Wednesday, October 9, 2013

UT athletics should stage its own commando raid

Mack Brown and Rick Barnes

Texas football coach Mack Brown’s immediate future will be decided Saturday. If he manages to pull off a miracle akin to convincing House Speaker John Boehner to call a vote on a temporary budget resolution, then his job is secure, at least for the foreseeable future. If, however, Oklahoma embarrasses the Longhorns once again — a result most sane observers expect — he’s history. Gone. Finished.

No, he won’t be fired immediately. Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds won’t pull him off the team bus as it prepares to leave the Cotton Bowl. In fact, he won’t be fired at all — he’s done too much that’s positive for the Texas football program to suffer that indignity. But it will be made clear to him that he will have no choice other than to announce his resignation at the end of the current football season.

And don’t forget, Dodds has also indicated he plans to retire as well.

Lost in all this discussion about Brown and Dodds is the fact that Texas’ basketball fortunes have gone further into the depths than the football program and that baseball has not fared all that well recently either (the Horns didn’t even qualify for the Big 12 tournament last season).

I think coach Augie Garrido can salvage UT baseball. I have absolutely no faith that Brown or basketball coach Rick Barnes can do the same.

Tom Jurich
So here’s what I am suggesting: the UT athletic department should stage a full scale commando raid on the athletic department at the University of Louisville and steal away that school’s athletic director, football coach and, most important of all, its basketball coach.

Louisville AD Tom Jurich is one of the best heads of an athletic department you’re going to find. In 2007, Jurich was named Street & Smith’s national athletic director of the year. However, I’m afraid too many members of UT’s Board of Regents (the majority of which were appointed by former Texas A&M yell leader Gov. Hair) want a lawyer type and not an athletic savvy person in that position. Which is a shame because that could doom UT athletics to mediocrity for decades.

Rick Pitino
Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino is simply a no-brainer. Pitino is the only college coach in NCAA history to take three different schools (Providence, Kentucky and Louisville) to the Final Four and the only coach to win a national championship at two different schools (Kentucky and Louisville). Would he ever consider leaving Louisville? Well, look at it this way: In 2001, everyone expected Pitino to take over as head basketball coach at Michigan. Instead he surprised the world by going to Louisville. Why? Because, Pitino said at the time, "I can’t get on the phone and tell Tom (Jurich) no. I can’t tell him this." One would hope that if Jurich became UT’s athletic director, Pitino would have the same problem all over again.

Finally, there’s Louisville football coach Charlie Strong. Strong has a (pardon me for saying this)
Charlie Strong
"strong" SEC background having served as a defensive coordinator at South Carolina and Florida (he was also the Florida interim head coach for one game — the Gator Bowl — when Ron Zook was fired in 2004). When Urban Meyer was hired from Utah to replace Zook, Strong was the only assistant coach Meyer retained. His Cardinals, of course, are undefeated this season behind the play of Heisman Trophy candidate, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. But perhaps his biggest accomplishment came in this year’s Sugar Bowl game when his team entered the contest as a two touchdown underdog to his former team, the Florida Gators. Louisville’s 33-23 victory over Florida represented the biggest upset victory in terms of a point spread in the entire 25-year history of the BCS. He will restore toughness to the football team, which has earned the reputation of being "soft" the last three years. Strong’s only drawback is racial, He’s black and there’s never been a black head coach at the University of Texas, which is criminal. Not only that, but Strong’s wife is white and some of the bigoted narrow minds may hold that against him.

Which is why the naming of Jurich as AD is so important. Once that chip falls, the other two could follow. Louisville fans would hate UT forever, but that, in my book, is a small price to pay to restore UT athletics to prominence.

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