4 Down Territory

Hooked:  Fall of Texas Football

All Time NBA Starting 5

USC Coaching Vacancy

To Be or Not to be: Honest in your Press Conference

By Levi Dunagan 

I want to thank all of you for reading our blog this week.  It was our first week and it means a lot to me that so many of you took the time to do so.  We will strive to make the blog better.  I am thankful for the feedback I received last week.  It will only make the blog better going forward.  Sam and I appreciate you guys taking the time out of your day and want this to be something that is worthwhile.

1st down:  Texas Football 

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It was not so long ago that the Texas Longhorns were close to the top of the college football world.  Mack Brown’s team had defeated USC in one of the greatest national championship games of all-time, arguably the most memorable in the BCS era.  The Longhorns would fall short in 2009 to the University of Alabama and since then things have not been pleasant in Texas.

The Texas job offers it’s coach tremendous opportunity for success due to its immense wealth, both fiscally and in recruiting.  Under Mack Brown, Texas has had a lot of success when the Longhorns had an elite quarterback.  However, inconsistent play at the quarterback position has been the common denominator in recent years.  Brown notably didn’t offer Robert Griffin III or Johnny Manziel a scholarship at the quarterback position.  Brown also missed out on fictitious Dillon Panther star Jason Street, despite having a prior relationship with Panther coach Eric Taylor!  Is this the only reason for the Longhorn drop off?  The answer is a resounding “yes.”

Brown let the last two Heisman winners to slip through his fingers due to his own reluctance to play either at quarterback, preferring to go with traditional ideas of what a “Texas Quarterback” should be.  In recent weeks, rumors have surfaced that Brown didn’t bother to call Jameis Winston back.  Winston was forthcoming about his interest in playing quarterback for the Longhorns.  After all, Winston had just won the Elite 11 challenge and was arguably the most talented quarterback in the country.  Winston is now leading the Florida State Seminoles, putting up fantastic numbers, and entering the Heisman conversation.

If Brown misses out on a third Heisman winner would it be the worst blunder in major college football recruiting history?  I think a case could easily be made that it would be.  So Longhorn fans, if you want to know where all of your wins have slipped away to, turn on your television sets to reels of Manziel and Winston leading their teams to victory each weekend.  I hear that Matt Saracen, Street’s replacement at Dillon, is available and would love a shot at Ash’s job.  Mack Brown is yet to pick up the phone, as he is currently on “hold” trying to get in touch with John Moxon.

2nd Down:  All-Time NBA Starting 5 

In a typical situation, someone might try to convince you which players deserve to be on this list by strictly using statistics versus words.  I am going to attempt to use the latter of which to explain each of my selections.  Let us hope that the confines of the English language are not too crippling to my efforts.

Point Guard:  Earvin “Magic” Johnson

Is there any debate to this being one of the greatest nicknames in all of sports?  The man is an NBA legend, business tycoon, and has a wife named “Cookie.”  Johnson was fortuitous not only with his own nickname, but he gets to be married to a woman with the same name as a delicious dessert?  You can pencil him in as a surefire selection onto my list.

Shooting Guard:  Michael Jordan

The greatest player of all time is an easy choice.  Jordan’s decision to star in Space Jam however, was not an easy one.  In what is known as the worst officiated game of all time, Jordan led his team of cartoons against a team of other cartoons.  This makes him the greatest cartoon basketball player of all time as well.

Small Forward:  Larry Bird

Bird is essentially Jimmy Chitwood, the often-misunderstood star of the Hoosiers movie.  A sweet shooting stroke and perpetually gross mustache led Bird to stardom.  Bird later suffered from numerous injuries, one of which is believed to be a sore back after carrying the Indiana State Sycamores to the NCAA title.

Power Forward:  Lebron James

Long before Stephen A. Smith could berate the television set screaming his name, Lebron was destined for stardom.  Lebron was nicknamed “King James” as a teenager.  The top player in the country, Lebron spurned colleges in favor of “taking his talents” to the NBA.  Lebron has won MVP awards, NBA championships, and even played basketball with Chris Bosh (known as the first ever dinosaur to play in the NBA).

Center:  Shaquille O’Neal

The most controversial selection of my team, I will need you to be patient while I explain.  I want you to remember O’Neal in his prime.  An absolute physical specimen from LSU, Shaquille used his tremendous frame to out muscle NBA players for years.  O’Neal was the centerpiece to numerous championships and was the reason for rule changes in the NBA.  So fearsome was O’Neal in the height of his career that teams employed the “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy.

Let me be clear.  Teams were so lost and powerless as to how to stop O’Neal that they could only think to foul him.

O’Neal wasn’t immune to the desire to take his talents to the big screen.  O’Neal remains the genie in a bottle that you wouldn’t want to rub in the film, Kazaam.  O’Neal also tried his hand at rapping, law enforcement, and reality television.  It remains unclear if America was ready for any of the things I witnessed during the prime of Shaquille O’Neal aka The Diesel aka The Big Show aka The Big Cactus aka The Big Shamrock.

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3rd Down:  USC Coaching Vacancy

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As you all might have heard, Lane Kiffin’s days at USC are over.  I am disappointed, as it seemed that for years, Kiffin could simply get coaching jobs despite doing absolutely nothing to deserve them.  Kiffin was, in essence a bank teller who succeeds in his duties and then is promoted to CFO.  The meteoric rise of Kiffin always inspired me to think that maybe one day I would get a call to host my own talk show at ESPN.

Sadly, Kiffin’s dream rise up the ranks has come to an end.  Kiffin lost his job in part due to mishaps as a coach.  I do think it is worth mentioning that the USC sanctions did have an adverse result upon his record there.  So before the ink dries on Kiffin’s buyout check, I want to speculate on who might be the next coach at Southern Cal.

The name that I have heard is current St. Louis Rams coach, Jeff Fisher.  Fisher played wide receiver at USC and has had success in the NFL.  Fisher took the Tennessee Titans to the Super Bowl and has resurrected a Rams team that was in dismay upon his arrival.  The only issue with this move is that Fisher is currently earning $7,000,000 per year.  The interest on USC’s makes sense; after all, he would be a tremendous upgrade.  Would Fisher be interested in coaching at USC?  USC is still under NCAA sanctions and he would have to settle for less money.

Do any of us really see that happening?  Fisher is overqualified for the college ranks; he would make less money, and inherit a program in turmoil.  So unless he won “Most School Spirit” while at USC, I am thinking this is not going to happen.  The decision on the next head coach will be a difficult one.  However, I feel an obligation to let USC know that I am available.  I excel under pressure and look good in red.  I enjoy beautiful weather and football.  If the job must be filled, I will burden the cost of accepting the position at USC.

4th down:  Player Press Conferences

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We have all heard players say things during their press conferences that make us cringe.  Some players will guarantee a win and boast of what will happen the following week, only to fall short on the field.  The “marionette” type of player who recites the sentences told to him by the teams’ public relations staff is equally frustrating.  Athletes must decide whether to be polite or genuine.  That previous statement describes 99% of athletes, the exception being Tim Tebow, who can be both genuine and suspiciously polite at the same time.

Tebow uttered his most famous speech after a loss against Ole Miss.  This speech differed from the numerous interviews he has given since then.  He was genuine and made bold guarantees about the team and himself.  The speech is now something of legend at the University of Florida.  It is etched into the stadium.  It is a lasting reminder that at one point, college football’s brightest star could be a real person.  He could be upset with a disappointing loss.  He could make a bold claim with conviction.  It was the most refreshing press conference I’ve ever heard.

Tiger Woods’ apology press conference, however, was the anti-Tebow.  He seemed robotic and cold.  The speech written by a member of the Woods’ management team that felt that this would be the best option.  The public didn’t feel that way as they reacted in exactly the manner that Woods wouldn’t have wanted.  Instead, a novel idea for Woods might’ve been to simply tell the truth.  It’s something that Woods might have done at Stanford or maybe early on in his career.  Something that was a part of his childhood and not part of the life that he had led once he became tired of his marriage and his successes.

Tiger should have said that money and success doesn’t make someone infallible.  The situation was the culmination of wrong choices and not mistakes.  A mistake is spilling your glass of water on someone else’s couch.  Woods’ should have made it clear that he is a real person who makes real mistakes.  The public is not a judge nor is it a jury and being guilty in the court of public opinion will take a toll on anyone.  This verdict is often times made to quickly, but Woods could have made the situation better by being honest and real.  Woods image used to be immaculate contrary his actions on the golf course, which have been on display for a very long time.  Few players on tour routinely throw clubs or curse like Woods and many people blame the constant television coverage of each shot he hits.  However, if a lesser player behaved in such a way I feel confident the PGA Tour would have made a point to inform that player that it was unbecoming of the game.

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An athlete being genuine in a press conference does not mean that they belittle the competition and it doesn’t mean that they behave in a manner that is unbecoming of their team.  It doesn’t mean that that player being himself or herself is somehow bad or worse than giving monotonous, cliché answers.  They don’t have to give answers as if they are on 60 Minutes, they can speak their minds.  The misconception that a player is going to give an opponent “bulletin board” material or act in an unbecoming way is assumptive of that player making a bad decision in their response to a question.

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