Archive for the ‘Mack Brown’ Category

On the Spot: Will Muschamp

May 7, 2009

When I first looked at the iPhone with all of its cool bells and whistles, I decided that I had to have one. It’s hip. It’s a conversation starter. And most importantly, you can’t help but feel like you’ll be better off once you have one. I mean, that one guy runs his entire company on his for crying out loud.

I’ve had my iPhone for a little more than six months now, and it seems like I like it. The different apps are pretty neat. I like the video and audio functions. The browser is great. Overall, I feel like I keep telling myself that I’ve reached some ineffable level of all-around “better” for having it.

The only problem is that I don’t really know if I can explain how it’s better than my old Blackberry, let alone if it actually is. Since I’ve had it, I haven’t really been able to achieve the level of excitement that I felt when I was about to buy it. Nor have I reached some nirvana-like state of mobile computing. In short, it’s cool, but it’s not the end-all-be-all that it seems. (And typing on it kinda sucks. And why didn’t anyone tell me there wasn’t a cut-and-paste option?)

Whether they want to admit it or not, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is the no-longer-brand-new iPhone for Burnt Orange Nation.
Coach Blood arrived in Austin from Auburn last offseason oozing with promise. Given the Longhorns’ success with ex-Auburn defensive coordinator Gene Chizik, Texas fans had good reason to think Muschamp could shore up a defense that struggled mightily in 2007. In fact, Muschamp so ingratiated himself on the 40 Acres that the higher-ups decided to name him Mack Brown’s successor before the end of his first season at UT.
The Longhorns had an outstanding year in 2008–they beat Oklahoma, won a BCS bowl game and finished the season with a sparkling 12-1 record. So it’s not surprising that the Texas brass and fan base collectively feel better about the state of their program with Muschamp on board.
And it’s not like Texas’ defense didn’t show signs of improvement last year. For example, the Longhorn D gave up seven fewer points per game than they did in ’07. Sacks jumped dramatically, up from 28 in ’07 to 47 in ’08, evidence of the life the fiery coordinator injected into his unit.
On the other hand, Texas allowed slightly more yards per play last year than the year before–5.5 to 5.3. Turnovers generated were way down in 2008. Also, some of Texas’ tougher competition rolled up some big offensive numbers. Against OU, while the Longhorn defenders came up big when they needed to, the Sooners still strafed UT for 35 points and nearly 400 yards passing. Likewise, Texas Tech gained almost 600 yards in total offense en route to 39 points in a win over UT.
Where, exactly, is the dramatic improvement that warrants all the excitement around the young coach-in-waiting? Clearly, Muschamp looks and feels the part of the energetic young turk ready to lead the Longhorns. At the end of the upcoming season, we may have a better idea if really he is.

Think of Them as the Anti-AIG

April 7, 2009

Get your pitchforks ready, mighty Texas populists!

With America’s attention fixed upon a crisis abroad, Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds and president William Powers Jr. used the opportunity Monday to sneak through more than $40,000 in unearned bonuses to the football team’s assistant coaches. The performance measure the coaches supposedly met? Winning the Big 12 championship.
Head coach Mack Brown did not receive his bonus, but it’s unclear whether his assistant will follow their boss’ lead. Next week, Dodds and Powers are scheduled to meet to rubber stamp men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes’ bones for reaching the Sweet 16 in 2009. The Longhorn hoopsters lost to Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, but Dodds said it was clear that Barnes was denied the opportunity to earn the bonus by some borderline officiating that went against his team in the last minute of the game.
*In other news out of Austin, Kirk Bohls is reporting that the ‘Horns have decided to remove their asterisk-ensconced claim to the 2008 Big 12 championship. Apparently, Brown was unaware of the placard and asked to have it removed. Seriously, though–who thought that was a good idea?

You Don’t Need a Trophy to Call Yourself a Champion

April 6, 2009
Like all governing bodies in every level of competitive athletics, the Big 12 conference has protocols for determining its champion in football every year. They’re pretty clear, and there are no asterisks or co-champs or ties.
By all accounts, Oklahoma trounced Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium in December to win the league crown. All accounts save one, I guess.

Tim Griffin, the Big 12 blogger for who also writes for the San Antonio Express-News, shares that Texas has claimed an asterisk-emblazoned title of its own for 2008. (Here’s a picture from inside UT’s training facility if you need proof.)

OK, Mack Brown and Co. think they got jobbed out of a conference title. Homerism understands that, and it’s not like the Longhorns don’t have somewhat of a point. So, what’s the point of the asterisk? If that’s the statement you’re trying to make, what’s the point in going half way?

Contextualizing the Longhorns

March 30, 2009

Guru to the masses Malcolm Gladwell apparently has another soon-to-be bestseller hitting the shelves this summer, Context: History’s Kingmaker. Gladwell has written about Big 12 college football in the past, and his new book includes a chapter dedicated to the Colt McCoy era at Texas and exceeding expectations. Check out an excerpt at Burnt Orange Nation.

Study Hard, ‘Horns

February 28, 2009

In Homerism’s experience growing up, even the best students had at least one subject they just couldn’t master. While they typically breezed through most of their classes, there was always that one that gave them a surprisingly tough time. (Think Anthony Michael Hall and his shop class woes in The Breakfast Club.)

Mack Brown is lucky the BCS wasn’t part of the curriculum back in his day. He just doesn’t seem to get it.
Brown has announced he and his team will be knuckling down this offseason for a crash course on the ins-and-outs of the BCS. He has even hired some top-notch tutors, extending invitations to supposed “BCS gurus” to come to Austin and break down college football’s system for picking a champion.
As Dr. Saturday points out, the BCS isn’t that tough to figure out–both in how it’s calculated and how it affects teams. (The Doc’s analysis is brilliant and succinct: “Win every game as convincingly as possible against the best possible competition.”) If Brown really can’t put it together on his own, well…
On the other hand, if this announcement is some kind of stunt, credit Brown for his persistence in publicizing what he considers to be the injustice foisted upon his team by one of the world’s most famous algorithms. Brown should give up the class dunce routine, though, if he wants to be seen as a reformer, rather than a whiner.

Mack on a Mission

February 22, 2009

When Mack Brown sets his mind on something, he follows through.

Texas’ head coach is still lobbying for the Big 12 to change its divisional tiebreaker system, which is likely to be on the agenda at the conference’s spring meetings.
Homerism would prefer to see the Big 12 eliminate its divisions and move to a round-robin regular season in which all teams played each other every season, a la the Pac-10’s scheduling system. Given athletic administrators’ preference for squeezing in extra home games to fill their coffers, that option seems unlikely. Anyway, that’s a discussion for another time.
Brown’s determination is admirable, but he has yet to explain exactly why the rule should be changed. (As a refresher, the Big 12 uses the BCS standings as the fifth of six tiebreakers to determine division winners in the case of a three-team tie. The rule came into play last season, sending Oklahoma to the conference title game.)
During the regular season, Brown pushed for the Big 12 to adopt the three-team tiebreaker system used by the other two-division conferences, which awards the division crown to the head-to-head winner of the top two teams in the standings if those teams are within five spots of each other in the BCS standings. That system would have put Texas in the conference title game this year.

“Since this situation has never happened before in the Big 12, I think the conference should follow the lead of all of the other BCS leagues with championship games in how they settle three-way ties. I think their systems are fairer and give more credit to how the two highest ranked teams performed against each other on the field,” Brown said at the end of the regular season.

In December, Dan Beebe, commissioner of the Big 12, acknowledged that the rule would be reviewed. However, Beebe didn’t sound particularly convinced by Brown’s rationale, noting that the system in place was designed to advance the team with the best chance of reaching the national championship game.
Homerism can understand why Brown would have preferred having the other conferences’ system in place this year, as it would have put his team in the Big 12–and most likely national–title game. Yet, that doesn’t explain why that system is supposedly “fairer.” Also, why is it that only the two highest ranked teams deserve more credit for how they performed against each other on the field, while the third team is left out of the mix?
The reality is that the Big 12’s set-up is simply a matter of realpolitik–it’s meant to give the conference the best chance of putting a team in the national championship game. “Fair” doesn’t appear to be an issue at play. After all, what is really fair among three equally deserving teams?
Homerism is all for instituting a new system that would produce a more satisfying result for all involved. Unfortunately, I fear the current system may be as good as it gets.