ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Gators have their required open practice and media cattle call Thursday afternoon at Cowboys Stadium, but the day’s real work gets going this morning with the start of a real practice at the University of Texas-Arlington, a few miles from the spaceship-looking edifice known as “Jerry World.”
Coach Scott Cross and members of his staff greeted the Gators upon their arrival at the UTA practice facility.
UTA is a state school, the commuter type, of 33,439 that calls its teams -- with apologies to a certain squad about 25 miles away -- the Mavericks.
These Mavs were here first, as a charter member of the Southland Conference in 1971. That’s nine years earlier than when the Dallas NBA franchise was born via expansion in 1980. UTA made the NCAA Tournament in 2008 as a 16-seed, losing to top-seeded Memphis, which later forfeited the win due to NCAA violations.
Among UTA’s famous alumni:
- Actor Lou Diamond Phillips (pictured above with Denzel Washington in "Courage Under Fire")
- Drag racer and NASCAR owner Kenny Bernstein
- Former Portland Trailblazers interim head coach Kaleb Canales
- Boston Red Sox pitcher John Lackey
- Former NFL cornerback Tim McKyer
- San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence
- Former Kansas City Royals manager Trey Hillman
Note: I think I may have written this blog just to get the first (and probably only EVER) photo of Lou Diamond Phillips on GatorZone.com.