"I don't care how many games they win this year, they just need to beat Oklahoma."
21-year old blonde Longhorn co-ed at Pluckers on Friday.
Sometimes the answer can come from the simplest sources. Oh, there are days when we try to make this stuff rocket science when there's really not a need. The truth is that the girl that just finished finals last week and shared a class with David Ash last fall gets it.
When discussion of this upcoming season for Mack Brown and his Texas Longhorns springs, there's a tendency for some to lose sight of the trees through the forest. Can this team win the Big 12? Is it BCS caliber? Is there a definable bar of success?
Whoa, whoa, whoa…. again, the 19-year old headed to the pool gets it.
Everything else will almost certainly only occur after that mission is accomplished. In both of Mack Brown's Big 12 championship seasons, the ones that ended with the Longhorns playing in national championship seasons, the Longhorns defeated the Sooners on the way. When you look at the four BCS trips that Mack has enjoyed in his 15 seasons in Austin, only one occurred without the benefit of a win over Bob Stoops.
The Texas players and coaches will poo-poo the importance of the game from now until the start of the game, but it's pretty important to the overall on-field success of the team if history tells us anything. Oh, and have we mentioned that Mason Walters was a redshirting freshman the last time the Longhorns won this game and that he'll be a fifth-year senior when he suits up in the Cotton Bowl this season? Seniors Carrington Byndom, Trey Hopkins, Jordan Hicks and Mike Davis have never known what it feels like to smile after suiting up in the game. Neither has the 21-year old co-ed sipping on the margarita at 11:30AM on a Friday morning (bless her).
I feel like I should take burnt orange crayons and write "NO ROCKET SCIENCE. JUST BEAT OU!" all over the sidewalks of the capital.
The question for the next four-plus months is how confident a Texas fan base should be about the challenge ahead that will help define the season when you consider that the Longhorns have lost three straight in the series, two of which ended in complete shame. For those that lost track, the score in the last two games is 118-38.
Eighty f'ing points have separated these two teams in the last two years and it's impossible to gauge the mental state of this series at this point, but I want everyone to forget about that painful detail for a moment and focus on the now.
The Longhorns haven't been the better team in this series for the last three years and it didn't need to play the game to know it, but that doesn't appear the case going into this season. A scan of the depth chart shows that Texas has the most returning experience of any team in the Big 12, while Oklahoma has the look of a team headed for at least a slight rebuild.
For giggles, let's take a snapshot look at the two rosters…
Quarterback (Advantage Texas): This has really been the bugaboo issue in the last few years, as Landry Jones might not have been Sam Bradford, but he was light years better than anything Texas was bringing to the party. The Longhorns have a more confident David Ash, who leads the Big 12 in starting experience going into the year, while the Sooners are still trying to decide if they can win with Blake Bell on every down or whether they should hand the keys off to Trevor Knight.
Running backs (Slight advantage Oklahoma): The Damien Williams/Brennan Clay duo has outperformed the Johnathan Gray/Malcolm Brown pairing thus far and would warrant an edge, but the additions of Joe Bergeron and Daje Johnson to the discussion make it a virtual push in my mind. None of the players have proven to be a true college War Daddy yet, but all have the potential to post big seasons.
Wide receivers (Slight advantage Texas): The Sooners lost their top-two receivers from 2012 that combined for 155 receptions, 1,838 yards and 16 touchdowns in the passing game, while the Longhorns return the best big-play receiver in the conference in Mike Davis and it's leading overall pass-catcher in Jaxon Shipley. Even with the losses, the Sooners have top-tier talent in Trey Metoyer, Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard. The bottom line is that both groups have playmakers, but the Longhorns probably have the best overall player and better quarterback supporting them currently.
Tight ends (Slight advantage Texas): Oklahoma's Brannon Green and Texas' M.J. McFarland are both red-zone threats that averaged less than a catch per game last year. The difference between the two might center on Texas' desires to make McFarland a much bigger part of the passing game as he enters his sophomore season, which means that I'm giving a slight nod to the future in giving Texas a nod here.
Offensive line (Push): Here are the facts… both teams have one true standout interior play to build around (Gabe Ikard for Oklahoma and Trey Hopkins for Texas), a starter at guard they hope gets better (Adam Shead for Oklahoma and Mason Walters for Texas), a question at left tackle (Tyson Thompson for Oklahoma and Desmond Harrison for Texas), a solid junior right tackle (Daryl Williams for Oklahoma and Josh Cochran for Texas) and a general lack of overall depth behind the players mentioned.
Defensive tackles (Big advantage Texas): You'll hear a lot of complaining from Texas fans about the lack of any of the defensive tackles on campus stepping up as a high-level college monster, but the Longhorns are running about five-deep at the position and Ashton Dorsey ranks first in tackles for loss among Big 12 defensive tackles the last two seasons (and he might be a back-up for Texas). Meanwhile, Oklahoma doesn't have a single defensive tackle on the roster that made a tackle for loss last season and they appear to be hoping that alleged incoming defensive tackle Quincy Russell will save the day.
Defensive ends (Advantage Texas): Jackson Jeffcoat is a legit first-team All-Big 12 selection and has been significantly better than top returning Sooner Chuka Ndulue when he's healthy. Meanwhile, I think the Longhorns have the edge on the other side of the ball with the combo of Cedric Reed/Reggie Wilson versus the other projected starter Rashad Favors (10 tackles/one sack in 2012).
Linebackers (Push): None of the players in the discussion for both teams have proven to be top-tier college players thus far. The Longhorns hope a healthy Jordan Hicks and an emerging Peter Jinkens pave the path for productiveness this season, while the Sooners hope the tandem of Corey Nelson and Frank Shannon can do the same. Neither unit deserves to receive a check mark at this point.
Cornerbacks (Advantage Texas): The strength of the Longhorn team might be at cornerback with the trio of Carrington Byndom, Quandre Diggs and an emerging Sheroid Evans, which is why I give them the nod over an Oklahoma team that has a star in Aaron Colvin and a little bit of a question mark on the other side in Arizona transfer Cortez Johnson, who sat out last season.
Safeties (Push): Neither team has a true standout, but both teams will be hoping seniors take a final step from being solid contributors to standout players this season. In fact, if we were forced to choose, we'd take Adrian Phillips over Gabe Lynn based on his ability to occasionally make a big play.
Special teams (Advantage Oklahoma) The Sooners have answers at place-kicker and punter that the Longhorns do not have. In a very close game, Oklahoma will have the kicking game edge.
Outside of running back and special teams, it's hard to find an area on the Oklahoma team that you could emphatically state is better than the Longhorns based on what we can see on paper. In the last 15 years, the better team has almost always won this game and the Longhorns look like the better team five months out.
If the ball is ever going to sit on a tee for the Longhorns, this would seem to be the year. There really are no allowable excuses.
Just beat Oklahoma.
No. 2 - Scattershooting on the Longhorns …
… There was a lot of discussion on the board this weekend about a 10-week mission for senior Case McCoy this summer that was discussed this weekend on Twitter between McCoy and his father. Some have wanted to take shots at the kid for not being around the team the summer before his senior season, and while it's not ideal, let's examine the full situation. The Texas coaching staff wants him on the team this year, but they want him to remain as a back-up that doesn't receive many practice snaps. For a guy that once had bigger aspirations than to be a clipboard holder that loses reps to a true freshman, he's been asked to swallow his pride, be a good teammate and stay the course. His reasons for taking the trip isn't really any of our business and if it's something he wants to do, then go for it because real life starts very soon. He might not be the version of a team player that some want him to be, but he's been a team player very quietly under the radar this spring. I have no problem with him wanting to get out of town for 10 weeks. It will have almost zero impact on what he can and can't do as a back-up on the field this season.
… For those that refuse to live in a reality where Tyrone Swoopes plays as a true freshman this season, this situation should give a proper indication of his future this season. Unless he gets hurt, it's hard to see that kid redshirting, whether it's the best decision or not.
… TCU picked up a killer 2015 over the weekend from Center athlete Johnny Shaw, who ranks No.18 on the LSR Top 100 and visited the Texas for the first Sophomore day event this spring. It'll be interesting to see if this commitment sticks because the kid is a baller and has high-level game.
… I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that the Longhorn baseball team lost every single Big 12 series that they played in this season. They didn't even accidently win one of them. I don't even know what to say.
… The softball team handed its business this weekend. Taylor Thom was a beast. Next up: Super regional.
No. 3 - Just because I sit around and think about things like this…
I was out walking the dogs in Cedar Park on Friday night when I began a process that dominated my entire weekend… I started to ask myself which football movie/TV characters best describe members of the 2013 Texas Longhorns.
It's a process that required way more thought than I ever should have put into the process, but once I started, I just couldn't stop.
David Ash… as Matt Saracen from Friday Night Lights (TV show)
I'm pretty sure Ash is the only player on the Longhorn team that I would feel comfortable letting my daughter date (if I had a daughter), which plays right in line with Mr. Nice Guy Saracen, who was set nice guy records while taking care of his grandmother, being a humble dude and dating Julie Taylor. On top of that, Ash and Saracen both have the same vibe going at all times, as they navigate through the pressure of being "the guy" in the most important position of a football-crazed town when their natural ideology is to go the other way.
Mack Brown… as Coach Klein from The Waterboy
Both coaches have been known to lose their groove and have serious problems involving their No.1 on-field nemesis. Like Klein, Mack tends to have the most success when he's able to lean on a difference-making supernova talent on the field. In order to help me imagine the Longhorns beating Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl this season, it helps when I think of Mack envisioning Bob Stoops as a baby in diapers.
Sally Brown… as Leigh Anne Tuohy from The Blind Side
She comes to practice, hugs on the players and they call her mom.
Mike Davis… as Rod Tidwell from Jerry McGuire
Just show him the money! Oh wait, maybe we should play out this contract year in 2013 and see if the world is ready to buy into the idea of him as a player worth a big contract. Are we talking about Davis or Tidwell? Exactly. Both players live in a world where they are the best players on an offense that hasn't given them a platform to emerge as a true star. Can you imagine Davis breakdancing in the end zone of the Cotton Bowl this year after scoring a touchdown against Oklahoma?
Manny Diaz… as Nubie from Little Giants
Nobody understands all of Manny's crazy blitz packages, but it's more about him being much smarter and better looking than you are and not because he's too young to know what he's doing. It's just a matter of time before "The Annexation of Cuba" takes the Big 12 by storm.
Desmond Harrison… as Finch from Wildcats
On paper, Harrison should help the Longhorns offensive line much like Finch was supposed to help Central High, but both players have the same exact problem… none of us have ever seen them play. Texas fans are hoping it won't take Bob Stoops insulting him along the sidelines to motivate him to the point that he's more than a revolving door at left tackle.
Case McCoy… as Leo Wiggins from Johnny Be Good
Both are back-up players that can't help that they don't have more natural talent, but both are usually described as good teammates and the life of the after-party.
Adrian Phillips… as Stef Djordjevic from All The Right Moves
Both are seniors that have received a lot of criticism, despite the fact that they've shown flashes of being very good players. Whether it's a missed tackle for Phillips or a pass interference penalty for Djordjevic, both players carry big chips on their shoulders to prove the skeptics wrong.
Jaxon Shipley… as Charlie Tweeder from Varsity Blues
Ed McCaffrey, Wayne Chrebet, Joe Jurevicius… whatever… we all know that all white guy wide receivers are the same, which means I can compare Shipley to the West Caanan touchdown-maker and not feel the least bit guilty. Besides, didn't you know that Tweeter's dad was once roommates with… ok, never mind.
No. 4 - Dipping into my recruiting bag…
I'm always looking for ways to improve the column each week and I thought I'd create a recruiting specific section that focuses on a variety of things that cross my mind or are buried deep inside of it as it relates to the world of recruiting.
If it proves to be something that folks don't respond to, it'll disappear as quickly as it arrived. That being said, I think you guys might like this.
Player that missed that I thought would hit: (Eric Hardeman/RB/Pflugerville)
It's easy to sit back today and say that Hardeman's troubles off the field were easy to spot because he was a knucklehead at times on the field as a senior in high school and wasn't the most popular guy in his hometown, but he charmed the hell out of me the first time we met during his sophomore year and I figured his strong academic connections would carry him through his college experience. As far as raw talent is concerned, a case can be made that Hardeman was as physically gifted as any back that Mack Brown has recruited outside of Jamaal Charles. Once he arrived on campus, he barely gave himself a chance at success, both as a teammate (was involved in a fight after the 2003 Arkansas game that impacted the Adrian Peterson recruitment) and as a student-athlete off the field. All these years later and he's still the Austin area's version of A Bronx Tale.
Player that hit that I thought would miss: (Nick Foles/QB/Austin Westlake)
Man, I just wasn't feeling Foles when he came out of high school in 2007 after having watched him in person a couple of different times. In fact, I saw him during his senior season in high school against a sophomore-version of Garrett Gilbert and came away thinking that the Lake Travis guy was the jewel to be had. Fast-forward six-plus years later and one guy is competing for a starting job in the NFL and the other is gutting out his senior season at SMU. Oops.
One of my best hits: (Derrick Strait/Ath/Austin Lanier)
While everyone was talking about his teammate Sonny Davis the following year, few paid any attention at all to trait when he approached signing day as perhaps the best player in A.I.S.D history, but I screamed loudly to anyone that would listen that he was the best pound-for-pound player in the state of Texas. The Longhorns took a kid from Del Valle in the same 1999 class that was literally about five zip codes away from Straight as a player on the field, but poor scouting by the Longhorns cost them a future All-American once he signed with the Sooners.
I've got an APB out for... (Marquise Johnson/WR/Champaign, Illinois)
Anyone know what's going on these days with the forgotten five-star receiver from the Class of 2002? This dude ranks as one of my favorite prospects to cover in all the years I've been in the industry and never has a kid that was more gung ho about being a Longhorn ever had worse luck. First, there was a knee injury while playing basketball, then he was involved in a scary car accident and then his ace in the hole on the Longhorns staff (Tim Brewster) left for the NFL. Oh, and then there was the part of about the NCAA mysteriously red-flagging his qualifying ACT score because he went up a few points. Eventually, he ended up at Texas Tech, but he was never the same and I hated that he never had a chance to live his dream.
Random recruiting story from the past: (The Albert Hollis/D.J. Williams weekend)
It's been more than a dozen years since the most infamous recruiting weekend in the history of Mack Brown era at Texas occurred, a wild-weekend bender for the program that eventually helped lead to four players being suspended for the 2000 Cotton Bowl against Arkansas.
For those that don't remember, here's how it went down. Williams was the No.1-ranked player in the country out of De La Salle, while Hollis was from Sacramento and was regarded as was one of the state's top running backs. I don't recall that they had ever met each other before this particular weekend, but since they were both arriving from Cali on official visits, they hooked up a kinship that carried them throughout the banquet weekend. It was thought coming into the weekend that the Longhorns were in a great position with Williams (with Tim Brewster recruiting) and the leader for Hollis, who was actually expected to commit that weekend. The Longhorns set it up so that resigning USA Today Player of the Year Cory Redding would host the current USA Today Player of the Year.
The fireworks started on Friday night at the team banquet when Hollis approached starting running back Hodges Mitchell and told him to his face that he was going to take his starting position. His bold remarks were not appreciated by Mitchell's loyal teammates (led by Quentin Jammer), who threatened to end Hollis' existence.
Now, I can't verify what happened above, but that was the story I was told by numerous people involved when it went down. Everything else I'm about to tell to you I can confirm… level one.
The next night while the team was at an after-hours spot at The Side Street Bar, what amounted to a rowdy private party for the football team was slightly interrupted when Williams approached Redding and declared that the scene of the bar wasn't really up to his taste and that he wanted to go somewhere he could dance. At that point, Redding told him (and I'm paraphrasing here), "We practice together, we play together and we party together. We're not going anywhere." Both All-Americans were pretty much nose to nose and not budging an inch, as the air was filled with testosterone. After an uneasy stare-down, Redding returned to his Longhorn teammates and the party.
Williams wanted to dance to such a degree that he just flat out left with Hollis (who was kind of an innocent victim of circumstances) when Redding refused his request.
Williams and Hollis weren't seen again the rest of the night by anyone of the Texas football team. By chance, I happened to see both of them as they returned to the team hotel after having walked by themselves after the night club has closed down. All chances of landing Williams were gone at that moment, while Hollis was rendered as a defensive back offer the next morning (it was rumored that a group of players went to Mack and recommended rescinding the offer).
The funny thing is that I'm leaving out about 40% of the rest of the story. It ended with me breaking Sloan Thomas' commitment at Dan's Hamburgers on Lamar the next morning.
Craziest. Recruiting. Weekend. Ever.
No. 5 - The Spurs are three wins away from the Finals….
I'm not sure what else needs to be said outside of the fact that game one was an absolute butt-whipping that has to have the Spurs' confidence reaching new levels as they head into what will be an incredibly critical game two. Frankly, that was as well as I've seen the Spurs play in at least a month.
Bottle all of that up and serve it three more times in the next week-plus and Tim Duncan and Co. will get another shot at what could be one last go at another championship while Timmy is still Timmy. What am I talking about? Timmy will always be Timmy… he's never going to age.
The good news for the Grizzlies is that they've been through this game one embarrassment stuff before and they've never blinked. The bad news for the Grizzlies is that the home team has won in this series 16 out of the last 19 games, which means the math is against them in game two…a game that represents a true must-win situation before the series ever heads to Memphis.
If the Spurs take a 2-0 lead in this series, it's over. It leaves the Grizzlies in a position of needing to win four of the final five games of the series, while needing to play perfect ball at home to hold serve with the understanding that they would still need to win in Texas at a point when the home team would have won 19 of the last 22 in the series.
Game one is over. The series either ends or begins on Tuesday.
No. 6 - Eternal Randomness of the Spotty Sports Mind …
… Give me the Heat in five games. The Pacers will put up a fight, but they won't win many rounds.
… Vitor Belfort might not be in the top five of the pound-for-pound discussion, but he's not far behind in the discussion once you get past the elite of the elite. After destroying Michael Bisping in January, Belfort delivered a savage knockout of Luke Rockhold. In his last six years as a fighter, he's lost twice… once to Jon Jones and once to Anderson Silva. Eight of his other nine fights ended with him knocking someone the hell out or forcing them to submit.
… Ok, I've now seen Lucas Matthysse obliterate both Mike Dallas Jr. and Lamont Peterson this year, including a destructive 3rd round knockout of Peterson this weekend. I'm guessing Danny Garcia will be next and y advice for Garcia is to watch the hell out.
… Shane Mosley won a fight in Cancun on Saturday night. Damn shame he's fighting for paychecks at this stage of his career.
… I haven't watched either of the two race horse racing majors thus far this year. I just haven't had an interest.
… I've watched just a smidge more of the NHL playoffs. Don't judge me.
No. 7 - The day I made Franklin's barbecue a real thing in my life …
Chalk me up as a doubtful mind that has seen the light and become converted believer.
For a couple of years now, I've sat from a distance and wondered with great hesitation about the kind of barbecue that would make someone wait in line for three hours. I've seen the rave reviews, but I just haven't been able to get past my thing with the wait.
I don't know that I've ever admitted this to anyone, but I think my biggest pet peeve in life is waiting in lines. I hated them when I was a kid on trips to Six Flags. I refused to go into a club into Austin if it meant that I had to stand in some arbitrary wait, while the club gives the appearance that it has a Manhattan vibe. Don't even get me started on lines at airports, grocery stores, 7-11's, souvenir shops at concerts, and ordering drinks at a packed bar.
George Carlin once did a skit on waiting in lines and the joy of being "next" in a line and I have to confess that I'm not even happy when I'm next. All I can think about is the time I've wasted while waiting in the line. Therefore, the very idea of going to Franklin's for a meal creates a life-scenario that I just can't willingly be submissive for, which means I've never so much as seriously considered the option.
However, everything changed this week when Texas Monthly named the place the No.1 Barbecue eatery in all of this state, which means they pretty much declared Franklin's the best barbecue on planet earth. I had to have it and I had to have this week. No more… dare I say… waiting.
Therefore, as a late birthday gift to myself, I decided to hire someone to stand in line for me and deliver the food to me. After soliciting help from the Orangebloods message board on Friday, I hired a 20-year old UT film student named Luke for $50 and the cost of his own lunch. We went so far as to create a cover story, just in case there were any problems at all.
When I woke up on Saturday morning, Luke was already in line and I started receiving text updates on the process. Not only was Luke early, but he was first in line on the Saturday after the place was named No.1 Oh baby! By 11:15AM, Luke was on his way to the Anderson Mill/18 Half-Priced Books parking lot where we met and went through what must have looked like some short of shaded parking drug deal. Out of his cooler came four of the greasiest looking packages you've ever seen in your life and into his hands went $160.
I raced home.
Once I was in a safe place, I unwrapped the grease bombs that had been transitioned to a plastic paper bag from Luke's cooler. Waiting for me was a no-nonsense order of moist brisket, sausage, pork ribs and pulled pork. No sides, just meat…. it was glorious.
(Note: It's important to acknowledge that I went into Saturday's quest knowing that in having the food delivered to me 30 minutes after originally ordered, there would be some drop-off in quality. You can't get 100% quality when it has to be exchanged across town in a bookstore parking lot. I can't tell you what the percentage of drop-off I'd see, but I knew there would have to be some and was mentally prepared for that.)
Once I placed a sampling of each on my plate, I went into my office, turned on some late 70's Tom Petty and got down to business.
Let's just give a quick scouting report of what was consumed.
Brisket: $#@^. A new standard for barbecue has now been established. I was completely prepared to be underwhelmed and the exact opposite occurred. IT LIVED BEYOND ITS BILLING. How is that even possible? When does that EVER happen? Yes, I had a food orgasm. Multiple. It was glorious.
Pork Ribs: Considering I was staggered by the brisket, I wasn't completely ready to be floored by the pork ribs, but I have to say the ribs were as good as any I've ever had as well. When I reached for the first or two ribs, the meat couldn't handle the strain and the meat just slipped off the bone like t had fallen out of bed. The taste was pure barbecue deliriousness.
Sausage: I can't tell you that I gave the sausage a fair shot after tasting the brisket and the pork ribs because my bran was always centered on those two items, even when I was test-driving the other two meats. I can tell you that on the very first bite of the sausage, juice squirted out and hit my computer screen from four feet away.
Pulled pork: Terrific and useless with the other meats on my plate. When I was stuffed and it remained on my plate I gave a pinch to each of my three dogs and they literally drooled in an anticipation of more, which I gave them because I felt like they deserved to experience the No.1 barbecue in the state.
When it was over, I was absolutely convinced that I had enjoyed the best barbecue of my lifetime, with all due respect to Lamberts and Stiles Switch (a regular fixture for me), both of which I have visited in the last month. I don't know if I'll ever wait in line for my repeat affairs, but I have no issues paying delivery fees to make it happen again.
No. 8 - A string of Game of Thrones thoughts after episode right of season three …
*********WARNING: MINI-SPOILERS… LAST CHANCE TO SKIP TO No.9 **************
1. Cersei had her best night ever on the show. She put the fear of the Lannister into Margaery Tyrell. She's going to strangled her in her sleep? Welcome to the family, dear.
2. Joffrey walked Sansa down the aisle? That's some cold-blooded stuff right there. He has to die at the hands of Sansa or Arya.
3. Gendry ain't ever going to be the same after his night with the leaches. Oh, and Melisandre is surprisingly foxy.
4. Best. Wedding. Ever. I kept waiting for a best man's toast from Joffrey.
5. Goodness gracious, Danny makes men weak in the knees. Between the Jorah, Khal Drago, the leader of the Unsullied and this new dude, she pretty much as every scary outside of Westeros willing to throw down at a moment's notice. Oh, and if Danny isn't going to blnk at the sight of two heads at her feet coming out of the tub, then you know she's pretty much down forever at this point. I love her.
6. Sam will almost certainly get some after pulling a rabbit out of his hat against a white walker boss. If that girl was charmed by his singing last week, she's going to really warm up to him after his power play in the snow.
7. Did Sam leave his weapon behind? Tell me that didn't happen.
No. 9 - Pop goes the culture because the culture goes pop …
… 100-Words (or Less) Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness (A-)
It wants to be an all-timer in the worst way, but I'm not sure that it ever gets there, although it's one hell of a ride with excess positives to hang its hat on. At the core, the soul of the movie isn't J.J. Abrams as much as a cast (especially Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto) that the audience has willingly accepted as new-age icons in short order. Both were exceptional, as is Trek bad-guy newcomer Benedict Cumberbatch. Pound for pound, it's a movie that some will love, but almost all will really like. Much better than Iron Man 3.
No. 10 - The List: Tom Petty
I feel like I need to have a discussion with some of the most ardent Tom Petty fans that exist out there in this big old world of ours. Are you guys paying attention?
The exceptional music that Petty and the Heartbreakers have made in a career that spans nearly four full decades isn't restricted from a six year window from 1976-1982. Don't get me wrong, I love everything from the self-titled debuted in 1976 through Long After Dark, but I refuse to buy into the ideology that suggests everything else is in a lower tier. Part of Petty's greatness is that he emerged organically as a musical icon in multiple generations. I grew up as a kid listening to Petty on my mom's records and a section of my friends in high school lived on his 90's stuff.
Some of you over the age of 40 simply must acknowledge that Free Falling is an iconic song and worthy of this kind of discussion. Petty's good stuff didn't end in the Reagan administration.
Let's on with it…
Five underrated tracks (Non-greatest hits variety): All of Nuthin', Counting On You, Southern Accents, Honey Bee and Good Enough
Last five songs out: Mary Jane's Last Dance , I Won't Back Down , Runnin' Down a Dream, You Don't Know How It Feels and Learning to Fly
Of all the songs in his entre catalog, this might be the one I'm convinced that nobody else can replicate with proper justice. It's part beautiful harmony, part Petty doing Petty and part jamming rock.
This is the song that introduced me to Petty, as my mom would play her Bella Donna in the house until it gave out and then she'd get another album and start the process all over again. I've always been incredibly gravitated to this collaborative masterpiece.
You can make a case that this is the biggest mainstream iconic hit in his deep bag of songs. I won't fight someone if they rank this song higher, but I do agree that the top songs need to come from his peak era out of principle.