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February 27, 2014

1ST-AND-10: Patterson, Strong doing it their way

1. If you haven't noticed by now, Steve Patterson and Charlie Strong are going to do things their way.

Come hell or high water, sink or swim, win, lose or draw Patterson and Strong are going to live or die in their new roles based on their instincts and experience.

They are betting on themselves.

Strong is tied to Patterson. Patterson is tied to Strong.

If Strong proves to be the next Bob Stoops and Patterson truly struck gold with the most important hire of his tenure as Texas athletic director, (without ever convening the 8-member search committee, which included some big-money donors with an opinion) Patterson will have done it his way.

Football games in Mexico City? And ultimately London? Patterson isn't budging on that one, I'm told.

OB reported recently Patterson has had a conversation with USC athletic director Pat Haden about the possibility of moving their 2017 and 2018 football games to Mexico City.

Patterson told the San Antonio Express-News in a report Tuesday he wouldn't play in Mexico City at the expense of a home game.

Beer sales at Texas baseball, softball, basketball, spring football, the Texas Relays and ultimately football games? Once Patterson got through the coaching search for football, he set about improving the fan experience at games and increasing revenue, knowing the majority of fans would appreciate it.

Even if the chancellor's office may not have been kept completely in the loop, thus delaying the launch of alcoholic beverage sales at games this week, according to a source close to the situation.

Talk to people inside the athletic department and they still consider Patterson an enigma, someone who largely keeps to himself. (At basketball games, he doesn't sit with the rest of the department, he often sits alone.)

Strong is telling players to pick it up or pack it up. He's telling players to move back on campus. There may have even been a surprise drug test.

And when it came to signing day, Strong wasn't prepared to sign anyone that wasn't coming purely to be at Texas for Texas.

A source said one recruit de-committed and signed elsewhere earlier this month because Charlie Strong wasn't prepared to help get one of the recruit's friends into Texas, too.

Patterson and Strong are doing things their way. They will succeed or fail on their terms.

You have to respect that.

2. People have asked me what the big-money guys, such as Red McCombs, think of Steve Patterson and Charlie Strong after not having much say in the final decision of hiring the football coach.

They are willing to give Patterson and Strong everything they need financially. Even though the big-money guys may not have been involved in the search the way they would have wanted, they want both Patterson and Strong to have everything they need to succeed for Texas.

3. I reported in a recent War Room, according to a source, UT was having trouble getting replacement parts for Godzillatron, in part, because the company who provides those parts had gone out of business.

I reported the state of Godzillatron could lead to Texas having to cough up some cash to replace the video board sooner rather than later. (UT would like to hold off on having to replace it until the south end of DKR is redone. But that project currently has no timetable.)

Dan Fjeldheim of Daktronics, which constructed Texas' video board in DKR, called me to say Daktronics is the one that provides replacement parts for the video board and that Daktronics is thriving.

So I asked Fjeldheim what happened to Godzillatron in at least three home games last year, when the board either flickered or went out completely for varying periods of time. (The most notable blackout occurred during the second half of the Texas Tech game for nearly the entire third quarter.)

Fjeldheim acknowledged the video board is old by video board standards (8 years) and that some of the glitches are just associated with age. He said the cause of the extended blackout during the Texas Tech game still isn't exactly known. Fjeldheim said he believes the blackout was the result of multiple outlets feeding into the board and a power fluctuation.

Fjeldheim said he thinks any glitches in the video board have been worked out in anticipation of the 2014 football season.

4. Rick Barnes is all about enhancing the fan experience at Texas basketball games - so bring on the beer!

"I think where we are in today's athletic world, it is about the atmosphere," Barnes said. "People could stay home every night and watch a basketball game. What's going to make people come to games? It's the excitement created inside the building. It's the fan experience.

"You have to make the fans love coming. There will always be a debate about responsibility with alcohol.

"You have to hope people will be responsible with it. But I just think we have to make the fan experience enjoyable for those who want to come and be a part of something exciting."

Let's be honest, beer sales probably won't cause a dramatic change in the atmosphere at the Erwin Center. But it's something a lot of fans want. So if it causes more fans to come, then it could make some difference in the atmosphere.

(I still love that UT's promotion for the Baylor game included 2 Longhorns pint glasses with the purchase of a $20 ticket...even if beer sales have been delayed.)

5. Wednesday night's game against Baylor will be a good test of the mental strength of Rick Barnes' team.

Since a loss to Oklahoma in the Erwin Center in their Big 12 opener, the Longhorns have won six straight conference games at home.

They've done it with defense, good spacing, ball movement, making the extra pass and balanced scoring.

Those things were absent in two losses last week in difficult road environments … at Iowa State and at Kansas.

Let's see if Texas can settle down at home against a Baylor team that has won 5 of its last 7, including 4 straight (at TCU, Kansas St, Okla St and at WVU).

The Bears' increased confidence has led to better shooting. During the 4-game winning streak, Baylor is averaging 47.1 percent shooting, including five players in double figures while hitting 54.2 percent from the field in an 88-75 win in Morgantown Saturday.

Forward Royce O'Neale was 8-of-8 shooting while leading BU with 22 points.

6. Perhaps Texas freshman G Isaiah Austin's best game this season came in UT's 74-60 victory in at Baylor. Now, Taylor faces the Bears coming off his worst shooting night of the season - 1-of-14 FG at Kansas.

Not just because Taylor was 10-of-18 shooting and finished with 27 points in that win in Waco. Mostly because of how Taylor relentlessly found creases in BU's 2-3 zone and attacked, sometimes getting all the way to the rim against that zone.

It showed just how mature Taylor's game and IQ are (and Javan Felix did a nice job of getting into the gaps in the zone as well).

Taylor sounded like he was in uncharted water when asked about that 1-of-14 performance in Lawrence.

"That was a game I haven't had my whole career," said Taylor, who had been averaging 19.1 points on 45 percent shooting the previous 7 games.

"To shoot that from the field was discouraging. But my teammates told me to keep shooting the ball and leading the team. Coach (Rick) Barnes told me to just keep playing my game. He knows what type of player I am. He just told me to keep playing with confidence."

7. Bill Self has been the head coach at Kansas for 10 years and has 10 straight Big 12 regular-season titles.

KU's victory over Oklahoma on Monday guaranteed the Jayhawks at least a share of Self's 10th straight league title.

Jayhawks fans used to get all misty over Roy Williams, who spent 15 years in Lawrence, never won a national title and produced one of the biggest underachieving KU teams of all time in 1996-97.

(That KU team had Paul Pierce, Raef LaFrentz, Scot Pollard and Jacques Vaughn and went 34-2 before flaming out in the Sweet 16.)

Self's first 10 years at KU puts Williams' first 10 years at KU to shame:

* Self has reached 2 Final Fours - winning it all 2008 - while going to 5 Elite 8s.

* Williams' first 10 years at KU included 2 Final Fours (no national championship) and 3 Elite 8s.

And Jay Bilas tweeted this out Tuesday:

@JayBilas: Three of KU's ten straight Big 12 titles were won without a single returning starter from the prior year. Wow.

This year is one of those three titles. Last year's starters - Kevin Young, Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson, Ben McLemore and Travis Releford - are long gone.

8. A tough NFL combine for the Longhorns.

Jackson Jeffcoat only throws up 18 reps of 225 pounds and is now seen as nothing more than a 3-4 outside linebacker.

Mike Davis' medical exams reveal a foot injury that prevents him from being cleared to run the 40 or take part in drills.

Chris Whaley is still recovering from his knee injury and could only interview.

Anthony Fera's job interview is all on tape (game film)

MY TAKE: Jeffcoat needs to have the same kind of Pro Day Sam Acho had, showing teams he could be a 3-4 OLB and drop into coverage. He's not considered strong enough to be a 4-3 defensive end in the NFL.

… Davis needs to be lights out on Pro Day, running and catching everything after being knocked at the Senior Bowl for being tentative running routes over the middle. …

Whaley reminds me of the position RB Fozzy Whittaker was in after tearing up his knee his senior year (and look at Whittaker now with the Browns).

9. After 25 years as Cowboys owner, and going 136-136 the last 17 years with 1 playoff victory, Jerry Jones has proven …

… he is the definition of insanity as a GM.

Jones is one of the best owners in NFL history:

(1) He was the driving force behind Fox getting NFL television rights and dramatically increasing revenue;

(2) Jones took on the NFL to create marketing deals for his self-owned stadium and prompted the construction of 17 new stadiums by other owners;

(3) Jones even advocated for the salary cap in 1995, when it was detrimental to the Cowboys, who had done well in Plan B free agency, landing players such as TE Jay Novacek.

Basically, everything Paul Tagliabue was credited with as commissioner should be credited to Jones.

But as a GM, he should have been fired at least 15 years ago. Jones has repeatedly ignored his scouts on draft day (even excusing his scouts from the War Room in 2001, when Jones alone decided to draft QB Quincy Carter).

He gets emotional over players and overpays (WR Roy Williams, S Ken Hamlin, RB Marion Barber, OG Leonard Davis) especially older players who wouldn't command the same value with any other team (at the end of their careers, Jones paid ridiculous salaries to Larry Allen, Emmitt Smith, Joey Galloway, etc).

And don't get me started on Tony Romo, who has done little to command the $108 million contract with $55 million in guarantees and a $25 million signing bonus.

If Jones had drafted as many QBs over the years as TEs, there would probably have been options other than Romo to avoid paying someone franchise money who is not a franchise QB.

But Jones didn't want Romo to feel the threat of competition, which says all you need to know about Jones the GM.

10. The TMZ in me and other musings …

A) Saw the Lego movie with my kiddos, and I have to admit I laughed a few times out loud.

B) I'm now convinced after the NFL combine that Pitt DT Aaron Donald is the surest thing in this year's draft after he  dominated the likes of Baylor OG Cyril Richardson at the Senior Bowl - then ran a 4.65 in the 40 and pushed up 35 reps of 225 pounds on the bench at the combine.

C) South Carolina QB Connor Shaw has small hands and no measurables that would impress a scout, but something tells me he's going to make it in the NFL … maybe because the guy is just winner (his gutsy performance in the comeback win at Mizzou always sticks with me).

D) Speaking of Mizzou, wow, was DE Michael Sam unimpressive. He'll go to camp with someone, but it may not be as a draft pick.

E) The Sochi Olympics are over … did anyone notice? (The defeats of Shaun White and the U.S. hockey teams crushed me. … So I dusted off the DVD and watched "Miracle" again).

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