College sports gives and it takes away:
- Offensive lineman Darius James is transferring to Auburn. The 5-star Harker Heights product spent two years in Austin, and I thought he was going to be the next Justin Blalock. His ability to play inside and outside and even play center made him the type of guy that can excel anywhere on the line, just like Blalock. Except it didn’t happen. He saw some time in 2014 after redshirting, starting two games and playing in four more. He was injured at the end of the season and fell out of favor with the staff in the spring for a variety of reasons. If you read about Texas football, you know those reasons. He’s now at War Eagle getting a new start. He’s the fifth offensive lineman to leave/be asked to leave since Charlie Strong arrived.
- Small forward Tevin Mack has committed to Texas. The 6-foot-6 wing is a shooter who will score and distribute the basketball and is the type of get-your-own-shot player that Texas has been missing the last few years. He’s long and lean and will certainly need to add some weight, but he’s going to be a matchup problem for other teams with his ability to shoot and pass. Originally a VCU commit that signed with them earlier in the year, he was given his unconditional release after Shaka Smart took the Texas job and, after considering Georgia, Mack committed to Texas on Monday. It’s Smart’s first big commit as the Texas coach. More will follow.
Let’s talk about the “unconditional release.” As fans of any college know, that’s the way it goes in college sports — guys come and guys go, but how they are allowed to go is silly in most cases. I really like that VCU gave Tevin Mack his unconditional release, just like Texas did for Darius James. What that means if you don’t know is that Texas (and VCU) released the player to go to any school that wants them. Any school. A conference opponent, a hated rival, wherever they want. Most programs will limit where a player can transfer for a variety of reasons: they don’t want to play against them, they don’t want upcoming opponents to know what happens inside their program, and sometimes it’s personal with a coach and a player (ask Danny O’Brien) There are stories all over college football, two big ones as of late: Baker Mayfield had to walk on at ou because Tech blocked him from transferring to oklahoma (you can technically transfer anywhere you want, but in order to be a scholarship athlete you must abide by your former school’s guidelines). Even dumber, HE WASN’T EVEN ON SCHOLARSHIP. Mayfield might be ou’s starting quarterback next year, but right now he’s still a walk on until the summer session starts. Quarterback Everett Golson has been blocked from transferring to anyone on Notre Dame’s 2015 schedule and anyone in the Big Ten, which really limits the options for a guy WHO HAS ALREADY GRADUATED. This isn’t really a knock on Notre Dame or Tech as just about every other school in the country bars players from transferring to play for an opponent. And it’s dumb.
DUMB. I hate this rule. A coach (assistant or head) can leave and take a job anywhere he wants, even within their conference, but a player doesn’t get the same freedom. Why not? Is a coach really afraid to play against someone that, in most cases, wasn’t good enough to get playing time where he is now? No way. And what great secrets does a 20-year old transfer have on his old school that another coaching staff might not know? None, whatever you may have heard about John Dutton. Just DUMB.
I say let them go wherever they want to go. Conferences have rules in place about in-conference transfers to keep guys from jumping ship on a whim. In the Big 12 you lose two years (not just the one you have to sit out for) if you transfer within in the league and that’s a big enough deterrent to keep everyone where they are or moving out of conference. I don’t understand why schools care where someone unhappy at their program goes. If my college girlfriend leaves me (she did), do I get to pick where she goes (I didn’t)? No. That’s ridiculous.
All right, it’s off my chest. Welcome to The 40, Tevin Mack, and good luck at Auburn, Darius James. And well done to Texas and VCU for taking care of their guys on the way in and all the way out.
On to the Horns. We pause the spring football breakdown this week to talk about the Texas Longhorns baseball team and what could be their last weekend of the season, the Big 12 Tournament. Texas took 2-3 from Baylor over the weekend to lock up 5th place in the Big 12 Tournament. The good news is that means Texas is comfortably into the Big 12 Tourney, the bad news is the opponents and the outlook. Maybe. First, here’s the schedule:
Big 12 Baseball Tournament
Wednesday, May 20th
No.4 Texas Tech vs. No.5 Texas, 9 am, Fox College Sports (FCS)
No.1 TCU vs. No.8 Baylor, 12:30 pm, FCS
No.3 oklahoma vs. No.6 Kansas State, 4 pm, FCS
No.2 Oklahoma State vs. No.7 West Virginia, 7:30 pm, FCS
Thursday, May 21st
Tech/Texas loser vs. TCU/Baylor loser, 9 am, FCS
ou/K-State loser vs. OSU/WVA loser, 12:30 pm, FCS
Tech/Texas winner vs. TCU/Baylor winner, 4 pm, FCS
ou/K-State winner vs. OSU/WVA winner, 7:30 pm, FCS
Friday, May 22nd
Second set of elimination games
Tech/Texas/TCU/Baylor side plays at 3:15 pm, FCS
ou/K-State/OSU/WVA side plays at 7 pm, FCS
Saturday, May 23rd
Only necessary if Friday has no eliminations
Texas side: 9 am and 4 pm (if needed), FCS
ou side: 12:30 pm and 7:30 pm (if needed), FCS
Sunday, May 24th
Championship Game (1-game), Fox Sports 1
So the good news, as I said, is Texas is in the Tourney, which is one step closer to making the NCAA Tournament and one step further away from going home. The bad news is Texas lost the series to Tech and was swept by TCU, who they will face starting Wednesday at 9 am. I say “bad news” but I don’t think it’s bad news at all to be honest. The Texas/Tech series was emotional and the Horns were right there with a chance. That was close to being a fistfight a few times and while fighting is never good, sometimes it’s awesome. I expect Texas to be ready to go Wednesday morning as they need this far more than Tech, who is comfortably in the NCAA Tournament already. If they can get by Tech that means a rematch with TCU, who are the Big 12 Champions. At 43-9 TCU is likely vying for a top 8 national seed and at the very least will be hosting a regional. What better way for the 25-24 Texas Longhorns to shove their way into the NCAA Tournament than by beating the best team in the Big 12? See? It’s good. Not easy by any stretch, but good.
If that is to happen, Texas needs to keep the bats alive from the final weekend at Baylor. They will not be playing against Baylor’s depleted staff most likely, but confidence is everything and Texas has confidence. A win over Tech on Wednesday morning and they get TCU on Thursday. A win over TCU, which is certainly possible, and all of the sudden Texas is sitting pretty. I know I am an optimist and this is definitely an uphill battle, but it’s a hill that Texas can climb. Right? Who’s with me?
I’ll be watching and updating via Twitter if you can’t see it yourselves. Let’s get one, Horns.
Back next week with linebacker talk and hopefully more baseball.