Morning Coffee Rides The Momentum

A lot can happen in sixty days. I distinctly remember reading this column by Barking Carnival's Scipio Tex, a biting piece that seemed to capture well each of the weaknesses that had bedeviled Mack Brown the last two years. Even if one didn't agree with all of the premises, there weren't many Texas fans who didn't share the same overall sentiment: Texas football under Mack Brown had hit a low point.

Over the next two months, Mack Brown went to work: He changed the team's practice schedules and accountability measures; he abandoned the seniority system for a meritocractic Holiday Bowl starting lineup; he accepted the resignation of Larry MacDuff while demoting Duane Akina; the country's most coveted defensive coordinator (who came awfully close to taking the head coaching job at Arkansas) was hired to replace Akina; to address the arrests of last summer, he created a new position to allow Ken Rucker and his wife to focus on the young Texas athletes; and then, improbably, he got Greg Davis some help, hiring a young spread-disciple coach.

Those sixty days led Krik Bohls to write today this column which - even if he were consciously trying - couldn't be more opposite than Scipio's from two months prior. And fans, even if they don't agree with all of the premises, once again share the sentiment: Mack Brown has handled things since the A&M loss exceptionally well. Fans are as excited this morning as they were morose on Thanksgiving weekend.

Though the past sixty days guarantee nothing in terms of on-field results, I do think Brown has justified some of the guarded optimism some of us held when things bottomed out:

For now, we're each left to choose what we want to believe about the future at Texas under Mack Brown. Me? I think the Hallmark Card in me wants to believe that this year's struggles might lead Mack Brown to make the sort of evaluation - self and otherwise - with which he's heretofore been uncomfortable.

I call it guarded optimism because I barely believed it myself; the rest of the column was littered with caveats and skepticism; the characterization itself - the "Hallmark card in me" - indicated just how much of a fairy tale I thought it might be.

And yet, here we are. At the very least, Mack Brown has addressed our most cynical feelings and restored the faith of most fans in his leadership. A lot can happen in sixty days.

Riding the momentum. As much as anything, recruiting is about momentum, which makes sense when you think about who the consumers are in this market: 18 year old kids. This offseason has fostered a buzz around Austin again, and that inevitably will help both as we approach 2008 signing day and enter the critical early signing period for the class of '09.

I'm not getting into specific players until I have more time this weekend, but for now, it's simply worth noting that Holiday Bowl showcase + Will Muschamp + Major Applewhite = recruiting momentum. Just as Rich Rodriguez makes Michigan (in my mind) the team to beat for Terrelle Pryor, the momentum Texas is riding right now has me believing that national signing day will be an exciting one for Texas fans for the first time in years, as Mack Brown closes the deal on Darrell Scott. With the 2008 class looking very good, but certainly not great, Scott would be an enormously important addition.

It's a smaller story, but I know you've been following it. The enemies to our north have been searching for an offensive coordinator to fill the vacancy left by Kevin Smith, who left to become head coach at the University of Houston. On Thursday, Stoops found his man, hiring former UCLA OC Jay Norvell to fill the position. The 44-year old coach has bounced around quite a bit over the last decade, including stints as the wide receivers coach for the Indianapolis Colts, tight ends coach for Bill Callahan in Oakland and Lincoln, and offensive coordinator for one-year under Karl Dorrell. I can't say that I know much about him.

It's that time of year. As the Statesman notes, Texas officials will retire Kevin Durant's number sometime this season, which means it's time for our yearly confusion over why Texas won't retire Vince Young's.

As most of you know, the official policy is for Texas to retire only the jersey numbers of national player of the year award winners. Reggie "Tarnished Heisman" Bush stole that honor from Vince, but everyone knows who the best player really was. Beyond that, it's just a stupid policy. Vince Young might be the most revered Longhorn of all time and delivered to Austin a trophy infinitely more important than the Heisman.

Of course, I'm preaching to the choir here.

More yapping. Live. And podcasted. Andrew and I have decided to fire up an online radio show, which we hope to launch next Tuesday evening. The program will run for roughly an hour and allow live listeners to interact with the hosts. The podcasts will be available for download immediately following each show.

What's the format? Casual. Just two friends talking Texas sports. The show allows for callers to phone in, so we hope to get to know some of you clowns as well. More details on Tuesday's launch as we finalize plans.

--PB--

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