Tag Archives: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Week 3 Game Preview: Texas Longhorns v. Texas Tech Red Raiders

“Grrr. Give me all of your loot! Aarrghh! I’ll sink your ship and bury you on the West Texas plains!” Is that a bit of Johnny Depp’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” character, Captain Jack Sparrow? No, it’s… Wait, what’s that? Mike “The Pirate” Leach is no longer the head football coach in Lubbock? Creative blogging FAIL.

Former TTU head coach Mike Leach

[Long pause]

[Cue internal debate consuming EyesOfTX writers on whether it’s worth writing about Texas Tech football from now on…]

[Solution: Shed tear for lack of pre-game comedy and post-game hilarity with Leach; proceed with a quick Mike Leach “roast,” prepare selves for boring ‘ol Tommy “T” in the Big 12!]

Don’t fret. Even though we’ve lost the conductor of the Big 12‘s crazy train, there is still an opportunity to see the man who is as nutty as a PayDay bar. While Leach fully expected he’d be coaching again this season (he’s not) – just not anywhere near Craig James’ son, Adam (and, he’s not) – instead, he’ll be announcing Conference USA football games this fall for CBS Sports. A-maz-ing. In such a good way; honestly, it could be more epic than Obama balancing the budget. One assumes, in this instance, CBS has been setting aside a substantial amount of advertising dollars to pay-off the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) for Leach’s on-air hilarity, vulgarity and general mis-fires. It’s going to happen, if he doesn’t stick he co-anchor or cameraman in a closet first. Who else can’t wait to see this debacle unfold?

Truth be told, even though the mad hatter is no longer in Lubbock, the Red Raiders don’t seem to have lost a step with former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville taking over the reigns.

We’re not big Red Raider fans, so let’s revisit some favorite bone-crushing and hilarious moments:

Now that were amped up, let’s check out this week’s tilt with the Red Raiders.

Texas Longhorns v. Texas Tech Red Raiders
7:00 p.m. CT (ABC)

Prediction:
Texas 28, Texas Tech 24

Texas Tech’s Keys To The Game:
You read that right, Tech fans. It’s a 7:00 p.m. Central time kick-off on Saturday, which gives you about an hour from the time you arise from your liquor-induced, beer-goggle, not-so-good-in-the-morning sleep to get to Jones Stadium for the game. Yep, believe it or not, you too are a key to the game – as is always the case in Lubbock.

Texas Tech's Jones Stadium

In six previous meetings between the ‘Horns and Red Raiders in the desolate West Texas desert, the two teams have split decisions (3-3) – with the ugliest scenario playing out for ‘Horns fans two years ago when Texas lost its undefeated and national championship hopes on the final play of the game as TTU wide receiver Michael Crabtree celebrated his TD and early departure to…hold out against the NFL team who drafted him. Oh, where were we? That’s right, Lubbock’s a tough place to play – the ‘Horns haven’t lost to TTU at home in Austin (6-0) in head coach Mack Brown’s tenure. Yet, with a plethora of young talent on the field for Texas, Tubby’s Red Raiders have a chance to score another major upset under the lights in the sandy plains.

Even though the puerile Leach has departed, the collective knowledge of the spread offense hasn’t, and neither have the Red Raiders’ on-field general(s), as seniors Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield return at QB. While Tuberville will instill some semblance of a running attack in Lubbock (you had to think RB Baron Batch was licking his chops upon his new head coach’s arrival), he isn’t stupid and he’ll work with Leach’s leftovers until he recruits players that fit his mold. So, the basketball-style scoring system isn’t quite gone with the red and black, but it’ll get there in the year’s to come. In the meantime, Potts is still going to throw for a million yards, and receivers will be flying over the field so much so that you’ll be trying to swipe them away like they’re gnats drawn to your TV screen.

Potts is the starter at QB, and we all know no TTU gun slinger starts their season slow, as he was spot-on in week one against SMU (34-for-53, 359 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs) with his game a tad more efficient in week two against New Mexico (22-for-34, 293 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs). He’s well-versed in the offensive scheme, has good repoire with his receivers, and has the arm to make every single throw in the proverbial book. His downside is mental, more than physical – if he’s under constant pressure in the pocket, or takes a good hit early, his mind just isn’t in the game – many analysts would go so far as to say he “talks himself in to injuries.” We say he’s just a 6’5” pansy who cries when everything doesn’t go his way. That’s a Saturday bonus for Texas, if you’re counting. The offensive line remains a legitimate threat to controlling the line of scrimmage, but no longer will you see four yard splits between each offensive lineman – they’re in a tighter formation, which gives the wide receivers more space off the line of scrimmage in passing formations.

Red Raiders' WR Lyle Leong

The wide receivers are the key the offense’s production, and the team might as well hire octamom-gone-bachelorette human-being manager Kate Gosselin to keep up with the ongoing rotation. In Lubbock, she’d fit right in for more than a few reasons. There are two wide receivers, however, that stand out as top targets for Potts – his high school teammate, Lyle Leong (16 catches, 217 yards, 5 TDs), and Detron Lewis (9 catches, 123 yards, 1 TD). Regardless of the top target, all those receivers have good hands, agility and the ability to find and sit down in zone coverage to give Potts plenty of space to get them the ball and rake in yards after the catch.

The defense will, once again, provide a test for Texas – if anything, Tuberville has brought a renewed sense of passion on the defensive side of the ball. So far this year, Tech has amassed nine sacks – something even Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp would be proud of – and they will be looking to prey on the young Longhorn QB meat. Everything with the Tech defense funnels to the nose tackle and middle linebacker, and they will largely decide the outcome of Texas’ offensive production on the night. Running inside, and looking for the hot route underneath the linebackers will get Texas in a lot of trouble early.

Texas’ Keys To The Game:
It’s time for Texas to show the world they’re the #5 team in the country. They need to show some emotion and decide they want to win this game. This is the upset game of the week across the country, and the Las Vegas spread dropped from Texas by seven points, to Texas by three points – practically overnight – which means a lot of fans think Tech’s got a shot, especially after seeing Texas play these past two weeks. Frankly, the Red Raiders might not be so full of themselves this year.

Texas, first and foremost, needs to have an offensive game plan that can allow QB Garrett Gilbert to settle in early. Emotions will be high, the environment will be threatening. If offensive coordinator Greg Davis is listening, no bubble screens or dinky-dump stuff – we’re not in peewee leagues anymore. Give Gilbert the easy throws early to help him establish a rhythm. Give him a dose of the running game to help keep Tech honest, but push the ball outside where the receivers have a chance to block downfield for the running backs, and you’ll keep Tech’s defensive strengths playing chase from sideline to sideline. Most importantly, the ‘Horns need to put points on the board when they have opportunities, keep their defensive teammates on the sidelines, and if they’re ahead, eat as much clock as possible to keep the Tech offense at bay.

Texas DB Chykie Brown

On defense, it will be as important as ever for the ‘Horns defensive backs to keep the wide receivers in front of them, put pressure on Potts with the front four to create poor throws and mistakes, and make good tackles. Fundamental football, right? Easier said than done, but Muschamp can usually muster a way to the backfield with his schemes, especially with the depth he’s got at defensive end. The defense just needs to help the offense stay in the game and not let things get out of hand. It’ll be a tough task, but then again, so is keeping Japan’s Takeru Kobayashi away from a hot dog eating contest.

In special teams, Texas has a decided advantage with the points team, as Tech’s kicker looked downright awful against SMU in week one. One could’ve wondered if Tuberville had kept the student Leach “drafted” out of the stands to kick for the team two years ago on scholarship. So, a extra point or field goal block is a possibility for the ‘Horns. Field position will also be key, and if Texas finally decides to shy away from the rugby-style kick, P John Gold could go head-to-head with Tech’s Jonathan Locour in a kicker’s dual.

It’s going to be a battle on Saturday, and the Vegas odds are toying with me. Perhaps Kevin Spacey’s behind the curtain pulling strings. Who knows?! But, since EyesOfTX has never picked against Mack Brown and Texas football since this blog’s inaugural post, we’re not starting now. Barely. And, let’s double-down on an incredible blog post that includes football, Mike Leach, two Oscar-worthy actors, Kate Gosselin, hot dog eating contests, pirate verbiage, basketball, Las Vegas, pansies, gnats, and beer googles. Your winnings for reading this far? That PayDay bar sounds about right.

Hook ‘em!

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Filed under Big 12, Conference USA, Longhorns, NCAA Football, Red Raiders

Thoughts: Week 1 in College Football

It was an exciting five days of college football to open the 2010 season, and more frequently than not, additional beverages, food, DVR space, and beverages (and perhaps a brief nap) were needed to keep pace with the torrent of games hitting the airwaves. It was a football nirvana that exists only once a year, and that is nearly orgasmic for any college football fan…no matter your allegiances.

Before we look ahead to week two, let’s take a look at some highlights and lowlights, as well as some perspectives on the ‘Horns after their 34-17 win over Rice in Houston.

Of the “contenders,” no team lost in week one that shouldn’t have. While Virginia Tech might argue, it was clear Boise State was the better team throughout Monday’s contest. You saw it here first, Boise State will play for the BCS National Championship in January 2011.

FBS schools Jacksonville State and North Dakota State made some noise with victories over BCS conference teams Ole Miss and Kansas, respectively. Not the way Turner Gill wanted to re-load in Lawrence…give him time, though.

sooners QB Landry Jones

oklahoma struggled. And we loved every minute of their metal-row-stadium-seat-squirming in Norman. While RB Demarco Murray looked in mid-season form, QB Landry Jones played mediocre at best. If you’re Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis, the ‘Horns throw the ball on every play against the sooners and run up the score in October at the Cotton Bowl.

Don’t read much in to Oklahoma State or Texas A&M’s victories in week one. The Cowboys might as well have played the local high school’s JV team for a more competitive match-up than they had with Pac-10 bottom-dweller Washington State. And the Aggies – who did show more defensive prowess in their new 3-4 scheme than at any time in 2009’s campaign – had less rushing yards on more carries (55 carries for 192 yards) against a lesser opponent than did Texas against Rice (46 carries for 197 yards). Yep, you read right.

The Tuberville era began in Lubbock, and despite the victory, QB Taylor Potts didn’t look that spectacular and the defense was mediocre at best against SMU’s defense. All-in-all, it wasn’t a performance to write home about. What did look familiar was the half-empty stands at Jones Stadium from the third quarter through the end of the game – with the game’s outcome still in question. Time for the afternoon drunken pass out in the West Texas plains.

While Kansas State eeked out a victory over recognizable-name UCLA at home on Saturday, it was unimpressive. UCLA is dragged down by head coach Rick Neuheisel (“Hey Rick, who do you have in the national semifinals of the 2011 NCAA tourney bracket?”), so they basically don’t count. Plus, the Wildcats remain a big question mark without the legs of RB Daniel Thomas. Yep, he’s a stud.

The ‘Horns, while racking up 197 rushing yards, looked unimpressive and flat on offense. Offensive coordinator Greg Davis needs to reset fans’ expectations of the running game – it’s not going to change overnight – but it did look better than any point last year. But, it was also Rice. The defense hasn’t missed a beat – they looked solid (after the first series in a base scheme) – but need to hold on those picks for TDs. Solid, but unenthusiastic…there is work to be done. Rice is going to rebound big time from last year’s 2-10 record, they looked solid in a week one game against a top contender.

Finally, it’s 12:24 a.m. Pacific time and ou still sucks. Week two represents a big weekend for a lot of the top 25 – perhaps determining 2010 BCS legitimacy – so rest up, my legions, and get focused.

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Filed under Aggies, Big 12, Cowboys, Jayhawks, Longhorns, Lumberjacks, Mustangs, NCAA Football, Owls, Red Raiders, Sooners, Wildcats

Big 12 Conference: 2010 Football Schedules

The smell of fall is in the air. And that means football. Despite a chaotic offseason of conference reshuffling and “un”shuffling, the Big 12 remains as it has been since it came together in 1996, for one more season anyway. Thanks a lot for the vote of confidence, Nebraska athletic director Tommy Osbourne – you look about as morbid as your team’s offense. And, hey – nearly bankrupt Colorado athletics – Big 12 commish Dan Beebe will take his cool millions off your hands as soon as possible please. All in all, the Big 12 (or “Big 10” next year) will survive. You’re welcome, Kansas, K-State, Iowa State, Baylor and Missouri…now, if you don’t mind, Texas has a TV network to build.

With Texas coming off a national championship game appearance, oklahoma QB Landry Jones on the Heisman watch list (really?), and Nebraska out for blood in their final Big 12 season, its going to be an interesting year. Let’s take a look at the line-up for the 12 teams who will make their run at the final Big 12 Championship (December 4, 2010, at 7:00 p.m. CT on ABC) and the 2011 national championship, with USA Today’s pre-season rankings listed where appropriate.


Baylor
The return of QB Robert Griffin is a firestarter for the Bears 2010 team. If he can stay healthy, they’ll have a shot at making some noise in the Big 12 South. Regardless, though, the Bears still have a lot of work to do to be a legitimate contender in the South division.

Critical games – @ #7 TCU, @ #4 Texas, Texas A&M, #8 oklahoma

September 4 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Sam Houston State
September 11 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Buffalo (FCS)
September 18 – 3:30 p.m. CT – @ #7 TCU (Versus)
September 25 – 7:00 p.m. CT – @ Rice (CBS CS)
October 2 – TBA – Kansas
October 9 – TBA – Texas Tech (@ The Cotton Bowl, Dallas)
October 16 – TBA – @ Colorado
October 23 – TBA – Kansas State
October 30 – TBA – @ #4 Texas
November 6 – TBA – @ Oklahoma State
November 13 – TBA – Texas A&M
November 20 – TBA – #8 oklahoma
November 27 – BYE


Colorado
It’s the last straw for head coach Dan Hawkins. And, the last chance for the Buffaloes to make some noise in the Big 12. Will it happen? Doubtful. Hawkins can’t even decide whether or not to let his mediocre QB son guide the end of his Colorado coaching career.

Critical games – Colorado State, #21 Georgia, @ #8 oklahoma, @ #9 Nebraska

September 4 – 1:00 p.m. CT – Colorado State (@ Invesco Field, Denver; The Mtn)
September 11 – 2:30 p.m. CT – @ California (FSN)
September 18 – 2:30 p.m. CT – Hawai’i (FCS)
September 25 – BYE
October 2 – 6:00 p.m. CT – #21 Georgia (FSN)
October 9 – TBA – @ Missouri
October 16 – TBA – Baylor
October 23 – TBA – Texas Tech
October 30 – TBA – @ #8 oklahoma
November 6 – TBA – @ Kansas
November 13 – TBA – Iowa State
November 20 – TBA – Kansas State
Friday, November 26 – 2:30 p.m. CT – @ #9 Nebraska (ABC)


Iowa State
It’s year two of head coach Paul Rhoads program, and there were some bright spots in 2009, including the win at Nebraska. While Iowa State plays with less talent than most Big 12 teams, their coach brings heart that can make miracles happen.

Critical games – @ #10 Iowa, #24 Utah, @ #8 oklahoma, @ #4 Texas, #9 Nebraska

Thursday, September 2 – 7:00 p.m. CT – Northern Illinois (FSN)
September 11 – 2:30 p.m. CT – @ #10 Iowa (ABC)
September 18 – 11:00 a.m. CT – Kansas State (@Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City; FSN)
September 25 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Northern Iowa
October 2 – TBA – Texas Tech
October 9 – TBA – #24 Utah
October 16 – TBA – @ #8 oklahoma
October 23 – TBA – @ #4 Texas
October 30 – TBA – Kansas
November 6 – TBA – #9 Nebraska
November 13 – TBA – @ Colorado
November 20 – TBA – Missouri
November 27 – BYE


Kansas
It’s the first season for new Jayhawks coach Turner Gil, and with the loss of the key components of the offense, it might be a long season. But, Gil had a major turnaround at Buffalo – so, it’s possible he could keep Kansas on track. The problem – you’re playing in the Big 12 now, not the MAC.

Critical games – #17 Georgia Tech, @ #9 Nebraska

September 4 – 6:00 p.m. CT – North Dakota State (FCS)
September 11 – 11:00 a.m. CT – #17 Georgia Tech (FSN)
Friday, September 17 – 7:00 p.m.CT – Southern Mississippi (ESPN)
September 25 – 6:00 p.m. CT – New Mexico State (FCS)
October 2 – TBA – @ Baylor
October 9 – BYE
Thursday, October 14 – 6:30 p.m. CT – Kansas State (FSN)
October 23 – TBA – Texas A&M
October 30 – TBA – @ Iowa State
November 6 – TBA – Colorado
November 13 – TBA – @ #9 Nebraska
November 20 – TBA – Oklahoma State
November 27 – 11:30 a.m. CT – Missouri (@ Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City; FSN)


Kansas State
A lot of uncertainty surrounds Bill Snyder’s Wildcats in 2010. No matter their pre-season question marks, the team always makes a statement during the year. Add in several no-name non-conference games, and they’ll start strong until they reach the bulk of their Big 12 schedule. ‘Horns fans be warned – history isn’t on Texas’ side against The Purple.

Critical games – #9 Nebraska, #4 Texas

September 4 – 2:30 p.m. CT – UCLA (ABC)
September 11 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Missouri State
September 18 – 11:00 a.m. CT – Iowa State (@ Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City; FSN)
September 25 – TBA – Central Florida
October 2 – BYE
Thursday, October 7 – 6:30 p.m. CT – #9 Nebraska (ESPN)
Thursday, October 14 – 6:30 p.m. CT – Kansas (FSN)
October 23 – TBA – @ Baylor
October 30 – TBA – Oklahoma State
November 6 – TBA – #4 Texas
November 13 – TBA – @ Missouri
November 20 – TBA – @ Colorado
November 27 – TBA – @ North Texas


Missouri
QB Blaine Gabbert’s healthy, but off-season drama has decimated the Tigers before the season even gets started. Several DUIs have key players suspended, and star RB Derrick Washington was charged with felony sexual assault and has been kicked off the team permanently. No doubt, head coach Gary Pinkel was on the receiving end of the shocker this summer.

Critical games – #8 oklahoma, @ #9 Nebraska

September 4 – 11:30 a.m. CT – Illinois (@Edward Jones Stadium, St. Louis; FSN)
September 11 – 6:00 p.m. CT – McNeese State
September 18 – 6:00 p.m. CT – San Diego State
September 25 – 1:00 p.m. CT – Miami (OH)
October 2 – BYE
October 9 – TBA – Colorado
October 16 – TBA – @ Texas A&M
October 23 – TBA – #8 oklahoma
October 30 – TBA – @ #9 Nebraska
November 6 – TBA – @ Texas Tech
November 13 – TBA – Kansas State
November 20 – TBA – @ Iowa State
November 27 – 11:30 a.m. CT – Kansas (@ Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City; FSN)


Nebraska
There’s been lots of hype about the improvements to the Huskers offense in 2010. It remains to be seen, honestly. But, the one game that matters to the Huskers in their final Big 12 season is Texas. With the loss of their biggest piece of their defensive line to the NFL, will Jared Crick fill the hole? Oh, will “Suh” become synonymous with Husker tears….”suh, suh, suh”?

Critical games – @ Washington, #4 Texas

September 4 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Western Kentucky (FSN PPV)
September 11 – 11:30 a.m.CT – Idaho (FSN PPV)
September 18 – 2:30 p.m. CT – @ Washington (ABC)
September 25 – TBA – South Dakota State
October 2 – BYE
Thursday, October 7 – 6:30 p.m. CT – Kansas State (ESPN)
October 16 – TBA – #4 Texas
October 23 – TBA – @ Oklahoma State
October 30 – TBA – Missouri
November 6 – TBA – @ Iowa State
November 13 – TBA – Kansas
November 20 – TBA – @ Texas A&M
Friday, November 26 – 2:30 p.m. CT – Colorado (ABC)


oklahoma
My mother always said, “When you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.” I didn’t listen to my mother. “ou sucks!”

Critical games – Florida State, #4 Texas, @ Oklahoma State

September 4 – 6:00 p.m.CT – Utah State (FSN PPV)
September 11 – 2:30 p.m. CT – Florida State (ABC)
September 18 – 2:30 p.m. CT – Air Force (FSN)
September 25 – TBA – @ Cincinnati
October 2 – 2:30 p.m. CT – #4 Texas (@ Cotton Bowl, Dallas; ABC)
October 9 – BYE
October 16 – TBA – Iowa State
October 23 – TBA – @ Missouri
October 30 – TBA – Colorado
November 6 – TBA – @ Texas A&M
November 13 – TBA – Texas Tech
November 20 – TBA – @ Baylor
November 27 – TBA – @ Oklahoma State (ABC)


Oklahoma State
It’s a rebuilding year for head coach Mike Gundy. While you could say they lose star WR Dez Bryant, really they lost him last year due to former pro Deion Sanders (Thanks, Neon Deion!). But, they have to replace QB Zac Robinson and several other players on both sides of the ball. Maybe we’ll find some new ‘Poke to humiliate this year – just make sure it’s someone 40 or older (it really never gets old).

Critical games – #9 Nebraska, @ #4 Texas, #8 oklahoma

September 4 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Washington State (FSN)
September 11 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Troy
September 18 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Tulsa
September 25 – BYE
Thursday, September 30 – 6:30 p.m. CT – Texas A&M (ESPN)
October 2 – BYE
Friday, October 8 – 8:00 p.m. CT – @ Louisiana-Lafayette (ESPN2)
October 16 – TBA – @ Texas Tech
October 23 – TBA – #9 Nebraska
October 30 – TBA – @ Kansas State
November 6 – TBA – Baylor
November 13 – TBA – @ #4 Texas
November 20 – TBA – @ Kansas
November 27 – TBA – #8 oklahoma (ABC)


Texas
The legacy is gone – QB Colt McCoy, the winningest QB in college football history, is fighting for his NFL life in Cleveland. The best hands on the team (again) – Jordan Shipley – is now in Cincinnati with the NFL’s Bengals. But, the future remains extremely bright for head coach Mack Brown’s Longhorns. The 2010 defense could be the best Brown’s ever had, and growing-up-in-front-of-us QB Garrett Gilbert was supposedly picked off only once in fall practice – in other words, he’s money (but not in the oklahoma sense of the word). The running game? Supposedly it exists in the form of a redefined RB Cody Johnson.

Critical games – Texas Tech, #8 oklahoma, @ #9 Nebraska, @ Kansas State, Texas A&M

September 4 – 2:30 p.m. CT – Rice (@ Reliant Stadium, Houston; ESPN)
September 11 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Wyoming (FSN)
September 18 – 7:00 p.m. CT – @ Texas Tech (ABC)
September 25 – TBA – UCLA (ABC)
October 2 – 2:30 p.m.CT – #8 oklahoma (@ Cotton Bowl, Dallas; ABC)
October 9 – BYE
October 16 – TBA – @ #9 Nebraska
October 23 – TBA – Iowa State
October 30 – TBA – Baylor
November 6 – TBA – @ Kansas State
November 13 – TBA – Oklahoma State
November 20 – TBA – Florida Atlantic
Thursday, November 25 – 7:00 p.m. CT – Texas A&M (ESPN)


Texas A&M
Will this be the year the Aggies turn it around? It seems an ongoing discussion every off-season. If the Ags win their first game, the 12th Man will be praising QB Jerrod Johnson for the Heisman. Gag me now. More exciting than the football team in College Station – shooting baskets from the third deck of the stadium.

Critical games – #8 oklahoma, #9 Nebraska, @ #4 Texas

September 4 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Stephen F. Austin
September 11 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Louisiana Tech
September 18 – 6:00 p.m. CT – Florida International University
September 25 – BYE
Thursday, September 30 – 6:30 p.m. CT – @ Oklahoma State (ESPN)
October 2 – BYE
October 9 – TBA – Arkansas (@ Cowboys Stadium, Dallas)
October 16 – TBA – Missouri
October 23 – TBA – @ Kansas
October 30 – TBA – Texas Tech
November 6 – TBA – #8 oklahoma
November 13 – TBA – @ Baylor
November 20 – TBA – #9 Nebraska
Thursday, November 25 – 7:00 p.m. CT – #4 Texas (ESPN)


Texas Tech
What? No more “Pirate?” The Tommy Tuberville era begins in Lubbock, and there’s no telling what fans can expect. Better defense? That’s Tuberville’s M.O., so we’ll see. Regardless, the offensive juggernaut might continue – if they can find a QB. The off-season had last year’s two starters – Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield – benched or injured for a true freshman. Perhaps the running game returns (thanks to Tubby’s SEC roots)? Will it come together, or are the Red Raiders starting all over? The only “known” is that they’ll remain in a tight race for the Big 12‘s most classless fans.

Critical games – #4 Texas, @ #8 oklahoma, Houston

Sunday, September 5 – 2:30 p.m. CT – Southern Methodist (ESPN)
September 11 – 7:00 p.m. CT – @ New Mexico (The Mtn)
September 18 – 7:00 p.m. CT – #4 Texas (ABC)
September 25 – BYE
October 2 – TBA – @ Iowa State
October 9 – TBA – Baylor (@ Cotton Bowl, Dallas)
October 16 – TBA – Oklahoma State
October 23 – TBA – @ Colorado
October 30 – TBA – @ Texas A&M
November 6 – TBA – Missouri
November 13 – TBA – @ #8 oklahoma
November 20 – TBA – Weber State
November 27 – TBA – Houston

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The Big 10 Switcharoo

Let’s get one thing straight – Eyes Of TX is no prognosticator. No reading minds here. The tarot cards have long since been packed away. No gypsy headdress tucked in the closet. Along with that (or perhaps not along with that) was the lack of a math degree from the 40 Acres. But, if one does the old school arithmetic, the Big 12 and the Big 10 have now officially switched places.

With Colorado heading west to the PAC-10, and Nebraska heading east to the Big 10, the remaining Big 12 conference universities were left to their own devices to decide their fate and that of the conference as a whole. Eyes Of TX has long predicted – for right or wrong – that Texas would be the deciding factor in the conference re-alignment race. And, indeed that was the case these past few weeks. Apparently, orange runs in our blood, and our blood is the Big 12 glue.

In the event you’ve been dodging tumbleweeds in nowhere America, Texas (and the remaining Big 12 schools) decided last week to decline invitations from other Division I BCS conferences and keep the conference together. For the likes of Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor and Missouri, the decision was a dream come true – no one wanted them. They were scared for their monetary lives. They had a vested interest in keeping the conference together, latching on to any hopes of the Big 12 staying alive, and locking in the powerhouse universities like Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma on their schedules for years to come.

Eyes Of TX, though, has had mixed feelings about the conference-formally-known-as-the-Big-12 and its impact on the ‘Horns. In part, Texas may miss out on a longer term opportunity – what if this new conference doesn’t work out, and those conferences so willing to extend invitations this spring are no longer interested down the road after getting shunned the first time around? Will Texas’ brand recognition still help them out of a desperate situation 5, 10 or 20 years down the road if the “new” conference doesn’t work out? On the other hand, if Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe’s plan is legit, and the league can expect a $7-10 million bump in their next TV contract, maybe its worth it. Of course, Texas made sure that the teams with the most exposure got the most dollars in their pockets – for that we can all be thankful. Add to that the fact that Texas will get what they so desperately desired (and other conferences weren’t willing to allow) with the university’s own TV network – an additional $3-5 million in revenue. Now you’re talking SEC-type money. But, without a conference championship game (which they won’t play with only 10 teams), that is lost TV revenue as well. Of course, none of the future TV money is guaranteed today. It’ll be another year before those negotiations begin in earnest.

The fact of the matter is, the “new” Big 10 is expecting to bring in a significant amount of revenue from a new TV contract when they’re losing the Denver television market (Colorado) and a marquee brand name in Nebraska. There is as much fuzzy math involved here as there is with trying to lower the government’s deficit. It’s not adding up on this writer’s abacus.

On the plus side, Texas fans will still get their annual rivalries with oklahoma and Texas A&M. But, the draw of potential PAC-10 match-ups would have made that Texas sweet tea a little sweeter than Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Baylor on a consistent basis.

For now, until TV money is guaranteed, Eyes Of TX has to believe the move to keep the Big 12 together was a selfish move by Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds and the powers that be. They seem to have missed out on a huge opportunity by joining forces with the PAC-10 and competing head-to-head with the “new” Big 12 and the SEC, hell, even the ACC who just locked in to a lucrative TV deal this past year. Perhaps the money comes, perhaps Eyes Of TX gets to see more games in the Pacific Northwest based on the Longhorns’ forthcoming television network. Perhaps the league falls apart.

It remains to be seen, which reinforces the idea that there are no mind readers here. What do you think?

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Conference Re-Alignment, Part II: The Stretch To The Bible Belt

Now that we’ve covered some perspectives on why Texas should stay apart of the Big 12 Conference, Eyes Of TX contributor and former Blue & Gold staffer, John Haynsworth, will take his perspective on why Texas should leave the Big 12 behind, and follow the road signs north to the Big 10 Conference.

View from the Big 10 Conference
By: John Haynsworth
To be honest, I was a little disappointed when Texas athletics director DeLoss Dodds told the Associated Press the university did not intend to explore a move to the Big 10. Of course there would have been several hurdles – political and geographic among them – to clear in order to pull of such a move, but I believe it really could have worked out for the best for Texas, not only for the football program, but for all sports within the department. Here’s why:

The rivalries.
I want to quickly debunk the myth that Texas’ long-standing football rivalries would suffer with a move to another conference. Let’s remember that Texas v. oklahoma was a rivalry long before the Longhorns and sooners settled into the Big 12’s South division in the fall of 1996. If Texas and oklahoma could be bitter rivals as members of the Southwest Conference and Big 8, respectively, then why would it be so hard to resume a non-conference rivalry in the future? Further, I honestly believe oklahoma would welcome a shakeup within the Big 12 that might allow for a renewal of its once-annual rivalry with Nebraska while still maintaining the Red River Rivalry.

As far as the A&M series is concerned, is that even a rivalry anymore? Sure, there are more than 100 games of history within the series, but Texas has won more than twice as many games in the series (75-36), and the Longhorns are 10-4 against the Aggies since the inception of the Big 12. If anything, the series has digressed from a rivalry game to a trap-game for the ‘Horns. As such, is it really necessary to maintain on an annual basis?

Specifically addressing a possible move to the Big 10, Texas football would trade ho-hum regional match-ups for intriguing national games that would include trips to Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. I think those three powers, with their 100,000-seat stadiums more than make up for the loss of Tech and A&M on an annual basis and Big 12 North teams such as Nebraska or Colorado twice every four years.

The return games would be huge as well. I don’t know about many of you, but for me, Texas’ home schedule has left a lot to be desired in recent years. Aside from Ohio State, I can’t think of one intriguing non-conference matchup at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium since 1998.

Imagine a schedule that includes: Oklahoma annually, rotating home and homes with Texas Tech and A&M every four years, and then a home and home with Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State every four years. Granted, Texas would have less room on its schedule for the likes of Wyoming and Louisiana-Lafayette, but I could live with that.

National exposure.
Texas doesn’t really need the exposure boost that a move to a more national conference would provide. After all, the football program has risen to the top of Forbes’ list of college football’s most valuable programs, dethroning perennial revenue king Notre Dame in the 2009 rankings.

What Texas has done with a predominantly state-centric consumer base is nothing short of impressive. But the next frontier is growing the brand outside of the state’s borders.

And while that wouldn’t do much for football, I believe it would help immensely with a basketball team that is fighting to earn a place in the national spotlight. Consider this: according to Forbes, the Big 12 and the Big 10 are currently tied with five teams among the top 20 most valuable. However, according to Forbes’ basketball research, the Big 12 is hardly to be found. There are five Big 10 teams on a list dominated by the ACC, and just one Big 12 team – Kansas.

Oh, by the way, other populous state universities such as Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin made both of Forbes’ football and basketball lists.

Stability of the Big 12?
Texas isn’t the only program considering its options with other conferences. Several media reports over the past few weeks indicate that Big 12 North members Colorado and Missouri would both be receptive to overtures from the Pac-10 and the Big 10, respectively.

For the sake of argument, if those teams leave, what options does that leave the Big 12? Out west, the conference might look to replace Colorado with perhaps Boise State, BYU or Utah, but those are lateral moves at best from the Buffaloes, despite some of their recent successes on the gridiron. Besides, such programs would face some of the geographic hurdles that Texas would face moving to the Big 10, though those programs are far less equipped, financially, to endure such a move.

Regardless, there are very few, if any, moves that the Big 12 could make to enhance its conference from a competitive standpoint in any sport across the board, either men’s or women’s, if any of its members leave for another conference. Granted that doesn’t have much effect on Texas or the Big 12 South, but I think that Texas has to consider its place in a league that might have nowhere to go but down, especially if other conference start raiding the Big 12’s cupboard.

Good academic company.
Texas’ revenue sports – football, basketball and baseball (which breaks even) – have little room to turn up their noses at any other program’s academics. None of those programs graduate even 50 percent of their student-athletes.

Having said that, the athletics department should have an obligation to do what it can to enhance the university’s academic reputation, which is notable nationally. A move to the Big 10 would put Texas in good company with other reputable public institutions.

According to the latest release from the US News & World Report, the University of Texas (tied 15th) ranks highest among the Big 12’s schools among the nation’s best public colleges. They would be fourth in the Big 10 behind Michigan (4), Illinois (tied 9th) and Wisconsin (tied 9th). In all, seven Big 10 members rank in the top 25 of the nation’s best colleges, while just two Big 12 schools (Texas and A&M) earned that distinction.

Additionally, as a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU) – a common thread among all current Big 10 members as well as a primary criteria for any future considerations – the University of Texas’ commitment to research would certainly mesh well with the academic mission of the conference’s current schools.

The money.
Let’s be honest, the money will ultimately determine whether Texas stays or leaves the Big 12. As reported by the Associated Press, Dodds is looking all the way to 2015 for the Big 12’s TV payday. Why wait, especially considering the money that would be on the table today?

“Big 10 schools clear $9 to $10 million more annually in TV revenue than Big 12 schools,” Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News recently reported. “Every SEC and Big 10 school receives a larger annual conference payout than Texas gets from the Big 12. Yes, that includes Vanderbilt and Northwestern. As Texas took home $10.2 million from the Big 12 in 2007-08, every Big 10 school was enjoying around $18.8 million.”

You do the math on a difference of roughly $8.6 million dollars over the next four seasons until the 2015 renewal year. Could $8 million a year make up for the difference in a bus trip to Waco, TX vs. a charter plane to State College, PA?

I’m not convinced that the Big 12 will ever be financially competitive with the likes of the SEC and the Big 10. I don’t know what that ultimately means for wins and losses on the playing field, but Texas has an immediate opportunity to strengthen its financial grip of the rest of college athletics. In the current landscape of college athletics, money does a lot of talking, and at some point, it is certain that Texas will want to be the big fish in a bigger pond.

My conclusion is that the Big 12 is on shaky ground at best. And while Kansas is a competitive basketball program, and oklahoma is a competitive football program, there isn’t enough star power from the conference’s assembled members. Texas should consider a move to a more established, profitable conference. While the Pac-10 is intriguing, I don’t think it benefits Texas to expand west. The eastern time zones are still the king of coverage, and would do more to further thrust Longhorns athletics into the national spotlight.

Tomorrow, stay tuned to Eyes Of TX for the final installment on the conference re-alignment series, as “Keifer Nandez” evaluates a potential move to the Pac-10 Conference.

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Conference Re-Alignment, Part I: Hangin’ Spurs in the Big 12

In this topic series, Eyes Of TX (along with blog contributors “Keifer Nandez” and John Haynsworth) will assess the rumors flying around on Texas’ potential move to another conference. Since we’ve initially heard the hub-bub flying around, there has been little shared and lots of speculation. We’ll plan to add our own to the mix, starting with why Texas should stay put in the Big 12 Conference today.

The first question is, why would Texas stay or leave the Big 12 conference? Well, that question is easier to answer. Money. The Southeastern Conference (SEC) currently dominates the annual money haul from the major TV networks, splitting $242 million/year in media revenue among its 10 member schools. Compare that to the Big 12 Conference, which splits $78 million/year between its 12 schools, although schools that get more television coverage benefit from that additional revenue stream (i.e. Texas over a school such as Iowa State). And, finally, the Pac-10 Conference which divides its $58 million/year between its 10 institutions. You can see the obvious discrepancies.

Within the Big 12, Texas does bring in the most TV revenue at approximately $12 million annually. But, when compared to every team in the SEC, Texas makes half of their totals. Think about that for a moment. Vanderbilt, long a major football wannabe, makes double what Texas does from TV dollars, and does it without having gone to a bowl game in decades. The standard the SEC has set in media revenue dollars is extremely high.

If you’re a conference commissioner anywhere outside of the southeast United States, you’re desperately searching for a way to even the playing field. Literally. The SEC’s TV contract doesn’t expire for another 15 years – that’s guaranteed, substantial cash flow that even the U.S. government would be jealous of. The Big 12, Big 10, Pac-10, and ACC all face TV contract negotiations after the 2011-2012 season, and that makes time of the essence when it comes to how much money will be left to go around.

Will Texas, or other Big 12 conference members, re-align to help chase down the SEC’s lottery-like dollars? Will other conferences begin their own dedicated television networks to compete? Could we see the evolution of four “super conferences”? To truly understand what options Texas and those other major conferences we’ll take a deeper look from the perspective of the Big 12 (below), as well as the Big 10 and Pac-10 in coming days.

View from the Big 12 Conference
By: Eyes Of TX
There is plenty to be said about the Big 12, and Texas’ role in keeping the conference together. The perspectives below focus on why Texas should stay in the Big 12 Conference, as opposed to leaving for the Big 10 or Pac-10…those will be covered in the coming days from guest bloggers. Let’s dig in to it.

The rivalries.
What makes college football great? The rivalries! The intense hatred of that cross-state school that didn’t let you in or whose team beat yours last year. It’s bragging rights. It’s rub-it-in-your-face, we’re-better-than-you, do-things-your-parents-would-be-ashamed of-to-the-visitors kind of psychological warfare on and off the field. Think about not having the annual Red River Rivalry of Texas v. oklahoma, or the Thanksgiving match-up pitting Texas v. Texas A&M. What about other Big 12 rivalries – Kansas v. Missouri, Nebraska v. oklahoma, oklahoma v. Oklahoma State, Texas Tech v. whoever they choose to play that week? Rivalries are key to the passion and excitement of the game. If those long-term rivalries disappeared, the potential money that’s goes with them is gone too. ABC and ESPN coverage of some of those rivalry games, for example, brings in substantial media revenue to those schools, and drives visibility for the conference as a whole. To lose that income would be an epic failure on the part of the conference athletic directors.

Keep Texas athletes (hopefully) in Texas.
Every year, there are approximately 370+ student athletes at the high school level who have enough talent to play football at the next level. Right now, Mack Brown and his staff can take approximately 20-25 of those kids each spring. That means, a large number of those in-state athletes look elsewhere in the state, or look beyond Texas’ borders to play college ball. It’s natural you’ll lose some kids to other powerhouse schools, but many of them grow up idolizing local institutions.

If Texas were to join another conference, they potentially open up the recruiting trails in to their own backyard. So, instead of competing head-to-head with oklahoma for Adrian Peterson’s talents, for example, Texas might have also had to fend off a USC or an Ohio State. Given Brown’s focus on getting talented in-state kids, there is little doubt he’d want to make it open season for other major conference schools to come calling. In other words, he’ll continue to try and win recruiting battles over oklahoma and Texas A&M, rather than teams in the Big 10 and Pac-10 conferences as well.

As Johnny Cash says, “I’ve been everywhere, man…”
Texas is a big state, and the Big 12 Conference as a whole covers a lot of geography, with teams in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and Colorado. That’s basically the bread basket of the entire United States. Right now, Texas plays in the Big 12’s South division, which means every year, it plays at least 5 games (oklahoma, Oklahoma state, Texas Tech, Baylor, and Texas A&M) between the Texas and Oklahoma state lines. In addition, they swap in two North division opponents each year from the other remaining Big 12 teams. That means, Texas’ season schedule (excluding non-conference games, which are primarily hosted in Austin anyway) keeps the team relatively close to home and in the television markets where Texas Longhorn interest (and viewership) is high.

By moving to the Big 10 or Pac-10, Texas increases its travel at least five-fold. Trips to Seattle to play Washington, or to University Park, Pennsylvania, to play Penn State? Those are long flights with a lot of dollar signs attached. And, as an athletic director, you want to see dollars coming in, not going out the door. While the draw of those “new” in-conference games might draw additional TV dollars, it might not benefit any of the schools involved as much as one might think when expenses are taken in to consideration.

The Texas brand.
Let’s not forget what Deloss Dodds has done in his time as Texas’ athletic director. He’s built the UT athletic department, especially men’s athletics, in to a dominant program across all major NCAA sports – football, baseball, basketball, tennis, swimming & diving, etc. And, the women’s athletics programs benefit from that success as well. In essence, Dodds has helped make Texas in to a literal money-making machine for the city and the university. In fact, the football team alone brings in enough money to support every other sports team (men’s or women’s) at the university – and it sustains itself. Dodds has worked his business magic with advertisers, donors, and sponsors to make the Texas experience and brand stand out.

What happens if Texas loses its hold on the brand and its market by moving to another conference? In other words, Texas has a good thing going in the Big 12 conference: they get the most TV coverage of any team, they have the best brand and most advertising dollars incoming, and (admittedly or not) they help dictate the direction of the conference – what’s to keep them from saying, “We like the status quo because it benefits us the most?”

Eyes of TX’s conclusion? Simple. Could Texas make a move? Sure. Would they? No, not unless the Big 12 pantry gets raided in a big way. If other teams begin making a move, expect Texas to pick up discussions with other conferences to play catch-up – and, hopefully it won’t be too late. The worst case scenario for Texas is to end up in a conference that fills gaps with the likes of a Rice, Houston, SMU or UTEP. Honestly, no one wants to see the Southwest Conference again.

More perspectives to come tomorrow (Big 10) and Sunday (Pac-10) – stay tuned for more, or share your thoughts on what conference Texas should end up leaving or joining!

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Texas Adds to 2011, 2012 Football Schedule

The University of Texas football team continues to add to its future schedules, most recently locking down additional non-conference games for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons. In addition, Mack Brown & Co. have been tweaking the conference schedule, similar to the 2009-2010 season when the ‘Horns faced Texas Tech in the third game and had a non-conference game later in the season.

The new scheduling changes, which build on the ‘Horns previous announcement of non-conference additions for later in the decade, include:

September 10, 2011
Texas v. BYU
Texas is 0-2 against BYU, having played them in 1987 and 1988.
BYU has won at least 10 games in each of the past four years.

September 8, 2012
Texas v. University of Texas-El Paso
UT has beaten UTEP all four times the teams have played, most recently, the past two seasons.

Other notable schedule tweaks/commitments, include:

  • The ‘Horns will play their first game of the 2010 season on the road (the first time since 1995), against Rice, at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
  • The game against Texas Tech, in Lubbock, has been moved to September 18, 2010, for TV purposes. Thus, Texas will play Florida Atlantic (originally scheduled for that date) to November 20, 2010.
  • For 2010, the Longhorns will have a second straight season without a bye week prior to the Texas A&M game.
  • For the next two years (2010, 2011), the Texas A&M game will occur on Thanksgiving.
  • Texas will face UCLA, in Los Angeles, on September 17, 2011 – a week after the BYU game.
  • Texas will face Mississippi, in Oxford, on September 15, 2012 – a week after the UTEP game.
  • The Longhorns have one more open date during the 2012 season that they are looking to secure a team to play.

The Longhorns full schedule, for 2010 and future seasons (as they stand today), can be found here.

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