Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The dozen biggest misconceptions in realignment posts and articles...

As a guy who has tracked conference realignment since 1989, I am constantly reading realignment articles and fan responses.  There are some things I run across from even the most reputable of the realignment bloggers and reporters that just floor me.  So Today I am going to talk about things that frankly I consider misconceptions that are often pushed forward in realignment talk as viable and even likely possibilities to trigger conference movement.

1) Politics in the state of Texas may push Houston into the Big 12.

I have read articles where this is thrown out by out of state realignment writers.  It betrays an absolute misunderstanding of Texas politics. Houston may gain inclusion to the Big 12 at some point, but Texas politics will not have played a role.

Look...Yes former Lt. Governor Bob Bullock did lend his considerable power to back up his friend David Sibley, a former Mayor of Waco, to lean on UT and TAMU to accept the Big 8 schools' long offered concept of a somewhat merger and take Tech and Baylor into the Big12. 

It totally happened.
But that was almost 25 years ago.

There are no politicians in Texas today who are chomping at the bit to try to force something down UT's throat.   UT has too many powerful boosters to want to try something like that today.  It would be political suicide.
That was a unique window in time. The Lt. Governor in Texas has historically been the most powerful position in the Texas Government.  Bullock was the last in a line of fearless, cutthroat Texas politicians.  He was a total wild card who scared the crap out of other elected officials. That kind of politician doesn't exist today in the Texas State government.
The forces behind this coalition had leadership roles in areas where they could touch the PUF fund which both schools were a ton more reliant on back then.
Ann Richards was Governor and probably had her eyes on potentially running for President one day. She had strong UT and Baylor ties and, as such, potentially a lot to lose and so she wisely stayed out of it.
Texas Tech and Baylor had large alumni bases as members of the Texas-only SWC.  Politicians affiliated with Baylor and Tech were willing to work together and to play hardball with UT and A&M if needed.
These factors just do not exist today.  Lately A&M's had the most influence on Texas State government.  That was a part of how they were able to leave for the SEC without interference.
Current Governor Greg Abbott is a UT guy. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick is a radio talk show host out of Houston. While he seems the type who would love to claim credit for getting UH into the Big 12, he also seems like a guy with larger political aspirations.  Jamming UH down UT's throat is not going to help his political career in any way.
This wouldn't be "Hey, lets keep as much of the SWC together as possible..."  This would be, "Let's force UT into an association they have not chosen."  Additionally, TCU, Tech, and Baylor are usually backing UT's position lest the Longhorns turn on them, so you have politicians supporting the state's 5th most powerful school trying to badger politicians supporting the state's 1st, 3rd, 4th, and, I dunno what TCU would be...seventh (?) most powerful school?  I cannot see that.
Plus Houston in the Big 12 is not in A&M's best interest so the state's #2 school in terms of influence would not be in favor of this either.
This is not the kind of movement where Texas politics would come into the fold.

I just don't see any chance of Texas politicians forcing the conference to take UH.
If UH gets in, it will be for the same reason TCU got in --- because the key powers in the conference saw a need to add them. Nothing more.

2) Oklahoma is moderately happy in the Big 12.

Their actions suggest they aren't. 
Not at all. 

If you look at what Oklahoma has done over the last few years it certainly appears they have no desire to be in the Big 12.
1) In 2010,  they were pushing to go west with UT, Tech, A&M, OSU, and CU.  DeLoss Dodds screwed that up.
2) They then were part of a group that approached the Big 10 about joining with Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa State, and Texas A&M--- presumably to escape DeLoss Dodds.  The Big 10 declined that group of schools for their reasons. 
(My best guess is that at that point they only wanted the football red meat in the Big 12 ---Nebraska, OU, and UT.  In addition to not wanting some of the offered schools, they probably recognized that Dodds was bordering on irrational ---some may call it "cagey" --- and would go to a different conference simply to give the Big 10 the bird for trying to force his hand.)
3) Then they offered to join the PAC-12 straight up with Oklahoma State.  This was a no-brainer offer the PAC should have accepted as UT would have followed OU.  (UT won't follow A&M, but OU is another story.)
The academic core of the PAC-12 (Mostly Cal and Stanford) was short-sighted and they likely rejected OSU instead of doing the smart play and adding both Oklahoma schools and then offering Rice and UT to make it "academically tolerable". (If UT said no, the PAC could add TCU and protect Oklahoma's recruiting while gaining DFW and Houston media access.  This progression would pretty much have UT and Kansas either joining Nebraska --- which priniciples at UT hate for winning realignment by walking out on UT ---in the Big 10 or following their ally OU to the PAC-12.)

Look....those were three serious attempts to leave the Big 12 in the last 5 years.
If things do not change, OU won't stop trying to escape until they get out.   It is entirely likely that OU is living their worst case scenario today.  They have lost some of their best rivals in Nebraska, Missouri, and Colorado.  They are in a conference that is not going to be of any use to them in their pursuit of AAU admission and with the ascension of A&M and the new golden age of coaching in the PAC-12, they have lost supplemental recruiting handholds in Houston and California respectively.   OU cannot recruit at a contending level in today's Big 12.   And UT is pushing their other allies to try to hold the lid on expansion.

The other Big 12 schools need to wake up and realize that backing OU over UT is by far the better long-term play.

3) BYU is not the best candidate for a power conference not already in a power conference.

It isn't even close.
When you look at their academics, athletics, and fan support, BYU is probably about the 20th to 30th most valuable program in the entire FBS ranks. 
You would be had pressed to list 5 more valuable programs in each of the 5 power conferences. 

Try it.

You really can't.

That means they are BETTER than at least half of the programs already in the power conferences.
They absolutely merit being in a power conference.
You can't say the same about Memphis or Cincinnati or anyone else out there.
And the reality is that BYU is probably a lot more valuable than most measurement suggest. 

BYU isn't in a BCS conference because BYU's religious interference with research is not something the PAC-12 or Big Ten will tolerate and the Big 12 already has a headache school in UT with whom they have to make concessions.  Adding BYU has the potential to make Texas worse, so BYU is on the outside of the power conference ranks looking in.

It isn't about anything else.

It isn't about not playing on Sunday.  TV has the NFL on Sunday.  Putting BYU in the Big 12 still gives the networks the opportunity to put all the other Big 12 brands on TV on Sunday. The "sunday issue" is more of an annoyance than a cost.

It isn't even about BYU being a religious school.

It's all about research.  The B1G and the PAC love research schools.  Private Universities tend to do less research. Religious privates tend to do even less.  BYU has actively chosen to be on the low end of even that scale.
It is like BYU has put up the finger to doing research.  They will never get into the PAC-12 or Big Ten.

There is chatter that BYU has turned off a lot of Big 12 schools as the parties negotiate. You need votes to get in. That is entirely possible. BYU may consider themselves more entitled to getting their concessions than Big 12 schools may think. I am sure a number of Big 12 schools are tired of dealing with entitled members.

Frankly, BYU is reading it right in assuming they have the leverage.  The Big 12 needs BYU far more than BYU needs the Big 12.  BYU can afford to bleed out for a decade. When OU and Kansas leave and UT follows, the remaining Big 12 schools will give BYU everything it wants to lure them in, lest BYU cherry pick them, the MWC, and the American for a new conference.

UT, Kansas, and OU are the only hurdles preventing BYU from building a new power conference-ish WAC that BYU rules.   You think SDSU, Boise State, Utah State, UNLV, CSU, Air Force, Wyoming, and UNM wouldn't jump at a chance to dump the rest of the MWC?   Do you think five out of Houston, ISU, KSU, OSU, Tech, and TCU wouldn't be receptive to joining BYU in that group at that point?  Baylor, and WVU could be on the outside looking in.

But, BYU wants to be in a power conference. The only guaranteed way to make it happen is to eat crow and go to the Big 12 with hat in hand.   Tell the Big 12, BYU's only caveat is to not play on Sundays and other than that BYU will tow the company line.

It is a win-win scenario if egos can be parked at the door.

BYU isn't the cure for what ails the Big 12, but adding BYU is the smart play for the bottom of the BIG 12 membership (Baylor, ISU, KSU, OSU, Tech).  Secure BYU on the terms the Big 12 can live with today as part of a solution that delivers both financial value ...and as an insurance plan for today's members should OU leave.
As I covered in the Big12 expansion series, BYU could be part of a solution for the Big 12, but I am not holding my breath on the principles on each side seeing the bigger picture.

4) Boise State is a viable power conference candidate.

No, academically Boise State is the poster child of why academics matter to university presidents in expansion discussions.  

Boise State used to be a junior college.  No power conference school wants their university to be seen as a peer to a former JUCO.

The US News rankings divides universities into two categories:  National Universities and Regional Universities.  A National University tend to award doctorates and Regionals tend not to.  In general, National Universities are more widely respected overall, but a top Regional University will offer more valuable undergraduate degrees than a mid-level National University.
Almost every power conference school is a National University ranked in the top 150 or so.
Boise State is ranked tied for 61st among western regional universities.
"Western regional universities?" You may ask.  Yes.
Regional universities are grouped in one of four regions of the country. So it is like saying Boise State is ranked 246th in a less prestigious university category.

No power conference is desperate enough for the limited value Boise State football brings to the table to take the academic black eye to admit them.   Power conference members make at least $20-25 Million a year from TV.   Boise doesn't bring that kind of value, so why would a conference overlook their academics?
Boise is a very small media market.  Idaho is a low population state. BSU's TV value is as a weaker national brand due to TV curiosity.
BSU's brand is being "the school that is unfairly left out". Unlike predecessors in that role TCU (DFW market) or Louisville (Rick Pitino basketball) or successors Cincinnati (strong basketball, good market, snowbound statewide following in large state with literally nothing better to do than watch football) or Memphis (strong basketball, new facilities on the way, good market, statewide following in large state, Great recruiting area), that identity is all the value BSU possesses.

Boise State is a one trick pony and that trick may lose all resonance at the power conference level.

On the non-power conference tier, where school TV shares top out at $2 Million a year, Boise State's football value is pronounced and has proven capable of giving them access to any conference they want.
Not so much at the power conference level.
The only possible way I see for Boise State to get into a power conference is if a wounded Big 12 ---lead by BYU--- that is still considered power conference-level (I am not even sure if such a thing is possible) took in Boise State at the instruction of BYU.
That kind of conference might be pulling in TV checks in the $5-15 million ballpark.  Boise State might measure up there and BYU needs a good sidekick to replace Utah.  Boise is Mormon country.
I think there is a very good chance such a conference would merely inherit the limbo realm between tiers where the MWC with Utah and BYU used to operate, rather than being acknowledged as a power conference. Boise's brand is maximized there.
There are even problems with this scenario.
Does BYU even want to do that?  The whole point of BYU leaving the MWC for independent status was so BYU could manage the black eye of getting passed over for Utah by the power conferences.  It is a weak "separate but equal" argument ---but it is all BYU has at this point!
Is there a reason that would be compelling to BYU leadership for BYU to be in a non-power conference? ...

5) Houston offers no value to the Big 12.

Totally wrong.  Houston's value is recruiting based.  Houston to the Big 12 is Aggie Kryptonite and as such should be on the Big 12 short list. 

As a football-only member.

Houston is not going to ever get voted in by any of the four healthy power conferences.  The city for some insane reason allowed the Rockets and Texans to put their operations right next door to UH and as such UH will have attendance problems for the foreseeable future.  (Something that hacks me off to no end as I grew up a big Phi Slamma Jamma fan.)

Their academics are just worse than West Virginia's --- the lowest ranked school in the power conference ranks. 

I have touched on this in the Big 12 series,  adding UH football has immense value for the Big 12 because TAMU recruiting is killing the Big 2.  UH has a very large alumni base, the vast majority of it in the Houston DMA.  Add that to the various Big 12 fanbases down there, and it turns Houston into Big 12 country first.  Adding Houston football gives the Big 12 a platform in the Houston DMA to promote their brands.  That will hobble A&M's recruiting. If A&M cannot recruit like they are today, they cannot compete in the SEC West.  Hello 6-6.

And the Aggies can't do a damned thing about it.  If I sound giddy at the prospect, it is because I am.  I was very happy with the idea of Texas, Tech, and A&M going to PAC in 2010 and all those research dollars and angel investor dollars flowing from high tax California into low tax Texas, creating tons and tons of high paying jobs for Texans (!!!!)....  But DeLoss Dodds had to be an ass and the Aggies "just had to get into the SEC!"

Neither one is on my Christmas list.

(I know I should probably let it go as the Aggies have to realize that joining the SEC instead of the PAC likely cost them a national title in 2012. That should be punishment enough.)

To my way of thinking TAMU put their football program before the good of the state of Texas. They sold us out to be a conference outlier.  So as far as I am concerned "why being a conference outlier sucks" is a great lesson for the Big 12 to teach departing schools.

UH is not compelling enough to ever get voted in by the SEC.  Additionally, the SEC  expansion philosophy is to add a single school from a new state.  They already have TAMU, so they already have Texas.   It is already an uphill battle to add a second school from Texas....The SEC is never going to add a football only member who cannot hold their own in football.  The SEC is not likely to ever add a football only member at all.  Is the SEC really going to add the worst academically of all the viable Texas candidates as an all sports member?  Just to protect A&M's recruiting?  Good luck there TAMU.

Sigh...UH probably won't get into either conference, but a man can dream, can't he?

6) Memphis is a great play for the Big 12.

Academically, they are not even in the top 200 of National Universities.  They are lower ranked than Houston. You will have to break UT's teeth,  pry it's mouth open, and force Memphis down UT's throat. Do you really want to do that...for Memphis?

Don't get me wrong.  Memphis has some nice attributes.  I love the location in recruiting terms.  I think a Memphis addition would help all of the Northern teams in the Big 12. As a former USFL fan, I like the idea of a majorly successful football program in the city of Memphis and I think it is very possible, but I am wary of Memphis.

Big time. 

Memphis used to have an elite collegiate basketball coach.  He left years ago and since then their attendance has trended downwards. That is not surprising.  When an NBA team is competing for fan dollars with a collegiate team, you almost always see the attendance of the collegiate team collapse.  Frankly the Tigers have held on longer than I thought they would.

Coaching is playing a role.  New coach Josh Pastner can recruit, but he cannot retain his talent.  That is a HUGE problem for Pastner.  I think he is in trouble.

In football, after years and years of missing, Memphis struck gold Unobtainium with Justin Fuente.  He clearly has the same knack for coaching talent up that his mentor TCU head coach Gary Patterson has.  He is the hottest name in college football.

Does anyone think Fuente will be at Memphis next year?   If I am Tennessee, he's my guy.  Butch Jones is a nice man who has done right by Tennessee in building an impressive level of talent, but he can't seem to win games.   I am normally inclined to wait a year too long, but if I am a Tennessee booster, I cannot ignore the guy next door who is beating talent-loaded top 25 SEC teams with FBS 80-90 level talent.  What would Fuentes' record be with Jones's talent?

I am looking at Memphis and no doubt I am impressed that new facilities are in the pipeline, but judging them as an applicant I am also thinking, 2 coaching changes in both revenue sports = non-competitive teams for the first 4 years they are in the Big 12.

Too many red flags.  Fool's gold.

To me you let them build the facilities and get their house in order against weaker competition and then re-evaluate them in 4 years...

7) UCF is worthy, but USF certainly is not.

Hot garbage.  Years ago USF fans were saying the same about UCF when the golden knights were angling for a Big East invite.  "They fake their attendance counts" USF fans screamed.

Don't listen to the noise. They are the same damned candidate.

USF was very, very good in football a few years back and UCF was mediocre. Last year USF was pretty bad and UCF was pretty good.  Now UCF is 0-7 and USF is 3-3.

The funny thing is that they can both recruit very well for non-power conference schools.  (Ordinarily the non-power conference schools start at about 63 or so.)  Here are their recruiting finishes for the last 4 years.

recruiting class rank (out of 128)
2012 2013 2014 2015
55 49 43 69
2012 2013 2014 2015
100 82 61 71

Since UCF moved up to the American, they are recruiting a lot like USF, but it doesn't appear to have hurt USF.  That is not surprising.  Florida produced 306 three star or better recruits last year.  The state's seven FBS schools only have scholarships for  about 165 of them each year.  At the American level both schools should be able to roll out of bed and have a recruiting class packed with Florida 3 stars.   That would only improve in the Big 12.

UCF has their own on campus 45,000 seat stadium.  USF slums it in the NFL Buc's Raymond James stadium 14 miles away.  Big advantage UCF.

USF does about $330 Million in annual research, something UT's leadership would appreciate. UCF does $108M.  Big advantage USF.

Other than that? Same damned candidate.  Valuable developing football commodity with strong TV potential; moderate basketball.

8) BYU has already maxxed out.

This is a shit-ball crazy concept that BYU haters have pushed to support their line of thinking.

Total Fucking Bullshit.  I have no vested interest in BYU, but this is an unsupportable smear campaign.

BYU saw their little brother Utah picked for the Pac-12 over the Cougars.  Utah is about 60% of what BYU is...with one exception. Research.  From the PAC perspective, BYU doesn't give a crap about research and Utah does.

With Utah in a power conference, BYU felt there was no way they could stay in a non-power conference.  They only have two potential suitors among the power conference ranks: the PAC and the Big 12.  The PAC has decided to make their bed with Utah and the Big 12 decided that they didn't need another entitled school.

So BYU went independent.

And it is killing them.

Without local schools to play off, BYU's fans are unmotivated once BYU loses a game and is eliminated from the playoffs.   Attendance has dropped off.

That does not mean BYU has maxxed out.  Just the opposite.  If BYU was a stock, I'd be buying low right now with my entire 401K. (And for the record, I bought Marvel stocks at 25 cents a share.)

The WAC's Utah Valley University is very close to BYU and used to be a JUCO that fed BYU. A lot of student ties there. UVU does not play football. BYU is 30,000, UVU is 34,000.

BYU has not had a more powerful member in their conference since the 1970's when Arizona State left. IMO that has stunted their growth.  Their foray into independence has further stunted their growth.
Moving to a power conference would do just the opposite. 

With UT and OU potentially visiting in-conference, a $25 Million annual TV check, and the LDS’s desire to stick it to the PAC-12 and the fans of the University of Utah, I would not be surprised to see BYU evolve into 90-100K stadium football king.
That is a big score.
It would happen much faster with a few more of BYU's traditional rivals in the mix.

9) Cincinnati offers great recruiting to the Big 12.

I have covered this in great detail in the Big 12 expansion thread.  For recruiting to be valuable, it has to be mineable.  For the Big 12, with the exception of Cinci and West Virginia, it would not be.

I do want to reiterate that Cinci offers a lot of valuable attributes especially research that frankly keep them borderline for me.   Their academics are grit your teeth tolerable, like San Diego State's.

Cinci has weak statewide following that is frequently snowbound with nothing better to do than to watch football on TV in a pretty big population state.  The trouble is, is that better than the potential at SDSU or the Florida giants?

If  the Big 12 is just going to do a BS, time-wasting, 2 team expansion, then why not add Cinci?  They have very good attributes.

But if you are going to try to execute an expansion to save the conference, you have to carefully spend your slots.  Cinci to me is a "tuck away for later" candidate, like Memphis.

10) Colorado State is a poor play for the Big 12.

On the contrary, like BYU, CSU is a buy now stock.  They are a strong number 2 school in a medium sized state where the #1 has forgotten how to compete.   They are building a 40,000 seat on campus stadium with supporting facilities (apparently out of pure gold) at a price of only $200+Million.

Look.  The stadium is too small.  Yeah. But when you are rebuilding a fan base you need to be able to generate ticket scarcity.  The stadium is expandable and all things considered, 40,000 is OK for today.  CSU's fan attendance eroded from about 29K at their old stadium.  They will pick up at about 30K in the MWC.   If they land in the Big 12 (likely as a travel partner to BYU) their attendance will grow quickly based on their schedule and they might expand by 2024 or so.

Consider their in conference schedule would likely be West Virginia, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, BYU and 4 teams from the Texas division leaving them free to play the OOC foes they want to play.  I would not be surprised to see them continue to play rivals Colorado, Wyoming, and Air Force as their OOC schedule.  UNM, Utah, and Utah State are potential opponents too. Picking up a 13th game against former WAC rival Hawaii would be a smart play.

That is about as fan friendly of a schedule as a school wanting to rebuild attendance could see.

In the interim, they will be able to recruit much better than they have in the past with that complex (and potentially a Big 12 invite).

Fans have to understand in evaluating CSU, it is like evaluating UNT in the last days at Fouts Field.   In both situations you are trying to evaluate a program that was playing in the absolute worst stadium situation in the FBS ranks.  That kills recruiting and attendance and really makes it almost impossible to evaluate what they will be based on what they were prior to the new stadium.

What we do know looks good. Their basketball is tourney level and is run by a coach with a spotty past who is not likely to get hired away.  This is a very good situation.

They are ranked 127th academically among National Universities.  Unlike most Big 12 candidates, CSU is not in academic foul territory.

They do about $291 Million in annual research, which isn't bad at all.

They are located in the dead center of the Denver DMA and their alumni tend to stay in state.  That is great in TV terms.

BYU used to have a group they maintained called the "Gang of 5" that controlled the MWC.  It was BYU, Utah, Air Force, Wyoming, and CSU that delivered the Denver and SLC DMAs.  BYU and CSU would give the Big 12 most of that.

They are a very, very solid candidate --- especially partnered with BYU which also has fans in Colorado.

11) The Florida Giants are too far away to be part of the Big 12

The state of Florida has a population of 21 million.  Adding both USF and UCF as football-only members would deliver you statewide football TV viewership in Florida at the cost of 4 current Big 12 schools making one flight to Florida a year.

You really cannot afford that?

Florida has 3 of the nation's top 25 media markets. UCF and USF are located in 2 of them.

They are 2 of the 10 largest universities in the country.   Their academics are not elite and their mission is local service, so most of their alumni are in those DMAs.

They are great TV candidates for this reason.

I would not champion both as all-sports members as their basketball programs would be a drag on the Big 12 (even though Orlando is a great recruiting town for basketball talent), but if a decision was made to add both schools as all-sports members, again you would be talking about 4 schools in their division making a single flight to Florida in each sports.

I am fairly sure that won't bankrupt the University of Kansas.

12) FSU and Clemson are pipe dreams for the Big 12

Lets be clear.  No one is bailing on the ACC in the next decade and paying that fee.   But come 2023 or so...would those schools listen to a move in a few years?  Possibly.  It depends on the makeup of the Big 12 making the offer.

There is a lot of frustration there.

Clay Travis of "outkick the coverage" confirmed what a lot of us suspected, that Florida State, Georgia Tech, and Clemson are blocked from SEC inclusion by a pact between Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.   Given their location, they are effectively trapped in the ACC.

Now the ACC is not that bad of a conference to be trapped in, but trapped is trapped. No one likes feeling that way, especially if you are a fan or booster and the perception is that the SEC's block puts you in a lesser recruiting position.

FSU is in a situation a lot like OU.  They feel their conference is holding back their football program.  And they resent feeling like a pawn to UNC and Duke rather than the football king they are.

Clemson feels the same way, but they are frequently undervalued in expansion talks.

Miami is a little Jeckyl and Hyde right now, but if FSU left they would strongly consider going with them.  Miami used to pull fan support from NYC and supplemental recruits from areas like Dallas. Joining the Big 12 would do a lot to restore Miami's national brand.

This trio in particular share the Big 12's likely desire to stick it to the SEC.

Georgia Tech would have no desire to go, but if their whole football neighborhood evaporated overnight, they would strongly consider jumping to the Big 12 too.  Georgia is a hella good recruiting territory for a 10 Million population state.

(And frankly should GT pass, Louisville would strongly consider the fourth spot in spite of the fact that the ACC is academic gold and a conference that Louisville has no academic right to be in.  The knowledge that Louisville might take that slot and that the Big 12 doesn't make strong expansion decisions might be enough to spur GT to take the offer.)

The buttons are there to be pushed IF 1) the Big 12 is stable and equitable and 2) the fundamentals of the conference are similar to the ACC's by 2023.

Such a move would likely put the SEC schools at a recruiting competitive disadvantage for once.   FSU and Clemson would tolerate some change for that.

I have no doubt any competent commissioner could rip the football heart out of the ACC armed with a boldly expanded Big 12 footprint... Or even just a much stronger footprint...but not with today's Big 12.

To have any shot at that foursome, the Big 12 needs a lot of TV households.  They don't have that today.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

WIll Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin be the next coach at Southern California?

USC coach Steve Sarkasian was fired last weekend when news of the depth of his drinking issues got out.

This created the question, who will replace him?  Texas A&M's coach Kevin Sumlin is near the top of the list of real candidates.

USC is one of the top 3-5 football jobs in the college ranks, up there with Ohio State and Texas.  The money USC can pay matches anything any other school can offer and the being able to have the lead recruiting position in southern California ---a talent-rich area of 27 Million people with only 3 collegiate FBS teams makes the job immensely appealing.

If you think you can coach, the USC job is a tempting one.  Especially today.

USC came off probation a few years ago.  Their last four years' recruiting classes were ranked 11th, 10th, 9th, and 2nd.  That is national title contention level talent.  The talent was recruited to man a pass happy offense.

USC had discussions with Sumlin last time which suggests they probably will again this time.  Sumlin is more of a proven commodity today.

Sumlin in a top recruiter who has taken A&M from their traditional range of 15th to 30th ranked recruiting classes to dominating the state with classes in the national title contention range (top 12).  He recruits Texas and Arizona blue chippers very well --- a skill that could make him an annual top 5 recruiting class coach at USC.

The question becomes, what makes him tick?

A lot of speculation on Sumlin is that he will be at Texas A&M until the NFL comes calling.    If the NFL is his desired goal, staying at A&M in the interim could be a viable option.  He can likely continue to maintain top 10-12 recruiting classes at Texas A&M indefinitely, even with Charlie Strong chipping away at Texas recruits.

He can win 8-11 games a year at TAMU which is far more than Aggie fans demand from their coaches.  TAMU in turn will pay him pretty much anything he wants to try to keep him.

The thing is, there is a real chance that a smart coach like Sumlin may see the limitations of the Aggie job that Aggie boosters do not acknowledge. 

The reality is that a portion of TAMU's recent recruiting success can be attributed to mismanagement of the Big 12 and UT's reluctance to force Mack Brown out when the game passed him by (as it does every coach).   The latter condition has already been corrected and the former may be corrected some time soon. (Should OU get their way and Houston, lead by coach Tom Herman ---another ace recruiter with a brilliant offensive mind --- is admitted, Sumlin and A&M may see their Houston recruiting chipped away and experience a tumble back to their traditional recruiting level.)

College station is not every recruit's cup of tea.  While it is great to play in front of the big crowds of the SEC, the pro-military culture of A&M has always been a limiting factor on Aggie recruiting that UT doesn't have.

Toss in Baylor and TCU's success  (a higher level than A&M's each year)  with similar high power offenses as a future limiter on Aggie recruiting and having to survive the brutal SEC West to make the playoffs, and one can certainly understand if Sumlin decides to chose what appears to be an easier route to the playoffs and a national title game each year as the coach at USC.

There is little to suggest TCU and Baylor's recruiting is not ramping up and that each cannot stay in the 1-2 loss level indefinitely in a conference that has depth issues at a lot of their schools.  TAMU may be smoking UT currently, but at the end of the day there is little to suggest they will pass Baylor's and TCU's end of season records most years.  Is coaching Texas's #3 football power really better than coaching at USC?

Why stay at TAMU if it means Sumlin's team may only make the playoffs once a decade in a division with Alabama, LSU, and Auburn, plus other high level recruiting teams Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida waiting to knock off the Aggies in the SEC title game?

One would think the USC job with a top 5 class each year would equate to making the playoffs at least a third of the time.

The situation bears watching.

Longhorns save Charlie Strong's job with huge upset of OU

Perhaps I shouldn't have worried...Charlie Strong's Texas team pulled off a huge upset of OU Saturday.

The win effectively makes it damn near impossible for the power boosters (and the racist elements in UT fandom) to run off Charlie Strong this year.  Given his history, his recruiting prowess and eye for talent, and his strategy of starting freshmen this year,  it seems entirely that it he make it to next year, he will win enough to keep the job.

Best headline ever? " Charlie Strong beat Oklahoma. Your argument is invalid."

It cracked me up anyway...

UT is already using the win in recruiting to good effect.  It backs up the narrative "We are close to being a very good team, we just need a few more guys ---like you."

I think the importance of the win to Texas is obvious,  the impact on Oklahoma is IMO less pronounced.

People scream at what an upset it was as Texas is only ranked 55th in the Massey rankings today, but they need to take a closer look at UT's schedule so far this year.  UT has played six games and five of them were against teams ranked in the top 21 by Massey.  Of those games they lost to #21 Cal by 1 point, #12 Oklahoma State by 3, and they got stomped by #10 Notre Dame and #1 TCU before beating OU.

None of those results are all that surprising given the reliance UT has had to have on their freshmen and sophomores.  Young teams have to learn how to close out close games and when they are overmatched tend to get blown out.  And there is the fact that UT had an offensive coordinator trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole at QB in the Notre Dame game and that TCU purposefully ran up the score on UT to manufacture a recruiting asset.

Overall it suggests that Texas's placement at 55 may be the stats skewing UT far lower than they may really be.

How would #33 West Virginia, #35 Kansas State, or #44 Texas Tech have fared vs. a schedule of #10 Notre Dame, Rice, #21 California, #12 Oklahoma State, #1 TCU, and #17 Oklahoma? 

I have to think they would be 1-5 or 2-4.  Which suggests UT may be playing at a level in the 30's, not 55.

It also suggests that despite a total lack of depth, UT may have quite a good shot to be bowl eligible at the end of the year with a couple games they may be favored in vs. Kansas & Iowa State and three games that could be tossups (Tech, KSU, and West Virginia).  They also have a shot vs. Baylor as the Baylor defensive scheme is not nearly as suited to slow down UT' offense as TCU's scheme.

The loss doesn't really matter for OU.  If they win out with victories over TCU and Baylor, they will be in the playoffs.  In that regard it may actually be good for OU in that their players know the playoff effectively starts for them in the next game.

It also suggests OU is about what you'd expect them to be given their recruiting in the last 4 seasons --- a team rated in the teens with very good starters but maybe lacking the depth a real national title contender like FSU, Georgia, Texas A&M, Florida, USC, Ohio State, or Alabama would have.  (Something which as I touched on in the Big 12 expansion articles may have people in the know at OU wanting to address via Big 12 expansion or moving to another conference.) 

Suspect depth is the difference between a top 6 team and a top 18 team; Suspect depth leads to the upset loss that can eliminate a school from the playoffs.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Why UT should hold on to Charlie Strong.

Before I get into this, I want to give a little background information/disclaimers.

I attended UT for a few years before giving in to an ultimatum from a very hot girl to move to Dallas. 

While I don't consider myself an Orangeblood or even just a Longhorn,  I am enough of a fan to not want to see UT do poorly.

You know the old saying. "I don't have a horse in this race?"  I certainly am not a part owner of the racehorse UT --- but it is a horse I am always somewhat inclined to pull for.

But I am not a traditional fan. I don't live or die with any team winning or losing every game.  So don't pre-judge my conclusions here on those terms.

I am not some irrational fan who thinks UT is entitled to win each week.

I am a fan of anything, it is the business of athletics. 

The average game itself?  eh.  I work most Saturdays and if I am off, I would rather dig in the garden and catch the end of a game if it is competitive, or the boxscores and write-ups if it isn't ----or if it's an SEC school or some other programs I don't give a crap about.  (Now bowl games, playoffs, and march madness is another story.  Those are GAMES.)

With this in mind, a further disclaimer.  In this article there is a discussion of talent --- I am not qualified to judge that.  For this reason, I have exclusively and repeatedly sourced the views of others who are, instead of degrading this article by volunteering my own insufficient opinions there.

I am covering this because I generally like the teams in today's Big 12 and the survival of that conference is largely controlled by the whims of UT's boosters, many of which are currently enraged by a recent event.

The trigger event

UT being down 50-0 to TCU last week was awful to see on a number of levels for me.

The team got flat spanked by TCU. That was the kind of game that pisses off rich boosters, makes them want to fire the coach,  and makes them want to throw money at a situation to try to bring about the results they desire.

The trouble is the plans people come up with when they are in an emotional state are almost always irrational.  And it isn't like the super rich will cool down and realize how off they were in composing these plans.  It is human nature to rubberstamp your ideas as brilliant rather than critically re-evaluating them later.

It doesn't seem like the kind of thinking that is going to yield optimal results at Texas.

Why UT's talent level makes firing Strong a poor option.

Lets see what the experts who watch every game have to say about the talent level at UT.

Todd Hayes of the DMN who covers UT did a series ranking the talent at UT.  He introduced it by saying, " Charlie Strong has quite a job ahead of him this fall. The Texas Longhorns head coach has an inexperienced receiving corps, a defense that has lost a key starter in each unit, and a quarterback battle in an offense that was inconsistent and, at times, stagnant in 2014.
To solve those problems, Strong must pick from a roster that includes only two players that earned All-Big 12 honors last season. And they were honorable-mention selections."

He goes on to list out the better players at UT.  Here are his top 13.

1. Hassan Ridgeway, NT, Jr.
2. Duke Thomas, CB, Sr.
3. Johnathan Gray, RB, Sr.
4. Dylan Haines, SS, Jr.
5. Sedrick Flowers, OG, Sr.
6. Shiro Davis, DE, Sr.
7. D’Onta Foreman, RB, So.
8. Jacorey Warrick, WR, Jr.
9. Poona Ford, DT, So.
10. Tyrone Swoopes, QB, Jr.
11. Jerrod Heard, QB, Fr.
12. Bryce Cottrell, DE, Jr.
13. Malik Jefferson, LB, Fr.

His #3 guy was a part-time starter who flashed ability..  #6 was a guy earmarked to split time in the upcoming season. #10 was the 10th ranked QB in a 10 team league...#7,8,9,11, and 13 were all guys who Davis was optimistic "might" show something.

That was his view of the talent going into the season.

NFL teams do not think much of UT's talent.  Earlier this year an AFC GM described UT's talent as "All 'guys' and no 'dudes'. Texas barely shows up on our master list of prospects to scout this year. Vince Lombardi couldn't do anything with the guys they have on offense."

You really have to focus on what is said here.  In addition to the guys who get picked each year, NFL teams scout a lot of seniors and top juniors who aren't drafted.  He starts by saying that UT has only a couple guys who even belong on the big "due diligence" list.  That's saying a lot.  The reporter goes on to say that the only "dude" on the roster is freshman LB Jefferson.

Former Longhorn and NFL pro bowl offensive lineman Dan Neil covers the Longhorns. He reviewed the OL after the Notre Dame game.  He was complementary of freshman tackle Connor Williams, noting he was already the team's best lineman. He said freshman Patrick Vahe was not as ready to go.  Then he noted that the other three starters didn't seem much improved from the limited starters they were last year.

Profootball focus,  a site that specifically grades plays, singled out Vahe and Flowers for lousy play vs. ND. Freshman tackle Connor Williams was recently ranked #5 on their list of the best freshman players in the country.   They did another UT review after the TCU game and painted a picture of UT getting killed on both lines.  They noted that UT's passblocking efficiency is 62nd out of the 65 schools in the power conferences and that their pass rush is the 10th least effective in the entire 128 member FBS ranks.  (To pour salt into the wound, they note in another article that Texas A&M has a staggering SEVEN DL players with a +1.0 rating  ---a good rating--- on their scoring system.)

Grantland wrote a fantastic article on the talent at UT (and the mentality displayed by Charlie Strong ) that seems relevant here. They quoted a couple of tweets from the TCU game.

Matt Miller@nfldraftscout
"Charlie Strong is not without some blame, but casual fans don't realize how bad the situation in Austin was post-Mack Brown."

Dane Brugler @dpbrugler
"I get the criticism of Charlie Strong, but he inherited a team void of talent. No SRs look draftable; their best players are freshmen"

Other articles are even harsher.  This recent article by Sports Illustrated's Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel interviews unnamed coaches (likely assistants at Oklahoma State and TCU) on their opinions of the talent at UT.

Left anonymous to protect their careers from any fallout from speaking their minds, these coaches did not mince words.  It is a scathing article well worth reading in it's entirety.

"...numerous coaches who have faced Texas this season and are familiar with the Longhorns aren't as diplomatic about Strong's 1–4 start entering Saturday's game against No. 10 Oklahoma in Dallas. They point the finger at Brown and his former staff for the lack of talented upperclassmen and an attitude of entitlement that's resulted in public clashes with younger players recruited by Strong.
"In two years, Charlie could not have f----- that place up, It was already f---- up before."

"Mack knew the s--- going on, he just didn't want to own up to it," another coach says. "He knows what he left."

That's why many coaches still can't believe Strong was able to will the Longhorns to a 6–7 record last season that included a loss to Arkansas in the Texas Bowl. "(University of Texas) kids have always been entitled," another coach says. "They've been given everything. They're usually four- and five-star recruits that don't feel like they have to work. They just thought they could show up."

"They're just not nearly as talented as they used to be," a coach says.

It's apparent the Longhorns' most talented players are mainly those Strong signed in his first two recruiting classes. Offensively, coaches rattle off freshman wide receiver John Burt, sophomore running back D'Onta Foreman as well as freshmen offensive linemen Connor Williams and Patrick Vahe as the best at their respective positions for the Longhorns. Defensively, it's freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson along with freshmen cornerbacks Kris Boyd, Davante Davis and Holton Hill.

The best quarterback on the roster is redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard, but coaches attribute his immense struggles the last two games to opponents' crowding the box defensively to restrict his dual-threat ability. With enough video of Heard finally in action, the opposition has discovered he can't complete the intermediate passes needed to exploit those defensive schemes.

"That's no secret," one of the coaches says.
Neither is the void of talent among the upperclassmen. It's so bad that the Longhorns' have become a punch line among NFL scouts, who joke they now make the trip to Austin for Sixth Street instead of The Forty Acres.
"None of the older guys are going to the NFL, so you can tell most of them really don't care," one of the coaches says.
"The upperclassmen are killing everything," one of the coaches says. "The freshmen just want to play. They're balling their a---- off."   "

It should be noted that a lot of these articles on talent deal with NFL draftable (or at least scout-worthy) talent and most came after the TCU game where a young and undermanned UT team was totally outschemed on both sides of the ball by a coach who had a vested interest in blowing out UT. 

Now absolutely high level talent is something that should be in place at UT given what UT is, but you do not have to have that to compete with most college teams. UT hung in vs. Oklahoma State and Cal, two top 25 teams.  (UT is playing one of the toughest schedules in the country this year though, so maybe that is not the strongest point in this discussion.).

Finally Paul Wadlington (Scripio Tex) at BarkingCarnival.com does game by game evaluations.  Here is his analysis after the TCU game.  I have included his analysis although readers unfamiliar with the domain may question the sourcing of that particular domain.  It has UT content.  

I think it is pretty good analysis deserving of inclusion on it's own and I think in that it provides context that the other reviews do not.  He notes conceptually that UT's coordinators were trying to have the DL contain Boykin's legs, something that likely hurt their pass rush.  Teams that do not have the required talent to execute their schemes will make tradeoffs, effectively picking their poison.   It appears that UT's defensive staff was simply caught doing that by TCU.

There is a consensus opinion among the above that UT's junior and senior classes are devoid of top level talent and maybe even the mid-level talent is sparse.  (As a bit of a side note, guys like CB Duke Thomas (who seems very, very competent at his job) and DL Hassan Ridgeway who was earmarked as an NFL talent at one point, are not getting much love from the scouts in those scouts' discussions of talent at UT.  It leads me to wonder if their pro potentials  are getting downgraded because their teammates are struggling to compete.  I wonder if their moments of good play is getting lost in a lot of ugly film.)

Is the TCU game the lowpoint of the Season?

Probably to almost certainly. 

You have to look at all the factors that came into play vs. TCU. 

UT is still trying to figure out its' OL.  

TCU even with injuries is a better defense than what UT will play in most of it's remaining games. Their scheme was well suited to control what UT was trying to do.

UT was playing a very limited offense with a QB who has seen very few reps, but one that had enough film out there to be a known commodity.  

UT's players entered that game thinking they would likely get beaten soundly.  

TCU's players entered the game on high alert after a close call vs. Texas Tech.   Their defense needed a redemption game and was very focused.

TCU's coaches likely entered the game thinking there was a real chance to blow out UT and TCU's head coach Gary Patterson made damned sure it occurred.

This blowout was about recruiting.  TCU's head coach is apparently seen as somewhat abrasive and appears not to be well-liked in the Big 12 coaching community.   That may extend to the high school ranks to some degree.

Where Baylor (coached by Art Bryles, a coach who came up through the Texas high school ranks)  has captured 10 blue chippers from Texas in the last 3 years (two of whom were 5 star players), TCU has captured 2 bluechippers and no 5 star players. 

Putting the foot on the gas vs. UT seems to have been all about generating a signature win to show top recruits and about getting the state's attention in general away from Texas A&M. It is good for TCU's program if TCU becomes the program in state that UT fans want to beat.

That is a tall list of factors that lead to that perfect storm.

No one else on the schedule has all or even most of these elements.

TCU wrote the book defensively that other teams are going to try to emulate vs. UT for the rest of the season.   That is a good thing.

Now that the book is out there on QB Heard and everyone sees why UT didn't just give him the starting job, you know teams are going to scheme to try to force UT into making mid-range passes. Heard is going to get plenty of work throwing the mid-range passes and the OL is going to get work blocking those plays in practice.   There will be improvement there.

Charlie Strong is a likeable guy in the coaching community.  While everyone else in the Big 12 wants to beat UT, no one else have a vested interest in blowing out UT or is eager to embarrass UT ---with the possible exception of Baylor coach Art Briles. (Baylor lacks the scheme and the horses defensively to totally shut down UT's offense like TCU did.).

OU has a quality team, but this is a rivalry game.  It is almost always a competitive game for at least 2 quarters. UT's players are embarrassed and focused.   UT's players are not likely to win this game, but there is a good chance they will be in it.

Strong came to UT with a reputation of a guy who's teams come to play every week.  I think that has been masked a bit this year by the fact his team is mostly lead by underclassmen.  

In general, following a debacle, teams normally rally. 

There may have been some deferring to upperclassmen in the first few weeks of the season, but I suspect the TCU loss has put an end to that.  I think there is a very, very good chance that this week the freshmen will take over leadership of this team and own it for the rest of the season  and with that you will see a return of the consistent competitiveness that has typified Strong's career as a coach.

I would not be surprised to see Donta Foreman emerge this week as the offense's go-to guy and Heard playing off him having a strong bounceback game. Defensively Malik Jefferson has been very good all year and is due a breakout, big stage game.

If the power booster's get their way and fire Charlie Strong...

Charlie Strong was not the preferred choice of the UT power boosters in replacing Mack Brown. As Steven A Smith accurately points out, there is a segment of UT's power boosters (and some racist fans) who do not fully support Strong because he was not their guy.  (Unlike Smith, I don't think this is a terminal issue for Strong.)

There is every reason to believe the reports are true that Alabama Coach Nick Saban was approached and was listening intently to a UT offer in the last days of Mack Brown.   Brown purposefully skunked that deal on his way out to prevent Saban taking the shine off Brown's achievements.

Patterson was then steered to talk to Baylor's Art Briles.  Apparently Patterson pushed to meet with him before Baylor's bowl game, something Briles did not appreciate.  Baylor lost that game taking a lot of the shine off Briles.  It seems like Patterson and Briles did not get along.

Patterson then appears to have decided it was getting too late in the process and went off on his own and hired Charlie Strong. Strong was a good candidate in general and specifically for what UT needed, but one no booster had at the top of their list.  

This action by Patterson generated the infamous quote by UT booster Red McCombs calling Strong a coordinator, not a head coach---something rightfully pointed at as a ill-informed at best and more likely a poorly veiled racist statement.   Strong had gone 11-2 twice at Louisville --- defensive coordinators over their heads as a head coaches do not accomplish that.

Today and the next few years

Strong wasn't hired as some silly affirmative action move as the racist element at UT would have you believe.  He was hired because Patterson accurately evaluated the competition for UT's 5 star talent.  Texas A&M has been leading the recruiting of Texas's 5 star talent for the last 4 years.   They have also landed more blue chip players than Texas in that time frame.

Texas's 5 star recruits landing points
2015 1 0 0 2 0 0 1
2014 0 0 1 1 1 0 1
2013 1 1 1 1 0 0 0
2012 2 0 0 2 0 1 0
Totals 4 1 2 6 1 1 2

  Rank University C.Rank Commits 5* 4* 3* Ave Total Pts % 3,4,or 5*
2015 9 UT 1 30 1 13 14 88.81 272.52 93%
2014 20 UT 2 23 0 10 13 88.22 244.18 100%
2013 20 UT 2 15 0 10 5 91.00 233.76 100%
2012 2 UT 1 31 2 20 5 89.39 291.75 87%
4 YR AVE 12.75   TOT 99 3 53 37 89.36 260.55 94%
        4 YR TOT BC=   56        

  Rank University C.Rank Commits 5* 4* 3* Ave Total Pts % 3,4,or 5*
2015 11 TAMU 6 26 3 11 11 89.16 270.51 96%
2014 6 TAMU 4 22 3 9 9 90.68 285.43 95%
2013 9 TAMU 6 33 1 17 14 89.18 273.28 97%
2012 13 TAMU 5 19 1 12 5 90.47 254.57 95%
4 YR AVE 9.75   TOT 100 8 49 39 89.87 270.95 96%
        4 YR TOT BC=   57        

It is not inaccurate to say that A&M is out-recruiting UT, that A&M owns the state's recruiting today, or that A&M get's first choice of the state's talent.

How is this happening when A&M is...well...A&M?  (A location that appeals only to a certain breed of person.)

The reason for this is pretty simple.  A&M plays in what is perceived as a superior football conference with "bigger games" and their coach is a successful black coach who is a plus recruiter.

(I take the newer facilities at A&M vs. living in Austin instead of College Station as a wash.)

Strong is a good coach who is also black and also a plus recruiter.  He erases a lot of edge that A&M has in recruiting the best in talent in Texas.

If Strong is fired at the end of the year, it will be taken as he was not given a fair shot by white boosters at UT.  That will damage the recruiting efforts of any coach coming in.  It would likely lead to a couple of UT black freshmen players transferring out.

Are you ready to see Malik Jefferson transfer out to A&M?  Players usually do not transfer out when they are doing well at a school.  The exception to that is when they feel anger with the school.  In this scenario only, I think that might be a real possibility.  I could see some of the freshmen giving UT's boosters the finger. 

That just compounds the talent problem for UT's next coach.  Who is going to take a job with high expectations where the talent base is small and is likely to bleed transfers?

You can swear up and down that Chip Kelly is the cure all, but he will need several years to build up the talent here and if you look carefully, he is not a high level recruiter.  In the interim, your actions will have created a window of opportunity for Baylor, TCU, OU, and Texas A&M to become more established at competing for top level talent.

UT's boosters do not appear to have an understanding of managing a talent depleted roster. 

The best course of action in situations like these is to retain any coach who is still recruiting well "a year too long".    The reason for this is that, 1) he could turn it around and start winning ---always the optimal return ---and 2) because you want to build up a good core of 3 years-worth of talent for the next coach.

If Strong car turn it around, he can deliver a brand worthy of Texas with a team of players who are tough and disciplined.

Charlie Strong may have to gut his staff after this season to turn the corner. He may or may not see that.  It is almost irrelevant.

What is clearly a positive of Charlie Strong is that he can identify talent  and close the deal at a UT acceptable rate.  His first full recruiting class (this year's class) was ranked in the top 10 and more to the point Connor Williams and Malik Jefferson would be freshmen starters at almost any school in the country.  (When was the last time you said that about any Mack Brown recruit?)

Giving Strong another year is only going to improve the talent base here and make it more likely key guys like Jefferson and Foreman do not transfer out.  No one is going to fault UT if Strong cannot deliver anything after 3 years.

Additionally, Strong's no-nonsense, "be tough" approach is generating the kind of culture that wins big down the road.  It doesn't matter if it is for Strong or another coach.  That culture change was desperately needed at UT.

There is every reason to believe Strong can generate another top 10 class with quality using Texas's brand in Texas and Strong's Florida recruiting ties.

Why not let him?

Pushing the issue to fire him this year is just being impatient, petulant, self-defeating, and frankly...silly.

Post Script:  I found a couple of really good articles on the subject.  This one includes a plea from the son of Darrel Royal.

"Mack Royal, son of Longhorn legend Darrell K. Royal, recently wrote in a social media post: “When you run an honest program, it takes time to attract the good kids with great talent. Strong has a strategy and it will take some time for it to work. I understand this; I’ve seen it up close and personal. TCU happens to be awesome at times. DKR lost the Southwest Conference championship to TCU his first year of coaching UT.”
Royal further noted, “When parents understand that they are sending their children to be coached by a decent man running an honest program, it will slowly make a difference in recruiting. Give the man a chance, please. These kids are sent to school to get a degree, build character, and play football or some other sport. It’s a complicated picture and replacing the head coach is not the answer after one and a half seasons. It took DKR awhile to get rolling ... don’t forget that.” "

and this second one talks about how Texas High School coaches really want Charlie Strong to succeed.