Golden: Boy, Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian sure could use a call from Mr. Miyagi
- The Horns enter the bye week with myriad issues, the biggest being an inability to finish games.
- Texas plays at Baylor on Oct. 30.
- Texas volleyball is 15-0 and rolling entering Thursday's road game against Iowa State.
When times get hard, it’s good to have a trusted confidant one can call for some friendly advice.
Every football coach needs a Mr. Miyagi and Steve Sarkisian is no different.
With a much needed bye week underway, the Texas coach is undoubtedly evaluating everything in his purview, from a team that can’t hold on to second-half double-digit leads to a coaching staff that hasn’t pushed the right buttons to get wins the last couple of weeks.
I’m not sure Sark has used the wax-on, wax-off method of defense, but he might need to hit up Amazon Prime video for a refresher course on some old-school mentoring. He didn’t disclose the identity of his Miyagi, but said he has talked to a couple of different people about what’s going on. If he’s smart, there will be other conversations between now and when the 4-3 Horns return to action at Baylor on Oct. 30.
"Obviously, I have my perspective and really try to take a ground-level view of things,” Sarkisian said. “I really believe and our players believe I’m in the foxhole with them, so I try to have that perspective, so I can see it from the players’ perspective. I also try to look at it from the 10,000-foot view and what does it look like from that perspective."
To that end, Sark said he values the opinions from those within his organization and others who are viewing it from that 10,000-foot perch. His goal is to take those opinions and look for a common theme in formulating a plan of action.
The Horns can right things with a win at Baylor, but a third straight loss will mean more calls to the sensei or worse yet, the desperate crane technique.
Sark’s job isn’t just one of responding to this two-game skid, but also one of destroying 12 years of consistent mediocrity. Since 2010, the first seven games of the season have been anything but lucky for Texas.
Only once have the Horns started 6-1 in the last 12 seasons, and that came in Tom Herman’s second year of 2018 which ended with what most of us believed to be a program-turning Sugar Bowl win over Georgia.
It also ended a horrible run of four straight years where the Horns started 3-4, three of those coming in the ill-fated Charlie Strong era. Mack Brown’s last three teams all started 5-2 after his 2010 started 4-3 before hitting the skids with a 5-7 finish.
Big picture-wise, it illustrates the oversized expectations in this program. At this point, Texas would kill for a couple of 5-2s.
Since 2010, the Horns are 51-33 in the first seven games, a sobering mark considering they include nonconference opponents like Rice, North Texas and others the Horns have routinely routed.
Unlike Texas, Baylor is on a real uptick at 6-1 behind second-year coach Dave Aranda. That’s the type of seven-game game start Horns fans could get behind, though it should be noted that three of Baylor’s wins have come against Texas State, Texas Southern and Kansas.
Jerritt Elliott has the right mix for No. 1 Longhorns volleyball
Texas volleyball is on a collision course with another Final Four appearance if things continue to trend the right way, but coach Jerritt Elliott — no stranger to the journey to the top — has no interest in looking that far ahead.
Seeking perfection: High-flying Texas volleyball is soaring through its season so far
The Horns (15-0, 6-0 Big 12), who already have beaten three ranked teams, have answered every challenge so far, including an upset bid at Kansas on Oct. 9. The five-setter was a not-so subtle reminder that everyone is gunning for the nation’s No. 1 team.
To that end, I asked Elliott on Monday about the silent enemy called complacency and how he guards against it.
“I don’t think we’re complacent,” Elliott said. “We’ve been going for three semesters in a row, so it’s been a challenge from the emotional side. I think there are other programs that have been going through this, so for us it’s trying to find the mental and emotional balance so they can be normal students and enjoy it."
With Thursday’s road test against Iowa State coming up, Elliott, who understands the importance of players' psyches, gave his team last weekend off to keep their minds fresh. Sometimes it’s good to get away for a spell and Elliott has struck the right balance through the first half of the season.
It’s never easy to be the hunted, but the Horns are excelling in that role.
Dak Prescott, Dallas are soaring
The hype feels real around the Dallas Cowboys because they are winning games they would have lost in previous years.
After Trevon Diggs gave up a 75-yard touchdown to New England’s Kendrick Bourne one play after his would-be game-sealing interception return for a touchdown on Sunday, it would have been easy to say, “same old Cowboys.” But this group is armed with an intangible that was foreign to its predecessors.
Quarterback Dak Prescott is right there with Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray and Tom Brady in the early MVP conversation, and a case can be made that he’s the best at what he does.
Prescott’s 35-yard scoring toss to CeeDee Lamb in overtime pushed the Cowboys to 5-1 entering the bye week. Their five wins are the same as the NFC East's other three teams have combined.
Just like other teams that have gone on to special things, they are figuring out to win when things aren’t hitting on all cylinders. Dallas turned it over twice and had 12 penalties for 115 yards, but didn’t flinch in a hostile environment.
Prescott injured his calf on the game’s final play and will undergo a MRI this week. He told reporters after the game that he would be fine. Whether that’s just an elite athlete hoping for the best or Dak using the hope principle remains to be seen.
Things are coming together in the Metroplex, and while it’s too early to be talking postseason, the Cowboys have established themselves as being on the short list of Super Bowl contenders six games in.
Candace over Taurasi in GOAT battle
I’ve always listed Candace Parker and Diana Taurasi among my three favorite female basketball players of all time along with Hall of Famer Cynthia Cooper, and the pair put on a splendid performance in the WNBA Finals.
Parker , added to her legend by returning to her hometown of Chicago to lead the Sky to a 3-1 series win — the franchise’s first championship — and her second professional title.
Two years after her colleagues voted her the most overrated player in the league in a confidential preseason poll, and a few months after Team USA won an Olympic title after not naming her to the team, Parker had the last laugh on Sunday with her second championship, adding to a storied career that includes a high school state championship, two NCAA titles under Tennessee legend Pat Summit and a pair of Olympic gold medals.
Taurasi — the greatest to ever do it — struggled with her shots for most of the series but provided a few highlight moments. But she disappointed along with her Phoenix teammates when they blew off postgame interviews following Sunday’s 80-74 loss in the finale.
Taurasi also reportedly broke the visitors' locker room door after the game. Poor door.
Either way, the league has come a long way in several areas over its 25 years. The finalists sold out Wintrust Arena with more than 10,000 patrons for the finale and while that may not sound like much, the WNBA has figured out how to survive without the NBA footing the bill.
Parker, 35, and the 39-year-old Taurasi can’t play forever, but the future is bright for women’s hoops in America.