Bohls: Thompson's time has come; Longhorns likely to play Big 12 brethren
While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. It's his job to lose. Casey Thompson, this is your chance. Here’s his real opportunity to grab the horns and secure the starting quarterback job, and a conversation with him Tuesday makes everyone think he isn’t going to let go of it. Steve Sarkisian deserves some credit for being adaptable and not being stubborn by making the switch. He didn’t have to admit he was wrong in picking Hudson Card over Thompson before the season, but he clearly gets the sense of urgency after the Arkansas fiasco and knows he can’t let this season spiral out of control with games against weak Rice, improved Texas Tech, Texas killer TCU and Big 12 owner Oklahoma the next month. … Love how mature an approach Thompson took after not winning the starter's job. He didn’t pout. He turned his phone off and went to work. “I was going to let this hurt and motivate me.” He also said he loved the crazy atmosphere in Fayetteville, thrived on it and said, “I even loved it when they booed us. I enjoy being the villain.” … I ran a straw poll that showed 78% of 481 voters think Thompson should start. ... Sark should have put Thompson in to start the third quarter. He let his team down by not doing something to create a spark and reverse the momentum of the Razorbacks game. … Thompson said he's a huge movie buff and loves all things Leonardo DiCaprio, like "The Revenant." Some felt the fourth-year junior should have gotten the starting nod on the strength of his dynamite second-half performance in the Alamo Bowl, but I always contended that outing came under Tom Herman’s watch, not Sark’s. And maybe the pick-six Thompson threw in the spring game stuck in Sark’s mind. But Thompson can seize this job and hang onto it for two years if he brings it strong. Something tells me, however, this quarterback rotation isn’t going to end any time soon.
2. Like they never left. It says here there’s hardly any chance Texas and OU will join the SEC next season. It’d be a logistical nightmare and those two don’t have an agreement on how best to extricate themselves from the Big 12. So that puts nonconference scheduling in a quandary as well. So Texas Tech apparently wants to continue to play Texas in an annual football game even after the Longhorns leave the Big 12 for the SEC sometime between now and 2025. Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt went so far as to say he and Texas AD Chris Del Conte have had discussions about arranging just such a series that extends up to 25 years. Del Conte declined comment Tuesday, mostly because every school in the state would like to keep playing Texas to enhance their season-ticket values and to have a shot at beating the Longhorns. It would be a smart move to sign off on such a deal with the Red Raiders, if at least for six years to placate legislators and at least keep one friend — semi-friend? — in the state. A 20-year deal or longer may be a stretch. But Texas kinda owes Tech big time after almost wrecking the Big 12 and stealing Chris Beard. … The politicos in the state have pushed for the Texas-TT arrangement because it’d be good for the state economy, the two schools have heretofore been joined at the hip in talks about Pac-12 membership last decade and the two have been in lockstep on most issues. Personally, I think it’s a good plan because Texas could use some friendly company moving ahead, the Longhorns need to play some in-state rivals to minimize the increasing SEC travel, and Tech represents a worthy opponent in a nonconference slate for Texas that’s almost certain to keep regular dates with Rice, UTEP, Texas State and UTSA. … You can count on Texas keeping one heavyweight opponent on future schedules. SEC play will absorb already scheduled Longhorn series with Alabama (2022-23), Florida (2030-31) and Georgia (2028-29) and has existing dates with Michigan (2024, 2027), Ohio State (2025-26) and Arizona State (2032-33).
3. Speaking of schedules. I’m told the SEC is wide open on its format moving forward with a 16-team league. It’s possible the SEC could keep its eight conference-games schedule or bump it up to nine and maybe even 10 games to satisfy ESPN. The league office didn’t respond to a query. … SEC commissioner Greg Sankey did tell me in the press box in Fayetteville that the league is looking for “an orderly, respectful transition” and that the SEC is still discussing a pod or division system. He added that he and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby have had several “friendly” conversations since the July blockbuster.
4. Same old, same good. Just three weeks into the season, the Texas volleyball team is No. 1 in the nation. Hardly breaking news. Jerritt Elliott’s Longhorns are chock-full of experienced, veteran players. Texas finished off Notre Dame in a tough four-match homestand with a 3-1 win over the Irish, taking the final set 29-27 on Sunday at Gregory Gym to stretch its record to 7-0. “I’m really pleased where we’re at, but it’s been hard to get in the gym and train a lot,” said Elliott, whose team goes on the road Friday to battle Texas A&M. “It’s been hard on an emotional and physical level with so many matches and so little rest.” Toward that end, Elliott will try to cut back on the players’ schedule with three days off next week. A week ago, he took his team on a little excursion to free their minds. What? They went go-karting at the Circuit of the Americas. “We’re always trying to find time for 18 to 22-year-olds to have fun. We went to the Formula 1 racing track, and it was the best time. Who was the best? Me and Eric. It was so much fun.” And what was on the relaxation docket Monday. “A nap,” Elliott said. “Maybe some barbeque.”… Elliott really thinks “the level of volleyball around the country is getting better all the time.” Amen to that. We all recall that Texas fell to surprising Kentucky in last year’s national championship match, and Kentucky just lost to Creighton. Baylor, another regional power, has dropped a pair of matches. “As Texas, you get the best shot of everybody. You know, probably 12 to 16 teams could make it to the Final Four. There are a lot of good teams. Coaches have gotten significantly better, and the technology is more like (baseball’s) ‘Moneyball.’ I get an 80-page report on every opponent, so we can fine-tune how to do a scouting report and attack weaknesses.”
5. Pink slip U. Was Clay Helton the longest lame-duck coach in college football history? He survived seven seasons before USC pulled the plug after a dismal showing in a loss to Stanford. Everyone expects it’s Luke Fickell’s job if he wants it. I’m not sure the guarded Chris Petersen would work in Los Angeles. I hope Bob Stoops wants it and gets it, but I’d bet on Fickell, unless Urban Meyer pulls another Urban Meyer and wants out of the NFL after one season. That said, I think it’s shameful to oust Helton after just two weeks. If he was on that thin ice, USC should have done him a favor and fired him after last season. You've got to feel for Helton’s staff, including Todd Orlando and Craig Naivar, except that now they have a long runway to look for their next job.
6. Vanilla game plan. For all the love showered on Sark as the game’s premier play-caller, what’s with all the motion? To what end? Why didn’t he give the ball on a jet sweep to Jordan Whittington or throw more short passes to keep the linebackers honest? That play worked for Houston for years. Why didn’t he move the pocket with more rollouts? Or run a reverse? Or try an onside kick? Or use the tight ends more? Very confusing. … Did you notice the great game Ja’Tavion Sanders had against Arkansas? Yeah, neither did I. I’m still on record as saying the freshman from Denton Ryan should get on the field somehow some way. Sure seems like he could make an impact at edge rusher. Maybe they're saving his four games to preserve his redshirt year until later in the season.
7. Week One. How fabulous a Monday Night Football game was that? Did the Raiders ever need that. After the way the fourth quarter ended, that might have been the most excruciating ending ever. Well, almost. The live game-long chat between Peyton and Eli Manning and guests was captivating television. They had great give-and-take with Russell Wilson, who knows something about painful endings where a team sits at the 1-yard line and is poised to take the lead and win a Super Bowl. Right, Pete Carroll? ... The Cowboys looked strong and were one offensive pass interference call away from knocking off the Bucs.
8. Scattershooting. While wondering whatever happened to former Texas running back Joey Aboussie, best known for dropping the ball running untouched toward the Miami end zone in 1973 even though he once led Wichita Falls to a state championship in 1969, was a highly sought recruit and ranked third behind Roosevelt Leaks and Marty Akins and averaged 6.8 yards a carry in 1973.
9. At the box office. Watched "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” Another creative Marvel film with its usual terrific special effects, mixed with equal blends of humor and drama. The wild bus scene alone is worth the price of the ticket. Gave it 7 ducks.
Crazy prediction: Texas will win the national championship in volleyball and reach the Elite Eight in men’s and women’s basketball.