the offensive line with Eagles’ 13 different combinations up front in 2020). Pederson brought Philadelphia its first Super Bowl, beating the Patriots. The Eagles haven’t been the same since and have now fired the two best head coaches they’ve ever had in Pederson and Andy Reid. If anything, he’ll be the big winner in this entire episode because he can land in a place more playoff-ready. I think he’s a creative, imaginative head coach who screwed up royally and probably lost his locker room when he totally mishandled the regular-season finale by playing his third-string quarterback and allowed Washington to win the NFC East. But I think he’s a damn good coach. Looks like Philly chose a quarterback (Carson Wentz) over him.
4. Best ever. Period. Can we finally agree that Nick Saban is the best coach in the history of organized sports? In these times when scholarships are limited, the transfer portal is inviting and thriving, teams like Coastal Carolina and Liberty can be great, few coaches have ironclad control over his players and his assistant coaches despite constant turnover of both, Saban's résumé is so much more impressive than a John Wooden or a Bear Bryant or a Mike Krzyzewski or a Red Auerbach. Saban is the best coach of all time, and he's not finished. He’s got seven national championships, six at Alabama, and he’s in perfect health, as motivated as ever and has created a machine that attracts the elite of the elite talent and develops that talent. … That was one overwhelming performance by Alabama when it pummeled an excellent Ohio State team 52-24, but let’s pump the brakes on labeling the Crimson Tide as the best college football team ever. I don’t even think it’s in the top five. Its offense is and maybe the best ever. But my top five teams are, in order, 2001 Miami with Clinton Portis and Ed Reed, Vince Young’s 2005 Texas, the 2004 USC that crushed Oklahoma, Tommie Frazier’s 1995 Nebraska and the 2019 LSU team featuring Joe Burrow’s 60 touchdowns, receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson, tailback Clyde Edwards-Helaire, linebacker Patrick Queen et al. … Now this Alabama defense squad is subpar, by Crimson Tide standards only, and the SEC was so top-heavy, it basically had one monster team, one really, really good team (Texas A&M, which I ranked No. 3 Monday), two good teams (Florida and Georgia) and little else. Even Saban said afterward, “Our offense is really the key to the success of this team. We’re an OK defensive team, not a great defensive team.”
5. No plain Mr. Smith. I really think we could make an argument for DeVonta Smith as the best wide receiver ever in college. And maybe the most humble. The gifted receiver had 215 yards on 12 catches with three touchdowns in one half Monday, giving him 23 scores this year alone. He looks to me like the second coming of Antonio Brown with his skill set of terrific hands, excellent body control and speed although some have likened him to the slight-of-build Marvin Harrsion. Smith just glides down the field, can contort his body to make impossible catches and almost never drops a pass. ESPN's Todd McShay projects 13 Tide players to go in the draft, six in the first round. Tailback Najee Harris looks like a more complete Derrick Henry to me. Mac Jones, a three-star recruit who almost went to Kentucky, is Exhibit A of Sark’s tutoring and could wind up being Saban’s best NFL quarterback.
6. More defense, please. Shaka Smart’s Texas basketball team hosts surging Texas Tech on Wednesday night, but the sixth-year head coach said his club really needs to upgrade its defense. “We’re just not good enough guarding the basketball,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job of getting our hands on the ball and helping each other. I’m always telling the players that good is the enemy of great. We’re pretty good but we’re not great. Of course, I’m biased in favor of defense.” … The Red Raiders have averaged 87 points a game the last two games and beat Iowa State by 27 even though five-star guard Nimari Burnett has left the team. “Tech will be a heck of a challenge,” Smart said. “It’s always a war against those guys.” Tech ranks third nationally in defensive efficiency, while Texas ranks fourth.
7. Ossai can you see? I’m seeing Texas defensive end Joseph Ossai being projected in the first round and forecast as the 24th selection by McShay, who has him going to Tennessee. McShay said the Titans desperately need an upgrade in its pass rush after finishing third to last with just 19 sacks. Writes McShay, “With a 3-4 defense, I like Ossai's fit in Tennessee. He had five sacks and 16 tackles for loss this season, showcasing high-end instincts and speed.”
8. Scattershooting. While wondering whatever happened to Gary Overbeck, a 6-foot-7 Longhorns center who scored 41 points in a game against the Aggies in 1968, a performance that still ranks tied for eighth in UT history.
9. On the couch. Had the misfortune to watch “Ava,” falsely billed as a thriller starring Jessica Chastain as a female assassin with personality issues. Had so much more potential. Gave it four ducks.
Crazy prediction: Nick Saban, 69, will win four more national championships before he retires.