About Lew Patton
Just an old guy that loves sports and the internets.
DALLAS — The meetings lasted less than 10 minutes.
When a player entered the head coach’s office, Charlie Strong had two questions: “Is this the best you can play? And is this the best I should expect every game?”
Then he pressed play.
A brief lowlight reel unfolded: Ten plays, or maybe 15, culled from last season and tailored to each player’s performance.
When the action on the screen ended, so did the meeting. “I’d just say, ‘If this is you, let me know,’ ” Strong says. “They’d walk out of the room with their head down.”
A new era is unfolding at Texas.
A new coach has brought a new philosophy, and the approach is anything but touchy-feely. At the risk of oversimplifying, it can be distilled to: Toughness – do you have it?
If there’s an overarching immediate priority for Strong, that’s it. As the 2014 college football season approaches, it’s difficult to figure out what we should expect from Texas.
The easy preseason picks in the Big 12 are Oklahoma or Baylor, and then everybody else.
Where Texas fits isn’t certain. But if Strong has his way, the program will no longer be called soft. Since taking the job last January, Strong has been careful to say all the right things about former coach Mack Brown.
Tuesday, he called Brown an icon, alluded to the Longhorns’ 2005 run to the BCS national championship and said, “the foundation has been laid. It’s up to us to continue to build on it.” But since Texas played in the BCS title game after the 2009 season, the program had slipped several notches. The trend was downward. And it’s pretty clear Strong is laying a brand new foundation.
On Tuesday, he reiterated something he’s said often during offseason speaking engagements: “It’s all about putting a ‘T’ back into Texas,” Strong says. “You talk about toughness, you talk about trust, you talk about togetherness and you talk about just becoming a team.” ***
Strong, whose roots are as a no-nonsense defensive coordinator, arrived in Austin after rebuilding Louisville into a BCS-level contender. When he immediately made wholesale changes to the Texas strength and conditioning staff, it was only the start. The power of positive thinking has not been a point of emphasis.
During spring practices, the Longhorns walked a half-mile every day from the locker room to the practice fields, and then walked back afterward. Under Brown, they’d routinely bused to and from the workouts.
It’s mental toughness, too. For a time, Strong prohibited the Longhorns from flashing the familiar “Hook ‘Em” hand signal, saying they had to earn the right. He also required them to be early for classes, and to sit in the front row, with correct posture – and then he regularly checked their attendance himself. He has temporarily banned some players from the locker room when he determined they weren’t living up to the standards.
“When people talk about toughness, it’s not physically where you’re always trying to beat them down,” he says. “It’s a toughness to just go do the right thing. … Just go do the little things.”
Asked what’s tougher now than before, senior cornerback Quandre Diggs says: “Everything.”
“You work for what you get,” Diggs says. “That’s the way life is. In life, you’re never gonna be given something. You’re always gonna have to work for it. I think that’s something that we took for granted – we’re given a lot at Texas.”
After spring practice had ended, while his assistants were out recruiting in May, Strong reviewed the film from the 2013 season, then called in the players one by one for some quick film review of their substandard performances.
“It wasn’t a real complicated meeting, at all,” senior running back Malcolm Brown says. “It was real simple. It was real fast.”
It was, as senior center Dominic Espinosa put it, yet another “reality check” in an ongoing series. But he says Strong’s approach is working.
“We might have thought the idea of ‘tough’ was different than what we think now,” Espinosa says. “We know (now) we can push further and further and get to a different type of ‘tough.”
Will the approach translate into wins? It would probably be wise not to expect too much from 2014. Texas returns 13 starters (six offense, seven defense) from a team that finished 8-5. And although the Longhorns were mathematically in the race for the Big 12 championship deep into November, the undeniable truth was they only faintly resembled the Top 10 teams Brown had built only a few years earlier.
The 2014 nonconference schedule includes BYU and UCLA. Texas was picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 by league media, behind Oklahoma, Baylor and Kansas State. The Longhorns begin preseason practices next month with significant questions to answer at quarterback, along the offensive line and at linebacker.
Last April, Strong made waves, while kicking off the “Comin’ on Strong” offseason speaking tour at an event in Fort Worth, when he answered a fan’s question about expectations for the 2014 season.
“We have everything available, and I don’t know why we can’t be successful,” Strong said, as recounted by the Austin American Statesman. “There’s no reason for us not to be. Now, I can’t tell you how soon it’s going to be. Don’t hold me to that. Don’t say, ‘Oh, coach said next year we’ll be in the national…’ We will not be in the national championship game.”
Strong says now he was referring to what he’d seen from the Longhorns at that point, after they had completed spring practice. Whatever he meant, the comment raised eyebrows, even as it shouldn’t have – Texas is not a national contender.
“You’ve seen us play,” he says a reporter. “You think we’re gonna win one this year?” And a moment later, he adds: “Just look at the tape.”
For now at least, it’s all he needs to say.
“Players are smart,” he says. “You think about it. Kids figure out. They see the big picture, and they know how they have to improve. That’s why I wanted them to see those plays, and why I broke it down.
“I think they understand where they are. I think they understand what the expectation level is at the University of Texas.”
It’s not all tough love. Strong says the Longhorns have bought into his approach, that he’s pleased with their progress, and ready to see how it translates.”Just from their attitude right now,” he says, “I think we’re going to find us a different football team.” But for now, this passes for praise:
“We’re not as bad as we used to be,” Strong says. “I’ll tell you this: We still have a lot of work to do.”
Former Dallas Cowboy Robert Newhouse died Tuesday at the age of 64, his son, Rodd, has confirmed to FOX 4.
Heart disease led to his death.
Newhouse’s wife, two sons and two daughters were surrounding him when he died at the Mayo Clinc in Rochester, Minnesota.
“He fought to the very end, no quit,” said Rodd.
Newhouse was born in Longview, TX and went on to play football at the University of Houston before he was drafted by the Cowboys in the 1972 NFL Draft.
“House was a great football player,” NFL Hall of Famer and former Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach told FOX 4 on Tuesday. “Off the field, he was a great man, kind and caring, solid as a rock. He played fullback, tailback, you name it when we needed it.”
“I got to the Cowboys in 1991,” former Cowboy Russell Maryland told FOX 4. “Us young guys, when we got to the Cowboys, looked up to House. He always gave sage advice; he wasn’t too animated, but he was wise. Guys didn’t always follow his advice, but he gave good advice.”
NOTE FROM LEWP: I always had a special likeness for Robert. He was an old-school Cowboy. One of my high school friends, David Redwine played football in Sweetwater, and got a scholarship to the University of Houston. Guess who is room mate was? Robert Newhouse.
Newhouse was the kind of player that gave his all. I spent many Sundays watching the “Fire Hydrant” run over people and score touchdowns. He was the closest player to Earl Campbell I ever saw.
Rest in peace Robert, and today is David Redwine’s birthday.
You have to figure the Rangers are open for business. And, since the Royals’ offense is one of the worst in the game, Rios could help. He’s hitting .302/.330/.435 with four home runs and 16 stolen bases in 96 games this season. He’s making $12.5 million this year, but the year is pushing to the two-thirds point. He also has a club option for 2015, but the Royals can easily decline that.
There aren’t a ton of offensive options out there.
After missing most of the 2013 season with a concussion and part of spring practice with a fractured foot, Texas quarterback David Ash was medically cleared on Monday to take part in preseason practice.
Ash, a redshirt junior, appears to be the favorite to win Texas’ starting gig this fall. He’s started 21 games over the last three years and looked promising as a sophomore in 2012, completing 67 percent of his passes for 2,699 yards with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
But a concussion suffered in Week 2 limited Ash to just three games in 2013, muting any chance he had of building off his solid sophomore season. He’ll have to fend off sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and incoming freshman Jerrod Heard, but given his experience and previous success looks like a good bet to do so.
NEW ORLEANS — She hadn’t done splits and high kicks since her cheerleading days in high school, but 40-year-old dance instructor Kriste Lewis set a lofty goal: to try out for the New Orleans Saints cheerleading squad, known as the Saintsations.
Faced with competition from women who mostly ranged in age from 18 to 28, Lewis never thought she’d make the team. And then, she did.
“I wanted to set a goal for myself, and the audition was a specific date that required specific training, so my goal was just to make it to the audition,” said Lewis, who lives with her husband and two sons in Hattiesburg, Miss., about 100 miles northeast of New Orleans. “Honestly, I really did not think I was going to make it.”
Lewis is one of only two NFL cheerleaders in her 40s, and she’s the oldest to ever audition for the Saintsations, said Lesslee Fitzmorris, director of the squad since 2001. The other dancer is 45-year-old Laura Vikmanis, who has been with the Cincinnati Bengals dance team, the Ben-Gals, since age 40.
“The applications hadn’t been processed when the dance auditions started, so the judges didn’t even know Kriste was 40 until she had made it through three rounds of cuts and revealed her age in the interview round,” Fitzmorris said.
Something besides her age sets Lewis apart. A big part of her motivation was her will to make the most of every day since being diagnosed with a debilitating kidney disease that will eventually lead to dialysis treatments and the need for a kidney transplant. Several family members have died of the disease, and her mother has already undergone dialysis and a kidney transplant that her body twice rejected.
Lewis said she had to have her doctor’s permission to join the 36-member Saintsations.
“I know my time is limited,” Lewis said. “I don’t want to let any time go. I want to make every day count.”
Lewis will take the field with the Saintsations when the Saints play their first exhibition game of the season Aug. 15 at the Superdome against the Tennessee Titans.
“I can’t wait to get on that field,” she said. “Just being able to put a cheerleading uniform back on and go at it for my favorite team is unbelievable to me, and I’m having a blast.”
It’s the weekend so, yeah, time to adjust the “Days Without An Arrest” ticker yet again.
The latest to reset things back to double zeroes is Texas A&M’s Victor Davis, who was arrested recently and charged with shoplifting. The defensive back allegedly lifted unnamed items from a Kohl’s department store at some point in the last two weeks.
The university was unaware of the arrest when reached by the San Antonio Express-News Saturday, although the Rosenberg (Tex.) Police Department did its part to ensure as many people as possible were aware by posting the following poster on its Twitter account:
(Writer’s note: That’s Davis pictured in the lower right)
A three-star member of the Aggies’ 2013 recruiting class, Davis was rated as the No. 35 safety in the country. After redshirting as a true freshman, Davis was/is expected to compete for playing time as a cornerback this fall.
Davis’ arrest continues a disturbing off-field trend for head coach Kevin Sumlin‘s Aggies.
Since December of last year, seven A&M players have been arrested on various charges, including one three times (Darius Claiborne) and another twice (Isaiah Golden). Those two were ultimately dismissed by Sumlin. The possible replacement for Johnny Manziel at quarterback, Kenny Hill, was arrested for public intoxication in March while former five-star wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones was charged a month later with disorderly conduct.
The other three scofflaws — wide receiver Edward Pope, defensive back Howard Matthews and defensive end Gavin Stansbury — were arrested on various outstanding warrants following a traffic stop a couple of weeks after Seals-Jones’ incident.
Additionally, promising safety Kameron Miles, a four-star member of the Aggies’ 2013 recruiting class, was dismissed by the program back in March for violating unspecified team rules.
ore »On July 20th 1969 at 4:18 PM, EDT the Lunar Module “Eagle” landed in a region of the moon called the Mare Tranquillitatis, also known as the Sea of Tranquility.
You know what? I don’t claim to be the smartest guy on the planet. Heck, I’m not even the smartest guy in my own house. But I think when an entire group of people ask you not to use a certain kind of a name to call said group of people, it would seem kind of easy not to use that term to describe them. Shouldn’t be hard to understand at all.
This story from Pro Football Talk just amazes me.
It’s a story that has been percolating for a few days. Now that the Associated Press has picked it up, the latest P.R. embarrassment regarding the Washington team name has become official.
A Native American tribe on the Arizona-California border trying to raise $250,000 for a skate park has refused funding from the Original Americans Foundation, a group started earlier this year by owner Daniel Snyder in response to ongoing opposition to a name regarded by many as a slur.
“No, we’re not going to accept any kind of monetary offer to side with allowing them to utilize the inappropriate name for this NFL team,” Quechan tribal President Keeny Escalanti Sr. told the AP.
“The sacrifice we took to say no wasn’t an easy one. We wish we could help the kids today by taking the partnership. We’re trying to teach our community and the youth that we can do things the right way. We don’t have to accept this type of money from these people.”
Previously, the Arizona Republic explained that the tribe turned down a “blank check” from the foundation at a meeting attended by Original Americans Foundation executive director Gary Edwards and director Karl Schreiber.
“He said he was a proud Redskin and had been a proud Redskin since he was a child,” Escalanti told the Republic regarding Edwards. And it got even more uncomfortable than that.
“Edwards just brought up key words that you just don’t bring up in Indian country, like assimilation, annihilation,” Escalanti said. “And he tried to talk down about White people, saying they’re the oppressor. . . . I don’t know what he thought he was doing in talking like that to us — impress us? Like he thought he could talk like that among his fellow Natives? It was so awkward.”
Thus, the tribe rejected an offer to pay for the entire park, issuing the following statement to the Republic: “We will not align ourselves with an organization to simply become a statistic in their fight for name acceptance in Native communities. . . . We know bribe money when we see it.”
The debate regarding the name has simmered in recent weeks, with most of the news coming from failed efforts by the team to defend it. While the controversy has reached a stage where it’s likely to not go away until the name changes, there wouldn’t be as much to say about the situation if the team can manage to stay out of its own way for a week or two.
The Rangers enter Saturday’s action with the worst record in baseball at 39-57, but they won’t be pawning everybody off. Relievers Joakim Soria and Neal Cotts, as well as outfielder Alex Rios could be traded by the July 31 deadline, but according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the club plans to hang on to Adrian Beltre, Yu Darvish, and Elvis Andrus.
Soria, 30, is in the final year of a two-year, $8 million deal. He has a club option for 2015 worth $7 million with a $500,000 buyout. The right-hander has a 2.59 ERA with 16 saves and a 42/4 K/BB ratio in 31 1/3 innings this season.
Cotts, 34, is earning $2.2 million this season and will be eligible for free agency after the season. The lefty has posted a 3.48 ERA with a 49/16 K/BB ratio in 41 1/3 innings thus far.
Rios, 33, is playing out the final year of a seven-year, $69.835 million contract signed with the Blue Jays back in 2008. A $13.5 million club option for 2015 with a $1 million buyout remains. The outfielder has a .302/.330/.435 slash line with four home runs, 42 RBI, and 16 stolen bases.
It’s easy to see why those three would draw some interest from contending teams.