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Bohls: Texas baseball, College Football Playoff format both getting bigger and better

Kirk Bohls
Austin American-Statesman
Texas pitcher Tanner Witt and his teammates are prepping for a super regional tournament against South Florida with a College World Series berth at stake. The Longhorns have caught breaks this NCAA postseason, from getting a friendly regional and a super regional foe that is 31-28 this season.

While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:

1. Direct path. Texas is getting some breaks, but as the No. 2 national seed, the Longhorns made their breaks by winning the Big 12 as the league's top seed. First, they got one of the softest regionals in the country. Second, top-seeded Florida and perennial College World Series qualifier Miami get bounced in the Gainesville Regional that supplied the Horns' super regional opponent. Third, the upset sends a hot but flawed South Florida team to Austin, a club that has a modest 31-28 record but one that's peaking and has won seven of its last nine games. Finally, if Texas can advance out of this super regional, as it should, it will be lumped into a friendly bracket at the CWS and would not have to potentially face No. 1 Arkansas, pitching-rich No. 4 Vanderbilt, No. 5 Arizona, dangerous No. 8 Texas Tech or streaking No. 9 Stanford until the best-of-three CWS championship series if the Longhorns advance that far. On Texas' side of the bracket are four unseeded teams along with No. 3 Tennessee, No. 7 Mississippi State and No. 10 Notre Dame. Now David Pierce’s team has to take care of business this weekend. … USF is only the seventh regional fourth seed to advance — Dallas Baptist and LSU made it as three seeds — and the Bulls are peaking after finishing 14-14 in the American Athletic Conference and starting the season 0-3 just like Texas. This is a team that lost a three-game road series to Texas Tech — Texas lost two of three to the Red Raiders — but caught fire to win its conference tournament and survive four rain delays over four days to emerge from the Gainesville regional.

2. An even dozen? Momentum may be building to grow the College Football Playoff field from its current four to as many as 12 teams although nothing will happen before the 2023 season. Me, I like eight. I’d give automatic bids to the Power Five champions and the highest-ranked Group of Five team with two other at-large bids. I think a dozen teams are too many and would dilute the field and diminish the impact of the regular season, and that is dangerous. No one cares about college basketball’s regular season anymore. A four-person committee will report to the CFP management committee that includes Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby on July 17-18. Bowlsby said he's not at liberty to discuss it. A 12-team format would mean substantial more money (and include byes for the top four teams and hosting privileges for the teams seeded 5-8 in the first round) and better access for the Group of Five teams, but it would also further lessen the interest of the bowl games if that's possible and increase more player opt-outs before them.

TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle could become Texas A&M's new baseball coach this week. He has built the Horned Frogs into a Big 12 and national power.

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3. Gigging 'em. I'm going to be completely shocked if TCU’s Jim Schlossnagle doesn't accept the Texas A&M baseball job this week. It's a huge win for the Aggies and a better job than TCU because it’ll mean more money for Schloss, a better conference (but tougher) and Schloss is one of the best 10 coaches in America. … Of course, Texas Tech’s Tim Tadlock is also on that prestigious list as well and has his streaking Red Raiders set to host Stanford for their third consecutive super regional and the fifth in his nine seasons. … I’d expect TCU to go strong for Dallas Baptist coach Dan Heefner, whose Patriots will play in this week’s super regional. … Pierce is still making his bones but has already been deservedly named Big 12 coach of the year and should receive much credit for building this pitching staff along with Sean Allen, recruiting so well that he’s got true or redshirt freshmen at second, shortstop, catcher and right field and has designed a team that has legit power and great wheels to go with brilliant defense. … Over lunch with good friend Merrill Wade, we wondered what Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan told his team during a two-hour rain delay while already facing a 19-1 deficit to South Alabama. I said I’d tell the players I loved ‘em and ask them for their most memorable and funny moments of the season. His players might never forget the moment, just like Mack Brown told his Longhorns not to make their 2005 national title the best highlight of their life. Then, if I'm O'Sully, I take the superior LSU job.

4. Bear with him. Baylor's Dave Aranda hasn’t named his starting quarterback and probably won’t until mid-August in consultation with new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes from BYU. The second-year Bears coach, who's trying hard to forget his inaugural 2-7 season in his head coaching debut, won’t have Charlie Brewer since he transferred to Utah for his final season, but has a stable of promising prospects. Fourth-year junior Gerry Bohanon, who has played in 15 games and is very mobile in the pocket, and third-year sophomore Jacob Zeno, who wowed in the Big 12 championship game against Oklahoma in 2019 with some deep-ball strikes, are the two front-runners, but Aranda’s also got some young talent in redshirt freshman Blake Shapen and very athletic true freshman Kyron Dornes. “Gerry is getting better and better,” Aranda said in our "On Second Thought" podcast that airs Thursday. “We feel good about the position. We’ll have two scrimmages in August, and I hope we’ll be able to name a starter after the second one.” … The Bears are the No. 8 team in our Big 12 countdown on our podcast, ahead of Texas Tech and last-place Kansas. … Aranda has two dynamic playmakers on defense in senior linebacker Terrel Bernard, a two-time all-conference pick, and hybrid star position Jaylon Pitre, both of whom should be considered for Big 12 defensive player of the year, along with LSU transfer nose guard Apu Ika, who at 6-4, 350 is often used for shade by his teammates.

5. Extended coming-out party. Scottie Scheffler is knocking on the door. Loudly. He finished a solo third in last weekend’s Memorial Tournament for his fourth finish in a top three in his first two full seasons on the PGA Tour. With the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines looming just two weeks away, the former Longhorn has to have soaring confidence after Sunday and a tie for eighth at the PGA Championship and believe he can seriously contend. “I feel good about where my game is,” he said despite a bogey on his 72nd hole to miss a playoff by just two strokes. “Few things I need to clean up, but overall, it was a solid week.” He’s ranked No. 17 in the world, has six top-10 finishes this season and has already topped $3.6 million this season and $6.6 million for his very, very short career. It's good to be Scottie.

6. Back for more. Longhorns golfers Pierceson Coody and Parker Coody are both returning to Texas for their senior seasons, their mom told me and their coach confirmed. Debbie Coody said they have loved their time in Austin and that Pierceson is recovering from the illness that knocked him out of the NCAA Championships after the first round. He still has congestion in his chest, but is recovering. He did well enough recently, firing a 6-under par in Columbus, Ohio — one of the 11 qualifying sites — to gain entrance into the U.S. Open along with former Horns Dylan Frittelli and Jhonattan Vegas. Pierceson’s teammate Cole Hammer missed a birdie putt on a playoff hole and is the first alternate for the Open, a position that usually gets a guy in the field. “That is highly likely,” said Horns coach John Fields, who loves having Hammer and Pierceson return next season as well as Parker. “Both have a burr up their saddle.”

Former Alabama running back Keilan Robinson has transferred to Texas, giving the Longhorns a potential playmaker with speed who probably was going to be an odd man out with the Crimson Tide. He opted out of the 2020 season and will have three years of eligibility left.

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7. Transfer central. So Texas adds yet another running back to the roster in Alabama’s Keilan Robinson, a really fast four-star player with three years of eligibility left. He wasn’t going to start for Nick Saban and may have been buried on the depth chart, but he’s got elite speed. Texas is not exactly hurting at the position and has a few other top-notch backs on the way, but Steve Sarkisian is all about bolstering the team at all times, which is smart. Nothing like more competition to upgrade the team. The only thing I believe Sark cannot do is add a grad transfer quarterback who has one year left. That would send a horrible, confidence-shaking message to Casey Thompson and Hudson Card. Every other position? The more the merrier.

8. Scattershooting. While wondering whatever happened to former Blue Jays star third baseman Kelly Gruber, a two-time All-Star as well as a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner.

9. On the couch. Loving “Mare from Easttown,” the HBO Max seven-part series about a cranky, abrasive detective (Kate Winslet) whom no one likes and her chase to solve the murders of teenage girls. Gave it 8 ducks and hoping there will be a Season 2.

Crazy prediction: Texas will lose one more game and win this year's College World Series.