Hat-Tip to Veterans: Thanks to all of those Veterans who served this country. Send some good thoughts and mojo our veterans way today or tell them how much you appreciate them. And a special hat-tip to my old man, who was a corp commander at TAMU, graduated as a commissioned officer, originally stationed in Salt Lake City, UT, and did a tour in Vietnam.
Coach and Mad Dog: The Dagger's Eamonn Brennan is previewing the interesting teams leading up to the start of the season and yesterday he previewed the Tulsa Hurricanes. Tulsa is where I went to law school and I also attended almost every home basketball game because when I was at school there, Bill Self was the head coach and you could tell he was a special coach, destined for bigger and better things. In any event, Brennan wrote the following:
According to the ESPN College Basketball Encyclopedia, Tulsa has two insane basketball fans with whom I would very much like to shake hands. Known as "Mad Dog and Coach," which sounds like a dumb sports talk radio show, the duo celebrate their love for Tulsa basketball in interesting ways. Mad Dog (real name: Ken Penn) has been attending games since 1977, where he wears a rubber snout and barks at the opposing team. (Note: This man is fully grown.) Meanwhile, Coach does what you'd expect, I guess: dresses up in a suit and tie and paces the Tulsa sideline screaming at officials. Some people will take any excuse to dress up in a suit.
This is absolutely true and amazing all at the same time. Mad Dog is a real person and he does wear a dog mask. If I remember correctly, he works for the school in some capacity. I've actually talked with Mad Dog and he's a good guy. I'd also add that Coach is a real live person and he might be a bit off, but I could be wrong. But yes, Coach does wear a suit, he does loosen the tie as the game goes on and literally acts like a coach as the game is being played but from what I understand is in no way associated with the team. These two guys alone are reason enough to go to a Tulsa basketball game.
Football Notebook - Sheffield Practices! OMG!! LAJ's Don Williams football notebook details that QB Steven Sheffield took some snaps at quarterback, while QB Taylor Potts took a majority of the snaps. Here's Williams:
The Avalanche-Journal later learned Sheffield took a few snaps in the 11-on-11 team period, but the large majority went to Taylor Potts. Seth Doege, who started Tech’s last game but was replaced by Potts at halftime, didn’t get any snaps in team period, the A-J learned.
Williams also talks with DC McNeill regarding the difference between RB's Kendall Hunter and Keith Totson:
"If you had to say a difference, 5 (Toston’s uniform number) is probably more of a slasher guy with speed, and Kendall’s a shifty guy with speed," McNeill said. "But both of them really can run the football, inside the tackles and outside."
Coaching Salaries: Good find by Barking Carnival, USA Today tracked down, through the Freedom of Information Act, the assistant coaching salaries for college football. As you would expect, Texas is at the top of the list, along with Tennessee. BC has a good Big 12 conference breakdown. And yes, this is a situation where there are those that have and those that do not and that gap is widening each and every day.
Not surprising, Ruffin McNeill is Texas Tech's highest paid assistant coach:
Ruffin McNeill: $325,000
Carlos Mainord: $190,000
Lincoln Riley: $190,000
Charlie Sadler: $180,000
Dennis Simmons: :189,800
Brian Mitchell: $180,000
Clay McGuire: $160,000
Wall Thinks About Bryant: ESPN's Tim Griffin talks with CB Jamar Wall and will miss playing OSU's WR Dez Bryant, the best receiver in the Big 12:
"It’s a disappointment because I like the challenge," Wall said. "Playing against him gives you a chance to show how well you can play."
And Wall talks about the change in the defense from two years ago with Lyle Setencich was replaced by DC McNeill:
"Everything about us has been changed with him transforming us," Wall said. "He brought a different mindset to our defense. He’s pushing us, but knows what he can expect from us."
The difference could be seen in the Red Raiders’ most recent victory, a 42-21 triumph over Kansas. Tech produced six sacks, nine tackles for losses, 10 deflected passes and forced two fumbles.
"You can see 11 guys swarming to the ball," Wall said. "It’s a bunch of small things, but it gives us a different demeanor. It’s all because of Coach Ruff."
McNeill's Defensive Improvement: DT's Alex Ybarra and FWST's Dwain Price each write about the aforementioned defensive improvement DC McNeill has brought to Texas Tech (please click on the DT story for what might be the best Ruffin McNeill photo ever). CB Jamar Wall comments again his passion for playing for McNeill:
"His enthusiasm and the love he has for us, you can see the passion in his eyes every time he talks to us," Wall said. "For someone to be that passionate about his team and that he would do that for us — run through walls or take a bullet for us — it just makes you play harder. I mean if he’ll do it, why not do it for him?"
And Captain Mike Leach loves what McNeill has brought to the defense:
"That's when we made the change and played harder (on defense),'' Leach said. "Ruffin brings a lot of enthusiasm and inspiration.
"He's got a lot of enthusiasm personally and I think it rubs off on the players. We have a more inspired unit out there.''
I don't think we should ever discount how much the players love playing for McNeill. McNeill certainly has his faults, but he seems to be a tremendous father figure for the players, which probably plays a huge factor in recruiting.
Lofty Goals: LAJ's Don Williams writes that the Red Raiders continue to have the same lofty goals of a possible Cotton Bowl birth. McNeill acknowledge that November may be the most important month for football:
"We talk to them about the month of November being what people remember, trying to make sure we put together a great month of November,’’ defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill said after Tuesday’s practice. "That’s what we talk to them about as a whole. But as coach (Mike) Leach does, we still go back to one game a week, and the most important one is the one this week against Oklahoma State.’’
And WR Alexander Torres is focused:
"Our biggest goal right now is that we have three games left in the Big 12 Conference, and our goal obviously is to win them all,’’ flanker Alex Torres said. "We are not going to try and worry about what other people do and who beats who and this and that. We are just going to try and think about what we can control and to get out there and practice like we want to play.’’
Neglected Video: Fox34 with a look at Oklahoma St.:
Improved Fitness: DT's Mike Graham writes that the basketball team has improved their strength and conditioning over the course of the offseason. Here's SF Mike Singletary:
"I wanted to be quicker, and I wanted to be faster, I wanted to jump higher and stuff like that," Singletary said. "We felt like 215, 217 (pounds) would be a great weight for me. Last year I played at like 230. We just felt that was too heavy. It was just a combination of weight training and a combination of dieting and watching what you eat. Just eating a lot of things that are good for you."
Also of note, C Robert Lewandowski gained 8 pounds over the offseason, which is encouraging and given what I perceive to be Lew's work-ethic.