• Dawson, Hicks shine in Week 8

    Two Longhorns stood out in Week 8 of the NFL season. Phil Dawson, kicker from 1993–1997, recorded his longest field goal of the season. Recent graduate Jordan Hicks was nominated for defensive rookie of the year.

    Dawson, kicker for the San Francisco 49ers, kicked a 54-yard field goal this weekend against the St. Louis Rams. Dawson’s two field goals on Sunday were the 49ers’ only points. Dawson also replaced punter Bradley Pinion in the fourth quarter after Pinion injured his calf. His 17-year NFL career includes stints in Oakland, New England, Cleveland and now San Francisco. Dawson holds the Cleveland Browns’ record for most field goals made during his time with the team and currently holds the Longhorn single-season record for most consecutive extra points made.

    Linebacker Jordan Hicks has played his way into the defensive rookie of the year discussion. Hicks will compete with nominees including Eric Kendricks, Stephone Anthony and Landon Collins. Hicks currently leads all linebackers in solo tackles, is tied for the lead in picks and is the only nominee with a forced fumble or fumble recovery. No Philadelphia player has ever won the award.

  • Men's club soccer qualifies for national championships

    Texas men’s club soccer is headed to the national championship tournament. The Longhorns qualified for nationals after posting three wins in the Region IV South tournament at UT-San Antonio this weekend. 

    Texas entered the tournament ranked No. 8 in Region IV. Texas defeated UTSA 2-0 to begin the tournament and earned an automatic advancement to the single elimination round after Arkansas beat UTSA 3-1. Texas then faced Arkansas late Saturday and suffered a 1-0 loss with several players benched for rest. The loss placed Texas against Pool D top-seeded SMU on Sunday morning in a single-elimination match. The Longhorns and Mustangs battled into overtime with the game tied at 1-1. Senior Lee Perkins scored to seal a 2-1 win for Texas. 

    Arkansas’ win over UT-Dallas on Sunday morning set the stage for a Texas vs. Arkansas rematch for a bid to the national championships. A rested Texas team held possession for the majority of the game and shut out Arkansas 3-0. Texas A&M defeated Rice on Sunday to take the second spot at nationals. 

    The National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association men’s soccer championships will take place Nov. 19-21 in Phoenix, Arizona.

  • In light of Louisville sex scandal, head coach approach for football, basketball is refreshing

    When commentators express outrage over players trading memorabilia for tattoos or selling their autographs, I roll my eyes.

    A broken college sports system motivates student athletes to make money in a petty, unscrupulous ways and it’s easy to understand. But, when college sports programs sidestep NCAA rules that prohibit paying players, one must take notice.

    The Louisville sex scandal is the latest controversy to break both the rules of the NCAA and the law. As reported by Outside the Lines, a staff member paid escorts to have sex with recruits and players on campus. The Louisville case is not only illegal, it’s disgusting in the way that the bodies of women are used as currency to entice recruits and keep current players happy.

    Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for women to be used in this way at powerful college sports programs. The objectification and exploitation of women is made normal through the consistent use of “hostess programs” that use female students as hosts during athlete recruitment. That may seem innocuous, but all too often, sex is viewed as a foregone conclusion by the recruits. This is a dangerous assumption and can lead to sexual assault.

    While the Longhorn men’s athletic program has not been accused of running a hostess program or paying escorts, there has been sexual assault violations by its players.

    Before the Alamo Bowl in 2012, quarterback Case McCoy and linebacker Jordan Hicks were suspended after being accused of sexual assault despite no charges being filed. Just last year, receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrell Meander were charged with felony sexual assault. Less than two weeks ago, Sanders was acquitted and Meander’s charges were dropped.

    With that said, the Texas men’s athletic department hopes to avoid a scandal of any kind through the leadership of its current coaches. While head coach Charlie Strong has established a program that is committed to teaching his players to respect women, head coach Shaka Smart looks to do the same in his first year at Texas.

    Both Strong and Smart feature a form of accountability in their value systems and neither coach has been embroiled within a domestic abuse or sexual assault scandal like the one at Louisville. The Strong and Smart approach to a college sports system that regularly objectifies women and uses them as college athlete compensation is refreshing.

    Between the two coaches, there is a guarantee that both the football and basketball program will have a moral backbone that can avoid controversy.

  • Bat flips are taking over baseball

    New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez flips his bat after hitting an RBI double off Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger during the ninth inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in St. Petersburg, Fla.  Yankees' Brett Gardner scored on the hit.  The Yankees defeated the Rays 4-1.
    New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez flips his bat after hitting an RBI double off Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Brad Boxberger during the ninth inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Yankees' Brett Gardner scored on the hit. The Yankees defeated the Rays 4-1.

    Whether baseball fans like it or not, the bat flip has become a part of MLB games.

    Bat flips generated even more controversy in the MLB after Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista flipped his bat following a three-run home run to give Toronto a 6-3 lead over the Texas Rangers in the deciding game of the ALDS. Bautista's bat flip led Rangers pitcher Sam Dyson to criticize Bautista and the bat flip. 

    But bat flips have persisted this postseason.

    Royals first basemen Eric Hosmer hit a sacrifice fly to right field that brought in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 14th inning of Game 1 of the World Series. Hosmer held on to his bat for a good five seconds after he made contact with the ball and then launched his bat to the side.  

    The bat flip added to the game because it was redemption for Hosmer, who had an error on a groundball in the eighth to give the Mets the lead.  

    Bat flips show a hitter’s self-expression and passion, adding a new dimension of entertainment to the game. Had Hosmer just jogged to first and then celebrated with his teammates, it wouldn’t have shown his passion in that clutch situation. 

    There are countless ways that baseball players express themselves in clutch situations. Until now, those expressions were not deemed disrespectful. 

    When former Chicago Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa hit a home run, he would hop three times and then trot around the bases. No one looked at Sosa’s three-hop celebration as disrespectful. Former San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson would cross his arms and point to the sky after he completed a save. No one ever accused Wilson of disrespecting the game. These gestures didn’t take anything away from the game or show any disrespect. Instead, they contributed to fans’ excitement surrounding players’ big plays. 

    A player’s first thought after a big play is that he helped his team win, not that he showed up the opposing team’s pitcher. It isn’t about the pitcher. It is about showing emotion, and each player’s will to win for his team. Bat flips don’t show disrespect — they give the game a personality, something that baseball desperately needs.

  • Defense focuses on fundamentals before Iowa State

    Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford addressed the media Wednesday to discuss Texas' matchup in Iowa on Saturday. Here are some takeaways from Bedford's address.

    Texas looks to improve defensively on road

    Bedford said Wednesday the Longhorns need to play better defense to improve their chances on the road.

    “We can’t give up big plays on defense,” Bedford said. “You go back to Notre Dame and TCU, and it’s big play after big play. Against Notre Dame, we gave up third down and long seven times. We need to be effective on third down and get off of the football field.”

    Texas surrendered an average of 44 points per game in its two away games – both losses – this season. The Longhorns gave up 30 points in the first quarter alone at No. 5 TCU. Now, Bedford is focusing on the fundamentals before facing Iowa State on the road.

    “We need to tackle better,” Bedford said. “When we do have coverage, we have to make a play on the football. We have to be aggressive. … When they throw the football we need to be in position and go and make a play.”

    Defense benefitting from improved offense

    Texas’ offense is finding an identity in running the football with over 270 rushing yards in each of its last two games. The running-game’s renaissance has translated to more first downs, more points and more wins. Bedford says the improved offense is also injecting some life into the Longhorns’ defense.

    “What [rushing success] means is that their offense is on the sideline and we’re eating up clock,” Bedford said.  “Now, we’re a lot fresher on defense.”

    Time of possession is proving key for the Longhorns’ defense. Texas kept the ball longer than its opponents in each of its last two games, and picked up two wins. The defense also had its two best performances in those games holding No. 14 Oklahoma and Kansas State to 17 and 9 points respectively.

    “My father – and some of other coaches I’ve been around – said the best way to win a game is to keep the defense on the sideline,” Bedford said.