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Monday, April 30, 2007

Texans did better this year, but …

The Houston Texans did a much better job in this year’s draft. (How could anything have possibly outdone last year’s shocker?)

Defensive tackle Amobi Okoye, the Texans’ first pick, is by all accounts bound for stardom. And third-round pick Jacoby Jones, a speedy wide receiver from Lane College, offers interesting options.

The Texans’ other choices are safe, if not spectacular.

That said, the Texans could have done much better had they kept their second-round pick, which was sent to Atlanta along with next year’s second-round pick in the trade for quarterback Matt Schaub.

TWO second-round picks for Schaub?

That’s ridiculous.

The Texans gave up entirely too much for an unproven quarterback.

They could have selected Brigham Young’s John Beck or Michigan State’s Drew Stanton in the second round, kept David Carr and let backup Sage Rosenfels, the rookie and Carr compete for the starting job.

AND the Texans could have kept next year’s second-round pick.

WAC has country's sixth best NFL draft

While the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs were nearly shutout in last weekend's NFL Draft, the WAC made an outstanding showing with 17 players taken. That was the sixth best mark in the country and ahead of the Big East (16), Moutain West (9) and Conference USA (8).

Tech's Jonathan Holland was taken with the next to last pick in the draft, which doesn't speak well for former coach Jack Bicknell's recruiting. Doubtless, new Tech coach Derek Dooley will use the overall success of the WAC in his recruiting pitch this fall.

Look for the Bulldogs to have a better showing in the future.

Attention SEC haters

The NFL Draft has come and gone and what do you know, the conference with the most first-round draft picks is the SEC (11). The conference with the most overall draft picks is the SEC (41).

Let's add that to the national champion on the field (Florida) and the national attendance leader as a conference.

So the numbers seem to point to jealousy for any SEC "hate'' on this blog and elsewhere. (By the way, the Big 12 had as many first-round picks as LSU.)

We won't go into the national championships in men's basketball (Florida), women's basketball (Tennessee) and gymnastics (Georgia).

As Joe Friday used to say, "Just the facts, ma'am.''

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Draft rankings

I just saw my first draft rankings and these, from USA Today, have the Dallas Cowboys with three stars and the New Orleans Saints with two.

I don't see that.If the complaint against the Saints is taking a receiver when there were needs on defense, how do you explain the Cowboys taking a defensive end when they already had first-round picks DeMarcus Ware and Marcus Spears there?

Here is my thing, until Jerry Jones proves otherwise I am not giving the Cowboys the benefit of the doubt.On the other hand, after watching what Sean Payton did with the Saints last year, I'll give him a second or third chance even if something goes wrong this year.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

One more reason baseball is better than football

I admit it, I like watching the NFL Draft.

What I don't like is the fact that it's 3:20 p.m. and the draft started at 11 a.m. and we're still not out of the first round.

There are people who take less time to decided on a career, a college, a wife even, than it takes some of these teams to pick a player.

I realize these are million dollar investments. But there is always free agency and trades to get what you need to get.

Personally, I like the baseball draft where they whip through 25 rounds in the time it takes the NFL to get through three.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Greetings from Minute Maid

Greetings from Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston, where the Astros are hosting the National League Central Division-leading Milwaukee Brewers in the opener of a six-game homestand.

The Astros' six-game losing streak certainly hasn't dampened the enthusiasm of the Minute Maid faithful. When I talked to Lance Berkman during spring training, he raved about how much the fans boosted team morale.

Someting's working; the Astros are off to a 1-0 lead.

I'm guessing tonight's crowd will surpass the 30,000 mark.

Beware the Big Guy

For all the damage Charlie Casserly inflicted on my hometown NFL franchise over the years, the Houston Texans, he got one thing partially right.

In the most recent edition of Sports Illustrated, Casserly said the NFL Draft is "one weekend when nobody loses any games. Everybody is undefeated."

Well, it is for most other teams. Everyone instantly figured out the Texans were losers when when Casserly passed on Vince Young and took underachieving defensive end Mario Williams with the first pick.

But, I digress. That brings us to another team poised to inflict Casserly-like damage on themselves after this weekend: the Oakland Raiders.

While there's no true way to figure out what Al Davis and the Men in Black are going to do Saturday morning, most folks would put their money on the Raiders taking LSU's own JaMarcus Russell with the top pick.


Russell, to me, is the creation of every NFL personnel guy's fantasies. He's big, has a bigger arm, outperformed fellow top QB prospect Brady Quinn on a big stage and comes from a big program with pedigree. Sounds promising, right?

Not really.

Here's the deal: until that Sugar Bowl performance against the Fighting Irish, no one - and I mean no one - would have argued that JaMarcus Russell was the best player in college football. He was never even in the running for the Heisman.

So, on the strength of mostly one game, JaMarcus moved past Brady and everyone else to become the draft's likely No. 1 pick? That seems like dubious scouting, to me. I watched plenty of LSU games this year and never felt like I was watching anything approaching a first-round pick, let alone the top one.

Russell is a great guy, on paper. But so were Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf, David Carr and a long lists of QBs who never quite lived up to the hype.

About that last guy, Casserly felt like a winner that day five years ago when he took Carr with the Texans' first-ever draft pick. Too bad no one counts those "Ws" during the regular season.

Media goes overboard again

It's a sock, people.

Only on the East Coast could a sock generate the kind of media attention that Curt Schilling's "bloody" sock can.

Well, I take that back. If Nick Saban shows up at an Alabama practice with a stain on one of his socks, the state may well shut down.

Schilling unloaded on Baltimore Orioles announcer Gary Thorne, who said he heard from Red Sox catcher, and former Shreveport Captain, Doug Mirabelli that Schilling's bloody sock during the 2004 ALCS was really paint.

Thorne goes on the air and relays the story, only it's hearsay.

Schilling counters by blogging, "My only real problem is not that Gary Thorne said something stupid and ignorant, which he did, but that without a word being uttered by anyone in our clubhouse this somehow became a major news story."

It's a sock, people.

Thorne didn't say anything inflammatory about Schilling's wife. He relayed a story he heard in the clubhouse.

Schilling said it best. It was something said that was stupid and ignorant, so why this false indignation over a sock? I could understand Schilling getting upset if Thorne railed against a recent outing or said something deeply personal, but to go overboard on a sock?

And the Boston media doesn't help the situation, naturally. As beat writers try to outscoop the other, the best angle they can find is whether a sock contained Sherwin-Williams or O-negative.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Draft-itis I ain't got it

Forgive me for not being stricken by the NFL Draft bug. But give credit for the NFL, which is surpassing any sport in memory for becoming a hype machine.

Seriously, between mini-camps and the draft and training camp, the NFL finds a way to keep itself in sports news year-round. Still, hearing 21- and 22-year old kids having their lives picked apart like surgery is hardly appealing.

The only thing worse than that to me is college recruiting. Those schools and recruiting "experts" are doing the same thing to 17-year-old children.

I may be in the minority, but I can promise you what I won't be doing at noon on Saturday and that's sitting in front of ESPN grinding over my favorite NFL team's picks and making fun of Mel Kiper Jr.'s hair.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

CHL behind Kennedy's assassination too

Mudbugs fans may think the Central Hockey League is out to get them, but if it's any consolation for them to hear, they aren't the only ones.

Roy touched on the NHL's problems and conspiracy theory in the blog posting prior to this, but just read about how deep the "conspiracy" penetrates the NHL.

With all of the Hollywood productions in the area, Oliver Stone might want to visit Shreveport-Bossier City for his next project.

Oh, and go Wings!

Getting hosed by the ref and losing NHL style

Just read this. No commentary needed.

The two teams have certainly kept NHL video replay officials busy in a series that the top-seeded Sabres can end in Game 5 on Friday night.
It began during Game 3 on Monday night, when a video review ruled Sabres Thomas Vanek's shot dribbled in over the goal line in Buffalo's 3-2 victory. Then came the Sabres' 4-2 win Wednesday night, when the Islanders had a potential tying goal disallowed with 1:42 remaining when referee Mike Leggo ruled Miller was pushed into the goal with the puck underneath him. Leggo's decision was upheld by replay officials in Toronto.
"The timing of it stinks for them," Miller said. "But it's worked out for us and we have to take advantage."
Islanders coach Ted Nolan said the team has to move on from the disallowed goal and prepare for the next game.
"That's water under the bridge," Nolan said. "As far as we're concerned, that was a goal but, hey, what can you do about it?"
The Islanders have little time to regroup if they plan to force Game 6, which would be at Long Island on Sunday night, and avoid losing their fifth consecutive first-round playoff series. New York hasn't advanced past the first round since reaching the conference finals in 1993.
The key is forgetting what happened Wednesday.
"We can't sit around here and feel sorry for ourselves," goalie Rick DiPietro said. "Now it's up to us. We have three games left and we have to win all three."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tough way to go out

The Mid-Continent Conference held its golf tournament at StoneBridge on Monday and Tuesday and the Western Illinois Leathernecks won for the third time in four seasons.

Centenary finished last at the tournament, more than 125 shots off Western Illinois' pace. You couldn't help but offer some sympathy for the Gents, particularly after learning their best golfer was disqualified in his final collegiate round.

Senior David Viviano signed an incorrect scorecard and thereby was DQ'd. That's not the worse of it.

He aced No. 17.

So what happened then? Instead of penciling in Viviano's 5 on No. 6, his playing partner scribbled a 4. Vivano missed it and signed the card. So long, hole-in-one.

It's reminiscent of Roberto DeVincenzo's classic mistake which cost him the 1968 Masters. DeVincenzo signed an incorrect scorecard, and it cost him a green jacket.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Early Dogs

If you weren't already convinced that they are doing things differently with Louisiana Tech football these days, then confirmation should have come today with news that Abbeville linebacker Jelani Smith has committed to the Bulldogs.

A commitment in April is almost unheard of for the Bulldogs. Previous coaching staffs usually waited until later in the year and closer to signing day to obtain commitments.

We won't know whether the new strategy will pay off for Derek Dooley until down the road. There is some risk with early offers - players can get hurt. There is also a reward - you can get the unheralded player before bigger schools get around to making offers.

Still, if you're a Tech fan, it's probably exciting to talk about recruiting in April along with the big boys. (Texas has 19 commitments at the moment).

Dallas, you’ve got a problem

If you’re a Dallas Mavericks fan, you should be VERY concerned. The Golden State Warriors just seem to have the Mavericks’ number.

The Warriors, behind Baron Davis’ 33 points, whipped the Mavericks by 12 points (97-85) IN DALLAS on Sunday night. And the Mavericks had the best home record (36-5) in the NBA this season.

Avery Johnson’s decision to go with a smaller lineup backfired and played right into the hands of his friend and mentor, Warriors head coach Don Nelson.

The Warriors are picking up where they left off in the regular season, when they beat the Mavs three straight times. The Warriors now have a six-game winning streak against the Mavericks, dating back to last season, and there’s no end in sight to the Warriors’ dominance.

Even if the Mavericks win on Wednesday night, they’ve still got an uphill battle. Games 3 and 4 will be played in Oakland, where the Warriors had one of the NBA’s best home records (30-11) this season. And the games will be played before a packed house that will be hosting its first playoff games in 13 years.

Picture THAT atmosphere.

That being said, I still think the Mavs will prevail because I simply refuse to believe they CAN’T make the necessary adjustments.

Time, however, is not on their side. The Mavericks HAVE to come up with a lot of answers before Wednesday, or they’ll be staring at a two-game deficit as the series shifts to Oakland.

And that’s something to REALLY be concerned about.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Passing grade

Another test for the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings, another passing grade.

The Battle Wings went on the road for the first time this season on Saturday and came home with another win.

Bossier-Shreveport is 3-0 for the first time in franchise history. The Battle Wings are one of only five unbeaten teams in af2.

Even if the team goes 7-6 the rest of the way, that's a 10-win season and should merit postseason contention.

The Battle Wings, much like the Saints last fall, are starting to make some believers out there.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Tech spring game update

Just back from Ruston and the Tech spring game, so here are some thoughts from the day:

Tech will win more than three games this season. You might think that's not much, but consider the Bulldogs' schedule - they're playing two teams (LSU and Boise State) that ended up in the top five. There are also trips to California and Ole Miss involved. So while the schedule isn't as brutal as last year's, it will be challenging nonetheless.

Zac Champion will be the Bulldogs' quarterback. But Ross Jenkins looked really good in the spring game. Maybe Jenkins is one of those guys who play better when the lights are on, but I could see him pushing his way up the depth chart.

The Bulldogs have a core of offensive playmakers with Brian Jackson, Patrick Jackson, Josh Wheeler and even tight end Dennis Morris.

The defense doesn't look as bad as it did last year. I know, I know, they're playing against each other. But there were a few big plays allowed but the secondary seemed to do a better job of not letting men (other than Morris) run free. Coach Derek Dooley is still concerned about his D-line in general and his pass rush in particular.

Special teams - particulary kicking field goals - looks to be an adventure.

This is a more disciplined team. And that should help as well.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Red River Rivalry staying put

Saw a headline saying the Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma will stay at the Cotton Bowl through 2015.

That's a good thing for fans (or haters) of both sides. There is a tradition associated with the rivalry. The State Fair. Big Tex. Half the Cotton Bowl stands awash in burnt orange; the other half covered in crimson and cream.

Yes it's true the Cotton Bowl itself isn't what it once was but moving this game would have removed some history from one of the best rivalries in the country.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Quiet Sutton-Toms week

Is it just me or is this the quietest build up to the Sutton-Toms golf tournament in recent memory?

I mean, the event is Sunday and Monday. That is a whopping four days away.

I don't know if they're complacent with where they are as an event. I don't know if they don't want to grow any bigger. Or if they're just late getting stuff out, but there is no buzz about an event that used to be one of the highlights of the spring.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spurrier represents the best of the South (Carolina)

Of all the football coaches to plant his feet firmly on the ground and make a stand against the Confederate battle flag, I might not have put South Carolina's Steve Spurrier at the top of the list.

Raised in Tennessee and revered in Florida where he built his career, Spurrier is the quintessential son of the South, from his easy-going mantra to his "ol' ball coach" persona.

But there he was over the weekend, calling for the Confederate flag to be removed from the South Carolina Statehouse grounds. He said: "I don’t really know anybody that wants it there, but I guess there are a lot of South Carolinians that do want it there.”

Good for Spurrier; better for South Carolina.

Far from a politician, Spurrier proved himself to be a great statesman for a state in desperate need of some goodwill.

I was in college when South Carolina endured renewed criticism over its reluctance to remove the Confederate flag, and thus gave life to the NAACP's boycott of the state's tourism industry and the NCAA's ban in 2001 that prevents the state from playing host to championships. It left an indelible image of South Carolina in my mind, one of a state that willfully embraced a symbol of hate - not heritage - to so many people. Suffice it to say, I won't be vacationing there anytime soon.

With Spurrier inserting himself into the fight to take the flag down, maybe there will be enough momentum within the state to rid itself of this ugly emblem. Spurrier could again show that there is a place for sports in our society other than as a distraction.

The Ol' Ball Coach has a powerful voice in his state, in the South, in sports, and I'm ecstatic that he used it to make such a meaningful stand.

Indeed, Spurrier has proven himself to be a true Southern gentleman.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Only how many more days till the draft?

Is it just me or does it seem like there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, going on in the world of professional sports outside of baseball?

I can't believe it but I'm actually counting the days until the NFL Draft. That's something I never do. Nothing against the NFL and the draft, I just can't get excited over hearing someone's 40 time or how many times said person can bench press 225 pounds.

Usually this kind of one-sport boredom doesn't hit until May or June. I guess changing daylight savings time moved everything else up three weeks also.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Takin' notice of the Wings

OK, hard as it may be to believe, but the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings are 2-0.

I know their wins both came at home. I know both wins came over expansion teams. But remember, the Battle Wings used to lose games like these.

We'll learn more about the team as it plays three of its next four on the road. But the Jon Norris era certainly looks promising. The Wings appear to have a defense to go along with their former NFL quarterback.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Love me some Suns

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not like the NBA. Give me a college game between good old State Technical U. and Directional State U. over the Clippers and Grizzlies any day.

But I must admit, as a fan of basketball the sport, I always stop and watch whenever Phoenix is on TV. Sure their defense-optional style of play isn't conducive to winning NBA titles, but it's a fan-friendly style for sure.

Add in the flair of Steve Nash, the jets of Leandro Barbosa, the freakish athleticism of Shawn Marion and the brute strength of Amare Stoudemire and the Western Conference (ahem, Dallas, that's you) needs to be on high alert for a Suns splash in the playoffs.

The NBA's should-be MVP for this season resides in Dallas (take a bow, Dirk), but its most aesthetically pleasing one resides in the Valley of the Sun.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Is it just me?

Or does Louisiana Tech athletics seem to be a little more Dan Reneau and a little less Jim Oakes these days?

I don't mean this in a spiteful way. But it appears Reneau is much more out front with the school's athletic department.

Case in point, the hiring of Kerry Rupp on Friday.

The school sends out its release and the first words are "Louisiana Tech President Dr. Dan Renau....''

The first quote in the release? Dan Reneau's.

Now don't get me wrong. I realize he is the president of the school. But Oakes isn't quoted until Reneau and Rick Majerus have been quoted.

And I'm not fooled. This hire of Rupp was all about Karl Malone. This was Malone's hand-picked guy. So basically, the AD is just along for the ride on this one.

Like I said, it may just be me. It may be completely innocent. But it certainly appears Reneau is becoming more involved at Thomas Assembly Center.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kudos to LSUS

The LSU-Shreveport Pilots went on the road to ULM on Wednesday night and won, 17-11.

The win was the first for LSUS in 17 tries against ULM. That's right the Pilots had been 0-16 against ULM until Wednesday.

Some people will try to tell you that the win is no big deal. That it's a midweek game. That those things happen in midweek.

And yes, they do. Louisiana College once beat LSU in a midweek game.

But that still doesn't lessen the impact of an NAIA team defeating an NCAA Division I team.

Kudos to Rocke Musgraves and the Pilots. They have quietly gone about the business of leading the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference.

This is a good team that could play deep into the NAIA playoffs.

Welcome to the States, Mr. Cherry

NBC announced that commentator Don Cherry will join the station's lineup for its Stanley Cup coverage. In light of Don Imus' problems for his infamous statement, is this really a good idea by NBC?

Cherry has been an outspoken commentator and beloved by many Canadians for his work during intermissions on "Coach's Corner" during telecasts of the Canadian Broadcasting Company's "Hockey Night in Canada." Cherry's comments often stir up deep emotions, especially in Quebec.

"A lot of people have written that what I say up here in Canada I would never get away with it down in the States," said Cherry. "I'll just go on and do what I have to do.

"In the States, they wanted me to go on one time in Pittsburgh. Jaromir Jagr, it was when he had long hair and he was with Mario Lemieux and I said, 'There's Mario and his daughter.' It didn't go over too good. That was my last time in the States."

I don't recall Cherry ever saying anything to the level that Imus said, but he's not afraid to speak his mind, and he has his critics.

Cherry will be partnered with former player Brett Hull for his segments.

"He tells it like it is," Hull said of Cherry. "If they did it on a regular basis, he would be just as popular down here as he is up there. Part of the thing that's missing, not with just hockey, but in all coverage in the American sports world, is some personality. I think that's why you see a guy like Terry Bradshaw, as popular as he is.

"He's not just Mr. P.C., going, 'That was a nice catch and throw.'"

Since he isn't Mr. P.C., I wonder how long of a leash NBC will give him.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

No help from the NFL

The New Orleans Saints got no favors from the NFL today with the announcement of the 2007 schedule.

The Saints open the season with back-to-back road games (Indianapolis and Tampa Bay) and end it on the road (Chicago).

A year ago, the Saints opened with wins in back-to-back road games. Of course, that was the first time in Saints history the team accomplished that feat. Now they will be asked to do it again.

Every team in the NFL has a tough schedule. Every team has to play eight games away from home. But where those eight games are positioned can sometimes be crucial to a team.

The Saints were a feel-good story last year. This year, they'll have to earn it the hard way.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bradshaw to join Tech's football staff?

Now that it appears that the Louisiana Tech men's basketball team will hire Karl Malone as an assistant to apparent new head coach Kerry Rupp, maybe football coach Derek Dooley should add Terry Bradshaw to his staff.

Can you imagine Bradshaw walking into a recruit's home and telling it like it is. "Well, son, we play Central Arkansas right out of the shoot and we ought to beat them by 30. Then we play Hawaii and those fat-ass dudes think they're bad. But, aloha, nobody will come to see them play us so your folks should be able to get plenty of free tickets."

"We go to California to see some tannin' babes and to play our next two games, but then we're back to take on that mumblin' moron Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss."

"I know you've got offers from LSU and Texas, but do you want to sit on the bench down there and say you went to LSU (or Texas) or do you want to come to Ruston and play for four years mostly against WAC schools that nobody cares about? Tough decision, right. But, hey, you get to go to Honolulu and Reno every other year."

While they're at it, Tech should hire Kix Brooks to direct the band ... as long as he brings Ronnie Dunn along to do the vocals.

Coach Rob probably wanted a small funeral

Grambling women's basketball coach David "Rusty" Ponton was scheduled to speak at a special fraternity ceremony on Tuesday night honoring former GSU football coach Eddie Robinson. Although Ponton was struggling for the right words, he admitted that coach Rob wouldn't have appreciated all of the hoopla about his funeral.

"Knowing coach Rob like I do, he would be embarrassed about all of this, even though all of us know he deserved it," Ponton said. "He'd be happy if we just went out behind the field house and had a little ceremony. He'd say, 'now that was a nice ceremony.'"

"I told one of our guys that in two minutes, two hours or two days he couldn't say all of the nice things that have been written or said about coach Rob. I told him to just get up there and say what he felt," Ponton said.

Coach Rob was a people person, who cared more about other people than he did himself.

Good to see Imus didn't skate by this time

It's good to see radio host Don Imus didn't skate by this time for his remark about the Rutgers women's basketball team.

He has been suspended for two weeks by MSNBC, which simulcasts his CBS Radio talk show, and CBS. But there are those who think that is not enough and he should be fired.

Imus has made similar comments in the past, but none has caused the kind of uproar this has, thanks largely to the Internet's blogosphere.

Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer, one of the top coaches in all of basketball, called Imus' remarks "deplorable, despicable, and abominable and unconscionable." I couldn't agree more.

Imus has apoligized several times, including again Tuesday, since making the remark last Wednesday. He said he was trying to be funny. But there was nothing funny about this.

Make no mistake, Imus' stock in trade as a "shock jock" is to take his comments to the edge. He has called himself an equal opportunity offender. But as others have said, that's no excuse.

To Imus' credit, he says the suspension was correct and he will serve it with "dignity." And there's no doubt that Imus has also done much good through is philanthropic ventures.

I must admit that I've enjoyed listening to Imus on the MSNBC simulcast. He talks about the issues of the day with some of the heavy hitters in journalism and the media, and he can be funny. It will be interesting to see if he still gets the kind of guests he's had in the past.

It will also be interesting to hear what the Rutgers players have to say after meeting with him. While people with their own agendas have gotten involved as they always do in situations like this -- for good or bad -- it basically boils down to how the Rutgers players, and Imus' listeners and sponsors ultimately feel, as Dan Patrick pointed out on his radio show Tuesday.

I think, as he has in the past, Imus will come back and so will his guests. Maybe it will be a different Imus, maybe not. Eventually, people will move on to other things. In this case I'm not sure that that's a good thing.

Monday, April 09, 2007

South Park meets the SEC

Someone out there either a) has a lot of his time on his hands, b) is a big fan of South Park and the SEC, or c) all of the above.

This little gem was found on a message board, and it's too good not to share.

I especially love the Ed Orgeron and Nick Saban renditions. You can see quite a bit of Cartman in Phil Fulmer.

NHL playoffs here

This post may seem out of place among the ranting and ravings about LSU football, the madness of Arkansas athletics and UFC reports, but the NHL playoffs begin this week.

Believe it or not, the Stanley Cup has a great chance of ending up in Anaheim. The Ducks are the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, and I don't think the Detroit Red Wings will get to the Finals despite being the No. 1 seed.

From the East, I like Buffalo, the top seed. The Sabres supposedly have an affiliation with the Mudbugs, but there's never been a Mudbug to make the jump to the NHL. Not much of an affiliation then, is it?

I'd like to see Buffalo win it. The Sabres and the town would have more of an appreciation for the Stanley Cup than Anaheim would. Don't get me wrong the Ducks would appreciate the Stanley Cup, but the folks in Anaheim wouldn't care if the Stanley Cup got a parade. The folks in Buffalo would go absolutely nuts if the Sabres won. They've deserved a championship for having to live through the Bills' drought in Super Bowls, and the Sabres losing to Dallas in the Cup Finals a few years ago.

Get it right this time?

It appears at least one Arkansas soap opera is about to run its course.

The school is set to announce John Pelphrey as the Razorbacks' new head basketball coach this afternoon in about an hour.

While Pelphrey may not have the resume Dana Altman brought from Creighton before turning around one day later and heading home, Pelphrey may end up being a better hire.

Pelphrey will inherit a loaded team next season. He is an accomplished recruiter as seen during his time as an assistant at Florida.

He has played in the SEC. He has coached in the SEC. He should be comfortable in the SEC. And the jump may not be as big for him as it would have been for Altman.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Good start for Wings

If ever a team needed a good start, then the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings would be in that group.

The Wings have never made the playoffs in their existence. Shreveport-Bossier City is a fickle audience. That can be a lethal combination.

But Quincy Carter - playing like Quincy Carter on Saturday night - could change all of that. He threw six touchdowns with only a single interception.

Carter gives the team credibility with the fans at the box office. On Saturday, he gave them credibility on the field.

Let's see what the Battle Wings do with their new momentum.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A new champion

Matt "The Terror" Serra is the new UFC World Welterweight champion. Serra disposed of defending champion Georges St-Pierre with a TKO at 3:25 in the first round.

Serra took the fight to St-Pierre, knocking him down and pouncing on him with a flurry of punches.

It's Quick Swick's turn

In a battle of heavyweights (and I do mean heavyweights), 6-foot-4, 250-pound Heath "The Texas Crazy Horse" used a flurry of knockdowns to pick up a unanimous decision over 6-7, 260-pound Brad Imes.

Kendall "Da Spyder" Grove won by submission over Alan "The Talent" Belcher.

Houston's Mike "Quick" Swick is about to battle Yushin Okami. You can imagine the thunderous ovation Quick received when announced.

In the early stages of the fight, the crowd is chanting "Swick, Swick" and "USA, USA."

Stay tuned.

UFC 69 Update

In early action, Luke "The Silent Assassin" Cummo delivered a powerful right hand to the head of Josh Hayes, ending Hayes' night early in the second round.

Marcus Davis defeated San Antonio's Pete Spratt by submission after trapping Spratt in a powerful ankle lock.

Thales Leites and Pete Sell engaged in a spirited battle, which ended in Leites' victory by unanimous decision after three rounds.

There's a HUGE, lively crowd here tonight.

Stay tuned for updates.

Greetings from the site of UFC 69

Greetings from Octagonside in Houston's Toyota Center. It's chilly outside, but it's going to heat up in here real soon.

The music is blaring and the crowd is revved up! It's going to be a fantastic night, UFC fans, and I'll keep you posted. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 06, 2007

More Arkansas weirdness

Now the fans are using FOI's to get Houston Nutt's cell phone bills?

Please, people. Give it a rest. Let the man coach the football team. If they lose, then fire him. But give it a rest.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Mudbugs show ugly side

The Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs fell 4-1 to Wichita in Game 3 of the Central Hockey League's playoffs on Thursday, and presumably fell off the face of the earth.

Assistant Sports Editor Roy Lang made the drive up to Wichita to cover the series and no one from the Mudbugs spoke with him following the game. Not even after he waited for more than an hour.

CHL rules state that the locker rooms are to be open to media 10 minutes after games are completed. It looks like the Mudbugs are above the league rules.

The behavior of head coach Scott Muscutt and his team is childish and rude. Especially after Roy drove the eight-plus hours to cover the team. You'd think a team as "classy" as the Mudbugs are would pay him a little courtesy.

For an organization that prides itself on being one of the best in all of minor league hockey, this action (or rather inaction) is atypical. Even at home, technically reporters aren't allowed in the Mudbugs locker room. The team's former media relations guys/announcers Steve Mears and Brandon Walker would ask which players the media wanted to interview, then duck in the room to grab said player.

If the Mudbugs are a professional team, they'd speak with the media. That's a part of the job. These are grown men after all. You'd think they'd act like it, instead of like a bunch of 5-year-olds.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Is Rupp hired at Tech?

Amid the hoopla surrounding Eddie Robinson's death on Wednesday, unofficial word out of Ruston that the hiring of UAB assistant coach Kerry Rupp as Louisiana Tech's new men's basketball coach is a done deal, one day after 9-year coach Keith Richard was fired.

Former Bulldog great Karl Malone was reportedly ushering Rupp around the Tech campus on Wednesday introducing him as the new Tech coach.

If Rupp has been hired, it's obvious that luring him in began long before Richard received word of his axing.

Summitt deserves accolades

Three cheers for Tennessee's Pat Summitt winning yet another national championship.

One of the classiest people in all of sports, Summitt won her seventh title after a 9-year drought. With the best player in women's college basketball, Candace Parker, you'd expect nothing less than the title.

Summitt is one of the few coaches who will bring perennially highly-ranked program into Ruston for a meeting with the Lady Techsters. She has been a long time friend of former Lady Techsters coach Leon Barmore.

The fact that UConn didn't make the Final Four was another highlight of the women's year.

Memories of Eddie Robinson

Eddie Robinson will be remembered by some for his 408 football coaching victories. Some will remember the more than 200 Grambling players he sent to the NFL. Others will remember him for guiding James Harris and Doug Williams into quarterbacking careers in the NFL.

I will remember him as a humble man that carried himself with a grace and dignity that is sorely lacking in college and professional sports today.

When Robinson was coaching at Grambling, the chances of getting him on the phone were 50-50 if you were a reporter. But if you did catch him, you needed to clear out an hour or two on your calendar. Eddie Robinson would fill your notebook.

He wouldn't just talk football either. He was a man whose friends included everyone from Howard Cosell to Jim Brown. Yet he had just as much time for the guy from Shreveport as he did the guy from New York City.

It was hard to see Robinson's health decline in recent years. But the memories I'll take are the ones from before his illness. Those are ones of a man who carried himself in a way we should all carry ourselves.

Techsters make questionable decision

If there wasn't bad blood between the Centenary and Lousiana Tech softball teams, there may be now.

The father of Ladies outfielder Lauren Flowers passed away this past weekend, so Centenary coach Mark Montgomery loaded up a van load of Ladies and drove to San Antonio on Tuesday for the funeral. Before going, he called Lady Techsters coach Sarah Dawson and asked that the Wednesday's secheduled game between the two clubs be moved or canceled. Dawson refused, despite Montgomery giving three alternatives for a make-up date.

That meant that the Ladies, who were due to arrive back in Shreveport at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, had to be in Ruston at 6 p.m. for the game, which the Techsters won 6-4. The Ladies had to leave immediately after the game for the long drive to Indianapolis for key weekend Mid-Con series with IUPUI.

In the spirit of sportsmanship, you'd have thought Dawson would have made a different decision.

Losing a legend

I never met Coach Eddie Robinson, but growing up in northwest Louisiana, I had ample opportunities to read and hear about the legend.

So many times sports figures, coaches and athletes are defined by numbers and it would be easy to lump Robinson into that category. 408 wins, 17 conference championships and 1 worldwide legacy is what he brought to Grambling.

But Robinson was much more than a winning machine. He was, by all accounts, someone who cared more about what his players did after they left Grambling regardless of whether they played professional football.

Compare that with the situation coming out of Georgetown in which legendary Hoyas basketball coach John Thompson is being raked over the coals for his relationships, or lack thereof, with former players who did not become household names in the NBA and you'll see just one example of how Robinson's legacy spreads well beyond the 20,000-seat football stadium in Lincoln Parish that bears his name.

On behalf of the Big Ten...

Let me just say...OK SEC, you win.

With the SEC winning the national championship in football, men's basketball and, last night, women's basketball, there's nothing else I (a Big Ten defender and graduate) can say.

SEC, you're the best. I've long defended the Big Ten since my arrival in Shreveport as just as athletically inclined as the SEC. To which, I was often rebuffed as "that crazy Yankee."

Deep down, I know the Big Ten is just as talented as the SEC. It just turns out that the SEC is more talented this year. So, congrats.

There's really only one other thing I can say. Wait until next year.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Calling the Hogs

Is it possible for Arkansas to have any more soap operas than the school has already had?

If you're keeping score, here goes:

1) Mitch Mustain's mom and the Springdale kids complain about playing time (after winning the SEC West.)

2) Gus Malzahn leaves Arkansas for Tulsa.

3) Frank Broyles "steps'' down.

4) Houston Nutt keeps his job despite fan protests.

5) Stan Heath loses his job despite two NCAA Tournament appearances in the last two years and reaching the SEC Tournament final.

And now, Dana Altman leaves Creighton for the Arkansas job, and turns around one day later and leaves Arkansas for Creighton.

If I am working in Arkansas' athletic department, I'm wanting this school year to end fast. A break from the drama would be a good thing.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Gator bait

Hail to the Florida Gators.

Winning one national championship is hard enough. Winning two, well, that's the stuff of legend.

Granted the players are the ones who play the game and deserve the greatest share of the credit, but Billy Donovan has done a superb job with this team.

First, this is team is well put together. By that, I mean they have all the pieces. They have playmakers, shooters, inside players and versatile parts. It's a really, really good basketball team. There may be teams with better NBA prospects, but this is the best team in college basketball.

Second, Donovan did a great job keeping this team focused through the year and not getting caught up in the hype.

It was a year when everyone expected the Gators to win and they delivered.

That would be SEC 2, Big Ten 0.

I guess Jim Delaney will have another letter on the Big Ten web site claiming how much better his league is than the SEC again.

Very interesting

The NFL sent out its quarterly NFL Report for spring. Inside the magazine, the league is doing its best self-promotion by referring to a Forbes magazine study for the most valuable sports brands in the world.

The Super Bowl was No. 1.

Now, here is the interesting part.

The Summer Olympics is No. 2, no problem there. The FIFA World Cup is No. 3. That's understandable when talking about the world and not the United States.

No. 4 took me by surprise -- the Daytona 500.

I know NASCAR is big. But for strictly American events, that would put it No. 2 only to the Super Bowl.

No. 5 is also interesting -- the Rose Bowl.

College football's national title game isn't on the list. But the Rose Bowl, with its Big Ten and Pac-10 leanings is No. 5.

The Final Four for men is No. 6.

The Winter Olympics is No. 7 followed by the Kentucky Derby, the World Series and finally the NBA Finals.

Don't know what to make of it. It's just food for thought.

Play ball

One of my favorite days of the year is here - MLB's Opening Day.

You don't even have to have a satellite dish to enjoy today. There are a half-dozen games or so just on regular cable.

But the best thing about opening day is that baseball has begun. The game is a six-month soap opera for baseball fans. It is a constant companion because they play it every day. There's always a game on somewhere.

Glad to have you back baseball.