KIRK BOHLS: TOM HERMAN IS NAILING THE DETAILS
Coach likes tackling things head-on, from starting QB to chipped paint.
While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction: 1. What’s clear from his first three months on the job is Tom Herman’s intense, laser-focused approach and his attention to detail. He said everybody in the building accuses him of making mountains out of molehills. “I know. I am,” he said, “because if we don’t as a staff, we’re going to look up one day, and we’re going to have a whole bunch of molehills. You’ve got to stamp them out as soon as you see them. That’s exhausting, but the rewards are unbelievable.” One friend said Herman was walking around Royal-Memorial Stadium one day, saw paint that was chipping and immediately called maintenance to inquire about a new paint job. 2. On the eve of spring training, the first-year Longhorns head coach blasted the defen-
sive line’s conditioning, spelled out his exact timetable for naming a starting quarterback and said he’d need to know by summer the status of tight end recruit Reese Leitao, who faces drug charges in Tulsa. He takes on subjects head-on. He said he would not name his quarterback by the end of spring training but wanted to pick returner Shane Buechele or freshman Sam Ehlinger in the first week of fall camp to give the winner time to rally his teammates around him before the season opener against Maryland. If possible, I’d name one by May to jump-start the whole leadership thing. No one should assume Buechele is the automatic starter. Every starter has to earn his position, which is how it should work. 3. Herman couldn’t stop raving about nickel back P.J. Locke III and outside linebacker Naashon Hughes and identified both as emerging leaders. “P.J. Locke is definitely the first, and (his are) the only set of parents that I’ve called to personally thank them for sending us a marvelous human being,” the coach said. “It’s been glowing reviews for him. I think probably the other vocal leader that stands out is Naashon. The kids listen to him. I don’t know if he can play football, but the kids seem to gravitate toward him.” 4. Think Milwaukee, Shaka Smart. The Panthers should be Exhibit A for what Smart would like to see his Texas basketball team replicate. With an 11-23 record and a last-place conference finish, Milwaukee was attempting to become the worst team ever, recordwise, to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. It lost its last nine games of the regular season but won three straight in the Horizon Conference Tournament and played Northern Kentucky on Tuesday night for an NCAA berth. Likewise, the Longhorns limped home with seven consecutive defeats, leading some cynics to fear long-term ineptitude, an opinion not shared here. As one Longhorns insider told me, “They played hard all year. If they were an NBA team, you wouldn’t accuse them of tanking.” 5. The PGA Tour event in Austin has a new name, a very headline-unfriendly name in World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. It returns in two weeks and should have a decidedly youthful appeal, with six of the top 10 in the world golf rankings being in their 20s. Twelve of the youngsters have won one of the 2016-17 events on the PGA Tour so far. It should again have an international field because 39 of the current qualifiers are not Americans and come from such nations as Austria, Italy, the Netherlands and Thailand. 6. Austin will benefit from the aforementioned Dell tournament, which in 2016 generated more than $1 million for such local charities as Austin Parks Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs, Helping Hand Home for Children and Keep Austin Beautiful. The PGA Tour and its tournaments donated more than $166 million to charity last year, a Tour spokesman said. 7. Former Longhorns football player Greg Dahlberg, a 65-year-old San Antonio dentist and a wonderful personality, died Friday. Dahlberg played as a 5-foot10, 220-pound offensive guard, linebacker and deep snapper for Darrell Royal’s last three Southwest Conference championship teams from 197173. Dahlberg was such a great athlete, he was an all-state linebacker who led the 1969 San Antonio Lee team to the state finals in a 14-1 season but also an all-district catcher as well as a district champ in the shot put. He always told the story about the time he ran onto the field as deep snapper for a quick kick that the Oklahoma defense would block en route to a victory in 1972 and how he heard all the Sooners screaming, “Quick kick, quick kick.” That was one of the reasons Royal eventually went public and told me that OU had spied on his football practices for years. 8. At least one men’s college team can win in basketball in Central Texas. Congrats to Texas State for its 18-12 season, the first winning season for fourth-year head coach Danny Kaspar after the Bobcats were picked last in the Sun Belt Conference preseason poll. Texas State got a great year out of senior forward Kavin Gilder-Tilbury, who averaged almost 17 points a game and hit 39.5 percent of his three-pointers to become the school’s first all-conference firstteam selection in 14 years. It also marked the first winning basketball season since Athletic Director Larry Teis took over in 2004-05. Teis has overseen just four winning football seasons in 13 years. Even worse, the Bobcats were ranked 127th among the 128 Division I football programs by CBSsports.com, ahead of only Fresno State. Despite a 2-10 record in his first season, Everett Withers had the Sun Belt’s top-rated recruiting class, with players like threestar cornerback Kieston Roach — who was offered by Houston and Purdue — and brought in former Mississippi State backup quarterback Damian Williams. 9. Rented “Moonlight,” which I found very compelling and haunting as well. Barry Jenkins does a superb job of incorporating awkward, revealing moments of silence between characters in his films. This movie just screams social relevance and touches on so many important topics, including single-parent households. Have loved Mahershala Ali since I saw him in “House of Cards.” Ashton Sanders’ depiction of this socially awkward teen was powerful, and Trevante Rhodes shows much promise. Gave it 8 ducks. C razy prediction: Texas will blow up its Myers soccer and track and field stadium and build a 12,000-seat Erwin Center there.