/ I begin today's column with a vow to each and every one of my readers ... under absolutely no circumstances will I drink the pre-season burnt-orange Kool-Aid in 2018. For the first eight months of 2017, I took the same position. With an established over/under of 7.5 wins, I went back and forth all off-season on the front and backside of the number, almost always leaning more towards the low side of the number over the high. Then August happened. Tom Herman started talking about the offensive line in the same breath as his 2014 group at Ohio State. His overall confidence suggested he thought this team was on the verge of something big. When you consider the success that he enjoyed in his first year at Houston and the fact that the football played at Texas from 2010-2017 had been completely uninspiring, I think I found myself wanting to drink Kool-Aid just because I hadn't had anything tasty to drink for a while. Hell, I hadn't predicted that the Longhorns would win more than eight games in a season since 2010. So, I drank the Kool-Aid and added my own packs of sugar to make sure it was as sweet as I wanted it to be. Damn, it was good. After I was done drinking it, I suddenly was in the mood to walk out to nine wins on the prediction limb. As the resident Orangebloods skeptic, dagnabbit, I knew better. This is a story I've told before, but in light of the fact that I can sense that pitchers of the sweet stuff are starting to be dispensed, I want to reiterate my vow to you ... I will not drop the rope. I will remain every bit as skeptical as I know you need me to be. Don't get me wrong, there are positives all over the place. The defense has elite coaching and an emerging group of young players. There's a positive vibe in the air. The schedule lightens up from a year ago. Man, I get why it's so easy to start leaning towards that glass, especially since the last football memory that everyone has about this Texas team is winning a bowl game. That was less than four months ago. Yet, less than five months ago, this team closed out the season with an ugly loss to a completely average Texas Tech team and I haven't forgotten it. This is still a team with uninspiring quarterback play, no definite answers at running back or tight end, and an offensive line that has been below average for 11 consecutive seasons. Oh, and Tim Beck is still the offensive coordinator and I'm not sure what that even means. Let me make it clear, I'm not telling you that you can't dream big, I'm just telling you that the amount of hyperbole I'm willing to embrace and the amount of praise I'm willing to give before the season starts is extremely small. Going into the 2018 season, I'm still straddling the same 7.5 wins-mark that I was straddling a year ago and although I'm leaning towards eight instead of seven, I won't go any higher. I'd rather this team over-perform against realistic expectations and be wrong than be wildly wrong in the other direction. I can live with being wrong, but I'd rather not do so while stitching a clown suit for myself in the process. No. 2 - Quickie spring football thoughts ... Here's a position-by-position set of scattershots representing my thoughts on the Texas football team now that it is 60-percent through spring drills. Quarterback: It's very quiet on that front and I personally find that not so much alarming, as it much as it serves as a reminder of what still needs to happen. Running back: Be ready, Keontay Ingram. No one has taken the bull by the horns. Wide receiver: This group merely needs everyone else to raise their collective level of play. Texas has guys that can be playmakers. Tight end: Baby steps. Offensive line: I'm slightly optimistic about this group, but I do find it somewhat curious that most of the buzz at this position centers around players that probably don't project as starters. Defensive line: Most underrated position group on the team. It'll be hard to replace exactly what Poona Ford brought to the table last season, but Todd Orlando has so many athletic, talented athletes with which to work. Linebackers: eye-oh-DEL-ee ah-DAY-oh-way - eye-oh-DEL-ee ah-DAY-oh-way - eye-oh-DEL-ee ah-DAY-oh-way - eye-oh-DEL-ee ah-DAY-oh-way - eye-oh-DEL-ee ah-DAY-oh-way - eye-oh-DEL-ee ah-DAY-oh-way - eye-oh-DEL-ee ah-DAY-oh-way Defensive backs: Has the potential to be one of the best units in the Big 12 because of a number of players spreading their wings. No. 3 - Sixteen months into the gig ... When Tom Herman and his staff showed up last January and hit the road for a furious three-week finish, there were legitimate question marks about the recruiting chops the group was bringing to the table, with many of his chief recruiters having very little experience in the trade at the highest levels of the sport. To some degree, that included Herman as well, even if almost everyone suspected that he would do very well in this respect. As someone who has covered college football recruiting for nearly a quarter-century, I'd like to think I don't impress easily because I've seen the best of the best (Mack Brown, Tim Brewster, Bobby Bowden, etc ...) in their absolute primes. That disclaimer out of the way, I must say that if there's one area of the program to feel best about under Herman, it has to be recruiting. Herman and his staff are proving to be elite in almost every capacity in this incredibly critical piece of program-building. No. 4 - The elephant in the room ... I don' think it's a question that anyone wants to truly entertain, but what if Sam Ehlinger is still a year away (a completely fair and realistic expectation) and Shane Buechele just isn't ever going to be the guy? Actually, let's just move on. We can discuss this later in the year if we need to, even if it forever looms. No. 5 – The elephant in the room (basketball version) ... The recent buzz on Kerwin Roach leaning towards turning pro and remaining in the NBA Draft, even if it seems unlikely that he'll have any assurances that he'll be drafted, feels like an absolute death blow for the 2018-19 Texas basketball team. Given the weight of next season and the current mood of the room around this basketball program, potentially losing the most important upperclassman in the entire program seems exactly like the kind of thing Shaka Smart just can't afford to have happen. As captain of the Shaka Smart is a Damn Good Coach Express, I cannot deny that the roster make-up for next season is getting less inspiring by the minute. In fact, he might be a damn good coach, but his biggest issue at Texas has been big picture roster management and it might very well be the thing that dooms him if the bleeding doesn't stop and reinforcements aren't brought in. No. 6 – Don't look now, but ... After sweeping Baylor this weekend in a three-game set, the Texas baseball team is suddenly 9-3 in Big 12 play, 10 games over .500 (22-12) and is riding a six-game winning streak. Most important? The Texas pitching staff is starting to show signs of real encouragement. Slowly, but surely, this team has started to build something. As it heads to Norman next weekend to face the 8-1 in Big 12 play Oklahoma Sooners, this team has everything in front of it. It simply needs to maintain this consistency, while enhancing the top end of its game. Game on. No. 7 – Buy or Sell … BUY or SELL: Tom Herman is calling the plays by the OU game? (Buy) I think the offense is going to come out of the gate slowly and his involvement will be required much earlier than the OU game. BUY or SELL: Texas football wins 10 games in a season before Texas basketball wins 25? (Buy) I think so. BUY or SELL: 7+ out of state recruits for 2019? (Buy) If this class emerges as a national top-five group, the out of state guys might be the collection of players that gets Texas there. BUY or SELL: CTH hires Herb Hand even if the 10th assistant rule wasn’t implemented this year? (Buy) I don't know that he felt that way on December 1, but he certainly did by the time he finished his internal review of the season's problems. Personally, I believe Derek Warehime is still on staff because of the rule change to 10 active coaches. BUY or SELL: Texas ends the season with two offensive linemen on the first-team all-Big 12 team? (Sell) That's getting way ahead of ourselves. BUY or SELL: Two of the freshmen will be starting in the secondary by midseason? (Sell) I'll buy that one of the freshmen defensive backs will be starting, but not two. Not by mid-season, anyway. BUY or SELL: CDC probably didn’t realize how big of shit show Texas can be/is behind scenes when he took the job ? (Buy) I'm told he was completely taken aback by the sheer volume of Texas employees in the athletic department, especially the number of employees who don't directly interact with Texas athletes. BUY or SELL: Texas adds 3 or more commitments by the end of April after the big turnout for the Orange/White game? (Buy) If Herman and his staff were in the old NBA Jams arcade game, this photo would be them... BUY or SELL: Texas beats TCU this year? (Sell) Texas has been crushed by TCU to the tune of 153-33 in the last four years. Take a look at the offensive stats that Texas posted last season against the Horned Frogs: * 263 total yards * 83 total yards in the second half. * 4 of 18 on third downs. * 9 yards rushing on 26 attempts. * 0.3 yards per rush. * Seven sacks allowed. You'll forgive me if I take a “prove it to me” attitude with that particular match-up. No. 8 - Close, but no cigar ... Jordan Spieth provided most of the theater on Sunday, but ultimately the sins committed on Friday couldn't be saved by one of the greatest final rounds we've ever seen at Augusta. Instead, the steady four-day hand of Patrick Reed deservedly won out, providing the Texas-native with his first career major. Good for him. That win legitimizes him as a world-class player. As for Spieth, the glorious finish eluded him, even if he was glorious for so much of the day. At one point, he flat out stopped me in my tracks with one of his long-range birdies on the back nine. Today was a reminder of just how hard it is to consistently win majors in the current state of golf. On any given four-day stretch, the dynamic can emerge from any number of players. Spieth was great, special at times. Rickie Fowler was great. Rory McIlroy was very, very good. None of it was good enough this weekend. No. 9 – Eternal Randomness of the Spotty Sports Mind … ... Attaboy, Doug Ghim. ... Gif of the Weekend TFW you get a high-five from Rory McIlroy. 🖐 https://t.co/OqcRXsADkP#TheMasters pic.twitter.com/dgK6iqEWGa— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) April 8, 2018 ... Conor McGregor is a grown man worth millions of dollars facing possible jail time because no amount of money and success could keep the goon in him from coming out when the goon in him wanted to get out. Ask Plaxico Burress how much fun the city of New York can be when an athlete does something idiotic in public. ... As far as I'm concerned, the UFC is in full free-fall. Rose Namajunas is currently my favorite thing about the sport and I'm not sure what is second-place. ... Over the weekend, LeBron James missed a key free throw to lose a game, Kevin Durant had his pocket picked in the final minute and James Harden proved to be slightly mortal as well (missed a couple of key free throws). With the playoffs right around the corner, I expect this to be the final weekend where these three headline for the wrong reasons. ... James Harden's playoff performance this season is the most interesting story-line in the league going into May. We're talking about an all-time great player that has a couple of big playoff steps he still needs to take. ... It's completely crazy that the third seed and the eighth seed in the NBA's Western Conference are separated by three games with two games left in the regular season. ... After three seasons of tanking, the Philadelphia 76ers are sitting in third in the Eastern Conference and have the most talented young roster in basketball, complete with two absolute superstars-in-the-making in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. I'm old enough to remember being lectured about the virtues of tanking for talent. #TrustTheProcess ... It's April 8 and these are the only things I think I know about the baseball season so far: The Phillies suck and have a manager that the entire city wants to fire. Stanton struck out five times in his Yankee Stadium opener and was booed. Bryce Harper is mashing at personal best levels. The Red Sox can still mathematically win 161 games this season. The Astros are still the Astros and that's suddenly a very good thing. ... What in the hell must Man City players have been thinking after Man United came from behind to win the Manchester Derby in historically memorable fashion? I still can't believe what my eyes witnessed in watching the second half of that game. ... I'm guessing Paul Pogba enjoyed the hell out of his Saturday night. ... Thank you, West Ham United. ... I fully expect Liverpool to handle its business on Tuesday in the Champion's League. While I wouldn't be surprised if Man City wins the game, Liverpool will be good for a goal or two. I ain't scared. YNWA! No. 10 – And Finally … We're going to file this under the category of "Some Things Aren't Meant to Happen." On Friday night, the Liverpool Supporters of Austin held a special event at B.D. Riley's with Liverpool legend Steve Nicol as the guest of honor. With it being the first event I had attended, I didn't know anyone at an event where everyone seemed to know everyone. As a byproduct of the situation, I slipped into a little bit of my natural anti-social behavior. My wife implored me to go introduce myself to Nicol, but I just didn't want to be one of 100 people who were trying to get his attention for pictures and stories while he was having a moment for himself before he had to speak at the event. To my wife's credit, Nicol was more than engaging, but as someone who does speak in front of crowds at events like this, I didn't want to invade his space. Plus, there was a silent auction at the event with a prize that would allow four winners to have lunch with Nicol the next day, a prize I planned to win with a fairly high top bid in comparison to those that had also issued bids. Honestly, I just felt like I would get more out of a meeting over lunch than by walking up to him and introducing myself in the crowd, so I left the event Friday night without so much as saying hello. Six hours later, my daughter Haven needed her daddy to take her to an emergency after-hours clinic because she had picked up a chest cold that had made it very hard for to breathe. The good news is that she's fine. Some steroids mixed with a few nebulizer treatments had her feeling mostly like her normal self. While at the doctor's office, I received notice that I had won the silent auction to have lunch with Nicol at Top Golf, except with a sick daughter, I wasn't able to peel away for lunch. Therefore, I paid for my auction item and chalked up the disappointment to the life of a dad. Stuff happens. Last week, it was the wife that was sick and this week it was the daughter. The bottom line is that I should have listened to my wife. Always listen to the wife.