- May 29, 2001
On the first day of April, the Orangebloods universe was finally able to rest its soul.
The hire of prodigal son Chris Beard to lead the Texas basketball program did more than remove the angst from the Texas fanbase after a happy resolution with its Shaka Smart problem; it was a gift from the sports gods with the perfect timing of the new coach's availability.
If that were the only thing Beard's arrival symbolized, it would represent a hell of a moment. Yet, the new reality that Orangebloods all over the world suddenly find themselves in is an existence that has been foreign around these parts for at least a decade. Hell, I'd argue that it's been so long since the moment I'm about to describe has existed that I can't even remember it, let alone comment on how it feels with a side-by-side comparison.
When all of you put your heads on a pillow Friday night following Beard's official unveiling in burnt orange earlier in the day, you did so with a clear mind, body and soul because for the first time in... you'll have to tell me... there's really nothing about Texas athletics to bitch about.
Let's just take stock of where things stand right now across the board in Texas athletics.
* The football program is in the middle of its honeymoon with new head coach Steve Sarkisian, which has caused recruiting to soar, while a talented roster is now in the hands of what appears to be an elite coaching staff. The coach leading the way has multiple national championship rings to his resume, is one of the greatest quarterback whisperers in the history of college football and is regarded as an elite playcaller.
* The men's basketball program has upgraded its coaching position with one of the best coaches in the sport as it readies for new facilities that figure to rate among the best in college athletics. The coach leading the way has been to a Final Four and an Elite 8 in his last three full seasons.
* The women's basketball program just reached the Elite 8 in Vic Schaefer's first season in Austin and just landed three national Top 25 prospects in his first recruiting class, including the top two prospects in Texas. The coach leading the way has played in two national championship games and two Elite 8s in the last four completed seasons.
* The baseball program is currently ranked 5th in the nation, is off to a 7-2 start in Big 12 play and just finished off a three-game sweep on the road in Lawrence under David Pierce. Although the program struggled in 2018, it has gone 34-11 in its last 45 games over the last two years. The coach leading the way led the Longhorns to the College World series in one of his three completed seasons on campus thus far and appears poised to compete for another trip to Omaha in the coming months.
* The Texas softball program is ranked 7th in the nation under Mike White, who has compiled a 92-20 record (.821) since arriving in Austin. The coach leading the program has been to at least a super regional in each of his last seven full seasons, which includes four trips to the College World Series.
* The women's volleyball program is ranked 5th in the nation at the moment, has won 8 of the last 9 Big 12 championships under Jerritt Elliott and has been to the Final Four in five of the last 8 seasons. The coach leading the way has a national championship in Austin, 11 Big 12 titles and has been to 7 Final Fours.
* The men's tennis program remains the defending national champions and is currently ranked No. 7 in the country, while the women's program is ranked No. 2 in the nation and has won the last two Big 12 titles, while finishing in the national Top 10 in each of the last three seasons.
* The men's golf program is ranked 8th in the nation under John Fields and has won five of the last seven Big 12 titles after winning a national title in 2012. The coach leading the way has won a total of 8 Big 12 titles in his career and has seen his team finish in the top 5 in the NCAA Championships in six of the last eight seasons.
* The women's golf program is ranked 19th in the nation under Ryan Murphy and has won the last three Big 12 titles. The coach leading the way has won more Big 12 titles in the last three seasons than the program had won in all of the previous years in the Big 12 combined.
* The track program is ranked 4th in the nation on the women's side in Edrick Floréal's second season after winning all three Big 12 championships that it has competed for in the last three indoor/outdoor seasons.
Honestly, there's just not a lot to bitch about. It's not that I'm doubting the ability of Texas fans to create angst out of thin air, but for the first time since the glory days of Mack, Augie and Rick, it's pretty much impossible to find a topic related to things in burnt orange athletics where there's a lot of anger pointed in that direction.
It can all change in the blink of an eye should the baseball program slip up in a home regional or Sarkisian struggles out of the gate in the fall, but for the moment the entire Texas fan base gets to wake up feeling like Thanos after "The Snap" in Infinity War.
It doesn't feel bad to not be angry about something all the time, does it?
No. 2 - A New King of Hate...
Have any of you considered just how wild Chris Beard's return trips to Lubbock are going to be for the rest of time?
Oh, I know Texas fans are used to Texas Tech fans getting all riled up whenever the Longhorns come to town, but I'm here to tell you that there's a new level of hatred that exists inside of this "rivalry" and it doesn't matter at all that it's nearly all one-sided.
When the nicest comment I read on RedRaiderSports.com about Beard this weekend wished that he'd get hit in the head with a battery on his return to Lubbock, it occurred to me that we've reached the level of hatred usually reserved for Philadelphia Eagles fans and their disdain for all things Dallas Cowboys.
The hatred is r-e-a-l.
Hilariously, it's also not helped at all by the flippant Jett Rink attitude towards the entire situation from Texas alums and ... uh... officials. Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte's McFlex over a $10.57 wooing of Beard at the Plainview McDonald's on I-27 made me come to realize how thankful I am that he doesn't have the self-suspension on social media that he gave himself at the end of the Tom Herman Era.
Personally, I'll remember this forever and you better bet your angry West Texas ass that Tech fans will never.... e-v-e-r... forget. It's almost enough to make me wish I could snap my fingers and skip us through the football season and right into the 2022 Big 12 basketball season. Almost.
No. 3 - A few weekend Texas football notes...
After digging around over the weekend, here are some Spring football notes to pass along...
* I'm told that the coaches want to see more from the players. While the attitude from the coaches has been very positive, I was told that they are making it clear that they are going to demand more of the entire team that it is used to delivering. Everything about the team was described as a major work in progress.
* You guys know that I'm all aboard Team Hudson Card as the President of his fan club, but the early reports on the quarterback battle between Card and Thompson suggest that it's way too early to draw any major conclusions. "Both are still processing what the coaches are asking them to do. The good news is that both guys look the part. Each have had moments and each have had a few moments they'd want to take back. I'm not sure the real battle has truly started yet, but maybe that will change this week."
* Believe it or not, I didn't really hear Bijan Robinson's name much in the conversations I had this weekend. I need to check back to ask about the running game a little more specifically in follow up conversations this week because I didn't really hear much buzz about the running game in general, although Roschon Johnson has been a player that was mentioned throughout the last week leading into the weekend.
* Jordan Whittington is having a very good start to the spring. "I don't want to say too much too soon, but I think he's been the best looking guy on that side of the ball," one source said on Sunday. "I don't think there's any battle at all between him and anyone else. He's someone else we have to have on the field this year. I don't know that there's anyone else I would say that about at receiver."
* The Troy Omeire Express hasn't completely left the station, but it's getting closer. There's a buzz about his return. I've not heard of anything close to a setback at this point for him in his recovery from his knee surgery.
* Second-year center Jake Majors was described as a player that gets better every single day. If there's a slight concern from digging around this weekend, I'd say the lack of concrete buzz coming along the offensive line is concerning. When I asked one source this weekend if there was anyone from that group that has surprised in a good way, the source said, "Not really." Depth remains a major concern. "I think this is the area of the team that needs some help from transfers if it can happen."
* Josh Thompson might have been the best player on the entire team through the first full week of camp. Buy as much stock of Thompson as you can get your hands on. He's adapted to what the new coaches are putting down in front of him and flying around like someone that is a first name on the team sheet kind of player.
* Newcomer Darion Dunn and D'Shawn Jamison were the other two names among the defensive backs mentioned to me on Sunday. I asked about Anthony Cook, who has received some buzz lately, but I was told that Thompson was on one plane, Dunn and Jamison on another and then Cook after that.
* Overall, the defensive line and the secondary were the two area on the team was were described as the best-performing parts of the team from the last week. Overall, the defensive backs might be the group that had the best week since the return of workouts this week.
* Most impressive linebacker on the roster thus far: "David Gbenda. He just looks comfortable," one source said. I asked about LSU transfer Ray Thornton and was told that he's still settling in and there's not much yet to report. "You can tell we don't have (Joseph Ossai and Demarvion Overshown) on the field. Everyone feels like they are kind of trying out (at linebacker)" the same source said.
No. 4 - Hyperbole of the Weekend ...
With all due respect to the sweep over South Carolina last month, I found myself more impressed with the Texas baseball team this weekend after a non-nonsense three-game sweep in Lawrence than I have been at any other point in the season thus far.
Coming out of last weekend's series win over Oklahoma in Austin, I challenged this team to go on the road and sweep a bad Jayhawks team over Easter weekend because it’s exactly the kind of thing that a championship-level club has to do if it wants to win championships. Over the years, these little trips to Kansas have been weird roadblocks for really good Texas teams, which means that I wasn't taking three wins in three games for granted in the slightest. All one needs to do is look at what happened to Texas Tech in Manhattan this weekend (losing two out of three) to know that bad things can happen to good baseball teams when they head to the land of Dorothy.
All Texas did was win all three games by a combined 23-4 margin. Hey, man, that'll do.
Now it just needs to do the same thing (sweep) this upcoming weekend to the team (Kansas State) that took two of three from the Red Raiders.
With TCU off to a 6-0 start in Big 12 play after a dominant three-game sweep of Oklahoma in Norman this weekend, there's no time to let the foot off the gas.
No. 5 - Jordan gets his own section!
Welcome back, Jordan Spieth.
After a few years in the wilderness, the kind of form that can win a major has returned at just the right time in the last two months, highlighted by his first professional win in nearly four years this weekend in San Antonio at the Valero Texas Open.
Look at these results since February: 4th, 3rd, 15th, 4th, 45th, 9th.
The man had been huffing and puffing on the door and he finally knocked it down, just in time for The Masters this week.
I'll admit to wondering in the last year if we'd ever see the majors-winning-version of him ever again for more than the occasional flash. It's good to have this version back.
No. 6 - A quick word about what happened on Saturday night ...
I don't want to overreact, but that UCLA/Gonzaga game sits right next to the Kentucky/Duke game in 1992. It remains to be seen whether history will remember this game for having as many legends as that game from nearly 30 years ago (man, that makes me feel old), but the shot-making, tension and last-second heroics were all maxing out at 10s all night long.
Honestly, it feels like Gonzaga is in the same position that the US Hockey team was in back in 1980 when it beat the Russians in the semi-finals and still needed to win one final game to cement what happened before the championship game as one of the greatest things we've ever seen.
Gonzaga has to close the show on Monday night and I don't know if it will. Baylor is better than UCLA. I'm not sure if the Bears will shoot the ball as well as UCLA did on Saturday night, but the Bears are better overall.
It's the game we've waited for all season and the stakes are historically massive. LFG!
No. 7 – BUY or SELL …
(Buy) I think people really, really want to like Del Conte and elevate him. The success in the big sports on the field has to happen before that occurs.If the Sark and Beard hires work out in terms of post season play, recruiting, beating OU and potentially a championship, plus the other sports continue to thrive, CDC ends up with a better rep than Deloss Dodds
(Sell) I can't give that kind of benefit of the doubt with blind faith before the results warrant them, but I'm open-minded about it.Chris Beard and/or Sark win a NC at Texas
(Buy) If not two years, definitely in three. The opportunities will be there with success in Austin.Jeff Banks will be a head coach in 2 years.
(Buy) Of course. The game will look different in some ways, but it'll be like it’s always been. It might not live under false pretenses, though.A Supremes question: In 5 years time college football will be?
(Sell) I say mid-June because the NCAA is always gonna NCAA.INTRACONFERENCE TRANSFER ELIGIBILITY BE RESOLVED WITHIN 60 DAYS?
(Buy) The need is still there.Texas secures another LB in the portal.
(Sell) Augie Garrido gets my vote. That was a case of the Longhorns hiring literally the best coach in the history of college baseball in the middle of his prime.Chris Beard is the biggest hire by Belmont in modern UT history?
(Sell) I believe the OL class is going to be a monster.We fall short in our OL recruiting efforts this off season.
(Sell) I've never had it!Eggs Benedict is the best breakfast food involving eggs.
(Sell) Texas was going to be the gig.Had the North Carolina job opened4 days before Beard was hired, Beard would be the head coach of North Carolina
(Sell) In Vic , I trust.Losing Taylor and Johnnie Harris means we don’t make the Sweet 16 in WBB in 2022.
(Sell) Maybe if Quinn Ewers was still committed, but I'm not sure that Ewers could have saved Herman. The vibe at the end of 2020 simply could not continue.Had the Brockermeyer twins arrived on Campus as devoted signees, Would Tom Herman still be the Longhorns guy ?
No. 8 - Scattershooting on the weekend...
... It feels like it should be noted for the record that the last three basketball hires on the men's and women's side of things have had Final Fouls on their resumes upon arrival.
... Speaking of Texas Tech hating Texas with the passion that matches the heat of the sun, the Texas softball team beating them 17-2 over the course of three games this weekend probably didn't help soothe that newfound pain. Lulz.
... Time to get it.
... I don't know about the rest of you, but my expectations of the Deshaun Watson situation from here on out are for Rusty Hardin to make everything as muddy as possible. We'll probably never have any clear truth over anything, but that may be the best of Watson's options at the moment.
... Are the Lakers going to fall to the 6th seed in the West before the end of next week? Maybe LeBron is the right call as MVP. Sheesh.
... Welcome back, Joel Embiid. Missed you, big fella. Few things in sports right now are better than Jojo giving it to Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves the business a couple of times each calendar year.
... It might not last longer than this weekend, but I will take a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves to begin the season for my beloved Phightin' Phils any day of the week and twice on Easter Sunday. Thank you very much, baseball gods.
... This stood out from MLB over the weekend.
No. 9 - The List: Stallone
What else needs to be said? It's time to rank the best movies of arguably the biggest movie star of the 1980s.
9. Demolition Man
8. Rocky III
7. Cop Land
6. Rambo: First Blood Part II
(There's a big drop off between the top four and the rest.)
4. Over The Top - Maybe it's because I don't have a dad and wished a truck-driving professional arm wrestler would have stepped into a father-figure role, but this gets me every time. Yes, one of my aliases on the site used to be Harry Bosco.
3. First Blood - This movie has aged pretty damn well. Unlike the sequel, there's a real story that was dying to be told here and Stallone nails it with his best non-Rocky performance.
2. Rocky - It should be No. 1, but....
1. Rocky IV - It ended the damn Cold War and has the best montages of any movie ever made.
No. 10 - And Finally ...
Just a heads up, but in the week leading up to the Spring Game, Orangebloods will be featuring five days of silent auctions as we look to raise money for the JimsTexas Scholarship Fund. We're aiming for $25,000 as a goal (currently sitting at $7920) and have a number of exciting auctions scheduled for the week, but if you're interested in donating items for the auctions, please contact me via DM or firstname.lastname@example.org
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