Notes for the new year

BJ Foster and the Texas defense
BJ Foster and the Texas defense (Will Gallagher/IT)

Notes for 2019, while pondering the fact that Texas Tech fired a coach who only a few short weeks later became a head coach in the National Football League…

* Sugar Bowl Musings – Until Clemson’s total thrashing of Alabama in the national championship game, I saw the Texas win over Georgia as the shining example to fans and media who continue to crow about Southeastern Conference supremacy. Covering a team in the Big 12, I mostly hear from my SEC brethren about how much better that league’s defenses are than the ones in the Big 12. Hopefully by now the SEC teams can recognize the truth – Alabama and Georgia are outstanding, but the top two teams in the Big 12 (this year it’s Oklahoma and Texas) can play with them toe-to-toe. And frankly, the quarterback play in the Big 12 is definitely better overall than what we’ve seen from the SEC signal callers. Alabama got off to a quick start against the Sooners, but OU had the Tide gassed the rest of the game trying to slow down their offense. The Texas offense out-physicalled Georgia from the very first possession, and clearly had the best quarterback on the field in the Sugar Bowl. Like Texas, LSU finished strong in 2018, so the early September game between those two teams in Austin will be a fun barometer for people to use when having the SEC vs. Big 12 argument to begin next season.

* Clemson Righteousness – Having grown tired of watching Alabama win national championships, it was certainly refreshing to see Clemson dismantle the Tide. It was especially entertaining to watch Alabama resort to a highly-questionable fake field goal attempt with their kicker serving as lead blocker in a futile attempt to slow down the steamrolling Tigers. However, I must admit to being a little cynical of Clemson’s righteous love fest shown immediately and in the days after the game; it seems Coach Dabo has cornered the market on love, togetherness, doing things the right way and Divine Intervention, while portraying himself and the Tigers as the David battling Goliath. Again, possibly because I’m old and worn out, their pre-game suspensions combined with a whole lot of ‘I’ve been around the block a time or two’ make me hope – with some doubt – that things are as Mayberry RFD as they appear to be right now. The Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino in me can only hope.

* After watching the Texas basketball team lose to Oklahoma State last night, and look bad in the process, I’m trying to gear up for a spring of ‘Is Shaka Smart on the hot seat?’ questions. Frankly, the way college coaching hiring and firing is conducted is something that has annoyed me for some time now, and I know it’s going to get me a bit upset again if Smart and the Longhorns struggle on the court over the next couple of months. With the imminent building of the new basketball arena, there could be plenty of talking heads who will believe it is the perfect time to make a coaching change. I know it’s the times we live in, but I think I’d like college athletics to go back in time (hello again, Mr. Eastwood) to when decisions like these weren’t considered until AFTER a season has concluded. Smart has produced good basketball teams and has definitely been hurt by early exits into the NBA, and the fact that the Big 12 has been strong lately. His leadership during the Andrew Jones saga was a great joy to watch. If you’re reading this, do me a favor and please let the season play out before popping off about this subject. Please.

* Lil’ Jordan, We Hardly Knew Ye – Sorry to see Humphrey make the decision to go to the National Football League, but I never begrudge someone who is trying to better themselves. And unlike in recent years, the Longhorns can now lose someone of Humphrey’s caliber and replace that spot with someone else with great talent. In a related note, I am hoping Kyler Murray reports to spring training with the Oakland A’s.