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December 10, 2012
This is where they fought the battle of Gettysburg. Fifty thousand men died right here on this field, fighting the same fight that we are still fighting among ourselves today. This green field right here, painted red, bubblin' with the blood of young boys. Smoke and hot lead pouring right through their bodies. Listen to their souls, men. I killed my brother with malice in my heart. Hatred destroyed my family. You listen, and you take a lesson from the dead. If we don't come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too will be destroyed, just like they were. I don't care if you like each other of not, but you will respect each other. And maybe ... I don't know, maybe we'll learn to play this game like men.
Coach Herman Boone
Look, I'm not trying to lecture anyone. Believe me, I write this opening to 10TFTW with more than a little bit of trepidation because I can feel the tomatoes flying my way before they've left your hand.
I'm also not going to blow any smoke up your keyboard because that's not what I do. However, I feel like we're in that scene in The Dark Knight when both of the ferries have bombs attached to them and everyone is looking at each other and wondering who us going to blow up the other ferry to save themselves.
The hope is that I can be your convict with a golden heart that keeps you from blowing each other up.
So, let's talk.
Is the Longhorn program at a huge crossroads? Is it possible that the best years of the Mack Brown Era have passed and will never return? Is it possible that the time for change is now and not later? Did Oklahoma find a way to win yet another share of a Big 12 title? Are the Aggies more dangerous than they've been in recruiting since the early 90s? Did this team look more like the 2011 outfit than something that turns into 2013 championship gold?
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. Let's just make all of those concessions now because I don't want anyone thinking this message comes from some sort of Bellmont puppet-master. Hell, I was pointing out the deficiencies in the Longhorn program long before the cool kids in school were doing it, so I really don't want to hear from many of the Johnny-come-latelies on these issues. I'm firmly in the camp that believes the buck stops with Mack Brown and there are no good excuses for years of systematic failure within the program that have led to three consecutive throw-away seasons.
It's important to note that all of the doomsday scenarios aren't absolute and not all of the worst fears can be stated yet as facts. It's possible that this team could really take off in 2013 because on paper the Longhorns would appear to be in pretty good shape in terms of returning players and emerging upperclassmen. The cupboard for 2013 isn't full, but isn't bare either.
However, this discussion isn't really about 2013. The discussion I want to have is about 2014, 2015, 2016 and beyond.
This is about a Texas Longhorns fan-base not eating itself alive in this moment of stress.
For a school that prides itself on the leadership it helps develop, there wasn't a lot of internal leadership when things went sideways for this program in the 1980s. For those that don't remember the discontent that reeked from within for more than a decade between the mid-80s through the mid-90s, it was r-o-u-g-h ? and there wasn't even at Internet at that time. Your football enemies are enjoying themselves right now because they know deep down that the Longhorn base can do 10 times more damage to itself over the course of the next year than any of them have ever been able to deliver in losses on the field.
Barring something unforeseen, it seems pretty clear that Mack Brown is going to return for another season in 2013.
Ok, this next point is very important, so read it twice if you need to: I believe that 2013 is it for Mack, one way or the other ? come hell or high water. If things go sideways for a fourth straight season, the Longhorns will be hiring a new football coach in 12 months. The kicker in the discussion is that if the Longhorns have a great season win the conference and make a BCS bowl ? I still think Mack is done.
If you think Mack Brown doesn't feel the pressure today, you're crazy. More than just about any person on the face of the earth, I know his obsession about all things written about him and his program. If you think the Longhorn Internet World has been rough sledding in the last few months, imagine being the guy that everyone is talking about and knowing that it all gets back to him. Personally, I believe Mack has to be every bit as fed up with every single one of you guys as every single one of you are with him.
I'm sure the folks on the 40 Acres will cringe at the mere sight of this commentary, but this is the way that I feel and there's no pussyfooting around the subject matter. As I sit here today, I simply have an impossible time conjuring up a situation where he would come back in 2014. One way or another, the end is coming in the next 12 months.
Now, I'm not going Clayton Williams on you, I promise. I'm not telling you to put away your pitchforks if you don't want to and I'm not telling you that you should curb your discontent. I'm not Big Brother and it's not my job to control public discussion. What I am telling you is that major change is almost certainly coming in 12 months, and even if it's in spite of Mack Brown, you should probably consider what steps need to be taken to assure that this lull in Longhorn history doesn't become a decade.
The program eating itself alive for the next 12 months only makes the recovery period, if there's a need for a recovery period, that much longer as unnecessary wounds cause further delay while we wait for them to heal.
As it relates specifically to message boards, I think it comes down to this ? if your post feels like Michael Scott just walked out of the office and screamed, "Bankruptcy!!!!" ?. then you probably need to channel your inner Michael Corleone ? not Sonny ? Michael.
In fact, you guys know that I love a good pop culture reference (there's probably 16 or 17 in this week's column alone), so I'll leave this conversation with this one. Have you seen the movie Funny Farm? If not, here's a spoiler alert that I'm ok giving away because it's been out almost 25 years. At the end of the movie, the entire town of Redbud is full of angry hate, but Chevy Chase convinces everyone in the town to act like normal people (mostly with cash bonuses) until he can sell his house. Once the house is sold, everyone can go back to being their normal hateful selves because the mission for the greater cause will have been accomplished.
All I'm really saying is that the Longhorn community can accomplish a lot of things with its actions in the next 12 months ? good and bad. Recruits, the media and almost certainly your next coach are watching. Protect your house.
The last thing in the world you want to have happen is for the program's final words being faint and curious.
No. 2 - Not all is terrible in Longhorn land?
The Texas volleyball team is headed to another Final Four, its fourth trip since 2008.
In fact, the Longhorns are not only going to the national semifinals, but they got there in style with a three-set domination of USC in Austin this weekend. On top of that, this is a team that is full of young players and figures to remain nationally elite for a while.
You might want to tune in on Thursday when they take on Michigan for a spot in the national championship game. Hey, I know it's not football, but it's something.
No. 3 - Houston, we have a problem ?
Man, I don't even know what to say about this group other than I feel bad for them at this point.
There was a moment on Saturday when it looked like Rick Barnes' gang of Longhorns was going to have a stepping stone moment in a season that has been full of nothing but serious potholes. It was late in the second half against UCLA and the Longhorns not only held a six-point lead, but they truly looked poised for their first solid little win of the season.
And then that stepping stone turned into a pothole.
Suddenly, the team that appeared to be growing up bit by bit was turning the ball over, taking bad shots and generally playing incomprehensible basketball. There's no reason to get into the specifics because I want you to hang with me for the rest of the column, but if you are a fan of the team and missed the game, just know that you saved yourself some misery. For those that watched on TV (because nobody was at the game), most privately wished the game was on the Longhorn Network so they couldn't see it. It was Lucy pulling the ball away from Charlie Brown all over again.
The good news is that Cameron Ridley played like a big-time boss at times and Javan Felix showed some flashes.
The bad news is that this team's ceiling appears very limited right now and it plays a brand of ball right now that's tough to watch ? very tough.
I'm just not sure how much light is at the end of the tunnel and my fear is that the light might be a train.
No. 4 - The story in South Bend that the Irish don't want us to talk about ?
Before you sit down and watch the national championship game in a few weeks, do yourself a favor and learn the name of Lizzy Seeberg.
As a guy that owns and operates the largest subscription site in the industry that focuses on college athletics (primarily football), I'd like to think I have a handle on the passion that is involved from top to bottom. On a very large level, my life is forever intertwined in the passion that fills the bucket for the largest moneymaking power of them all, so I understand the passion ? believe me.
In the NFL, the creed is that nothing is bigger than the shield, and that motto is forever alive and well in the world of college athletics, a place where athletes and coaches will come and go, but nothing is ever bigger than the institution.
As was the case for a decade-plus in State College, protecting the brand by any means necessary is a mantra that often leaves frightened unprotected young people in its wake of collateral damage. Its right at the moment that the unprotected get trampled that I start to seriously wonder what in the world is wrong with all of us. Doesn't there have to be a line?
Didn't Lizzy Seeberg deserve better than to have her life cruelly minimized in a way that allows the slandering of her name by those seeking to protect the Notre Dame brand to continue long after she gave up trying to defend herself in this world?
For those that don't know Seeberg's story, here are the cliff-notes:
1. A 19-year old female college student was involved in an alleged rape that she reported to the police.
2. After reporting the rape, she was sent text messages from a mutual "friend" who warned her not to "do anything you would regret," and that "messing with Notre Dame football is a bad idea."
3. During the course of the first 10 days after she reported the crime, the police took no action on her claims. The player in question was not questioned, nor did he miss a practice or game.
4. Ten days after first reporting the alleged crime, the 19-year female was so distraught over the situation that she committed suicide.
5. It took another five days after she committed suicide for the police to finally speak with the alleged sex offender.
6. No action was ever taken against the player in question because his accuser is dead.
7. In the year following her death, there has been a concerted effort made by Notre Dame officials to slander the young female by branding her in the shadows as a sexually charged woman who was seeking an apparent good time.
As disgusting as those details are, it gets even worse when you read the specifics . The player in question is preparing to play in the national championship game and even worse is the apparent truth that he's not the only alleged sex offender that the Irish brand has helped protect.
How on earth did we ever reach the point as a society that shunning the unprotected became so inherently easy? How have we allowed young women to serve as prey for male vultures for so long that we've apparently become immune to the kind of compassion that might make a sport a secondary concern?
Also, why haven't we heard Seeberg's story as loudly as we've heard the school-promoted inspiration that has been Manti Te'o? Where's Tom Rinaldi when you really need him?
This isn't a Notre Dame story, as much as it's a story about the compromised ethos that continues to rule the roost in major college athletics.
I wish we all lived to a higher code and I hope moving forward we continue to strive for a more compassionate sense of purpose.
It feels like the least we can do for Lizzy at this point ? the very least.
No. 5 - Two thoughts on College Football because there's never a weekend off ?
1. Johnny Manziel earned the Heisman. Don't hate the player, hate the game.
2. Tommy Tuberville's departure from Lubbock tells you all you need to know about where he had that program as he bailed to ? ahem ? Cincinnati. There's no reason for the Red Raiders to make this rocket science, go get Kliff Kingsbury.
No. 6 - In a brutal set of circumstances, the Cowboys found a way to win a game ?
The cloud of tragedy that followed the Cowboys to Cincinnati this weekend made it hard to get ultra-excited about a football game on Sunday, which is highly ironic because if there was ever a day to get excited about the Cowboys, it might have been this Sunday.
With their season on the line against a very good Bengals squad, Jason Garrett's team of underachievers did something that it never seems to do, which is man up when the circumstances of the moment require a certain kind of backbone that separates the winners from the losers. Down by 10 points in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys stood their ground and did what it took to secure a win that keeps the season alive for another week.
Yet, it was tough to feel really good about what happened on Sunday because of the knowledge of events that took place on Saturday involving the deceased Jerry Brown and the arrested Josh Brent. It's hard to explain, but I just didn't care as much on Sunday.
Don't get me wrong, I was glad they won this weekend and there was a sense of pride watching them play such inspired football with such heavy hearts, but my own heart just wasn't in it.
Damn, that was gusty stuff, though.
No.7 - It's the sport of kings, better than diamond rings, That's why we're here to sing, football Sunday in the snow, referee's whistle blows, We've been warriors toe-to-toe?
? I hate it when the Giants care.
? The Ravens are going to cringe over that loss to the Redskins in January when they are playing in Houston, New England or Denver.
? It's a bird, it's a plane, it's ************* Cam Newton! I'm scared to death of him in my fantasy football playoffs.
? That game on Sunday was exactly the reason nobody truly believes in the Falcons.
? I'm running out of words for Adrian Peterson, but I'm starting to wonder if it's time for us to start considering his place among the all-time greats and where he realistically rates. Consider that he's on pace for 1,700+ yards this season less than a year removed from a knee rip and that Emmitt Smith only posted two 1,700-yard seasons in his career (1992 and 1995). That's how good he's been this season.
? So much attention has been paid to Peterson's efforts this season that it's easy to overlook the incredible return from major injury that Jamaal Charles is having. After a 165-yard effort on Sunday gave him his third straight 100-yard effort, Charles has posted 1,220 yards with three games to go.
? I can't figure out the Bears at all. At. All.
? Hey Steelers, what in the world was THAT? Add to them to the list of teams I can't figure out, right there along with the Bears.
? Nice work, Nick Foles.
? Sam Bradford and Jeff Fisher might make it yet, together. You probably haven't noticed, but the Rams are 6-6-1 and becoming a weekly handful for other teams.
? Everyone in Cleveland is getting fired after the season, but the Browns are playing pretty good football.
? Arizona should be demoted from the NFL after this weekend.
? It's on tonight between the Patriots and the Texans. You can make a case this is the biggest regular season game in Texans history.
No.8 - The right hand that changed everything?
So much for the Manny Pacquiao/Floyd Mayweather super-fight?
In the aftermath of having his on/off button pressed as if it was the reset button on a Nintendo game gone bad, you have to wonder if we've seen the last of the great fighter that once was Pacquiao. For the last few years, you could see the elite skills eroding and as his body rested motionless, face-first on the canvas at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas at the end of the sixth round in what turned out to be one hell of a super-fight grudge match, the truth of the moment rang very loudly.
Things will never be the same again for Pacquiao. Everyone has an on/off button, with some just harder to find than others, but when they are found in the fashion that Pacquiao's was on Saturday night, there's just no turning back.
Ask Ricky Hatton.
My first instinct as a boxing fan on Saturday was to root for a fifth meeting between the Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez because I'll take another half-dozen of the fights we watched on Saturday night. That was six rounds of elite-level action of the highest order. Yet, my first instinct as a human being was to hope Pacquiao considers hanging up the gloves because there was a moment when he first went down on Saturday night when I was wondering if he was seriously hurt.
It's been three-plus years since Pacquiao knocked out Hatton with a punch very similar to the one that found his chin last night and more than three years since he knocked anyone out. From Clottey to Margarito to Sugar Shane and to the three fights that have followed, it has seemed clear to these eyes that he's in a state of gradual decline and it's never going to turn around unless he starts drinking from the same "fountain of youth" that Marquez has found.
With all the money in the bank, it might be time to start considering the next chapter of his life.
That being said, if they do lace them up again for a fifth time, I'll have my wallet open.
Four more thoughts from Saturday night?
1. That knockout punch from Marquez was the haymaker of a lifetime. Seriously, he's dreamed his entire life for that kind of moment and I know he'll fight again, but if there was ever a moment for a 38-year old fighter to walk away John Elway-style, this is it, right? Part of me thinks he should just drop the mic and live off that punch forever because his boxing life will never be better than it was on Saturday night.
2. Yes, I am very skeptical that Marquez entered that fight completely clean of products that have been banned from his governing body, but I don't know that I really care.
3. The Marquez/Pacquiao fight was so good that it overshadowed a hell of a free UFC card on Fox, which included a dominating, eye-opening performance from Benson Henderson. Between his domination of Nate Diaz and the impressive decision earned by Alexander Gustafsson, the UFC made up for a couple of their recent lackluster PPV cards. If you missed the card, I can't stress how good Henderson looked.
4. Am I think I the only one that has ever wondered if Nate Diaz is Spike from Little Giants all grown up?
No. 9 - Pop goes the culture because the culture goes pop.?
? Movie Trailer of the Week: Star Trek is back and they better not mess this up .
? Hottie of the Week: Sofia is trying to retire the award .
? WTF! Indiana Jones sues Indiana Jones? .
? Sign that the apocalypse is upon us : Justin Bieber? I have no words .
? Chong on pot : "You wouldn't have a computer if it wasn't for pot.".
? Least shocking story of the weekend: The LAPD screwed up .
? What did the five fingers say to the face?: Chris Brown and Rihanna have trust issues? .
? 100-words or less movie review: Beasts of the Southern Wild (B)
File this under the category of really good movies that I'm ok with never watching again. Quvenzhane Wallis is outstanding as the movie's story-teller and my heart ached for her for the full 90 minutes, as she took us through a tour of a world that most of can't understand on almost any level. It's a hard movie to watch at times, but Wallis is so captivating that you can't let go.
No. 10 - The List: Ice Cube
After a month of rock dominated themes, I had to go completely in the other direction this week by paying homage to one of my personal favorites in the rap game.
For a kid that grew up listening to rap music at the age of six or seven back in the early 1980s, it cannot be stressed enough how much Ice Cube's lyrical genius changed music forever for an entire generation. I'll never forget sitting the back of the school bus in the eighth grade and passing around the Straight Out of Compton tape among fellow basketball players.
The moment you owned that tape for yourself, it felt as if teenage rebellion truly began.
While the decades that have passed and his resume features a lot of different genre accomplishments, never forget that his importance to the world of music, first and foremost. He's all-time rap royalty, no matter how many kiddie movies he might make.
Let's get on with the list ( subscribe via Spotify )?
The last five out: F*** The Police, You Can Do It, Steady Mobbin', When Will They Shoo and Bop Gun (One Nation)
Ok, here we go?
10. Why We Thugs
Just when you might have wondered if Ice Cube was done making meaningful music, he dropped an outstanding album on us with Laugh Now, Cry Later in 2006 and this might be the best song on an album that fans had been waiting 13 years for.
9. Check Yo Self (remix)
When I was a junior in high school, I don't think a day went by when I didn't listen to this song at least a half-dozen times in my car. The mix of a little Grandmaster Flash and Das EFX with Cube makes for an all-timer.
8. Ghetto Bird
One of my favorite underrated tracks that Cube recorded from the Lethal Injection album.
7. Endangered Species
His first solo album AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted was as raw and rough as Straight Out of Compton and this collaboration with Chuck D is full of Hall of Fame heat.
Predator is one of the greatest rap albums of all time and this song has more heat than any of them. I've always thought of this song as Cube's version of "Holla if You hear Me".
5. You Know How We Do It
The second chillest song that Cube ever wrote. This song demands to be played with the top down on a beautiful day. I love this song.
4. Gangsta Gangsta
This is one of several songs of Straight Out of Compton that changed my life when I was in middle school. As soon as this tape was in my hand in the seventh grade, music changed forever for me. This song is exactly what the name says it is.
3. Natural Born Killaz
I'm not sure there's ever been a song that makes me want to go into a mosh pit with the intention of putting some people into the ground quite like this effort with Dr. Dre.
2. It Was a Good Day
This song isn't just a hip-hop masterpiece, it's a generational anthem that is as spectacular today as the day it dropped.
1. Straight Out of Compton
Not only is this the greatest gangsta rap song ever recorded, but it's on the Mount Rushmore of the most important songs in hip-hop/rap history. This song literally changed everything.
Previous Lists: 2-Pac,Aerosmith, Beastie Boys, Beethoven, Biggie Smalls, Boyz II Men, Chuck Brown, Jeff Buckley, Cartoon themes, Eva Cassidy,CCR, Phil Collins, Sam Cooke, The Eagles, Joe Ely, Al Green, Guns N' Roses, Hall and Oats, HBO Shows, Jimi Hendrix, Whitney Houston, Janis Joplin, Jodeci, Kool and the Gang, Led Zeppelin, Amos Lee, Bob Marley, Metallica, George Michael, Mo-Town, Bill Murray, Willie Nelson, Stevie Nicks, One-hit Wonders from the 1990's, Pink Floyd, Prince, Outkast, Queen, Reba, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, Scarface, Sexiest Women of All-Time, Snoop Dogg , Bruce Springsteen, Gary Stewart , George Strait, The Strokes, TV Themes, UGK, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Hank Williams Sr.
Previous Lists on Spotify: 2-Pac, Aerosmith, Beastie Boys, Beethoven, Biggie Smalls, Boyz II Men, Jeff Buckley, CCR, Phil Collins, Sam Cooke, Joe Ely, Al Green, Guns N' Roses, Hall and Oats, Jimi Hendrix, Whitney Houston, Janis Joplin, Jodeci, Amos Lee, Bob Marley, George Michael, Mo-Town, Willie Nelson, Stevie Nicks, One-hit Wonders from the 1990's, Prince, Prince (After Hours), Outkast, Queen, Reba, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, Scarface, Snoop Dogg . Bruce Springsteen, Gary Stewart , George Strait, The Strokes, UGK, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Hank Williams Sr.