Saturday, September 27, 2014

UTA Football Game Four; Humbleness

Back to the 1980 season as we begin the fourth installment of this year's This Day in UTA Football history. If you recall from game one, UT-Arlington had opened the year with high expectations and a brand new home. After dropping the home opener to North Texas State, the Mavericks went on the road and lost a close affair to Northwestern State, losing a one-point lead after a 97-yard drive that began near the two-minute warning that put the Demons over the top. UTA then had a bye week to prepare for the Southern Methodist University Mustangs.

A history lesson on the Mustangs, the early 1980's squad was one of the best eras in SMU football history. After a dormant period in the late 1970's, five straight losing seasons, the Mustangs would post their first winning season in 1980, eventually going to a bowl game, a much harder feat then than it is today. You'll see some familiar names in a moment. Most of the core of the 1980 team would return in subsequent years, including the 1982 squad that was a national championship caliber team.

I choose this game to illustrate two real issues with how UTA ran their program. These two things, in my humble opinion, were big contributors to the eventual demise of the program.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

UTA Football Game Three; No Options

Today's edition of This Day in UTA Football kicks off the 1969 season. Recall from last year that the 1968 campaign ended on a down year as the Mavs came up just shy of repeating as Southland Conference Champions and another Pecan Bowl appearance.

The big question for the 1969 season is would this be an avenging year and the team would stay competitive in the Southland Conference or would this be the start of a decline.

Gone was all-everything quarterback Mike Baylor, UTA's career leader in total yards (4,685), passing yards (4,441) most plays (1,014), most passing TD's (31), Completions (322) and attempts (768). In was Ronnie Faulkner, a capable if occasionally erratic QB. One of Baylor's favorite targets had graduated. Jimmy Thomas was a big play wide receiver who is UTA's career leader in TD's (17) and yards (1,906) and is second in receptions (94). All-conference guard Greg Bailey also needed to be replaced. But make no mistake, the offense was still potent.

Returning was fullback Danny Griffin, tight end Dick Hill, T Don Morrison and C Billy Kornegay. Also returning was perhaps UTA's greatest special teams player of all-time Skipper Butler, first team all-conference in 1967 and 68.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

2014 Sun belt Volleyball Predictions

For those new to the Maverick Rambler, I don't make preseason predictions. There are just too many unknowns. To try and predict the order of finish with teams I haven't seen before, new starters, new players, sometimes new coaches all without seeing any action is just a guess, in my opinion. So my MO is to go through the nonconference portion of the schedule and then take a stab at predicting the final standings.

This is a great example of why. The following is the how the coaches saw things shaking down at the beginning of the season.

Sun Belt Preseason Coaches' Poll
Team (First Place Votes)- Points
UALR (4)- 110
Texas State (3)- 99
Georgia Southern (2)- 95
UT Arlington- 83
South Alabama (1)- 76
UL Lafayette (1)- 63
Appalachian State- 62
Arkansas State- 58
Troy- 41
Georgia State- 28
UL Monroe- 11

Appalachian State has gone undefeated with a win over a previously ranked squad. Think they'd like a redo, especially for a team not having played the conference last year?

Without further ado, here's the Maverick Rambler's predictions for the 2014 Sun Belt Conference Volleyball season.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

UTA Football Game Two, A Milestone Victory

If you recall from last year's This Day in UTA Football History series, UTA made the jump to the highest level of football (Football Bowl Subdivision or FBS today) in 1971. In that time, there had been few wins, 12 in four years, an average of three a year. West Texas State (1971 and 1972) and North Texas (1973) were the programs marquess wins. In short, the UTA program needed a major shot in the arm.

1975 saw the start of Head Coach Harold "Bud" Elliott's second year. At ten years total, he is the longest serving coach in program history at the four-year level (ten seasons). He also has the most wins (46), but has the second lowest winning percentage (.418) of the five candidates on the list. His first year was his roughest at a 1-10 record. The first game and the ninth of that season can be found here.

The  1975 season started out in typical fashion for the Mavericks, a loss. In fact, the 1970's, which laid the groundwork for apathy at the school and the program's eventually demise, was a dismal decade for season openers. UTA was 2-8 in season openers from 1970-79. And the month of September was worse. The Mavericks had seven wins during the decade for the entire month of September! 7-29. You want to kill a program. Get rid of enthusiasm at the very beginning of the season every season by being out of it before it begins. Out of those 36 games, only five were at home, where they were 2-3. Two wins at home in the month of September in the entire decade! Geeeeeeezus! Wanna know why UTA had no fans. Look no further. Never play at home, come back with losing record every year for the month, play off campus and then wonder why no one comes to games.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

UTA Football Game One: A New Home

We begin this seasons edition of This Day in UTA Football History with one of the biggest milestone in program history. On September 6, 1980, UT Arlington football reached something that campus leaders and the Athletic Department had worked towards for a long time, returning football to the campus. UTA left Memorial Stadium, the long-time campus home where the Maverick Activities Center is now, following the 1969 season. The Athletic Department was worried the small size and age was a detriment to the program and started looking for something bigger.

Turnpike Stadium, a primarily baseball facility, was the first destination. The Rangers had strict control over events surrounding their games, forcing few home games in September. Texas Stadium served as a neutral site for games against North Texas, when in reality they were alternating home and home, since UTA couldn't play at their home. The Rangers control over scheduling forced one home game at the Cotton Bowl. When the place was remodeled, it became a baseball-only stadium and UTA relocated to Cravens Field, an Arlington ISD stadium. While not a terrible stadium, it still was a high school facility and not up to the standards of what should have been a Division 1-A college stadium.

All that finally hanged and the University had a home stadium they craved when they opened a new on-campus stadium 39 years ago.