Golden: At Texas, 'The Eyes' will still have it under Steve Sarkisian
Texas school song was at the center of controversy last season
- New coach Steve Sarkisian says player will sing "The Eyes" proudly
- Texas freshman Greg Brown has hit the wall
- The Horns play at Iowa State Tuesday
The Texas Tribune published a story full of emails obtained from University of Texas donors, some of whom threatened to pull their money if the university dropped "The Eyes of Texas" as the school song.
The names were predictably redacted by the school to protect the names of the emailers and obviously to keep the cash rolling in.
Understandable, but still awkward after witnessing the Texas locker room nearly implode during the season.
A new football coach has been hired and, as if you didn't already know, “The Eyes” is staying. The administration has made it abundantly clear and Steve Sarkisian didn’t mince words during his introductory press conference when he said, “We’re going to sing it proudly.” Sark was given that directive well before he signed that six-year, $34.2 million contract to replace Tom Herman, who badly botched the whole thing.
I doubt it will be an issue in Sark’s tenure. It took a huge confluence of events locally and nationally to morph into what it became, but this next season will likely be more about football and less about lyrical content.
With that said, no school song ever won a football game, but the sheer fury from fans and donors over some players — many of them Black — having a problem with the song’s origins still boggles the mind.
Here’s a hypothetical question, Texas fan. Would you trade canceling “The Eyes” for five national football championships over the next 10 years? (It’s what Nick Saban has done at Alabama since 2011, by the way).
If winning is the ultimate goal, the answer is a resounding yes.
But it isn’t.
Want to know why issues over a school song don’t make national headlines in places like Tuscaloosa and Clemson?
Those programs are too busy with other priorities, like winning.
Freshman wall: Suck it up and play.
That’s the general consensus among college basketball coaches at this time of the year. The legs are obviously tired, and little relief is on the way with conferences having to hastily reschedule games amid COVID-19 concerns.
Texas plays at Iowa State on Tuesday and coach Shaka Smart understands not only the need to book at least two wins in the remaining three games — the Horns finish on the road with Oklahoma on Thursday and TCU on Sunday — but also the challenge of getting Greg Brown back on track.
Physical fatigue at this time of the season is an issue everywhere, but the mental fatigue wear-down suffered by first timers like Brown can sometimes stretch out much longer than it takes for dead legs to liven up.
There’s no question the youngster has hit that proverbial freshman wall, not unusual for newcomers whose high school season would be over outside of a deep postseason run.
After an 0-for-4 goose egg with eight rebounds in the West Virginia loss, Brown sparked the second-half comeback win over Kansas with a pair of 3-pointers out of the locker room. He followed up with only five points and a single rebound in 13 minutes of Saturday’s 68-59 loss at Texas Tech.
His recent performances have been uneven, a fact that can be attributed partly to foul trouble and a lack of minutes. Smart has sat him lately at crunch time in favor of the more experienced but less offensively talented Brock Cunningham because Cunningham has played with a lot more intensity of late.
Brown should take it as a sign that his coach wants to see more juice.
“This is probably the most most challenging stretch he’s had in his basketball career,” Smart said Monday. “It certainly will not be the most challenging stretch he ever has. I think it’s a great opportunity for him to respond. Focus on the next important thing, which is Iowa State ... putting energy into his team and his teammates.”
In other words, suck it up and play.
Brown was all over the place (in a good way) during the first half of the season, but his performances have been more uneven in conference play. That's understandable since the Big 12 is an obvious step up in competition overall. He has to get back to that unrelenting effort that led to him impacting games in the early season even when he isn’t scoring a ton.
On the bright side, he has played only 33 minutes in the last couple of games, so we could very well see a rejuvenated Brown in Ames.
Watt's desert destination: J.J. Watt left the dumpster fire that is the Houston Texans and found what he believes to be a better situation by signing a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals.
Better situation, but not the best situation if he’s serious about winning a Super Bowl.
Why not the Tennessee Titans, who have been knocking on the door in the AFC, or even the Dallas Cowboys, who have been in need of a pass-rushing presence opposite Demarcus Lawrence for what seems like forever?
Watt will pocket at least $23 million on the $31 million deal with a team that may be on the upward arc in the highly competitive NFC West. The Cardinals, 8-8 last season, could definitely use another impact player up front to join pass rusher Chandler Jones, whose 97 sacks since 2012 lead the league — Watt is second, with 95 — but the decision to sign there just doesn’t carry with it the ring of a serious last dash at a Super Bowl.
RIP, Mr. Cross: Some of my fondest early childhood sports memories came from watching "The NFL Today," the precursor for today's pregame shows.
The elegant Irv Cross, who died Sunday at age 81, was an integral part of the show hosted by Brent Musburger and each Sunday he joined with Phyllis George and Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder in breaking down the games and the personalities at a time when the NFL was becoming the league of choice in America.
As an elementary school kid who was already becoming interested in journalism, I was immediately intrigued by the nattily attired Black gentleman providing great perspective on a game I was still learning to understand.
There weren’t many Black men doing national sports television at the time, but Cross’ takes every Sunday resonated with a young boy in East Texas.
Rest well, Mr. Cross.