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Thursday, November 30, 2006

What's up at Tech?

What's going on at Louisiana Tech? The football team has lost nine games. The men's basketball team has won one. Even the women's basketball team has lost games that would have been unfathomable just a couple of years ago.

The football team's troubles were to be expected. The schedule was much too tough for a young team. But nine losses is a lot and as much as I like Jack Bicknell, I think the Bulldogs need to play well on Saturday at New Mexico State to have him return next year.

The men's basketball team figured to have some struggles after losing Paul Millsap to the NBA. But 12 points in a half? Thirty-six points in a loss to Southern Illinois? That doesn't bode well.

And the women. Losing at SFA. Losing to something called Eastern Kentucky. That doesn't bode well either, although you have to think the Techsters can get it turned around by WAC play.

The good news for Louisiana Tech is that athletic success is often cyclical. Now if Tech fans can be patient for the cycle to turn back up.

McGwire belongs in the Hall

Mark McGwire should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Period.

Some of Big Mac’s detractors point to his refusal to answer questions during congressional hearings as reason to keep him out of the Hall.

That’s lame.

McGwire has done nothing to mitigate the accomplishments of a 16-year career during which he slugged 583 home runs. He never tested positive for steroids. Major League Baseball, in fact, had no testing program in place until 2002.

McGwire’s “crime” was refusing to answer questions about a period during which MLB had no official policy on steroid use.

“I’m not here to talk about the past,” he repeatedly told the panel.

Other McGwire detractors point to the character clause on the ballot as reason to keep him out of the Hall. But exactly what MLB rule has McGwire violated?

Name ONE.

Gaylord Perry, in his autobiography Me and The Spitter, admittedly threw spitballs. That’s cheating. Yet Perry, who won 314 games, sits comfortably in the Hall.

When McGwire captivated the nation during his 70-homer season in 1998, he was nationally celebrated. He should be equally celebrated now.

McGwire put up Hall of Fame numbers during his career, and he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame – the first time around.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Giving thanks for Pat

Lady Techster fans can be thankful that Tennessee coach Pat Summitt called off the Vols in the second half of Tuesday night's 71-50 victory over their team.

Maybe the classiest person coaching any sport, Summitt could have won the game by 40 and really embarrassed the Techsters had she chosen to do so. But after getting 19 turnovers from her first-half press, she pulled back after the break. She also admitted that she held All-Everything Candace Parker to just seven second half minutes due to the lopsided score. That allowed the Techsters to look better in the second half and make the score somewhat respectable.

Some folks wonder why Summitt continues to play the Techsters, since the games haven't been competitive for several years. Her Vols play 13 currently ranked teams, including Duke, North Carolina, UConn, Georgia, LSU and Arizona State, so playing the Techsters gives her team a little break in the schedule.

Summitt also considers the Tech-Tennessee matchup one of historical significance in women's basketball --- and she has lot of respect for former Techsters boss Leon Barmore. How much longer that keeps her coming to Ruston remains to be seen.

Dreaming

I never cease to be amazed at how delusional college football fans and their schools can be.

Take Tulane for example. The Green Wave fired Chris Scelfo on Wednesday. Never mind that they almost shut the program down a couple of years ago. Never mind Hurricane Katrina almost wiped the school out. Scelfo's 4-8 record was his downfall.

Excuse me, but does the Tulane administration honestly think a coaching change is going to turn the Green Wave into next year's Wake Forest?

Of course, Tulane has nothing on Alabama. Where 10 wins last year mean nothing when the Tide goes 6-6 this year.

News flash to Bama: Bear is dead. He is not coming back. And neither is Alabama - at least not to where fans over 40 years old think they should be.

Here's why: Instability at Bama has allowed Auburn to surpass it. The Tide's recruiting base is shared by several schools. And the 85-scholarship limitation has brought parity.

No SEC team is going to enjoy what Bear Bryant did back in the day. Heck, no one nationally will. Eventually USC will come down to earth.

But that doesn't stop the Tide from changing coaches like socks.

Again, a delusional fan base will be in for a shock.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Buckeyes couldn’t stand SEC heat

The Ohio State Buckeyes gobbled up the “competition” in the Big Ten this season. But if they’re in the SEC, you’re looking at a three-loss team.

Think the Buckeyes would be unbeaten after facing Auburn, Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas ON THE ROAD? The LSU Tigers had to make those trips. And how would the Buckeyes have fared before a full house in Death Valley?

Georgia, Kentucky and South Carolina would’ve also given Ohio State a run for its money.

The Buckeyes, the darlings of the BCS, would’ve had a difficult time making it to the SEC championship game this season. Put the Buckeyes in a national playoff field with some of the SEC’s finest, and the letters BCS would take on a different meaning – Buckeyes Couldn’t Survive.

And if you’re looking for Ohio State to play a team in the SEC during the regular season anytime soon, forget it. They won’t face an SEC opponent through 2010.

Get rid of the BCS and crown a champion the way champions should be crowned – through a playoff system.

Congratulations, Buckeyes. You've conquered your opponents. May the force…uh…BCS… be with you.

Real-life Monopoly money


Surely most everyone out there remembers or still plays Monopoly (not the McDonald's version either). And apparently, baseball general managers decided legitimate currency spends just as easily as the pink, yellow and blue bills in the game.

The latest examples came Tuesday when Baton Rouge native David Dellucci signed a three-year, $11.5 million contract with Cleveland and Baltimore gave $10.5 million over three years to reliever Chad Bradford.

Don't get me wrong, the dealings I've had with Dellucci have been enjoyable and he is considered a great clubhouse presence and truly someone with an eye on the community (see his Catch 22 for Blue Foundation and what it did for Katrina victims.) But, come on, almost $4 million a year for a guy who statistically can't hit left-handers?

And, Baltimore, what are you thinking? You gave $4 million a year to Jamie Walker, who can only get lefties out and now $3 million-plus a year to a guy who couldn't get anyone out less than two years ago? Peter Angelos, I know you've been rejected in the past, but putting more money where your mouth is isn't always a best-case scenario for rebuilding a once-proud franchise.

A tale of two teams


Tonight's Northwestern State and Centenary game continues the longest active college basketball rivalry in the state. It also highlights two programs who are on opposite ends of the basketball spectrum.

Northwestern State has had landmark achievements in recent seasons. Mike McConathy deserved his big pay raise. The Demons had the most successful season in school history last year, including their famous upset of Iowa in the NCAA Tournament (above).

Centenary's rise to the top of the Mid-Con conference hasn't happened as meteorically as NSU's to the top of the Southland. The Gents have had two winning seasons since the 1994-95 season. Rob Flaska is trying to correct that, but that's a monumental course of direction when you're the smallest Division I school in the nation.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Bicknell should keep his head

There are a lot of heads that need to roll in college football this year, but the head of Louisiana Tech coach Jack Bicknell isn't one of them.

Saddled with a schedule that was a preseason prescription for disaster, with a young team, an untrained defensive coordinator and compounded with a bevy of injuries and quitters, Bicknell had little chance of pulling off a winning season.

Detractors can whine all they want, but Knute Rockne would have been a loser in Ruston this year. If the Tech administration is shortsighted enough to relieve Bicknell after this week's game with New Mexico State, his replacement will be the luckiest new coach on the planet next year. The Bulldogs will be drastically improved with an experienced and deep defense, a veteran quarterback and a bevy of capable running backs.

Give Bicknell another year and if he isn't 7-5 or better, then call for his head.

Lovin' me some Notre Dame

It must be nice to be Notre Dame.

On your name alone, and due to nothing you've done on the football field, you are still highly ranked and in consideration for the Rose Bowl. You've gotten annhilated by two top 10 programs and haven't beaten anyone of note.

But, you're Notre Dame. The Fightin' Irish should be barely hanging on in the Top 25 poll instead of being the 12th-ranked team. ND is the worst of the two-loss teams and most of the three-loss teams ranked behind them would hand them their heads.

Oh well, you're Notre Dame and that counts for a lot. And if you still had Rudy on your team, maybe some people would actually like you.

VANDER-GONE!

The Cowboys released Mike Vanderjagt on Monday and signed Martin Gramatica. I know the crazy dude was having a poor year, but do you really want to ruffle feathers when the team is going so well. I guess that just speaks to the magnitude of Vanderjagt's ineptitude.
In honor of the West Virginia product and Canadian-native's departure ... here are some Vanderjagt nicknames I have been compiling.

Of course the most recent would be Vander-gone
Vander-doink
Vander-guhhhh
Vander-shank
Vander-Ihitthepostagainehh?
Vander-joke
Vanderjagt: Canadian for doink
Vanderjagt: Canadian for drunk idiot kicker
Vander-chump
Vander-punk
Vander-well, I still have my Colts cheerleader
Vander-Velde (the golfers have to love this one)

Tough day to be a coach

The Alabama Crimson Tide may be coming to Shreveport. Mike Shula won't be.

The Crimson Tide whacked Shula late Sunday night and made the announcement today. This is just one year after a 10-win season and a contract extension. But hey, 6-6, 0-8 against Auburn and LSU, that apparently will do it to you.

Arizona State gassed Dirk Koetter and N.C. State popped Chuck Amato.

The names change. The jobs change. The one constant in college football is coaching changes. Schools think they should be better than they are so they fire the coach.

Sometimes, though, patience is the best move. Arkansas is 10-2 and playing in the SEC title game after resisting the urge push Houston Nutt out of the door.

But it won't change. It will only justify the ridiculous salaries being paid in exchange for no job security.

Mark Dec. 10 on your calendars

I get the feeling I think more of this than others, but the fact the New Orleans Saints/Dallas Cowboys game a week from Sunday is moving to primetime on NBC is a pretty big deal.
Think of where these two teams were a year ago.
The Saints were homeless -- and superstarless -- and the Cowboys had Drew Bledsoe and had begun their late-season swoon.
Now, stars are everywhere with the Saints, and the Cowboys are playing as well as any team in the NFL. BOTH teams are in sole possession of the lead in their divisions.
Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Tony Romo, T.O., Roy Williams -- sounds like a doozy to me.
This area is unique with its split of Cowboys and Saints faithful, therefore this is definitely the marquee matchup of the regular season. Fittingly, the entire country will get to see it.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

More weekend football thoughts

"Go Katrina!"

That's what one Arkansas Razorbacks fan yelled at a group of my buddies who attended Friday's LSU game in Little Rock.

Real classy. I wonder what he was yelling after the game was over?

USC's John David Booty outplayed Notre Dame's Brady Quinn on Saturday -- the passing stats of the two were similar, but Booty's team prevailed.

The hype "The not-so-mighty" Quinn is receiving for Heisman Trophy consideration should go to Booty -- he's played well all season against better competition (remember the Irish played Army, Navy and Air Force and would have played Coast Guard if they fielded a team). I still think the Heisman will go to Ohio State QB Troy Smith -- he's pretty good. Hogs RB Darren McFadden should also be in the mix.

Do you think Texas coach Mack Brown will still be complaining about the polls after his Longhorns' loss to the Texas A&M Aggies? Probably.

Big game today for the New Orleans Saints, who face the Atlanta Falcons on the road. The Saints must win to stay in the NFC South race. Should be a good one.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Weekend football musings

When LSU fans sit down to the table this Thanksgiving weekend, they should give thanks Drew Weatherford is the FSU and not LSU quarterback.

Geeze, that dude is bad. I was running errands this afternoon and had the FSU-Florida game on XM radio in my truck. The dude threw three picks WHILE I WAS RUNNING ERRANDS.

Yeesh.

Texas proved Friday why its national championship last season was just so remarkable. The Longhorns are loaded with talent and still managed to lose three games this season. I'll cut slack on Ohio State at home but losing at Kansas State and then at home to A&M, how can that be?

Nice win for South Carolina today. Steve Spurrier needed that one to keep his program relevant.

South Florida coach Jim Leavitt certainly didn't hurt his stock as a coaching candidate with a win over West Virginia.

Miami is about to find how difficult it is to lure a big-name head coach.

ESPN the ultimate hype machine

Leave it to ESPN to start hyping a REGULAR-SEASON NBA game more than a month away from the day it is to be played.

The network already has begun dropping in reminders that the L.A. Lakers and Miami Heat play on Christmas Day on ESPN. Once upon a time, this game was entertaining and mattered.

You had Kobe Bryant on one side and The Big Quotable (Shaq) on the other and both teams were relevant. Now Shaq is injured and may not play. Bryant has embraced a more team-oriented concept.

So what angle does the network play? The same one it always does -- it's on our network and nothing else matters.

Oh well. I know what I won't be watching on Christmas Day.

Friday, November 24, 2006

LSU fans should be happy with 10-2

Before the season, most experts figured that three games would make or break LSU's season -- Auburn, Tennessee and Florida -- and they were all on the road. Then Arkansas showed it was going to be a force to contend with, and the Tigers also had to go on the road for that game.

I don't think any realistic LSU fan could have expected the Tigers to go 12-0 under those circumstances. Sure, when you look back on the losses to Auburn and Florida, you can't help but wonder what might have been. If LSU could have scored on that last drive against Auburn and simply played better offensively, if LSU wouldn't have made all those mistakes against Florida ...

During his postgame radio interview with Jordy Hultberg after Friday's victory over Arkansas, LSU coach Les Miles -- borrowing a line from that famous Christmas movie A Christmas Carol -- was as giddy as a schoolgirl. At the end of the interview he let out a big yaaahoooo.

Meat Loaf once sang that two out of three ain't bad. Well, in the case of LSU's season, victories on the road against Tennessee and Arkansas mean two out of four ain't bad.

And 10-2, with a likely BCS bowl game left, is pretty darn good. Like Miles, LSU fans should celebrate LSU's season and let out a big yaaahooo.

Astros off to a good start

Houston Astros general manager Tim Purpura promised to be aggressive in his pursuit of talent in the offseason. His first big move, signing free-agent left fielder Carlos Lee, was certainly a good one.

“El Caballo,” (the horse) as the 6-foot-2, 240 pound Lee is known to his teammates, brings right-handed pop to the Astros’ anemic lineup and provides much-needed protection for All-Star slugger Lance Berkman. In eight seasons, the 30-year-old Lee has blasted 221 home runs and driven in 772 runs. He also has a career batting average of .286.

Last season, Lee hit 37 homers and drove in 116 runs between stints with the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers.

Other big moves could be in store. The Florida Marlins are reportedly interested in center fielder Willy Taveras. Will the Astros send Taveras, third baseman Morgan Ensberg and top minor league prospect Hunter Pence to the Marlins for All-Star third baseman Miguel Cabrera?

Stay tuned.

Rangers are grudging givers

With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, it's easy to see who baseball's biggest offseason turkeys have been -- the Texas Rangers.

Well, turkeys or very, very, very generous givers. With the loss of outfielder Carlos Lee to Houston, the Rangers are happily supplying other teams with whatever they need.

Consider in the last two weeks the Rangers have lost their most versatile player (Mark DeRosa), their leadoff hitter (Gary Matthews Jr.) and a guy who hit .322 in 59 games with Texas (Lee).

In their places are who knows what. What we do know is 29-year-old general manager Jon Daniels better get going or the Rangers are going to be run right out of the American League West before the season starts.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Must see Shreveport football

Since moving here in 2003, I've only made two high school football games ... Friday night I'm making it three.

There is no way I'm missing Calvary-Evangel: The next chapter.

This is a football rivalry that draws someone like myself to a game where I have no stake in the result. I'm being selfish in this as I just want to see a spirited high school football game between rivals in a state playoff game.

It doesn't get better than that.

Knowing Evangel is moving up a class next season while Calvary remain in 1A, I beg the powers that be at both schools to keep this series alive. A school rivalry that can draw sports fans with no history or link to either school is something special, something worth preserving.

Besides, which of these two great programs would want to be labled as the school that "cut and run" from this series.

See you at Evangel, Friday night!

Saban good or bad?

If Nick Saban started seasons with the Miami Dolphins 7-0 and then watched the Fins miss the playoffs he would get run out of South Florida for the choke job.

Instead, the team starts out terrible in his first two seasons and then rallies only to miss the playoffs. All anyone wants to talk about is his ability to rally the troops. Well that's ridiculous.

Bottom line: The Dolphins are going to miss the playoffs again and the disappointment should not be mask by a MEANINGLESS late-season rally.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Matthews' loss hurts double for Rangers

Free-agent center fielder Gary Matthews Jr. decided Wednesday he had $50 million reasons to give thanks

The former Ranger, who went from journeyman to Gold Glove-caliber All-Star in 2006, signed a five-year, $50 million contract with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on the day before Thanksgiving.

Matthews' defection is a double-edged blow to the Rangers, who lost their leadoff hitter and one of their best defensive players. Couple that with the fact he left for a division rival and the early returns are the Rangers are in a world of hurt in center field.

However, the loss of Matthews could end up helping Texas if GM Jon Daniels finds a way to bring All-Star and Gold Glove center fielder Vernon Wells home. Wells, 27, has one year remaining on his contract in Toronto. The Shreveport native grew up in Arlington and played at Bowie High School in the city. He has longed for a return to the Metroplex where his father still lives. This just may be the chance for that to happen.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Thank God for XM

While doing some Thanksgiving holiday driving, let me say, "Thank God for XM radio.''

What could have been a boring drive last night was broken up by, of all things, a Colorado Avalance-Dallas Stars game on XM. And when that game ended, why there was a Santa Clara-Cal basketball game.

Granted, you have a sports problem when you listen to those two things while driving but it beats the alternative.

On the way to rural Mississippi today, Tim Brando's show on XM Radio got me through.

Like I say, thank God for XM radio.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Strictly business with bowl games

It's funny reading the Alabama papers these days. There is quite a bit of angst over the Alabama Crimson Tide's bowl fate.

The Tide is 6-6. It is one of nine SEC bowl-eligible teams. The SEC has eight bowl tie-ins with the final selection belonging to the PetroSun Independence Bowl here in Shreveport.

That fact alone could put the I-Bowl in the position of actually making a choice among SEC teams, even at No. 8 in the picking process.

So let's say it comes down to Alabama and South Carolina on the SEC side.

There will be some that say take South Carolina. The Gamecocks have Steve Spurrier. They have a loyal fan base. And they didn't snub the I-Bowl the way Alabama did a couple of years ago in picking the Music City Bowl instead of the I-Bowl.

But the bowl business is just that - a business. And Alabama's choice from a couple of years ago likely won't have any effect this year.

While they won't say it publicly, no bowl game wants repeat teams and South Carolina would be a repeat. It's not good for the bowl. It's not good for the team. It's not good for the players.

That alone would likely give Alabama an upper hand in an either-or-selection, no matter how much anyone would like to go the other direction.

Please NFL-NBC, you're our only hope

One must give the NFL credit for the idea of moving its best weekly showcase game to prime time. The San Diego-Denver game was clearly the marquee game of Week 11 even if my Broncos performed a complete choke job on its home turf.

As it stands now, next week's prime time game is slated to be Philadelphia at Indianapolis.

UGH!

The Eagles were falling apart as it was before Donovan McNabb went down with a knee injury that will claim him for the season. The Colts will be looking to dole out some punishment after losing to, of all of things, an NFC team.

This game draws flies not fans to prime time football. Please, NFL-NBC, give us all what we want, what we deserve, give us Chicago at New England.

That's not to say McNabb and the Eagles can't be on prime time, but let's use them at their best with those 30-second Chunky Soup ads.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

ESPN, ugh, rules the world

Well, I was hoping we'd have a national championship game this year in college football. But I see ESPN isn't going to let that happen.

In the same way ESPN campaigned for Charles Woodson to win the Heisman, the network's talking heads are shoving an Ohio State-Michigan rematch in the title game down our throat.

A couple of thoughts here. If you're Ohio State, you want no part of a rematch. History says it's hard to win the rematch. Also, Michigan had its chance to defeat Ohio State. Granted it was on the road, but the Wolverines didn't win. Next.

Here's who should play Ohio State for the national title: If USC wins out (Notre Dame and UCLA remaining) you can make a case for USC, first and foremost. If the SEC champion wins out either Arkansas or Florida, you can make a case for the SEC champion. But if Arkansas and USC end with one loss, then you've got to go with USC because of the head-to-head. And USC would probably gain an edge over Florida if the Trojans have wins over Arkansas, Notre Dame, Nebraska and then the Pac-10 wins.

In fact, the only way Michigan should go in the title game ahead of another one loss team is Notre Dame. The Wolverines smoked the Irish this season, thus, eliminating Notre Dame from talk among one-loss teams.

Of course, ESPN won't let that happen.

Texans take the lead

The Texans, who trailed 14-0 in the first quarter, have bounced back to take a 21-17 lead in the third quarter. Fullback Jameel Cook, who had a costly second-quarter fumble, isn't exactly endearing himself to Gary Kubiak. Cook's fumble against the Giants was also costly...................

.......Former Bills head coach Marv Levy is in the pressbox.

Texans fall behind early

Greetings from Reliant Stadium on a picture-perfect day in Houston. Before I could get settled in, David Carr threw an interception and former Tulane star J.P. Losman threw an 83-yard TD pass to Lee Evans. Carr's looking over his shoulder; he realizes that head coach Gary Kubiak won't tolerate turnovers.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Alternate-reality Saturday?

The mighty Big Ten sees its marquee game combatants put up 81 points.

The best the Pac-10 has to offer were at a total of 15 at the half.

The Texas Rangers appear poised to make a good trade involving a pitcher (Chicago White Sox RHP Jon Garland, via Sporting News' Ken Rosenthal).

LSU slopping around with Ole Miss.

Maybe it's time to look outside and see if there's a full moon out.

Saturday musings

OK, as much as I got tired of the hype, the Ohio State-Michigan game lived up to the billing.

I've thought Ohio State was the best team in the country and I still do. I know there are a lot of people out there saying Michigan is still the second best team (after all, it has the best loss) but I'm not THAT convinced. The Buckeyes were close to hanging half a hundred on the Wolverines' defense like it was Northern Illinois or something.

Pencil Ohio State into the title game but hold off on Michigan for now.

Other thoughts from the day in college football

-- Congrats to former Fair Park star Damarcus Davis for a game-winning touchdown catch in his final game in the Superdome for Tulane.

-- How bad is the Kentucky defense. ULM had a lead in the second half, a chance to tie in the fourth quarter and a chance to win the game at the end. Former Airline star Calvin Dawson looked like Darren McFadden running through that defense.

-- Give Arky credit for getting it done. You don't want to waste that cushion. The Hogs won the game they had to win to claim the SEC West outright. Houston Nutt has to be the SEC Coach of the Year and should get serious consideration for the national Coach of the Year.

-- I bet those 'Bama people wish Gene Stallings was coaching now. Five straight losses to Auburn, guess the Tide is starting to see how it felt all of those years.

-- I'm guessing you're looking at an Alabama-Oklahoma State I-Bowl. Texas Tech and Alabama played in the Cotton Bowl last year, how much fun is putting them back together.

We all should cheer for Aubrey

At 42, Emlyn Aubrey is attempting to revive his professional golf career. Hampered by severe back problems the past few years, Aubrey has traveled the country this year trying to qualify for PGA Tour and Nationwide Tour events on Monday.
Saturday, he completed a succesful week at the second stage of PGA Tour school. There is one six-round event left ... the vaunted Final Stage of Q-School.
You will not find a better guy than Aubrey, a former teammate of David Toms at LSU.
This summer he was forced to make ends meet and was hawking soft drinks from the beverage cart during a ladies golf tournament at StoneBridge. Assuredly not an easy thing after playing on the PGA Tour for 11 years and the Nationwide Tour for several others.
Q-School starts Nov. 29 in California and all eyes around town should be watching Aubrey's efforts. He's already guaranteed conditional status on the Nationwide Tour but has a chance to become fully emempt on the PGA Tour and/or Nationwide.
Good luck Emlyn.

Strange endings to high school games

For 10 years from 1987-1997 I coverered dozens of high school football games for the Times, most of them as the prep editor. This year I've covered a half-dozen and two of them have had endings I've never seen before.

A few weeks ago, the Loyola-North Caddo game was called with 7 minutes left after a near brawl was averted by the two teams' coaching staffs.

Friday night's Haynesville-Evangel playoff game went the distance. But after Evangel's 50-0 win, Haynesville coach David Franklin took his team straight to the locker room instead of across the field for the traditional postgame handshakes among players and coaches.

Although Franklin declined to comment about that after the game (he did graciously talk about the game itself), it was obvious by his actions he was disgusted.

Near the end of the game, a Haynesville fan came into the press box and yelled at the Evangel radio crew to say how classless the Eagles were. As I was walking off the field the same fan yelled at me to put that in the game story.

Evangel coach Ronnie Alexander said he wasn't trying to run up the score and was disappointed the victory margin was so large. He said for most of the season Evangel has played "partial games," meaning the Eagles' first-team players were usually out of the game at some point in the second half. He pointed out that in the playoffs the Eagles are going to have to play a full game and they need to be prepared for it. In essence, they needed the work.

I think what really upset Haynesville fans was Evangel threw the ball on their last drive, including a 50-yard touchdown pass.

Alexander makes a very good point, but the Haynesville fans also have a right to be upset.

At any rate, Evangel shouldn't be playing Haynesville anyway. The Tors, who had seven or eight players playing both ways, were way overmatched. The Eagles were much bigger, faster and stronger.

Over the years The Times' Brian McCallum has done an outstanding job covering the public vs. private issue in high school football. To be honest, I really don't know if there is a good answer to the issue.

The way things are now, somebody is always going to be upset. And it really doesn't matter what class the elite private schools are in, somebody won't like it. That's why LHSAA members voted to make teams play in the class where their enrollment lies instead of in a higher class.

Unless the LHSAA bans private schools, the issue will always simmer.

Public schools who lose to private schools in state title games could always just declare themselves the public school state champs and celebrate that.

Next week Claiborne Parish football fans will have a chance to see south Louisiana's version of Evangel -- the John Curtis Patriots. John Curtis will be much bigger, faster and stronger and Homer will be overmatched. Maybe the talented Homer QB Richie Casey can help Homer make a game of it. But the odds are against it.

Friday, November 17, 2006

You know you're getting old ...

Bill Mueller announced his retirement today.

His announcement hardly caused ripples in the sports world. Yet, his career did include an American League batting championship with the Boston Red Sox.

Mueller has ties to Shreveport as a member of the 1995 Shreveport Captains. That team won the Texas League championship with the best record in all of professional baseball.

Mueller only played half a season before moving up to Triple-A. He was in the big leagues the next year.

So here is a guy I covered coming up in the minors, who has played roughly 10 years in the big leagues, and he's hanging them up after a series of injuries.

You know you're getting old when you see players on the way up and then again on the way out.

Schemblecher proves his loyalty to MEEESHIGAN

Bo knows motivation.
Bo Schembechler passed away Friday morning, roughly 24 hours before one of the biggest football games in the storied history of the University of Michigan.
I guess the former head coach figured he'd show he's still maize and blue through and through. If the Wolverines can't beat Ohio State, it certainly won't be due to a lack of motivation.
As if ESPN needed anything else to hype this game.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Several big games will be played on Saturday

Saturday’s Ohio State-Michigan game will take center stage nationally. But to college football fans in Whitewater, Wisconsin, it’s going to take a back seat.

That’s where St. Norbert (10-0) and Wisconsin-Whitewater (10-0) will meet on Saturday afternoon in the opening round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. And fans of the other 30 teams participating in the Division III playoffs will be just as excited as those following the Buckeyes and Wolverines.

Eleven Division III schools enter the playoffs undefeated. One of them, defending national champion Mount Union (Ohio), finished the regular season 10-0. The Purple Raiders will be trying to collect their ninth Division III title.

The Division III champion will be crowned in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl on December 16 in Salem, Virginia. But between now and then, some pretty exciting games will be played.

Is term Mid-Majors an insult?

Here are some interesting scores from the early part of the college basketball season.

Oral Roberts 78, Kansas 71
Michigan 66, Wisconsin-Milwaukee 59
Oklahoma State 79, Northwestern State 76
North Carolina 73, Winthrop 66
Butler 60, Indiana 55

On his radio talk show in a discussion with Chris Fowler Thursday, ESPN's Dan Patrick said he thought there should be a new term for Mid-Majors, because it's almost insulting. He compared it to the term Prop 48, something that brands you for life. You can't get any better or worse, he said.

He pointed out that instead of programs revolving around stars headed for the NBA, these so-called Mid-Majors have teams that stay together for several years.

So it may still be a big deal when the so-called Mid-Majors beat or play one of the established majors close, but it's hardly surprising anymore.

Fowler pretty much agreed with him.

Of course, it's more surprising when a Northwestern State team with one starter back plays an OSU team with five back close. That goes against the experienced-team theory. But there is something to be said for Patrick's suggestion. Maybe the term Mid-Majors should go by the wayside.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Good sign for the Demons

Normally, a three-point loss (79-76) at Oklahoma State would be a bitter one for the Northwestern State Demons.

This one was different. The Demons knew they were going into an arena where they couldn't sneak in under cover. They had won there last year. Oklahoma State had five returning starters. There would be no surprises.

When the Demons got down by 19, many figured it was just what they expected.

Instead, they saw the Demons claw back into the game and briefly take a lead. They eventually lost by 3, but NSU did have a3-point attempt to tie.

I'm saying this is a good sign for the Demons this year. They probably won't find a team on their schedule more determined to beat them than Oklahoma State was on Wednesday.

And yet the Demons took them to the wire. They certainly impressed Sean Sutton, the Cowboys' coach.

"They’re a good team. I think that team’s going to win a lot of games," Sutton said.

Pro athletes need to grow up

A lot of these professional athletes need to grow up and act like professionals. It is getting real old to hear Rasheed Wallace's rants to the officials every time he is called for a foul. And now he wants to moan to the league and the commisioner for ruining the game. Hey pal, you are the reason they came up with the new rules they have. Athletes don't get paid to get techs and throw their clothes into the stands when they are escorted to the locker room. They are paid to help their teams win.

Same thing for these NFL yahoos. Everytime someone makes a play they have to parade around like they are on dancing with the stars. That is for the retirees like Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith. All these guys think of is themselves. The don't care about the 15-yard penalty their team gets stuck with. They aren't in it for their team, just themselves and the fun they have by doing their silly dances. You are getting paid millions of dollars to score touchdowns and sack QBs, tackle running backs in the back field. When the game is over its no big deal if they lost, hey they got to do their own thing and got paid to boot.

Come on guys and start being the team player you are being paid to be!

Byrd has a chance?

Don't count out the Yellow Jackets too fast in Friday's Class 5A second-round playoff football game. Acadiana has had a solid team in recent years, but this is not quite the state runner-up team that crushed Byrd in last year's playoffs.

If Byrd can play mistake-free football, the Jackets may have a chance to pull off the upset. Byrd is one of the true overachievers in local prep football this season.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Michigan-Ohio State animosity building

Auburn-Alabama, Oklahoma-Texas, USC-UCLA, Army-Navy. All are great rivalries, but have they produced as much animosity as Michigan-Ohio State? Don't believe me? Consider this:

Michigan administrators are asking U-M fans that if they attend the game they might want to drive cars without Michigan license plates. Police in Columbus aren't allowing parking on streets adjacent to Ohio State's stadium because they don't want fans igniting cars like after the Buckeyes' win two years ago.

These two states almost took it to the battlefield in 1835. The Toledo War was a border dispute between the states over a strip of land stretching from Lake Erie to the Indiana border. Ohio got the "Toledo strip," and Michigan got the Upper Peninsula.

But the rivalry has gone up another notch with the formation of two punk rock bands. In Columbus, the Dead Schembechlers will lead a Hate Michigan rally on Friday. In response, the Dropkick Woodys were formed in Ann Arbor.

The Dead Schembechlers have been around for awhile and have the song list to prove. Most are laced with four-letter words to make Jim Tressel blush, but some of the printable ones are: "Ann Arbor Chainsaw Massacre Christmas Song," "Buckeye Bop," "I Don't Wanna Go Up To Ann Arbor," "I Hate Michigan," and "Schembechler Kicked My Crippled Dog." But only one has a video (link).

Even their namesake, U-M head coach Bo Schembechler, has heard of them. Still a young band, the Dropkick Woodys have two songs, one of which is printable: "I Spit on Woody's Grave."

You can find both bands if you do a internet search. Keep in mind there are a lot of four-letter words on both sites. It is punk music after all.

The Schembechlers site is actually pretty funny, and I'm a Michigan grad.

Too early to tell

After watching the LSU-Shreveport Pilots on Monday night, it's too early to tell how good this team is going to be.

Yes, the Pilots put up 90 in a win. Yes, they are 4-0. But they also watched a 22-point lead get cut to six before winning 90-78.

So the question was put to LSUS coach Chad McDowell: "Is it unfair to compare this team to last year's team that got as high as No. 1 in NAIA?

The answer: "I'm glad you asked that. No, I don't think it's fair. A lot of people probably make that mistake. You get accustomed to seeing one team and you expect to see that team. But this is a different mix of guys. They come from different backgrounds. These guys practiced seven to eight weeks with the team that ended up. We found our identity. Which is to make the most of every possession. We've got a lot of guys playing a lot of minutes.''

Hardly the sweet life

John David Booty may be Southern California's starting quarterback, but judging from his apartment (link), he's not exactly living like the big man on campus. In fact, Booty's got the typical apartment of a college student.

Sports Illustrated.com visited Booty in Los Angeles for a photo gallery a la MTV's "Cribs."

He shares the two-bedroom apartment with Andy Gui, a pitcher on the USC baseball team. Even former Evangel running back Aaron Savoie appears in the photo gallery and older brother Josh stops by for visits.

The most striking piece in Booty's place? The 60-inch TV in the family room. I think the biggest TV I shared with my roommates was 32".

The most surprising part of his apartment? He doesn't have a chest of drawers. Instead, his suitcase doubles as his dresser.

Monday, November 13, 2006

How good is the SEC?

How bad is the SEC this year? Arkansas, who got rolled 50-14 by USC, is your marquee team. Enough said.

Don't even try to talk any smack about how bad the Big 12, Big 10, ACC, Pac 10 or Big East is. You're right down there on the bottom looking up. SEC fans like to cock their shoulders and talk about how "we beat up on ourselves. Nobody else has to play the in-conference schedule that we have to play." Right. No one else has to play the poor in-conference games that you have to play and for the most part, you're too gutless to take on the big boys from other conferences.

What are the bell cow OOC wins for the SEC -- Tennessee over California -- that's it!

Bell cow losses -- USC over Arkansas, Louisville big over Kentucky, Michigan big over Vandy, West Virginia easily over Miss. State, Missouri and Wake Forest easily over Ole Miss.

The big boys of the SEC (LSU, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia & Alabama) have played a total of four games against BCS OOC teams (Colorado, Calif., Wash. St. and Arizona). Which one of those games proves that you're any good. Certainly playing each other doesn't prove anything.

Put it on the board ... yes

I know I'm going to open myself up to more jokes and more criticism for my admittedly awful foray into predicting the baseball playoffs by mentioning this, but I'll do it anyway.

Shortly before I began my 0-6 run through October, I took aim at predicting the year-end baseball awards in our last Sunday baseball notes package.

After Monday's announcement, I'm 1-1. I correctly chose Detroit's Justin Verlander to win the AL side. However, I missed on Florida's Hanley Ramirez in the National League. Forget that my choice -- Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman -- drove in 100 runs and played Gold Glove-quality defense.

Oh well, 1-1 is still better than 0-6.

Techsters player loses compusure

One of the main reasons that the Lady Techsters lost their season opener to Western Kentucky on Saturday night was that senior forward Tamika Kursh spent just nine minutes on the court.

Every team that hopes to be a regular winner must have an emotional leader and Kursh provides that for the Techsters. But Kursh lost her composure once again and rode the pine for 31 minutes of game action. Without her, coach Chris Long's team tried to survive behind lackluster play.

Kursh picked up a pair of fouls in the game's opening minutes, so she sat out most of the first half. She was back in the lineup to open the second half but picked up another quick foul under the bucket. Kursh protested vehemently and was hit with a technical foul, which also goes down as a personal.

She sat again -- went back in midway through the half and promptly fouled out. She came close to protesting that call also. If you recall, Kursh was the Techster player forced to miss a game last season due to getting into a near brawl with a Fresno State player.

If Kursh were an underclassman, you could understand her loss of control. But she's been around the block enough to know that her teammates depend on her. That may be true this year more than ever.

Second week in prep playoffs gets tougher

There are always blowouts in the first week of the high school playoffs., and that was no different this year.

Things change this Friday. Homer, which crushed Fisher by a 56-14 score, gets Riverside of Reserve. Though Riverside is 5-6, it played in a brutal district with the likes of John Curtis, St. James and St. Charles and went 5-2 in nondistrict games.

Springhill has 10-1 Kinder coming to town, and the Lumberjacks could be tested like they haven't been in weeks. Ditto for Minden, which faces 8-3 Sam Houston.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Not the same old Saints

Yes, I know the Saints lost on Sunday.

But if you didn't see the game (that means you didn't go somewhere with DirecTV) then you may not realize just how close the Saints were to forcing overtime. Or just how they were scrapping to overcome a two-touchdown deficit.

No sense in beating a dead horse - but, KMSS blew it on this one.

I watched the end of the Saints game at home on the dish. Let me say, not even as a Saints fan, that was a more entertaining game than the Cowboys win over Arizona.

The Saints have lost three games this season. In only one of those three - the Baltimore game - have the Saints looked like the Saints.

If you're a Saints fan, you can't ask for anything more than having a chance to win at the end. That's what the Saints had until a late fumble.

UFC has incredible momentum

Greetings from Las Vegas, where the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) held the finale of their FOURTH reality show Saturday night.

The Ultimate Fighter 4 showdown took place at the Hard Rock Casino. It was sold out (best tickets were 500 bucks). The eight-fight card featured some great MMA (mixed martial arts) fighting. The event was telecast live on Spike TV.

According to many folks out here, UFC has approached and maybe even passed the popularity of boxing in these parts. UFC just signed a deal with the Palms for future finale shows and has a bevy of championship fights coming soon.

Matt Hughes will attempt to defend his crown next weekend in Sacremento.

The UFC came to Shreveport in early 2002 and the popularity has skyrocketed since. UFC officials told me they are planning another event in Louisiana (several fighters are from there), but wouldn't say what part of the state. Shreveport and New Orleans are the likely candidates you would think. Hop on the bandwagon. If you're a fight fan, UFC, not boxing, offers absolutely everything you need.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Saturday musings

Thoughts from the day in college football

-- Welcome back, Georgia.

-- Let's officially put Auburn in the overrated department.

-- While we're at it, bye, bye Baylor. It was nice to consider you for the I-Bowl. Next time give up fewer points than the basketball team.

-- I-Bowl officials have to salivate over the thought of Oklahoma State coming to the I-Bowl. This is a team that brought a load of fans for the Louisiana Tech game back in 2002.

-- How bad has the ACC gotten? Georgia Tech takes a divisional title by rolling North Carolina, 7-0.

-- How bad has Florida State gotten? A 30-0 loss at home to Wake Forest? Please.

-- By the way, are there two programs with less heart right now than FSU and Miami? Both roll are rolling over at the first sign of adversity. Although you can cut Miami some slack this week.

-- Will Texas A&M ever win a big game again?

-- How do you score 42 points and lose Mack Brown?

-- How do you lose to Arizona, Jeff Tedford?

Walker an athlete who gets it

Sports vernacular, by nature, is violent. Allusions to war and violence permeate numerous interviews or written works.

Those are words you likely won't hear coming from Todd Walker. The former Airline High and LSU baseball star has good reason to. One of his family friends, Jacob Schick, is a former Marine who was injured during combat in Iraq.

On Saturday, Walker had his annual baseball clinic, which helps raise money for Schick and other charities. Schick attended the camp for the first time and spoke to the campers. Walker, meanwhile, explained to the 6-to-14-year-old campers in attendance and explained why he chooses to avoid using terms like "going to battle" and "war" in describing baseball games.

On Veterans Day, Walker proved above all doubt he understands what makes a hero.

Homer QB Casey fun to watch

Homer junior quarterback Richie Casey is a fun player to watch.
He ran for 170 yards in the first half against an admittedly overmatched Fisher team in the Pelicans' 56-14 first-round playoff victory. That included a spectacular 62-yard touchdown run on Homer's first offensive play of the game.
Every time Casey kept the ball around end, it looked like he was going to score. Even on a wet field, he was able to keep his feet on some astounding moves.
He also has a pretty good arm, although Homer rarely throws the ball.
Homer has very few seniors, so their 10 wins this season is quite an accomplishment. They will definitely be a team to watch again next season.

Kudos to Homer officials

Kudos to Homer officials for the way they handled Friday night's storm.
I arrived at Homer for the Homer-Fisher state football playoff game about 45 minutes before the scheduled kickoff. On my way on Highway 79 I watched the ominous lightning show to the northwest and listened to the weather warnings on the radio.
I figured there would be no way the game would kick off at 7. All it takes is one lightning bolt to create a major tragedy.
When I got there, I asked the game officials about the weather and they said they were keeping up with it. So was Homer law enforcement. When I left them and went back to my car they hadn't made a decision about the kickoff.
About 15 minutes before 7, the teams left the field after their warmup to go to the locker rooms, and one of the team's pep squads took the field. About 10 minutes later the field was cleared. A few minutes after that the stands were cleared.
Homer officials opened the gym across the street from the stadium. Some people went to their cars, but most went to the gym, including the Fisher team and most of their fans. Everybody who wanted to get in there made it before the storm hit.
The storm passed by about 8 o'clock but officials waited another 30 minutes to start the game. By that time, the spectacular lightning show had faded in the east.
A great job by all concerned.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Hoops season is here

In our neck of the woods, as they like to say down South, college basketball has begun.

The NSU Demons, the darlings of last year's NCAA Tournament, opened the season tonight against Utah State at home.

It will be hard to top last year for college basketball excitement in the area. NSU became a national story by knocking off Big Ten champion Iowa in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. LSU went all the way to the Final Four before finally losing.

But there could be some early season excitement in the area. We just need Texas Tech to get off to a great start.

Indeed, if the Red Raiders roll through the early part of their schedule without a loss, legendary coach Bob Knight could tie the record for most coaching victories on Dec. 6 when the Red Raiders play Louisiana Tech in Ruston. Wouldn't that be a fun night?

Win that one and Knight could break the record on Dec. 9 against - Centenary.

So there could be some fun before conference play even begins.

More Yankee hate

My love-hate relationship with Major League Baseball resurfaced Friday afternoon -- I love baseball; I hate the New York Yankees.

And Friday is a perfect example of why. The Yankees once again bullied a team into making a bad trade. This time it was the Detroit Tigers, who shipped three pitching prospects to the Yankees for Gary Sheffield.

These trades happen all the time, but why does it seem like the Yankees always come out ahead? Since the July 31 deadline, they have basically turned Sheffield and three non-prospects into Bobby Abreu and two pitching prospects (Humberto Sanchez and Kevin Whelan) who could help them this season.

Some may call it good business sense and normally I would be inclined to agree. But when it comes to the Yankees, I can't speak rationally.

Redistricting Plan 1

The LHSAA has put out its first version of how the high school districts will be the next two years. Commissioner Tommy Henry is insistent it is not the final plan, but the early view is disturbing. It appears that, in order to allow Pineville to avoid West Monroe by playing south, the nine north Louisiana football schools will have to align in one district.
That looks like catering to a single school to me. Hopefully, that can be worked out.
It means eight district games and only two out of district for 1-5A schools. That makes scheduling easy but inflexible. Because of the odd number, district play will have to begin on the second week of the season because every team has to have an off week.
Good luck getting ready for that first district game.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Mudbugs jerseys...lose them


I know they're the home team, and this may not go over well with their throng of fans, but the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs have got to get new jerseys.

Their 10th anniversary commemorative sweaters are hideous. What happened to the days of simple hockey jerseys with one dominant color? When you saw a red sweater on the ice, you knew it was Detroit or Chicago. When you saw a blue jersey, you knew it was Toronto.

The Mudbugs jerseys start off good with the bright red color, but they've got a stripe of teal along the bottom that looks awful. Teal is a good color for an ice cream truck, not a hockey player.

Yeah, teal was the "in" color for professional teams back in the 199os, but let's lose it for next season and especially in hockey. To top it off, there's a row of mudbug claws lining the bottom and around the sleeves. We already know which team the Mudbugs are. There's no need to throw claws all over it.

You know which Mudbugs jersey I really like. The one Clawed their mascot wears. "Mudbugs" printed diagonally across the sweater, just like the N.Y. Rangers.

Look at some of the jerseys around the Central Hockey League. I love Oklahoma City's home unis with the Olde English B. Simple, classy. It looks like a throwback jersey. Laredo's are good too (above).

By the way, Mudbugs forward Daniel Pegoraro has the best hockey mullet this side of Barry Melrose. Ah, for the old days when helmets weren't required. Pegoraro would look fantastic, like a latter-day Guy Lafleur with his locks fluttering on rushes up ice.

Future looks bright

Northwestern State plays its biggest game of the year on Saturday against McNeese State. Win that one and the Demons are in the thick of the SLC race.

But win or lose, the future looks bright for the Demons.

Why you ask?

Simple, the Demons began the process of going younger at midseason. Instead of losing, they've been winning and staying in the SLC race. Thus, they're getting experience AND still winning.

Some of those young players will likely be even better next year. Freshman quarterback Germayne Edmond is a versatile threat who coach Scott Stoker says "will play more this week.''

The team's leading rusher, Byron Lawrence, is a sophomore.

And on defense, freshmen Gary Riggs and Josh Adams are starting and contributing right now.

So while the Demons will try to make this season memorable, they likely will be among the favorites and contenders for the SLC title next year.

LHSAA playoffs

Caddo Parish only put five schools in the football playoffs, but I suspect it will be a decent weekend for that quintet.
Byrd is at John Ehret, and at least one source close to the Yellow Jackets picks the team in an upset. Shreve should be favored in 4A as the higher seed, and, though BTW has a tough road with defending 3A champion Redemptorist visiting, the presence of Jeremy Jefferson and a solid defense bodes well for the Lions.
Evangel and Calvary should be easy winners, though that would be the first playoff victory in the LHSAA for the young Calvary program.
If only the home teams win, that's still a 4-for-5 performance, not a bad night by Caddo postseason standards.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Good news for Walker?

Todd Walker, who will hold his third annual baseball camp at Shreveport's MVP Baseball on Saturday morning, may have gotten his first good news of the offseason Tuesday.

The San Diego Padres decided to trade second baseman Josh Barfield to the Cleveland Indians to fill a gaping hole at third base. In return San Diego gets Indians prospect Kevin Kouzmanoff and a pitcher.

The trade of Barfield opens a potential landing spot for Walker, who enters the offseason as a true free agent for the first time since the 2003 season. His solid finish in San Diego -- and the Padres lack of prospect depth in the middle infield -- seem to be a nice combination and a possibility of Walker's 2007 home and perhaps beyond.

Sorry to see him go

Iowa State coach Dan McCarney resigned today. Most folks around here probably didn't hear the news. Most probably didn't give it a second thought.

But to those of us in the media who have covered McCarney's teams in the Independence Bowl, it was a sad day to see him step down.

Yes, McCarney carried some baggage from years gone by. But the guy was one of the most upbeat, optimistic coaches to ever coach in the I-Bowl. He was a friend to the bowl game and you could tell he truly appreciated having his team here.

He lost a heartbreaker to Alabama and then got the Big 12 its first I-Bowl win over Miami of Ohio.

For his sake, let's hope McCarney lands on his feet.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Honors time

You can tell we're getting to the end of the college football season - my mailbox is getting full with e-mails promoting Heisman Trophy and All-American candidates.

But this isn't about players. This is about coaches.

Someone asked the other day for a national coaching of the year candidate. One name quickly came to mind - Houston Nutt at Arkansas.

I'm not an Arkansas fan, but consider the job Nutt has done this season. His team was picked in the lower half of the SEC's Western Division to start the year. The Hogs got blown out by USC in the opener.

Nutt had the guts to change quarterbacks after the first game and go to Mitch Mustain, a true freshman. After winning eight straight games, he switched QBs again - this time to Casey Dick - because his team has a shot at winning the SEC title.

And oh by the way, he did all of this with people lining up a list of candidates to replace him. In my mind, he's the SEC coach of the year and the national coach of the year.

Red Hot Chili Peppers is my new favorite band

The Red Hot Chili Peppers recently played Columbus, Ohio, and incensed the crowd with its encore.

Michigan fan blogs are reporting that drummer Chad Smith came onstage with a Michigan T-shirt on and went into the drum beat for "Hail to the Victors." Smith grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Guitarist John Frusciante followed with a couple licks from the fight song, which got the crowd mad. Then singer Anthony Kiedis sang the second verse that really lit up the Buckeye fans.
Bassist Flea even told the Columbus crowd they "better watch out for the Wolverines."

This isn't going over extremely well in Columbus. Comments to the Michigan blogs range from obvious support by Wolverine fans to contempt by OSU fans saying the move was disrespectful to the partisan crowd and that it ruined the concert. Reportedly, some Columbus radio stations are banning the band and even removing it from the playlists.

Huh? A 30-second snippet ruins a 90-minute show? I knew OSU fans held grudges but let it go.
I think I'll go download every Red Hot Chili Pepper CD tonight. Nothing like upsetting Ohio State fans..11 days until the big game.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Feeling KMSS' pain

There are some jobs that fall into the thankless category. Working at KMSS in the fall must certainly be one of those kinds of jobs.

KMSS is the Fox affiliate here in Shreveport. Fox carries NFC games. Thus, KMSS is thrust into the middle of the Great Saints-Cowboys debate from September to December.

No matter what happens on a conflict Sunday, the station can't win. Show the Cowboys, and Saints fans are mad. Show the Saints, and Cowboys fans are mad.

Even when KMSS thinks it has avoided the situation, the way it appeared this coming Sunday, the NFL sticks its head into the matter. The league moved the Saints-Steelers game from noon to 3:15 p.m.

Uh oh, that's when the Cowboys and Cardinals are showing. Had the Saints game been left alone, the station would have carried both and everyone would be happy.

They aren't now.

Station manager Doug Ginn says the breakdown is 7 Cowboys and 9 Saints games this year to be shown on KMSS.

You'd think that would satisfy most.

It doesn't.

So fans of the team not shown will gripe and then go to a sports bar to watch the game.

Me, I've got DirecTV's NFL Sunday Ticket package.

That's one way to avoid the whole mess.

Rangers make the right call

Give wonderboy GM Jon Daniels in Texas credit for his hiring of Ron Washington to fill the team's managerial vacancy.

Washington, a New Orleans native who still resides in the Big Easy, was the third base coach for the Oakland A's the last few years and owns a reputation as a fielding guru.

He turned Eric Chavez from a project into a Gold Glove winner and helped make Mark Ellis into the AL's best defensive second baseman. His defensive prowess should serve the Rangers well.

With the overall lack of quality pitching, the Rangers need to be solid in the field and Washington will make sure that happens. Coupled with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, Texas now has two very solid baseball minds and player-friendly leaders. Factor in Washington's experience dealing with a laid-back clubhouse and you'll see he's a perfect fit for the boisterous, yet self-deprecating, young leaders in the Texas clubhouse.

Coupled with the coup of landing Carlos Lee at the trade deadline, Daniels is now on a two-decision winning streak.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ready for some (playoff) football?

The LHSAA released its football playoff pairings. If you're looking ahead, that would be the quarterfinals when Evangel and Calvary would meet in Class 1A.

The pairings show exactly what we thought through much of the season. The area was strongest in Classes 1A and 4A.

Byrd was the only city school to make the playoffs in Class 5A. The Jackets don't figure to last longer than a game though with a trip to John Ehret in the first round.

Shreveport-Bossier City is well represented in Class 4A with Haughton, Captain Shreve, Parkway and Bossier all making the field. Minden, an area team, is the No. 1 overall seed.

BTW is the highest-seeded local team in 3A. But the Lions were done no favors drawing a matchup with defending state champion Redemptorist of Baton Rouge. Benton is on the road in the first round against West Feliciana.

In Class 2A, one area team is sure to advance with Red River playing at Springhill. Homer is at home against Fisher.

Then in 1A, Evangel and Calvary have home games, as does Cedar Creek. Area teams Plain Dealing, Logansport and Haynesville are all on the road.

It should be a lot of fun.

RAIN RAIN GO AWAY

Well, the race is already an hour behind schedule here at Texas Motor Speedway. However, the cars are on the track right now. The weatherman says there is an hour window before the rain hits again. Hmmm ... 167 laps in an hour. Not possible. We'll see. On the bright side, the Dolphins are going to ruin ANOTHER perfect season for the Chicago Bears. After Indy loses tonight, it's time to pop the cork on the champagne!!!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Saturday musings

If you want to see a team with the I-Bowl in its sights, then just look at the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The Tide is bowl eligible with six wins. They were playing at home on Saturday against a Mississippi State team that had lost 23 consecutive games on the road in SEC play. So what does the Tide do? Alabama falls behind 24-10 at the half and loses 24-16.

Don't complain about Shreveport, boys. You did it to yourself.

Of course, the Tide may have some competition for Shreveport. The Georgia Bulldogs are in a free fall that would make the Flying Elvis' proud. Losing to Kentucky is just the kind of thing that punches the ticket to Shreveport.

But for the I-Bowl, Kentucky's win just about seals the deal on having an SEC team here this year.

According to ESPN radio, Florida coach Urban Meyer kicked Marcus Thomas off the team during the Gators' win over Vanderbilt. (Notice Meyer didn't kick Thomas off the team in the LSU, Alabama, Auburn or Georgia games).

(Wow, here's a shocker - ESPN radio WRONG. Apparently Meyer told the team on Friday of Thomas' dismissal.)

Michigan's struggles with Ball State show just how hard it is to bring the A game for 12 consecutive weeks.

Arkansas is playing like a team with a lot of confidence.

Shut up and play

I can relate to Alabama running back Jimmy Johns. No I can't run a sub-4.5 40. No I don't play football.

But I can relate to having to eat a little crow after running my mouth.

Johns was once a Mississippi State target while playing at Brookhaven High in Brookhaven, Miss., and told Sylvester Croom the Bulldogs were the leader for his services before signing with Alabama.

Some verbal volleys were traded before last year's Alabama-State game, which Bama won. Johns went to shake hands with Croom, who had left the field. Well Johns popped off, saying Croom ran off with his tail tucked between his legs.

On Saturday, Croom got his revenge, beating Alabama 24-16 and making Johns -- and his mouth -- a nonfactor. The former Mississippi high school star had a meager 1 yard rushing.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Penny Lovers

I'm having trouble writing this blog, because I'm still laughing about this. I'm in the Metroplex for the NASCAR weekend and heard one of the funniest high school prank stories.

Last week a pair of District 5-5A football powerhouses, Southlake Carroll and Colleyville Heritage, played at Southlake. There is $3 charge for parking at Dragon Stadium and for a week and for the days prior to the game, the P.A. announcer at Colleyville made students aware of the fee and added "pennies are as good as cash."

So, the Colleyville peeps showed up and paid for EVERYTHING -- parking, tickets, food and so on -- with pennies. That's classic.

Can you imagine the poor people taking the money? HAHAHA. Do you count it? Probably not.

Sooo ... this week, as the Grapevine-Southlake game approached, Southlake officials called Grapevine to tell the school pennies would not be accepted for tonight's game.

Benton at Booker T. Washington

As the second half begins, Benton leads, 14-6 and gets the second-half kickoff to start at its own 23.

Benton has scored a pair of touchdowns to take a 14-6 lead before halftime. A 27-yard run by Bobby Thornton -- which included him escaping the grasp of BTW's Corey Roberson in the backfield -- was key to the second drive. There is 1:58 remaining in the half.

BTW has a 6-0 lead with a 1-yard Jeremy Jefferson run. Benton is struggling with penalties -- two key holding calls have killed long runs -- and the Lions have used some opportunistic passing. There is 8:23 left in the first half.

NASCAR! The Chase heats up

Greetings from Texas Motor Speedway, site of a NASCAR triple-header this weekend. The big story is the Chase, where almost the entire 10-driver field is still in the hunt.

Points leader Matt Kenseth is in trouble. He's outqualified only five of the 30 drivers to go so far here at TMS.

Kasey Kahne has a late draw and was fastest in the first practice today. Good old No. 9 is more than 200 points behind Kenseth, but promises to have a good weekend here.

This is exactly why TMS deserved this second race. People are flocking to this massive facility right in the middle of football season. Tonight the trucks, tomorrow the Busch and Sunday the main event. What a weekend of racing -- Texas Style.

Like R.E.M. said...

"It's the end of the world as we know it..."

An online sportsbook has set odds on the possibility of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il attending a Chicago Bulls game this season.

The Web site reports that "it is known around the NBA that he is an avid Chicago fan," and that his sons wear Bulls jerseys when playing on their basketball courts at the presidential palace.

I don't know which is worse. The fact that a North Korean dictator likes the Bulls, or that a betting site has actually put odds on whether he'll show up in Chicago.

By the way, the site has YES at 20-to-1 and NO at 1-to-300.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

On the road again

If you have been around Shreveport-Bossier City for awhile you may remember former Jesuit (now Loyola) football coach C.O. Brocato.

And if you remember Brocato, then you need to pick up a copy of this week's issue of The Sporting News.

The magazine has a two-page spread on Brocato and his travels as a Tennessee Titans scout.

Brocato, 77, scouts Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. On this particular trip, he covered 3,000 miles.

If you know or remember Brocato, it's worth the read.

Sick of the Rocket

Since the baseball free-agent filing period began after St. Louis' World Series victory, some big names have officially hit the market. Jason Schmidt, Barry Zito, Frank Thomas and Nomar Garciaparra are among them.

On Thursday, Roger Clemens threw his name in the free-agent ring -- sort of. The Rocket said he would possibly return AT SOME TIME this season to play for one of four teams -- Houston, Boston, Texas or the New York Yankees.

Note to the Hendricks Brothers: Please stop your client. This is getting ridiculous. Either retire or sign on for the full season, Rocket. Don't make a mockery of a system that has set your wife and children and children's children and their children's children for life.

With the career Clemens has had, he's a given for Cooperstown. But the end is playing out like a badly written sketch comedy. And someone needs to put a stop to it.

Jeremy Jefferson

If you click over to Prepsbeat.com and listen to the Thursday, Nov. 2 podcast about high school football, you'll hear a local television personality predict that "somebody will stop Jeremy Jefferson" in the playoffs.

Dave, you ignorant Schwartz.

At least he says it won't be Benton. The Tigers may have beaten him last year, but they didn't stop him.

Jeremy will run like the wind as long as he officially wears the jersey.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Hoops on the radio

So I'm listening to the Hornets-Celtics game on the way into work and the Hornets broadcasters might as well have been speaking another language.

"There's the 3-ball.''

"And-one.''

"Dribble drive.'' (Is there any other way to drive to the hoop other than the dribble?)

Look, I like basketball. I really do. And it's great when there are teams and players who make me really care about the sport.

But basketball's greatness is in the way games come down to the end and buzzer beaters happen seemingly all the time. The speed of the game is what makes it great. But that same speed is a killer listening on the radio.

As for radio, well, basketball's more of a TV sport than a radio sport.

Kudos to Van Horn

Keith Van Horn will sit out the 2006-07 NBA season not because of a contract dispute or because of a nagging injury. He wants to spend more time with his family.

What a noble idea. To him, it really isn't about the money.

You've got to admire a man whose willing to stick to his principles and understands what's important to him. He's already got enough money for generations of Van Horns, so what's the point of sticking in the NBA? He could have signed a free agent deal with any number of teams and provided solid minutes. He's only 31 and still a quality NBA player.

Instead, he's opting for his family, realizing that these years with his young children are irreplaceable.

Heat didn't look so hot

Did you see the whuppin' the Chicago Bulls put on the defending NBA champion Miami Heat?
By 42 points (108-66). In Miami. On the same night the Heat received their championship rings.

It was the worst season-opening loss by a defending champion in the history of the NBA.

"It was absolutely one-sided,"said Miami head coach Pat Riley. "Just a very embarrassing loss."
No kidding.

If you were wondering what the addition of Ben Wallace meant to the Bulls, wonder no more. The Heat shot a pathetic 38.5 percent from the floor.

Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich was impressive on both ends of the floor. He led all scorers (26 points) and had a game-high two steals.

"It's just one of those nights," said Heat center Shaquille O'Neal.

If Tuesday night is any indication, it's going to be one of those seasons.