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Takeaways From Charlie Strong’s Big 12 Media Day

 

Takeaways From Charlie Strong’s First Big 12 Media Day

The wait is over: David Ash will take snaps with the Longhorns’ first team offense when fall camp opens in August. Coach Charlie Strong, speaking at UT’s Big 12 media day Tuesday, named Ash, who received full medical clearance on Monday, to the No. 1 spot. In an ambiguous quote, Strong said that sophomore Tyrone Swoopes, who appeared in five games for the Horns last season and was seemingly in the running to start this season when Ash went down with a foot fracture in April, “will be given the opportunity to compete” for the backup spot with freshman Jerrod Heard.

Appearing with four Longhorn players at his side—center Dominic Espinosa, defensive end Cedric Reed, cornerback Quandre Diggs, and running back Malcolm Brown—Strong didn’t make any other major announcements beyond his starting QB, though he did have some notable quotes.

He praised his predecessor Mack Brown, saying, “I’m following an icon in Coach Brown. The foundation has been laid, now it’s up to us to build on that foundation.” When asked a question about racial factors pertaining to his new position at Texas, Strong said, “There’s tall shoulders that I stand on,” acknowledging those who have paved his way to UT. “It’s been a great opportunity. But it’s because of a lot of hard work from other people also.”

Strong addressed the hubbub from mid-April, when he told a Fort Worth crowd that UT would not win the national championship this year. According to the coach, this was during “phase two” of his plan, which occurred during spring practices. Downplaying this “controversial” statement, he said that this was very early in his five-phase process, and that, “We’re not as bad as we used to be.”

Strong also spoke about one of his motivational tactics. The Longhorn symbol on the locker-room floor will be roped off on every day except gameday, when players can gather around it. The obvious symbolism, which Strong has addressed in other ways previously, is that you earn your stripes in practice.

Diggs had some strong words of his own at media day, calling this year’s team and regime “New Texas.” The senior described previous Texas teams he’d been on as rostered with some players who didn’t have their hearts in it.

“That’s something that I’ve always sensed since I’ve been here: We had guys that just didn’t love football,” Diggs said on Tuesday. “If you don’t love football, you don’t need to be a part of this university or a part of this team.”

Diggs even wants to take a proactive approach, on a seek-and-destroy mission of sorts from inside the locker room, identifying and nixing players who aren’t in it for the right reasons (re: to win games).

“Heck, if it was up to me and Coach Strong asked me, I’d help him weed guys out,” Diggs said.

38 days until kickoff.

Image courtesy UT Athletics

 

 

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Kevin Durant Wins Big at ESPY Awards

 

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Former Longhorn basketball star Kevin Durant was honored twice during Wednesday night’s ESPY Awards, winning both the “Best NBA Player” and “Best Male Athlete” awards.

Durant, who currently plays small forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder, is the current 2014 NBA regular season MVP and led his team on a thrilling semifinal run, beating out first Memphis and then the Los Angeles Clippers before losing in six games to eventual champions, the San Antonio Spurs.

Durant’s wins unseat reigning winner LeBron James, who won both awards for the past two years. San Antonio forward Kawhi Leonard won “Best Championship Performance” for his MVP-winning performance in the NBA Finals, which James also won last year and the year before, meaning King James’ rule—at least at the ESPYs—is seemingly finished.

The otherwise light-hearted ceremony, which saw host Drake bust out his comedy chops by doing impressions of boxer Manny Pacquiao and starting fake beef with Clippers forward Blake Griffin, was punctuated by heartfelt speeches by rookie linebacker Michael Sam and ESPN personality Stuart Scott. Sam won the Arthur Ashe award for becoming the first openly gay player in the NFL, and Scott won the Jimmy V Award honoring his seven-year fight against cancer.

Drake had a shout-out for KD during a performance of his song “Worst Behavior,” changing a line to “real talent doesn’t always win championships like real music doesn’t always win Grammys,” and comparing the Thunder playoff loss to rapper Macklemore’s Grammy win over favorite Kendrick Lamar.

Photo courtesy Associated Press via Inquirer Sports

 

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Court Sides 2-1 With UT in Fisher Case

 

Rewriting-Race-in-Admissions

In a 2-1 decision Tuesday, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court upheld an earlier ruling that UT did not violate the 14th Amendment by refusing admission to Abigail Fisher.

The Fisher case, which challenges universities’ use of race in admissions, has been wending its way through the courts for the last six years. Fisher, who is white, sued the university after she was denied admission in 2008; she graduated from Louisiana State University in 2012 and now works as a financial analyst in Austin. Last June, the Supreme Court sent the case back to a lower court, which left staff at universities around the country wondering how their admissions policies could soon change. Today’s ruling means that they won’t have to change—at least for the moment.

“We are persuaded that holistic review is a necessary complement to the Top Ten Percent Plan,” wrote Circuit Judge Patrick Higginbotham in the majority opinion, “enabling it to operate without reducing itself to a cover for a quota system; that in doing so, its limited use of race is narrowly tailored to this role—as small a part as possible for the plan to succeed.”

Higginbotham added, “This interest [of achieving diversity] is compelled by the reality that university education is more the shaping of lives than the filling of heads with facts — the classic assertion of the humanities.”

Circuit judge Emilio Garza wrote the dissenting opinion, in which he argued that UT’s stated goal of achieving a “critical mass” of diversity within its student body is too vague.

“Because the University has not defined its diversity goal in any meaningful way—instead, reflexively reciting the term ‘critical mass’—it is altogether impossible to determine whether its use of racial classifications is narrowly tailored,” Garza wrote.

In a statement, UT President Bill Powers said he was pleased with the decision.

“We are very pleased with the Court’s ruling recognizing the constitutionality of the University’s admissions policy under the Supreme Court’s recent guidance,” Powers said. “We remain committed to assembling a student body at The University of Texas at Austin that brings with it the educational benefits of diversity while respecting the rights of all students.”

Less than an hour after the ruling was released, Fisher and her legal team had already vowed to appeal. “It is disappointing that the judges hearing my case are not following the Supreme Court’s ruling last summer. I remain committed to continuing this lawsuit even if it means we appeal to the Supreme Court once again,” Fisher said in a statement.

Editor’s note: The Texas Exes takes no position on the use of race in admissions.

U.S. 5th Circuit Court Court Ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas Case by The Texas Exes

 

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Report: McRaven a Candidate for UT Chancellor

 

Admiral William McRaven to Deliver Commencement Speech

Paul Burka over at Texas Monthly is reporting (although he doesn’t name his source or sources, and he doesn’t say how good the information is) that the UT System regents have narrowed down the candidate pool for the next chancellor to Richard Fisher and Adm. William McRaven, BJ ’77, Life Member.

Fisher leads the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas; McRaven is commander of U.S. Special Operations command, a Navy SEAL, and a Distinguished Alumnus of UT-Austin. He led the operation that resulted in killing Osama bin Laden. He also gave an unbelievable commencement speech at UT’s graduation this year that has been viewed more than 2 million times. His advice for graduates derived from his SEAL training.

Fisher is not a UT grad. He earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard and an MBA from Stanford.

A spokeswoman for the UT System declined to comment on the report, saying candidate names are confidential.

Both men would represent departures from a pronounced trend in Texas higher education toward former politicians becoming chancellors. Either man would be replacing Dr. Francisco Cigarroa, who announced his resignation earlier this year. Cigarroa intends to return to transplant surgery in San Antonio once a new chancellor is found.

Contributing reporting by Chris O’Connell. File photo of William McRaven.

 

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Mack Brown Set to Join ESPN as a College Football Analyst

 

Orange County News - January 04, 2010

Mack Brown may no longer be on the sidelines of Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t still a part of college football.

Chip Brown, radio sports analyst and writer for HornsDigest.com, first broke the news in June that Mack has signed a deal with ESPN to be a college football studio analyst, but the rumor went unconfirmed by both Brown and the university. Now, however, NFL.com’s Gil Brandt has confirmed via Twitter that Brown himself has said he and longtime ESPN host John Saunders will be a part of the network’s college football coverage this fall on ABC.

Brown, who turns 63 in August, coached the Longhorns for 16 seasons, from 1998 through last season. As the Longhorns’ coach, he held a 158-45 record, with 15 bowl wins, two Big 12 titles, and one BCS National Championship. With his candid personality, media savvy, and deep knowledge of the game both on and off the field, Brown has long been thought to end up as a television analyst following his coaching career, which seems to be all but over.

There was speculation that Brown could step in for former Notre Dame and South Carolina coach-slash-tongue-twisting analyst Lou Holtz, who—despite ESPN’s denials—announced his plan to retire after the upcoming 2014 season, but those rumors seem to be quashed in light of Brandt’s tweet, as Brown’s position with the network will be different from Holtz’s.

Hopefully with Mack in the studio, we’ll be gifted with more videos like this one. Texas style, baby!

Photo by MICHAEL GOULDING,THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER (Credit Image: © The Orange County Register/ZUMApress.com)

 

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Kedra Ishop Resigns, Says Unrelated to Admissions Investigation

 

Four Questions for Kedra Ishop

Kedra Ishop, vice provost and admissions director at UT, will step down on July 15 to become the associate vice president of enrollment management at the University of Michigan. Ishop, BA ’97, MEd ’00, PhD ’08, Life Member, says that the move was in the works prior to news regarding the UT System’s launch of a full-scale external investigation into admissions at UT-Austin.

“All this began before any of that, before the announcement,” Ishop says. “It was not part of it. Most important was making the right decision in what I’ve been doing for my career.”

Ishop would not comment on the private meeting regent Wallace Hall proposed with Ishop months ago during his inquiry into the admissions process, or on the UT regent controversy in general. Hall has been under investigation for the better part of a year by the Texas Legislature on the subject of massive, unprecedented document requests, and if they violated state or federal statues. Hall maintains he has simply been fulfilling his duties as a regent.

Ishop’s role will be broader at Michigan than than it is at UT, as Ishop will oversee several units. The new gig, she says, represents a promotion.

“It’s a very bittersweet moment for me—I wasn’t looking to leave the institution,” Ishop says. “Sometimes great opportunities come knocking. Anyone learns that as you prepare yourself to lead, you sometimes get knocked in head by a tremendous opportunity—that’s what I have at UM— and you notice and you listen. I’m excited about the position and the opportunity that Michigan presents. At this is point in time it’s the right decision for myself and my family to take advantage of it.”

Ishop is proud of her time at the University of Texas, noting the dynamic relationship between the institution, the state of Texas, and its constituents as being unique to the school.

“There’s a lot of things [I'm most proud of],” Ishop says. “It’s being a part of transforming the admissions process from one that when I entered over 20 years ago was in a different time and place to being a part of transforming admissions with holistic review. Not just professionally, but also being part of this team and all of us taking ourselves across this in a short amount of time. It’s hard to see from the outside how transformative it is.”

Ishop also says that any adversity she or the admissions office have faced at UT helped prepare her for her new role at Michigan, one that is set to begin on September 1.

“Michigan would not have been interested in me,” Ishop says, “without the preparation I’ve had at UT, and I’m extremely proud of the experience I’ve had here at the university.”

That experience is deeply important to Ishop, an alumna who received three degrees from UT and has mixed emotions about leaving the university despite her new opportunity at Michigan.

“Texas is my home. Always was, and always will be.”

Photo courtesy Lucy Ledesma.

 

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Student Pleads Guilty to Supporting Terrorists

 

Screen Shot 2014-07-02 at 12.55.26 PMUT senior Rahatul Ashikim Khan pleaded guilty today in an Austin court to charges of providing material support to terrorists.

Khan, 23, was arrested at his Round Rock home last month. Authorities allege that he tried to recruit potential terrorists in an online chat room from 2011-12. Also charged with the same offense, and arrested as part of the same operation, was Austin man Michael Todd Wolfe, 23, who allegedly planned to travel to Syria for a suicide mission with an Al-Qaeda affiliate. Wolfe pleaded guilty last Friday.

According to the criminal complaint against Khan, in the chat room he referred to himself as a jihadi, discussed training and weapons, and indicated he was trying to recruit others to join his cause.

Khan could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison.

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

Myles Turner Helps Team USA Win Seventh Gold Medal

 

USAselfieRESIZEGood news for Rick Barnes and Texas basketball: Incoming University of Texas freshman and basketball wunderkind Myles Turner can now add “gold medal winner” to his list of accolades.

The Bedford, Texas native posted five points, five rebounds, and four blocked shots as Team USA thrashed Canada 113-79 Tuesday evening in the gold medal game of the 2014 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. Turner’s game-high four blocks brings his total number of blocked shots to 18 in the five-game tournament, shattering the previous Team USA competition record of 13 set in 1994.

As Texas Sports reports, Turner had one heck of a tourney:

During the tournament, Turner started all five games and averaged 7.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and a team-best 3.6 blocks in just 15.4 minutes per contest. He converted 13-of-19 (.684) field goals, including 1-of-1 from three-point range, and 9-of-12 (.750) free throws. Nine of his 24 total rebounds came off the offensive glass.

With this win, Team USA went 5-0 and collected a seventh gold medal all-time at the tournament. The American team won the championship in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010, and 2012.

Myles took to Twitter to celebrate, posting a selfie of him and his gold medal, with the caption “GUESS WHOS AN OFFICIAL GOLD MEDAL WINNER!!!” followed by seven American flag emojis. With a tweet like that, it’s impossible not to be excited for him.

 

 

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Taylor Hoagland Joins the Women’s National Softball Team For the Third Time

 


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A Longhorn softball star will compete on the 2014 Softball Women’s National Team: Taylor Hoagland, BS ’13, was named to the team on Sunday for the third time.

As Horns Illustrated reports, Hoagland left a pile of broken records on the Forty Acres:

Hoagland, who is considered one of the most productive offensive players in program history, stands as UT’s all-time leader in home runs (58), runs scored (221), walks (178), slugging percentage (.708), and on-base percentage (.501) while ranking second in batting average (.365) and stolen bases (88) and third in runs batted in (149).

While playing for the Longhorns, she was also a three-time All-Big 12 First Team pick and earned a spot on the 2011 NFCA All-Central Region First Team. Hoagland also earned solid grades in her corporate communications major, getting her named to the 2010-2011 Big 12 Commissioner’s honor roll and to UT’s student athlete academic council.

The Flower Mound native, who also played on the national team in 2011 and 2013, moved to Massachusetts last year for an assistant coaching job with Amherst College. She’s also a women’s sports blogger with WSN. Before heading to the ISF Women’s World Championships in the Netherlands (Aug. 15-24), the national team will warm up with games in West Virginia, California, Canada, Maryland, and Italy next month.

Hoagland shared the news on her Instagram account, posting a then-and-now photo (above) with the caption, “There’s no feeling in the world like having your wildest dreams come true.”

 

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Longhorns Fall to Vanderbilt in Extras, Season Ends in Omaha

 

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The Longhorns’ season came to a screeching halt late Saturday night, after an incredible run through the NCAA Baseball Tournament ended on a bases-loaded infield single in extra innings. Vanderbilt advances to the Championship Series against Virginia with the win.

Considered underdogs throughout the tournament, especially after lefty ace Dillon Peters went down with an elbow injury before the Houston Regional, the Horns pulled out a gutsy win against Texas A&M to win the Houston Regional, swept the University of Houston in the Austin Super Regional, and took a pair of elimination games against Louisville and UC Irvine to face Vanderbilt.

Though the season is over, there are some bright spots:

  • Center fielder Mark Payton is a truly special player, and we were lucky to watch him this year. Beyond his amazing catch that saved a run and helped eliminate UC Irvine, during the tournament, Payton hit the milestone of 101 consecutive games reaching base and was drafted in the seventh round by the New York Yankees. As a senior, he’ll likely trade beautiful Austin for less-than-beautiful Staten Island next spring at the Yankees Short-A affiliate.
  • C.J. Hinojosa is looking like a star at shortstop. Besides being automatic in the field, Hinojosa hit safely in every postseason game except one, and blasted the only home run at TD Ameritrade Field so far this tournament, the deciding run against UC Irvine.
  • The starting pitching is there. Nathan Thornhill was lights-out during the tournament, showing superior command, and ended up at 9-3 with a 1.51 ERA. Chad Hollingsworth, a sophomore reliever who was thrust into starting duty during the Houston Regional, looks like a gem. He threw a complete-game shutout against A&M in his first-ever college start and pitched another 8 1/3 shutout innings to eliminate UC Irvine in Omaha. Parker French, who looked solid throughout the postseason, struggled with his command against Vanderbilt and was yanked after two innings, but is likely back for his senior season in 2015.
  • Relief pitching looked great too. John Curtiss, though he took the loss against Vandy, threw smoke on a consistent basis after missing all of 2013 following Tommy John surgery. No word yet if he’ll leave for the majors, as he was drafted by the Twins in the sixth round. Sophomore Travis Duke gave up one run all season, good for a 0.29 ERA. Freshman Morgan Cooper was brilliant in relief on Saturday night, going 4 2/3 innings and giving up 1 earned run while striking out 5.
  • The freshmen did fine, considering the stakes at hand. Sure, Zane Gurwitz misplayed some balls at third, and Tres Barrera and Kacy Clemens had some struggles at the plate, but all three ended up getting key hits for the Longhorns. Rumor has it the Rocket’s son will be back on the mound next season, so his hitting woes could be irrelevant.
  • Coach Augie Garrido wants to come back: “I want to be with this group all the way through,” he told the Statesman. “The group is this group of freshmen and the next group of freshmen. Therein lies the challenges for excellence, and I want to be a part of that.” Love or hate his small-ball tactics—the Longhorns led the NCAA in sacrifice bunts in 2014—the results are there. Garrido’s 1,920 victories are the most all-time, and he has won five national championships, including two while at Texas, in 2002 and 2005. He has one year left on his contract, but is apparently looking for an extension.

Congratulations to the Longhorns. It didn’t look like they’d be able to make it this far, but they gutted out some tremendous wins to advance to one win away from the championship series. The Longhorns will be back in 2015—with some talented returning underclassmen and freshman recruits, the winningest coach in NCAA baseball history, and a chip on their shoulders.

Image courtesy Bethany Walter/UT Athletics

 

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