Good morning. Breakfast is served.
It’s January 29th: 29 down, 336 to go.
And 48 till the Longhorns open spring football practice.
YESTERDAY: President Obama gave his State of the Union address. The Texas women got their first Big 12 road win, at Kansas. The Rockets beat the Spurs even without James Harden. The Cowboys demoted Monte Kiffin, promoted Rod Marinelli and hired a new play-caller (Scott Linehan). LSU shocked Kentucky.
TODAY: Kevin Durant‘s Oklahoma City Thunder travel to LeBron James‘ Miami Heat (6 p.m., ESPN) in an MVP showdown. The Rockets play the Mavericks, in Dallas. No. 6 Kansas hosts No. 16 Iowa State. Columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden hold their weekly live chat (11 a.m., here on Bevo Beat).
TOMORROW: In Austin, it’ll be Mack and Sally Brown Day. Seriously. Mayor Lee Leffingwell will make it so.
Jan. 29 has a sports history. On this date, Austin’s Dick “Night Train” Lane — a seven-time NFL Pro Bowler with the Cardinals and Lions — died (2002); the 49ers beat the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX (1995); Andre Agassi beat Pete Sampras to win the Australian Open (1995); the Cardinals’ Stan Musial became the National League’s first six-figure player with a $100,000 contract (1958); the first NFL Hall of Fame class was elected, including Jim Thorpe, Red Grange, Sammy Baugh, George Halas and Curly Lambeau (1963); Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp won his 600th career game (1959); and the first batch of players were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, including Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner and Walter Johnson (1936).
Last year on Jan. 29, performance-enhancing drugs dominated. At Super Bowl media day, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis denied having used deer antler spray to recover from a tron triceps. And a New York Times report into a Miami clinic specializing in performance-enhancing drugs implicated a handful of MLB stars, including the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez and the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz.
Today’s sports birthdays: former NHL goalie Dominik Hasek (49), former Bills receiver Andre Reed (50), Olympic diver Greg Louganis (54) and former Dodgers second baseman Steve Sax (54). Other notable birthdays: former veep candidate Paul Ryan (44), Oprah Winfrey (60) and Tom Selleck (69).
TODAY’S TRIVIA: What Austin high school did Dick “Night Train” Lane attend? (Answer is below.)
TODAY’S LEAD: THE STATE OF THE LONGHORNS. Barack Obama isn’t the only one laying out his vision. For the second straight year, we’re examining in print the current state of the Texas athletic program. Our own Kirk Bohls, who sat down with UT men’s athletic director Steve Patterson and women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky last week, presented Patterson’s vision for Texas’ future today.
(1) Patterson’s interested in playing a football game in Mexico City. Hey, if the Cowboys can do it …
(2) Patterson wants to expand the Longhorn brand into foreign markets, like China.
(3) More money, more money, more money. Patterson wants Texas’ projected annual revenue of $169 million to reach $200 million.
(4) Texas wants to find another large cable provider to carry the Longhorn Network. It’s on Time Warner and AT&T Uverse right now, among several smaller carriers.
(5) Patterson wants to trim the payroll fat off the athletic department, which currently employs 393 full-time folks.
(6) Texas must find a new home for the soon-to-be displaced Erwin Center, as the new medical school will occupy its patch of real estate off I-35.
And, as Bohls writes: “Oh, and winning national championships. That would be a good thing, too. And Patterson knows it.”
Patterson’s two months into the job. He’s seen Mack Brown exit. He’s hired Charlie Strong, a hire which very well could define his tenure as UT athletic director. He stepped into the large shoes of DeLoss Dodds with one simple To-Do — make Texas the most powerful, successful and lucrative college athletic program in the country.
After the fall, Texas’ overall athletic program is ranked 23rd in the country in terms of athletic success, based upon the current standings of Learfield Sports’ annual Director’s Cup, which takes into account across-the-board athletic success. That’s tops among Big 12 programs, but still out of the national top 10. Texas finished last year ranked 13th.
Since the Big 12 began in 1996, Texas has won 78 total conference titles, including regular-season and conference championships. But 28 of those 78 have come in swimming and diving, and another 21 have been track and field. There have been three national titles won since 2010 — swimming and diving in 2010, men’s golf in 2012 and volleyball in 2012.
How have the Longhorns’ signature sports fared over the past five years?
Football: 43-22 overall, 26-17 in Big 12 games, 2-2 in bowl games.
Men’s basketball: 104-53 overall, 44-33 in Big 12 games, no NCAA tournament wins since 2011.
Women’s basketball: 84-63 overall, 34-41 in Big 12 games, no NCAA tournament wins.
Baseball: 206-94-2 overall, 80-47 in Big 12 games, three Big 12 titles. But no NCAA postseason appearances since 2011.
Volleyball: 183-20 overall, 81-5 in Big 12 games, three Final Fours, one national championship.
Softball: 217-71 overall, 65-27 in Big 12 games, 15-11 in NCAA postseason games, one College World Series appearance (2013).
“This is not a department in a ditch, but some things competitively have to improve,” Plonsky said. “We’ve got some things going extremely well. In others, we want to take a jump. We ought to examine everything we do, and Steve is examining how we do marketing, trademark licensing, sponsors, fund-raising, television. Steve is a talented and expert executive. Everybody should be excited and pleased we got someone of his ilk.”
So, what else is being written out there about the Longhorns?
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Jimmy Burch pointed to Texas and SMU as the state’s best NCAA tournament hopes this season, saying the Longhorns have the talent and depth to cap their turnaround seasons not with a whimper, but an exclamation point.
AROUND THE BIG 12: TCU defensive end Devonte Fields told police Tuesday that he’d been robbed and beaten in an off-campus attack. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram tells the story. What’s happened to the Baylor men? The Bears lost their fifth straight Tuesday night at home to West Virginia, as told by the Star-Telegram. WVU scored the game winner with 3.1 seconds left. From the Duh department, the Kansas Jayhawks, who host Iowa State tonight, come in at No. 3 in this week’s Big 12 men’s rankings of both the American-Stateman’s Kevin Lyttle and the San Antonio Express-News’ Tim Griffin. Lyttle has Texas fifth, Griffin third.
COUNTDOWN TO SIGNING DAY: 8 DAYS. A quick sweep of what’s going on, thanks to updates from various sites and tweets out there. Tip of the cap to our old Hookem.com friends at 247Sports, Jeff Howe (@JeffHowe247) and Blake Munroe (@247Blake).
Texas is sitting at 21 commitments, with a week to go. A handful of Longhorns targets remain out there. We’ll explore those options in Thursday’s paper.
On Tuesday, Texas made offers to Miami (Fla.) defensive end Demetrius Jackson, a Miami commit. Munroe reported that Texas pledge Lorenzo Joe, who visited TCU last weekend, remains a UT commit and will be in Austin this weekend. San Antonio Brennan defensive end Derick Roberson, another Longhorns pledge, was named Class 4A’s defensive player of the year.
AROUND THE FORTY ACRES: What’s going on around UT athletics?
Football: Spring practice opens March 18. The Orange-White Game will be April 19, or the day before Easter. Kickoff is at 1 p.m., and it’ll be televised on the Longhorn Network.
Men’s basketball: Texas is off till Saturday (Kansas, 3 p.m., ESPN). We’ve been told that Saturday’s game is sold out, aside from student tickets. The Longhorns came in at No. 25 in this week’s AP Top 25 poll, the first time they’ve been ranked since the end of the 2010-11 season. Sophomore center Cameron Ridley was named the Big 12 player of the week. And juco forward Obie Oleka, who signed in November, has been released from his letter of intent. Looks like Texas, citing “issues and concerns that developed over the course of this year,” according to head coach Rick Barnes, just wanted to part ways.
Women’s basketball: Texas thrashed Kansas on Tuesday night, 80-55. It was the Longhorns’ first Big 12 road win of the season, and Texas hadn’t won in Lawrence since February 2010. Chassidy Fussell led the way with 18 points. Junior forward Nneka Enemkpali, who recorded her sixth double-double of the season Tuesday night, was named the Big 12’s player of the week on Monday for the fourth time in her career. She had a season-high 21 rebounds in last Saturday’s 66-63 win over West Virginia. Next up for the women: Baylor, in Waco, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday (FSSW, 1300 AM).
Men’s tennis: No. 20 Texas (5-0) beat No. 19 Wake Forest on Sunday, Clement Homs’ third-set tiebreaker win clinching it, to earn an automatic berth in the ITA Indoor National Championships in Houston on Feb. 14.
Women’s tennis: No. 17 Texas beat No. 22 Rice on Sunday, advancing to the ITA National Team Indoor Championship at Virginia Feb. 7-10. It’s the third straight year Texas has gotten there. Softball: Texas is ranked No. 10 in the preseason polls. The Longhorns open their season Feb. 6 at LSU.
ON JAN. 29 …
2009: Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was convicted on multiple corruption charges. He’s two years in to a 14-year sentence.
2002: President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union, laid out his “Axis of Evil” countries — Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
1886: Karl Benz patented the first successful gasoline-powered automobile.
TODAY’S TRIVIA ANSWER: Dick “Night Train” attended Austin’s L.C. Anderson High School.
TODAY’S LITTLE NUMBER: 2. Games that Texas softball will appear on ESPN (March 23, at Baylor, ESPNU; April 17, Oklahoma, ESPN2).
TODAY’S BIGGER NUMBER: 9. Consecutive Big 12 men’s basketball titles won by Kansas.
TODAY’S BIG NUMBER: 274. Car accidents handled by area police during Tuesday’s Icepocalypse.
OK, Breakfast is over. Thanks for stopping by.
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