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February 4, 2013
What. A. Weekend.
As someone that has covered Longhorn athletics on a professional basis since the age of 17, I'll be the first to tell you that I have never seen a weekend quite like the one that just transpired on the 40 Acres. It started with the most curious, out-of-the blue email that I've ever received and ended ? well hell ? I'm not sure any of us can say that anything has ended.
It was the kind of weekend where one of the quarterbacks on campus pulled a "Johnny Football Out On the Town," complete with a fake ID and a night in jail, only to find himself completely out of the consciousness of the entire Longhorn program in a matter of minutes. In the grand scheme of what happened this weekend, a little public intoxication from a minor seemed like the most normal thing of all.
And it all started with an e-mail.
Somewhere between 9-10 p.m. on Friday night, I was chilling in my office for a few moments in between house projects when an e-mail arrived from a name and address that was completely foreign.
Subject: Statement from Major Applewhite
Upon first glance, I didn't even open the email. I was in the middle of something and just kind of brushed it off. But, a second e-mail arrived a few moments later and it arrived from an email address that I did recognize. It was from Senior Associate Athletics Director Nick Voinis.
Subject: Statement issued tonight from DeLoss Dodds
Immediately, I thought to myself, "What the hell is going on?"
I clicked on the emails at that point and the moment kick-started a 24-hour window of activity that I'm not sure I've ever seen on the job. From Applewhite's situation to an unexpected Board of Regents meeting to Connor Brewer's arrest to a surprise five-star official visitor to a de-commitment from the only five-star prospect in the 2013 class to one of the top commitments in 2014 visiting Norman (only to tell us he never made the visit), it was flat out bonkers everywhere I seemed to turn.
By the end of Saturday night, every passionate Orangeblood on the planet could only brace themselves and hope another text message didn't come across their phone with more bad news about the program they so passionately love. At one point, I walked into a store to pick up a desk for my wife and a guy near the counter of Chair King pleaded with me to not send any more text messages.
We laughed together and less than an hour later I had to send out the text message to Orangebloods everywhere that A'Shawn Robinson had been flipped by Emperor Palpatine ? er ? Nick Saban.
It was that kind of weekend.
Therefore, I know everyone is a little battle-weary. If I'm battle-weary, then I know you have to be battle-weary. Therefore, I've decided to do what I can today to bring a smile to your face.
Allow me to introduce to you my Boogie Nights Theory in relation to Longhorn athletics.
For those that know nothing about the movie, let me set the stage for you by dishing a little info on one of the most underrated movies of the 1990s, a true gem of a film from Paul Thomas Anderson, who has emerged as one of the world's best directors in the time since then. The movie is about the early porn industry and the list of stars in the movie includes Mark Wahlberg (in his best performance), Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Don Cheadle, John C. Reilly and Philip Seymour Hoffman among others. Racy subject matter aside, it really is a terrific movie and I recommend it if you haven't seen it.
If you haven't seen the movie, just go ahead and skip down to the next section. I don't want to ruin the first watch of the movie for you by making the side-by-side comparison that I'm about to make.
If you have seen the movie I'm about to change it for you forever.
Let me set the stage for you. This is your last chance to turn away.
Mack Brown? as Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg)
He's the star of the show and the guy that helps keep the money pouring in for all the big wigs that like to associate themselves with the Johnsons' ? er ? the Joneses. Our star has boyish good looks and his heart is always in the right place, but he has a bit of a complex and worries a little too much about what people think about him. At his very best and with the right cast surrounding him, he was one of the best in the business.
Greg Davis? as Reed Rothchild (John C. Reilly)
Dirk's right hand man. They go everywhere and do everything together.
DeLoss Dodds ? as Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds)
He's the man in charge. In a cesspool of a world, he seems to be the coolest dude in the entire room, no matter the room. Forever in charge of seemingly everything, the one thing he can't control is the times that are changing around him or the fate that awaits those around him.
Bill Little ? as Little Bill (William H. Macy)
Basically, he's everyone's gopher. If you need something, he'll make sure you have it. There's nobody that has seen more than him, but his impact is limited.
Chris Jessie ? as Scotty J (Philip Seymour Hoffman)
Nobody really even knows how he got to the party, but he's always around ? watching everyone (and somehow getting paid to do it).
Rick Barnes ? as Rollergirl (Heather Graham)
She's one of the co-stars of Jack's films, but she never receives anywhere near the attention of Dirk, who everyone gushes over all the time.
Cleve Bryant ? as Buck Swope (Don Cheadle)
A very complex character, who is more of an out of place cowboy from the 1800s than anything you'll find in present day America. Has enough flamboyance about him that he'll wear just about anything, so that everyone in the room always knows he's there.
Augie Garrido ? as Maurice TT Rodriguez (Luis Guzman)
He's always saying things that are incredibly insightful, even if you don't completely understand what it is that he's trying to say. The one guy in the movie that you know is going to be living a good life when the movie ends because guys like him are the ultimate survivors. Plus, anyone that can make a great drink can always get a job as a bartender.
Will Muschamp ? as Todd Parker (Thomas Jane)
He arrives later in the film and ends up being besties with Dirk and Reed. Of all the guys in the movie, he's the guy most likely to end up with blood all over his face for no explainable reason. He literally scares the crap out of everyone all the time, but yet there's something about him that everyone digs.
The Colonel ? as Any Billionaire Big Money Alum (Robert Ridgely)
Nothing happens without his money. Ever. Push comes to shove, he's the guy that everyone needs to make happy.
Now that all the pieces are in place, let's get down to business. Throughout the first half of the movie, everything is pretty peachy keen for everyone. After Jack hires Dirk, magic is made and the entire business is rocking in almost all aspects, despite the fact that there are signs that trouble looms. On one fateful night (January 1, 1980) the world around everyone changes and the narrative for everyone takes a serious change for the worse.
This is the aspect of the movie that grabs me the most when I think about the symbolism with the Longhorn athletic program. Like the movie, the Longhorn universe seemed to change on a dime after one single impactful moment, and while it might not have been New Year's when that moment occurred, it's not far off.
January 7, 2010.
That really is the night that everything changed for the Longhorns and it's a surreal feeling to stand back and think about everything that has happened on the 40 Acres since Colt McCoy was injured in fairly freakish fashion in the national championship game against Alabama. Three-plus years later, the fear that overcame the entire Longhorn universe when it watched McCoy walk off the field for the final time in a Longhorn uniform remains ominous.
Just as it was in the movie, the ushering in of a new decade has proven to be an unkind awakening. An athletic program that was on top of the world in seemingly every major men's sport (basketball team was No. 1 in the country just weeks earlier and the baseball team played for the national title in 2009 as well) has never been the same.
The early part of the 1980s in Boogie Nights is without question soaked in symbolism for the start of this current decade for the Longhorns.
The good news is that redemption is a huge part of the storyline in the movie. While the collateral damage that occurs is significant, there is redemption to be found for almost everyone by the end of the movie. Dirk hits one hell of a rock bottom, but fights his way to the other side. Same for Frank. Same for Rollergirl. Same for Buck.
As low as the low moments have been, both in the movie and in the world of Longhorn football, we find ourselves staring at a story of redemption. The past cannot be changed and who knows what is in store for the future ? we just went through one hell of a weekend ? but this IS a story about redemption.
That's what the 2013 season is for the program. It's Mack's ride back to redemption for all of the twists and turns that have taken place since the program's life-altering experience in the Rose Bowl.
In my mind, Mack will be standing in front of a mirror in a few months before the season-opener, saying to himself?
"I'm a star. I'm a star, I'm a big bright shining star."
No. 2 - Scattershooting on the Longhorns?
? If the Longhorns get Frank Herron, it will represent the single most shocking moment in the history of Longhorn recruiting. I almost can't believe that I typed the words or that his ending up in Austin is even a possibility. The fact that the LSU commit by way of Memphis wasn't even on the Longhorn recruiting board for most of the year and is now giving the Longhorns serious consideration is strange enough by itself. But the word coming out of his visit is that the Longhorns might have stolen the kid from les Miles. I'm still stunned.
? Considering the needs on offense in this transformation that is taking place this season, there might not be a more important offensive recruit in the class than Dontre Wilson, who immediately would rank as my choice for the most impactful first-year player from the 2013 class. The next two days are going to be of the white knuckle variety for the Texas staff because Wilson is the type of talent that fits the new vision of the offense perfectly and Texas made sure he knew that this weekend.
? Vince Young and Earl Campbell being available for the recruits this weekend was a major coup for Mack Brown. Maybe they can fly in Colt McCoy next year.
? Every single person that I spoke with this weekend on the recruiting side about the Major Applewhite situation said that the negative storyline that emerged on Friday evening had virtually zero impact on any of the three visits that occurred. It just wasn't an issue.
? A'Shawn Robinson must be quite a poker player because he had most people convinced last week in Austin that there was nothing to worry about in regards to Alabama, and yet you get the feeling after what happened this weekend that the plan might have been to flip late to Alabama all along, especially when you consider the way he seems to have shut out the Longhorns completely with a few days to go.
? I hate to call any recruit a must-get, but you can't be a major college football power and have a recruiting class without an impactful defensive tackle, let alone any defensive tackles. Come hell or high water, the Longhorns need to land to find a way to land Andrew Billings.
No. 3 - Don't look now, but the Longhorns are almost back to .500?
Yes, it's a very small silver lining for a program used to finding its way into the NCAA Tournament on an annual basis, but with the win over TCU on Saturday, the Longhorns were able to run the season record to 10-11, which means that the team can continue to play for something tangible.
A winning season and a possible trip to the NIT might seem like moral victories to everyone that's been around the program for more than five minutes, but those goals are better than an outright free-fall, disaster of a season.
With a trip to Morgantown and a home game against the suddenly imposing Oklahoma State Cowboys on the horizon this week, the baby-step mantra must continue to live because the first thing this team has to do is find a way to cross that .500 threshold as soon as possible.
Some good things happened on Saturday against the Horned Frogs, even if you might have missed the game with it on the Longhorn Network or simply wanted to avoid it. Ioannis Papapetrou is coming around. Connor Lammert seems to be getting closer as well.
Oh, and the return of Myck is around the corner.
The team just needs to keep moving forward.
No. 4 - It's Joe Flacco's world and we're all just living in it ?
Wow, what a game.
Give the NFL credit because even on a night when the F'ING LIGHTS WENT OUT IN THE SUPER BOWL, the league still found a way to deliver a game that will go down for the ages as one of the most drama-filled final 30 minutes of football we've ever seen.
Also, let's just go ahead and say what needs to be said, which is that no team deserves to lose a Super Bowl because of the momentum lost in a power outage, so the NFL got lucky. As a regular NFL fan, I feel like fate rewarded the right team.
I don't even know how I would have reacted and treated the result of the game had the 49ers won. Honestly, nothing like that has ever happened, so I'm not sure what any of us should have felt.
In the end, the Ravens were just the better team by the slightest of margins and most of it comes down to the fact that Joe Flacco is better at this stage of his career than the budding star that is Colin Kaepernick. The Baltimore gunslinger played at a level this post-season that is almost hard to believe.
The dude finished 22 of 33 for 287 yards and three touchdowns for a rating of 124.2 and he had an 11-0 TD/INT ratio in his four playoff games.
They really feel like a team of destiny.
Oh? PAY THAT MAN.
No.5 - More Super Bowl randomness ?
? Kaepernick might not have closed the deal when he had his team at the five-yard line, but my goodness, that dude played a whale of a second half. Against most NFL quarterbacks, he probably would have done enough to get the win, but he played against a guy playing at an elite level tonight.
? I cannot believe the 49ers didn't run the ball two times with the ball on the five-yard line. The Ravens were getting gashed by Frank Gore in the second half and the 49ers coaches took the ball out of their best player's hands. You'll never be able to convince me that Gore wouldn't have punched it in.
? I also believe Flacco would have taken the Ravens in for the winning-score had the 49ers scored. That's just the kind of mojo he has going for him right now.
? Jacoby Freaking Jones.
? Gore was awesome tonight. It's time to start thinking about him as a Hall of Fame player. He'll probably cross 10K in career rushing yards in 2013 and his career YPC is almost a yard more than Jerome Bettis, who was in the final 15 for Hall of Fame votes this year. Gore was in a different class tonight than a guy like ray Rice.
? I had a feeling Anquan Boldin would play big tonight. He's one of those guys that had waited his entire life for this moment and he made the most of it, even if he did drop a couple.
? Good for Ed Reed. How could you not feel good about his interception in the first half or the fact that he is finally a Super Bowl champion?. For one of the best defensive backs of all-time, it was a long time coming.
? I like Ray Lewis, but I'm ready for him to retire.
? I was put off by Lewis' interview with Shannon Sharpe in the pre-game. Really put off.
? Justin Tucker scored 10 points for the Ravens and was money in the bank all night. I'm very happy to see him get a ring. He's had quite a ride the last two years.
? Speaking of Super Bowl rings, right on for Chykie Brown for getting one as well.
? The NFL should be embarrassed. Signed, Bud Selig.
? Am I alone on an island or were this year's commercials seriously weak?
No. 6 - Not many nitpicks with the NFL Hall of Fame selections?
I made my picks earlier in the week and outside of the voters taking Warren Sapp over Michael Strahan, things on Saturday went exactly as I thought they would.
Jonathan Ogden was a slam dunk. Larry Allen was a slam dunk. There's no way Bill Parcells should have taken an hour's worth of discussion, but he was a slam dunk.
Perhaps the highlight of the weekend was watching Cris Carter finally have his number called after a half-decade of barely missing the cut. His emotion was incredibly raw and highlights what can happen when a guy gets a second chance.
I know the passing game numbers are such that it's tough to separate the all-time players from those that were just lucky to be in the right system, but Carter is one of the best that ever played the game. It was time.
Overall, I think my favorite moment of the weekend was hearing that the discussion for Larry Allen lasted about nine minutes, which might be three times as long as his acceptance speech this summer. In my imagination, everyone in the room simply laughed out loud at the memory of some of his ass-kicking and there wasn't much need to even talk about it. If he's not a first-ballot lineman, then they don't exist.
No. 7 - A few things on The Association?
? We all need Timmy Duncan's knees to hold up for four or five more months. I really want to see the Spurs get another shot with their full team in the post-season.
? The Celtics haven't lost since Rondo went down. Eventually, the loss of their best players will catch up to them. Don't buy into the mirage.
? I'd be worried if my team had its eyes on Josh Smith as a centerpiece of the future. He's a solid No. 2 or No. 3 on a championship team, but I don't think he's a guy you can give a max contract to.
? I really didn't need to see Brook Lopez in the all-star game. Sorry, but that guy might be a good player, but he's useless in a game like that. Give me J.R. Smith's tattoos over a seven-foot stiff.
? Move over Paul Pierce.. there's a new sheriff in town and his name is Kyrie Irving. That young man is THE TRUTH.
? Allen Iverson = ' "Worst parent ever"
No. 8 - Call me crazy if you want, but I have a thought on UFC 156 ?
I know I'm about to upset some MMA feathers here, but there's been a lot of talk that Jose Aldo is deserving of being discussed on the same level as Jon Jones, Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre.
Don't get me wrong, Aldo is an incredible fighter and we're splitting hairs to a degree in this conversation because of the incredible company we're talking about? BUT? I just don't think he's quite on that level. Coming out of the fight against Frankie Edgar, I thought he won the fight by the same score as most? 48-47? but I thought Edgar took the final two rounds of the fight and if they had kept going, I think Edgar might have won the fight.
He might be in the top five or six in the pound-for-pound discussion, but he's not Silva, Jones or St-Pierre.. at least not yet.
Three more thoughts:
1. Alistair Overeem sure talked a lot of mess, only to get his rear-end knocked out on his feet by Antonio "Big Foot" Silva. I'm not going to lie, that made me crack a smile.
2. Sign me up for an Aldo fight against Anthony Pettis.
3. Thank goodness the Antonio Nogueira/ Rashad Evans match wasn't THE main event.
No. 9 - Pop goes the culture because the culture goes pop.?
? Hottie of the Week: Alessandra Ambrosio Victoria's Secret Bikini Photoshoot in St. Barts.
? Just can't quit: Biebs and Selena Gomez are back on again?.
? Headline of the Weekend: JUSTIN BIEBER SURROUNDED BY SIZZURP
? Hard truth: ' Chris Brown is one the world's worst people.
? Sign that the Apocalypse is Upon Us: First Porn Star In Space Prepares For Historic Mission
? 100-Words (or less) Movie Review: Silver Linings Playbook (A)
It lived up to the hype that I've been hearing for months. Honestly, everything just came together in a way that had the audience clapping at the end of things. In a way, the performances from Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper make the movie because they are that good. Go ahead and give Lawrence an Oscar because I saw Zero Dark Thirty a week ago, and I've got to give the trophy to the former Winter's Bone star. One of my top three or four movies of the year.
? 100-Words (or less) Movie Review: Life of Pi (B+)
I don't know what I expected, but I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. Ang Lee is a made-man in Hollywood, but I think this might have been his best work yet. It's hard to explain, but I found myself deeply engaged in the movie throughout and by the end of the movie, my emotions had been tugged pretty good. Suraj Sharma puts in a dynamite performance that hasn't received nearly enough respect. I don't know if it's a top-five movie for me in 2012-13, but it's in the conversation.
? If I had a vote that mattered (Oscar-style)?
(These are my updated Academy Award picks based on movies I have actually seen in 2012-13.)
Top Movies on my "Still-Need-To-See" List: Amour, The Sessions and The Impossible
3. Silver Linings Playbook
4. Zero Dark Thirty
5. Les Miserables
1. Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
2. Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
3. Ben Affleck (Argo)
4. Tom Hooper (Les Miserables)
5. David Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
1. Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
2. Denzel Washington (Flight)
3. Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
4. Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook)
5. Suraj Sharma (Life of Pi)
1. Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
2. Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
3. Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
4. Leslie Mann (This is 40)
Best supporting actor
1. Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained)
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
3. Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
4. Sam Rockwell (Seven Psychopaths)
5. Alan Arkin (Argo)
Best supporting actress
1. Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
2. Sally Field (Lincoln)
3. Amy Adams (The Master)
4. Kerry Washington (Django Unchained)
5. Samantha Banks (Les Miserables)
No. 10 - The List: Norah
Sometimes you just have to go where the music takes you and when I heard "Come Away With Me" on satellite radio last weekend, I knew that a little bit of Norah this week is just what the doctor ordered.
I can't help it, I love her. This Texas songbird just feels like the sound of heaven every time I need her.
My wife knows?. Norah has a special place reserved in my heart, right next to Keira Knightley.
Let's get on with the list? (Listen to the entire list by Subscribing via Spotify
Last five songs out: Be Here to Love Me, Chasing Pirates, Humble Me, Creepin' In and Love Me
10. One Flight Down
The Come Away With Me album is pretty much a perfect record and this is one of my favorite underrated tracks on the entire album.
9. Cold Cold Heart
One of my dream girls singing a perfect rendition of a Hank Sr. classic? Yes, please!
Norah's follow up album to Come Away With Me wasn't quite as strong as her classic debut album, but there are some great songs on the record and this is one of my favorites.
7. What Am I To You
Speaking of the Feels Like Home album, this is my favorite track off the album.
6. New York City
I'll be honest, I still don't really know who the Peter Malick Group is, but they had Norah up and down one of their albums, and this is without question one of the beautiful little jewels in her catalog.
5. Turn Me On
Oh man, now we're entering the part of the list where depending on the day, any of these songs could rank No.1 on the list. If you have a woman like Norah waiting for you to come home and turn her home, wouldn't you get your ass home as soon as possible?
4. Until The End
There's something about this song that makes me put it on repeat every time I hear it.
3. Here We Go Again
One of Ray Charles' last requests was to cut a record with Norah, and by God, they delivered nothing short of greatness with this song.
2. Come Away With Me
A damn perfect song.
1. Don't Know Why
She won my heart forever as soon as I heard this song for the first time. This is THE Norah song of all Norah songs in my mind. She flirts with me every time she sings the song.
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