The mix zone at the US Swimming Olympic Trials is an interesting place. Swimmers compete in their events and immediately must walk down about 7 feet of stairs to a row of media members asking questions about how the race went, what happened on that turn, etc. The swimmers are usually out of breath from competing and since your right there you get the first thing that comes to mind. Most of your NFL and NBA and even NCAA basketball players get what we call a “cool down” period of about 15 minutes to gather their thoughts. I think that’s why football players have a lot of time to reflect and why all of the winners “thank God” for their achievements. I know Tim Tebow some feel has taken it to unprecedented heights and but appreciate he actually thanks God win or lose. We could talk all day long about Tebowing and all the great things he does bringing people to the games and all of his good deeds and honestly I like Tim Tebow for all that he does. I believe if your going to have faith and praise God, you need to do it all the time and not be afraid to show God the glory for your success. The part that gets tricky is when there’s failure. Who takes the blame then? or gets the credit for the loss? Visualizing all of that, let’s head back to the mix zone; where swimmers have worked sometimes 4 years chasing a dream of going to the Olympics putting in countless hours of hard work chasing that dream. emotion runs high here as some rush by to warm down and would rather not talk about what just happened good or bad. Others are more seasoned and will stop and enjoy the process. We interviewed a lot of swimmers over the course of a week while we were at the Olympic Trials in Omaha; there was Michael Phelps, Natalie Coughlin, Brendan Hansen, Eric Shanteau, Missy Franklin, Cammile Adams, Ricky Berens, Michael Klueh — you get the idea. One swimmer in particular win or lose always had a bright smile and words of wisdom. Kathleen Hersey had been through a lot this year, losing her mother and other different challenges and it wasn’t until close to the end that she punched her ticket to London in the women’s 200 Breast getting second to Cammile Adams. Kathleen hadn’t made it in her previous 2 races but always with a smile in the mix zone talked about how she was just getting the nerves out and had faith God had a plan for her and was sticking to it. That’s why at the end it wasn’t a surprise to hear her give thanks to God for everything swimming has given her allowing her to communicate with her mother and helping guiding her thru the last year. Ricky talked about praying he was going to make it the last 50 meters and so each of the swimmers once they had made it to London and their Olympic dream found a way to show their appreciation for the talents they were given. I guess you can make up your own mind but for me — thanking God in the moment, fresh off victory or defeat is impressive. That’s why I appreciate guys like Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow who always have show their thanks for what God has done and I’m glad to welcome Kathleen to the group. I interviewed her about 2 months ago and was so impressed with her Zen approach to life and how she’s dealt with life and still chased her dream. Believe what you want, think what you want about athletes who praise God for victories — but I think we should appreciate athletes who are consistent in their praise win or lose. Everyone shows their faith in different ways and I’m sure a lot of athletes choose to show their thanks to God quietly because of what they think folks might say. I don’t think God picks winners and losers, I think it’s more about who we pick to interview and well, it’s usually the winners. I’ve never heard a question asked to those who finished second, so you think God wasn’t with you today or what. for Kathleen, I think she’s an inspiration to us all to keep trying, keep going even in defeat and always with a smile knowing that what’s important is your own faith in yourself and one of the two real powers we have as humans, the power of forgiveness and the way we react to any situation. We have the ability to show love and so it’s always awesome to see perspective in the mix zone win or lose.
Leo Manzano is on the run, all the time. The 1500 Meter Olympic trials winner stopped by the KXAN studios on Thursday and then will jet off to Europe Saturday. The pride of Marble Falls/Granite Shoals (he always includes Granite Shoals when talking about his hometown) will run a few tune up races before his 2nd Olympic experience. Manzano is hoping for a little more success this time around. He admitted that he was just happy to be in Beijing and was a little too wide-eyed as he took in the whole Olypmic experience. I remember him telling us a story in Beijing about how cool it was that he could get his hair cut for free in the Olympic village. Manzano said that while he appreciates the opportunity to run in London as much as he did in 2008, he feels likes he’s in better position to make a run at a medal. Manzano advanced to the semifinals in 2008, but did not make it to the finals. You can see an extended interview with Manzano on KXAN Game Night Sunday at 10:30.
Gregg Popovich never seemed too enamoured about the teams overall record as long as they were positioned well for the post season. That was as more about the rest of the his players than their record and seeding, that’s the only explanation for leaving Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobli at home for a road trip to Utah a couple of weeks ago. But even with his cautious handling of the “big three”, the Spurs are still the top seed in the Western conference after Monday’s 124-89 win over Portland in their final regular season home game. Now the question is what do they do on their final two game road trip with a chance to claim the best record in the NBA, right now they are tied with Chicago. If history means anything, the “big three” will get a heavy dose of bench for their games at Phoenix and Golden State.
The Spurs aren’t just winning, they are destroying their opponents. In their current eight game win streak they are averaging 116 points per game and winning by an average margin of 16 points per game.
So how will that translate into the only thing that matters, their run for a 5th NBA title since 1999, we’ll find out over the next couple of months.
First off, this is all assuming Texas doesn’t win the Big 12 tournament. I still feel the Horns can make the NCAA tournament despite a 3-6 record in conference play and no real quality wins on the road unless UCLA at 12-9 gets it going to make UT’s December win in LA (not at Pauley Pavillion which is getting a face lift). Texas has to get 9 wins in conference and probably 10. That means the must wins begin Saturday with Tech at home and then probably at A&M next Monday. The margin of error is so small but they could probably absorb another home loss, to Baylor, but will have to get at least three road wins. Sounds like a long shot but considering they did lead late at Baylor Saturday and in their home loss to Kansas, not out of the question.
We take a hoops break for National Signing Day on Wednesday. Texas has 27 commits and are holding hope that WR Dorial Green-Beckham will shock the recruiting world and pick Texas over Missouri and Arkansas. Mack Brown said he would rather finish out of the running than 2nd when it comes to out of state recruits, this looks like one where he will finish in the dreaded 2nd spot. We’ll have plenty of co rage on KXAN news throughout the day, but with limited time and so much to get to, check out KXAN.com throughout the day.
Assuming Texas does not win their first ever Big 12 conference tournament in March, then they’re road to a 14th consecutive NCAA tournament bid will be as an at large team. Depending on the projection you pick, as of this week they were 10th seed by espn.com and not in the field by cbssports.com. That is based on a lot of guess work, the fact is Texas probably has to get to 19 or 20 regular season wins to feel good about their chances. That means going .500 in the Big 12′s new 18 game double round robin format. Based on their last two games, both wins at home over Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, its going to be a grind just about every night out. J’ Covan Brown is slowed by a nagging ankle injury that based on their schedule will have a hard time totally healing anytime soon unless Brown sits. Not only is he their best scorer, but he is one of the best down the stretch trying to hold a lead. That’s because of his ability to handle the ball, get to the foul line and most importantly, hit his free throws. Against Texas A&M he was 2-12 from the field but 10-10 from the line. After that they rely on all those freshman along with veteran big men Clint Chapman and Lexi Wangmene. Right now Julien Lewis looks to be the best shooter and scorer among the freshmen, but all of them have stepped up and led the team in scoring in at least one game.
Horns heading into a brutal stretch with games at Missouri and at Kansas State before coming home to Kansas on January 21st. Winning any one of those three would qualify as their best win of the season.
I had heard about John Outlaw long before I met him.
17 years ago while living in Denton, I’d heard about the coach at Sherman who helped the team who was second in the district to a Denison team that was a perennial State Championship team at the time; their biggest challenge of the year. And rumor had it, the man behind the famous “indoor practice facility.” Sherman had it first, people. Even before Southlake Carroll. They call it the “Turf Barn.”
12 years later while living in Longview, I’d heard more about his legend while he was coach of the Lufkin Panthers, one of the biggest, baddest teams in the state. Home to Dez Bryant, Jovorskie Lane, Reggie McNeal, and athletes on every Big 12 roster.
This year I finally got to meet him, sideline reporting for his game against the Woodlands. In Lufkin at the Texas High School Football-famous “Abe Martin Stadium,” no less. It’s hard to explain football in East Texas until you are there. There’s a reason so many coaches in Texas recruit East Texas athletes. Not to take anything away from my home of North Texas or Austin, but it’s different. John Outlaw was a big reason why.
I envisioned this tough, somewhat sly man, because sometimes when you hear about a team you think of what a person leading would be like, before you actually meet the person. What I met was a wonderfully nice man in a sweater vest and tie, who smiled when he saw me each time, even before we spoke, during pregame warmups. On the cusp of his 300th win, a game that would decide the district championship, with some of the most intimidating athletes in high school football, he was kind. Calm.
That’s when I realized, they play for him. They are strong, fast, passionate and powerful about the game, but also respect their coach. He gave them a confidence. Just like he did in Texoma. The reputation of his teams isn’t just one of speed, strength and size, but confidence. And because he made you comfortable for being you, you became confident. Your best self.
It was a great game to watch. Just before the half his team drove down the field but missed a chance to get points on the board. I asked Outlaw how that would affect momentum going into the intermission. He told me that it was high school football. You’re not paying these kids. Stuff like this happens. Lufkin came out swinging in the second half and won 30-10.
Outlaw had done it. His 300th win achieved, and the district title in place, his kids soaked him with the Gatorade. We rushed over with fancy camera and microphone in hand, and I asked him how it felt. He got emotional in the interview. He was real. Appreciative. Happy. And honest with us enough to let himself go just a little. Before composing himself, of course.
This by the way, is why I do my job. To share a moment like that with someone and to show other people how rewarding something can be is why I do what I do. I had a pretty big smile on my face. After we were done, I walked away from “The Abe,” thankful for finally meeting the coach behind the Panthers and being a part of a historical game in his life.
I never imagined he’d pass away of a suspected heart attack just a couple months later. John Outlaw, dead far before he should ever be, at the age of 57.
So many athletes at so many levels of football owe so much to John Outlaw. He is a legend in East Texas and loved all over the state. Few times in your life does meeting someone become so pleasantly surprising, and I had that experience with him, as I’m sure so many other people did. John Outlaw is gone long before he should be, but his legacy lives on in the lives of so many people he touched.
Its been a while since my last post, in fact it was so long ago that I was writing about how the Pac 16 would put together a football schedule, thats right a long time.
It’s been an interesting year covering these Longhorns. Sunday through Friday for KXAN and then on Saturday’s alongside Craig Way for the Longhorn Radio Network. It was kind of a strange regular season. You could argue it unfolded about exactly as everyone expected through 8 games. Texas was 6-2 with losses to OU and OSU, but teams ranked in the top ten at the time. The swing games came on the back end starting with the loss to Missouri and ending with the loss at Baylor and in between a the K-State game and A&M thriller. Now its the bowl game, but doesn’t it really feel like the season is over. The trip to Pasadena was special for one reason, the Rose Bowl. If you have never been and have a chance, do it. A spectacular setting even if the stadium was a quarter empty.
Now its back to Southern California for the Holiday Bowl. We hear so much about the “bowl experience and how it should be preserved when the mention of a playoff comes up. For the players, a trip to San Diego is a nice trip and they’ll come away with some nice gifts, but I’m not sure there’s much buzz about this game with fans as is the case with a lot of bowls. Look at Baylor, they are rewarded for their amazing season with Heisman winner RGIII with a trip to San Antonio, dream come true? Even the championship game is a rematch that figures to be a lot tougher on LSU than Alabama. How can LSU do more than go into Tuscaloosa and beat the Crimson Tide on their home field, now they have to do it again. What Alabama is trying to do is not unprecedented, in 1996 Florida won its first national title by beating Florida State after losing to the Seminoles in the regular season.
Back to the booth. What an experience it was moving into the analyst role. The most challenging part is to make sure you’re watching a lot more than just a football. Sounds easier said than done, but when is the last time you watched a game and didn’t watch the ball? The chance to spend a few minutes with Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin each week was invaluable. Getting a feel for what the UT offense is trying to accomplish as well as his thoughts on opposing defenses is always interesting. Amazing how a complicated game can be broken down into such simple terms. His never ending theme was “taking care of the ball” when Texas did it, they were pretty successful, when they didn’t OU and Baylor happened. Same goes for defensive coordinator Manny Diaz who should be a hot name when head coaching openings, especially if Dan Mullen were to leave Mississippi State, where he could be a candidate at Penn State.
In the report card of how Longhorns in the NBA spent their lockout, check the box for “Spends Time Wisely.”
1. Played Flag Football at Oklahoma State and didn’t get injured
2. Made various cameos at college basketball games across the country
3. Filmed Warner Brothers’ movie “Switch”
1. Took fall classes at UT
2. Hung out at UT basketball games and in the gym at Cooley to stay in shape
1. Worked on finishing his degree in elementary education at UT
2. Was a student assistant coach on the Texas bench
Cory Joseph: Traveled the world while playing for Team Canada
Avery Bradley: Played in the pro-am games and the Impact League in Las Vegas
So all in all, not a bad way to spend time for some of the Longhorns we know. And it explains why you may have seen them out and about in Austin. But that time has come to an end and it’s now time to get ready for some NBA. It’s great news for sports fans and even better news if you’re a Dallas Mavericks fan, because that banner can finally be raised. Bad news if you enjoyed seeing your favorite NBA players at your neighborhood coffee shop or at the grocery store, but it’s certainly been nice to see some familiar faces around town in the meantime.
The UIL Medical Board is approving schools seriously alter the way their football teams practice before the season starts. Per their release, here’s a list of their recommendations.
- On days when more than one practice is conducted, the rest and recovery time between the end of one practice and the beginning of the next practice will be increased to two hours. Current rules only require one hour of rest and recovery time between practices.
- With the exception of volleyball, schools shall not schedule more than one practice on consecutive days in sports which begin practice prior to the school year, and student-athletes shall not participate in multiple practices on consecutive days.
- During the four-day acclimatization period in football, if more than one practice is conducted on the same day, the second practice shall be a teaching period or walkthrough practice only with no conditioning, contact activities or equipment permitted.
These haven’t been approved yet, but it seems like there are more than a few high schools in Central Texas who would have to change the way they practice.