Longhorn Leap - The unofficial official podcast of UT athletics

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The Cyclones are coming into town so the Leap had to do some quick research to find out what their team is like. Topics include Matt Nordgren news, Kirk Herbstreit’s full-blown aggie comments, ISU’s QB who transferred from an unusual school, and Lil’Jordan news. In the Leap Around the Nation segment the guys talk Tennessee/Alabama, Ole Miss/Arkansas, the amazing hair coaching matchup between Kingsbury and Holgorsen, and Ohio State/Wisconsin. Lastly the guys give their opinions on which games to tease.

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It has become the prevailing notion that when it comes to your favorite sports team, you need to be patient with the coaching. It seems that sports fandom culture has morphed into two categories; intelligent knowledgeable fans who know better than to call for a coach’s head (generally this is the type of person who values advanced metrics when thinking about football, loves betting on home underdogs, might wear prescription-less glasses, and probably wear skinny jeans) and impatient moronic unknowledgeable fans who want to fire a guy at the first sign of struggle (this type person values how much “heart” a team displays, blames refs for being biased against his or her team every game, might watch games at their neighborhood Chili’s, and probably wears a T-shirt that’s tucked into jorts). However, what if there are shades of gray? What if one blanket notion isn’t correct in every instance?

 

After Charlie Strong’s first season when the Longhorns went 6-6 at the end of the regular season (6-7 after the humiliating loss in the Texas Bowl to Arkansas where the Horns’ offense amassed a measly 59 yards of total offense) every Texas fan I know, including myself, cited how Nick Saban went 6-6 his first year at Alabama (the Tide finished 7-6 with a six-point victory over Colorado in the Independence Bowl). The fact that Strong and Saban finished the regular season with the same record gave the fan base hope that soon, just like Alabama, Texas would be back to prominence. Hope was alive and patience was preached and accepted.

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Then the 2015 season came and with it was the much anticipated opener vs the Fighting Irish in South Bend. With the entire country watching the Horns were blown out of the stadium only conjuring up 3 points and 163 yards of offense. Afterwards, Charlie Strong removed play calling duties from Shawn Watson, a man who most Texas fans didn’t want Charlie to bring over with him from Louisville. The rest of the ’15 season was a fiasco with few wins but more losses. The next blowout loss came just four weeks later when TCU stomped Texas 50-7. The Horned Frogs were up 47-0 at the end of the 3rd quarter before taking their foot off the peddle. That was the first time I, an unabashed Charlie apologist, began to doubt if he was the right choice for Texas. I didn’t feel good about it because I genuinely admire and like the guy. However, the evidence was mounting that our football team was not well coached. We were making special teams mistakes every game, the penalty yardage was accumulating, and there didn’t seem to be improvement in any phase of the game. Then when all hope was seemingly lost, we beat OU. It was Charlie’s signature win and I was extremely pleased I didn’t voice my inner doubts about him being the man to get Texas back. Seeing Charlie smile wearing the Golden Hat was a moment I’ll never forget. We followed it up with another win vs Kansas State at home, a team that Texas has struggled with since the inception of the BigXII. It seemed like things were heading in the right direction and that our patience was paying off. Unfortunately, the 2 game winning streak snapped the following week in Aimes, Iowa. Texas lost 24-0 to a team with significantly inferior talent and finished the season with a 5-7 record.

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Charlie was now 3 games under .500 in his 2 years at Texas. However, uncharacteristically Texas fans were demanding patience with Strong. Everyone understood that Mack Brown left the program devoid of talent and in a state of disrepair. Everyone understood that it would take time for a team littered with underclassmen in the 2 deep to play consistently well. Strong and Texas closed the recruiting season with an emphatic bang heard over the college football world. Texas was again winning recruiting battles with Baylor, the Aggies, and out of state poachers like Stanford. Longhorn nation was optimistic that soon the recruiting victories would turn into on the field victories.

 

The 2016 season started as did the 2015 season, with a matchup vs Notre Dame. This time it was at the friendly confines of DKR Memorial Stadium and the home crowd was abuzz with the thought of a program turning victory in the national spotlight on a Sunday night when no other team was playing. Texas pulled out a thrilling double overtime win and most proclaimed Texas was back. It had happened. Texas was a national power again. I definitely fell into that camp. Notre Dame was terrific last year and they were preseason number 10. Yeah Texas gave up 444 yards to them but who cares? We won! Aggies complained about how UT went from unranked to number 11 in the polls. However, it made all the sense in the world to Texas fans. Notre Dame was a good team, our offense looked great, Charlie is a great defensive mind so no worries on the 444 yards given up, and our recruiting classes were proving their mettle. Our patience was rewarded!

 

It’s hard to believe that was just 5 weeks ago. Since then (when playing power 5 conference teams, so excluding the UTEP game) Texas has given up exponentially more yardage to opponents each week. 507 yards to Cal, 555 yards to Oklahoma State, and 672 to Oklahoma. Charlie’s overall record at Texas now stands at 13-17.

 

Red McCombs, one of Texas’ most high profile boosters, made his feelings on Charlie clear when Texas hired him in January of 2014. He said the decision to install Strong as the head coach was a “kick in the face” in a radio interview. He didn’t think it added up that Strong was our head coach but thought that he was “a fine coach” and “would make a great position coach, maybe a coordinator.” Many deduced that McCombs’ thoughts and feelings were racially charged as Strong was the University’s first African-American head football coach. It made the majority of the fan base like Coach Strong even more.

 

The issue of patience came to a head last Saturday on College Gameday when Kirk Herbstreit said the environment at Texas was a cesspool while referring to the boosters and fan support. He said Texas’ culture chased away Mack Brown and it would chase away the next guy too. Herbstreit even went on to say that he didn’t know who would even want to coach at Texas. I honestly believe that he said those comments because he was pandering to the Aggie faithful in College Station, because his remarks have absolutely no basis in reality. The program is in the state it’s in because UT didn’t fire Mack Brown soon enough. When it was clear the game was passing him by, Texas stuck by Mack and in doing so the program suffered. That’s when it was a cesspool. When UT hired a qualified Black head coach and Red McCombs said his demeaning feelings about it, that’s when it was a cesspool. When Strong had to come into a scenario where he had to kick many players off the team for various behavioral issues, that’s when it was a cesspool.

 

Longhorn nation’s issue with Charlie has never been an issue of support. We love the guy. No one is on Red McCombs side when it comes to Charlie Strong, and McCombs certainly doesn’t speak for the whole fan base. Are Texas fans happy with Charlie’s 13-17 start?  Hell no. In episode 5 of Longhorn Leap (subscribe on iTunes!) my cohost, Chris Myrick, told me some troubling stats about Charlie’s first few seasons on the 40 acres. In Strong’s first 29 games at UT (through the OSU game this year), he lost 10 of those games by 15 points or more. For context Myrick stated how Mack Brown didn’t lose his 10th game by 15 or more until the 2009 National Championship, which was his 154th game. So the issue is not just the record. Sure the record is bad; however, the main problem is in the details. The special teams have been a mess for 3 years now, the defense is giving up yards at an alarming rate, and fundamentals like tackling and committing penalties have all been long standing issues under Strong. I have been a Charlie Strong apologist for years but I don’t want to turn into the emperor with no clothes who doesn’t acknowledge the current state of things.

 

Charlie has been told by the administration that he will not be fired during the season. He’s earned that through his hard work in what was probably a no win situation taking over the mess Mack left behind. Hopefully he earns the opportunity to continue as head coach after this season. However, if he does not it won’t be because the fan base didn’t support him. It won’t be because we think like Red McCombs and believe he shouldn’t have been hired in the first place and it definitely won’t be because we didn’t have patience. I think of myself as the “intelligent” fan who preaches patience, but there are always shades of gray, and hopefully burnt orange. Hook’Em.

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It was a rough ending to the ou game, but the guys still managed to put themselves together enough to talk about it. Topics include the almost record breaking ineptitude by the defense, D’Onta Foreman’s greatness, and Shane Buechelle calling the ‘Texas-ou game’ the ‘ou-Texas game’. Finally, in the leap around the nation segment, the guys talked Washington’s blowout over Oregon and who Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer remind them of.

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What a horrible week of college gambling that was.  I managed to pitch a shut out going 0-4 on my picks last week and over the last two weeks I’m now an atrocious 1-7.  I should be ashamed of myself.  On the plus side, I got married last weekend and spent the entire week in Hawaii which lessened the blow somewhat.  I may just start picking names out of hat or something because literally any system of making picks would work better than mine has the last two weeks.  But like any good captain, I plan to go down with the ship.  Here are this week’s picks:
Toledo @ Eastern Michigan: Toledo -17
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Value: 83
Our prediction models like the Rockets to blow the doors off Eastern Michigan this week despite playing on the road.  Toledo is a much more talented team top to bottom and has a potent offense which is averaging 45 points a game. Eastern Michigan plays out of a city named Ypsilanti, Michigan, which should tell you everything you need to know about the level of talent on that team. Toledo wins big.
 
Bet: 1 unit
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Colorado @ USC: Under 64
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Value: 97 (Bet of the week)
USC has looked like a different offense after switching QBs three games into the season.  New QB Sam Darnold is throwing for 100 more yards per game compared to Max Browne, is running for touchdowns, and has yet to throw an INT.  Despite that, Colorado boasts the 13th ranked defense in the country and should limit the Trojans offensively. USC’s defensive front demolished ASU last week and if they can repeat that kind of performance it should limit Colorado’s scoring potential.
 
Bet: 2 units
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Washington @ Oregon: Oregon +9
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Value: 87
Classic let down game for Washington.  Fresh off of smoking Stanford last week they play cross state rival on the road.  Even though Oregon has been shitty this year, they have beat the Huskies the last twelve times they played and won all of those games except one by more then 17 points.  Washington wins by a late field goal or touchdown and Oregon covers.
Bet: 1 unit
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UCLA @ Arizona State: Arizona State +10
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I keep going to the well with Arizona State and it keeps not working. But if there’s anything I’ve learned about gambling it’s that if something you’re doing isn’t working – keep doing it. This may explain why I’m 1-7 over the last two weeks.  I’m taking the points at home and if the Sundevils don’t cover I’m breaking it off with them and we’re never getting back together.
Bet: 1 unit
 
Of note, our prediction models love the Sooners -10 versus Texas.  Anyone who’s watched Texas at all this year probably understands why that’s a good pick, but I refuse to commit the cardinal sin of picking against my team in any fashion.  We’re 2-2 and our coach is probably getting fired soon, but OU still sucks.
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Nothing is better than the original…
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Last Week: 0-4
Overall: 4-11-1

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The Red River Shootout is upon us! Topics include strolling down memory lane with our favorite games, getting you updated on who’s injured and active, making fun of the Stoops brothers, pondering how many times Texas will get 7 points after scoring a touchdown, and the leap around the nation segment where the guys about other big games this weekend.

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Much anticipated sequels rarely live up to the original, however this podcast episode is crazy good. The guys talk about what record Coach Strong needs in the remaining 8 games to save his job, what options @chuckfnstrong has if Charlie is canned, and then they leap around the nation and hit on Washington’s big win and their horrible non conference schedule. What’s the playoff picture looking like now?

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Quick column this week as I’m busy getting drunk on a beach in Hawaii for my honeymoon. I continued my ice cold start to the year going 1-3 last week (my nfl picks are 8-3! I swear! Please believe me!), so a viable strategy could be Costanza’ing my picks and doing the opposite of what I recommend. Here’s this weeks losers:

Eastern Michigan @ Bowling Green: Bowling Green -2.5
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Value: 100
 
Bet: 2 units
 
Here we go again with bowling green. After letting me down in a big way 2 weeks ago the prediction models again love the Falcons this week. Like erection lasting longer then 4 hours love. God help me.
Navy @ Air Force: Navy +7

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Value: 93
Bet: 1 unit  
 
The ocean vs the sky! Wind vs. water! Falcons versus boat people! The prediction models seem to really like Navy this year and continue that trend picking them as a road underdog.
Memphis @ Ole Miss: Memphis +14.5

Memphis defensive back Dontrell Nelson (10) breaks up a pass intended for Mississippi wide receiver Laquon Treadwell  (1) in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Value: 97
Bet: 1 unit
 
The data likes Memphis to keep it closer then expected on the road against Ole Miss this week. Ole Miss is pretty pissed about losing to Memphis last year, but they should be in for a letdown after the beat down they laid on Georgia last week.
Arizona St. @ USC: ASU +10.5

Sep 28, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils defensive tackle Will Sutton (90) celebrates with defensive end Davon Coleman (43) after sacking USC Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler (6) during the first half at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Value: 93
 
Bet: 1 unit
 
Just from an eyeball test 10.5 points is lot to give to a 4-0 team from a major conference playing a 1-3 team, even on the road. Even if USC is better then their record suggests, I’ll take the points.
Last Week: 1-3
Overall: 4-7-1

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Last weekend we had the privilege to meet the aggie meme guy. As mentioned in episode 4  of the podcast (Longhorn Leap, you can subscribe on iTunes, or soundcloud), when you google dumb aggie fan, this guy’s picture pops up first. Ironically he’s now a doctor, so even though he’s an aggie, he is far from dumb. He is also a really nice guy and a great sport about his internet infamy. Bottom line is that everyone who truly cares about a team has had that look on their face at some point. I think that’s why that picture is so hilarious, because even though I was probably really happy with whatever inspired that look on his face, I empathize with him as a sports fan.

When Paul and I approached him at the wedding reception of our mutual friend, he was extremely personable and gladly talked to us about that fateful moment. When asked what was going through his mind he said, and I’m paraphrasing here, I just couldn’t believe what was happening. Now I was a few drinks in at a wedding reception mind you but I told him how we were anxiously awaiting this meeting and asked him if he would take some pictures with Paul making that face. He obliged. We are very thorough here at the Longhorn Leap so we got pictures from different angles. Enjoy!

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We’d like to thank Aggie Meme Guy for being such a great sport. We’d also like to thank him for providing us with the original meme that makes us laugh every time we use it. Hopefully he never makes this face as a physician.

 

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Data Dan took advantage of the bye week and got married so the guys took the show on the road to Dallas. Topics include how many carries Foreman and Warren will get, how many touchdown passes Okie State will throw, and @ChuckFnStrong tweets. At the 19:o1 mark Daniel interviewed Paul Kittrell about the then upcoming Arkansas/A&M game.