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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Be in the Gold Dome on Tuesday

College basketball fans in the Shreveport-Bossier City area should buy their tickets early for Tuesday's "Showdown in the Dome."

Centenary College and LSU-Shreveport will meet in the Centenary Gold Dome for the city's supremecy on the hardcourt. The women will do battle at 5 p.m. with the men to follow at 7:30. It'll be a no-holds barred battle between a Division I team and one of the best NAIA teams in the south.

The Gents and the Pilots have met just once in history and that came in 1993 with Centenary winning, according to the Gents' media guide.

If you want to see two young, but talented teams, playing for bragging rights, be in the Gold Dome on Tuesday.

Give Bicknell credit

Former Louisiana Tech coach Jack Bicknell deserves a lot of credit for Tuesday's announcement that Tech has the highest percentage of student-athlete graduates in the state.

The 2007 Federal Graduation Rate Report, which is based on student-athletes who entered school in fall of 2000 and who graduated by summer of 2006, showed Tech ranked No. 1 in the state of Louisiana among schools who play football.

While other Tech coaches and administrative personnel played a role in the honor, everyone knows that a football-playing school rises and falls with its football program ... and that includes graduation ratings.

Bicknell was justifiably fired for his coaching record last year, but he didn't leave without honor. And Bicknell has definitely landed on his feet as an offensive line coach for 8-0 Boston College, his alma mater. An exhuberant Bicknell could be seen celebrating on the sidelines of the Eagles' improbable 14-10 win over Virginia Tech last week.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

WAC drama

If you're Louisiana Tech coach Kerry Rupp you've got to be glad you're in Ruston and not in Reno.

Nevada coach Mark Fox had to boot a player after the player was beaten at a party where three people were killed.

You can read the story in the Reno Gazette Journal.

Nothing like trying to start the season in a couple of weeks and having that kind of drama going on around you.

Of course, there is another element to this drama.

The brother of a football player was involved at the same party. The story isn't easy to follow but it certainly doesn't reflect well on Nevada.

So it could always be worse Tech fans.

Rupp, meanwhile, is expected to be in Bossier City on Wednesday to meet with the local media along with Techsters coach Chris Long.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Life is just a fantasy

Well, we're getting dangerously close to degenerate level down here at 222 Lake Street.

That's right, we're going to have a fantasy basketball league.

Already a bunch of guys and gals are in fantasy football leagues. We had a fantasy baseball league to keep us interested in baseball and lo and behold all of our teams made playoff pushes.

But this will be a first for The Times folks with an NBA league.

Heck, I had to ask what the categories are for basketball.

I'm going in with low expectations. (Ask somebody who won the baseball league, if you know what I mean).

It should be fun. And should keep us looking at the box scores through the winter.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Georgia turns a game into a party

Speaking of great college football moments from Saturday, what about this one from the game formerly known as the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party?

It's great to see coaches, in this case Georgia top dog Mark Richt, that think outside the box. These are the sorts of things that separate good college coaches from the Bill Callahans. Why do you think someone like Dennis Erickson has had so much success, no matter where he winds up?

Well, other than lowering the academic bar as low as it can go.

I only wish the Bulldogs had organized something a little more dramatic before the game. Their touchdown celebration skills apparently need a lot of work.

Guess they were too busy working on offense and stuff.

This play had everything but the band...

Here's the scene...

Division III game between Millsaps and Trinity on Saturday. Millsaps stopped Trinity on a two-point try with 2:11 remaining to keep a 24-22 lead. Millsaps recovered the onside kick by Trinity and milked the clock to 0:02 before turning the ball over.

That set up Trinity at its own 39 with 2 seconds....let the chaos begin.

For post-game comments, check out the Clarion-Ledger's story. Anybody else notice who the Millsaps coach is? Former Bama man Mike DuBose.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Can we stop the Tim Tebow talk now please?

I'm not sure how he was considered a front-runner, but maybe Florida's THIRD loss of the season will finally silence those who thought Tim Tebow was the Heisman winner-to-be.
He's a sophomore folks. Let him get into bars legally -- or perhaps will a lot of games -- before we hand him the trophy.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Some Red Sox fans continue to suffer

Jim Caple is a great writer for ESPN.com, but I was laughing over this clip by him posted on the Web site.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

NBA on radio?

After looking at the New Orleans Hornets' web site, it appears the team is returning to New Orleans but the Hornets won't be returning to the air in Shreveport.

No local radio affiliates are mentioned among the Hornets radio network.

Granted, Shreveport-Bossier City isn't the largest Hornets fan base in the state outside of New Orleans.

But if the Hornets are indeed not on the radio locally this year, that means NO NBA games will be aired here over the radio.

The Dallas Mavericks, for whatever reason, have never been on radio here.

So if you want to listen to the NBA you better get satellite radio.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Heisman who?

It's almost November and I have no idea who I'm going to vote for in the Heisman Trophy race.

I want to see Oregon's Dennis Dixon before making up my mind. I think he's probably the guy to beat from the Pac-10.

From the Big Ten, Michigan's Mike Hart has been steady.

From the SEC, Florida's Tim Tebow has passed Arkansas' Darren McFadden in my mind.

From the ACC, Boston College's Matt Ryan is certainly in the hunt.

Those are the leaders in my mind.

Hey, but if you're reading this and you have some strong feelings of how one should vote, leave a comment and make your case.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

So much for fan loyalty

The Cleveland Indians arrived back home early Monday morning after blowing the ALCS to a raucous crowd of ... one fan.

That's right. One person greeted the Indians' team flight when it landed at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. Ugh.

Don't believe me? Read it for yourself.

OK, the flight didn't get back to Cleveland until 4 a.m. Monday, but come on? One fan?! They were one win from heading back to the World Series for the first time since 1997.

All right, it was a meltdown of nearly Yankee proportions, but did Robert Irsay pack up the non-supportive fans of Atlanta and move them north in the middle of the night like he did the Colts?

Monday, October 22, 2007

You know it's football season when ...

You start getting e-mails from Saints and Cowboys fans complaining about each other.

The Saints fans are complaining about the play of the Cowboys' games in relation to the Saints' game. And of course, they bring out the tired old argument of, "We're in Louisiana, man.''

My response: The Saints and Falcons met with a combined two wins between the two teams. The Cowboys and Vikings had a combined seven. The week before the Cowboys and Patriots were two of the three unbeaten teams in the NFL.

A year ago, as the Saints stormed through the NFL it was the Saints getting the bulk of the coverage and bigger play. That, of course, ticked off the Cowboys' fans who use the tired argument that they'll keep waiting for the Saints to reach the Super Bowl.

Passion for football is great. It's what makes people want to read every word about their team.

Just realize the decisions that are made here are not made by fans of either teams. The decisions about coverage are dictated by interest and success and those two go hand-in-hand.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

NFL thoughts

Just some passing NFL thoughts:

The New Orleans Saints have a two-game win streak, which probably speaks to parity in the NFL. The Saints didn't play particularly well today but managed a win against Atlanta.

The Cowboys won comfortably today, but that wasn't a real big surprise.

Clearly, the New England Patriots look like the class of the NFL. If not the Patriots, then maybe the Colts.

But you can make a case that the Cowboys are in the top five of the NFL.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

College football musings

Two SEC coaches who can't be feeling too comfortable in their job security -- Ole Miss' Ed Orgeron and Tennessee's Phil Fulmer.

Orgeron's team getting drove by Arkansas just enflames fan discontent with the Coach O-for the SEC.

Fulmer's team losing at Alabama isn't quite the shame the way the Vols lost is. There are grumblings in Knoxville.

After Mark Sanchez carved up Notre Dame's (lack of) defense for four touchdown passes one has to wonder if John David Booty will be Wally Pipped?

A lot of Louisiana Tech fans have called and e-mailed here about the Bulldogs' big game with Boise State today. Let the record show that the Hawaii game, not the Boise State game, was the one involving a nationally ranked team. And Boise State star Ian Johnson didn't make the trip to Ruston because of an injury.

Friday, October 19, 2007

And some I-Bowl talk

The Sporting News has bowl projections in this week's issue.

Here's what the magazine's Tom Dienhart and Matt Hayes predict for the Dec. 30 PetroSun Independence Bowl at Shreveport's Independence Stadium.

Dienhart has Miami playing Kansas State. Miami (the Hurricanes not the Redhawks)would fill the SEC slot because Dienhart doesn't have the SEC qualifying enough teams.

COMMENT: If Miami indeed comes to Shreveport, it would be something of a surprise. The ACC and I-Bowl have worked closely in the past, but you've got to figure that Miami isn't going to end up here. These aren't the 'Canes of old and a matchup with K-State could be a killer at the gate for the I-Bowl since Miami brings no fans and K-State fans are legendary at some locales but an unknown here.

Hayes has Arkansas playing Colorado in the I-Bowl.

COMMENT: Regardless of the soap opera in Fayetteville, the I-Bowl would do flips to have the Hogs back for the first time since 2003.

Sure, they may be a coachless team by that point, but Arkansas has enough fans in northwest Louisiana and southern Arkansas to make I-Bowl officials take note. Colorado wouldn't bring many fans but with Arkansas on the other side it might not be that big of a deal. Colorado, after its win over Oklahoma, would certainly be a deserving team.

Here's one matchup not mentioned -- Arkansas vs. Texas A&M.

That would be box office gold for the I-Bowl. Both could be going through coaching changes but you wouldn't hear much complaining in downtown Shreveport.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Grisham's 'Pizza' worth a taste

John Grisham is known mainly for his best-selling legal thrillers. But a few years ago, he wrote a short novel called 'Bleachers' about a high school football coach in a small town.

Now he has returned to sports with another slim volume called 'Playing For Pizza' that's definitely worth reading. I enjoyed it more than some of his legal novels.

It's basically about a journeyman third-string NFL quarterback for the Cleveland Browns who, because of injuries, gets into an AFC Championship Game between Cleveland and Denver played in Cleveland. I won't go into it here, but he manages to single-handedly blow a 17-point lead in the final eight minutes. And he gets knocked out on the final play.

When he wakes up in a hospital he doesn't remember what happens. Then he sees it on TV and in the newspaper. There are people outside the hospital wanting to drag him out.

Needless to say, Cleveland doesn't want him back and his agent can't get any team to answer his calls. The only team that wants him is the Parma Panthers of Italy's NFL. The Italian pro teams can only have three Americans and Dockery's pay amounts to about 20 grand. The Italians don't get paid -- except with pizza and beer.

How the quarterback, Rick Dockery, blends in with his new team and adjusts to Italy is the gist of the story. A lot of the book is kind of an Italian travelogue and some it is a description of football game action. There's a bit of a love story thrown in. Grisham does a good job with it all.

Grisham's descriptions of Italy and the lavish dinners that Dockery attends is enough to make you want to hop on a plane and go there.

Down on Cinderella

I realize I am supposed to like the South Florida football team. I mean what a Cinderella story. No football team just a dozen years ago. Today, they're No. 2 in the country.

But I'm not down with Cinderella if you know what I mean.

In fact, I'm ready for the clock to strike midnight.

And this isn't just the BCS snob in me coming out.

I listened to the Big East teleconference this week. And let me say this, Jim Leavitt may be a great coach - he'll certainly get his share of Coach of the Year mention - but he's lousy with the media - or at least he was on this Monday.

Leavitt is out of the Bill Snyder school of media relations and it shows.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What's wrong with this picture?

Couldn't these fans have found a better way to support their team than donning redface?

The Cleveland Indians are on the brink of their first World Series appearance since 1997 and a shot at their first Series title since 1948, and their fans are imagining the possibilities.

But is wearing redface an appropriate action to support your team? They're obviously mimicking the Indians mascot, which needs to go as well.

Imagine the uproar if these fans put on blackface. But yet, it seems acceptable to paint their faces red. One of the biggest opponents to the Indians and Native American mascots died this week.
While I disagree with him about abolishing Native American names entirely, you have to admit the Indians caricature is insensitive.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Saints marching again?

The New Orleans Saints’ surprising 28-17 thrashing of the Seattle Seahawks last night couldn’t have come at a better time. Three of the Saints’ next four games will be played in the Superdome. They’ll play Atlanta (1-4), San Francisco (2-3), Jacksonville (4-1) and St. Louis (0-6) over the next four weeks. Only the San Francisco game will be played on the road.

On paper, Jacksonville would appear to pose the most serious threat to the Saints over the next few weeks. But that game will be played in New Orleans, and a packed Superdome won’t exactly be the most hospitable place in the world for the visiting Jaguars.

Last night’s victory could mark the beginning of the Saints’ turnaround.

“It’s just the first of many wins,” said Saints running back Reggie Bush. “We have to focus on just one game, one win. That’s all we wanted to do, was just win this game and that’s all we can worry about. Now we have to focus on Atlanta.”

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Enough already

I'm sick of the self-promoting professional athlete -- you know, the one who dances around like an idiot after doing something routine.

In other words, guys like Lance Moore of the New Orleans Saints.

Sunday night, Moore recovered an onside kick with 6:39 to play. Instead of handing the ball to the referee, running off the field and high-fiving a teammate, Moore got up and did a little shimmy. Ridiculous.

And another trend we can thank ESPN for. Look, heat of the moment reactions (see Ramirez, Manny ALDS Game 2) are one thing and I love Chad Johnson's post-touchdown celebrations, but dancing after recovering an onside kick?

In the words of our own Roy Lang III, come on.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Should he stay, or should he go?

As if the speculation floating through Louisiana and Michigan about Les Miles' future weren't enough, the New York Times chimes in with a story from last week.

There's some interesting anecdotes about Miles' father and his early days as an assistant at Michigan.

For as much as Miles has done for LSU, there are some fans out there that would be ready to front the cash for his bus ticket to Ann Arbor. And I thought Michigan fans were hard on Lloyd Carr.

A few fans expressed their indifference over Miles to me before the South Carolina. You'd like to think that the Florida win has settled some of them.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Shreve snaps slump

Finally, Captain Shreve students can hold their heads up when facing their Byrd rivals. Shreve's 12-game slump to the Yellow Jackets came to an end Thursday.

The atmosphere for the game was amazing. Few high school games could match that level of excitement and raw emotion generated by both sides.

The Byrd side of Lee Hedges Stadium was filled while Shreve's side was about 75 percent of capacity. The stadium seats about 12,000 fans so that puts Thursday's crowd around 9,000.

The game had an SEC-feel to it too. Students were out tailgating in the parking lot. Byrd's alumni association was across the street with a fantastic spread.

Only the Evangel-West Monroe clashes come to mind when trying to compare.

Shreve kids reveled in the win. Late in the game and victory with grasp, the Shreve kids started chanting, "Happy Homecoming," to their beleaguered Byrd opponents.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Early I-Bowl look

I-Bowl representatives will begin going out this month to look at possible teams from the Big 12 and the SEC.

The good news is it appears both leagues will have enough qualifiers.

If that is indeed the case, then how about this for a potential I-Bowl matchup: Texas A&M vs. Arkansas.

Granted, both teams could be without their head coaches at that point. But from a regional draw standpoint, that would be a winner.

Still, there is plenty of football to be played. The possible matchups will change a dozen times between now and early December when the teams are named.

But it never hurts to dream.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Let the hype begin

Since there will be no baseball playoffs on Wednesday and NFL locker rooms will be open on the same day, prepare yourself for an onslaught of Patriots-Cowboys hype.

And really, can you blame anyone? Two 5-0 teams meeting in mid-October just doesn't happen every day. That's two of the three unbeaten teams in the NFL. One will be 6-0.

It's a huge game.

So Saints fans, brace yourself. If I was a betting man, I'd be betting ESPN has, oh, just a little bit of pregame buildup to this one.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Say what you want about 5 INTs, but ...

Monday's comeback by the Dallas Cowboys was the craziest thing I've seen in a long, long time. Tony Romo's 5-INT performance means nothing as the Cowboys were able to pull out the win ... behind Romo.
I was a little more perturbed about T.O.'s showing down the stretch as he dropped a couple of CRUCIAL passes.
This Cowboys team is something special. Sure the win was against the Bills, but not every team in the NFL would have rallied to beat them after such a disastrous beginning. And not every team is 5-0.
The big test, of course, is Sunday when the Patriots come to town.
It will mark the first team with a winning record Dallas has played. It will certainly be a good game by which to measure the squads, but win or lose, it's just one game. But it sure is a lot better when the teams are 10-0.
Kudos to Romo and the Cowboys, for such a bad night statistically, the kid added another chapter to his diabolical image in Dallas.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

More Miles to Michigan talk

Our Gannett brethren, the Detroit Free Press, offered readers a live chat with columnist Drew Sharp on Saturday and, inevitably, one of the questions on LSU fans' minds came forth.

Here's the transcript from the Free Press Web site:

Ray, Toledo: Honestly, what do you think the chances are of Michigan getting Les Miles AND if they do are they just getting another Bo prodigy similar to what we already have?

Drew Sharp (3:15 p.m.): Ray -- It would be a step down for Miles to leave LSU for Michigan. Quite honestly, the only reason why I think he might consider it would be to stick it to Lloyd because there are apparently some issues between the two. I don't see him being the heir apparent.
Sharp gets a lot of heat from readers for being "negative," but it's because he's doing his job and being honest and fair. He may draw some ire on this one, but he's right. Michigan may be Miles' alma mater, but his situation at LSU is fantastic. Why leave?

Let's face it. If he goes to Michigan, he's got to update the team into one more conducive for modern college football (i.e. recruiting speedy, athletic players), and that will be a stiff challenge, even at Michigan.

He's got everything he could possibly want in Baton Rouge. Michigan is notorious for its tight purse strings and probably wouldn't shell out the money to draw Miles north.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

College football thoughts

Some thoughts on a college football Saturday.

-- With No. 1 LSU slopping around in the first half and No. 2USC slopping around with Stanford in the FOURTH QUARTER, can we admit that there are no great teams in college football this year. Parity may have finally watered down the college game.

-- So Louisiana Tech has its defense finally playing representative football and now the offense can't score.

-- Nice effort from Northwestern State. The coach says it's a big game and the team lays an egg. Look, losing to No. 17 Nicholls is no crime, losing 58-0 is.

-- Anybody question whether Grambling made the right hire with Rod Broadway.

-- How is Texas a two-loss team before the temperature gets under 90?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Heisman hype

Kentucky's Andre Woodson can wave the Heisman Trophy goodbye after last night's performance against South Carolina. Woodson made too many bad choices throughout the game, forcing passes into double coverage situations or pitching out that lateral that the Gamecocks returned for a touchdown.

The thing about the Heisman is that it's open to interpretation on many levels. It's supposed to be awarded to the best player in college football, but some may view that as the most dynamic, the best all-around or the most valuable.

From a pure talent perspective, Arkansas' Darren McFadden tops the list. Though Cal's DeSean Jackson may be gaining ground. Jackson is the biggest playmaker in the game. As for the most valuable, Michigan's Mike Hart means more to his team than any other player.

Here's my ballot:
1) Darren McFadden
2) DeSean Jackson
3) Mike Hart

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Talkin' football

I took part in a teleconference with Barry Switzer who is now working for XM radio.

I'll have a column later in the week.

But for a sneak peek to the weekend, he likes OU over Texas. I know, you're shocked. But he has concerns that Texas hasn't found its identity yet.

He likes LSU's defense, but he's not real sold on the offense. Although he spoke highly of Ryan Perrilloux, which may tell you a lot about LSU's offense.

He was candid and forthcoming. Hopefully you'll find the column enlightening.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

A vote for instant replay

Major League Baseball needs instant replay.


The dramatic conclusion to last night’s game between the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres is only the latest example of why instant replay is needed.

Imagine the fallout from a World Series determined by a blown call at home plate.

The technology exists to correct human error. Why not take advantage of it?

The NFL and NBA use instant replay in certain situations. It’s time MLB also moved into the 21st century.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Evolution of NHL jerseys

No sport has better uniforms than hockey. Check out the jerseys of the Original Six teams (Detroit, New York, Chicago, Boston, Toronto, Montreal) and you will find no other jersey more iconic than those six (OK, the Yankees can be thrown in there).

Sports Illustrated has a cool photo gallery of the evolution of hockey jerseys that's worth a look.