Make it, Take it
By Greg Tepper // TexasFootball.com
[Editor’s note: This is Tepper’s Take, the weekly column from associate editor Greg Tepper. It’s a blend of football and non-football topics. All opinions are Greg Tepper’s alone. Enjoy.]
It’s the Sept. 7 edition of Tepper’s Take, just a rebel to the world with no place to go.
Sometimes, I think I’m at a distinct disadvantage because of my line of work.
Being a journalist carries with it the responsibility to be unbiased. Being unbiased carries with it the prerequisite of viewing football at an unemotional level. Which is strange, since football carries with it, on the field and in the stands, a type of inherent passion and emotion. Football’s one of life’s weird things where everyone seems to have a distinct, unwavering affiliation to something.
So when I watch this conference realignment scenario unfold, I’m struck by how emotionally everyone views this. “We’re sticking it to Texas,” said the A&M fan. “A&M is just jealous of us,” said the Texas fan. “How desperate of Baylor to try to block Texas A&M’s entrance to the SEC,” said basically everyone else.
But here’s the thing: in our determined search for a narrative, we need a villain. The truth is, there are no true villains.
It’s hard to grasp for football fans, because we’re so used to black-and-white results. You either win or you lose. Your team is either good or they’re bad. Your team either plays well or it doesn’t. The pass is either complete or incomplete.
Not so in these situations, where every institution – Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, the Big XII, the SEC, everyone – is working under the same modus operandi: self-preservation.
Texas A&M believes that the SEC is in their best interest. Baylor thinks blocking Texas A&M’s move is in their best interest. The SEC thinks expanding is in its best interest. The Big XII Conference itself thinks just existing is in its best interest. Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and every other Big XII schools’ best interest remains to be seen.
My thought is…if everyone is operating under the same understandable modus operandi, why are we criticizing any of them? Or, more broadly, isn’t it hypocritical to criticize one institution and not the other?
But that’s when I get back to the emotion part, something I simply can’t grasp. Fans want to see their school do better than every other school (understandably so), which is why you see illogical, irrational statements like “Sticking it to Texas” and “Baylor’s being desperate.” Neither of those is true.
College football, first and foremost, is a business. These are business decisions. If Apple were making these decisions, we’d applaud them for doing what’s best for their shareholders.
A&M (with the SEC) and Baylor (with the reported threatened legal action) and OU (with reported flirting with the Pac-12) and Texas (with the Longhorn Network) are only acting in their best interest as institutions.
Let’s stop searching for a true villain, because there isn’t one to be found.
Games I’d TiVo If the UIL Would Let Me (And College Games I Will, In Fact, TiVo)
Lake Travis at Aledo
Well, duh. This is arguably the game of the year across the state (or at least in the top three). You’ve got Lake Travis, which has looked positively dominant in two wins over two very good teams (Westlake and Hendrickson). You’ve got Aledo, which has the state’s strongest loss (a 48-47 thriller at Stephenville) and a beatdown of Weatherford. The big question, to me, is how healthy Lake Travis will be. Colin Lagasse and Griffin Gilbert both missed the game against Hendrickson last week (not that they needed them), and they are pretty significant pieces fo the Lake Travis offense. The good news for the Cavs? The defense has been straight-up phenomenal, stifling Westlake and holding down Hendrickson do-it-all Daje Johnson. For Aledo, this is a chance to basically erase the lost to Stephenville. Win at home here, behind Johnathan Gray and Matthew Bishop and the entire cast of characters, and they’ll vault right back to No. 1 (or at worst No. 2 behind Denton Ryan) in 4A. This is by no means a season-breaker for the losing team, but it will give untold confidence to the victor, because they’ll have beaten the other best 4A team in the state.
BYU at Texas
Now, this isn’t even the biggest college game involving a Texas FBS team this week (give that honor to TCU at Air Force, which I’ll blog about on Friday), but I think this is a really, really important game for Texas. Not because BYU is a great team – I’d call them as “above average” – but because this represents the next step in the Longhorns’ step back from last year’s debacle. The win over Rice was good-not-great, and BYU will provide a bigger challenge. Travis Stewart made the point our Radio Hour that this is a game that Texas should win, thus making it not a big game. I halfway agree: it is a game Texas should win, which makes it a big game. When you’re talking about Texas rebounding from the worst season under Mack Brown, you’ve got to talk baby steps. A win here would be another nice, strong, measured step toward “back” status.
Kerrville Tivy at Cibolo Steele
I’ve gushed on this site about how impressed I’ve been with Kerrville Tivy – they’re among the most impressive teams in the state so far, all things considered – and how Parks McNeil has seamlessly replaced Johnny Manziel. But now comes the Antlers’ toughest test: the defending state champs. Cibolo Steele is also replacing an all-world talent in Malcolm Brown, and has also not skipped a beat. The key in this one, I think, is Tivy’s defense. They’ll be facing the best offense they’ve seen thus far this season, and how well it performs will likely determine the outcome of this one. Regardless, you’ve got to love the talent in this one, as Steele QB Tommy Armstrong has been downright sensational this season. Get your tickets now.
Apologies to… TCU at Air Force (blogging about it Friday), Allen at Longview, Tyler Chapel Hill at Carthage, SA Warren at SA Brandeis, Laredo Alexander at Laredo United South, North Shore at Klein Oak, Dayton at Angleton, Houston at North Texas, A&M Consolidated at Westlake, Belton at Hewitt Midway and Seminole at Lubbock Cooper.
Three Bold, Sure-To-Be-Wrong Predictions for This Week
(I once again hit two of my three predictions. Correct: Texas State gave Texas Tech more than it expected and still lost by three touchdowns, and Cedar Hill bounces back to beat Denton Guyer. Incorrect: Kyle Padron has better numbers than Ryan Tannehill in an A&M win over SMU. Swing and a miss. I’m 4-2 on the year.)
-San Angelo Central edges Abilene Cooper, sending the Cougars to an unbelievable 0-3.
-UTSA, propelled by another awesome crowd, drubs McMurry by three touchdowns.
-Sulphur Springs and Whitehouse combine for over 90 points, with Sulphur Springs winning both the turnover margin and the game.
Every week, I’ll identify one player to watch across the state who could be poised for a breakout game. If he does, in fact, have a breakout game (we’ll define the stakes each week), he’ll get the honorary title of Manster – half-man, half-monster – and a place in this column for the entire season. Also, a taco. OK, just the title.
Last week, the Manster Watch fell on Hereford QB D.J. Garcia. The stakes for Mansterhood: three total touchdowns. The good news: Garcia hit WR Bryan Hill for two first-quarter touchdown passes. The bad news: that was all the scoring the Herd could muster in a 34-14 loss to Amarillo Tascosa. I’m now 0-for-2 in making someone a Manster. I blame myself. Keep your head high, D.J.
This week’s Manster Watch falls on Austin Anderson RB Devonte Dewitty. Last week, the senior ran for 170 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns in a 28-21 win over Hays. That’s not necessarily a surprise; he rushed for 1,050 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, so this guy is straight-up excellent. So, here’s the deal, Devonte: I really want to name someone a Manster. As such, your stakes are 100 yards and a touchdown. That’s it! All you have to do is rush for 100 yards and a touchdown in Anderson’s game against Georgetown, and you’re our first Manster! We’re all counting on you!
Song Sure to Get You Fired Up for Football
“Pogo,” by Digitalism. As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve got a pretty wide-ranging taste in music. Digitalism is probably not near the top of my power rankings, but this song is particularly enjoyable. They’re a German electro pop duo that gained notoriety for this song inparticular back in 2007. Electronic music is OK as long as it’s mixed with real live rock, and this has at least that background of good rock music. Worth a try.
Personal Rankings Apropos of Nothing
Top 5 things coaches don’t do enough:
1) Zone-read. When you’ve got the personnel and a QB who can make a good read, it’s darn near impossible to stop.
2) Two-point conversions. If you get three yards more than 50% of the time, it’s beneficial. I’d run it every time.
3) Hurry-up offense in non-two minute drill situations. It works then; it’ll work anytime.
4) Zone blitz. It’s hard to orchestrate, but when run correctly, it’s greatness.
5) Going for it on fourth down. If it’s fourth and less than 3, I’m going for it every time.
Pre-Game Meal of the Week
Gushers! Holy everything, these were the greatest things in the world when I was in elementary school. I imagine these were the equivalent of cigarettes in prison, but you should know that I have all of my knowledge of prisons from The Shawshank Redemption. Sure, they’re basically Gummy Bears…with liquid inside! And no, I don’t know exactly what that liquid inside it was. It could be mercury for all I know. But they were delicious, and the next time I see them on the shelves at the store, I’m buying 50 of them.
Bye Week Distraction
Perhaps your high school or college team is taking the week off, and the NFL product doesn’t interest you much. That’s fine. I’m here to help with something to keep you busy.
You could stand to be smarter. Wait, that came out wrong. What I’m saying is that if you want to learn about something from Yale professors but don’t have the time, money or ability to go to Yale, check out Open Yale Courses. It’s a site featuring dozens upon dozens of free online, open access introductory courses taught by scholars at Yale. No, seriously! My personal favorite (probably because I minored in it in college) is Game Theory Economics, taught by Ben Polak. Guaranteed to make you smarter, or at least sound smarter.
Yell At Me
Impressive (and True!) Trivia for the Week
Did you know that fortune cookies were actually invented in America? Yep. Back in 1918, a guy named Charles Jung invented them. In your face, China! USA! USA!