Bohls: DeLoss Dodds reminisces about Aggies rivalry and job offer he turned down
While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. That's Mr. Jones to you. DeLoss Dodds may be retired for the last eight years, but the 81-year-old former Texas athletic director, who branded his athletic program when he said "we are the Joneses," remains as sharp as ever and graced our “On Second Thought” podcast with an interview that will be available Thursday. When I asked the best college AD ever if he’d been approached for a million jobs during his 32-year run at Texas when the athletic program won 19 national championships, Dodds said, “Not a million, but Alabama offered me the job over there one time. And you know that wasn't appealing to me at that time so, no. Once I got to Texas (from Kansas State in 1981), I just thought this will be the last place I work, and it's turned out to be that.” When I said he would have had a chance to work with Nick Saban, whom many Longhorns fans have coveted from afar, Dodds cracked, “Work with him or work for him?” Valid point. … Dodds would have made a great NCAA president but said he would have had absolutely no interest in that because “that’s not a good job.” … On the Texas A&M rivalry, Dodds said he and fellow Aggies AD "poked each other probably more than we should have" and said of the two football blood rivals, “They’ll play again. They should play again. But the SEC has been good for them. The Aggies are big-time and important to Texas and the state of Texas.”
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2. Now pitching for the Horns. Texas baseball coach David Pierce said he hasn’t made his mind up yet about which of his pitchers to start in the Longhorns’ NCAA regional opener against Southern. But I’m guessing he has. Because the Jaguars (20-28) are the fourth seed in this four-team regional, conventional wisdom says Pierce should start No. 2 Tristan Stevens. Arizona State could be a test, but it lost three top pitchers to injury in February and got swept at home in its last series by UCLA, and Fairfield hasn't played a single game outside the Metro Atlantic Conference. Sure, the move could backfire. There are no guarantees. But Pierce should save ace Ty Madden for the second game. Cliff Gustafson always held back his top pitcher, reasoning that the other pitchers are going to have to win games to advance, and Pierce is better reserving Madden for the higher-ranked teams. Now Gus once had to insert All-American Greg Swindell late into a regional opener against Grambling 4-3 in 12 innings in 1985 to survive, which Texas did en route to a runner-up finish at the College World Series. “I believe I pitched 4-plus innings,” Swindell said. “Then I came back and beat OU after that two days later.” Zeke said he might lean toward Stevens, too, and loves his game, calling the right-hander “a consistent gamer and reliable. You know what you’re going to get.” … “There’s a lot of stuff that's gonna go into play there,” Pierce said. “Until I get a look at all three teams and see our best matchup, but also our timing ... who's ready. I don't know yet. I really don’t.” … I wouldn’t be overly concerned with Texas’ offensive ineptitude in the Big 12 Tournament, its 46 strikeouts notwithstanding. The Longhorns will hit better at a packed UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Adds Pierce, “It’s not like we were hitting .320, and all of sudden we can’t hit.” They can manufacture runs with the short game and their speed. What’s good about this Texas team is it can start rallies anywhere in the order whereas some Longhorns teams struggled to mount threats after the fourth or fifth batter in the lineup.
3. Not going away. The Texas softball team fell a win short of the Women’s College World Series, but save any tears. These Longhorns, almost all of whom return for 2022, are knocking on the door after their second shot at a super regional in three years (last season was cut short). Third-year coach Mike White called the loss to Oklahoma State in the super regional's Game 3 “frustrating,” but he knows what’s on the horizon with a strong nucleus and six players in a recruiting class ranked seventh in the nation. White said these newcomers will “absolutely” make an immediate impact. “At best, three or four of them will be starters for us next year. I look for Texas to be a lot better. We got to be real. We can’t just pat ourselves on the back.” … Among the recruits are right-handed pitcher Sophia Simpson with a “devastating changeup” as well as power hitters Mia Scott in the infield and Ashton Maloney and Mya Holmes in the outfield.
4. A money sport. Oklahoma State may have held off Texas to claim the final softball berth in the WCWS, but Cowgirls coach Kenny Gajewski said the Longhorns aren’t going away. “What Mike’s doing now, well, he took over not a program in great shape. He’ll be just fine,” he said. “Their hitters will be just fine. It is what it is when you run into these elite arms. They are just really hard to hit. And when elite arms are on, you got no shot. We took advantage when (Texas ace) Shea O’Leary hit two batters and were able to score. That’s what elite teams do. They are right there. I don't think there's anything wrong with their approach or their coaching. I think that they're doing a pretty dang good job.” … Gajewski also raved about the ascent that softball has taken. “Why wouldn't you invest more money into this sport? This sport is as good as anything going on any campus. It is unbelievable. If you give us resources like we have for football and basketball and baseball, it’d be as good as anything on campus. These girls are crazy good.”
5. Not par for the course. The Texas men’s golf season finished with a dud, not a flurry, when it finished in a tie for 27th out of 30 teams at the NCAA Championships in Scottsdale, Ariz., and failed to advance to match play. I think its two studs got worn down and fatigued when Cole Hammer and Pierceson Coody rightfully competed at the Walker Cup and in the Byron Nelson. I know coach John Fields said they factored in the busy schedule, but that’s some stressful golf, combined with the Big 12 Tournament and the NCAA regional in Noblesville, Ind., as a prelude to the NCAAs. “The outcome was unexpected and painful to say the least,” Fields said, “but a function of success, scheduling, COVID and key performance deficiencies. Wouldn’t change my decisions or path this year even if I had a crystal ball and knew this outcome was imminent. We took opportunities as they came. I rolled the dice and lost. Suffice it to say, they hit the wall. In the end, I didn’t get it done. This is my responsibility, period.” Love the accountability. Fields could give some lessons to others for his stand-up position.
6. Fore. Texas will have a pair of golfers representing the school at this week’s U.S. Women’s Open, including new South Korean recruit Bohyun Park, a three-time state high school champion from Farmers Branch. Senior Kaitlyn Papp, who just announced she is turning pro, is the other. Longhorns women’s coach Ryan Murphy says, “She’s a bit of a legend in the state of Texas.” Park finished second in the U.S. Open qualifying site in Houston in a competition that sent just two golfers to the Open. “And she beat five of my current players,” Murphy said. Park will join a talented program that also includes sophomore-to-be Bentley Cotton, who “will be an All-American before it’s all said and done. She helped us immensely get through the regional in Louisville when we finished second. She’s a tremendous ball-striker.”
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7. Quick hits. I wouldn’t give a first-round draft choice to the aging, always-hurt Julio Jones. Not even sure I would give a second unless I’m on the brink of a Super Bowl like the Titans or 49ers. … Why do they call it a walk-off hit? Shouldn’t it be a trot-off or run-off hit? … Glad to see that unruly fans who throw things and endanger players and coaches are being arrested. Has to be a zero-tolerance thing.
8. Scattershooting. While wondering whatever happened to former Longhorns closer great J. Brent Cox.
9. On the couch: “Four Good Days” is, without question, the finest work of Mila Kunis and Glenn Close, both of whom should get Oscar nominations for best actress and supporting actress. Some critics have panned this work as a tired plot line of a young woman trapped in heroin addiction, but I found it riveting and thought it shined a light on the dysfunction that can be found in most families. Gave it 8 ducks.
Crazy prediction: I'll take Vanderbilt over Arkansas to win the CWS.