posted on February 12, 2013 11:17
Oh, Deloss Dodds.
The Texas athletic director continues to grasp at straws as his two marquee programs -- football and men's basketball -- continue a recent slide out of national importance.
The Longhorns of the pigskin variety enter year four of their attempt to ascend back up the ladder of football bluebloods. It's been slow since their championship-game loss to Alabama following the 2009 season, a five-win season giving way to eight and nine-win years. But now, they're the 19-year old high school senior, competing with the younger, hipper popular jock in school. Texas A&M's recruiting class finished 12 spots ahead of the Longhorns' in the 2013 recruiting class, according to Rivals.com, and with a star quarterback, a charismatic coach and a ten-win season in the SEC, the Aggies appear to be the premier team in the Lone Star State for the near future.
The Longhorns of the hardwood variety are muddling through a 10-13 basketball season and only have two Big 12 wins to "boast" about (over bottom-feeders Texas Tech and TCU). Their four-year streak of losing in the first round of the NCAA tournament is all but assured of evaporating.
So, in the midst of those slides, Dodds has taken to the media to explain or excuse the recent performances of his money-printing programs.
First, there was his hyperbolic statement about college hoops as a whole: "The sport of basketball is in shambles." Dodds said that in regards to early entrees in the NBA draft, those superstars using a year in college to vault them into the draft, as mandated by NBA rules. That, of course, ignores the fact that plenty of teams use a mix of one-and-done stars and four-year players to go deep into the tournament. Outside of Kentucky's inconsistent play this season, has the quality of college basketball been greatly affected by this rule? Even with the upsets, the top of the college basketball rankings are a mix of who you'd expect.
Except, of course, Texas.
Now, Dodds continues his baffling statements. In another Austin American-Statesman article released on Tuesday, Dodds had a few particularly eyebrow-raising quotes. All seemed intent on making excuses for the Longhorns recent performance.
"Our bad years are not that bad," Dodds said. "Take a school like Missouri. Our bad years are better than their good years. But we've created a standard."
Of course, that statement drew the ire of plenty of Missouri fans on message boards. But, really, it should draw secondary embarrassment, not outrage from Tiger fans. That feeling of embarrassment not because of your actions, but because of the actions of someone else. You just feel embarrassed for the person.
(Steve Carell's character of Michael Scott in NBC's The Office is the easiest example for this phenomenon.)
On the surface, it appears that Dodds' statement is true. It's Texas. If they're not printing money, they're winning championships. An eight-win year is a disappointment in Austin. But what do Texas and Missouri have in common? Both programs' worst football season since 2007 ended in a 5-7 record. Missouri's eight-win year in 2011, when it beat Texas in Columbia? Most Tiger fans considered that a down year, too.
But that wasn't even Dodds' most befuddling statement. That came at the end of Kirk Bohls' columns, after Dodds' said Mack Brown's tenure wouldn't be determined based on wins or losses to Oklahoma (lately, they've all been losses):
“If you win all the time, it’s not good for the coaches or the kids," Dodds said. "You’ve got to learn to appreciate it."
I cover Missouri, so I'm not the best person to ask about the philosophy behind the two biggest money-makers for the University of Texas. But the last time I checked, the Longhorns were in the business of winning national championships, not teaching life-lessons to the four and five-star recruits that make up their football roster. I'm sure the Texas fans who are outraged with blow-out losses to Oklahoma or sub-par seasons will be appeased now. At least their money for season tickets and donations are going toward teaching players -- and millionaire coaches -- to appreciate winning.
I'm sure Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa feels the same way, as well. Three national titles in four years? That's too much winning.
But maybe that's the new landscape in Austin. Maybe that's the new landscape in the Big 12, with a less-than-stellar basketball season across the entire conference and high-profile football recruits flocking to the SEC. When the athletic director at Texas -- the most powerful school in the league -- sees a diminished product, it's time to troll another program and make excuses.
For Texas, it's time to pass the buck.