The dynamics for Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns changed on Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa.
Understand that these aren't words of panic or doom and gloom or my version of screaming, "Fire!" in a crowded theater. This is simply an acknowledgement of the obvious. For most of his career in Austin, Mack Brown has never had to worry much about in-state competition for a lot of obvious reasons, but the biggest was that it always seemed like Mack had the boys from College Station in a checkmate position.
There was basically nothing Mack could do or not do on the football field that left him in a position of vulnerability in the area of the program he obsesses over the most … recruiting. Even in the aftermath of 5-7 seasons and multiple coaching changes in College Station, Mack could always count on his bread and butter working like a well-oiled machine.
Those days are over.
While the A&M program might not be all grown up, it is starting to shave after shocking Alabama over the weekend and legitimizing itself around the country to eyes that no longer care what happened when they were still residing in the Big 12. They live in the SEC and the gamble that they made when they made the move was that they could take advantage of the pop they'd receive for the flashy move into something that could change the recruiting landscape in a large way.
Mission accomplished. That win for their program reminded me so much of Mack Brown's win over Nebraska in Lincoln back in 1998 that the similarities are almost ridiculous, right on down to the little hero of a redshirt freshman quarterback that led them to victory.
Moving forward, Mack Brown isn't just trying to return the Longhorn program to the national elite, but he'll be doing it in a world where he's almost certainly not going to have every elite recruit in the state ignoring the Aggies altogether, thus allowing the Longhorns to shoot buckets from the lay-up line.
That's the moral of the story.
It doesn't mean that the Longhorns won't get their share of elite in-state prospects or that Mack will start losing every head-to-head battle he finds himself in with Kevin Sumlin, but if he's going to roll the Aggies on the recruiting battlefield in the future, it's going to take more hand to hand combat than he's tasted since 1999.
From a global perspective, the world changed on Saturday because A&M became extremely relevant at a time when the Longhorns are fighting to establish that they still are. It's a brave new world that Mack Brown finds himself in today and it's one that he can't totally control.
No. 2 - The grades are in … The Iowa State Report card
David Ash: The sophomore left a few plays/points on the field, but he was pretty damn stellar in completing 25 of 31 passes for 364 yards and a pair of touchdowns. After a shaky stretch in October, he's responded extremely well the last two weeks.
Mike Davis: Keep feeding the beast and enjoy the magic show.
Jaxon Shipley: He's had some quiet afternoons this season, but he was a beast on Saturday. If the ball was in his zip code, he went up and got it.
Joe Bergeron: There have been times this season when he has struggled to get rolling but he ran as inspired as we have seen all season. He brought the thunder every time he touched the ball.
Carrington Byndom/Quandre Diggs: No Iowa State receiver caught more than three passes and none reached the 25-yard mark.
Dominic Espinosa: For the second week in a row, he looked like one of the best centers in the Big 12. His progress is becoming a lot of fun to watch.
Johnathan Gray: I didn't see anything on Saturday to make me think he's not the lead back on this team. Little by little, he's pulling ahead of the pack.
Trey Hopkins: When the Longhorns needed the pile moved on Saturday, it sure seemed like Hopkins was down for the request. I've said this two weeks in a row, but THIS is the guy the Longhorns thought they were getting when they recruited him in 2010.
The O-line as a group: This group has gone from being average against average teams to very strong against average teams. The production against the elite teams remains a question, but if you can't see the not so subtle progress being made, you aren't watching closely.
Alex Okafor: A team-leading nine tackles, two tackles for loss, half a sack and constant presence on the field.
Josh Turner: Four tackles, an interception, half a sack and zero major mistakes.
Solid game, winning play
Malcom Brown: Officially, the freshman had one tackle. Unofficially, he seemed to have his fingerprints on a lot of action as his playing time reached new heights.
Greg Daniels: Has the light switch started to flick on? It certainly looks like it because he's playing a solid and improving brand of football.
Steve Edmond: He wasn't as impactful as he was against Tech the previous week, but he can hold his head high over a solid effort.
Peter Jinkens: Raise your hand if the prospect of the true freshman starting this weekend scared you a little. Raise your hand if it scares you a little bit less after Saturday. Exactly. The Longhorns have another guy at the position they can start to feel good about.
Nick Jordan: Two for two. Nice work stepping into a struggling unit and lifting it up.
Kenny Vaccaro: Rock solid all day long.
Others that graded in this group: DeMarco Cobbs, Shiro Davis, Desmond Jackson, Cayleb Jones, Alex King, Barrett Matthews, Brandon Moore, Adrian Phillips, Luke Poehlmann, Cedric Reed, Mykkele Thompson, Chris Whaley and Reggie Wilson.
DJ Monroe: One carry. LOL.
Others that graded in this group: Jeremy Hills, Daje Johnson and Nick Rose.
Malcolm Brown: You guys know I'm basically the president of the fan club, but he looked like a guy trying to shake a little rust off with his 10 carries. Given the competition at the position, he needs to get cooking next week when he gets his opportunities.
Anthony Fera: I don't know if he lost the place-kicking job on Saturday, but he opened the door for Nick Jordan to possibly take it from him.
Marquise Goodwin: There's nothing about his own performance that Goodwin will ever want to remember down the road. He finished the day with -1 yard.
No. 3 - Quick impressions from the third weekend of action in the Big 12 …
Baylor: You'll excuse me if I'm not impressed with year-one post RG3 for Art Briles. With three weeks two go, they've got to figure out how to take two of three from Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State if they want to go bowling and avoid a sub-.500 season. The good news is that Lache Seastrunk is starting to take off. The Oregon transfer rushed for 91 yards and three touchdowns against the Sooners.
Kansas: The rewards aren't there in the way of wins, but Charlie Weiss and the rest of that Kansas staff are coaching their tails off and making the Jayhawks a better football team over the course of 12 games. I've never been a big Weiss guy, but the Jayhawks are a candidate to be a surprise team in 2013.
Kansas State: It wasn't pretty, but the win at TCU did the trick. Two more wins and they will play for a national title. Even when they weren't awesome, they were still pretty dominant … don't let the final score deceive you because they choked out TCU pretty quickly.
Iowa State: Four quarters of Steele Jantz convinced me more than ever that Jaime Barnett needs to be the quarterback for this program.
Oklahoma: A win is a win, I suppose. Beating Baylor kept Oklahoma on track for a possible BCS game at-large spot, but the win over Baylor wasn't very inspiring, unless the only play from the game you saw this weekend was Blake Bell's streak down the middle of the field. Specifically, the defense isn't making the steps forward that I think a lot of folks thought it would make over the course of the season.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys seemingly keep getting better, with or without the same quarterback being in the line-up. Very quietly this team has a chance to have a very good season. Don't sleep on them in Norman in two weeks.
TCU: The Horned Frogs just didn't have enough experience and firepower to hang with the best team in the land, but TCU is going to be a tough out the rest of the way. You listening, Longhorns? Oh, and Devonte Fields is a bad dude. I'll never understand the lack of offer from Mack and Co. a year ago.
Texas Tech: I don't know what to make of the Red Raiders right now, but the game in Stillwater next week fascinates me because both teams are so similar. Twice the Red Raiders had a chance to put the Jayhawks away with double digit leads and they just couldn't finish. They got away with one, just like Texas did two weeks ago.
West Virginia: Remember when Geno Smith was relevant? Man, the season really got away from them pretty quickly, didn't it? That escalated fast.
Post-Week 8 Big 12 Power Poll
Note: Last week's rankings are listed in parentheses
1. Kansas State (1)
2. Oklahoma (2)
3. Texas (3)
4. TCU (4)
5. Texas Tech (5)
6. Oklahoma State (7)
7. West Virginia (6)
8. Iowa State (8)
9. Baylor (9)
10. Kansas (10)
No. 4 - College football thoughts: From A-to-Z …
A: Armageddon in the SEC: When I wrote about this situation two weeks ago, it was under the idea of mine that LSU would knock Alabama from the ranks of the undefeated, but no matter how we got here …. we are here. With three weeks of action remaining in the season, the SEC is boxed out of the national title game after six straight BCS titles and is now in a position where it must play the role of hater in the final two weeks, rooting for the likes of Texas, Baylor, Oregon State, Stanford and Wake Forest. It would be one thing if they simply needed one of the three undefeated teams at the top of the poll to lose, but they have to sit back and pray for two massive upsets. Everyone needs to protect their trees and houses at this point. An entire conference of Harvey Updykes might soon be on the loose.
B: Buyer's remorse: Hey Nick Saban, what exactly are your thoughts on the spread offense, especially when it's up-tempo?
C: Class is in session: From the dedicated wishbone play run by the Longhorns and the perfect words spoken by Verne Lundquist about DKR to the South Carolina band spelling out "We heart 21" at halftime, there sure seemed to be a lot of touching little moments on a busy Saturday. Kudos to all.
D: Ducks take center stage: The current No. 1 team in the polls has been largely overlooked this season because of an early schedule that was a little too meek and featured too many kickoffs that began as many were going to bed, the bar or some combination of the two. Suddenly, all eyes are on Quack Nation and it'll be fascinating to see how they handle the sudden glare as they enter a huge game against Stanford. The program that forever wants the stage to be showcased is going to get its wish. Can you imagine the uniforms this weekend now that they know everyone will be watching?
E: Eating Crow: I was wrong about Texas A&M AND Alabama. Although I thought the Aggies would lead the Tide at halftime, I was of the opinion that they would lose going away in the second half. WRONG. The Aggies had more backbone and the Tide had much less than we thought, all of which added up to one of the more impressive upsets in this year of college football. Saturday was not an accident. Also, I need to also mention that I have to take five lashes in the dungeon for thinking that Auburn might sneak up on Georgia when nobody thought they would. Yeah ….
F: Freshman of the Week: We just need to retire the award and call it the Johnny Football Freshman Player of the Week Award. Because there's other hardware that Johnny Football will pick up in a few paragraphs, let's pic someone else for giggles. I'm going to take Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, whose tippy-toe 25-yard touchdown reception in the final seconds allowed the Tigers to push Tennessee to overtime, where they eventually won 51-48 in four overtimes. DGB caught only two passes all day, but the one at the end of regulation was as big as it gets.
G: Good game, good effort: Texas State gave it the good old college try this weekend, but came up a little short against Louisiana Tech, losing 62-55 down in San Marcos.
H: Heisman Tracker After Week 3 1. Colin Klein (quarterback/Kansas State) 2. Johnny Manziel (QB/Texas A&M) 3. Marqise Lee (WR/USC)
I: If I had a vote that mattered… (last week in parenthesis)
1. Kansas State (2)
2. Oregon (3)
3. Notre Dame (4)
4. Alabama (1)
5. Georgia (5)
6. LSU (7)
7. Texas A&M (NR)
8. South Carolina (9)
9. Stanford (NR)
10. Oklahoma (10)
J: Just in case you didn't know…Marcus Mariota is the real Heisman candidate for Oregon and I believe that will be clear for everyone to see from here on out. That kid is the best player in the country that few seem to notice.
K: Keep an eye on these games next week: Kansas State at Baylor, Stanford at Oregon, Oklahoma at West Virginia, USC at UCLA
L: Looking good, Billy Ray. Feeling good, Lewis! Who would have thought after they were drop-kicked by South Carolina earlier this year that Mark Richt and the Bulldogs would be in a position to play their way into a national title game with a few good bounces? Say what you want about the Bulldogs and their issues from week to week, but Alabama on a neutral field can be had on the right day.
M: Magical season continues: I'm not sure I ever thought I would type this words … I'm fairly certain that I never have typed these words in the two decades I've been in the business … BUT… Notre Dame is TEN AND OHHHHHH. I'm not sure there was much in Saturday's win over Boston College to get all excited about considering how terrible the Eagles are, but Everett Golson was terrific and that's a critical element of the discussion at this point. I'm saying it for the second straight week, Golson reminds me of former Longhorn James Brown.
N: N is for Knowledge: Perhaps things will never be the same for the Huskers in the Big Ten, but you have to give them credit in year two of their new existence for putting together a quality season that appears to be headed for a conference championship after they knocked off a tough Penn State squad this weekend. As long as they take care of business against Minnesota and Iowa, they'll be 10-2 when they face Wisconsin for a shot at the Rose Bowl.
O: Optimus Klein: Against an inspired TCU team, Klein had a fairly quiet performance, completing 12 of 21 passes for 145 yards and an interception, while also adding 50 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. If he wants to win the Heisman, he needs to close out in the final two games.
P: Player of the Week: Johnny Football. There wasn't even a second thought towards anyone else.
Q: Quote of the weekend: Johnny Manziel on Twitter Saturday morning, hours before kickoff against Alabama: "Give to them nothing but take from them EVERYTHING. Time to turn up and leave it all on the field."
R: Records were meant to be broken: I hope Oregon's Kenjon Barner enjoyed the Pac-12 single game rushing record this week because it is his no more after Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey broke his seven-day mark with 366 yards (and five touchdowns) in a win over hapless Colorado.
S: Snap judgment The SEC is overrated this season. Period. Alabama should be on a two-game losing streak. Florida nearly lost to La-Lafayette. Georgia was humiliated by South Carolina. South Carolina was humiliated by Florida. LSU lost at home, beat Auburn by two and was in a struggle with Towson State. These are just the facts. I don't know that the there's a conference better than it this year, but there's just more mediocrity at the top than we've seen in the past. There is not a great team in this league this year, not even close.
T: THAT happened: Everything that Will Muschamp and his team had worked so hard to achieve this season was threatened in the fourth quarter on Saturday while the Gators trailed La-Lafayette by a touchdown at home. With the game seemingly headed to overtime, the Gators blocked a punt and essentially won the game with the return for a touchdown as the final seconds ticked off the clock. What a way to lose a game. If I'm one of those visiting players that found a way to steal defeat from the jaws of an upset win, that game is haunting me for pretty much forever.
U: U.G.L.Y. You ain't got no alibi, you ugly, hey! Auburn simply has nothing left and it proved it in the most horrifying way in losing 38-0 at home to Georgia. Yikes.
V: Voldemort Update: The coach whose name shall remain unspoken had a tough day against Purdue. 190 passing yards. 74 rushing yards. 17 points. Add it altogether and you had what amounted to a 27-24 loss to a pretty mortal football team.
W: What did the five fingers say to the face? SLAAAAAAP. Seriously, Tommy Tuberville doesn't need to fined or suspended, he needs to sit still while his assistant coach gets his turn with the cameras rolling. Frankly, Tuberville is lucky that his assistants have cooler heads than he does because if the assistant had been 1/5 the hothead that his boss had been in that moment, something ugly could have been triggered.
X: X-Factor: I have such a talent-crush on USC's Marqise Lee. The sophomore did it again this weekend with 10 catches for 161 yards and a touchdown, along with 66 yards rushing, in a win over Arizona State.
Y: You heard it here first… Alabama A&M beats Auburn this weekend.
Z: Zoolander look of the day: I had no idea what was going on in Gainesville until the Longhorn game had completed. That's when I stumbled across a live feed of the Florida/ULL game in the fourth quarter. The situation? The Gators were down four points and ULL had a first and goal at the five-yard line. My damn jaw dropped.
No. 5 - Damn it feels good to be a gangsta …
For one day I could give a damn about Jerry Jones and his endless list of blunders. For one day I could give a damn that Jason Garrett is a below-average NFL head coach. For one day I could give a damn that these Cowboys aren't Super Bowl material.
For one day, I'm simply going to bask in the glow of a win over the team I despise the most, knowing that the Andy Reid Era likely met its death at the hands of the silver and blue. In one fail swoop, the Cowboys ended both the Reid Era and the Michael Vick Era, while ruining the debut of wonder-boy Nick Foles.
You're damn skippy I can put aside all of my pains for one day and simply enjoy a win that produces so much Eagles ruin.
A few other thoughts on the win…
a. I pretty much love Bruce Carter. Watching him play on Sundays has become one of the highlights of my weekly viewing.
b. I'm still not buying this team as a playoff outfit.
c. The Miles Austin contract makes me shake my head. He is so disappointing.
d. I'm not even tripping over the Morris Claiborne penalties. Keep fighting on every play, young man. I'd rather see yellow flags than long touchdowns.
e. Ernie Sims was a damn good signing.
f. PS… I love beating the Eagles.
No. 6 - With the nation watching, the Texans get their manhood back …
It wasn't pretty and there was very little to take away from the game at times because of the weather, but the bottom line on Sunday night is that the Texans got into a fist-fight with one of the NFC's fist-fight kings and they came out of the dark alley with a win.
In the process, the Texans made good on a chance to rebuild their national image after a blowout loss to the Packers last month, while keeping two games of separation from Colts in the standings. As long as Wade Phillips' defense keeps dominating like they did tonight, they'll have a chance to beat anyone they play in January.
A lot of that defense and a lot of Arian Foster will go a long way.
How ironic would it be if Wade Phillips gets the last laugh after being an NFL laughing stock with the Cowboys for being "soft"?
No. 7 - It's the sport of kings, better than diamond rings, That's why we're here to sing, football Sunday in the snow, referee's whistle blows, We've been warriors toe-to-toe…
… Fact: The Philadelphia Phillies have won a game more recently than the Philadelphia Eagles.
… Fact: The Eagles have never won a championship in the Super Bowl era.
… Hey NY Giants, what the hell was THAT?
… The death of the Baltimore Ravens was a bit exaggerated. It looks like they've found their footing. Too bad Joe Flacco will be Joe Flacco when they need him most, but he was great on Sunday.
… Are we sure the Broncos aren't the best team in the AFC?
… Adrian Peterson is writing his legend this season after the ACL tear from a year ago. All he did this week was drop a 171-bomb on the Lions and move his season total to 1,128 yards through 10 games, with his yards per game and yards per carry rating at an all-time high.
… Now that was the Ryan Tannehill I expected to see this season.
… The Saints will not die. The Falcons should feel zero shame in their first loss because that group from the Big Easy is going to be a tough out for everyone from here on out.
… I'm so glad Philip Rivers is not my quarterback.
No. 8 - A few thoughts on the Association…
… Kobe is the Michael Corleone of NBA players.
… Best wishes go out to Kevin McHale and his family.
… Fact: James Harden is averaging twice as many turnovers per game as Russell Westbrook at this stage of the season.
… It's going to be a weird season for the Spurs because there's little doubt in my mind that they can win 60 games this year in the regular season, but I don't know if they can beat the Thunder and Heat in a seven-game series, which makes for tempered enthusiasm in my mind no matter what I see from the boys in black and silver.
… Tim Duncan is like one of the finest glasses of wine that has ever been poured.
… Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is going to be really good. Michael might have got that one right.
… Have the Miami Heat become boring now that LeBron has a title? It's been pretty quiet down at the beach this season.
No. 9 - Pop goes the culture because the culture goes pop.…
… Shaken, not stirred: Skyfall dominates with an all-time Bond weekend.
… Holy cow: Paul McCartney almost died in a helicopter crass .
… Declaration: Luckiest sonofagun I can think of at the moment
… Victory! : Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez have broken up.
… Sign that the apocalypse is upon us : Jenny McCarthy Tried To Have Sex With A Tree While On Ecstasy.
… Revealed: The inspiration behind Brown Sugar.
… Hotties of the Week: Alexa Vega .
… Hotties and Social Media: Alexa Vega . ">Rihanna + Instagram is the best .
… 100-Word Movie Review of the Week: Skyfall (B+)
*Disclaimer: For almost two-thirds of the movie, I had to pee something fierce after a couple of glasses of iced tea. I'm open-minded to the possibility that my view of the movie was clouded.*
Slightly disappointed. Don't get me wrong, it's a really good Bond flick, but I didn't think it was as good as 2006's Casino Royale and I found myself wanting a little bit more at the end. Daniel Craig brings the goods to the role that continues to make him my favorite post-Connery Bond, but I wanted more intensity and darkness from Javier Bardem than his character provided. Truth be told, Bardem was the thing in the movie that kept this movie from going next level, as I believe the rest of the pieces are there. Close, but no gold cigar.
No. 10 - The List: The Boss
It's a hell of a thing when a guy is hit with the label of the "next Dylan" and actually lives up to the billing, but that's just a snapshot of the greatness that is Bruce Springsteen.
His songwriting, musicality and live skills put him on the Mount Rushmore of American rock icons.
Perhaps the biggest compliment to his music is that it remains tremendous from decade to decade. I love his music from the 70's, 80's, 90's and the 21st century.
Who else in rock history can make that claim to the degree that he has achieved?
Let's get on with the list ( subscribe via Spotify )…
Just missed the cut: Badlands, Blinded by the Light, Dancing in the Dark, Glory Days, I'm on Fire, Incident on 57th Street, If I Should Fall Behind, Johnny 99, Lost in the Flood, My City in Ruins, My Hometown, Nebraska, Paradise, Point Blank, Roll of the Dice, 'Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)', Streets of Philadelphia, Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out, Tougher Than The Rest, Valentine's Day and Waitin' On a Sunny Day
The last five out: Devils and Dust, Hungry Heart, Independence Day, Atlantic City and The Rising.
Ok, here we go…
10. Born in the USA
Yes, this is one of the most wrongfully interpreted songs of all-time that might have been better interpreted had Bruce not composed such an ass-kicking arrangement, but the bottom line for me is this… almost everyone on the planet has pretended to be the Boss when he sings tis song. For those in my generation, it was the song that introduced us to his world. Its importance in his songbook should never be underestimated.
The piano at the top… Clarence in a quintessential solo… muscle cars… youth seeks freedom… its classic Boss ballad.
8. Thunder Road
The opening track on Born to Run sets the tone for an all-time album with a song that just about everyone on the planet can invest themselves in emotionally.
If Baby and Johnny had been from of the 70's instead of the early 60's, this is the song I imagine that they would have danced to because it oozes sexy, rock and roll heat.
There's so much heat in this song that the stage smolders when the Boss plays it live.
I've got a couple of songs in the top five that are probably outside of the normal mix and this is one of them. It's just a great jam.
In my opinion, this is the toughest, ass-kicking song in the playlist.
3. The River
Every time I listen to this song it stays in my head for the rest of the day. It's just a beautiful, touching song.
There are a lot of reasons to love this song, but Clarence's solo is at the top of the list.
1. Born to Run
Sometimes there's no need to turn this stuff into rocket science. This is the Godfather of American rock music.
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