Texas Exes Santa Fe Chapter president Paul Brice (left), BBA ’80, Life Member, with UT president Greg Fenves and Santa Fe mayor Javier M. Gonzales at the Santa Fe Chapter reception in July.
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It’s no secret that Matthew McConaughey is a serious Longhorns fan. The actor, a Life Member who earned his BS in 1993 and will be crowned a Distinguished Alumnus later this month, has voiced commercials for the university and is frequently spotted wearing burnt orange.
So it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that he recently showed up at a UT football practice to speak to the players before the Sept. 27 Kansas game. The resulting three-minute pep talk is classic McConaughey: a little folksy, a little rambling, and 100 percent enthusiastic and genuine.
“Last night I was thinking about what I do, and I was thinking about what y’all do, and I was asking myself this question all the time,” McConaughey told the team. “Why do I do what I do, why am I an actor? And I was gonna ask y’all, man, why do you play football? No right answer.” He went on to urge the players to look within themselves and find the purpose driving them to play the game. “At the end of the day, every single one of you really only gotta be playing for one person.”
While his 6-year-old son Levi toddled around in a miniature Longhorns jersey, McConaughey also took questions from the team (his favorite movie to make: Mud) before leading them in the chest-thumping chant from The Wolf of Wall Street. He said that the chant is his way of calming his nerves before shooting a scene, and made it on camera only after co-star Leonardo DiCaprio spotted McConaughey doing it.
He must’ve said something right: The Longhorns beat Kansas 23-0.
It wasn’t pretty, but it’ll do.
Texas defeated Kansas 23-0 on Saturday afternoon behind the Longhorns’ stellar defensive effort and a coaching mismatch in UT’s favor. It was ugly enough on Kansas’ side to warrant the Sunday-morning firing of head coach Charlie Weis. It’s another blow in a long string of recent failures for the former Notre Dame coach.
Duke Thomas had a pair of picks, Jordan Hicks nabbed his second of the season, and Quandre Diggs stole one of his own and recorded a sack on a corner blitz. Special teams had a mixed-bag type of day, though mostly positive: Jaxon Shipley had a nice 41-yard punt return; William Russ averaged 42 yards per punt, with three falling inside the Kansas 20; and Nick Rose hit the longest field goal of his career, a 42-yarder. That likely saved him some ire on the part of his coach, Charlie Strong, as Rose badly shanked his first extra-point attempt and had a second FG attempt blocked.
Missed opportunities on the offensive side of the ball kept the game closer than it should have been. That blocked field goal came on the heels of a 48-yard bomb from Tyrone Swoopes to Shipley in the second quarter. Before that drive stalled, it looked as if the Horns were a lock to come away with points. Texas also fumbled from the Kansas 3, squandering that chance. On the bright side, Swoopes looks more confident with each game. He was 19-34 for 218 yards and a pair of TDs. He also took one in himself, scrambling from seven yards out. Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray had trouble getting anything going on the ground.
Though Kansas is decidedly a bad football team, Vance Bedford’s defense pitched a shutout, the offense clicked, Texas is now 1-0 in Big 12 play, and no one got hurt. It was also Texas’ first road shutout since 2005, a 62-0 drumming of Baylor in Waco. We all know what happened at the end of that season. Baylor comes to Austin next Saturday.
Duke Thomas picks up 24 yards after his first interception of the day.
Photo courtesy UT Athletics.
Earlier this month, the advertising department of UT’s Moody College of Communications was renamed the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations after a $10-million campaign, with the school named in honor of one of the ad industry’s most influential people.
At 78 years old, and still possessing the ambition of someone a quarter his age, Stan Richards owns and heads the Dallas-based The Richards Group, the largest independent advertising agency in the nation, which he founded in 1955. He sat down with the Alcalde earlier this week to discuss his work, his origins, and how he definitely does not manage like a drill sergeant.
How did you get into advertising?
I was one of those really fortunate kids who knew very early on—probably by the time I was 10 or 11 years old —what they wanted to do. And I know most of the kids who come through the [advertising] program here graduate without knowing exactly what they want to do. I knew very early on, and the reason I knew was I could draw better than anyone else I knew.
When I was in high school, I took a course called “Commercial Art,” and it was not a particularly good course, and the guy who taught it was a hack, but I suddenly learned that I could do what I loved to do and get paid for it. And so that became a mission for me. When I went to college, I picked a school that would prepare me for the industry, and so I’ve been doing the stuff that I do for a very long time. And I’ve never veered off that path.
You graduated from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Why did you decide to support UT?
I have a long connection with UT. First of all, [I’ve] hired kids from here for many, many years. And this program turns out good kids, very smart and really very well-prepared for the industry. So they come in and they hit the ground running and they’re productive essentially from day one.
Then, as the years went by, I would come down here once or twice a year to talk to large groups of kids in the advertising sequence, and do it where there were 200, 300 kids in the room. I would talk about what we do and how we do it, and try to give them a sense of what an extraordinary business it is and what a joy it is to come to work every day in that kind of business. And the advertising business has all kinds of rewards built into it, aside from the money. It’s an opportunity, at least on the creative side, to express yourself creatively, whether you’re an art director or a writer; to solve problems with a great deal of enthusiasm; and then the other part of it is you’re going to be associated with people whom you would choose to be friends with even if you weren’t working together. Nice people, smart people. Funny people, charming people. That’s how I spent my life, and that’s how virtually everybody in advertising spends his life.
You own and oversee the largest independent advertising agency in the nation. To what would you attribute your success?
A lot of good work for a very long time. I’ve always believed that all that really matters is the work, and it may have something to do with the fact that we present ourselves well; that we’re nice people and we communicate that we’re easy to work with. But what really matters is the quality of our work, and our work is as good or better than every other agency in America. So that’s what counts.
What has been your favorite ad campaign to work on?
Probably it’s a current campaign, and we’ve done a lot of stuff over the years that I’m very proud of, but I think all things considered, our current work—and it’s been our work for almost 20 years—for Chick-fil-A is absolutely extraordinary. Totally dominates the category; there’s nobody in fast food that has a campaign that’s anywhere near as effective as what we’ve done. And also it has to do with the fact that they are a terrific client. They are really, really good people with an enormous amount of consistency on the client side. We’re working with the same people today that we began the relationship with 20 years ago, and that doesn’t happen in the advertising agency.
Who has been your least favorite, or the most difficult to work with?
Oh, we won’t talk about that. [laughs]
Good answer. I’ve heard your managerial style be compared by some to that of a drill sergeant. Very disciplinarian.
That couldn’t be more wrong, and I know that’s a general impression, but it really is wrong. First of all, we only have two rules at our place. Just two. You get to work on time, and you turn in your timesheet every day. That’s it. Everything else is up to you as an individual, and you run your life the way you run your life, and you push your work as hard as you’re capable of pushing the work. So it’s not a drill sergeant kind of environment.
Now, on the other hand, I’m a very disciplined person. I’ve never felt that, if I’m working on an assignment and I’m having trouble with it, that the right answer is to go to a movie or go for a walk. The right answer is to sit there and slug it out until I get to the right answer … We don’t need to manage people at all; they manage themselves. And all that we require is follow those two rules and do great work. That’s it. So that doesn’t sound like a drill sergeant to me. [laughs]
Do you have any advice for recently graduated or soon-to-graduate students at UT?
I guess the advice that I would give them is to embrace the attitude that the only thing that matters is the work, and it’s up to them to create the kind of work that, first of all, will get them jobs, have them move through the industry at whatever pace they think is appropriate, and very few of them will come into their first job out of school and stay there for the rest of their career. We have some people like that, who joined us out of school and have been with us for 35 years. But, for the most part, people in the advertising industry change jobs every three to five years, and the thing that makes the difference and allows them to progress is the quality of work. And it’s so obvious; they can put their work in front of anybody.
And it’s not like in most endeavors, if you can write an interesting résumé and make yourself look really good, you can get a job. Well, that’s not the case in our business. You put your work in front of somebody, and it’s either terrific or something less than terrific. And that’s the only thing that really matters.
Photo courtesy the Moody College of Communication
Pharrell Williams’ hit single “Happy” may be just a tad overplayed by now, but we don’t care. The joyful earworm has inspired fans to make videos of themselves dancing to the song everywhere from Gaza to Somalia to Kuala Lampur—and, of course, the Forty Acres. While the video isn’t new (it was first posted in February), it’s been making the rounds today thanks to a post on the realty site Movoto.
In the video, a group of UT students busts a move all over campus and at a few Austin landmarks, too. Half the fun is watching random bystanders, including a skeptical cop, get pulled into the action.
And if you can’t get enough of “Happy,” check out a different kind of musical tribute from another UT fan.
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This week Longhorn golf standout Jordan Spieth tees off in the 2014 Ryder Cup, one of the biggest events in the golfing world. At the precocious age of 21, Spieth is only the second UT alumnus to quality for the American Ryder Cup team since 1999. The breakout star owes at least part of his development to his time at UT under coach John Fields. In 2012, Fields coached Spieth as UT won its first national championship since the Ben Crenshaw/Tom Kite era in the early 1970s.
Fields recently spoke with the Alcalde about the Ryder Cup, coaching Spieth, and the future of Longhorn golf.
How do you think Spieth’s very recent team golf experiences at Texas will play into what he does?
Obviously, I’m thrilled for Jordan, [both] that he made the team and that he’s going to play for a captain like Tom Watson. I know that’s been an incredible goal for him. If Jordan accomplishes any sort of goal he quickly moves onto another. Now, he doesn’t want to just play in the Ryder Cup, he wants to win the Ryder Cup for the United States. He’s a fabulous match play competitor. He’s one of two guys in the world have won multiple United States Juniors, the other being Tiger Woods.
In the past you’ve mentioned the last time UT won the national championship prior to the 2012 win, when Tom Kite and Ben Crenshaw were on the team. You’ve talked about how this team as well had a lot of special players. Do you see this team having guys who come out, besides Spieth, who could be of the same stature as Ben Crenshaw and Tom Kite?
Yeah. We have special players on our team right now. They will be finding out just how special they are, just like Jordan did. Jordan has gone out and done some incredible things right away. I’m so happy for him. He had the opportunity and it didn’t hurt to come to Texas. He raised the level of his game while he was here. I’m super excited for him and what he’s going to do.
How do you foresee this season of UT golf panning out?
We’re very, very excited about this year. Beau Hossler is an extraordinary player. Scottie Scheffler was the U.S. Junior Champion. Doug Ghim was a Junior Ryder Cup team member. Three guys right there are ranked in the top 10 of the world as amateur golfers. Then you have Gavin Hall who’s played in multiple PGA Tour events, including the U.S. Open at Merion. Then you got Kramer Hickock who’s been an All-American, who’s an extraordinary player himself.
The core of our team is super-strong and yet we’ve got several other guys who are just fantastic players, like Taylor Funk who is really coming along who is going go to be a redshirt freshman this year. Brax McCarthy is a redshirt senior who finished top 10 in the Big 12 last year. We have extraordinary depth on our team.
Last year the team was ranked in the top 15. Do you see this as more of a development year, or do you see yourself in serious contention for the national championship?
This is not a rebuilding year, this is a championship year. These next three years going forward, if we’re able to maintain and keep our team intact, would be a time where we could win any golf tournament we play in and win any championship that we play in. Whether we do that or not, I can’t tell you.
They still have to hit fairways and make putts and make great decisions. We have three guys in the top 10 in the world on the team right now. Four guys have played in multiple PGA Tour events. We’ll either be the number-one or two team in the country coming out, and it’s up to us to take it from there.
Is your mention of keeping the team intact a hint that some players could leave and try to play on the PGA Tour, like Spieth?
That’s exactly it. You’ve got guys who have made cuts on the PGA Tour, like Beau at the U.S. Open at the second round at Olympic Club, and Scottie Scheffler [who] finished 22nd in the Byron Nelson up in Dallas. If they do anything else that’s extraordinary, the pressure starts mounting with regards to the opportunities that are presented to them. So they have to look at those things and then weigh the opportunities versus their education and competitors they’re playing against right now.
We support all of our guys. One of the great things about coming to Texas is that we understand that that is a possibility [that they might leave early] but we’re not shy about continuing to recruit those types of guys, because those are the kind of guys that absolutely have legitimate shots at championships. We’re excited about having these guys on our team. It creates unbelievable opportunity for us. We’re just like [the players], we want to win.
Photo by Anna Donlan.
If you thought Longhorn football couldn’t bear any more bad news after head coach Charlie Strong dismissed eight players and the team suffered two heartbreaking losses, you were wrong.
Junior quarterback David Ash has announced that he will no longer pursue football as a career due to the numerous concussions and concussion-related injuries he’s suffered over the past two seasons. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Coach Strong broke the news after Wednesday’s practice and said that he told Ash, “There was no way we were going to let you back onto the field.”
Ash was awarded a medical redshirt after sustaining at least one concussion in 2013, missing most of the season with lingering concussion symptoms, and was cleared for contact this January for the 2014 season. He missed most of the spring with a broken left foot and took a hard hit to the head while recovering a fumble in the season opener against North Texas. Hours after the game, some familiar concussion symptoms returned and Strong announced Ash would miss the BYU game the following week. He never took the field again.
“We just decided that because of his health, the number one concern for all of us, he is no longer going to play football,” Strong said, adding that Ash approached him to talk about his decision.
Although he’ll no longer play, Ash will still be a part of the program, Strong says. He will act as an assistant quarterback coach, helping mentor the Horns’ young quarterbacks. Tyrone Swoopes, who showed potential versus BYU and UCLA, will likely retain the starting position he was thrust into in Ash’s absence. According to the Daily Texan, Strong said there is no plan to burn freshman Jerrod Heard’s redshirt, but that he will still act as Swoopes’ backup.
Ash will finish his career with 22 starts, 385 completions, 31 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions, as well as a 62.1 pass completion rate and a 138.41 total quarterback rating. He went 19-for-34 against North Texas in the Horns’ season opener, throwing for 190 yards and racking up both a passing and a rushing touchdown despite taking some serious hits from the Mean Green defense. After the game, he called the team’s trainers, complaining of concussion-like symptoms, signaling the beginning of the end.
It’s disappointing to see concussions and injury derail what was a promising, possibly NFL-caliber career, especially when it happens to a player so young. What would be even more disappointing, however, would be seeing Ash permanently injure himself because he didn’t walk away. It’s a terrible situation, but it’s the right choice.
Best of luck, Dash.
Photo courtesy UT Athletics.
UT System Board of Regents chair Paul Foster announced the members of UT-Austin’s presidential search committee today, naming 15 people to the panel charged with finding the successor to UT-Austin president Bill Powers.
Eight of the spots on the committee are statutory, representing the university’s main constituencies, while seven are appointed. According to the System, the appointed members “have demonstrated significant involvement with UT Austin.” Six of those seven are alumni.
The list includes Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, LLB ’67, BA ’92, Life Member, Distinguished Alumna, president of the Texas Exes, as well as Adm. William McRaven, BJ ’77, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus, who will succeed Francisco Cigarroa as UT System chancellor.
Powers will resign on June 2, 2015, following an agreement between Powers and Cigarroa. The UT System will also be assisted by the executive search firm Spencer Stuart.
Here’s the full list of search committee members:
Pedro Reyes, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the UT System, and Larry Faulkner, Ph.D., president emeritus of UT Austin, will co-chair the search committee.
Representing the Board of Regents on the committee will be Vice Chairman Gene Powell, Vice Chairman Steven Hicks, and Regent Brenda Pejovich.
Representing presidents of other UT System institutions are Diana S. Natalicio, Ph.D., president of UT El Paso, and Daniel K. Podolsky, M.D., president of UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Representing the campus deans’ council will be Randy L. Diehl, Ph.D., dean of the College of Liberal Arts.
Serving as faculty representatives are: Martha F. Hilley, professor of music, Butler School of Music; David M. Hillis, Ph.D., professor of integrative biology, College of Natural Sciences; and Ernest D. (David) Sosa, Ph.D., professor of philosophy, College of Liberal Arts.
Representing the UT Austin staff is Erika Frahm, staff council immediate past chair and senior program coordinator in Human Resources.
Geetika Jerath, president of the Senate of College Councils, will represent the student body on the committee.
Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison will serve on the committee as president of the Texas Exes.
Seven external community representatives, all of whom have demonstrated significant involvement with UT Austin, and six of whom are alumni, were also selected to serve. They include:
Printice Gary, founder and CEO of Carleton Residential Properties and former member of the Board of Regents
Brian Haley, co-founder of CBTX Capital, former student regent and former UT Austin student body president
Chief U.S. District Judge Ricardo Hinojosa, Southern District of Texas
Woody Hunt, chairman and CEO of Hunt Companies, Inc. and former vice chairman of the Board of Regents
Admiral William H. McRaven, (Ret.), former commander of U.S. Special Operations Command
Jack Randall, co-founder of Jefferies Randall & Dewey Inc.
Robert Rowling, founder of TNT Holdings and former vice chairman of the Board of Regents
A college’s reputation is a tricky thing to quantify. Still, in the form of rankings, reputation is nevertheless a meaningful indicator for students and alumni keeping an eye on the value of their degrees.
The biggest name in the college rankings game is U.S. News and World Report, whose 1,000-pager, America’s Best Colleges, is annually purchased by droves of anxious high-school seniors and their parents. Today, U.S. News released its yearly ranking of the best colleges and universities, and UT came in at 53rd nationally. That’s a slight drop from last year’s 52nd slot.
Unsurprisingly, the Ivies topped the list, with Princeton, Harvard, and Yale filling out the top three. At 20th, Rice was the top-ranked school in Texas, with A&M coming in at 63rd. In a separate ranking of public universities, UT fared better: It was ranked 17th, between Penn State, Florida, and Washington (in a three-way tie for 14th) and Ohio State (18th).
Two of UT’s schools and colleges landed on their respective lists, with the McCombs School of Business slotted as the 8th-best business school in the nation and the Cockrell School of Engineering at 10th. Those rankings are for undergraduate programs only; U.S. News‘ grad-school rankings, released in March, had numerous UT programs in the top 10.
UT president Bill Powers told the Texas Tribune that university administrators watch the rankings while also understanding their limitations. “I take them with a grain of salt but that’s different than saying we ought not care about them,” he said, adding that some of the factors emphasized by the U.S. News methodology, like SAT scores, tend not to favor UT. Under the so-called Top 10 Percent Law, UT must offer admission to students who graduate near the top of their high school classes.
Photo by Amyn Kassam.
“We’re not ready to play,” Coach Charlie Strong said, at Saturday night’s press conference following the BYU game. From the look of things, he was right. His defensive coordinator, Vance Bedford, agreed.
“When you give up 28 points in one quarter,” Bedford said, “you’re not ready to play.”
It started with a bizarre personal foul committed by Texas on the opening kickoff, and it only got worse from there. What was a 6-0 BYU lead going into the half turned into a blowout by the middle of the third quarter, as the Longhorns fell to the Cougars 41-7, narrowly avoiding their first home shutout since 1976.
With Ash going down with a concussion against North Texas last week, the real question was about sophomore Tyrone Swoopes taking control of the offense in his first start for Texas. With an 11-15 halftime line for Tyrone Swoopes, after completing his first eight straight passes, it would appear that the Longhorns were clicking on offense. Not so Saturday night in a revenge game for the Longhorns against BYU, following a 40-21 loss in Provo last year.
Despite a big fat zero on the board, the momentum seemed to swing Texas’ way at the end of the second quarter, when Quandre Diggs made a highlight-reel interception to quell a BYU drive that began on their own 8 and ended at 68 yards in just under three minutes time. The Cougars were shredding the Longhorn D with quick slants and easy outs before BYU’s Tysom Hill took a shot to the corner of the endzone. Diggs locked in on the ball and made a leaping grab, dragging a foot to stay in bounds. Though it didn’t net any points for the Horns, it ended a Cougar drive that looked sure to be a scoring one and sent the Longhorns back into the locker room with some hope.
It only got worse from there, as BYU came out swinging after the half. After a touchback by Horns kicker Nick Rose, the Cougars stormed down the field, capping off a drive with a 30-yard scramble by Hill, at the end of which the slippery QB hurdled strong safety Dylan Haines to reach the endzone. The word “posterized” was slung around in my area, so you know it was bad.
On BYU’s next possession, they did it again, marching down the field and scoring on a long rushing TD by backup RB Adam Hine, making it 20-0.
After another quick 3-and-out, BYU returned a William Russ punt to Longhorns territory, and looked to score again. They did, on another rushing TD by Hill, who by this point in the game looked like the second coming of Vince Young, finishing with 134 yards rushing with three TDs on the game.
The Horns’ offense came alive at the end of the third, but by then it was too late. Swoopes used his legs on a couple of nice scrambles, hit Lorenzo Joe for a 22-yard completion, and then found a crossing John Harris over the middle for the score, making it 34-7.
After the following Longhorns drive stalled, the defense showed some life, with a strip sack by Malcom Brown, who had three sacks on the night, and five tackles for a loss. The stellar defensive play was immediately nullified by a Swoopes pick that turned into another Cougar touchdown, another rushing TD for Hine, and the nail in the coffin.
“We’re not good enough to turn the ball over,” Strong said. Amen.
Bedford, who has previously been critical of fans who don’t show up to the game, sided with early exiting Longhorns on Saturday.
“I would have left early,” Bedford said, drawing some laughs. “After seeing that mess out there, I would have been right there with them.”
Bedford also preached looking forward when asked if a game like this wounds players, and hurts the team’s pride.
“For one day,” Bedford said. “If you let pride get in your way, you’re going to have a lot of problems. It’s going to be a long year.”
It’s difficult to find a silver lining in a loss this demoralizing, especially with this game circled on the schedules of all players and coaches after last year’s beatdown. However, if there is one takeaway, it’s that Swoopes won’t shy away from the pressure. With David Ash’s quarterbacking career in jeopardy, that’s a big deal.
“I was very pleased with the way [Swoopes] played,” Strong said. On a night when not much else was working, that’ll have to do.
Photo by Anna Donlan
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