IS THE SEC WORKING TO KEEP A&M v TEXAS FROM HAPPENING?
First, it was Texas vowing not to play Texas A&M.
That was after the Aggies bolted from the Big 12 to the SEC, leaving Texas to anchor a conference the Longhorns stuck around in only because they thought the Aggies were sticking around, too.
Now, it’s apparently the Aggies – or perhaps the SEC on the Aggies’ behalf – making sure there will be no postseason matchup of two of college football’s most bitter divorcees.
Two sources close to the situation told HornsDigest.com SEC officials have indicated to bowls with SEC and Big 12 tie-ins that the SEC won’t support a Texas vs Texas A&M postseason matchup. In short, A&M has too much to lose from a potential loss.
Right now, the Aggies and Kevin Sumlin are seen as the school to beat in the Lone Star State in recruiting. Why risk diminishing that status with just more than two months until National Signing Day?
Especially when UT and A&M have been head-to-head on so many key recruits.
Because the SEC handpicks which of its schools will play in the Outback, Gator, Belk, Liberty, Music City and Texas bowls, the conference known as the biggest, baddest bully on the block can make sure no fight is made unless they say it’s made.
Shakespeare doesn’t have this much irony. But there’s more.
Texas athletic director Steve Patterson has said since he took the job one year ago that he has no desire to play A&M again in football. Patterson, the GM/Exporter of Texas athletics, said playing A&M doesn’t expand the Longhorns’ marketing and branding opportunities the way a non-conference game in Mexico would.
Texas fans mostly roll their eyes at Patterson’s complete lack of feel for spirit and tradition while carrying out his Gordon Gekko vision of increasing revenue at anyone in burnt orange’s expense - including faculty, students, the marching band and even athletic department employees.
Patterson’s football coach long ago abandoned the company line about avoiding A&M. Strong, tired of hearing on the recruiting trail how Texas is afraid to play A&M, began saying the two, bitter rivals needed to return to the field.
And who knows? Now that it appears the SEC is the one making sure A&M and UT won’t meet, maybe, with the way Patterson likes to shoot from the lip, maybe he’ll come up with some great one-liners on the matter, such as:
“As long as we don’t have to go to that (expletive) College Station to play, I could use some time in Houston to introduce myself to some of our billionaire boosters.”
There are some Texas fans who aren’t quite ready for UT’s first football game against A&M since the Longhorns went to College Station and won the final game of the 125-year series in 2011. They’d rather wait a year or two longer until Texas has more Strong-recruited players.
But something tells me if Vegas was to put out a line on a Texas-Texas A&M bowl game, the result might surprise you.
UT’s defense is playing better than A&M’s offense. And Texas RBs Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown would probably love a shot at A&M’s 105th-ranked run defense (giving up 208.9 yards per game on the ground).
Put all that in Houston’s NRG Stadium (The House Steve Patterson Built … while a member of the Texans’ front office) for the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl and Vegas might just say the Longhorns are the team to beat.
Maybe hotter heads will prevail, and Gekko Patterson will take to sports talk radio to call out the Aggies and SEC the same way he did as AD at Arizona State in calling out Notre Dame publicly in 2013. The Irish wanted to cancel this year’s football game at Arizona State on Nov. 8.
Patterson said no and made some wisecracks about how the Catholic nuns in his hometown of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, wouldn’t have thought much of Notre Dame’s actions.
Maybe Patterson can take a break from scheduling hoops games in China and put some of that aloof, well-coiffed snarkiness into dissing the manhood of the Aggies and SEC. It’s worth a shot, since we already know they are not looking for a fight.
5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TCU … (YOU’LL GET THE OTHER 5 THINGS NEXT WEEK)
#1 … The teams that have given TCU the biggest problems this season have been able to throw the football.
- In TCU’s only loss, Baylor’s Bryce Petty was 28 of 55 passing for 510 yards and 6 TDs with 2 INTs in BU’s 61-58, come-from-behind victory in Waco.
- OU threw for 309 yards and ran for 152 yards in a 37-33 loss to TCU in Fort Worth in a game the Sooners led 31-24 in the 3Q and gave up the game-winning points on a Trevor Knight pick-six.
- Kansas, which led TCU 27-17 in the 3Q on Saturday, threw for 342 yards (with just 76 yards rushing). But the Jayhawks caved in down the stretch, giving up a 69-yard punt return for TD late in the 3Q of a 34-30 TCU win.
TCU is 7th in the Big 12 in pass defense, giving up 255.7 yards per game through the air. But the Horned Frogs have overcome that with a Big 12-leading 17 interceptions.
So if Texas is going to have its best chance to beat the Horned Frogs, the Tyrone Swoopes who showed up against Oklahoma State (24 of 33 passing for 305 yards and 2 TDs, 0 INTs) needs to show up in Austin on Thanksgiving night.
#2 … The results of TCU’s transformation on offense this season have been jaw-dropping.
Most everyone knows the story now about how Gary Patterson decided to scrap his run-first, play-action, pro-style offense after last season by bringing in new co-offensive coordinators.
Doug Meacham, who spent 2005-12 as TEs/IR coach on Mike Gundy’s staff at Oklahoma State before going to Houston as OC in 2013, gets a lot of credit for the structure of the offense.
- 25.1 points per game in 2013 to 45.9 ppg in 2014 … (+20.8 ppg)
- 226 yards passing per game in 2013 to 323.6 yards passing in 2014 … (+97.6 ypg)
- 119 yards rushing per game in 2013 to 218 yards rushing in 2014 (+99 ypg)
For those keeping track at home, that’s a surge in total offense from 345 ypg in 2013 to 541.6 ypg in 2014 (+196.6 ypg).
#3 … TCU QB Trevone Boykin is the turnaround player of the year in college football and may be going to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist.
Last year, Boykin started the season as a WR who caught 26 passes for 204 yards before moving back to QB to split time with QB Casey Pachall. Boykin threw for 7 TDs and 7 INTs on a 4-8 team in 2013.
In 2014, Pachall was gone. But there was speculation Texas A&M graduate transfer QB Matt Joeckel would be the man running this new offense because of his experience in it with the Aggies.
But Boykin, with a chip squarely on his shoulder, set out to prove everyone wrong. And he has with 24 TD passes and just 5 INTs while completing 59.3 percent of his passes.
Boykin is also the team’s second-leading rusher with 122 carries for 548 yards (4.5 ypc) and 7 TDs on the ground.
Against Texas in Austin on Thanksgiving of 2012, Boykin did just enough to beat an anemic Longhorns team, running 10 times for 77 yards while completing 7-of-9 passes for 82 yards and 1 INT in a 20-13 TCU victory.
#4 … Boykin has helped TCU come from behind in the second half of games this season – even when he wasn’t playing well.
- Against Oklahoma, TCU was down 7 in the 3Q, and Boykin, who had 1 INT and 3 fumbles (1 lost) while completing only 52 percent of his passes, converted a third-and-10 on a critical TD drive in the 3Q that tied the game 31-31.
A pick-six by TCU LB Paul Dawson helped cement the 37-33 victory.
- At West Virginia, TCU was down 13 in the 3Q and found itself down 2 points, 30-28, with 2:07 left to play when TCU took possession at its own 24.
Boykin, who completed just 40 percent of his passes with 1 TD and 1 INT, hooked up with WR Kolby Listenbee for 40 yards to the WVU33. After four running plays, including a 6-yard scamper by Boykin, K Jaden Oberkrom delivered a 37-yard, game winning FG for a 31-30 victory as time expired.
- At Kansas, Boykin completed his highest percentage of passes this season (72.2 percent) with 1 TD and 1 INT. But he had to help bail the Horned Frogs out of a 10-point, 3Q deficit because TCU’s defense kept giving up big plays.
Boykin converted third-and-20 with a 26-yard pass to Ty Slanina on a critical 3Q TD drive that helped TCU cut a 27-17 deficit to 27-24. A 69-yard punt return for TD helped TCU take the lead for good in a 34-30 win.
#5 … TCU’s defense is No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 4 nationally in turnover margin (+14).
The Horned Frogs’ defense is led by tackling machine LB Paul Dawson (105 tackles, 15 TFLs, 5 sacks, 3 INTs, 3 fumbles recovered, 2 forced fumbles).
Dawson and Texas’ Jordan Hicks are the two best linebackers in the conference.
THREE THINGS ABOUT THE BIG 12
Florida AD Jeremy Foley always seems to make the call to Stoops first when the Gators have a head-coaching vacancy. Stoops was the defensive coordinator at Florida in 1996 under Steve Spurrier, when the Gators won the national title.
Stoops may have recommended Muschamp to Foley, when Muschamp was hired in Gainesville after the 2010 season. Muschamp, I’m told, went to Mack Brown when he got the UF offer and asked Mack what he should do?
Mack reportedly told Muschamp, “You’re not ready. But you need to take it.”
The only shot Foley had at landing Stoops was if the 16-year OU coach was feeling unappreciated or stale in Norman.
But with QB Baker Mayfield coming off a redshirt in 2015 as well as the returns of LB Frank Shannon and RB Joe Mixon from suspension as well as the addition of Missouri transfer WR Dorial Green-Beckham, Stoops should have some high-impact, new faces next season.
I’ve said it before – the reason OU has three losses this season is because QB Trevor Knight can’t be trusted. He threw pick-sixes in losses to TCU and K-State and a near pick-six to Baylor LB Bryce Hager in a huge, momentum-shifting play early in what turned out to be Stoops’ worst home loss in 16 years.
#2 … WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON AT TEXAS TECH?
Tech interim defensive coordinator Mike Smith went off on Monday to reporters in Lubbock that Matt Wallerstedt (the man Smith replaced) has been giving the Red Raiders’ defensive signals to opponents.
“They have been passed around,” Smith said. “I know other coaches have called, and our signals have been passed around the whole time. All I know is karma’s a bad deal.
“I don’t want to get into what’s going on with all that. But it’s not right. To me, it’s not fair to the kids. So if that’s how that person wants to handle business, they can handle business that way. I sure hope I don’t run into him anytime soon.”
Wallerstedt, who resigned under pressure for “personal reasons” after Tech gave up 438 yards rushing to Arkansas in a 49-28 home loss, denied the allegation in a statement through his lawyer.
“I have not shared with anyone the Red Raiders defensive signals,” Wallerstedt said in a statement, according to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. “I respect the players at Texas Tech and would never do such a thing.
“It sounds like something that’s done in the political arena – blaming someone else for what you now control. Coach Kingsbury and Smith would do well to simply execute their own game plan instead of trying to blame others for what may be their own shortcomings.”
Wow. Talk about getting your guns up!
MY TAKE: Kingsbury needs to get rid of his defensive staff and start over and go find his Ruffin McNeil - a ball-busting, defensive coach who can name his own staff and run that side of the ball.
After the Sugar Bowl selects the Big 12 champion and any conference schools are chosen for the College Football Playoff games, the next Big 12 affiliations are as follows:
- Valero Alamo Bowl, Jan. 2, 5:45 pm CT on ESPN (Pac-12 and Big 12 tie-ins)
THE SKINNY: If either TCU or Baylor is in the College Football Playoff and the other is selected to play in the Sugar Bowl, then the Alamo is likely to pick from either Kansas State or Oklahoma with Texas as a longshot to go to San Antonio a third straight year.
KOD’S PROJECTION AT THE MOMENT: Kansas State vs Arizona State
- Russell Athletic Bowl, Dec. 29, 4:30 pm CT on ESPN (ACC and Big 12 tie-ins)
THE SKINNY: Right now, either OU or K-State projects into this game against either Notre Dame, Duke, Louisville, Georgia Tech or Clemson. But depending on how those teams finish and depending on how Texas finishes, the Longhorns could be in the mix here. (How about a Texas v Louisville matchup?)
KOD’S PROJECTION AT THE MOMENT: Notre Dame vs Oklahoma
- AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, Dec. 29, 8 pm CT on ESPN (SEC and Big 12 tie-ins)
THE SKINNY: Texas is a prime candidate to land in the Texas Bowl. And if the SEC doesn't want A&M to face off with the Longhorns, because the Aggies might have too much to lose from a potential loss, UT could end up facing any number of SEC teams, including Auburn or LSU (or Arkansas, Florida or South Carolina if those teams each win one more game).
Based on what I was told today, the SEC would want to put one of its last teams to become bowl eligible against Texas.
KOD’S PROJECTION AT THE MOMENT: Texas vs Florida
- AutoZone Liberty Bowl, Dec. 29, 1 pm CT on ESPN (SEC and Big 12 tie-ins)
THE SKINNY: West Virginia (6-4) may be the last Big 12 team eligible for a bowl game if Oklahoma State (5-5) doesn't win one of its final two games on the road - at Baylor or at Oklahoma.
KOD’S PROJECTION AT THE MOMENT: West Virginia vs Tennessee (as long as the 5-5 Vols win another game vs Missouri or at Vanderbilt)
* Cactus Bowl, Jan. 2, 9:15 pm CT on ESPN (Pac-12 and Big 12 tie-ins)
THE SKINNY: Unless Oklahoma State (5-5) wins at either Baylor or Oklahoma, the Big 12 will fail to fulfill its bowl tie-ins.
* Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, Jan. 2, 11 am CT on ESPN (Army - depending on eligibility and AAC tie-ins)
THE SKINNY: The Big 12 also would have had a representative in the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl because Army, the bowl's tie in vs the American Athletic Conference, failed to become bowl eligible at 3-7. The Big 12 is Army's alternate in the bowl game.
MY TOP FOUR TEAMS IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL
A rock ‘em, sock ‘em defense, a bruising running game and the best WR in the country have the Tide rolling.
The Seminoles trail their fifth opponent at halftime before coming back to win – at least this time it was on the road vs the talented Miami Hurricanes.
The Bears beat TCU, gave Bob Stoops his worst-ever home loss and have the best run defense in the Big 12. Might be time to take BU seriously.
FIVE I’D INVITE TO NEW YORK RIGHT NOW
Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Is the Heisman his to lose?
Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama
He's the best WR in the country and backs it up by making plays in the biggest games – like the 8 catches and 1 TD in Bama’s win over Mississippi State
Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
Don’t blame him for the near-loss at Kansas. He threw for 330 yards and was part of the solution.
Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Despite the torn ACL in his left knee suffered last weekend in a victory over Auburn, Gurley was the best RB in college football this season (no offense Melvin Gordon).
KOD’s GO THE OTHER WAY PICKS:
Oklahoma State at Baylor (-27) … The Bears have had two weeks to prepare to pulverize Mike Gundy’s Cowboys.
KOD’S PREDICTION: Baylor 51, Oklahoma State 17
Texas Tech at Iowa State (-1) … Cyclones are hoping they got the right version of Tech’s defensive signals.
KOD’S PREDICTION: Iowa State 24, Texas Tech 20
Kansas State at West Virginia (-2) … Could these coaches be any different? Heck, could their hairstyles be any different? At WVU, the saying goes, “It’s not over until the combover.”
KOD’S PREDICTION: K-State 28, WVU 27
Kansas at Oklahoma (NL) … Could the Jayhawks be looking ahead to Kansas State next week? (I crack myself up. Just checking to see if you’re awake.)
KOD’S PREDICTION: OU 35, Kansas 17
Ole Miss (-3) at Arkansas … This has the smell of a Razorback ambush.
KOD’s PREDICTION: Arkansas 17, Ole Miss 15
Arizona at Utah (-4) … Reports say Rich Rodriguez won’t be considered for the Florida job. That can’t make him happy, so he takes out his frustrations on the Utes. Wrong team favored!
KOD’S PREDICTION: Arizona 35, Utah 21
Boston College at Florida State (-19) … We know the drill, FSU will fall behind at halftime and then come back to win … or not … OK, they do.
KOD’S PREDICTION: FSU 27, Boston College 20
Minnesota at Nebraska (-10) … Can Bo Pelini get the Huskers back from that 408-yard trampling by Melvin Gordon? I’ll say no.
KOD’S PREDICTION: Minnesota 24, Nebraska 20
Missouri at Tennessee (-3.5) … Butch Jones and the Vols needs this one to become bowl eligible. Is that enough to put the Vols over the top? Nah. I’m not doubting Matty Mauk and the Pinkelnator at this point.
KOD’S PREDICTION: Mizzou 24, Tennessee 23
A FEW LAST THINGS …
#1 … Did I tell you last week Green Bay would bring the Mark Sanchez lovefest in for a crash-landing?
#2 … Here are Bovada’s odds on who will be the next head coach of the Florida Gators:
Mike Gundy 4/1
Jim McElwain 9/2
Bob Stoops 11/2
Dan Mullen 11/2
Rich Rodriguez 7/1
Mike Shanahan 7/1
Steve Spurrier 8/1
Hugh Freeze 8/1
Gary Patterson 12/1
Gus Malzahn 12/1
So if Gundy indeed ends up being the guy, watch for Todd Graham to get himself in the mix for the OSU job.
#3 … Went to go see Dumb and Dumberer. ... In a word: ... forced.
#4 … Five “Bet your checks” …
1) Do the Seahawks make the playoffs?
(I guess I’m late to the party about the rumors that Golden Tate was allowed to leave Seattle for Detroit because he apparently was involved with Russell Wilson’s wife, causing Wilson to get divorced.
When you add in the Percy Harvin conflict with Wilson, leading to Harvin’s departure to the Jets, you can see why Seattle’s locker room looks like most fraternity houses after the weekend.)
2) Is there a bigger drama queen in the NFL right now than RG3?
(Can we now pick up where Colt McCoy left off in Jerryworld?)
3) Does Adrian Peterson play a down this season after being suspended without pay for the remainder of the season (six games) by the NFL?
(Peterson is appealing.)
4) I’m in the final 8 of my Knockout Pool and get in the money if I can get in the top 6. (I took Green Bay last week, when 16 people took Denver over St. Louis.)
It becomes hard to trust any picks at this point in the pool, but I’m going to step out and go with Indy at home over Jacksonville this week. Call me crazy.
Totally changing subjects:
5) The Texas men’s basketball team is already really fun to watch. OK, let’s be honest, freshman Myles Turner is already really fun to watch.
Bet your check: We get more than one season of Turner at Texas?
#5 … Love how Charlie Strong said the aftermath of the Kansas State game was probably the turning point to the season.
Strong said he was totally disgusted with the team's lifeless performance against the Wildcats, self-destructing on offense and giving up big plays on third down on defense in a 23-0 shutout loss.
“We sat in the locker room, and I expressed my feelings to the team; expressed my feelings to the seniors,” Strong said of what he considers rock bottom, when his team fell to 3-5 this season.
Since then, Texas has won three straight games (at Texas Tech, WVU, at Oklahoma State) and become bowl eligible.
How do you think Charlie expressed his feelings to the team?
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