Ketchs 10 Thoughts From The Weekend
We interrupt this week's previously scheduled programming to bring you a scene from Return of the Jedi.
Most of you will remember the scene well. Luke Skywalker is watching the Imperial fleet attack the Rebels from the throne room of the Death Star, as the Emperor mocks him.
"As you can see, my young apprentice, your friends have failed. Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!
"Fire at will, Commander!"
It's an iconic scene in the build-up of the final movie of the original trilogy and we all remember what happened next as members of Imperial Fleet take the order from the Emperor and use the Death Star's super-laser to blow up one of the Rebels' huge space-ships.
But, what if it hadn't happened that way? What if Emperor Palpatine had gone through all of the trouble of building the Death Star, only to not have enough staff available to work the galaxy's ultimate super weapon?
Imagine as he gives the order to fire away that one of the members of his Fleet had to deliver the news.
"Sorry, sir, but we don't have enough people on board to fire the weapon right now. Everyone is kind of busy doing other things because of the surprise attack on the Rebels. I think I can get someone down there in about 15 minutes."
I know what you're thinking. There's no way the Emperor could have dared to build the damn Death Star, only to not have enough people to run the damn thing when it's time to take over the galaxy. At no point in any of the Star Wars movies did anyone ever think to themselves, "The Dark Side just doesn't have enough people."
It's almost impossible to believe, right?
Okay, let's return from our trip to a galaxy that is far, far away and let's focus on the current state of the Texas Longhorn athletics program. A report from the USA Today this weekend showed that the Longhorns might be struggling on the field, but the cash register's ring has never been louder. The athletics program turned in an astronomical 163.3 million in revenue and 138.3 million in operating expenses in the 2011-12 fiscal year. An incredible 103.8 million was created by the football program alone.
It is the first time in NCAA history that a program has reported a single sport generating more than 100 million in a single fiscal year. The Longhorns are rolling in so much cash that their $25,000,000 operating surplus for 2011-12 represented more money than 135 of the roughly 220 Division I public schools spent on their entire athletics programs in 2010-11, according to the USA Today report.
On top of having enough money to buy everyone in the program a cigarette truck and still having enough money left over to have a bonfire with $100 bills, the Longhorns are in possession of the only Death Star-ish weapon (the Longhorn Network) available in the college football galaxy.
Now imagine if I told you that one of the greatest issues facing the Texas program at the moment is the fact that the Longhorns aren't using enough of that money to take care of the program that has fallen behind the curve in competing with the likes of the Dark Side … errrr … the SEC. Of all the blunders that the Longhorns could be making, there's no way that DeLoss Skywalker and Mack Solo would forget that they are the Joneses and that the one thing that they can control is the investment they make in the program that makes all things possible.
That couldn't happen, right?
You might want to sit down at this point, if you aren't already.
In the wake of the recent NCAA rules changes that allow for programs to hire recruiting coordinators and support staff that is separate from the actual coaching staff, all of whom are eligible to participate in recruiting in almost every aspect (outside of off-campus visits), the simple truth as of this very moment is this …
The SEC is ready for battle. All one needs to do is take a look at the support staffs that are being built across the board in the country's most dominant football conference. An inspection of staff directories will show that Florida has 24 football-specific employees and Georgia is up to 22. And growing.
However, if you want to know who is leading the front on this new era of all-out warfare in college football, look no further than the current Emperor of the Dark Side … Nick Saban.
In talking with one source about the subject this weekend, I was told, "Alabama is building an army." He wasn't kidding.
While the Gators and Bulldogs each have directors of player personnel, Saban has hired four people specifically for that department alone. He also has added seven "football analysts," an "athletics relations coordinator" and a "recruiting operations coordinator".
All told, Emperor Saban has built a staff that consists of 28 soldiers for football only duty. All of them can be involved in recruiting at all times.
So, what about the Longhorns? Well, with all of that excess money … somehow … someway … the Longhorns forgot to staff up the Death Star and they might just be ill-prepared for the attack Emperor Saban and the rest of the Dark Side … errrr … the SEC will be bringing them.
One look at the Texas staff directory shows that the Longhorns have nine people inside of their football department besides the on-field coaching staff and grad assistants, and six of the nine (I'm including Bill Little) are administrative assistants (i.e ... personal secretaries/assistants).
Arthur Johnson is the Associate AD of Football Operations, Marcus Tubbs is the Director of Football Operations and Ken Rucker is the Director of High School Relations and Player Development. Those are three guys outside of the football staff that Mack Brown currently has in place as the true battles begin in the 2014 recruiting wars. Everyone else is an administrative assistant or an administrative executive or a Special Assistant to Head Coach for Communications,
There are no player-personnel people. There are no football analysts. There is no separate recruiting coordinator outside Bruce Chambers.
And just because in painting a picture of what's going on around Austin, I need to give you guys as much information as possible, do you want to take a guess as to how many of Saban's army of 28 are administrative assistants? The answer is two. Yes, Saban has twice as many members on his newly minted player personnel staff as he does secretaries for the entire department.
When Mack was asked on Wednesday specifically about adding members to his staff to help take advantage of the new rules, he gave a curious answer.
"We're all over the place right now, all of us are," Brown stated. "We have to talk to athletic directors, coaches, leagues. Everybody has to figure out how we put some sense into this. None of us have been home. Now we'll have to sit down. I've asked the offensive staff and the defensive staff to give me a proposal of what they think based on what other people are doing out there. I've asked [Associate Athletics Director for Football Operations] Arthur Johnson and that staff outside of coaches to give me a proposal, see what they think. I'm putting together thoughts that I feel are very important. Then we're going to have to go to [Athletics Director] DeLoss [Dodds]."
Translation: Texas isn't ready to act, while the competition is well-prepared.
Wait, there's more.
"If you hire new people, then in one year is the rule going to change and you have to fire everybody? It's a tough time right now to try to figure out where we're all headed. I don't know. Really, I'm honest," Brown continued. "We met this morning and said, 'Arthur, you and DeLoss and [Deputy Director] Butch [Worley] have to help us.' I think right now probably the athletic directors are trying to put some sense into this and talk to each other and say where we're headed and can we all get on the same page, and the coaches have been so busy that we haven't been home. Now a lot of people are going to start looking at this to see what we do. It's the biggest change in my coaching career as far as across the board in recruiting."
Translation: Do you really need me to say it?
The richest, most powerful football program in the country, the only one that has enough juice that it has a partially operational Death Star called the Longhorn Network, simply isn't ready for the latest 21st century recruiting warfare.
If the Longhorns wanted, they could have a staff of 50 working in football operations, all with a hand in recruiting. If the Longhorns wanted, they could overwhelm their competition with an army that few in college football could ever imagine. If the Longhorns wanted, they could retake the state in recruiting with pure firepower in terms of building a player-personnel staff, which might just include former NFL GMs … if that's what they wanted. Instead, Mack has an army of three and is currently in a fact-finding pursuit.
What good is it for the Longhorns to be the richest kid in college football if they won't use enough of the money to compete with the new Joneses of college football?
No. 2 - Scattershooting on the Longhorns…
… I don't think there's anything about the commitment from Dallas Carter linebacker Cameron Hampton to dislike. He's a 6-2, 205-pound athletic linebacker that hasn't reached his ceiling as an athlete and he has an appetite for contact that is sometimes missing from linebackers that can rely on their athleticism alone to make plays. Also, the kid has a strong off-field reputation. He's a rock-solid four-star prospect and the Longhorns will likely look for three more just like him in the 2014 recruiting class.
… Here are his junior highlights for those that want a taste of his abilities.
… One positive of offering players during or before their junior seasons is that it takes a lot of the pressure off the first Junior Day and ensures that you aren't insulting other elite prospects because they weren't invited. The Longhorns will have a second Junior Day later in the month and there's zero feeling that those coming in are somehow the B-team.
… The biggest mission of the weekend in my mind was finding a way to impress the hell out of both Tony Brown and Darrion Johnson, and by all accounts it looks like they did exactly that. Now, it might be impossible to pull Brown away from LSU with his sister committing to their track team this week, but the Longhorns have had him on campus numerous times and he maintains that they are in the thick of things. I felt like I gave him a chance on Sunday to position the Longhorns in a trailing position, be he seemed to fight the notion. As for Johnson, he was seen all over Twitter on Sunday in a Longhorn jersey, and he looked like he was having one hell of a time.
… Call me crazy, but the Longhorns have a better shot at Mansfield Timberview safety Ed Paris tan most people might believe. He just keep showing up at Longhorn events.
… K.D. Cannon made the trip to Lubbock this week over a trip to Austin. I don't know what that means, but it can't be good.
No. 3 - An admission that has to be made …
Eight regular-season games. One Big 12 Tournament game.
As the final seconds ticked off of the scoreboard in what amounted to an absolute brutal waste of two hours for every Longhorn basketball fan that dared to partake in Saturday's home loss to Oklahoma State, all I wondered was how many more everyone would have to suffer through?
Let me say it again, eight regular-season games and one Big 12 Tournament game.
I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't take it anymore. In a season full of lost hours, Saturday's game might have been the worst.
39.0 percent from the floor. 57.1 percent from the free throw line. 5.6 percent from three-point range.
Upon remembering that the Longhorns actually hit one of the 18 three-point shots they took, I couldn't help but ask, "How in the hell did they ever make one?" Seriously, if you walk into the Erwin Center on Wednesday night to watch the Longhorns play Iowa State, you deserve a damn medal.
No. 4 - March Madness Countdown: 39 Days (not including the play-in games) …
Although I haven't been able to go all-in with college basketball this season (I blame this issue on watching too many Longhorn basketball games), come hell or high water, I'm going to have to pick up some knowledge between now and the time I have to fill out a bracket. Therefore, I spent more time watching college hoops this week and weekend than I have the rest of the season combined. It's time to start paying attention in earnest.
Here's what I learned and what I hope to remember next month.
1. Don't put any money on Kansas at this point because it is having one of those mid-season swoons that is somewhat reminiscent to what has happened to the Longhorns in recent years. After playing the worst game of the season by any team in the country in losing to TCU earlier in the week (I'm sticking by this claim even if it isn't true), the Jayhawks followed that up with a loss to Oklahoma. That's three straight losses for the Jayhawks, who might cause Bill Self to have aneurism before this season is over.
2. I need to pick Miami to go as far as I would normally pick the Jayhawks. The Hurricanes are the best team in the ACC and I'm not sure it's even close. More than that, they are the most exciting team in the ACC. Ummm … are e sure that the Mayans weren't right?
3. Michigan is another team that's a hell of a lot of fun to watch and they'll be temping when I fill out my bracket because I can fall in love with any team that has the sons of Tim Hardaway and Glenn Robinson on it, but they stole defeat from the jaws of victory in Madison this weekend. Pray that the basketball gods give us a few of these when the tournament starts because the end of this game was nothing short of awesome.
4. Indiana might have been back-doored on Thursday night by Illinois, but I'm not sure there's a better team in the country. That was a strong win on the road against Ohio State on Sunday. I'm leaning towards picking the Hoosiers as a Final Four team no matter what at this point.
No. 5 - Mock Draft City …
It's that time of the year again. With the Super Bowl in the rear-view mirror, it's time to start focusing on the Draft, which picks up in earnest in two weeks when the league gets together in Indianapolis for the combine.
I don't care if there hasn't been a combine or private workout to date, just give me my mock drafts. Here's a look at a few mocks from those I follow the most when it comes to the draft:
Daniel Jeremiah's latest on 2/8: Among the highlights … Kansas City taking Geno Smith at No. 1, Miami taking Kenny Vaccaro at No. 12, Dallas taking BYU defensive end Ezekiel Ansah at No. 18 and Houston taking LSU safety Eric Reid at No. 27.
Bucky Brooks' latest on 1/25: Among the highlights … Kansas City taking Geno Smith at No.1, Pittsburgh taking Kenny Vaccaro at No. 17, Dallas taking Missouri defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson at No. 18 and Houston taking USC wide receiver Robert Woods at No. 27.
Rob Rang's latest on 1/25: Among the highlights … Kansas City taking Geno Smith at No. 1, Dallas taking Purdue defensive tackle Kawann Short at No. 18, Seattle taking Alex Okafor at No. 26, Houston taking USC wide receiver Robert Woods at No. 27 and New England taking Kenny Vaccaro at No. 31
Mel Kiper's latest on 2/7 (ESPN Premium): Among the highlights … Kansas City taking Luke Joeckel at No. 1, Dallas taking Alabama guard Chance Womack at No. 18, Cincinnati taking Kenny Vaccaro at No. 21 and Houston taking Louisiana Tech wide receiver Quinton Patton at No. 27.
Todd McShay's latest on 2/7 (ESPN Premium): Among the highlights … Kansas City taking Utah defensive tackle Star Lotululei at No. 1, Miami taking Kenny Vaccaro at No. 12, Dallas taking Missouri defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson at No. 18 and Houston taking California wide receiver Keenan Allen at No. 27.
No. 6 - Predicting the 2014 NFL Hall of Fame Class …
Yes, I'm an NFL nerd and because of that fact, I sat down and decided to see if I could put together an early projection at what next year's NFL Hall of Fame selections might look like, especially after correctly projecting four of the five selections before last week's announcement for the 2013 class was made.
I figured while I was at it, I might as well go on the record a full year in advance and see how things hold up when the voters get together for another spirited debate next February in New York City to cut a list of 15 semi-finalists down to a final five.
Let's start with the new guys on the ballot. The four names that figure to generate the most discussion in the voting are Marvin Harrison, Derrick Brooks, Walters Jones and Tony Dungy. Of that group, you'd have to think that Harrison, Brooks and Jones are going to be close to mortal locks as first-ballot Hall of Famers.
To put Harrison's candidacy in perspective, he has twice as many All-Pro seasons as newly elected Chris Carter, close to getting elected Andre Reed and fellow semi-finalist Tim Brown … combined. There's almost no chance that the second-most prolific receiver in the history of the game gets denied in year one, otherwise there just can't be any first-ballot receivers unless the name is Jerry Rice.
Meanwhile, Brooks is basically the Marvin Harrison of linebackers, as he racked up a total of nine All-Pro seasons, a bazillion tackles, a Defensive Player of the Year award and a Super Bowl ring on his resume. He's in.
As for Jones, the general thinking seems to be that if Jonathan Ogden is a first-ballot guy, then so will be Jones. Both pretty much represent the elite of the elite at the left tackle position for a generation. Hell, some people think Jones was better than Odgen.
People are probably going to fight me on this one, but I think Dungy is going to have to wait a year because history has shown us that only the elite of the elite coaches get into the Hall in their first year of eligibility. Hell, if Bill Walsh had to wait, I'm guessing that Dungy has to wait a year, even if he would represent the first black head coach in the Hall.
So, Harrison, Brooks and Jones are in. That's three spots taken and only two remaining.
When you take a look at who returns from the list of semi-finalists in 2003, the names that were reportedly closest to reaching the mountaintop were Michael Strahan, Charles Haley, Will Shields and Aeneas Williams. The likes of Tim Brown, Eddie DeBartolo Jr. Art Model, Jerome Bettis and Kevin Greene seemed to lag behind the others and might represent long-shots going into 2014.
Therefore, Michael Strahan, Charles Haley, Will Shields and Aeneas Williams are probably fighting for two slots. Of this group, Strahan getting in seems like a lock considering the host city of New York and he would be taking the field the next day at the Super Bowl as a Hall of Famer player in his own town. That's a lock. That means Haley, Shields and Williams are fighting for the last spot, and of that group, I think the voters will finally vote Haley in after a longer wait that expected for a five-time Super Bowl champion.
Harrison, Brooks, Jones, Strahan and Haley… that's my five a year out from the voting.
No. 7 - A few things on The Association …
… I want to officially go on the record with changing my opinion on the James Harden trade by Oklahoma City. After a few months of watching him throw up ridiculous line after line in the box score, it's time to acknowledge that Harden is even better than I thought he was, and I already thought he was a top 25 player in the league. He's better than that … like top 10 good … hell maybe top 5 good… upon second thought, you just can't trade that guy. I was wrong.
… The NBA MVP battle between Kevin Durant and LeBron James might just be the best in the history of the game and I'm not giving into hyperbole in the least. On paper, LeBron has never been better, as he's shooting an incredible 56 percent from the floor and 42 percent from three-point range. His rebounding is almost a full rebound above his career average and he's nearly dishing out seven dimes per game. Meanwhile, Durant is chasing down Larry Bird and Dirk Nowitzki as the only two non-guards to join the exclusive 50-40-90 club, which only five players in the history of the game have ever pulled off. Statistically, the only difference between the two players outside of Durant's league-leading free throw percentage is the fact that Durant scores a little more, while LeBron dishes out a few more assists.
… That being said, the run that LeBron is on with his stretch of five-straight games of 30+ points/50%+ shooting from the floor is out of this world good. If Durant is going to take the throne, he's going to have to kick it up to an even higher notch.
… Dwight Howard's can say whatever he wants between now and the end of the season, but there's no way I'm buying the idea of him re-signing with the Lakers at the end of the season. As far as miserable seasons go, this has to make last year in Orlando feel like a walk in the park. ' Oh, and did you see what Dwight's father said? Yeah…
No. 8 - A few pieces of sports randomness before I go …
… Sue Paterno needs to just go away.
… Call me crazy, but I like the hire of ROB Ryan by the Saints.
… This is not as much fun as you'd expect, but … I give you The WAGs of Super Bowl XLVII. I have to say I dig Patrick Willis' style.
… Brandt Snedeker is on fire! Keep an eye on him at the majors this year because he might be ready to break through in 2013.
… Anthony Petti vs. Jose Aldo on August 3 and the fight might be in Dallas? Oh, hell yeah.
No. 9 - Pop goes the culture because the culture goes pop …
… Hottie of the Week: Kate Upton is your 2013 SI Cover Girl
… Oddest Moment of the Weekend: Charlie Sheen to Christopher Dorner, ex-LAPD officer-turned-accused cop killer: 'Call me'.
… Loser of the Weekend: Mike had a rough night.
… Catfight of the Weekend: Carrie Underwood vs. Taylor Swift.
… Sign that the Apocalypse is Upon Us:: CHRIS BROWN Judges Kids Dance Show After Car Crash. Who is letting their kids hang out with this dude? Was R. Kelly not available?
… Headline of the Weekend: John Maher: "I was just a jerk."
… Grammy thoughts from Sunday night:
1. Anyone ever see Pitbull and Jason Kidd in the same place?
2. I can't imagine that we'll ever see Fun perform at the Grammys again. Lame..
3. Carrie Underwood might be the best thing the state of Oklahoma has ever produced, well, outside of Coach Royal.
4. I think Ellen wants her some Beyonce.
5. My wife would leave me for Justin Timberlake in a NY City.
6. OMG. Kelly. Rowland.
7. I want to party with Kelly Clarkson.
8. It must be tough to be in love with someone that beats the crap out of you. I want more for Rihanna than she wants for herself.
9. Kelly Clarkson can out-sing anyone in that building.
10. I hope the music gods never make me listen to another Bob Marley tribute from Bruno Mars. WTF.
11. Jack White is a real rock star, the kind Johnny Cash would dig.
12. Prince is still the coolest MF on the planet.
13. The Levon Helm tribute was boss.
14. Why is Frank Ocean singing about Forrest Gump? I didn't get THAT at all.
15. I mean… I dig Mumford and Sons and all… but I'm not sure I get the mad love affair that everyone seems to have with them.
16. Jack White should have closed the show.
… 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: Gary Clark Jr.
It's pretty simply, this dude is the now and future of the Texas blues scene.
Actually, it's probably not fair to call Gary Clark Jr. a blues singer because there's so much more inside of the 28-year old Austin native than being simply a blues machine and if you've listened to his 2012 album Blak and Blu, you know what I'm talking about.
There's a little John Legend in there … a little Amos Lee … a little Chuck Berry … a little bit of everything.
But, when this cat grabs his guitar and lets his greatest talent do the talking, my goodness, there's a freaking musical orgasm waiting to happen. Some are calling him this generation's Hendrix, but I think I'm perfectly fine with just letting him be the first Gary Clark Jr. For those of us that can remember seeing him live when he was just getting started, it feels like we're watching a five-star prospect live up to his billing.
If you've never listened to him, then this list is the best thing anyone will give you all week.
Let's get on with the list… (Listen to My Gary Clark Jr. List by Subscribing via Spotify
Last five songs out: Things Are Changing, Please Come Home, Good Rocking Tonight, Ain't Messing Around and Travis County
A pure instrumental off of his 2010 self-titled album, it has an incredibly chill vibe and his guitar work within the song is awesome.
Some of his earliest recorded work, this song is off his 2004 album debut 110 and it's raw, old school sounding blues, complete with harmonica work and a killer solo from Clark Jr. One day we're going to look back on this song and they'll refer to it as "Early Gary".
8. Shotgun Man
A little Chuck Berry-inspired number that's a personal favorite of mine from a week's worth of listening.
I love a good ol' honky-tonking blues joint that can make a room get on the dance floor.
A song off of his 2008 album Worry No More, he produced a song that feels like a combination of a young SRV, along with an emerging soulful vocal.
As much fire as this guy generates with his guitar, he has an incredible way of stripping it all back and still having the ability to create a great chilled out song featuring a tremendous vocal. The kid has some serious R&B chops.
Just a smoking hot, old-school blues joint.
Of all of his new material, this is my favorite track off of Blak and Blu. I'm not going to get into comparisons, but this joker can flat-out play the guitar.
The best song off his self-titled 2010 album, Clark gets down and dirty … and by God … you're going to know is damn name by the end of the night. It's just a bad-ass song.
Originally released in 2008 on his album Worry No More, this is another track that is on the Blak and Blue album and it features about 1,000 pounds of pure TNT explosiveness. It's an awesome showcase for what could be in store of us moving forward. Feed me, Seymour.
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