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July 8, 2012A few weeks ago during an out-of-state radio appearance, I was asked about what kind of hot-seat Mack Brown resided in heading into the 2012 season.
My immediate response was to laugh at the suggestion entirely. When I think of Mack, my first impression is not that of a man who sits around worrying that anyone could possibly run him out of town. I've lived in Austin for 26 years and I remember what the program looked like PM (pre-Mack). If your memory doesn't take you that far back, feel free to take the DeLorean for spin back to November 25, 1989 or September 13, 1997 or any other of other insufferable moments that the Longhorn program endured before the smoothest Tennessee boy you've ever seen strolled into town, pleading with the masses to, "Come Early. Be Loud. Stay Late."
More than any hot seat, it's hard not think about Mack joining DeLoss for an annual trip to the bank, so that the pair can do secret snow-angels in the piles of millions they create together, sort of a Willy Wonka-land for rich folks.
Once upon a time, this was a school that had a fractured fan base like the one Texas A&M has owned for the last decade or so, not exactly knowing who it is or what possibilities truly exist. You could go to the stadium on a Saturday in the 1990s and read a flying banner that would embarrass the school with the words "Dump DeLoss, Flush the John". Not any more. One of the greatest accomplishments that Mack pulled off was unifying the power constituents within the program and the guys with the real power are all deep inside of Mack's inner circle. All these years later, and he's emerged as one of the godfathers of college athletics.
Mack on the hot seat? As Clay Davis once said, "Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet."
Yet all of the powerful friends and money in the world can't hide the fact that the football program took steps back in the previous two seasons when a 13-12 record was posted with few quality wins included. There's an anxiety that exists (although not often acknowledged) among all Longhorn fans heading into this year because everyone understands the score going into the 2012 season. OU has a two game winning streak over Mack's Horns, as does Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Baylor.
Mack cleaned house more than 20 months ago and the majority of the Longhorn fan base showed patience and a more understanding nature than usual during what was universally considered a rebuilding year. The new staff is re-changing the culture and everyone understands that it takes time.
But, how much time? With continued quarterback concern and other depth issues still staring the coaches in the face, what exactly is this season? Is it fair to automatically establish the old 10-win plateau as a measure of success? A schedule that includes OU, West Virginia and TCU is no cakewalk, and we're not even counting three of the teams that have compiled two-game win streaks against Mack. So, what's the fair measuring stick and what does it even mean if it's not achieved? These feel like rhetorical questions.
The expectations are that this year's team will show the kind of improvement that is obvious to the naked eye, but this could easily be the kind of year where fairly large strides from the team might not translate to a significantly improved record. How would an 8-4 season be received? Would the details even matter? If a third season of rebuilding turns into a fourth because of any circumstances, then what?
I ask all of these questions because I honestly don't know the answers. When a single individual can claim responsibility for turning a program from a fledgling outfit with no direction into perhaps the single most powerful brand in the entire nation, does the clock ever run against him? Who would ever start it? The truth is that the day Mack leaves his position, it'll be the day he decides he doesn't want it any more, and not because someone threatened to take it from him. We're talking about the kind of made man that will one day have something really big named after him on the 40 Acres.
When we focus on year No. 3 removed from the Colt McCoy Era, it'll be interesting to see if he is willing to establish big goals for this team in the coming weeks and months. Will Mack set the Big 12 title as the end-all, be-all quest for the team or is there still too much reason for caution to make the kind of emphatic statements that Mack once made with regularity following the 2005 seasons?
With less than a month to go until the start of spring camp, I know everything and nothing at the same time. I have so many questions and perhaps not a single soul to answer them. I know this is supposed to be a hugely important season, but I can't tell you if there are really any true high stakes involved.
Fast-forward a few weeks from that radio interview where the hot-seat question originated and I'm sitting by my computer at lunch when approached by an Orangebloods member.
"What do you think?" he asked. "Are we back?"
I turned around with a smile and replied, "Is that really the right question to be asking?"
"Maybe I don't know the right question to ask," he responded with a hint of embarrassment. "I guess I no longer know what I can or should expect."
No worries, my man. I'm right there with you.
No. 2 - Scattershooting on the Longhorns
Whatever the 2012 season is on the field, I'm not really of the opinion that Mack's recruiting will ever take a massive dip. My eyes have simply seen too much of the contrary to believe otherwise. Yes, the dynamics inside the state have changed to a slight degree as teams adjust their own schemes to combat the Mack thumbprint left all over the state, but even in the worst of times, recruiting hasn't been much of an issue. In the middle of a five-game losing streak to Oklahoma between 2000-04 a stretch of football that included two all-time embarrassing losses to the Sooners and only one Big 12 title game appearance the impact in recruiting wasn't always significant. While there was an occasional Rhett Bomar or Adrian Peterson loss on the recruiting trail back then, Mack and Co. still consistently pistol-whipped any and all comers when it came to recruiting the Lone Star State. Even after a 13-12 run the last two seasons, the Longhorns have mostly landed who they've wanted. After 15 recruiting years of dictating terms to the state, why would things change now when they never changed before?
The three-game stretch that will likely decide the fate of the 2012 season (or at least the direction of it) arrives on September 29 at Oklahoma State and ends in Dallas on October 13 against Oklahoma, with a home game against West Virginia in-between. The Longhorns will likely be 3-0 entering the stretch and what the record looks like on October 14 will tell us everything about this season.
One win in that stretch likely means the Longhorns will project towards a mid-level bowl game.
Two wins in that stretch likely means the Longhorns will compete for a BCS at-large bid.
Three wins in that stretch likely means the Longhorns will have a season with endless possibilities.
Has a team ever been set up for a potential beat-down more than Baylor this season? In addition to the sour-taste the Longhorns have after the last two seasons of Art Briles peeing in their Wheaties, the Longhorns get the Bears at home the week after they play Oklahoma, a week in which Mack had been undefeated in his UT career before last season's loss to Oklahoma State.
If you were going to rank the five most indispensable players on the 2012 roster, wouldn't it have to look a little something like this?
1. David Ash
2. Josh Cochran
3. Donald Hawkins
4. Jaxon Shipley
5. Mike Davis
The drop-off at quarterback, offensive tackle and wide receiver makes me think it's so.
Happy belated Birthday to Coach Royal. We could all learn a thing or three about class and dignity from this state's adopted treasure.
54 days and change until the season opener against Wyoming.
No. 3 -Underclassmen come out to DeSoto
While almost all of the attention on 2013 recruiting was focused on the events from The Opening in Oregon this weekend, Rivals used the opportunity to host what might have been the largest invite-only elite camp for underclassmen in the history of the industry.
When the dust settled, 197 of the best prospects from the Class of 2014 and 2015 showed up to put their skills on display, hoping to draw the kind of attention in recruiting in the next 12 months that leads to big-boy offers. For some on hand, this was the only chance they've had all summer to work out in front of eyes outside of their hometown.
Content from the event will flow for the next week all over Orangebloods and the Rivals Network, but here's a look at look at the biggest impressions that were made on Sunday among players from the Lone Star State.
1. Beaumont Ozen cornerback Tony Brown has earned the right going into the 2012 season to be called the best defensive back prospect in the state. He'll move ahead of Nick Harvey in the next set of rankings because he's earned it this summer, taking on all challengers seemingly every weekend. He might very well be the most deserving of No. 1 overall going into the fall. He's a must-get and the Longhorns will have to battle LSU to the death to get him.
2. As good as Brown was in earning DB MVP honors on Sunday in a crowded pack of stud defensive backs, the best player on the field might have been Mount Pleasant wide receiver KD Cannon. Although he came in at a light 155 pounds, he abused in every 1-on-1 situation he was given. He was already rated as the No. 1 wide receiver in the state and nothing changed on Sunday. The Longhorns were listed with OU and Oklahoma State in his top three. A few months ago, the Longhorns were barely on his radar.
3. Speaking of receivers, Armanti Foreman answered some questions today about just how big-time he is. That kid can play some football and hearing about him ripping it up against the best this state has to offer helped cement his four-star positioning in my mind.
4. Arlington Martin defensive end Myles Garrett didn't work out today, but he showed up just long enough be heighted at a barefoot 6-4, 229 pounds. He's going to be a bad, bad grown man one day.
5. Fort Worth All Saints offensive lineman Demetrius Knox is really good. We already knew that.
6. Van offensive guard Connor Mayes (No.58 on the LSR) is really good. I'm not sure we knew that, at least to the level he performed at on Sunday. Big Red improved his stock.
7. The exact same thing is true of Lewisville Hebron defensive back Jamal Adams, who is currently ranked No. 25 on the LSR. To a man, that kid played lights out today.
8. Nacogdoches offensive guard Jacob Bragg is Kasey Studdard Jr.
9. All of the offensive linemen mentioned thus far have been tackles, which is why Dallas Skyline tackle Ty Barrett might have been the linemen that gained the most on Sunday. He looks like one of the few big-time tackle prospects available.
10. Cameron Hampton might be too low on the LSR Top 100 at No. 16. He's as advanced as any Carter prospect that we've seen on a long time.
11. Denton Ryan defensive end Sekou Clark is too low at No. 27 on the Top 100. Those at the event today felt like he looked like someone closer to top 10 than top 25.
12. 2015 running back Rodney Anderson might be the most heavily recruited Katy Tiger since Eric Heitmann.
No. 4 -Breaking down what happened at The Opening
There was an inner-dialogue that took place inside my brain last year when we did our first LSR rankings about A'Shawn Robinson that went a little something like this:
Me: "At his best, he's the most dominating dude in the state. There's a lot of Shaun Rogers in there."
Me: "Yeah, but can he watch his weight? Can he make the adjustments from FWISD to major college football that so many other 'big-time prospects' have failed to smoothly make?
Me: "Are you watching his film? Physically, guys like him just don't come around very often."
Bottom line? I have always viewed Robinson as a five-star player with enough question marks that I can understand if someone wants to rank him as a high four-star prospect. Nothing changed this weekend with Robinson in my mind, other than his stock might have went up a little because he's in much better shape that I would have guessed at this time last year when I worried (along with some close to him) how he might handle receiving so much love from recruiting sites and college coaches at an early age. Yet the dude that showed up in Oregon this week hasn't lived in air conditioning all summer. He looks like a guy that has committed himself to maximizing his athletic and physical upside. If he keeps it up, he'll arrive as a player that could make a big day one impact in 2013.
I'm not tripping one bit over whatever struggles Tyrone Swoopes might have had this weekend. I've seen enough from him with my own eyes this summer to have a pretty good feel for what he is currently and what he can be in the future. Two decades in this business tell me that I have to keep all things in a healthy amount of context when dealing with an event in which the team names include Alpha Talon and Vapor Carbon.
Everyone is talking about Prestonwood Christian Academy linebacker Mike Mitchell after he broke all kinds of workout records in the SPARQ testing and for good reason. The guy is an absolute freak of nature from the physical side of things, but it was interesting that he didn't really stand out from the pack in football drills on Saturday and Sunday. It makes me think we've got him pegged correctly as a solid four-star prospect, but if anyone wants to argue that his physical skill set is so rare that he has to be a top 10 type in-state prospect, hey, I get it.
Ricky Seals-Jones did what he needed to do this summer to own a "Bad MF" wallet among the nation's elite wide receiver prospects. He's truly unique as a prospect to anyone I've ever covered in this state.
Alief Taylor defensive end Torrodney Prevot probably needs to drop from the No. 6 spot in the LSR. He has an elite skill, but he is going to need some time to develop physically as a football player before he can be counted on at a big-time college. He's just not strong enough yet.
The state of Texas really had a pretty quiet week at the event. Outside of A'Shawn Robinson and RSJ, I don't know if there were truly any other in-state prospects that walked out of the event with superstar tags. That's not to say that there weren't other standouts, but I don't think anyone moved his ranking into new territory this week. I expected to hear a little more from the likes of Dontre Wilson, Jacorey Warrick, Jake Oliver, LaQuivionte Gonzalez and Maurice Smith. All of those guys had pretty quiet weeks. For a few of them, I had to look back at the roster to remember that they were even involved.
The one exception was Prosper wide receiver Tori Hunter Jr., who tore it up on Sunday and was the best wide receiver on the field in the minds of some on hand. He'll shoot up the LSR rankings in the next update.
I've been waiting to see an uptick in recruiting from Oklahoma State this season after a BCS season in 2011, but it just hasn't materialized a ton inside the state of Texas in 2012. However, that changed a little this weekend when the Cowboys landed a commitment from Dallas Skyline wide receiver Ra'Shaad Samples. His commitment gives the Cowboys four commitments on the LSR Top 100 list, but all four of those commitments are from players inside the top 40. Only Texas and Texas A&M have more top 40 commitments. Yes, it would appear the Cowboys are beating the Sooners this year inside the state of Texas, as OU currently has only two commitments in the LSR Top 40.
Come on ESPN. Can an adult step up and simply say that you're not going to let a mockery be made of the decision-making process for these kids? Take the damn hats away and just let the kid have an honest moment. I don't even blame Samples for the hat game announcement because on some level that kind of thing has to be endorsed and encouraged by the ESPN production team. It makes the announcement look cheap and it made their announcer look like a clown.
No. 5 -A few MLB thoughts at the all-star break
If I didn't currently hate the baseball gods for what they've done to my 2012 season, I'd probably have more to say at the unofficial midway point of the season. But, I'm bitter. I feel abandoned. My heart is heavy.
However, if I lived in a world where nearly $200 million could get you out of the NL East cellar, here's how my awards season picks would look:
NL MVP: Andrew McCutchen (Not sure he'll hold this spot, but he deserves it today)
NL Cy Young: R.A. Dickey (I can't believe I typed his name)
NL ROY: Bryce Harper (He makes watching baseball fun)
NL Coach of the Year: Davey Johnson (leading the only .600-level team in the league)
AL MVP: Mike Trout (The Angels looked like a cooked team and them this dude showed up.)
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander (There's only one of him.)
AL ROY: Mike Trout (By a bazillion)
AL Coach of the Year: Buck Showalter (-77 run differential compared to Boston, yet they are ahead in the standings)
Also, for all of those that are looking for an annual Cy Young-level lefty that just so happens to be a former World Series MVP, here's what I'm looking for. Someone is going to the Phillies with a blockbuster, so there's no since in debating the size of the haul.
Welcome to the price of doing business.
Rangers: Mike Olt and Cody Buckel
Yankees: Mason Williams and Dante Bichette Jr
Dodgers: Zach Lee, Scott Elbert and someone else
Tigers: Nick Castellanos
No. 6 - Six Random thoughts from the sports world
1. You just can't make a mistake when you are facing Anderson Silva period. He's the Medusa of the MMA world, just waiting for you lose focus for an instant, and then you're screwed. While watching Chael Sonnon dominate the first round of UFC 148, I never thought for an instant that Silva would lose. Instead, I kept waiting for the moment when Sonnen would make a single mistake that would allow Silva the opportunity to do something really freaky. Perhaps the most interesting part of the entire night was in the post-fight press conference when Silva laughed at the idea of a match with Bones Jones. It was pretty clear he doesn't want any piece of the younger, even freakier champion.
2. I'll bet the majority of you reading this did not know that boxing's heavyweight champ had a fight on Saturday. I promise he did.
3. BREAKING NEWS: Roger Federer is good. Very good. Still. Oh, he's not in his prime good, but he's still good enough to win back the No. 1 ranking and another Wimbledon title. Is seven a lot?
4. I feel bad for Andy Murray. There's nothing he can do about the fact that there will almost certainly be few days in his life when he can touch Federer with a 10-foot pole on a tennis court. It's as if he's dealing with Magic, Bird and Jordan all in their primes at the same time in every major tournament.
5. Tiger missed the cut. Phil missed the cut. I paid zero attention to golf. Funny how that works.
6. People are nit-picking the latest installment of the US Olympic basketball team, but in crunch time that team can roll out a line-up of Chris Paul or Derron Williams at the point, Kobe Bryant at the two-guard, Kevin Durant at the three, LeBron James at the four and Tyson Chandler at the five. Instant offense comes off the bench in the form of Melo and there's a lock-down wing defender in Andre Iguodala any time an opponent wants to get a hot hand. And just when the rest of the world might catch its collective breath, Russell Westbrook brings end-to-end speed and quickness that cannot be matched. Good luck with that, planet Earth.
No. 7 -My vacation week of great cinema
As best as I could this week, I tried to go deep into the basement for some decompressing and disconnecting during a semi-six day vacation. What I wanted more than beaches or mountains or oceans or anything else was enough down time so that I could just turn my brain off.
Throughout my week of vacation, I went into my cave and watched a variety of old Oscar-nominated and sometimes winners from my personal collection of movies. The kicker was that I had I could only watch movies that I owned, but had never seen before.
Here are my personal rankings from the week, using my 100-word limit for reviews of each movie.
1. Chinatown (A+)
Every once in a while you see an older movie and you just get it from the get-go. That's Chinatown. In what might just be the most Jack Nicholson of all Jack Nicholson performances, you get a 1940s mystery movie that features a tremendous script and a Hall of Fame director in his prime. It's easy to see why this one is considered an all-timer. It's basically a perfect film.
2. The Verdict (A)
Sometimes you just have to let a star be a star. Paul Newman as a sad-sack, alcoholic, ambulance-chasing lawyer that finds his way to a renewed life with a case that is rigged at every turn against him? Yeah, I'll take that blueprint seven days a week and twice on Sunday. The thing is, Newman isn't the slick devil we usually know, but he's so good in this movie that we can forgive him for going to some really dark places because hell it's Paul Newman fighting the good fight when no one else will. A definite re-watch one day.
3. Rebecca (A)
Hitchcock's first American movie was a bad-ass romantic drama? Yup, and it's one that holds up surprisingly well 70+ years later. As you'd expect, Hitchcock slays the movie from an imagery standpoint, raising the hair on your arms over what should be normal activity, but the key to the entire movie is the soft, perfect touch that Joan Fontaine gives the female lead and the haunting power of the female lead we never see.
4. Midnight Express (B+)
Never has sneaking some hash across a Turkish border ever seemed like such a bad idea. Seriously, I don't think I'd want to visit that place for the fear that I might jaywalk and never leave. It's rough. It's brutal. And it has Cousin Eddie in a role that absolutely prepared him for Bye-Bye Love years later. Although it feels a bit dated, the acting from Brad Davis carries the film to a memorable place. Not sure I ever need to watch it again.
5. In the Heat of the Night (B+)
Hell of a movie to watch on the 4th of July. All I have to say is that I couldn't be happier that I missed the South in the 1960s. What a cesspool of hate that bunch was as a whole. Sidney Poitier serves as the Jackie Robinson of police work in Mississippi, while a town full of Barney Fifes watch on in slack-jaw amazement. The film is a brilliant piece of work that falters in the final 20 minutes, but there are several "stop you in your tracks" moments that leave a mark.
6. A Man For All Seasons (B+)
My first thought? Hot damn, Robert Shaw could take over a screen. For those that only know his work as the character Quint in Jaws, his portrayal of Henry VIII in this story of real-life English hero Thomas More was every bit as ironic as it was emphatic. When he's on screen with Paul Scofield, the movie truly comes alive and reaches great heights. Meanwhile, Scofield's delivery of More's unbreakable moral code never falters. The dialogue might be tough to hold after six beers, but this story is personal to the actors, and you can feel that on screen.
7. All That Jazz (B)
I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't the Fear and Loathing Las Vegas of musicals. All I knew was that I was watching a Bob Fosse movie starring Roy Scheider and all I can tell you is that going into that movie completely blind will leave you a little bit of a blown mind by the end. A lot of the movie comes across like a confusing mess, but some of it is quite genius. In a million years, I'd have never guessed Scheider could pull it off, but he does.
8. How the West Was Won (C+)
Fifty years later, this bad boy is o-u-t-d-a-t-e-d and I'll admit that the first part of a five-chapter epic just didn't grab me. I couldn't buy any of the Jimmy Stewart storylines, sorry. That being said, the movie picked up steam with the insertion of Debbie Reynolds and Gregory Peck to the storyline. The quest of the movie is huge in scope and the star power on the screen is pleasing at times, but it doesn't holds up well in 2012.
No. 8 - Pop goes the culture because the culture goes pop.
Movie Trailer of the week:
God bless, America (Maybe NSFW).
DECLARATION: It's time to start following Heidi on Twitter.
Hottie of the Week: Oh, Hayden! .
I just can't find any urge to want to see the newest Spiderman movie, even if it did pull in more than $140 million this weekend.
100-Word Movie Review : Ted (B-)
For about an hour, it's the best of Family Guy and Grandma's Boy all rolled into one Teddy-Bear movie, with stoner laughs flying from a ton of directions. However, the movie doesn't quite seal the deal because of the need to put a bow on the love-story in the movie, stealing from The Wedding Singer in the process. MOAR Teddy, MOAR Mila and less Marky Mark. Actually, Seth Rogan instead of Mary Mark. That's ultimately what this movie needed, as it ran out of steam down the stretch. That being said, I'll gladly accept a Teddy/Norah Jones spin-off right now.
100-Word Movie Review : Magic Mike (D)
Note: Before I get into the review, I just want everyone know that this is the first time I've ever been to a movie and had a manager warn the audience (full theater I was one of two dudes present) that hooting, yelling and groping of the staff would not be tolerated. Yeah, that happened. Ok, here's the review
You think you know what you're getting yourself into when you agree to join your wife for a male stripper movie, but nothing prepares you for the sight of Kevin Nash in this movie. It also doesn't prepare you for how closely this movie resembles pro wrestling. I digress. Bottom line? The movie is full of dumb (sometimes fun) stuff, but it is not Showgirls. It's True Blood for women without the vampires and werewolves. Amazing enough, I kind of like Channing Tatum, but I don't know if I'll recover from some of the McConaughey scenes. I guess I survived.
No. 9 - The List: Outkast
I'm not a sure a single rap group takes me back to my teenage years more than these Georgia boys. It's funny, but I read an article by Bomani Jones a few weeks ago and it was striking how similar we both felt about two different Outkast albums. An immense sense of pride kicks in when I recall being the first person that I knew at McCallum High school that owned Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and when I tell you that the tape never left my car, I mean it only came out of the player if I was putting in some UGK, Scarface, 2-Pac or a mixed tape. When I went to Philadelphia that summer, I spent three weeks telling anyone that would listen that Outkast was the newest, greatest thing to hit the rap scene.
Outkast was and always will be my rap group, the one I'm most connected to, and you can make a case that they emerged over time as one of the top two or three rap groups of all-time. One thing that really separates them from the pack is that while most albums might have one or two or maybe even three standout songs, Outkast brought the goods on seemingly every track. Basically, put any album in and push play.
That being the case, making a top 10 list for this group is damn near impossible and I'd say roughly 20 were truly under consideration for the list, but in life there winners and there are losers
This week's list.
The album is embedded into my soul and this song is one of about 10 that helped set it all off. I thought long and hard about "Git up, Get Out", but No. 5 on this album just jams out a little stronger for me.
9. Return of the G
Any time I wanted to feel tough, like I was going out with a real "Mack vibe," all I'd have to do is throw down the opening track from Aquemini.
8. Funky Ride
The moment I knew the rap game had its version of Prince to speak of.
7. Elevators (Me and You)
You wonder when you get a group's second album if they are going to have it after dropping a classic debut album. By the time I hit this track on ATLiens, I already knew the answer. This joint emphatically slammed the ball in the end zone. So chill, so good.
When I first started listening to Aquemini in college, I went to this track immediately every time I put the disc in and probably put it on repeat five or six times. This is one of those songs that is simply a personal favorite.
5. So Fresh, So Clean
Even to this day, it makes a 36-year old white guy think he's a pimp when he's listening to the song. This is the song that a fella might listen to a time or two when he's getting in Mack mode at the start of the night. I call this my shaving song.
4. The Way You Move
If this song doesn't make you want to dance, then you don't have a musical soul. Back in 2003 at the Holiday Bowl, yours truly and Brian Jones both danced to this song in San Diego in an effort to catch the eye of the same girl. Neither of us got that girl, but I always felt like I danced to the song better.
3. Hootie Hoo
I can't tell you how many times as a senior I hollered out "Hooooooootie Hooooooooo" to a classmate in the hallways. This could have been a senior class song among me and some of my boys. One of the sickest bass lines in the history of rap.
2. Bombs over Baghdad
If Ray Charles had been born into rap music, this is the time of song he's make in his prime. My brain goes into overload every time I hear it. There might be more explosive energy in this one song than any other ever created. There's nothing else like it.
1. Player's Ball
Like breathing air for the first time, to this day it's one of my top five favorite songs of all-time from this genre. If I hear a second of this song, there's no turning it off, period. It's been so canonized on my part for nearly the last 20 years, so I'm not sure another rap/hip hop song will ever challenge it.
Previous Lists: 2-Pac, Beastie Boys, Biggie Smalls, Boyz II Men, Chuck Brown, Jeff Buckley, Cartoon themes, Eva Cassidy,Phil Collins, Sam Cooke, Joe Ely, Al Green, Guns N' Roses, Hall and Oats, HBO Shows, Jimi Hendrix, Whitney Houston, Kool and the Gang, Metallica, George Michael, Mo-Town, Bill Murray, Willie Nelson, Stevie Nicks,Prince. Queen, Scarface, Sexiest Women of All-Time, Snoop Dogg . Gary Stewart , George Strait, TV Themes, Stevie Ray Vaughan
No. 10 - And finally
One of the real benefits of being in this business for so many years is the amazing number of incredible and memorable people I've been able to befriend, with backgrounds and backstories that are as eclectic as they are varied.
When I think about my early days in this business, there are a group of guys from Dallas and Houston that truly stand out as people that have supported me through thick and then, from the earliest of days when putting some faith into a really young guy in the business wasn't always easily earned. I'm talking about guys that made driving 400 miles round-trip to talk a little Longhorn football for a few hours completely worth it.
One of those men from the Houston side of things was Ken Collins (known as Hornya on Orangebloods). In trying to think of the adjectives that properly describe him, I find myself finding 20 or 30. One or two just don't do.
The quickest way to sum him up is that there's never been a prouder Longhorn-loving, good-hearted, tall-talking son of a gun from East Texas ever. There was just something about him that made him irresistible, even when you halfway wanted to grab him by the neck at times. I'll never forget the time we were standing around the stadium way back in the day when the Longhorns were having a bunch of junior prospects in town for the 2005 spring game.
Up walks this monster of a kid that none of us quite recognized as he walked up. Right about the time I started to wonder how I was going to find out who the kid was, Ken just up and walked over to the young man, shook his hand and got the information I needed.
"That's Roy Watts," Ken gushed. "He's a big sonufabitch, just how I like'em."
That smile, that charm and that cocksure attitude made him who he was. Who was going to tell him no?
I'll be honest, the news of what happened last week to Ken shook me up pretty good. I'm going to miss his stories. I'm going to miss his generosity to help out anyone he could if given a chance. I'm going to miss not being able to throw my arm around him for a hug.
Orangebloods became the site that it has become because of loyal supporters like Ken for more than a decade. The University of Texas became the incredible place that is because of supporters like Ken, who love the school more than they love anything else.
We lost a one-of-a-kind last week. RIP, Ken.