State pride, the biggest games of the week, and brisket in Tepper's Take.
[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 December 13 edition of Tepper’s Take, I had to flip nothin’ and turn it into somethin', hip-hop turns to the future rock when I smash a pumpkin.
I was out on Saturday night during the Heisman Trophy ceremony, at a couple’s shower for friends who are getting married. Of course, we had the ceremony on the television, and when the time came, all of the men huddled around the screen to watch history.
It was a crowd of mixed affiliations: some A&M fans, some Texas Tech fans, some Texas fans, some Baylor fans, some interested people with no affiliation. In fact, I’d call it a good cross-section of Texas college football fans.
When the announcement was made – “Johnny Manziel!” – the reaction was also mixed. The Aggie faithful in the room were obviously elated…but for everyone else, there was no celebration.
Social networks looked the same way: ecstatic Aggies, unmoved – or, in some cases, disappointed – everyone else.
Sadly, it was all too predictable, because the same thing happened last year around this time. Baylor’s Robert Griffin III won the Heisman, and while the Baylor fans were euphoric, the reaction from most of the rest of the Texas college football fans was either disinterest or disenchantment.
Perhaps this is a silly question…but why?
When did we get to the point where one’s chosen team is one’s sole rooting interest? Sure, there’s some pulling for one’s conference, but other than that, fans have become more single-minded than ever.
Whatever happened to state pride? Whatever happened for pulling for the state of Texas, and not just your school?
I understand that I’m the naïve one here. But it’s a bit disappointing to see the division in the state between all of the fan bases. Unless you’re playing one another, I don’t see any problem with cheering for all of the other teams in Texas besides your own.
I also understand that I’m in a unique position – covering all 12 FBS programs in the state means that I don’t have an affiliation, so there’s no emotional tie to any of the schools here.
But for me, Johnny Manziel’s Heisman win should be – as Robert Griffin III’s Heisman win should’ve been – a proud moment not just for Texas A&M, but for the state of Texas.
Instead, I can’t help but feel that we’re more divided than ever, and that – in my opinion – is a shame.
Games I’d TiVo If The UIL Would Let Me (And College Games I Will, In Fact, TiVo)
Katy vs. Cibolo Steele
And here…we…go. The state semifinals to end all state semifinals goes down this week in the 5A Division II bracket, as two unbeaten and largely unchallenged squads tangle in Waco. Look, there’s no denying how dominant Katy has been – they’ve won their four playoff games by a combined score of 251-38 – and how complete they’ve looked, being almost as dangerous with their ballhawking defense as they have been with their Adam Taylor-led offense. But just as impressive has been the manner by which Steele has gone about their business this season, running the ball with a bruising offensive line plowing the road for Justin Stockton and Jordan Stearns, and leaning on what has been a remarkable defense. I can see this going a number of ways, but Steele does seem uniquely suited to win this one. Run the ball, keep it away from Katy, keep their offense in front of you, prevent the big play, and win an ugly game. The problem is, that’s way, way easier said than done.
Tepper’s pick: Katy 38, Cibolo Steele 21
Sam Houston State at Eastern Washington
Looking for the most prolific running back in Texas? It’s…probably Zach Line at SMU. But Tim Flanders at Sam Houston State certainly has an argument, as he’s once again leading the Bearkats to a deep run in the FCS playoffs. The Bearkats, on the strength of Flanders and key defensive stops, got past Montana last week, but now face an entirely different challenge: the red-turfed Eastern Washington Eagles, led by a familiar name at quarterback in former Southlake Carroll star and SMU quarterback Kyle Padron. He threw five touchdowns last week against Illinois State, so the Bearkats defense will need to be on its toes. Will Flanders and the Bearkats running game run its way to the national title game again?
Tepper’s pick: Sam Houston State 37, Eastern Washington 31
Munday vs. Wellington
Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy. As a small-school football nerd, this is a game for which I’ve been waiting pretty much all year. I think these are the two best teams in 1A Division II. Wellington has had an explosive offense led by Klark Ashmore and RB Terry Gilbreath, and their defense hasn’t been too shabby, either. But Munday, well, Munday has Dee Paul, in my opinion the most dominant player in the state. He’s scored 55 touchdowns in six different ways. Plain and simple, he’s a game-changer, and Wellington will have to bottle him up to win this one. Either way, this is going to be great.
Tepper’s pick: Munday 49, Wellington 34
Apologies to: All of them; it’s the playoffs
Three Bold, Sure-To-Be-Wrong Predictions
Oopsies. For the first time in a while, I was under .500, going 1-for-3 and only getting the relative lay-up (Johnny Football winning the Heisman). Time to finish strong. I’m 30-15 on the year.
-DeSoto continues its high-flying ways, getting a thrilling win over Allen to advance to the state title game.
-East Bernard, just a week after shocking Refugio, rolls into the title game with a win over Elysian Fields.
-Richland Springs wins its 45th straight game by toppling Follett for the Six-Man Division II title.
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 bag of Bagel Holes. OK, just the title.
Last week, the Manster Watch fell on Graham QB Ben Davis. The stakes for Mansterhood: 250 total yards and two total touchdowns in the Steers’ game against Gatesville. And wouldn’t you know it? He didn’t even need to run! He threw for 263 yards and a whopping five touchdowns as the Steers bested previously unbeaten Gatesville! Congratulations, Ben! You live amongst the Mansters now!
This week, the Manster Watch sets its eyes on Manor RB Tyrone Owens. Tepper’s Take has not given the Mustangs their due, yet here they are, taking on Cedar Park in the state semifinals, and it’s largely due to the running of Owens. He’s racked up 1,322 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground, and that’s on just 139 carries, averaging a whopping 9.5 yards per touch. So, here’s the deal, Mr. Owens: if you can eclipse the 90-yard mark and score a touchdown against the mighty Cedar Park defense, we’ll give you the title of Manster. Just ask Ben Davis; it’s pretty swell!
2012 Mansters: Jasper WR D’Marcus Collins, Newton RB Kevin Shorter, Glen Rose QB Colton Bretton, Dallas Jesuit WR Jake Oliver, the Poth Pirates defense, Mason RB Rio Schmidt, Graham QB Ben Davis.
Song Sure to Get You Fired Up for Football
Mother of God, someone mashed up Gangnam Style and the theme from “Space Jam.” Tell your ears that they’re welcome.
Personal Rankings Apropos of Nothing
Top Five Most Valuable Texas College Football Players, 2012 Edition
1) Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel
2) Baylor WR Terrance Williams
3) Texas A&M OL Luke Joeckel
4) Texas Tech QB Seth Doege
5) TCU DE Devonte Fields
Pre-Game Meal of the Week
Beef brisket. TepWife and I went to a friend’s Chanukah party on Sunday, which consisted of pointing out the plot holes in Home Alone 2: Lost In New York, making gingerbread houses and eating brisket. And really, there’s not much in this world that’s better than well-cooked brisket. So succulent. So delicious. So versatile (you can make sandwiches, eat it by itself, put it in soup or chili). I mean, brisket is just so good, all the time, and yet I’m not sure it gets enough credit for being great. It’s the Eric Dickerson of meat.
Bye Week Distraction
The good news is that, if your team isn’t playing this week, you’re in the vast, vast majority. But that’s not going to make this football-less weekend any easier. Let’s get through it, together.
Man, it’s been one whole week since I featured an awesome music discovery site here in the BWD, but here we go! Songza is my new music obsession. Sure, you could spend hours and hours creating a playlist for just the right situation…or you can just go to Songza, which has all sorts of playlists for all sorts of situations. Want a playlist while you work? Click on it – choosing with or without lyrics, which is huge for me, because lyrics only tend to distract me – and it’ll start playing, ad-free. Or choose the “Eating Dinner” playlist. Or the “Put On Your Dancing Shoes” playlist. Or the “NPR’s Ultimate Workout Mix” playlist, which is odd, considering I don’t imagine NPR really being in the business of getting people to the gym. What I’m saying is that Songza is worth your time.
Yell At Me
I’m available via e-mail or via Twitter. Let me know if you like my column, or you listen to NPR for the workout music, or both.
Impressive (and True!) Trivia of the Week
Did you know that there is a species of deer with fangs? Yep; Chinese water deer develop long canine teeth. In related news, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.