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January 31, 2012

Ketch's 10 thoughts from the weekend

Scattershooting on the Longhorn football universe…

… Ok, so it looks like DGB is headed to Missouri. Frankly, I'm not of the opinion that anyone wearing burnt orange should shed a tear because in my mind the DGB recruitment was a symbol of the changes in philosophy that the Texas program has adopted in the last 12 months that will allow for a return to greatness in the future. Although landing DGB was an extreme longshot, Mack allowed assistant coach Darrell Wyatt to throw UT's hat into the ring, despite the fact that the final outcome was always expected, even when hope drenched everyone's conscious. Still, Mack Brown never asked Wyatt to wave a white flag or concern himself with whatever perceived embarrassment that Mack has always felt like the program receives when it loses a recruiting battle that didn't begin with Texas in a lay-up line. That's progress. The Longhorns went for the jugular and that's to be commended because the trickle down impact has already been significant. It's the attitude that led to them offering JUCO kids and it's the attitude that will eventually land them the mega-blue superstar from out of state like DGB that can alter a program.

Sometimes you just lose and move on. It's almost that time. There's a Junior Day coming up around the corner.

… Before we move on from the subject, I'd remind everyone to not get too down about the DGB news, if it goes as expected at this point, because the Longhorns currently have a wide receiver/offensive skill class this year that includes Cayleb Jones, Kendall Sanders, Marcus Johnson, Daje Johnson and let us not forget about a guy named Johnathan Gray. Guys, that's pretty sick, even without DGB or Thomas Johnson. You should celebrate tomorrow like it was an important game-day.

… How much has the culture inside the program changed in the last 12 months? Consider these tweets this morning, one from a current player just finishing his freshman season and the other from a player from the 2012 recruiting class.

From Quandre Diggs: "Y'all just waking up right now, we already got this work in! Hard work pays off! #nothinlessthanBCS"

From Adrian Colbert about 30 seconds later: ""@NextBestSecret: I absolutely hate 6am weights" << WTH? That's where Champions are made so you better fall in love with em!"

… So, what things did we learn from the Bryce Cottrell recruitment in the last few days?

1. Always take 3 a.m. text messages from recruits when they are just starting an official visit with a grain of salt.
2. When push comes to shove, Texas is a hell of a lot closer to home than Oregon.
3. Momma's say in the deal matters.
4. Texas can pull out its BAD MF wallet whenever it wants, even if it's late in the process, with almost every kid in the state.

… The last point is a significant one because it directly correlates with the strategy the Longhorns should have in place for Junior Day offers. Only elite prospects from in-state should be offered 12 months out from signing day because there's no reason to think that you can't come back in on the next-level guys later in the process.

… If someone asks you to summarize the Longhorn recruiting class in 100 words or less, just tell them, "Speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed and more speed, speed, speed, speed, speed, speed…"

No.2 - Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades (again)…

It happened again.

The 2011-12 Texas basketball team was staring a signature win that it so desperately needs in its quest to make the NCAA Tournament right in the eyes. Frankly, it was about five feet or a called foul away from realizing the quest.

But, the Longhorns missed. Again.

Myck Kabongo's short baseline jumped did not fall through the net in slow motion like Jimmy Chitwood's game-winner against the team from South Bend, as it harmlessly bounced off the rim and into the eager Missouri hands. In the process, it's time to have a frank conversation about this year's team.

The Longhorns are almost certainly not going to the NCAA Tournament. As the calendar turns to February, it's time to face up to the realities of their resume and not fantasies. This Texas team is 13-9 overall and 3-6 in conference play. Let me say that again, it is 3-6 in conference play. Its only true quality win right now this season was against Temple and its overall record against teams in the top 50 of the RPI is 2-7. If you expand the won-loss record to include teams in the top 100 of the current RPI rankings, the record drops to 2-8.

At this point, I'm not sure a win over Kansas in Lawrence would matter, not unless this team starts to finish games, and that's the rub … this team doesn't know how to finish. It's not in this group's collective DNA at this moment, as its 0-7 record in games decided by six points or less exhibits.

It's simply looking more and more like 2011-12 is going to be remembered as the lost season of the Rick Barnes era. Most will have heard about it, few will have seen it (9,000+ showed up for a game against a top-5 team) and everyone will likely push all faint memories into the part of their brain they don't care about, the place where you store memories of 3 a.m. viewings of the Golden Girls.

In my mind, the biggest concern of all isn't the losing, it's the apathy. Assuming this season goes as currently scheduled, the Longhorns will have failed to make it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in five seasons, with only two NCAA regional finals in the last eight years on which to truly hang your hat.

Rick Barnes desperately needs a pair of jumper cables to get the spark going again.

No.3 - It's Super Bowl week and there's one thing in my head…

Tom Brady has to have a great game this weekend, right?

For all of the love that we've given Tom Brady for earning his place among the all-time greats with those five super bowl appearances and three victories (thus far) as a starting quarterback with the Patriots, it's time to acknowledge the very obvious.

Since the end of Super Bowl XLII, the man chasing Joe Montana for the title of best ever hasn't been playing like the best ever in the games that truly define a career. In fact, if you look back at the results from his last eight playoff games, Brady's rating is under 80 and his 14-12 TD/INT ratio is pretty pedestrian in a Joe Flacco sort of way.

The one thing I don't ever remember saying about Joe Montana is, "Remember when he was average to below-average in all of those playoff games over about a five-year window?"

We just don't say that? You know why? It never happened. Oh, he had a three-year run in the mid-80s after his second Super Bowl win when those great Giant defenses under Bill Parcells enjoyed their run at the mountaintop that was less than stellar, but if you look at that stretch with some context, you'll see that he surrounded those losses with 10 wins.

And he never lost a Super Bowl.

So, as I sit here and think about Brady coming into this game, he has to be due for a mega-performance, right? The Patriots have to win this game, right? He has to be the MVP, right?

Because of the answer is no, then the all-time great discussion starts to sound a little like the one we're having in tennis with Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic. How could Brady top Montana if in the grand scheme of things he can't even say he ever got over on Eli Manning?

It's time for Brady to be Brady…. unless being Brady means being a little more like John (Elway) than Joe.

My money is on a game for the ages to help him get No.4.

No.4 - A few other Super Bowl thoughts on a Tuesday…

… If the Patriots win this game, Kyle Hix gets a Super Bowl ring. For all of the grief that the guy took during his years in Austin, they'd never be able to take that away from him. Talk about a storyline with more than a few ironies. He would suddenly have one more SB ring than Ed Reed.

… If the Giants win, Aaron Ross will have SB ring No.2 on his hand to go along with his national title ring. Oh, and he has the Thorpe Award. And an Olympian for a wife to boot. I'm beginning to think he's living a pretty charmed life.

… The outcome of this game could swing based on the health of Rob Gronkowski. Count those among the sentences I never thought we'd say and actually mean.

… Anyone else think that Chad Ocho Cinco is trying to buy his way onto the field this weekend? I'm kidding (kind of), but that's a pretty class move on his part.

… I hope The Hoody plays Ocho Cinco. Let the guy play.

… Hakeem Nix is going to have a big game on Sunday, I can feel it. He's my dark-horse to win the MVP.

… It's going to take 30 to win.

No.5 - Five completely random sports takes…

1. I'm a homer for Rafa Nadal, but I have to give it up to Novak Djokovic because he's in pure animal mode right now on the tennis scene. Nadal is going to have nightmares about the unforced errors that allowed Djokovic back into the fifth set when it looked like Nadal was about to get over for the hump for the win. What a great match and effort from both. That being said, it was not better than 2008 Nadal/Federer at Wimbledon.

2. I didn't get a chance to see the UFC action on Fox this weekend, but all I know is that we've got a Rashad Evans/Bones Jones match looming in April and a Chael Sonnen/Anderson Silva match (most likely) in June per Kevin Iole of YahooSports. Hey boxing, are you watching?

3. I'm looking forward to the upcoming MLB season. It sure feels like there are going to be 10-12 hugely competitive teams this year and when those teams play each other, I expect to see fireworks. Yankees vs. Tigers vs. Rangers vs. Angels vs. Red Sox or Phillies vs. Giants vs. Braves vs. Cardinals, with young teams like the Reds and Nationals ready to make a charge as well.

4. The potential ending of Peyton Manning's career is sad. Part of me hopes he just cuts the chord if his health doesn't get much better because watching him struggle to get back and having to ensure the all-in reporting from ESPN on the matter non-stop might be more than I can take.

5. I feel like my looming NCAA Tournament bracket is going to involve more guesswork than ever. Only one bracket sheet for me this year.


No.6 - Thoughts from The Association…

a. This might very well be one of the top five dunks of all-time . I saw it live. My jaw is still on the floor. My heart hurts for Kendrick Perkins.

b. The Magic need to do something with Dwight Howard very soon. Their franchise is crumbling apart. Their play in the last week is straight from the Washington Generals playbook.

c. If you watched any of the Thunder/Clippers game from last night, you know exactly why the Thunder extended Russell Westbrook with a rich deal. If the light switch ever comes on, he could emerge as an even more explosive version of Derrick Rose. Hot damn that kid just oozes all-time great athleticism.

d. My Sixers are going to find out a lot about themselves in the next two weeks. The schedule? Starting on Wednesday, they play Chicago at home, Miami at home, Atlanta on the road, and then the Lakers, Spurs and Clippers at home in a three-game home-stand next week. Yeah, there will be lessons to learn for sure.

e. Weird stat of the weekend: The combined road record for the five teams in the Pacific Division is 11-33. The best record among the group is the Clippers at 2-4.

f. Kyrie Irving is g-o-o-d .

g. Ketch's weekly NBA Power Poll

1. Oklahoma City
2. Miami
3. Chicago
4. Denver
5. L.A. Clippers
6. Philadelphia
7. Dallas
8. L.A. Lakers
9. San Antonio
10. Portland

No.7 - Things learned from my trip to the Big Easy this weekend…

1. Once you get a little older and aren't just looking to get trashed on Bourbon Street, New Orleans can be a hell of a town if you have money or know the right people. From the food to the gambling to the partying, it was just a hell of a weekend.

2. Dead-bolt your hotel room door when you can, even if you are staying at a place like the W.

3. If you see a girl on the verge of losing her purse at 1 a.m., don't bother helping her because it'll be gone by 3:30 a.m.. There are few heroes in that town.

4. Port of Call has a mean burger if you find yourself looking for something other than seafood.

5. The food at Brennan's was slightly overrated IMO, but the ambiance was strong. On the other hand, the pork belly at Calcasieu was as good as anything I've had in years. Wow, that was a damn good meal.

6. The SEC swoop is alive and well in that town.

No.8 - Pop goes the culture because the culture goes pop.…

Ladies and gentleman, Sophie Freaking Turner. You can thank me later.

… DECLARATION: Candice Swanepoel might be the sexiest woman that ever lived. Period.

Sneak peek at Madonna's Super Bowl show

Paula Abdul got fired

… The entire cast and writers from the original Arrested Development are confirmed for a new season and a movie . Chew on that for a moment.

… I have a crush on Emma Stone. She has the best curly hair.

… Finally, we're less than a month away from the Oscars, which means that I'll be going into a movie-watching sprint towards the finish on February 26 to see as many as the nominees as possible.

Here's a look at where my votes stand going into the final month…

Best Picture

1. The Help
2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
4. Midnight in Paris

Others receiving votes: The Ides Of March, The Muppets, J. Edgar, 50-50, Moneyball and Bridesmaids

Best Actor

1. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50-50)
2. Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
3. Leonardo diCaprio (J. Edgar)

Best Actress

1. Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
2. Viola Davis (The Help)
3. Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids)

Best Supporting Actor

1. Ryan Gosling (Crazy, Stupid, Love)
2. Alan Rickman (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II)
3. Armie Hammer (J. Edgar)

Best Supporting Actress

1. Octavia Spencer (The help)
2. Marion Cotillard (Midnight in Paris)
3. Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)

Best Director

1. Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
2. Tate Taylor (The Help)
3. David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Movies I still need to see in no particular order of importance…

1. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
2. Hugo
3. My Weekend with Marilyn
4. Shame
5. Tinker Tailor Solider Spy
6. The Artist
7. The Descendants
8. The Iron lady
9. The Tree of Life
10. War Horse

PS: Yes, I have my work cut out for me.

No.9 - The List: Top nine awfully good songs I listened to last week when travelling to Houston...

9. Listen to your heart
8. Just once
7. Hold on
6. Almost paradise
5. Slow hand
4. I want to know what love is
3. Arthur's theme (Best that you can do)
2. Every time you go away
1. At this moment

No.10 - And finally…

214 days until the 2012 season-opener against Wyoming.


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