Hasn’t the UT problem been too much PR and not enough coaching?

After a somewhat haphazard process in which many fantastic names (Saban! Gruden! Harbaugh! Tomlin!) were floated, the UT football program has finally settled on their guy: Charlie Strong, who was an excellent defensive cooordinator at Florida, and a head coach who rebuilt Louisville into a national program in a few years.

By most accounts, UT is getting a football-focused guy who loves the Xs and Os, is a strong recruiter, and who doesn’t have a lot of use for the media or PR side of things.

If I were a UT fan, that would sound pretty good to me after the last few years of a CEO head coach who excelled at PR/media/booster relations, but seemingly lost the ability to assemble good staff (crucial to a CEO-style coach) and to evaluate talent (the last two Heisman winners had interest in UT that wasn’t mutual). As a Sooner fan, I think it’s a change that will make UT more formidable (which is good for the conference and ultimately good for OU, so bring it!).

Still, there is column space to fill in old media, and already we are seeing articles wondering about the new coach’s “sizzle” or putting him down because he’s apparently not much interested in playing media games. Here are links to a couple of the genre:

It’s fair to say the media and PR responsibilities at UT will be more intense than they were at Louisville (although they are pretty crazy about college football in Florida, so he has seen that side of things), and wealthy UT boosters like to be part of the club. One suspects that part of the new responsibilities of UT’s abrasive new Athletics Director may well be keeping some of those boosters happy (THAT might be the bigger story at UT, since Steve Patterson may not have the right temperament for that task), which is probably the better arrangement anyway. But I suspect a coach who’s enjoyed the success on the field that Strong has will be able to handle the relatively tame Texas sports media.

Concerns about recruiting are perhaps more legitimate. Strong didn’t recruit Texas strongly at Louisville or Florida, partly because of all the Florida talent at his disposal. But Louisville’s turnaround under Strong would not have occurred if the guy couldn’t judge talent and get it to his place. It may take him some time to figure out Texas recruiting, but my bet is he’s a smart enough football guy that his staff will have some good Texas recruiters on it. And UT should be able to get an audience with most kids if it wants to. So having a coach who can judge talent and whether it fits his schemes (or whether the schemes should be adjusted) could prove to be an advantage — again, let’s recall that two guys named Manziel and Winston didn’t interest Mr. Recruiter, Mack Brown.

Oh, and there’s actually a pretty good example of a guy having a bit of success coming into the Big 12 after being defensive coordinator at Florida and not really having ties to Texas high school football: His name is Bob Stoops. He’s managed to recruit Texas pretty well. He’s also much more terse with media than they like (and much more so than Barry Switzer, who was and still is buds with all media it seems). It’s worked out okay.

I suspect it’s going to work out okay for UT, despite journo concerns about “sizzle.” Winning = Sizzle. I’m a Sooner fan, so that’s about all the “happy” UT talk I can muster with regard to Longhorn Nation. Ultimately, when UT is strong, it’s good for the conference (no offense to Tech and K-State and Baylor and OSU, but national outlets don’t get nearly so excited when you are the standard bearers and UT/OU are struggling to stay among the Top 20). Plus I also think it pushes Stoopsy a bit. So here’s hoping this pushes the entire conference to be better (ESPECIALLY after this past season, which saw too much bad football in the Big 12).

Happy 2014

It’s time for the annual post in which I wish the diehards who stop by here on occasion a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

2013 was one we were happy enough to put behind us. We had a good year of family, friends, travel, and the like, but Callie’s family also lost three dogs (within weeks of each other) and had a health scare with Kiwi (thankfully, the old gal has recovered strongly, after Callie started making the dogs’ food herself), we lost a family friend, and work threw a few screwballs from time to time.  We were happy to conclude 2013 with another huge Christmas celebration at the house (18 friends and family members this year), and coast into 2014 with doors locked (and bubbly from French Country Wines).

I requalified as a Platinum on United this year, and thanks to a legacy Continental President’s Club credit card, I’ll still be in the United MileagePlus game next year (aiming for Platinum again), although the airline has modified the terms of the program such that I’d be strongly considering a jump to American or Alaskan if I didn’t still have the magic card (which waives PQD requirements up to Plat). There is still value in the mileage game with United for those who like to travel and can work it to proper advantage (this likely involves a Chase-branded credit card and a bit of creativity), and there are still bargains to be had (a $320 roundtrip to Dubai for 2014 on United, booked on a Norwegian site last year is evidence of this). But overall on United, it’s going to become more expensive and harder to obtain elite status, and more expensive and harder to grab really nice award travel. What this means to United’s bottom line — and whether this produces even more cuts and cheap, customer-unfriendly moves from the bumbling gang in Chicago — remains to be seen. But for 2014, the game continues mostly on United (still figuring out what we’ll do with Callie’s mileage, though!).

I won’t promise that blogging will be much heavier here than it was in 2013, but at least there are occasional signs of life! And we did get blogHOUSTON rolling again. Work, real life, travel, and friends/family take precedence over blogging, and twitter/facebook are just easier, but we’ll see! I’ve had one dear old friend request more travel updates, and I really <i>should</i> blog more about travel while still playing the game, but no promises. :)

If you’re still reading this, here’s hoping I catch up with you in 2014 at an airport, travel destination, campground, icehouse, sporting event, patio grilling/wining session, or… wherever. Because media is fine, but social is better (says the introvert who needs to hide from time to time, LOL). Looking forward to a great year!

Is it possible Kubiak truly isn’t well enough to coach an NFL team?

Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, who is (by all accounts) a good man, recently suffered a mini stroke (technically a transient ischemic attack).

He wasn’t able to coach last weekend, but his doctors and the Texans decided he would be fine to coach THIS weekend. Two weeks after a major neurological event (not trying to be a smartass, just stating the facts).

Before this week’s game, I wasn’t so sure Kubiak should be back on the sideline. A Houston Cougar quarterback, after all, had to quit football after he suffered a brain injury early in the season. Texas Longhorn quarterback David Ash may face the same fate. Kubiak didn’t suffer a concussion, but a mini-stroke is not a trivial health/neurological issue.

So, here’s an excerpt from the Houston Chronicle‘s Astros-beat-writer-turned-Texans-beat-writer following today’s debacle:

Case Keenum was surprised. So was Matt Schaub. Reliant Stadium was stunned. Gary Kubiak thought everything about his shocking move made perfect sense.

Schaub, a former starter turned backup, suddenly replaced Keenum, a former third-stringer turned starter, with 2 minutes, 26 seconds left in the third quarter during the Texans’ 28-23 defeat to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday at Reliant Stadium.

As boos crashed down – forcing the Texans to turn to a silent count just so they could run plays – a season that was already surreal, depressing and embarrassing escaped description.

[snip]

Keenum barely knew the move was coming. Schaub was equally caught off guard, only learning about his first series as the team’s starter in more than a month when word came down minutes before his promotion.

“It was a quick turnaround. I think right actually when the defense had a third down and we were about to get a punt, so I only got a few throws before I got to go back out there,” said Schaub, who finished 12-of-25 for 155 yards and a 67.9 rating, leading two field-goal drives but failing to convert a go-ahead touchdown on the Texans’ final possession.

[snip]

Kubiak didn’t intend to make the move when he walked into Reliant on Sunday and didn’t mention the Texans’ horrible third-down conversion rate (2-of-16.) The eighth-year coach only cited two reasons for the change: The Texans wanted to increase their offensive tempo and Schaub, a 10-year veteran, was better equipped to handle in-game call changes that addressed protection issues.

“I knew he could get all that done and I thought it would be very difficult to put Case in that situation,” Kubiak said.

Left guard Wade Smith didn’t know anything about protection issues.

Wide receiver Andre Johnson – who became involved in a heated verbal exchange with Schaub at the end of the defeat – said the Texans’ game plan wasn’t altered when the former starter took over.

“The plays we were running were the stuff we normally run,” Johnson said. “I wouldn’t say it was a big change with anything.”

Again, not trying to be a smartass, but even the players aren’t backing up the coach’s bizarre decisions and reasoning on this one (and this is a player’s coach, so they almost ALWAYS have his back on virtually anything).

Is Kubiak well enough to be trying to coach an NFL team right now?

Test Post

I’ve had a number of websites scattered across two webhosts for about a year now.

I’ve decided to consolidate on to one webhost.

If you’re seeing this post, you’re seeing this blog at its new home.

Let me know if anything is obviously broken.

Texas Monthly executive editor: Tea Partiers and Ted Cruz are big stupidheads

Many journos who use Twitter place the disclaimer “RTs don’t constitute endorsement” (or some variant) in their bio, presumably to keep up the illusion of not having an opinion on politics, which they can therefore cover objectively.

It’s really kind of a silly claim, but that’s the modern j-school mindset at work here in the U.S.

Still, what’s fun about Twitter is that those journos who do a fair amount of RTing — say, the Houston Chronicle‘s leftwing bureau chief David McCumber — usually reveal quite a bit about their reading patterns (in McCumber’s case, a heavy dose of establishment and left-leaning sites, and no real conservative sites).

And then there are the journos who seem to think nobody is actually paying any attention to what they tweet. Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, is one of those sorts of twitter users (although she also exhibits the RT behavior of McCumber).

Recently, there’s Mimi Swartz all but calling Sen. Ted Cruz dumb:

And then there’s Mimi Swartz with a non-sequitur:

What does Ted Cruz have to do with Kony? Beats me. But Mimi Swartz knows, because she’s sharper than you. And me.

Don’t believe me? Well, if you have any sympathies for the Tea Party movement — and chances are you might if you’ve followed this blog for very long — Mimi Swartz has tweeted just that:

So, to sum up the executive editor of Texas Monthly from recent twitter output: Ted Cruz is stupid, Tea Party people are stupid, and Ted Cruz hasn’t tracked down Kony (or something).

At least Mimi Swartz doesn’t bother with the insipid “RTs don’t constitute endorsements” disclaimer on her twitter bio. *shrug*

Way to be timely, City of Houston

Two City of Houston employees came by the house today.

Callie informs that they wanted “to inspect the windows and sign off on the permit.”

Ummm, what?

After further inquiry, Callie ascertained that they were talking about the replacement windows we had installed shortly after moving in a little over THREE YEARS AGO.

Undaunted, they told her well, yes, there’s a bit of an, umm, backlog, but they could just sign off on the permit now.

They also were not particularly bothered when she told them we no longer had the permit, the work being completed YEARS AGO to our satisfaction (incidentally, we highly recommend Dan over at Famous Windows — he provides great service and an excellent product, much better than those Gulf Coast Windows/Windows World things one sees/hears advertised). The bureaucrats (plural) informed Callie they would remove us from their list. Cheerio, and all.

Isn’t that just a great example of wasteful, useless City of Houston bureaucracy in action?