- May 29, 2001
Admit it, you may have thought new Texas basketball coach Chris Beard would be damn good, but you didn't expect this.
Hell, you might have even thought he'd be out of this world good, but surely you couldn't have expected this.
Truth be told, I'm still not quite sure what this is, but I know that in nearly three decades of covering Texas athletics, I've never seen anything like this.
After securing the commitments of Minnesota transfer Marcus Carr and soon-to-be-Rivals-five-star guard Arterio Morris at high noon on Saturday, Beard put another set of exclamation marks on a rapid-fire rebuild that has taken the program from the land of "What the hell are they going to do in 2021-2022?" to the neighborhood of "Is this one of the top teams in the country on paper?"
In a little more than 100 days, Beard has put the sport on notice... watch the hell out.
Damn the hurdles. Damn the lack of national importance in the last decade. Damn needing to do something on the court before elite recruits take the Longhorns seriously. What we're watching right now is what happens when all gas and no brakes is boosted by nitrous oxide.
To put all of this in some kind of context, you need to understand that not even Mack Brown did this. While the Longhorns did sign the nation's No.1 recruiting class in Brown's first full recruiting class in 1999 and signed a respectable group 12 months prior to that, it took Ricky Williams winning the Heisman and the Longhorns snapping Nebraska's home winning streak before the momentum started bringing in the likes of Chris Simms and Cory Redding.
In the summer of 1998, Brown was so sure that he'd have minimal recruiting before signing day that he was handing out offers and accepting commitments from tryouts off the street at his first summer camp in an effort to fill a 25-man class.
Brown didn't just snap momentum out of thin air. Neither did Rick Barnes. Or Shaka Smart. Or Charlie Strong. Or Tom Herman. Or Augie Garrido.
Whatever happens from here on out is whatever happens from here on out, but these first 108 days of the Chris Beard Era in Austin?
This is something that has never happened around here and the byproduct of it all is that a new standard has been set for all future coaches in all sports in Austin. It turns out that you can be so damn good at your job that you can make everything that ever happened before you feel meaningless.
It just took Beard to show us.
No. 2 - A peek at Beard's first team ...
This line-up looks tasty.
G: Senior Marcus Carr - 19.4 ppg, 4.9 ast, 4.0 reb, 31.7 3-point %, 78.9 FT
G: Senior Andrew Jones - 14.6ppg, 2.3 ast, 4.5 reb, 33.8 3-point %, 83.1 FT
F: Junior Dylan Disu; 15.0 ppg, 1.4 ast, 9.2 reb, 36.9 3-point %, 73.6 FT
F: Senior Timmy Allen - 17.2 ppg, 3.9 ast, 6.4 reb, 26.8 3-point %, 76.9% FT
C: Junior Tre Mitchell - 18.8 ppg, 2.2 ast, 7.2 reb, 37.5 3-point %, 76.8% FT
G: Sophomore Devin Askew - 6.5 ppg, 2.9 ast, 2.6 reb, 27.8 3-point %, 80.6 FT
G: Senior Courtney Ramey - 12.2 ppg, 3.9 ast, 3.2 reb, 41.4 3-point %, 83.1 FT
G: Senior Jase Febres - 5.2 ppg, 0.8 ast, 1.5 reb, 39.1 3-point %, 100.01 FT
G: Senior Avery Benson - 1.3 ppg, 0.4 ast, 0.7 reb
F: Senior Christian Bishop - 11.0 ppg, 1.2 ast, 6.4 reb, 25.0 3-point %, 56.2 FT
F: Freshman Jaylon Tyson
F: Junior Brock Cunningham - 1.6 ppg, 0.8 ast, 3.1 reb,
Three quick thoughts...
... This team can shoot the basketball. You'll likely see some line-ups where everyone on the floor can shoot better than 30-percent from three-point range and at least 73-percent from the free throw line. If this team makes the extra pass consistently, a good shooter is going to get a very good look a lot of the time.
... The addition of Carr really filled the last void on the roster. Texas now has an All-America level point guard to control the game. We're talking about a player capable of dropping 30 on the opposition on any night.
... That's some kind of bench to work with. It has a scoring sixth-man, a do it all wing, a couple of glue guys and a young freshman ace to change a game every once in a while.
... The Longhorns have a back-up point guard who started 20 games as a freshman at Kentucky last year and it feels like he might be the No. 8 or No. 9 player on this team.
Get your popcorn ready.
No. 3 - A realization about football...
In the aftermath of this week's Big 12 Media Days, it's hard not to think that we have unrealistic demands of the Texas football team based on what we believe is absolutely needed in order to change the dynamics surrounding recruiting.
Texas is a good football team. It's a group with one truly exceptional difference-maker at running back and only one other all-Big 12 player on the roster entering the season. An inexperienced quarterback will be taking over. It's unsure whether the team has a legit pass-rush presence and the quality of the offensive line is still in serious question. Heck, I have even mentioned both sides of the ball going through coordinator changes.
Were this 95-percent of the college football universe, an 8-4 or 9-3 season would represent a first-year season to feel good about and verification that the people in charge of the program were the right people. Were this 95-percent of the college football universe, that type of season would set up a bridge to a springboard season the following year when all of the questions about 2021 will have subsided and the rest of the conference would be going through rebuilds at the quarterback positions at a minimum.
But, this place isn't like 95-percent of the college football universe.
This is a universe where the knowledge of the recruiting dynamics are so well known by the fanbase that the dreams of Arch Manning make enjoying a building block season full of growing pains, but potentially some monumental growing up, very hard to swallow. The thought of having to wait until the Class of 2024 to become finishers with the elite of the elite in recruiting is such a tough pill to swallow that some just won't let it go down, no matter what.
It's especially tough to swallow when you see Chris Beard doing what he's doing with ... basketball ... of all things.
Yet, let me just say this once for the record and I'll move on from it. The Longhorns might have the right guy in place and this coaching staff might very well lead this program to a Big 12 championship, but it also may take more time to get there than anyone on Orangebloods wants to think about.
It might take two years before this program is ready to compete for a conference title and it might be a couple of classes away before it has the momentum needed on the field to overcome 10 years of slop.
No. 4 - About Bijan Robinson ...
After mentioning his star sophomore running back's name in the same breath with Reggie Bush last week at the Big 12 Media Days, @Anwar Richardson and I did a show on Youtube where we asked for folks to give their suggestions for the player that Bijan Robinson most reminds them of.
This is the list that we were given:
Honestly, I'm almost at a loss of words over some of the comparisons, but there was one that I have to admit that I really, really, really liked.
No. 5 - Just a little something to file away with regards to Arch Manning...
Steve Sarkisian has the Longhorns in a very good spot, but there are two things that are really interesting in the midst of everyone in burnt orange feeling really good about his recruitment.
a. Clemson feels really good about its chances.
b. So does Alabama.
In speaking with multiple sources with Alabama connections this week, I get the sense that the Alabama staff likes where it sits in that recruitment, even if it isn't currently positioned by most as a favorite.
It's hard to imagine that this is close to over.
No. 6 - Jordan Spieth comes close, but no cigar ...
The bad news for Jordan Spieth is that he will probably go to bed on Sunday night feeling like he definitely let a major championship get away from him over the weekend at the British Open.
When you've won three majors in your career, finishing second isn't a moral victory. When you've finished in the top three at three other majors since your last win, finishing second probably feels like he's being taunted.
Yet, there is good news inside of a disappointing close call.
It feels we can certifiably write off a poor 2019-2020 stretch because Spieth put the finishing touches on an excellent 2021 this weekend in posting his second top-three finish in a major in the last few months. I'm not sure we can say he's all the way back from the abyss, but he's very close.
Now Spieth simply has to regain the magic of finishing the deal. He probably deserved better than a second-place finish, but deserves ain't got nothing to do with it.
No. 7 – BUY or SELL …
B/S: We have 2 good OL in this recruiting class now. We will add 3 more before this class is done?
(Sell) It could absolutely happen, but I'm going to say four until I see something that makes me think otherwise.
Chicken fried steak better than chicken fried chicken ?
(Buy) When they are at their very best, I'm not sure it's even close.
B/S: OrangeBloods will have a tailgate that I can attend for the Rice game this year. Note: this will be my first one back for a game in several years (where will the location be).
(Buy) Yes, sir! We've got big tailgate plans this year and Covert Hutto will be the ones making it happen!!
B/S Texas is more likely to beat OU this year than Iowa State.
(And, of course, it would be okay to win them both.)
(Sell) I think winning in Ames will be a less difficult challenge than this year's OU game.
Beard’s recruiting chops help lift recruiting across all men’s sports.
(Sell) Why would it?
B/S Yellowstone is the best show on Television.
(Sell) But, I'm all-in when it returns. Those cliffhangers have been in my head for more than a year, and I need answers!
B/S: The defense outplays the offense in terms of conference and national rankings this season.
(Sell) I believe the Texas offense will have better national rankings.
B/S the program is better with an unproven Card long term, than it is with a Colorado game proven Thompson? Basically would it would be better to lose Thompson over Card long term.
(Buy) I'm not sure I like the way the question is framed, but I believe that Card is going to be the superior player.
BJ Foster finish all Big 12 first team
(Sell) Where did this come from?
B / S - Arch Manning commits somewhere before the season starts because he knows the importance of recruiting momentum.
(Sell) I don't believe he commits before the start of the season.
B/S. The Horns down penalty rule and the constant discussion of it during media days is ultimately bad for our brand because it makes us appear like delicate flowers.
(Buy) I’m not sure why this keeps coming up as an issue. It's not like Texas folks are obsessed about it. Ultimately, it's not a big deal, though
Ehlinger is out of the NFL by 2024.
(Sell) I think it's very possible that he has a Garrett Gilbert-like career.
Texas wins a NC in Baseball, Football OR Basketball in the next 5 years.
(Buy) It's looking very promising for two of those.
B/S these end of season results (in terms of production):
K. Robinson > R. Johnson
X. Worthy > J. Moore
Wiley > Brewer
Schooler > Foster
(Sell) I'm not buying that Schooler is going to have a bigger impact than Foster, but I'm not sure either will have sizable impacts.
No. 8 - Scattershooting on the sports weekend...
... Collin Morikawa is quickly becoming one of my favorite players on the Tour and with two majors under his belt, he's as important as any player on the tour for the future. He was nails on Sunday.
... Jon Rahm has had one hell of a season, but I'm not sure anyone is ever really going to remember it.
... Dylan Frittelli has two top-five finishes at majors in the last two years. I can't decide if this is his high point or if there's another level he can reach.
... This has been a low-key fantastic NBA Finals.
... Giannis Antetokounmpo is some kind of player and I'll be really happy for him when he cements his forever status with a first championship ring. Between "The Block" and "The Dunk" in the last two games, we're watching the coronation of an all-time great.
... Kris Middleton is on the verge of being a made man. Can't say I completely saw this one coming.
... The Sixers need to get Damian Lillard. Just do it.
... Seattle has an NHL expansion team nicknamed the Kraken? That's amazing.
... Somehow the Phillies are two games out of first place.
No. 9 - Top 10 Best Endings in any movie ...
The idea for this one came to me a few weeks ago when I caught the ending of Se7en and wondered if the final 15 minutes of that movie were the best of any movie ever made.
Surely not, right? But, what movies could take it down?
Here. We. Go.
9. Dr. Strangeglove
8. The Sixth Sense
6. The Shawshank Redemption
5. Citizen Kane
4. The Usual Suspects
1. The Godfather
No. 10 - And Finally ...
I just wanted to give everyone a small update.
Give me a week or so.
I'm very close to having the pieces of the puzzle in place.
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