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August 2, 2011

Tuesday Tailgate:VY, Ahmard Hall, Mason Walters...



A BURNT ORANGE THOUGHT: There has been so much smoke coming out of Texas A&M about the Aggies possibly bolting the Big 12 if someone didn't corral the Longhorn Network.

Brent Zwernamen of the San Antonio Express-News even wrote that A&M officials are serious that if LHN shows high school games and a Big 12 football game (in addition to Texas-Rice on Sept. 3), the Aggies are willing to say good-bye to the Big 12 and join the SEC.

Only time will tell if A&M is willing to play the hand it threatens to have. The Big 12 athletic directors met in Dallas on Monday at the DFW airport. And most accounts are that the meeting went well. DeLoss Dodds told the rest of the conference ADs that the Longhorn Network won't air a high school game for at least a year (even if the NCAA were to say it's OK).

And provisions were laid out for a second football game to appear on LHN, but it has to be agreed upon by the opposing school and the Big 12 before it can be announced by ESPN. (Different from the July 5 announcement by ESPN that it would air a conference game on LHN this season - even before it had an agreement from the opposing school - Texas Tech for Nov. 5).

So it will be up to the opposing school. Will that be good enough for A&M to stop threatening to leave? Time will tell.

But here's a few things people should know about Texas' viewpoint. DeLoss Dodds, who loves the tradition of UT's rivalries with Texas A&M and Oklahoma, among others, doesn't want to see those come to an end.

He doesn't want to get into a game of 'Whose is bigger?' Because in making his argument for UT, it might just cause irreconcilable differences with the rest of the conference.

So what? You say.

DeLoss Dodds told me last summer Texas won't be going independent on his watch. And if you missed it, Dodds has a five year extension through the 2015-16 school year with another five years (through 2020) to serve as a consultant. Dodds doesn't want Texas getting into catfights that cause the conference to break apart.

If the conference breaks apart because others drive those actions, Dodds will deal with it and certainly have the ability to take Texas independent. But that is a last resort. The money is good in the Big 12.

The path to a national title game appearance is now among the easiest in the BCS because there is not league title game (and you thought I was going to say because of games against Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor).

Dodds believes in the history and tradition of Texas football, and that's why he'll always fight to keep a good working relationship in the Big 12.

And no matter if ESPN airs high school games or not, Texas is contracted to receive $300 million over the next 20 years. No one else has a deal like that and maybe never will. That's because ESPN was genuinely concerned about Texas joining a conference network situation (such as the Pac-12 Network), in my opinion, in which Texas could have become a Fox property.

So ESPN threw the money at Texas to keep UT in the Big 12 and to tie itself to the Longhorns' hip no matter what happens. At the end of the day, that's what all this is about. Did Dave Brown get a little too excited about Johnathan Gray and Connor Brewer in talking about high school games on LHN? Maybe. But ESPN was never going to regret its investment if high school games couldn't be aired.

That conversation won't happen again for a year.

For now, I'm told, the rest of the Big 12 is content to move forward as Texas and LHN prepare to launch on Aug. 26. I'm told Texas A&M and Missouri are not looking around. Neither is OU.

So credit DeLoss Dodds for landing the big deal with ESPN and for trying to be a good neighbor as everyone gets used to the idea of a conference member with such a disparate revenue stream. For all those clamoring for Texas to go independent, Dodds isn't there yet.

Not yet.


WHISKEY, TANGO, FOXTROT: Randy Moss has retired.

Last season, he talked himself out of New England because he wanted a new deal. Then got cut by Minnesota. Finished in Tennessee. Gauging by those actions, at age 34, maybe he really has had enough.

You hope Randy has some of his money left because at one point in his career, he had an agent who got caught with crack. I don't know about you, but I'm going to try to avoid having my career in the hands of a guy who his holding my earning power along with a glass pipe.

But I'll remember Randy Moss as the player who haunted Jerry Jones the most. Because the Cowboys were seen as "America's Most Wanted" instead of America's Team when Moss came out of Marshall in 1998 (Remember all the revelations about the White House coming out then?), Dallas passed on him and drafted DE Greg Ellis of North Carolina instead.

Moss was better than even Jerry could have imagined, putting up Hall of Fame numbers and nearly helping the Vikings reach the Super Bowl as a rookie. He was still setting records for New England when he helped the Patriots reach the Super Bowl in 2008.

Don't you know Jerry has already picked up the phone to see if Randy will give it one last shot … in a Cowboys' uniform.


I WAS IMPRESSED: The Eagles went big by landing Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin and, of course, Vince Young.

We all wanted to see how VY would handle a one-year deal that could reach $5.5 million with incentives as a backup to Michael Vick.

Well, the early indicators are good. Here's what Vince had to say at a press conference Monday when asked about being a backup to Vick:

"Oh yeah, we're going to compete. That's what we do and it's going to make him play better and it's going to make me get better. That's what we have to do. I got his back and whatever happens, if I get a chance to get out there, I know he's going to do the same. Right now, I'm just paying attention to him, listening, asking questions, but at the same time, I want to push him because I want to see him be the best that he can be and lead this team to a Super Bowl."

VY also seemed to appreciate the opportunity to work with Eagles' coach Andy Reid and Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg who have played roles in developing the careers of Steve Young, Dononvan McNabb, Brett Favre and Jeff Garcia, among others.

"I feel like being in contact with Marty as well as guys like Andy that's very smart and knows quarterbacks," Young was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. "I really feel they're going to do a great job with expanding my career a little bit more and getting more knowledge and bringing my game to where I want it to be at."

Hopefully, VY seizes the opportunity and serves as a hard-working presence on the team until his time comes. And something tells me his time will come this season while backing up the aging, versatile-yet-breakable Michael Vick.


IS SOMEONE POINT SHAVING?: What a crazy story about David Salinas, the money manager from the Houston area who also happened to operate an AAU basketball program for highly recruited high school players.

Salinas was found dead of a gunshot wound at the age of 60 in his home in Friendswood July 17. The Securities and Exchange Commission has now filed a lawsuit accusing Salinas and his business associate Brian Bjork of engaging in a seven-year scheme in which they sold corporate bonds that in reality were fraudulent.

Investors were promised returns of 9 percent and were provided account statements for the nonexistent bonds, according to the lawsuit.

Several basketball coaches, including Billy Gillispie and Scott Drew, had money invested with Salinas and may have lost it all. Gillispie apparently had more than $2 million invested with Salinas, according to SI.com. Lute Olson had more than $1 million invested. Scott Drew apparently had $621,000 invested with Salinas, according to SI.com.

Did these coaches invest with Salinas in hopes of currying favor with Salinas' players? Who knows. All we do know is these coaches, according to SI.com, are out of a lot of money. And the guy they invested with appears to have killed himself as the SEC investigation into his practices intensified.

Only time will tell if these coaches were investing with Salinas for more reasons than a 9 percent interest rate. But what a wild story and what a tough way to learn the money you've invested might as well have been in the hands of Bernie Madoff.


WHISPERS: Mason Walters is really coming on as a vocal leader on offense. That's great news for a unit that didn't have any leadership last year.


ONE FOR THE ROAD: Ahmard Hall signed a one-year contract extension with the Tennessee Titans on Monday.

Hall is one of the great stories to come through the Texas program. He was an average high school player in Angleton who didn't really have any college offers. He decided to join the Marines and served his country from 1998-2002 earning the rank of sergeant as a field radio operator, including tours in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

When Hall's active duty was over, he wanted to go to college and walk on as a football player. So he did that at Texas and becomes a regular contributor on special teams. It's a feel-good story, except that the guy lights it up at UT's Pro Day, earns a contract as an undrafted free agent and turns out to have NFL talent and staying power.

How many guys have had non-descript football stints in high school and college and have gone on to become NFL starters? Amazing.

Hall admits he never would have been able to seize the day in football if he hadn't entered the Marines and learned to appreciate every opportunity in front of him.

Congrats to Ahmard Hall, a true Texas and American success story.


NOTE: Tailgate/Air will be chartering flights for Orangebloods.com subscribers this season to the Iowa State (Oct. 1) and Missouri (Nov. 12) games.

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Just the best parts of a football Saturday on the road.

For more information, check out Tailgate/Air's partner page on the OB Connection or call 877-359-3243. Use the promo code Orangebloods for a 5 percent discount.


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