4 Down Territory 10/3/13

Texas Football

All-Time NBA Top 5

Lane Kiffin and the USC opening

Player Interviews: Sincerity or Diplomacy

Let me begin by echoing Levi’s comments on Monday and thank everyone for reading.  Also, I’d like to encourage everyone to comment, follow the blog, and give Levi or myself suggestions about how we can better your reading experience.  Thank you in advance for that and without further ado let’s get started.

First Down- Texas Football

 

            DeLoss Dodds announced on Tuesday that he will be retiring as the athletic director of the University of Texas effective August, 2014.  For most, this signifies the end of the Mack Brown era in Texas.

Mack Brown has been the head coach of Texas for 16 seasons (1998-present).  In that time, he has gone 152-45, including 10-4 in bowl games and 3-1 in BCS bowl games.  Texas has finished in the AP top 15 in 10 of his 16 seasons and top 5 five times.

However, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows in Austin lately.  Texas has only finished ranked once since their national title loss to the mighty University of Alabama Crimson Tide in 2009 and is currently unranked after losses to Brigham Young and Ole Miss this season.

So, what’s the problem?  Recruiting has been fine.  This past recruiting season has been the first since 2008 that they have finished outside the top 5, according to Rivals.  They’ve finished in the top 25 in recruiting every year since their number 1 class in 2002 highlighted by a kid from Houston, Texas named Vincent Young.

The real problem has been their good coordinators moving on, and a series of poor hiring and firing decisions by the Texas staff.  Starting on defense, Will Muschamp moved on from the Texas Defensive Coordinator position in 2010 to take the Head Coaching gig at Florida.  Manny Diaz took over for him.  His only prior coordinator positions were at Middle Tennessee State and Mississippi State for one year.  Not exactly the pedigree you expect the University of Texas to attract.  He was relieved of duties after the BYU game.

Offensively, they haven’t had much success either.  Greg Davis was the OC from 1998-2010 before stepping down.  He is currently the OC at Iowa.  The team then proceeded to promote Major Applewhite to Offensive Coordinator, whose only prior OC experience was one season at both Rice and Alabama.  A day later they named Bryan Harsin, from Boise State, co-Offensive Coordinator.  Harsin had a proven track record, but he’s already left to take the Head Coach job at Arkansas State.  Texas has since promoted receivers coach Darrell Wyatt to co-Offensive Coordinator, who does not even have his own Wikipedia page…

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Second Down- All-Time NBA Top 5

 

Constructing any “all-time” list is a difficult task.  Some people believe it should be comprised of “winners”, some of statistical leaders and some believe it should be those who promoted and advanced the game to new levels.  Truthfully, it’s probably some amalgamation of the three.  The beauty of these lists is that there is no one right answer.

Point Guard: John Stockton

Yeah, yeah, I know, “No Magic Johnson are you insane?!”.  In terms of being a basketball player, Magic gets the edge, but in terms of being a floor general give me Stockton.  Averaging more assists, steals and assists per turnover all per 48 minutes than Johnson, and taking his team to the playoffs in all 19 of his NBA seasons.  Stockton is the epitome of a point guard.

Shooting Guard: Michael “His Airness” Jordan

I lied.  There is only one correct answer here.  Sorry Kobe, MJ is still the greatest shooting guard to play the game.  I’m not even going to throw the stats at you, because you probably know them.  Michael Jordan has all three of the characteristics mentioned earlier.  Hall of Fame, most would consider G.O.A.T., caliber stats, 6 NBA Finals rings, and no one elevated the game from a marketing or popularity standpoint since or before Michael.

Small Forward: Larry Bird

This will probably have to change in the near future to make room for a guy some people consider a king, but for now “Larry Legend” remains as the best SF in NBA history.  His numbers may not look as impressive as other players on this list, but he was one of the main forerunners to the modern wingman.  His combination of size and shooting ability and, allegedly, ability to talk some mad trash is reminiscent of many of today’s players.  Also, when MJ picks you as the one guy to make a shot with the game on the line it’s kind of hard for you not to make it on the all-time list.

Power Forward: Tim Duncan

In 16 NBA seasons, Duncan has been the embodiment of consistent success.  He has four rings (being the Finals MVP in 3 of those series), two MVPs and 14 all-star appearances.  Over his career, he is averaging 20.2 PPG, 11.2 RPG and shooting over 50% from the field.  The Big Fundamental is also the only player in NBA history to be named to the all-NBA and all-Defensive teams in his first 13 seasons.  He may be boring, but when it comes to efficiency and effectiveness there are few big men in NBA history who can match-up with Timmy D.

Center: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

This pick is for my dad, Rick Pouncey.  I remember arguing with him as a seven-year old over who the best basketball player of all-time was, and of course I said Michael, but he maintained Kareem.  The 19-time all-star won six rings and a record six MVP awards.  He also gave today’s big men one of the most effective shots in the sky-hook, and if that’s not enough he’s the reason it was illegal to dunk the ball in the NCAA for 10 seasons.

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Third Down- Lane Kiffin and the USC opening

 

            USC fired Lane Kiffin immediately following Saturday’s loss to Arizona State, dropping the Trojans to 0-2 in conference play for the first time since 2001.  When you give up 62 points to Arizona State it certainly has to be concerning, and that’s probably why AD Pat Haden wasted no time in informing Kiffin that he had been fired.

The question of where USC goes from here is certainly an intriguing one.  A defensive mind certainly seems like it would fit the mold making Jack Del Rio a candidate worth interviewing.  Del Rio is currently the Defensive Coordinator for the Denver Broncos and played linebacker for the Trojans in the 1980s.  Aside from looking like Shooter McGavin, he has all the credentials to be the coach that returns USC to prominence.

The better question though is what does Lane Kiffin do from here?  He burned every bridge possible after leaving Tennessee after only one year and is 5-15 in his career as an NFL head coach.  Unless he feels like coaching high school, he may have to take a coordinator position.  He had success as the USC offensive coordinator under Pete Carroll after Norm Chow’s departure, and was the receivers coach there prior to that.  I’d certainly hope, for his sake, that he could get a coordinator position at the NCAA level with the abundance of teams.  If not, maybe daddy can make a call for him and bring him over to Jerry World.  After all, isn’t it all about who you know, rather than what you know or how good you are at your job?

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 Fourth Down- Player Interviews: Sincerity or Diplomacy

 

            We’ve all seen it before.  The cringe-inducing athlete interview is just something that has becoming an increasing part of sports.  Whether it be the guy making the asinine prediction of his team “shocking the world” when they are 0-9 playing the best team in the country, or the guy who is just so polite and apt to give everyone else undue credit that you know he can’t possibly actually believe what he is even saying, much less expect you to doesn’t matter.  They are both equally appalling.

The best thing an athlete can do in regards of dealing with the media, and the public via the media, is to find some middle ground between over-confident and over-polite and be consistent.  At least with consistency, we can come to know what to expect from you and believe that we are actually listening to the athlete speak his mind and not some poorly written teleprompt answer that Siri could rattle off for us.  Charles Barkley and Peyton Manning are two examples, albeit at opposite ends of the spectrum, of players who are always consistent and manage to come off as genuine without sounding “turrible”.

Charles Barkley has never come across as the guy who is afraid to speak his mind.  One of his most famous responses came in 1992 as the “Dream Team” prepared to take on lowly Angola.  Other players like Michael Jordan and Karl Malone made diplomatic comments, such as, “We have to play our game” or “These games scare you because you don’t know a lot about them”.  Then Sir Charles comes on and in genuine Chuck fashion simply says, “They in trouble.  They in serious trouble.”  Some might think that’s too brash or open, but that’s the kind of response that exudes confidence without smacking of over-arrogance because you’re favored by 60.

Peyton Manning represents the anti-Charles.  Peyton Manning does an excellent job of being diplomatic, without sounding patronizing.  Every time he speaks he always gives credit to “the team” and if he gets beat the other team.  This is not so different from what several other players do, but the difference is with Peyton we actually believe him.  With the exception of one blow-up on Jeff Saturday with some NSFW language in Indianapolis, he has always been level-headed, calm and at ease with the media and it allows him to portray a sense of honest diplomacy.  His hysterical commercials and Saturday Night Live appearances also make it hard to not like the guy, even if he did play for Tennessee.

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