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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Vince Young's reportedly low Wonderlic scores no big deal

Former Texas star Vince Young reportedly made a 6 out of 50 the first time he took the Wonderlic Test, an exam given to potential NFL draftees at the league's annual scouting combine.
Apparently the test wasn't graded properly so Young took it again and made a 16. Now pundits and so-called "draft experts" everywhere are going to question the intelligence of the guy who single-handedly gave the Longhorns the national championship last season.
Who cares? Young can play football. Sure his passing mechanics aren't perfect and he didn't always face the best competition, but he got the job done against USC, which was supposedly the greatest team in college football history (according to ESPN and AP, that is -- remember the "threepeat" nonsense?).
I used to doubt the kid's ability, too, but after seeing him tear apart the Trojans' defense in the title game -- even when they knew what was coming -- his chances of being an impact player in the NFL have increased tremendously.
If Young's draft status is lowered because of the reports, then he'll have even more to prove to skeptics once he becomes a starting QB.

Monday, February 27, 2006

O'Neil deserved election

Congratulations to Shreveport native Willard Brown for being inducted into the Hall of Fame through the special election for Negro Leagues players and executives.

Brown clearly was deserving in the minds of at least 9 of the 12 electors. However, one man who was left out stands above the rest -- Buck O'Neil.

At 94, O'Neil has done so much for the game of baseball that he clearly merits induction into the Hall. Maybe he shouldn't go in as a player but he has taken on possibly the biggest ambassador role of any living player who played.

O'Neil told me last week he would be in Cooperstown regardless of whether he was inducted. His omission is a glaring hole that hopefully will be filled in 2007. And hopefully, O'Neil will be in Cooperstown then to share his memories of how the game used to be and may be once again.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mercifully, it's over

Not to go Bryant Gumbel on anyone, but I am also glad the Winter Olympics are over. Can we get to March Madness now?

I realize the Winter Olympics don't have the same draw when they are out of the United States, but this had to be one of the worst groups of athletes to represent the good ol' U.S. of A in years.

There's Bode Miller who didn't win a single gold, but hey, he got to party at the Olympics. Look, if I wanted someone to party at the Olympics, I would have wanted John Daly on the bobsled team.

Then there is Lindsey Jacobellis -- that would be Leon Lett to you youngsters. She blew a gold medal by trying to be a hot dog just before the finish line. Of course, her coach absolved her of all blame by saying if you don't understand what she was trying to do you don't understand snowboarding. (And in the interest of fairness, Lett WON HIS GAME before he blew a touchdown in the Super Bowl hot dogging.)

Then there is Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick. These guys thought they were T.O. and Donovan McNabb.

Please, it's hard enough to care about the Winter Olympics don't send me a bunch of people who don't care about winning much less winning for the United States.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

ESPN - The Cell Phone

The kids ganged up on me on a night when my excuse box was empty and I had no choice but to take them to Best Buy ... or as our online staff calls it, ShreveDisney!

Once there, I just happened to find the ESPN cell phone (MobileESPN to be exact) the network keeps showing off during each commercial break. Gorgeous black, lightweight, sharp color screen and the buttons are in the traditional ESPN red.

OK, that you knew. But I thought of our peeps who read the Free For All and grabbed the pricing guide to review the specifics of what you get besides a great looking cell phone. Well, your minute plans go between 100 and 4,000 minutes. Sports data services, (you know, the reason you're getting the phone) are included in all of the plans. The monthly charges are higher than what you may find with a traditional cell phone plan, but not unreasonable.

Text messages run from $4.99 a month for 200 messages to $12.99 for 1,000. If you're sending up to 1,000 text messages, please seek professional help.

The phone has running scores, fantasy managers (Jason Pugh and Pedro Pizarro have stopped reading now), gamecasts, and access to Insider content. Buying the phone also gets you a year's worth of access to ESPN Insider content online and a 12-month subscription to ESPN The Magazine.

There's one more feature that isn't included in the pricing guide that should be ... the trip to divorce court.


Go to the 1:31 mark and listen to the call of a no-goal for Tulsa.

Wichita Thunder color commentator Joel (not-so PC) Lomurno, after a Tulsa goal was disallowed, said "And I see those retarded 10-year-old kids with no shirts running around the concourse for no reason. There is no goal. The kids don't realize it, so, yeah, go away."
Are you kidding me? RETARDED????????
You can't say that! I am baffled. This dude could NOT work for Gannett (not that he'd want to, I'm just saying ... he'd be in HR before he knew what the heck happened).
Especially in this day in age, I would be shocked if someone didn't voice a concern about this outburst. The sad part is, it didn't just slip out. He went on to chastise the youngsters for HAVING FUN. He's berating exuberant kids for celebrating. Hello, those are the future fans of the game! Yeah, it would be much better for them to sit on the hands. Plus, it takes a big guy to chirp little kids. Pick on someone your own size.
Trust me, calling games live is no easy task. I've done color the past two postseasons for the Mudbugs. But the problem is, you have to realize what you say is etched in history FOREVER. You have to have class.
My biggest fear was dropping an expletive, but thankfully it never happened. And it didn't happen during Game 7 in Laredo, so I can't imagine a more volatile situation than that.

Friday, February 24, 2006

1-5A shows its strength

Imagine my surprise when I approached the losing H.L. Boureois coach after his team lost to the Airline girls on Monday night. He and his team have driven almost through the night to get to a hotel room, and he still gave credit to the Lady Vikings for being an excellent team. Not only was it refreshing, but it was an admission of the strength of District 1-5A girls basketball.
So was last night, when Airline went on the road and won a quarterfinal game by 25 points. Back in Shreveport, Southwood survived a struggle against Natchitoches Central to advance to the Sweet 16 as well.
Airline has a very tough foe in Denham Springs, which has already knocked off Ruston and West Monroe, but don't be surprised if the Vikings and Cowboys meet again on Saturday night.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Recipe for disaster

Louisiana Tech released its 2006 football schedule today. That's the good news.

The bad news is this schedule is a recipe for disaster. A 13-game schedule is bad enough, but if I'm reading this schedule right, Tech is playing on 12 consecutive weeks. Hello? NFL teams even get an open week in there somewhere.

Here's a prediction, Tech will struggle at the end of the season through no fault of coaches or players. This will be a team that will be drained, mentally as well as physically, by the end of the year. Book it.

If that's not bad enough, there are three BCS games (Nebraska, Clemson and Texas A&M) in the first four weeks of the season. This could be a beat up team before the 12-week Death March is even halfway through.

A year ago Tech was on the cusp of a bowl invitation. In 2006, the Bulldogs could have a better football team and a worse record through no fault of their own.

Blame it on Katrina.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

I'll be the first one to buy a Jon Alston jersey

I am stunned.
For one of the few times in my professional career, an athlete called me to thank me for a story I wrote about him.
Hence, the bewildered look on my face since he called.
Former Loyola and Stanford star Jon Alston is my new favorite football player. I called him earlier this week for a piece about the NFL Scouting Combine which began on Wednesday.
Alston was one of three Stanford players invited to Indianapolis to work out in front of NFL general managers and coaches.
You would think with his professional future hanging in the balance, he'd be focused on preparing, which he is. He's been working with an elite training facility to improve his performance this week.
But, after I left a message on his cell phone, he actually returned the message.
You have to understand one thing. Usually it takes an inordinate amount of messages on an athlete's or coach's cell phone before a reporter will hear back. Not Jon.
One message, a couple of hours later, ring!, Hi this is Jon Alston...
An athlete with manners? Get out of here!
He then called me this afternoon to thank me which added to my astonishment.
The IRS probably gets more thank you calls than sports writers. We get a ton of complaints, like the letter I got from a Byrd soccer parent this afternoon, but a call thanking me for a story?! Excuse me while I slap myself out of my state of delirium.
So if Jon makes it in the pros, I will be the first one to buy his NFL jersey. I've never really followed the NFL, not as strongly as college ball, but I will follow his career now. Whether it's in the NFL, NFL Europe, Canadian Football League or making $200 a week in arenafootball2.
I want a Jon Alston jersey.
You want to talk about class in an athlete or point your kids toward a proper athletic role model? Then he's where the dialogue should begin.


Stephen Ames learned a valuable lesson today the Accenture Match Play. Ames sparked Tiger's interest in the first round this morning by saying he had a chance to win because of the "way Tiger's hitting it lately." If there is one person, beside Michael Jordan, you don't want to talk trash to, it's Tiger.

Monday, February 20, 2006

It's only cheating if you get caught ...

After our civil discussions over corked bats and juiced ball players, how fitting is it that Jimmie Johnson wins the Daytona 500 after being caught earlier in qualifying with an illegal back window that kept the draft off of his rear spoiler. (At least I think that's what it did).

Baseball has as many tricks as there are in sports when it comes to cheating from stealing signs, to scuffed balls to the aforementioned corked bats. Caddies on both the PGA and LPGA Tour give each other so many hand signals during a round of golf you'd think you were watching a third base coach calling for a squeeze play.

I don't get people's beef with NASCAR on Jimmie Johnson. His crew chief was not only tossed from the race, he was given a ticket out of town for the entire week. Johnson not only had to deal with a second team crew chief, he also had to start from the rear of the field.

Who better than The King to sum it up ... “I’d say everyone is trying to push the edge of what is legal," Richard Petty said during Speedweek. "If it is going on ... I’d tell my guys don’t get caught.”

No crew chief, lousy starting position, no help from his teammates and Johnson still wins the Daytona 500! Haters or not, you've got to give the 48 a high-five on that performance.

A legend at 94

I was lucky enough to be able to interview Negro Leagues legend Buck O'Neil earlier today. During the course of the 10-minute chat, I learned several things but none more important than this: Age really is nothing but a number

O'Neil is 94 but you wouldn't know it by talking with him or hearing his plans for the summer, which include a trip to Cooperstown, N.Y., and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

If I'm lucky enough to make it to 94 (still got about 70 years until I get there), I sincerely hope my mind is as sharp as O'Neil's and that my life has been as fulfilling.

Mixing Winter Olympics and NASCAR

What do you get when you mix the Winter Olympics and NASCAR? Shreveport-Bossier City driving over the last two days.
Really, can anyone explain why people feel the need to drive over the speed limit on icy roads?
The number of automobile accidents Sunday night and Monday morning went into the hundreds. Gee, let's see, there is a slight drizzle; it's really, really cold; so let's go really, really fast. Makes sense to me.

A sad day indeed

From The Associated Press

Sportscaster great Curt Gowdy dies at 86

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Curt Gowdy, one of the signature voices of sports for a generation and the longtime broadcaster for the Boston Red Sox, died Monday at 86.

He died in Palm Beach after a long battle with leukemia, Red Sox spokeswoman Pam Ganley said.

Gowdy made his broadcasting debut in 1944 and went on to call 13 World Series and 16 All-Star games.

In 1951 Gowdy became main play-by-play voice on the Red Sox broadcast team. He left the Red Sox in 1966 for a 10-year stint as "Game of the Week" announcer for NBC. He was also the longtime host of the "American Sportsman" series.

"He’s certainly the greatest play-by-play person up to this point that NBC sports has ever had," NBC Universal Sports chairman Dick Ebersol said Monday. "He literally carried the sports division at NBC for so many year on his back. ... He was a remarkable talent and he was an even more remarkable human being."

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Tony Stewart the hypocrite

Tony Stewart was the cause of this bull regarding bump drafting, saying there were going to kill someone if it didn't stop, yet he decides to go out and try to kill Matt Kenseth with a ridiculous move down the backstretch. And no word from NASCAR concerning a rough driving penalty. If Stewart isn't penalized then NASCAR will never lose the sterotype that they treat certain drivers with kid gloves.

Seriously, it's amazing 30 people didn't wreck because of his stupid stunt.

NOTE: NASCAR did the right thing and penalized him. Thankfully. Can't wait to hear Smoke's reasoning for this gaffe.

Daytona commercials better than Super Bowl

NASCAR's push toward mainstream USA was helped by come pretty darn funny commercials. UPS' bit where the kid goes flying was hilarious. So was Bud Light's spot with athlete in the locker room. The commerical when Mark Martin gets a body double to do flips at the race track in front of Carl Edwards was classic. And then we have the Chevy boys toasting themselves with beer over their heads. Nice.

Daytona about to roll

The 43 cars at Daytona are about to take the green flag. Some thoughts: Tony Stewart will be tough to beat today ... I hope the last lap does not include a caution flag because the method for determining a winner in that case is still iffy ... This is going to be a revival year for Petty Enterprises with Bobby Labonte in the 43 and Kyle Petty in the 45 ... Darkhorse winner for today could be Martin Truex Jr. He's a member of DEI, and we all know what Michael Waltrip did with that team at Daytona.

Friday, February 17, 2006


Well, it was fun playing golf with the should-be Hall of Famer last summer. He's got no shot at the Hall of Fame now. Dang Albert ... GPS??? I thought that was only used to find restaurants and attractions ... but women???? That gives new meaning to a Peeping Tom!!

Sammy Sosa + HOF = First Ballot

'Nuff said.

The Olympic Spirit Got Punked

When did the Winter Games become the Jackass Olympics?

Downhill skiing meant to resemble motocross? An event called Skeleton? I'm sorry, when did the luge no longer rate on anyone's Fear Factor scale? Moguls, half-pipes, what's next, is the band Korn going to close the Olympic Games by extinguishing the flame by peeing on it?

As a transplant from the Midwest, (GoBigRed) as long as we're busy just making events up, I suggest the Inner Tube Downhill where one will be judged on lift off of the tube when you hit a bump and one's ability to land on the inner tube on the way down.

How about Naked Flagpole Climbing, a staple on any Midwestern university campus and a natural salute to the Olympic Games in ancient Greece.

I don't need to know where the next Winter Games is taking place, I have my first prediction for 2010 Games ... the mystery person to light the Olympic Flame ... Steve-O!

Americans continue choke job

Fresh off Johnny Weir's debacle Thursday, Friday it was the women's hockey team and snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis chance to embarrass themselves.

The hockey team built an early 2-0 lead then watched things fall apart when Sweden rallied for a 3-2 victory in a shootout. The result was astonishing. Canada held up its end of the bargain for the gold medal rematch with the United States, but the talented bunch overlooked the Swedes dearly.

A different type of choke job, one that is just plain unacceptable, Jacobellis was well clear of her competition in the snowboard cross when she decided to showboat.

The 20-year-old American grabbed her board on the second-to-last jump before the finish line. Inexplicably -- and some say inexcusably -- she fell.

"I was caught up in the moment," Jacobellis said.

Jacobellis is the type of athlete that the United States has become flooded with -- young, arrogant and completely unaware of what the Olympics are all about. Not surprising though, considering this sport is a glorified X Games. Love the X Games, but the Olympics actually have a history and mean something.

The way these Olympics are going, I can't wait to see what the women's figure skating will bring. In the men's hockey, the only good thing is the fact the Americans aren't favored, so it will be tough to disappoint there. Unless the hotel rooms get trashed again.

Kudos to Parkway

I don't think I've ever been at a more emotionally draining game than the high school soccer game I was at last night. The Parkway boys team was on the verge of advancing to the state quarterfinals when it all vanished in minutes.

The Panthers got the go-ahead goal late in the game with about eight minutes remaining only to have a defensive error cost them dearly. Alexandria scored in the final minute of regulation, then scored in the final minute of the overtime! That's like hitting two buzzer-beaters from mid-court in the same game.

Your heart has got to go out to head coach Chuck McBee and his kids. They had fought through a shaky first half, turned their game around in the second half, scored what should have been the game-winning goal and then crumbled in a span of about 20 minutes.

The Panthers deserved a better ending than what they got.

-Brian Vernellis

Job security

Only in college football can you take a job on Sunday and then accept another one on Wednesday -- and have no one in the business think anything of it.

Yet that is actually what happened at LSU with defensive line coach Earl Lane.

As Gannett News Service's Glenn Guilbeau reported today, Lane was announced as an assistant at Wisconsin on Sunday and accepted a job at LSU Wednesday night.

This isn't knocking Lane. This is just the life of an assistant in college football. You can be fired for no other reason than being on the staff of a coach on the way out. So why not leave when the best available offer comes up.

Again, nobody in the college coaching profession is up in arms. It's just the way it is. Once again, it just shows how unlike the real world college sports is.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Marlins have a new suitor

Enter Oklahoma City into the growing list of places the Florida Marlins could move in the coming years.

On Thursday, Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin met with Marlins' brass.

WOW! Oklahoma City is really trying to convince people that it's a "major league city." First the Hornets land there, now the Marlins?

Sure it's far from a done deal but getting what in 2004-05 was one of the NBA's worst teams and now angling for a team that will have an opening day roster better suited for Oklahoma City's current Triple-A franchise doesn't seem to be a good way to make waves as a major league market.

Daytona festivities delayed by rain

Much attention is paid to Sunday's Daytona 500, but year in and year out, the Gatorade Twin 125s (old school name) are the most exciting races of Speedweeks.
Today's races have been delayed by rain, but it doesn't appear it will be much longer.

I won't get into exactly how the lineup is determined for Sunday's big race, but today races will build the starting grid.

Will be interesting to see how Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 does after his crew chief, Chad Knaus, was ejected from the week's festivities for cheating.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Tags' team

Now that Paul Tagliabue is running the New Orleans Saints, maybe the team can actually win more than one playoff game in oh, three or four decades.

In all seriousness, Paul Tagliabue should be commended for his efforts in bringing the Saints back to New Orleans and for trying to make the team viable in New Orleans, Louisiana and the Gulf South region after Hurricane Katrina.

All that being said, this is still a business. But if the market can't support the Saints, then at least the commissioner tried.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Winter Olympics are more fun; women's hockey a joke

There's just something about MOST of the events. And I repeat MOST of the events. They are a little more exciting and the athletes live more on the edge (downhill, luge, etc) than the Summer Games.

That being said I was appalled at the women's hockey. Here I was watching what looked to be pretty decent hockey (heck, they even mentioned the CHL during the broadcast) before something took over my body. I thought I saw a penalty called for "body checking." I knew I had to be out of my mind because it's hockey and checking is crucial to the game.

Nope, I wasn't seeing things. CHECKING IS NOT ALLOWED IN WOMEN'S HOCKEY!!!

What a flippin joke. This has totally ruined my excitement for the Canada-U.S. final that is likely to happen.

Women can't check?? Sorry ladies, that is a disgrace and it's too bad because there are some talented girls that could play a physical game.

No wonder the general public doesn't take women's sports as seriously as men's. The sports themselves don't.

We already have ice dancing!

I will no longer be too worried about who brings home the gold in this powder puff ice capade.

Penalizing bump drafting in NASCAR?

What's next? Ticketing people for honking their horns?

All because Tony Stewart said someone was going to die, the suits at NASCAR feel bump drafting is out of hand. How about the drivers taking responsibility for something they do? If you dont want to kill someone or yourself, DONT HIT THEM IN THE TURNS!!! It's not that difficult!

This is going to be fun to watch how they police this idea. Rubbing is racing, and it always has been, but it's time the drivers respect each other. They know when bumping is dangerous and when it's needed.

Soon, races at Daytona and Talladega will just be bumper to bumper (with plenty of space in between) parades. Boy that sounds like fun. Not.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Paragraph of the week

From a story for tomorrow's paper about Eddie Sutton:

One witness at the accident scene told police that Sutton seemed confused, responded angrily to questions and had a "slight fruity odor" on his breath.

Speaking of choking...

Rarely have I been as pleased as when I heard Michelle Kwan wouldn't be competing in the Olympics. I've heard more than I needed to hear in a lifetime about the skating also-ran. She's been heralded as the queen of figure skating, but she has never won a gold medal. Obviously, we were saved a Kwanathon of coverage from NBC with her early withdrawal. Hours after her announcement, the network ran a special look back at her career. Had it been a feature on her gold medals, it would have been appropriate in length.

Just when you think you can, you KWAN'T!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2006


It's clear by the antics of Bode Miller that you don't have to play with 52 cards to be an Olympian. But the choices of Miller and his American teammate Daron Rahlves made before Sunday's downhill were downright idiotic. Miller used brand new skis in which he had made just one run in. Miller's run was wonderful until the last half mile, where he looked gassed. Could be the late night? Meanwhile Rahlves switched his skis seconds before he was scheduled to leave the gate. He went from one of the favorites to slow.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

It's 35 degrees, let's play two

Nothing says college baseball like 35-degree weather with a 20-mile per hour wind blowing in from the north.
Forget competitive advantages or disadvantages, it's just plain dumb to be playing baseball before Valentine's day. Period.
Yet, throughout Louisiana and across the Sun Belt, teams are doing just that.
If the NCAA ever wants college baseball to be more than just a regional game, then a standard opening day -- in March -- needs to be established. Enough of the games in February or, worse yet, late January.
As it is, baseball is being played and no one knows or cares right now.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Oklahoma governor needs to lighten up

Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry needs to go watch "Stripes" and pay attention to the line where Bill Murray tells a fellow soldier to "Lighten up, Francis."

So Charles Barkley said some things that aren't too flattering about your state -- "Oklahoma's no place for black people." "The Oklahoma Sooners and Hornets are the only brothers in town."

Big deal. That, literally, is just Charles being Charles. Let it go.

Henry needs to realize all Barkley has left is his oversized mouth, seeing as how he has exactly as many NBA championship rings as I do.

Just leave it alone Gov. Henry.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Soccer hooligans

I've been covering high school soccer games for the last two seasons and it stuns me that some players are able to talk and argue with referees over calls/non-calls like they do - without their coaches or parents saying a word.

Why is it soccer players get away with more backtalk to officials then any other sport?
I couldn't even imagine arguing a call when I played sports growing up without having to deal with an angry coach grabbing my jersey/facemask and bench me, and then have my fuming parents waiting for me after the game.

In my journalism career, I've never seen other high school athletes backtalk referees the way soccer players do. Is it part of the sport, is it a sense of entitlement among kids these days, or what?

I've seen one parent in that time chastise his son for his actions on the field, but aside from that - nobody has said a word.

Kornheiser for president

Thank the heavens for ESPN making the right call by hiring Tony Kornheiser for next year's Monday Night Football. As anyone who has watched his show, "Pardon the Interruption," on ESPN, he's one of the wittiest sports guys on television and his radio show isn't half bad either. And, he's a terrific columnist on top of that! Think a taller, less judgmental version of Mitch Albom.

Hopefully, he'll be able to shout down his crewmate Joe Theismann, who was part of ESPN's horrendous Sunday Night crew.

ESPN is the king of self-promotion so you just know they'll tie PTI into their Monday Night Football telecast somehow. That may be a bad thing, but it would give Kornheiser a chance to interact with Mike Wilbon, his co-host on PTI.

Kornheiser will bring the wit and humor of Dennis Miller, but has the acumen to engage sports fans while Miller's rants and obscure references clanked off most MNF fans.

Hold off on those Final Four tickets

Lost in LSU's run to the top of the SEC men's basketball standings is this one little nit - guard play.

The Tigers showed on Wednesay night against Arkansas why they could go deep in the NCAA Tournament - a fabulous front line with enormous athleticism. Then they showed why they could be a first-round knockout - turnovers and erratic guard play.

LSU has a front line good enough to keep the Tigers in any game they play. Their backcourt - even with the improved play at the point by Darrel Mitchell - means they could go up in flames at any moment. Witness the Houston game.

What does this mean for LSU fans? Hold on to your seats. And hold off on making plans for a deep run into the tournament. Until proven otherwise, guard play will detemine how special this season is for the Tigers.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Janet, I'll take embarrassing for $1000

This has to be one of the most bizarre sports stories in some time. The wife of the Great One and several NHL players reportedly making bets and Phoenix assistant coach (Wayne's the head coach) Rich Tocchet implicated as the financier for the gambling ring of more than $1 million.

Hockey players gamble? Get out!!

Tocchet is one of two NHL players in history to score more than 400 goals and collect more than 2500 PIM. Now he's running a sports betting syndicate?

And Janet Gretzky is placing sports wagers (hers, of course)? Dang, she is the perfect woman!

The NHL certainly didn't need these shenanigans. It had done a great job to creep out of the hole dug by the missed season. This case is sure to get even more interesting as the details are released. STAY TUNED!

The Super Bowl was "properly officiated"

Well, of course it was, as the NFL kindly pointed out this week. The statement corroborated with what the fools wearing the stripes did Sunday. The game was totally fair ... if you wore black and gold.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

State's best basketball player

In writing a story about the state's best basketball player, I've come to the conclusion that I don't have a conclusion.

Tech's Paul Millsap is the best rebounder. Grambling's Brion Rush is the best scorer. LSU's Glen Davis, Darrel Mitchell and Tyrus Thomas are facing the toughest competition. And NSU may have the deepest team in the state.

That being said, it is a good year for college basketball in the state. It's always good when you can debate the best player in the state and have multiple options.

After some down years recently, it's good to see basketball on the rise again in Louisiana.

Monday, February 06, 2006

One creepy promotion

LSU honored former Lady Tigers basketball coach Sue Gunter on Sunday. For that, the school should be commended.

What was weird was the way the school went about honoring Gunter.

Giving away bobblehead dolls of a coach who died last year is just a little bit creepy to me.
What, did the school just have to get rid of the dolls? Wouldn't a nice pregame ceremony and dropping a banner with her name on it been enough?

Maybe it's just me, but I thought the Gunter bobblehead was in poor taste.

Super Bowl calls

The Super Bowl officials did a good job, but they revealed one thing: the NFL needs to rethink some of its rules.

Matt Hasselback's fumble/no fumble ruling came out right in the end, but what are we doing with the rulebook when it takes a CPA to interpret it? That and Palamalu's interception/no interception in the Indianapolis game -- along with the tuck rule fumble/no fumble from a few years ago -- show that we aren't playing football any more. We're playing Technical Ball.

When did football stop being football? Get rid of rules about forward motion, down by contact and in the grasp. If you drop the ball, it should be a fumble. If you hit the ground, you're stopped.

It shouldn't matter if somebody touched you or if the square root of your ground speed at the time your left pinky touched the ground was inversely proportional to the circumference of the football.

How about some real football again?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Super Bowl XL predictions

OK. I'm going to go out on a limb here.

It's less than two hours until kickoff and I have a good feeling about this evening's game. I rarely make predictions on games of such magnitude. I mean what other sporting event uses Roman numerals to designate the championship? I'm shaking just thinking about it.

Well here goes: John Madden will say something dumb like "The team with the most points should win tonight," the Rolling Stones will play "Start Me Up" at the half, there will be two funny commercials -- one of which will be shown twice more in the broadcast, Hines Ward will run in a TD, Shaun Alexander will throw for a score and the Steelers will win 20-17 on a sneak by Ben Roethlisberger. And of course if this all happens, I'm going to Vegas...

Friday, February 03, 2006

Good news for NSU

Not that the Northwestern State Demons men's basketball team hasn't done enough for itself, but ESPN.com's mid-major guru Kyle Whelliston just gave the Demons more love on the Web site.

Coach Mike McConathy and his team are certainly deserving of their place in the Feb. 18/19 Bracket Buster on ESPN and reading this story will show you why.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Don't tell Roy Lang III, but ...

Just saw the story on the girl's high school star who dropped 113 POINTS!!! on an opponent. Now, this is not her career point total over a single opponent, this is in one game!

Epiphanny Prince led her team (no kidding) to a 137-32 romp over Brandeis High School in New Jersey.

SIDE NOTE: I'm sure McCallum would be horrified to learn that Prince is known to play basketball during all four seasons of the year.

Following Roy's crying towel moment about Kobe Bryant going off on the Toronto Raptors for 81 points, I can't help but think Roy would lapse into a coma over a high school girl's 113-point effort. (And if he did, who would notice, really?)

Anyhow, you have to put it all into prespective ... if not for Prince's 113 points, her team loses 32-24 due to an obvious lack of scoring support from the bench.

I'm off to Orlando, but I'm sure each of you in the Free For All will make like a Miami Hurricanes defender and take your shots after the whistle.

As the retirement world turns

Remember the days when a professional athlete retired with civility and grace? No dragging out the decision. No toying around with fans' emotions and feelings.

Apparently, those days are gone. And, unfortunately, two of the more enjoyable players to watch in their respective leagues are tarnishing their reputations by doing just that: Roger Clemens and Brett Favre.

After watching Clemens in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, it was clear that, in October (and much of the second half), he wasn't the same Rocket. The Cards swung and missed at 3 pitches in six innings and 100-plus pitches of work. THREE PITCHES. That's a total reserved more for Ezequiel Astacio or Wandy Rodriguez not a future Hall of Famer.

Clemens has been a wonderful ambassador for baseball and should let the World Baseball Classic, if he is healthy enough to pitch in it, be his farewell address to the world.

Nantz must go

Scuuuuuuse me while I blog this out.

I love college basketball, and there is nothing like March Madness and the Final Four, but if I could do anything for mankind, it would be to remove Jim Nantz from any telecast of basketball. Or football for that matter.

Why? He's horrible. I get my share of hate e-mail, so I'll take this opportunity to dish out some unlove to the Nantzter. This is the guy who brought us "It's Hoosiers All Over Again!!!," "Just when you think you can't...UConn!" and the annual, "I really believe Fred Couples has a great chance to win the Masters this year."

I have a simple question. When Dick Enberg, Verne Lundquist and other Greats of play-by-play are available, why is CBS torturing us with this guy? Billy Packer is bad enough, but Nantz is the worst.

He should be taken off the air until he can get in eight hours of sleep without talking aloud about Couples between snores. Banish him to Chunky Soup commercials.

Help us, CBS!

Love the Steelers, but...

If I see Jerome Bettis' parents on the television screen one more time, I'm shooting the screen. I hope homeowner's insurance covers that.

Why is it that television directors have so little creativity that they must cut to players' wives/coaches' wives/players' parents after EVERY play? There's nothing wrong with family members; they are just sitting there. But TV people with such a lack of ideas AND having so little clue how sick viewers are of this habit...well, they just shouldn't have a job.

You won't find a bigger Pittsburgh Steelers fan than me, but I would rather watch the game than the reaction of a family member or loved one. The story has been told, now MOVE ON!

While I'm on the subject, I like neither Donovan McNabb nor his mom. Unfortunately, I've just seen a photo of Ben Roethlisberger hugging her Wednesday night at .... YOU GUESSED IT, the Bettis' house. God help us one and all.

Seattle by 7 1/2.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

On recruiting rankings

Louisiana Tech coach Jack Bicknell likes to say he doesn't look at recruiting rankings.

If Bicknell were to look today, he might be pleasantly surprised at what he sees.

Rivals.com has the Bulldogs ranked second in the WAC behind only Boise State. He has Tech second behind LSU in Louisiana.

Tech fans love to get on Bicknell, but as someone who follows this stuff, his classes are getting better each year.

Yes, getting William Griffin from Patterson was a good get. But Bicknell has had good fortune landing talented players from the state in the past.

What may be the difference this year is finding a player like John Tyler's Cudahy Harmon, SuperPrep's No. 99 prospect in Texas, and getting him out of the state ahead of the likes of Texas A&M, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Colorado State.

Like it or not Tech fans, Bicknell is recruiting well enough to be successful and stay on the job.

Someone is missing out

I was pleased to see Ramone Randle's name on the Louisiana Tech signee list today, the day we know as "national signing day." Randle was easily one of the top defensive players in the Shreveport area this year, and the Bulldogs got a steal.

Don't be surprised if Randle makes a major name for himself at Tech. PLAYING BOTH WAYS, he was dominant at Booker T. Washington. Imagine his potential when he is able to concentrate on a position.

But there are other highly talented prepsters in the area who haven't signed with a college yet.

Dennis Morris of Woodlawn is the best player "still on the board." I'll always remember seeing Morris' name on a sprint heat sheet at a track meet and looking for him in the back of the pack - where the big guys usually are - and was amazed when I saw him leading the pack. The guy is 6-3, 240 and can run. Somebody is missing out.

There are more. Mansfield had a few receivers I would consider if I were a college coach, and Red River had some passing game talent - both quarterback Al Lewis and receiver Robert McDonald.

College coaches are fond of saying players don't slip through the cracks, and they are mostly right, but I wouldn't hesitate to sign a player of Morris' ability no matter what league I coached in.