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ASK SUZANNE

Questions on TX-OU, petitioning NCAA for eligibility

Suzanne Halliburton answers your Longhorn football questions each week.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Statesman's Longhorn football beat writer Suzanne Halliburton answers your questions. E-mail your questions to askbeatwriters@statesman.com."

Q: I have read several places that whoever wins the Texas/OU game will control the Big 12 South. I have a question, though: Texas is 1-0 in conference play, Tech is 1-0 in conference play, and OU is 0-0 in conference play. If Texas loses and Texas Tech wins this weekend, Tech will be 2-0, Texas will be 1-1 and OU will be 1-0. Won't this make Tech in control of the South? Correct me if I'm wrong.

A: I'm glad to see Texas Tech fans reading the Q&A. Your math is correct. Truth be told, most have projected Texas and Oklahoma to be the top two teams in the Big 12 South and assume that whichever team wins in Dallas will be in control of the race. The Texas vs. Texas Tech game in Lubbock on Oct. 28 will be significant, too.

Q: Was there a questionable call in the 1950 OU-Texas game that allowed OU to win the national championship and gain the 47 game winning streak?

A: According to the Austin American's account of the game, there were several bad calls. The first questionable call was whether UT's Lew Levine scored just before half, when the game was tied at 7. Later, OU sacked UT punter Billy Porter at the Texas 11, and some believed OU was offsides on the play. Billy Vessels scored the winning touchdown after the resulting punt. Other questionable calls were whether UT linebacker June Davis had an interception and whether one of Porter's extra points was good.

Q: Can you shed any light on this matter. Do you think UT will petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligiblity for any of these student-athletes:

— Tully Janszen: Redshirted in 2002 and did not play in 2004 due to injury.

— Scott Derry: Redshirted in 2003 and did not play in 2005 due to injury.

— Billy Pittman: Redshirted in 2003 and did not play in 2004 due to injury.

— Jordan Shipley: Redshirted in 2004 and did not play in 2005 due to injury.

The last UT players to obtain a sixth year of eligiblity were tight end Bo Scaife and wide receiver Justin McLemore.

A: First, the players would have to want to come back for a sixth season. I posed the question to Pittman this week, and he said it would be something he'd have to think about. I hear that Janszen is doing so well at deep snapping that he could easily find employment in the NFL next season. A player has to exhaust his eligibility and then petition for a sixth year. In the past, a year has been granted if the player suffered an injury so severe that he was forced to withdraw from school, thus stopping the eligibility clock. I don't know if the NCAA has softened that rule a bit. Linebacker Kevin Watler, I believe, was the first Longhorn to earn a sixth season.

Q: Can you give me an update on the status of freshman Sherrod Harris? Is he redshirted this year? Do you see any future in him at QB, because Texas has McCoy and Snead for a long time and next year they will have John Brantley coming in.

A: Harris is redshirting and running the scout team during practice. You're right Texas will have considerable talent at the position. I hear that Harris is really smart, well-liked and respected — all good attributes for a quarterback. His athleticism helps, too.

Q: We all know what the Hook 'em Horns sign means. But over the years, music lovers, rock groups, and gang members have used the same sign. Does that cheapen our Hook 'em sign? Or is imitation the sincerest form of flattery?

A: The Hook'em Horns sign has all sorts of meaning over the world. Didn't the Norwegians wonder about UT grad Jenna Bush, when she made the "sign of the devil" to the UT band at her father's inaugural parade? I remember covering the Tour de France one year, when Lance Armstrong flashed the Hook' em sign on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. The photo made the front page of Le Figaro, one of France's leading papers. Armstrong then worried if people would realize he meant that he liked Texas and the Longhorns, rather than thinking he was bragging on an affair he was having with someone's wife.

Q: I've been sitting in the upper deck on the east side of the stadium for about five years on the 50-yard line. We really like the sight lines and the rah-rah crowd. During the Iowa State game, I saw the environmental health and safety engineers taking readings, but I can tell you firsthand that the noise is deafening and has most of us pressing our hands over our ears. I will not be able to bring my daughter to games because of the greed of UT in their growing effort to profit from football games. The crowd up there is mostly hushed now because our efforts to cheer are overwhelmed by this behemoth. The only thing amusing about this is the shouts of "We won't shop/eat/bank there" for the advertisers. Are you listening UT or are you deafened as well by Godizillatron?

A: I passed along your comments to Nick Voinis, a senior associate athletic director at UT. He said the videoboard is a "work in progress," and that they have sound engineers at every game checking readings to get the right balance. Voinis said: "We're cognizant of the sound, We're asking fans to be patient." Texas also is re-recording the pre-game music so it's not as loud.

Q: As I nervously await OU weekend, I am trying to understand how UT's defense was unable to sack SHSU's quarterback even once, after manhandling Iowa State's quarterback repeatedly the week before.

A: I wondered about the sack total, too, since I'd just written a story about all the sacks to preview the Sam Houston game. Honestly, I think Texas used its most basic defense — no stunts, twists or blitzes — for the Bearkats. Plus, by the second quarter, the Longhorns were substituting liberally.

Q: How did Texas let a quarterback like Drew Brees get way, when he was playing in their own backyard?

A: Brees was hobbled with a knee injury during most of the early scouting process. I heard that Texas, (John Mackovic was at the helm) Texas A&M and Stanford (with Bill Walsh) decided not to offer a scholarship to Brees. I believe TCU was the only in state school to offer. Kentucky and Purdue also recruited him. And, I must confess that I didn't include him in the Statesman's Fab 55, and I've been gigged about it by the guys at work ever since.

Q: Why does the Big 12 have a championship game? It seems like the Big 12 is shooting itself in the foot by eliminating one of its best teams with a late-season loss. Since the BCS started in 1998, either the Big 10 or Pac-10 have put two teams in BCS bowls six out of eight years, while the Big 12 has put two teams in BCS bowls only three out of eight years. Please don't say money because two BCS payouts is a lot more money than a combined BCS and conference championship payout.

A: Actually, it's all about money. Each of the 12 teams is paid in excess of $500,000 for the title game. In 2004, the last time the Big 12 had two BCS teams, each school realized an extra $230,000. A second BCS school nets the conference $4.5 million. When the Longhorns were the second team after the '04 season, they received $1.7 million to cover expenses, then the rest of the money was split 12 ways.

Remember, it's always about money.

However, head coaches do grumble about the title games. They say every league should be playing them or none at all.

Q: ABC commentator Craig James appears to have a deep disdain for us Orangebloods. I found this to be evident when he made one of the funniest statements I've heard come out of a commentators mouth in a while when he referred to Major Applewhite as a "Texas Pretty Boy."

A: I didn't hear the comments, so all I can say is Applewhite is from Louisiana. However, I will say this. Back in 2004. when Texas was fighting California for the No. 4 spot in the BCS standings, James was one of the few voters in the Associated Press poll who ranked the Longhorns over the Bears.

Q: I have a question I hope that you can answer for me. It was reported that the Iowa State coach called a timeout prior to a kickoff because he did not want a penalty for having two players on the field who were both wearing the same number. Refs said later that they would not have caught this. If this is true, what will UT do if they are faced with the situation in which they are on offense with Jevan Snead (No. 7 ) and want to bring in defensive back (No. 7) Deon Beasley to play receiver much like Florida State did with "Prime Time"? I seem to remember these two hooking up for a touchdown in the Army All-Star game and Beasley, in high school, was a two way threat.

A: The duplicate numbers drive us crazy in the press box. Beasley is not a two-way player at UT, so for now, it's not a problem. He'd obviously have to change numbers if he became a receiver, with Snead at quarterback. Sergio Kindle sports No. 2, just like Billy Pittman. Longhorns also like to change numbers from season to season as the seniors graduate.

Q: Do you think Greg Davis noticed how many balls McCoy floated against ISU? If so, is it possible that he asked the young QB to fire the passes in the future rather than float them up for grabs? ISU should've picked four such passes. Has Greg Davis figured out that we have a fantastic offensive line and several (at least three) really good RBs and that we need to forget trying to have a balanced attack and run the ball much more than pass? This philosophy would've made the Ohio State game much more competitive. And, when we do pass the ball, has Greg Davis ever heard of a couple of guys named Tweedie and Finley? If he's met them, does he know they're eligible to receive passes? I think they've combined for three receptions the entire year.

A: I know Davis notices when McCoy floats the ball, since Davis and his grad assistants chart everything. Those floating passes depend on a lot of variables, from the rush to the wind to a quarterback having a bad day. As for a balanced offense, I've heard Davis say so many times that a true balanced offense is one that can either throw or pass well, depending on the circumstances of the game. With the tight ends, it's a matter of those two getting off the line and getting open. They're in the game plan.

Q: I notice that all of the Longhorn coaches on the sidelines wear the same shirts, with the exception of Bruce Chambers, who always wears a black shirt. There has to be a reason for this. Can you tell us what it is?

A: Good eye for detail. Chambers and receivers coach Bobby Kennedy wear black shirts because they are the guys in charge of signaling in plays. It's easier to spot a dark shirt on the sidelines from a wall of burnt orange and white.

Q: What is the deal with the arm bands I see many Longhorns wearing. I noticed them for the first time last year. It seems like they are worn just above or below the elbow. Are they just cosmetic or do they perform some useful purpose?

A: They're sweatbands. Often, players cut up the bigger ones to make the small strips. Truth be told, it's more of a cool fashion statement than anything else. Vince Young might have started the trend.

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