While Mack Brown's quest for "as good a recruiting coordinator as there is in the country" continues, the questions about the future of the Longhorn program as it relates to keeping up with the new Joneses of college football also persist.
If I had a nickel for every time I've been asked about the type of plan I'd have if I were in charge of UT football in the last two or three weeks, I'd probably have at least a couple of dollars by now. Therefore, when I was thinking about topics for this week's column, it seemed pretty obvious what needed to be done.
We'll call it the "Ketchum Plan" and it's sure to be completely ignored by the leading minds on the 40 Acres if my constant soapboxing for D.J. Monroe over the last three years has proven anything at all. Ignored or not, it's important that everyone have a glimpse of what can happen if the Longhorns ever decide to be leaders on the front-lines of a new era of football operations within college football. The biggest mistake that has been created behind the scenes in this discussion is the idea that all of this has to do with recruiting, but that's simply not the case. Some of this is about recruiting, but most of this is simply about making sure the engine that powers the only $100,000,000 per year football program in America is working as efficiently and effectively as possible.
The challenge is to build the single strongest infrastructure of any program in the country, with branches within the football department that extend into multiple areas that are currently not developed. Mack shouldn't be worried about hiring people he will eventually have to fire because if he opens his mind to what is possible, he'll see that he's actually serving the program he loves so much in a way that will define him when he eventually leaves.
This is about building the equivalent of bridges, new schools, highways and doing so with clean-energy efficient means. It's about leading and not following. It's about being unafraid to fail because the rewards for trying are all about self-improvement. This isn't about being Alabama, it's about being the best version of Texas possible.
Therefore, here is the Ketchum Plan…
Director of Player Personnel: Daniel Jeremiah ($400,000)
You want outside the box? I'll give you outside the box. In hiring Jeremiah, you're bringing in a guy that fills up the stat sheet, so to speak. NFL scouting background? Check. Young and vibrant? Check. TV and social media experience? Check.
The former Ravens/Eagles scout and current NFL Network reporter would be my choice to lead my scouting department and would become the face of recruiting behind the scenes. In addition to leading his scouting team, his experience in front of the camera means that he can be a front-line personality for the program that is involved in every level of the program (LHN, Twitter, etc…). From a cost standpoint, I'm going to pay him as much as a high-level coordinator because his importance within the program cannot be overstated.
Assistant Director of Player Personnel: Drew Fabianich ($300,000)
This current Dallas Cowboys scout lives in Austin and would be my top choice to assist Jeremiah in the day-in and day-out responsibilities within the newly minted scouting department. All personnel decisions would go through their office. He's been in the NFL scouting business for a decade and is a former high school coach in the Dallas area.
Assistant Director of Player Personnel: Rivals.com national analyst Mike Farrell ($250,000)
If I'm going to have an out of state recruiting presence, I'm going to hire the guy that has more out of state contacts than anyone on the planet. Mission accomplished with this hire.
Player Personnel assistant: Current Lancaster secondary coach Joey Foster ($75,000)
Player Personnel assistant: Current Cedar Hill defensive backs coach Chili Davis ($75,000)
Player Personnel assistant: North Shore cornerbacks and head track coach Garrett Cross ($75,000)
Player Personnel assistant: Port Arthur Memorial defensive coordinator Nelson Barnes ($75,000)
Player Personnel assistant: Lamar University running backs coach James Brown ($75,000)
Player Personnel assistant: Sam Houston State running backs coach Anthony Johnson ($75,000)
I need connections in Dallas, Houston, the Golden Triangle and East Texas. I'm going to go to the guys that have great connections in their areas and they'll work in unison with the coaches that work in their territories. It might be beneficial to make this a staff of eight, so that includes Central Texas, West Texas and any other area that you might believe needs attention, but the bottom line is that $500K would create a bad-ass player personnel staff to work under my newly hired top guys.
Head Director of Player Development: Indianapolis Colts assistant strength and conditioning coach Richard Howell ($300,000)
This would be one of my Saban moves. In assuring that my player development department is as good as any in the country, I'm going to the world of the NFL and hiring one of the best in the business in exactly that realm. Howell has been with the Colts in this capacity for more than a decade and is regarded as one of the best on the league at his craft. I'll throw whatever money (five years, $1,500,000 guaranteed) it would take to hire him (or someone like him). This is another position that is as important as any Mack could hire, including play-calling coordinators.
Director of Player Development: Alabama Director of Player Development Willie Carl Martin ($250,000)
Speaking of Saban, this guy has been with him at Alabama since 2007. Again, I want the best of the best and I make this guy turn down a five-year, $1,250,000 deal filled with incentives to stay with Saban. If he turns me down, the word will be out among his peers that the best job in America is in Austin.
Recruiting Coordinator: DeSoto head coach Claude Mathis ($125,000)
Call me crazy, but money talks and there's no question in my mind that this position could and would serve as a potential launching pad to an on-field position within the college ranks pretty quickly, if that was something that was of interest. As the current head coach of one of the most important programs in the Metroplex, you'd be hiring someone with a thirst to be great and connections up and down the state. This position could also serve as a grooming place for potential coaches on staff.
Assistant Recruiting Coordinator: Callie Thompson ($100,000)
I don't care that she went to Texas A&M. I care that she's the reigning 2012 Miss Austin and would be the perfect touch needed in the recruiting department, who could also serve an instrumental role in both online and Longhorn Network duties. What's not to like? She's beautiful, smart as a whip and she blogs. The chance to stay in Austin, get her feet wet in the communications world and make six figures in the process would make her forget any Farmer lean she might have.
Head football analyst: Philadelphia Eagles player personnel consultant Phil Savage ($300,000)
Football analyst: Current Lamar University defensive coordinator Bill Bradley ($80,000)
Football analyst: Arizona Cardinals assistant offensive line coach Larry Zierlein ($80,000)
Football analyst: Former Kilgore head coach Mike Vallery ($80,000)
Savage is currently a color commentator with Alabama and works as an executive consultant with the Eagles, but I'd bring him in to head up my college scouting department, which would be responsible for both internal scouting of the team and all advanced scouting of the teams on the Texas schedule. In building a staff for him, I'll lean on a Longhorn legend with NFL experience, an NFL coach with Super Bowl experience living right down the road in New Braunfels and one of the great East Texas coaches of the last 20 years.
Total cost of the Ketchum Plan: $2,715,000 per year
Honestly, I seriously doubt that it would cost that much to pull off the type of dream team football staff that I've created, but at most we're talking about investing less than three-percent of the incoming UT football revenue to the most incredible infrastructure that anyone in the nation could possibly think of.
How do you put a number on what kind of value this super creation of football firepower is worth? What does having the best bridges, roads and schools mean for the cities/towns that are lucky enough to have them?
As one person I spoke with about the scouting costs this weekend said, "You're talking about the future."
No, I'm talking about what being the Joneses is supposed to look like. This is the Ketchum Plan.
No. 2 - Longhorn football scattershots …
… It's a brave new world in Longhorn recruiting when a Junior Day can come and go and not a single commitment goes down during the course of an entire day. I'm not sure I thought I would ever live to see the day. Of course, we know that the Longhorns will score a commitment or two from those that were in town this weekend, but it does give you an idea about how things have changed in the last year. Recruiting is just beginning for the Longhorns, not coming to an end because two Junior Days are in the books.
… How surprising was the offer to Abilene defensive end Jake McMillon? Considering that he only had offers from SMU and Texas State coming in, I'll admit that it was surprising enough that I didn't even spotlight him coming into the weekend in our War Room preview of the weekend. From a scouting perspective, McMillon's physical tools don't really jump out, but there's no question that he is a hard-nosed player that makes up for a lack of burst and raw explosiveness with never-stop-effort. Considering the needs at the position after not taking any ends in 2013 recruiting, I'm surprised that they weren't a little more patient before offering McMillon, considering that Jarrett Johnson, Soloman Thomas, Myles Garrett, Gerald Willis and others remain on the recruiting board.
… Speaking of players that play like four-star players on the field, but possess three-star physical numbers, I think Jasper center prospect Terrell Cuney is an interesting target for the Longhorns because he seems to go against the grain of Stacy Searels' preferred target of guys that are taller than 6-4 and north of 300 pounds. It says a lot about his play in the trenches at the high school level that the Longhorns offered the 6-3, 260-pound prospect. Clearly, he's a player that the Longhorns believe has a much higher physical upside than his current undersized state.
… The offer to Texas City wide receiver Armanti Foreman raises the stakes among the wide receiver offers because the Longhorns already have two commitments in the class and they have offers out to Foreman, Mount Pleasant's K.D. Cannon and New Orleans' Speedy Noil. You would think that the Longhorns only have room for one more wide receiver in the class unless they want to ensure they have nearly a dozen receivers on the roster for 2014. I suppose you'd make an exception for Cannon or Noil if either wanted to commit later in the process, but at some point you'd think this position would face a budget restriction.
… Dylan Sumner-Gardner is an offer at any position, but I love him as a possible safety addition. The fact that he took a one-way Greyhound back home from the Junior Day is probably a good indication of his interest in the Longhorns. I don't know that I've ever heard of that happening.
… The same is true of Daniel Gresham, who flew into town to make sure he was there for the event. That took some effort, so I think his actions speak louder than any tweets.
… Number of in-state defensive backs with offers in the 2014 class: (9) Dylan Sumner-Gardner, Jamal Adams, Darrion Johnson, Nick Watkins, John Bonney, Tony Brown, Edwin Freeman, Nick Harvey and Ed Paris. Any combination of four of those guys will make for an awesome defensive back class.
… The lack of an offer for Otara Alaka on Saturday suggests to me that linebacker numbers are tight and the Longhorns either feel good about at least one of their current offers or they feel like those players are too talented not to wait on.
… Marquise Goodwin is the fastest player in the draft at this point after officially clocking a 4.27 on Sunday. Must refrain from commenting on this subject yet again…
… I've heard nothing positive things in regards to Tyrone Swoopes thus far, which is a very positive sign.
… Prediction: Case McCoy might not receive a huge dose of snaps this spring while the coaches see what they've got with their young players, but I expect him to gut it out and stay with the team until the completion of his senior season.
No. 3 - Five thoughts from the Longhorn basketball/baseball world …
1. Texas should have forced Kansas State out of the conference when it had a chance in the Big 12 Missile Crisis. I think Longhorn fans are going to eventually start wearing bags over their heads when they watch their teams play the Wildcats in any sport. I'm not one to advocate sports gambling because it's not something I do (with the exception of when I'm in Vegas), but I wouldn't have begrudged anyone betting his or her life savings on Kansas State (-3) this weekend. What in the world were the sports books thinking?
2. A frontcourt of five players combined to shoot 5 of 18 (27.8 percent) from the floor and 7 of 15 (46.6-percent) from the free throw line against Kansas State. Oh, and it grabbed a mere 15 rebounds in 89 minutes. Chew on that for a moment before moving on.
3. Texas starting pitching this weekend: 19.1 innings, 16 hits, four runs, three earned runs, three walks and 13 strikeouts over a three-game series. Corey Knebel this weekend: four innings, one hit, zero runs, two walks and seven strikeouts over to games. Texas will win a lot of games this season if that formula holds up.
4. Mark Payton is off to a white-hot start, batting .500 with a 1.223 OPS through seven games from his clean-up spot.
5. Nebraska is pretty much the opposite of Kansas State when it comes to competing against the Longhorns.
No. 4 - Moment of the weekend where I almost screamed as loud as I could …
"I pretty much go with what I did the night I bought the team. I said I was going to be the GM. … It would be a facade if someone else was sitting in my shoes and someone thought they were spending the money. It would be deception. … I would grant you the decisions that have been made over the years have not produced a Super Bowl, two Super Bowls or three Super Bowls that I would like to have been a part of. And the only thing I am going to do there is keep trying and then make sure I get the credit when we do get that one. Y'all are going to give it to me, aren't you?"
Ladies and gentlemen, Jerry Jones.
No. 5 - In case you had forgotten …
Jimmie Johnson is really good at driving a race car. Really good. All-time good.
Therefore, it should surprise few that he ended up taking the checkered flag this weekend at Daytona and essentially adding fuel to the argument that he's the best that NASCAR has had in the last generation or two. In fact, it was probably a good thing that Johnson won because it made it much easier to turn my attention to the real story.
Say what you want about the most-discussed female driver in the world, but she started on the pole, led the race for five laps, was in the top three on the final lap and finished inside the top 10. She was the primary reason I watched and I have to give her props for delivering the goods with a rock solid run.
I think I have a new favorite driver. If nothing else, it'll drive all my NASCAR-loving friends mad when I mention her name. Now let's see if she can get me to watch more races …
No. 6 - Six thoughts on a historic UFC 157 …
1. If you came into the night wondering if Ronda Rousey belonged as a headliner in the UFC, I think you're probably making some concessions after her performance on Saturday night. With all of the pressure in the world on her shoulders, Rousey appeared to be on the brink of a shocking loss to Liz Carmouche, but Rousey showed a ton of composure in shaking off the rear-naked choke and then finishing Carmouche off with her trademark arm-bar in the final seconds of the first round. It reminded me of when Bones Jones nearly tapped out to Vitor Belfort, only to recover and win via submission. Watching her weave her web into the arm-bar was one of the coolest things I've seen in the UFC.
2. Rousey is a superstar. If you don't believe me, just know that my wife never watched UFC fights with me and she made sure I alerted her when Rousey was entering the octagon because she has followed her on Facebook for more than a year. Her ability to crossover into the mainstream gives her a chance to emerge as the No. 1 star in the entire UFC.
3. I agree with the decision that went to Lyoto Machida over Dan Henderson, but what a disappointing mega-fight. That was a No. 1 vs. No. 2 contender match-up and it felt like all of Anaheim was booing the final result. I can't say that Machida earned a shot at Bones Jones because of what happened on Saturday. I feel quite the opposite, actually.
4. Urijah Faber was dominant and reminded us all why we like watching him fight. It says a lot about Renan Barao and Dominick Cruz that they were able to beat Faber convincingly. If he can beat a Michael McDonald or Brad Pickett, it might be time to think about a re-match with one of the top two in his division.
5. Dennis Bermudez and Matt Grice absolutely earned Fight of the Night. That third round was absolutely incredible.
6. I'm down for Georges St-Pierre/Nick Diaz on March 16.
No. 7 - A few more pieces of sports randomness before I go …
… Feel free to invite me to a NASCAR race in the future, but don't expect me to watch from a place where anything could fly from the track and hit me. I don't need to be that close.
… Hunter Mahan needs to be on the next Ryder Cup team. He likes him some match play. Matt Kuchar's spot on the team goes without saying.
… Kobe Bryant with some scoreboard for Mark Cuban on Twitter:"@kobebryant: Amnesty THAT"
… If the Spurs can stay upright into May, I think they are going to take the Western Conference. They are just flat out better than Oklahoma City right now.
… One start into his spring training workload, Roy Halladay is receiving positive reviews. Roy must return to God-like status if the Phils are going to contend in the East. That's all I want for Christmas this year.
… I don't think Manti Teo is going to be a standout NFL player and I don't think it has anything do with his "Catfish" moment. I think it has to do with his tweener physical tools, which make him undersized as an inside linebacker and lacking of foot quickness for an outside linebacker. Prediction: he does not get drafted in the top 45 of the draft.
… If the Cowboys don't draft Tavon Austin in the NFL Draft, I don't want him anywhere near the NFC East.
… 50 Cent tried to get some play from Erin Andrews on Sunday, but he got nowhere .
No. 8 - Things that crossed my mind while watching the Oscars on Sunday night …
1. Kristin Chenoweth clowned Renee Zellweger pretty good about her Longhorns. She literally left her with no comment.
2. Seth McFarland does not equal the combo of Tina Fey/Amy Poehler… not even close. All hail the new queens of awards hosting! That being said, he dominated James Franco's performance.
3. My only issue with Christoph Waltz winning best supporting actor is that I thought Samuel L. Jackson was even better in what I would argue was an even more difficult role. Waltz is flat out money, though.
4. My goodness, Reese Witherspoon is incredible. If aliens ever attack Earth, we need to send her as a peace offering.
5. Halle Berry is every bit as fine as she is crazy.
6. I believe….I'm not certain… No, I'm pretty certain… Halle Berry said, "Pussy Galore."
8. Jennifer Hudson is awesome.
9. I dug The Les Mis number. Sorry, I did. Of course, I also like the Ted bit, so it might just be that something is wrong with me.
10. Orgy at Jack Nicholson's house!
11. Is it me or did every winner from a non-acting category look like one of the terrorist brothers in Die Hard?
12. Christopher Plummer is awesome.
13. It must be cold in the room because Anne Hathaway just won an Oscar. Oh, she made The Dark Knight Rises bad-ass as well.
14. I'm going to lust after Jennifer Lawrence for the next three decades.
15. Adele gives the best acceptance speeches.
16. Tarantino FTMFW! "Peace Out!"
17. Cocaine was a big winner tonight. I'm convinced it won at least three awards.
18. Jane Fonda is old lady fine.
19. Kristen Stewart either was coming off a cocaine high when they announced Best Actress or she had sex with a married man just moments earlier.
20. Jennifer Lawrence won and I don't even care that she ate dirt on the steps on the way up to accept the award. I love her… for the next 30 years.
21. Daniel Day-Lewis and Meryl Streep should have made a super acting baby 20 years ago, so that it could mate with Jennifer Lawrence and create an even greater super baby.
22. Oh, and DDL is officially the GOAT.
23. Jack Nicholson will forever be a pimp.
24. Argo was a worthy victor.
25. George Clooney better never marry. Someone needs to be the king when Jack isn't around any more.
No. 9 - Pop goes the culture because the culture goes pop …
… Hottie of the Week: Kelly Kapowski still has it
… Weekly Rosie Huntington-Whiteley fun : you're welcome
… Legs, legs, legs: Katherine Webb knows exactly what she's doing
… Fact of the Weekend: Steven Tyler smoked half of Peru.
… A little Kim K. in the oven: Kanye and Kim are gonna have a girl.
… Sign that the Apocalypse is Upon Us: Four Students Arrested In Egypt For 'Harlem Shake'.
… Kanye Being Kanye: ' Dissing Hova, J.T. and the entire world, basically.
… Madonna Being Madonna: ' Madonna's Instagram Account Threatened To Be Shut Dow .
… Quote of the weekend: 50-year old Hammer reacting to his arrest in Dublin'.
"Chubby elvis looking dude was tapping on my car window, I rolled down the window and he said 'Are you on parole or probation?' While I was handing him my ID he reached in my car and tried to pull me out the car but forgot he was on a steady donut diet."
No. 10 - The List: Lead Belly
What if I told you that one of the true lions of American popular music performed his last concert at The University of Texas?
What if I told you that one of the fathers of blues music performed in the same Hogg Auditorium that you took a final in?
What if I told you this same lion of American popular music and father of the blues, who inspired the likes of Chuck Berry, Elvis, The Beatles and Kurt Cobain, not only performed at Hogg Auditorium on the 40 Acres, but the concert was recorded and can be heard?
The greatest fact about the University of Texas that you might not have ever known is that on June 15, 1949 the iconic Lead Belly performed his final concert before succumbing to Lou Gehrig's disease at Hogg Auditorium as part of a tribute to Longhorn alum John Lomax, who had died the previous year.
Huddie William Ledbetter might have been born in Louisiana, but you can make a case that he become Lead Belly in the state of Texas when consider that he grew up here, lived here, killed here, served time here and performed his final show here, which is why I have no problem putting him on the Lone Star State's Mount Rushmore of Music.
I'm not sure there's ever been anyone quite like him, as he successfully sang his way out of Imperial Farm in Sugar Land (1925) and Angola Prison in Louisiana (1933), which is mind-blowing when you consider that he might have been as sweet as a box of sugar to those that knew him well, and he was a stone-cold killer that was not be trifled with. When you talk about the "King of the 12-String Guitar", there's literally no performer in modern American music that doesn't owe some sort of thanks to Lead Belly for inspiring the likes of Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and Ernest Tubb.
Meanwhile, the music world can't say thanks enough to John and Alan Lomax, two Longhorn alums that made it a life-mission to record and preserve early American folk music.
Ok, enough history, let's get on with the list… Listen and subscribe to this week's List
Last five songs out: Black Betty, Birmingham Jail, Scottsboro Boys, National Defense Blues and It's Tight Like That.
10. Bourgeois Blues
This as in your face as a blues song can get in the 1930s and 1940s, as it's about a trip he took to Washington D.C. with his wife.
9. Hitler Song
Listening to a 1930s blues number decrying Hitler's treatment of the Jews in Germany is a snapshot of history that stayed with me all week when I was listening to his music.
Just a great early blues song.
7. John Henry
A larger than life folk singer singing about a larger than live folk hero.
It's a song about a man that is so in love with a woman from his past that he's having suicidal thoughts. The performance linked is the final song from his performance in Austin back in 1939
The sound you hear is that heartbeat of all future blues performers.
Before Dylan or The Animals took on this folk classic, Lead belly made it his own.
Lead belly wasn't the first to sing this song, but he added some pieces of his life in a Sugar Land prison to make it his in a way that perhaps no other early blues/folks singer ever had.
There's blues music and then there's Lead Belly singing about Jim Crow. Can you imagine the guts it took to sing this song in the 1930s?
It's hard for me to separate his performance with the original from Cobain's performance of this song, which ranks as my favorite Nirvana song/performance. It's haunting and timeless, regardless of the era.
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