Bohls: Former Texas standout Sam Acho is a big believer in Sarkisian, Longhorns' future
While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. Big believer. Sam Acho has Longhorns orange in his blood, but he legitimately thinks Steve Sarkisian will be a huge hit in Austin. “I think he will get it done,” said the former Longhorns defensive lineman and nine-year NFL veteran who is now an ESPN analyst. “I don't think a lot of people were super excited when he got the job because he was the third or fourth option after Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, even Dabo (Swinney). And I think Texas is going to be successful. Maybe I mean this year. I think eight wins will be huge.” Acho also told our “On Second Thought” podcast, which comes out Thursday, that “Sark is more about the future of Texas. I wasn't initially excited about the SEC move because we're supposed to be the Longhorns. In the Big 12, we run things. Now we're going to go be — it seems like the little brother of the SEC. But I’m high, high, high on Sark.”
2. Reverse realignment. OK, Big 12, you’ve put together a committee to study the future of the league. And for those saying that should take about 10 minutes, stop it. It isn’t in a great hurry since Texas and Oklahoma are financially wedded to the Big 12 four more years (even though I still think two at the most). So the Big 12 could take its sweet time and see if the Pac-12 calls a double-reverse and expands after all. If the Pac-12 is smart, it should invite BYU, Boise State, TCU and Houston or Texas Tech. If you look at the top TV markets according to the Nielsen ratings, consider that Salt Lake City ranks 30th, Boise 102nd, the DFW area fifth, Houston eighth, Oklahoma City 43rd and Lubbock only 142nd. But the Pac-12 must feel the Late 8 of the Big 12 just don’t grow the value of its league enough to increase its revenue.
3. Which is it? Was a little taken aback Monday when I asked Sarkisian what surprises he's encountered in his first eight months on the job and he called the facilities “very functional.” Struck me as very nondescript and blasé although he later also called them “state of the art” and “first class,” which is a far cry from functional. The team moved into the south end zone complex a week ago, and he did brag on that. He also said he just now has “really felt Longhorn Nation” with students back on campus and more traffic with Longhorn insignias and speeches at public events. … As for his evaluation of his roster, Sark said, “We’ve got a talented team. Is it built exactly like I would build it. It’s not but that’s OK. It’s our job to put all pieces together in a position to be successful. You look at what you’ve got and try to maximize everyone’s abilities.” … Texas has really upped its game on the recruiting front by landing commitments from top defensive linemen, probably the single biggest area the Longhorns need to increase and maintain strength if they are to hit the ground running in the SEC. … Linebacker DeMarvion Overshown gave the seal of approval to new starting linebacker Luke Brockermeyer: "Luke, he's ready. He's been working since he got here. He busted his butt off in spring, summer, fall camp. He's probably the most pumped in the locker room to get out there Saturday."
4. Random hits. I’m guessing that Nebraska will never be Nebraska again. If favorite son Scott Frost can’t pull the Cornhuskers off the scrap heap, I don’t know if anyone can. Frost is 12-21 at Lincoln, going 0-7 against Top 25 teams and 12-14 versus unranked teams and only 8-9 at home. Nebraska, which played poorly and lost to a rebuilding Illinois team Saturday but rebounds against FCS Fordham this week, has arguably become the most irrelevant football program in college football along with Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida State and UCLA as the bottom five. I know some will suggest Texas should be in that company as well, but that is very nearsighted. The Longhorns won a national championship in 2005 and might have won another in 2009 if not for the freakish injury suffered by Colt McCoy on the fifth play of the game. And it won 10 games two years ago and beat SEC powerhouse Georgia in the Sugar Bowl even though the Bulldogs still insist they didn’t care. Hey if that were true — and I don’t buy it — don’t show up for the game. … Look out for Fresno State. … The Big Ten announced if one of its member institutions is unable to play a contest due to COVID-19, that team suffers a forfeit loss. If both teams can’t play because of COVID-19, it will be ruled a no-contest. The Big 12 and ACC have ruled similarly going forward. I wrestle with that decision. We all want fairness. The big problem is if you want to arrange makeup dates, you run out of weeks. I would have tried to reschedule a team’s first affected game, using a bye week if it’s possible for the two teams. After that, sorry. It’s so hard to believe after a year of dealing with the pandemic, college football might be back in the same place again. Of course, I presume the Big Ten will change its rules in November to get Ohio State in the CFP again because, well, just because.
5. Fantasy football. We had our office league's annual auction on Monday night, and son John Tyler and I had maybe our worst draft ever. We kept pricey tight end Travis Kelce, which hamstrung us in our auction along with decisions to land equally expensive Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf. But it was great fun doing our draft in person after last year’s draft on Zoom. I really missed the insulting banter about one owner’s signature bid of a dime for players and colleague Rick Cantu’s annual comment after landing a player, “I didn’t really want him.” Super fun even though it may be a long season for the Sitting Ducks. … Ja'Marr Chase still has a bad case of the drops. Is it merely a sign of too much rust since the LSU wideout opted out in 2020 or could he be the next John Ross or Limas Sweed? I’m betting he still becomes a star. ... Why isn’t anyone talking about New England Patriots running back Rhamondre Stevenson? We thought we might sneak the former Sooner through and grab him on the cheap in our draft. No such luck in our group of smarty pants. We did land super sleeper Ravens backup running back Ty’Son Williams to support our starters Austin Ekeler and Joe Mixon. Our biggest reach was probably ancient Mark Ingram.
6. NFL is here. Gosh, is the preseason over already? I must have blinked. And now there’s two weeks off until the bulk of the teams begin the regular season. What’s that about? … Can the Dallas Cowboys look any worse? … Then there’s the Houston Texans. Rumors abound that they are looking to move Deshaun Watson, maybe to the Miami Dolphins, who would be sending a very clear message to Tua Tagovailoa that he's not their guy. If Houston could get its absurdly high asking price of three first round picks and two seconds, sure. Do it. Yesterday. They may be keeping him at $10.5 million this season even though he likely won’t play a down, but Watson killed it a year ago and the Texans still went 4-12. I’d suggest the Texans trade Watson to Philadelphia for Houston native Jalen Hurts, DeVonta Smith and the Eagles’ first round pick and a second. … I also think it’s ridiculous the NFL drags its feet on something so important. Why can’t the league make a ruling and then adjust it if necessary if more information comes out? Who does the NFL think it is, the NCAA? … Trevor Lawrence just gets more and more comfortable and more special by the day. The guy’s going to be a superstar once he figures it all out. … Acho names Washington and the Los Angeles Rams as big challengers to Tampa Bay.
7. Speak no evil. So PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan has had enough and has announced golf fans who yell “Brooksie” and taunt Bryson DeChambeau at PGA tournaments risk expulsion from that event because it is “disrespectful.” Of course it is, that’s why they yell. It’s a weird territory, this policing of golf galleries. No one should ever yell out as a golfer is swinging or be allowed to utter profanity at a player. But it is overprotecting golfers by forbidding the fans who pay for these exorbitant purses in one way or another through television ratings, tickets and the purchase of sponsors’ products. Seems like a very gray area that ought to be examined. You don’t see NFL and MLB fans ejected for taunting players. Do golfers deserve special treatment?
8. Scattershooting. While wondering whatever happened to former offensive tackle and NFL first round draft pick Stan Thomas. … I learned that former UT quarterback Steve Clements works as an account manager for a petroleum company and lives in Lehi, Utah, after serving as head coach at Westlake High in Saratoga Springs, Utah, from 2013-15.
9. On the couch. Heartily recommend “The Chair,” a Netflix series (one year) and drama-comedy starring the eminently likable Sandra Oh as the first woman of color to be named chair of a floundering English department at fictional Pembroke University. It’s filled with great character actors — Holland Taylor kills it as feminist Joan Hambling and witty, acerbic professor Jay Duplass dominates the screen — and superb dialogue as beautifully written by Amanda Peet. This perfect illustration of cancel culture at its worst needs to have a second season at minimum. Gave it 8 1/2 ducks.
Crazy prediction: Deshaun Watson will be a Pro Bowl quarterback by 2023, but not in Houston.