May 12, 2010

The Ticket City Locker Room Report

Q: (Texas8891) - It has become clear that Mack and the Longhorns have changed the landscape of recruiting in the Lone Star state. It seems that they are selecting more than recruiting. For the past two years, they have essentially completed their next recruiting class before the ink is even dry on the previous class. I am intrigued by how Texas' success has impacted the Oklahoma recruiting approach and what message Bob Stoops is using with recruits in Texas. How does he combat the runaway train that seems to be Texas recruiting at this point?

A: All good questions and ones that I'm not sure have a lot of answers. You're exactly right, Mack has changed the landscape in recruiting to such an extent that every school that recruits this area has had to change their way of doing business, whether it means offering earlier, going elsewhere for talent or simply getting out of the way and waiting to take whatever the Longhorns have left behind. When you look at the Sooners and their current approach, their plan of attack seems to include a little of all three of the avenues listed.

For the most part, Stoops and Co. isn't much different than Texas A&M, Texas Tech or any other school that heavily recruits this state. They've certainly been forced to expand their recruiting territories because Texas' leftovers aren't going to cut it on the field, which is one of the reasons why the Sooners have gone into states like California and Florida. More than anything else, they've emerged as mostly helpless against the recruiting monster that Texas has become in recent years.

For years, Stoops and the rest of the schools that recruit against Texas in this state used the same card against the Longhorns - if you want to play for championships and play in big games, don't go to Austin. Well, that line of logic has been blown to pieces in the last five or six seasons and the Sooners don't have any new tricks up their sleeve. Texas already had built in academic, social and networking advantages over Oklahoma and just about every other school they compete against, and now they've emerged as the top football program. The answer at this point for Oklahoma is that there isn't an answer… they are taking their butt-kicking like a champion because they have zero recourse.

That doesn't mean that they won't get good players from Texas. It simply means they aren't beating Texas for many of them.

For instance, if we look at the recently completed 2010 recruiting classes, the Longhorns were able to sign 15 of the state's top 24 players from the LSR Top 100, while Oklahoma nabbed two, with neither representing true targets for the Longhorns. If we look at the 2011 class, the Longhorns have once again obliterated Oklahoma in the state of Texas, landing 12 of the early top 25 on the LSR, while the Sooners have once again been held to two - and once again both of the commitments that Oklahoma has secured occurred because the Longhorns didn't offer.

Bob Stoops goes to bed every night knowing that Mack can drink his milkshake at any time, at any place - whenever he wants.

Q: (Mars512) - My question is - What do you think Mack's back-up plan or plan B is in case they don't land RBs Aaron Green or Malcolm Brown? Also, as far as Conference realignment is concerned, when do you see all this shaking out? Who will be the first to make a move?

Thanks, I thoroughly enjoy OB, the product you and crew offer us is the best on the internet. Thanks!

A: Let's start with the first question. At this point, I'm not sure if there is a plan B or a back-up plan. There's obviously a lot of concern about the possibility of swinging and missing on both of the top prospects, but the unwillingness at this point to put a Plan B into place should tell you what they currently think of their plight as it relates to Plan A. My sources are very confident that when the dust settles, they'll close the deal with Malcolm Brown.

I think we all used to think that there was room for three running backs in this class and that very well could be the case, if they land Green and Brown, which is obviously the best-case scenario. The most likely scenario has the Longhorns taking two backs in this class - Brown and North Mesquite big back Joe Bergeron. That is Plan B.

So, the real question is - what is Plan C? I'm still not sure there's a true answer, in part because there are a lot of options, and that bridge likely wouldn't be crossed unless they miss on Brown this summer when he announces his decision.

As far as conference realignment is concerned, I'm of the opinion the smart money has large pieces from the Big 12 and the Pac-10 joining together in a new 16-team super conference. When the dust settles, I think that is what's going to happen. My bet on the first move is Missouri - they've been pretty vocal about the direction that they are headed and I still have my doubts about the validity of Nebraska representing a true option for the Big 10. In my mind, their profile in this new world of college athletics (where TV sets means everything) isn't nearly what they believe it to be.

Q: (Golfpr3145) - Geoff, I know speculation is that we will get Malcolm Brown. What if we miss on him? Does that alter our staff's approach to the RB recruiting in the future? Also, if we do miss, what are the most logical options left for the RB position? Do you think Williams will come back into the picture or does that swing more weight with Green?

A: Ok, I think I can see what's going on here. You guys are getting a little nervous about Brown, which is why at least six questions about his recruitment popped up this week. Take my advice - r-e-l-a-x. Let's think about this in real world terms. Based on what Brown told us this week, let's look at the primary competition: Florida State, Alabama and Oklahoma.

Oklahoma is already bringing out the white towel because they've seen the writing on the wall, which is exactly why they made their big move on Brandon Williams. Meanwhile, are you really worried about the other two? If mom wants to watch her boy every single week, is she going to be able to easily achieve that if he's in Tuscaloosa or Tallahassee? Don't over-think this one. Just let the kid take his time and go at his own speed.

Q: (Old Tascosa) - Asked this of Chip sort of, but the BB Team seemed to have significant problems with chemistry and game strategy or what ever you call it. Will next year's team, returning and incoming, have a more cohesive and consistent attitude and approach with agreement among the coaches and the players? How would you assess their prospects?

A: Great questions. Ironically, I had a chance to talk with two different sources on Tuesday about these very issues. I think the elephant in the room that was never discussed last season while we were still in the thick of the collapse is that there was absolutely zero leadership among the player ranks last season. It's not popular to say, but it's true. Damion James and Dexter Pittman were very good players, but if they were in a 1980's hair band, they'd play the drums. They aren't lead singers. Steve Perry they are not. On top of that, Justin Mason (a player that everyone thought would be Royal Ivey Jr. four years ago) was lost in space and never emerged in that kind of role, either.

So, with all of that leadership missing, there's a feeling that conflicting agendas starting creeping up during the season. The good news is that my sources in the program are very excited because they believe that the right mix of players are returning and that they've bought into Rick Barnes' plan. Also, without naming names, there's also a feeling that the right mix of players has departed.

Most important, the feeling from within the program is that Corey Joseph and Tristan Thompson will arrive as players ready to buy into Rick's program and plan. There's no question that there was some bad juju going on in the basketball program last season, but the attitude reigning supreme right now is one of optimism.

Q: (jimbo2fly) - I think the shake up is bound to happen, the one constant in all these talks is MONEY. Here's what I think an unforeseen consequence will be if a re-alignment does occur. I would bet a lot of money that the government will then move forward on a bill that will take away the tax exempt status of the universities. Do you think that is a possibility? Have you heard anyone close to the re-alignment talks give that any consideration?

A: I expect the major universities to do everything in their power to maintain their current status with the government - by any means necessary.

Q: (Sydney15) - Do any of the linebackers on the current or future UT roster hold a candle to Derrick Johnson and if so how much so? I remember Derrick's first game and he looked like some skinny kid being shot out of a cannon. It was amazing!

Do any of the current or future HORNS remind you of the defensive law firm of HAMPTON and ROGERS??

One last thing: How do you feel about Jeremy Hills becoming the starting tail back at some point in the year? I as a pure runner I think he would very good. He's fast and explosive at times, however it remains to be seen if he can hold on to the ball? What do you think?

A: I'm big fans of current Texas linebackers Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson, but I don't know that either hold a candle to Johnson as a player, even if both will play in the NFL. I suppose it really comes down to your definition of "holding a candle to". I'm of the opinion that Johnson is the VY of the linebacker position at Texas, so comparing mere mortals against his memory is unfair to everyone involved. Even incoming linebackers Tevin Jackson and Jordan Hicks have All-America potential, but we should probably find a different measuring stick than No.11.

As for players that might remind me of Casey Hampton and Shaun Rogers, I think Kheeston Randall is emerging into that kind of player at defensive tackle and there's a flood of incoming linemen that have elite-level upside. Watching that position develop in the next three to four years will be a lot of fun because the Longhorns have been stacking the cupboard with playmakers.

Finally, I don't know that Hills will ever start at Texas at running back, despite flashing talent throughout his career at various times. From a realistic standpoint, 2010 doesn't make a lot of sense because he's already well down the depth chart behind Tre' Newton, Fozzy Whittaker, Chris Whaley, Cody Johnson and maybe even Vondrell McGee. I just don't know where the carries are going to come from or how he earns the game snaps. Personally, I'd give him a bigger workload and at least a bigger shot for playing time based on the few flashes I've seen, but the coaches have seen him every day and they are looking for an upgrade at the position. Certainly, they would know better than any of us on this subject and they apparently don't believe he's an answer.

Q: (Jettrink) -If there is a movement away from the NCAA by the major universities, how would that impact the following:

* Scholarship limits. Would they increase them, or do away with them altogether?

* Stipends for Student Athletes. With all the new money floating around, it seems ridiculous that a student athlete has to scrounge for date money if they are honest.

* Graduation rates. Would this be something that would be more strict or less?

* Playoffs. I have always heard that one reason that the college presidents didn't want a playoff was because they didn't want the NCAA getting all the money. Would playoffs be more or less likely?

A: I'd almost be stunned if the University of Texas is still sanctioned by the NCAA governing body as we know it today in 2020. There's so much unrest and distrust from a lot of schools towards the NCAA that you better believe they are keeping one eye at all times on looking for a new way of doing business and a new way of controlling it.

In my mind, one of the huge consequences of all of this conference realignment is the death of the NCAA as we know it today. I expect the big boys that sit at the big tables to start their own governing body, one that looks out for their interests and needs over all else, first and foremost. Translation: this new governing body isn't going to make big decisions based on the needs and wants of Delaware State's of the world.

My guess is that we wouldn't see a ton if changes in the scholarship limits, but we might see some tweaking to the way graduation rates are currently used. Also, the concept of a playoff would obviously be on any new agenda, but I'm not sure that the athlete stipend is something that anyone in college athletics is really ready to deal with. That's a game-changer of the largest variety and I would imagine we'll be deep into the development of this new frontier before we see that bridge crossed, although the affiliation of power players makes the possibility of something like that a true possibility.

Q: (JetFlo19) - Hopefully this question makes sense.

I have been thinking about everything that has been going on in the athletic program and wondered something, since I am not like the weathered few on the board that have been around for a while. As far as the big 3 sports at the school (Basketball, Baseball and Football), has there ever been a time of success like we are seeing recently in the history of Texas Longhorn sports? The dominance since I have followed in winning games/championships and grabbing top players is just crazy at the moment. It just makes me think that the athletic program as a whole is in the best shape it could ever be in and we are in spoiled times.

A: The answer your looking for is no. There has never been an era of success like the one we're smack dab in the middle of right now for the Longhorns. As the Texas SID office reported this week, the Longhorns have achieved the 10-20-40 plateau in wins within the big three sports (football/basketball/baseball) in eight of the last nine years. That is such a remarkable stat when you compare it to the rest of the nation and realize that the same feat has only been accomplished twice by one other school (Florida). The Gators have a chance to get there a third time if their baseball team can win a few more games this season, but outside of that, the Longhorns are doing something that is transcendent and new in the history of college athletics.

Q: (principle) -Please list which players start at DE, which players will play in a supportive role and please list players who will be moved to a new position:

Cedric Reed
Greg Daniels
Jackson Jeffcoat
Reggie Wilson
Tevin Mims
Alex Okafor

A: That's nearly an impossible question to answer, but I do feel like Okafor is going to be a starter and the trio of Jeffcoat, Wilson and Reed will eventually get there at defensive end. Mims looks like a guy that is headed towards a full-time spin down to defensive tackle and I'd guess that Daniels ends up being a guy that can play inside or out - like Lamarr Houston. Is Texas loaded along the defensive line or what?

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