Tue February 19, 2013 2:58 pm By Jason Cohen

“San Antonio Chargers” has a nice ring to it, no? The city name is pretty close—you’d only have to change “Diego” to “Antonio” on the jerseys. TXU could be a sponsor. And the team may struggle just enough over the next two years to get a shot at Johnny Football.

As Jonathan Horn of UT-San Diego (that stands for Union Tribune, not the Universty of Texas) reported, Rick Perry’s recruiting trip to California included talk about Southern California’s only NFL team, which has been trying to get out of Qualcomm Stadium and into a new facility for the past decade.

Chargers owner Dean Spanos was the statewide finance chair in California for Perry’s presidential campaign, a relationship that had UT-San Diego commenters floating the idea of the team’s city switch back in 2011.

Perry downplayed the possibility of such a move last week, but we’re all blogging about it anyway (H/T to Rick Dunham of the Houston Chronicle). Wrote Horn:

“You’d have to ask the Spanos family. Dean is a good friend and I would be lying if I didn’t tell you, come to Texas and we would love to have their athletic club there,” Perry said. “But there’s a family whose been there forever. If it gets so difficult for them to be able to operate, that’s always an option, but again you’d have to ask them. I have no indication that the Chargers are going to be coming to Texas anytime soon.”

“Athletic club?” Why is Rick Perry talking like William F. Buckley Jr.? 

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Wed February 13, 2013 10:51 am By Jason Cohen

TM coverKirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman sat down with University of Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds and women’s AD Chris Plonsky recently, and the topic of discussion, more or less, was: how does UT get back to the level of the success that got them on the cover of Texas Monthly?

As Bohls wrote, the university has only won three NCAA championships in any sport since Mack Brown and Vince Young brought home the BCS trophy in 2005, even as the athletic department remains one of the few in the country that makes money for its university, instead of being subsidized or running at a loss.

Bohls’ eye for detail then leads to this passage:

A glossy Texas Monthly magazine sits on a cluttered coffee table in Plonsky’s office. Staring from the cover of the oft-cited publication, dated November 2008, was a proud Dodds, arms folded and aligned ahead of Plonsky, Darrell Royal, Jody Conradt and four then-current Longhorns head coaches at a time when UT athletics hovered near the apex of collegiate sports.

Dodds leads the most successful program in college sports history, the magazine trumpeted.

“It’s a nice picture,” Plonsky said with a knowing sigh. “We’re still trying to earn that. We’ll keep pounding away.”

Dodds also echoed what I wrote about his thinking on Mack Brown for Texas Monthly and the New York Timesthis past November.

From that story:

Brown is more like Michigan’s Lloyd Carr and Tennessee’s Phillip Fulmer, two title-winning coaches who were muscled out after their “time had come.” Both Michigan and Tennessee are on their second hires since then, and Tennessee, which has yet to win a game in the Southeastern Conference this year, may yet need a third.

Closer to home, Brown is also more like R.C. Slocum. The winningest coach in Texas A&M history had a Hall of Fame career, but couldn’t keep up with UT or Oklahoma once the Southwest Conference gave way to the Big 12. Aggieland demanded someone better, but neither Dennis Franchione nor Mike Sherman improved the program.

And from Bohls:

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Tue February 12, 2013 1:42 pm By Jason Cohen

It’s better to win Signing Day than not. But you still have to play the games. Which is why Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated has “re-ranked” college football recruiting classes for the past four seasons, comparing what the experts said about a team’s potential with the school’s actual achievement three years later. 

“Basically, these re-rankings honor the coaches who develop talent instead of the ones who simply collect it,” Staples wrote

But this year, his top team was recruited by one coach, then developed–or at least brought to fruition–by another.

That team, of course, is Texas A&M. The Aggies’ 2010 class under former head coach Mike Sherman was ranked 17th by Rivals; Staples elevated them to #1 on the strength of A&M’s 11-2 season under first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin.

As Staples noted, it was a group that included two likely top 5 NFL draft picks (OT Luke Joeckel and DE Damontre Moore) as well as the “support system” for redshirt freshman Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.

He continued:

Mike Sherman and his staff recruited some talent, but they didn’t coach it very well. The Aggies needed Kevin Sumlin to unlock the potential already on the roster. For those Aggies who suffered through the Sherman era, this should be even more infuriating than the second half of the 2011 Oklahoma State game.

Those wounds have surely healed (especially since, as I’ve already argued, Sherman would still be coaching, and Manziel would not be starting, had the 2011 season gone a little better).

Meanwhile, the University of Texas, possibly the biggest bust on Staples’ list, barely even gets a mention. Rivals had pronounced Mack Brown’s 2010 class as the third-best in the country; Staples drops the Horns to 14th (one of the five “just missed”) in his re-ranking.

This is no surprise, however, and not just because of UT’s record for the past three seasons. As Ryan Jones of the Dallas Morning News wrote in October, the Horns’ 2010 and 2009 groups have experienced an unusually high rate of attrition.

Now we only have to wait three years to see how Sumlins’ highly touted 2013 class actually does. 

Mon February 11, 2013 2:37 pm By Jason Cohen

Rangers coverMaybe Texas Monthly’s May, 2011 cover was just premature? A new survey claims the most popular pro sports franchise in Arlington is NOT the football team.

As Drew Davison of the Star-Telegram reported, the survey by Scarborough Sports Team:

asked Dallas-Fort Worth adults whether they have watched, attended or listened to a Rangers or Cowboys game in the past year. A “yes” answer is considered a fan, and 62 percent answered positively for the Rangers.

That was one percentage point higher than the Cowboys.

It’s the first time the Rangers have been ranked higher than the Cowboys, and DFW is one of only 10 metropolitan areas with more fans of the baseball team than football team.

Even Rangers president Nolan Ryan told Davison that, historically, “I never gave it much thought about how we rated with the Cowboys.”

After all, what was the point? But with the Rangers making the World Series twice in the last three years, and Jerry Jones’ Team under .500 in that same time frame, it’s at least a conversation.

Fox Sports Southwest’s Jon Heidtke told Davison that the Rangers’ TV broadcasts were not only booming in North Texas, but also Austin, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. 

Of course, even if you ascribe any significance to one percentage point in one survey of one metro area, the Cowboys aren’t limited to Dallas. They own the state, and as a recent Facebook study analyzed by Deadspin showed, also remain the biggest NFL brand in the country. The Cowboys are still the Cowboys.

The Star-Telegram’s Mac Engel noted as much two weeks ago. “The Cowboys can do nothing, which the hiring and firing of some assistant coaches amounts to, and they are still more important than the Mavericks or Stars,” he wrote.

Engel went on to say that the Rangers, for the first time ever, “are in a position to run with the Cowboys,” but that the intensity of fandom is just not the same.

Interest and the care level about baseball in this market is higher than any time previously, but too often a Rangers home game feels more like a glorified picnic.

Watching the Rangers lose Game 6 of the 2011 World Series may have ruined your week, or month, but the Cowboys have the ability to ruin each and every Sunday for you in the fall.

Fri February 8, 2013 2:41 pm By Jason Cohen

Yup. Austin has finished first in a survey by the website Payscale of cities where employees are “most likely to date the boss.”

No word if the UT athletics department, where former women’s track and field coach Bev Kearney and football offensive coordinator Major Applewhite have both admitted to relationships with students, was included in the methodology, though “college/university” was one of the employer categories.

Applewhite’s experience aside, Austin failed to crack the “Most Likely to Have a Fling At Work” ranking, and also did not rate in the Top 10 for “Most Likely to Find Love At Work.” 

“College coach” was also not a top profession in the survey. “Lodging managers” were most likely to date the boss (which is still probably smarter than dating the guests), while the most fling-prone professions were artists, cooks and welders.

Houston finished #10 on the “Most Likely to Date the Boss” list (as Richard Connelly of the Houston Press’s “Hairballs News” first noted). And San Antonio ranked tenth for “Most Likely to Find Love.”