As you have probably heard by now, Tony Dungy and Lovie Smith are the first two black head coaches to reach the Super Bowl.
It begs the question: Is the media really this far in the closet that they need to promote the color of a coach's skin to show our progressive good nature? As with most football fans, I care far more about a player's production than I do about genetic pigments. Why would I feel any different about coaches?
Let me flip the sentiment for a second: Would we have the same story if it was a white running back leading his team to a championship? In modern day football, that too would be an abnormality. But, I wager that the press room wouldn’t touch the subject with a ten foot pole. That wouldn't be politically correct since white people obviously already thrive in the NFL. (sic)
As the Cowboys wind down a search for the next big hire, we've been exposed to the Rooney Rule which requires franchises to interview at least one minority candidate for a coaching position. Please...spare me. It would be a crime if Tony Dungy did what he did in Tampa Bay and was demoted to the quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis. But, that didn't happen. Ray Rhodes, Herm Edwards...Ty Willingham? The truth of the matter is that NFL coaches are merely recycled products that are stripped away of all usable parts before they are tossed in the dumpster. Did Dennis Green ever have trouble finding work after his three year stints across the country with limited success? It happens to all races in the spectrum. Why go through the pomp and circumstance of meeting with a person of color if you already have your candidate in place? If the meeting is worthless, are the minority candidates supposed to feel better about themselves for getting the opportunity?
I long for the days where we can all just shut up and enjoy the game instead of bickering about the politics of what happens behind the scenes. So, congrats to Dungy and Smith for acheiving a milestone.
I'll admit it: I'm sad that the football season will be over in less than a week. Enthusiasts get national signing day in a week, the draft in April and training camp in the summer to tide them over for the first kickoff. It's not enough.
I'll also admit that it is hard to write about sports this time of year. I'm into the Mavs but I do not make it a point to watch all of their games. (Same with the Stars) Baseball only gives you so much to write about. Yes folks, these are the dog days of sports blogging.
But, whatever will I do with all these free Sundays?
Sleep in for late service I say. Apparently, a lot has changed since I last attended regularily...
That's right - make sure YOUR kid grows up the right way. With the soothing caress of Matthew McConaughey's voiceover and indoctrination clips of uber-longhorn Vince Young, my son will have all the weapons needed to resist the siren song of Aggydom.
Let's face it. When talking assistant coaches, only other coaches know who the real propsects are. These guys aren't on the field on game day. Many of them are in a booth hidden from plain view. And while we may blame them for game plans or play calls, you always have to ask if the head coach stepped in and made the decision.
So what do we know about Jason Garrett? He's liked, make that loved, as a coach by his peers. Something Powerhouse writer Jared already demonstrated. Beyond that, we know he gave us one of the greatest non-Super Bowl games in Dallas Cowboy history. Remember that Thanksgiving he stepped in against the Packers and did his best Clint Longley impression to give our 'Boys a key win in what I will call the good ol' days in another decade.
But what are his coaching qualifications:
1) Experience- What you say he's only held one coaching job as Miami's quarterback coach? You say Dante Culpepper and Joey Harrington weren't great quarterbacks this year? Never fear. He has 13 years of clipboard carrying experience as a backup QB in the NFL, a job which includes signaling plays, which will be his main role if Mr. Jones decides to wait on making him the head coach. Hey he was holding a clipboard long before Sean Payton gave up his attempt at ruling the Arena League. The only question is can he work a clipboard and a headset at the same time.
2) Loved by his peers- I know I already mentioned this. But if you consider two front runners, it makes some sense. Wade Phillips knows Garrett and says he would love to work with him. Norv Turner is great friends with Garrett and tried to hire him while in Oakland. And in case you didn't notice, it doesn't make a lot of sense to hire your offensive coordinator before your head coach. But it can work if you hire a head coach who already likes your offensive coordinator.
3) Gun Slinger mentality- If you watched the 1994 Thanksgiving Day game against the Packers, you saw this. He only led the offense to a franchise record 36 points in the second half. This by going downfield with abandon. The guy played with no fear and with great smarts. He just didn't have the physical tools to be an NFL regular. He now comes to a team boasting a quarterback with a similar mentality and needing a mentor now that assistant coach David Lee is gone. He'll, also, likely use that mindset in his play calling as well, something the Tuna knew little of.
4) Ivy League pedigree- I know he's not a politician. But what's T.O. going to do when he rants about not getting the ball and Garrett responds with something like this: "You see Terrell, while you appeared open, Tony realized the velocity of his average projectile relative to the velocity and 38.5 degree angle to the location of the throw would have resulted in an interception. Had you run your route with the proper parabolic curve the equation would have been much different resulting in a touchdown, assuming you send the proper sensory signal from your brain to your ulnar, median, and radial nerves causing your phalanx bones in your manus to grip at the precise time the ball arrives on your hands."
So there you have the Red Bomber's resume. I like the hire for nostalgia. I guess we'll find out if its a good football move in a few months.
Would Jerry Jones really hire former Cowboys quarterback Jason Garrett to be the seventh coach of America's team? (Or, as fellow Powerhouser Scott would say, "Non-disaster afflicted" team?)
Garrett is in demand. Nick Saban believed in him enough during his tumultuous tenure in Miami to offer him the offensive coordinator job at Alabama, and his name has floated enticingly around other coaching positions as well, both in the college and pro ranks.
Obviously, the development of King Romo the First into a top-tier quarterback is foremost on the minds of Jerry and his son/stooge Stephen. Garrett, the coach of Miami's less than stellar quarterback Joey Harrington, is known in media reports as a masterful communicator with his pupils on the on the Dolphins roster. (And with punk kids asking for his autograph - as I can attest.)
With the Dolphins outside of my NFL radar, it is difficult for me to ponder the qualifications Garrett would bring to the job. How is his play-calling? What do Saban and the Jones duo see? Laboring under Troy Aikman with clipboard duty during the Cowboys' glory years can only be a plus. But could he really impart any guidance to Romo in tempering the young quarterback's overconfidence and decisions in the pocket? What could he say that would sink in that Parcells did not? (At least we now know the REAL reason the Tuna retired.)
With Bill's legendary reluctance to break in a young quarterback, maybe Tony would respond to a coach that is committed to his improvement. But head coach of the Cowboys with only two years' coaching experience?
The rumor mill has San Diego defensive coordinator Wade Phillips (whom the Cowboys have yet to even contact) as the temporary head coach, with Garrett waiting in the wings as the offensive coordinator. Jerry has never rolled the dice on an unproven commodity, so this scenario makes the most sense. Jones, though, has never let good sense get in the way of imposing his will on the new hires.
So Mr. Garrett, if you're the guy, welcome back to Big D. Things are much different since you last roamed the sidelines at Texas Stadium. I'm sure you'll be checking back in on the Powerhouse before the season starts, as we are the one-stop shop for all of your snarky blogging needs. We'll have plenty of advice for you - we are expert armchair play-callers.
You've heard by now that Bill Parcells has walked. Actually he drove, and out a side gate to avoid comments nonetheless. Yep, the tough guy that always thinks he is so clever and has to have the last word at news conferences snuck out a side gate. Sounds like Chicken of the Sea to me.
And what did he really acheive? He posted a record four games over .500 with two playoff appearances. But in this conference, that is not impressive. This was a mediocre team in the mediocre NFC, the conference where the lower playoff seeds always back their way in to the bracket. If this team played in the AFC during Bill's tenure, they are least four games under .500 with no playoff berths.
I will give him this: other than the offensive line, the Tuna has left behind some talent on this roster for the Cowboys seventh coach to tap into next season. Seems he should have been buying the ingredients and letting someone else cook the soup.
Anyway, let's consider what Bill did in waiting sixteen days to step down. Three assistant coaches are gone, and they are good ones. Mike Zimmer is one of the top d-coordinators in the game. Bruce DeHaven is the top special teams guy. And David Lee was Tony Romo's mentor making him a bigger loss than the head coach.
In addition, a number of candidates are off the board having taking jobs while Billy Boy wondered if he had the energy to coach. Now, we're left to speculate about a bunch of guys whose names weren't mentioned for anyone else's job. And how does the scouting department prepare at the Senior Bowl not knowing who the new coach is and what his philosophy is going to be?
And this is a pivotal hire for Jerry Jones, who was great with his first hire even if we hated him for giving Tom Landry the boot. Since, the hires have been poor. Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, and the Tuna have left much to be desired.
And for Jerry, the decision won't be easy. Just consider some of the names. Ron Rivera? He coaches a great defense in Chicago, but can he be the coach? Mike Martz? Again, a great coordinator, but the Rams weren't near as good or as disciplined after Dick Vermeil left. Norv Turner? A great offensive mind with Dallas ties. He's struggled in two head coaching jobs but worked for two of the NFL's worst owners. Bob Stoops? He coaches the enemy right now and there's always questions about making the transition to the pros.
So let's face it. There is no surefire candidate, but Jerry has no excuse with the talent he has. He just needs someone to truly inspire and discipline this team.
And, in some ways this decision was made both a year too late and a year too soon. On one hand, Sean Payton has a job so you can't promote him. And trust me when I tell you I hoped Bill would have quit last offseason opening the door for Payton. Then, you can pretty much count Bill Cowher off the market having just step away from the Steelers to get away from the game for a time.
But who else might you look at?
I was excited to see Tony Dungy get to the Super Bowl, but I thought losing last weekend may have made him want to seek something new, especially with the talent on defense Dallas has. So he's not available.
Pete Carroll gets all the press with his NFL experience and success at USC, but his NFL time and success have never intersected.
I would make a run at Jon Gruden. Chucky is marketable, full of fire, and creative. I'm typically not a fan of coaches running the West Coast offense but his is modified with more downfield routes. And with Tampa aging quicky on defense, he may be looking for the grass on the other side.
Wade Phillips might be worth a look. His run in Buffalo would have been much better if not for Drew Bledsoe and he is known for great defenses.
Besides them, I might try to lure Marvin Lewis or Jack Del Rio out of their current posts to lead the charges of America's team.
I know, that's a lot of head coaches under contract, but these are guys who are known quantities. Combine that with a young, developing team and the sky's the limit.
But my choice would really be simple. You trade all of this year's draft picks to Tennessee for Vince Young, hire Mack Brown, tell him he can no longer answer his players questions for them, and see if the duo can relive the magic of 2005. Of course, then, we're screwed if DeLoss Dodds promotes Greg Davis to head coach.
Since when did the New Orleans Saints become "America’s Team"?
This is a question that Dallasites have not been provided a satisfactory answer for. Not surprisingly, the campaign has been heralded by the worldwide leader in sports. (Sorry ESPN, who is the greatest team of all-time again? 0 for 2 in our predictions of this are we?) Yet, there are some that have asked the Cowboys fans to gracefully turn in their crown and smile about it.
Should we really be all that upset?
After all, I had no problem with the Seattle Seahawks allegedly infringing on Texas a&m's cherished "12th Man" phrase. I simply found it humorous that the Seahawks had been using it, and retired the number 12 jersey, almost 20 years before a&m started to cry foul. It was only when the Seahawks garnered the Super Bowl limelight that the aggies decided to take their whining publicly. But, this feels different. Perhaps it's because I have stronger ties to the Cowboys than I do to the aggies. But, then again, maybe it’s because this is more of a perception driven by the media instead of a marketing ploy by the city of New Orleans.
I cannot imagine the emotional aftermath of a hurricane devastation. When I visited New Orleans last April on business, I saw areas that were completely reduced to piles of wood and concrete. Lives were completely destroyed and no amount of money can replace the memories and heirlooms that were lost. My heart goes out to the victims and families who cannot return to life as they knew it.
But, the New Orleans Saints making a strong playoff case does not cure all ails like the media would have you believe.
Instead of attending to people living in sub-standard living conditions, the city of New Orleans shelled more than 100 million dollars into refurbishing a football stadium so that millionaire athletes would have a place to call home. If the Saints would have gone on to win the Super Bowl, their fans would not be any richer nor would their quality of life improve. Instead of a victory parade, give your residents the victory of sleeping in a place with central heating. In the end, that would be much more gratifying.
Have our priorities really become this deluded?
After the 9/11 attacks, the eyes of the nation were fixated on the city of New York. Coincidently, the New York Yankees were in midst of making a strong playoff run. Much like this NFL season, the media tried to instill a "if your team can’t make it become a Yankee fan if you are patriotic" sense of self-entitlement. I'm sorry but rooting for a disaster stricken area’s sports teams does nothing to ease the pain of the situation. It may boost the spirits of their fans, but it does not transcend into the realm of human sympathy. As a Cowboys fan (mainly), my heart would go out to the residents of Philadelphia if they were the target of a hostile terrorist attack. But, I certainly would not root for the Eagles to exude the image of being an American.
With the Saints' loss yesterday, the America’s Team label can finally be brought back to its proper home…at least until the next national disaster.
Never fear, Powerhousers, I'm back. And forget those rumors you heard. Rehab? Not a chance! Sent to my grandmothers in El Paso for nine months because I got pregnant! Not with my package in the way!
I've been gone a while I know. Life's just kept me busy. But I'm back to bring objectivity and integrity back to the Powerhouse and wanted to chime in with a handful of thoughts I've accumulated in my absence.
First, the big news of the day even if it's not Dallas news. Peyton Manning and the Colts beat their archnemesis, the New England Patriots, to advance to the Super Bowl. This is huge because it provides a certain vindication for coach Tony Dungy and QB Peyton Manning. Some say its total vindication, but they have one more game to win.
Why do I care? When I was about five years old, I became a Tennessee fan. I saw a team dressed in orange with a big "T" on their helmuts and thought they were Texas. Hey, I was five, alright? Anyway, I cheered them on. They won. And then I found out it was Tennessee. They've been my second favorite NCAA team ever since. And Manning's been my favorite underdog.
But this also huge because I've always liked Tony Dungy's style. And, not only did he finally clear a big obstacle as a coach, he joins Lovie Smith as the first two African-American head coaches to lead teams in the Super Bowl. It's somewhat tragic it took this long, but it's good to see this day on the horizon.
Now, for Bill Parcells. Do we want this drama queen? You either want to coach or you don't. If you have to think about it this long, then you don't have the necessary passion to coach, something I think rubbed off on the Cowboys this year. He's had a great career. Hasn't been the worst coach in Dallas. But it's time to hang up the whistle and go back to Jersey. Or Bristol.
Well, the Rangers missed out on Mark Mulder and Barry Zito. It's hard to see this team as better than last year's. Yet, it may be enough this year to make a run at the AL West. This is because their division rivals continue to lose key pieces without adding equal talent to replace it. And if not 2007, 2008 might be the year to watch this team. Their biggest trouble spot is outfield, but they have a number of up-and-comers just a year or so away.
You have to like what the Stars are doing. Seems like half their team has the ice on them rather than vice versa. Yet, they hang in there in the Western Conference and as we all know, seeding means jack in the NHL playoffs.
A little note: Versus now has National Lacrosse League games Saturday nights. I'm going on record to say this is a highly underappreciated sport. I've watched lacrosse all my life when I could find it on television and I think Jerry Jones or Mark Cuban need to get a team in Dallas.
The Mavs took a step in exorcising their NBA Finals demons this afternoon in beating the Heat in Miami. However, with Shaq and Pat Riley both out, it was hardly a huge win. But do look for Josh Howard in the All Star game.
And I've saved this one in the secret compartment of my water bottle for last. Seems the substance in Michael Vick's water bottle at the airport wasn't Mary Jane after all. Is this a case of a black athlete having a substance in a water bottle so we assume it's the wacky tobacky? Shame if it is. Now, having said that, I sure hope it doesn't turn out to be Whizzinator powder. That one's for Onterrio!
Here is an undoctored picture of a man in an airport duty free shop. See if you can spot why this would be of any relevance here:
Check your answers.
1. The man is light skinned and has elected to dress tight business casual.
2. The man is in a Texas airport that appears to be Houston Hobby. (As evidenced by the Texas-themed items and Houston maps)
3. The man is sporting a black handbag. 2 decals adorn said bag: "Oklahoma Football" and an apparent "Tostitos Fiesta Bowl" logo. This handbag was given to the Oklahoma coaching staff by the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl as an official souvenier courtesy of Nike. This proves that the photo was taken in the last 17 days.
4. The man is apparently thumbing through magazines. Said magazines appear to be of an adult nature. (I.E. Smooth)
5. A certain ou coach visited New Orleans, LA to meet up with soft verbal recruit Tyler Stradford earlier this week. All SWA, AA and Continental flights to New Orleans out of Oklahoma City change planes in either Dallas or Houston.
Has someone gone to the Gary Barnett school of recruiting? Or, perhaps he was just searching for a "tight end". (Although it doesn't shock me that he he to travel to TEXAS to find one)
The Texas Longhorns lost their first conference game of the season to the Oklahoma St. Cowboys 103-105 on a last second shot from Mario Boggan Tuesday night. The Horns battled back from a two point deficit three times in the waning moments to force a third overtime period but came up short in the end.
Despite the lack of consistent defense, the Horns moved the ball like clockwork up and down the court. Kevin Durant provided a monster showing with 37 points and 12 rebounds. D.J. Augustin pitched in 19 points and 9 assists to cap off a 55 minute epic battle between the Big 12 elite.
Watching this team has been nothing short of spectacular. Like their football counterparts, a lot of questions needed to be answered after the seemingly invaluable cogs took the next step in their careers. Through 17 games, the Horns have the arguably the best freshman class in the nation. They also have at least two first round picks suiting up unless coach Rick Barnes can steal some of Mack Brown's staying power magic.
I don't usually take pride in losses, but it is exciting to see the capabilities of this team and the prospect of where they could go in the tournament.
The Rangers have decided to take a look at Sammy Sosa for their right-handed power batting needs.
If this isn't a John Hart move, I don't know what is.
Although, I admit that the former Rangers general manager would not have brought in Sammy Sosa on a quiet minor league deal, like Jon Daniels will probably do. Instead, he would have signed Sosa to a multi-year deal worth millions, and guaranteed him the cleanup spot - 'roids and Congressional committees be damned!
The Rangers have amassed an impressive lineup of unsavory characters throughout their history, including the likes of Jose Canseco, John Rocker, and Royce Clayton (wait, scratch that - Royce wasn't a criminal. He just sucked - another hallmark of the Hart era.)
This gratuitous digression in Hart-bashing aside, bringing in Sammy Sosa on a minor league deal is exactly the kind of no-risk deal for which Jon Daniels has become adept. Sosa has been out of baseball since the end of the 2005 season, where he hit .221 with 14 homers and 45 RBI's in 102 games for the Orioles.
At age 38, his once feared power stroke might be too slow for the dizzying array of strong relievers he will face in the American League. And with the crackdown on steroids (see Rafael Palmeiro) he won't be able to turn to the little green pills to salvage what's left of his sagging career.
But hey - if Rangers fans can survive the likes of Mark Clark and John Rocker, we can survive Sammy Sosa.
Well, it's official. Adrian Peterson will be leaving the sticks of Norman to pursue a career in the NFL. Experts have him slotted as the top running back in this year's class. Looking at Mr. Peterson as objectively as I can through my burnt orange glasses, I'm not sold on his potential.
Peterson grew up idolizing the Horn culture. But, when signing day came, he elected to immigrate north of the border. He even went as far as saying "Oklahoma plays for national championships and Texas doesn't. I’m going to Oklahoma to win a championship." Well, Peterson had his shot as a freshman. But, a 55-19 drubbing by USC prevented him from fulfilling the prophecy. Meanwhile, the school he passed over found a way to beat the Trojans in one of the best college games ever played.
What does Peterson have to show for his decision? An outstanding freshman year where he came in second in the Heisman voting and two Big 12 titles...that's about it. He leaves ou with a 1-2 record in bowl games (0-2 in BCS bowls) and a matching record against the team that allegedly couldn't win championships. Peterson was part of the worst team in the Stoops era and spent 25% of his career riding the bench with injuries. With two potential national championship caliber teams, Peterson came out on the short end.
Texas fans can relate.
We had a quarterback named Chris Simms that was destined to take us to new heights. But, he never lived up to the potential he allegedly had. While he had an impressive record at Texas, he failed to garner a single Big 12 title or even a win over ou. Simms too was bitten by the injury bug and also had the disadvantage of getting the nod over fan favorite Major Applewhite. Simms was highly touted in the TV spots leading up to the draft. When the day ended, he was the last name across the ticker having fallen to the second round. While he has had some decent showings with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he has been nothing short of ordinary.
So I ask this question humbly: What exactly does Peterson do that makes him have such high expectations?
In college, Peterson was a formidable foe. After he ran all over the Texas defense in 2004, I always winced when I saw him carry the ball. But, there are dozens of power backs in the NFL. Peterson isn't a Reggie Bush type of player that can beat you with his speed around the corner. He is a north and south runner that is dependant on a good offensive line to see any mentionable production. If he is taken with a high pick, and was not traded for, this more than likely will not be the case. His durability in a situation where players are bigger and faster than the college game also has to be a cause on concern.
From a business standpoint, Peterson is making the correct decision. But, I fail to see where the claims are backed up. It is simply a case of not living up to the hype.
I know this is dangerous on a football-obsessed blog, but here goes:
Want to catch a glimpse of a Spice Girl and throw some popcorn at world-famous money-machine David Beckham? How about busting out your anti-Real Madrid soccer hooligan chants?
Head out to Frisco, past the miles of upscale shopping strips, and on to Pizza Hut Park this season to watch the former Dallas Burn team, now Futbol Club Dallas (FCDallas - HOOPS!) play the Los Angeles Galaxy next time they swing through Texas. New FC Dallas head coach Steve Morrow vows to improve on their 16-12-4 2006 season.
Good old David "Richer than God" Beckham is bringing his declining soccer skills to the U.S., signing a five year, $250 million deal to play for the Galaxy in the 2007 Major League Soccer season. Now that Victoria "Posh" Beckham is reportedly house hunting in Los Angeles, I can be treated to reading about their every shopping trip in my wife's US Weekly subscription. I need some paparazzi on this, stat! (That's right - I read it!)
Meanwhile, everyone's favorite forgotten Dallas sports team begins their season on April 7 against Real Salt Lake in Salt Lake City, followed shortly with a match against 2006 Cup Champions the Houston Dynamos. There they will continue their struggle for the "El Capitan" trophy, given to the season series winner between Dallas and Houston. (It's no Silver Boot, but still... It's a freakin' cannon. Kinda cool.)
As someone that remembers heading out to Reunion Arena as a young'un to see Tatu and the Sidekicks, here's hoping that U.S. Soccer is poised for a resurgence with the signing of David Beckham.
Otherwise, I'll just have to finally ante up for the Fox Soccer Channel.
I've been thinking about this a lot today. Perhaps it's not as far fetched as I once thought. I'll just come out with it: Is Bill Parcells the professional equivalent of Dennis Franchione?
Follow me here...
Dennis Franchione was brought to a&m based on his track record. He had been successful at New Mexico, TCU and Alabama before landing in College Station. He built up a reputation as a program architect which led to high expectations from the aggy fanbase. During his stint, he has had 2 seasons where he didn't make a bowl and 2 seasons where he was embarrassed in a bowl. (The two worst bowl losses in a&m's history as a matter of fact) He started his coaching with quarterback Dustin Long at the helms and later switched to veteran Reggie McNeil. (Long has since transferred) Despite this, it was the emergence of Stephen McGee that really brought his program to life. But, when it came to big games, he has not been successful. He has mustered a pathetic 2-14 record against the upper echelon of the Big 12: Texas, ou, Texas Tech and Nebraska. He has also led the ultimate humiliation of getting beaten 77-0 at the hands of ou. Had he not beaten rival Texas this year, he would probably not be welcomed back to College Station.
Bill Parcells was hired by the Cowboys to revive a franchise that had been struggling to get back to their glory years. Parcells had found success with the NY Giants, NE Patriots and NY Jets before landing in Dallas. He built up a reputation as a program architect which led to high expectations from the Cowboys' fanbase. During his stint, he has 2 years where the Cowboys did not make the post season and 2 seasons where the Cowboys had a first round exit. (It’s been 11 years since Dallas last won a playoff game) He started his coaching with quarterback Quincy Carter at the helms but later switched to veterans Vinny Testeverde and Drew Bledsoe. ("The Q" has since been cut) Despite this, it was the emergence of Tony Romo that really brought his program to life. But, when it came to big games, he has not been successful. He has mustered a pathetic record against the upper echelon of the NFC East: Philadelphia, NY Giants. He has also led the humiliation of getting beaten by a 3-13 Detroit team at home. Had he not beaten rival the NY Giants this year, he probably would not be welcomed back to Dallas.
Yes folks, football in the state of Texas is over. No more Horn games to bitch about. No more Cowboys games to dissect. Not even a Class 2A High School game to tide you over until the weekend. Dallas is officially football free for 8 more months.
Around these parts, it's a season would much sooner forget.
What do Horn fans have to show for it? Sure, a win over Oklahoma should not be taken lightly given our recent history. But, in the end, Oklahoma is the reigning Big 12 Champ and Texas escaped the clutches of the Alamo Bowl. We have another 10-win year on the books which most schools would kill for. But, a loss to a&m at home makes it feel empty as we ponder the burning question of "what if". (And if you saw the first series of the K-State game, you know exactly what "if" is) Mack Brown has currently gobbled up the #1 recruiting class for next season. But, two of our more heralded recruits have jumped ship and will be suiting up for another state. Not to mention the Texas boy who got away. (Thank you John Brantley for letting us pass on Ryan Mallett because "your word is as solid as oak") We won’t even mention the presence of Greg Davis who must hold some mighty fine blackmail over Brown.
And what about the Cowboys? Romo comes in and is deemed the savior of the franchise. But, too much anointing oil results in a choke job reminiscent of Leon Lett’s highlight film. Instead of gearing up for the playoffs the Cowboys are just off. At least the media has a few weeks of material on "will they or won’t they" for TO and the Tuna. As I pine the days where I could watch the Cowboys without getting cramps, here's hoping that both are on the next train to Clarksville.
On to the other local sports which could not be more contrasted more right now.
First, you have the streaking Mavericks. After a hideous start, and silly talk of a hangover, the Mavericks are leading the NBA with their record. Despite missing Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs have really come together as a well-oiled machine. Josh Howard is making a strong case for MVP of the team right now. Jason Terry is finally awaking from a sluggish start the plagued him early on. Things could not be better.
Then you have the Stars. To the detriment of my wife, I historically got amped for the hockey season. But, since the lockout season of 2 years ago, I have neglected to attend a game much less watch it on TV. I just don’t care anymore because the NHL didn't care about me. That’s not a good appearence to give fans in a sport that is still trying to gain an audience after 80+ years of formation. From the sound of things, the Stars are not having their strongest season this year. While they currently occupy a playoff seed at the halfway point, I can't remember the last time I heard that their winning streak was 2.
It's hard to get excited for the Texas Rangers. This offseason they signed some really intriguing players that have proven to be difference makers. But, they also lost a few that could have been stars here. Ameriquest could have been Gary Matthews Jr. Field if John Daniels would have played his cards right. Instead, he apparently let his brother Jack influence him. I expect nothing less than a strong start from the Rangers. It's the post All-Star game that worries me. Like the Boy Who Cried Wolf, I'm tired of running to see what the Rangers are doing only to mutter and curse under my breath as I hang my head in shame for falling for the old bait and switch. The Rangers are the ultimate Texas Tale.
Chin up football fans. We still have the Desperados to cheer…nevermind. I couldn’t complete that sentence with a straight face. To ESPN classics we go!
Obviously, I picked against the Cowboys in this game so I figured they'd lose. But inside Seattle's five-yard line with just over a minute to play, I thought the Cowboys had suprised us. I thought we might see Gramatica duff the kick the kick but I never expected the catastrophe that developed.
Tony Romo had done many things to do his part to throw away games in recent weeks, including poorly timed interceptions and a near league leading number of fumbles in the last five games. Yet, even he had seemed to overcome the fumble that short circuited the Cowboys possession to start the third quarter. Other than that play and a few passes left short, he had played a smart game to give his team a chance to win.
But then he fumbles the ball on the hold of what may have been the game winning field goal. Despite his best efforts to save the play, he was tackled from behind to clinch the game for the Seahawks.
Sure their were plenty of culprits on this night. Terry Glenn and his fumble on the Cowboys two that resulted in the saftey that gave Seattle a lead. The offensive line for committing a number of penalites as they usually do. Even the defense, who failed to capitalize on Matt Hassellbeck's horrible in which the Cowboys should have had five interceptions and caught only two. On top of that, the defense allowed two drives the length of the field in the fourth quarter after a suprisingly good performance in the first three. They made a stop on the second drive on downs but it set the stage for Glenn's idiocy. The coaches even failed, along with the wide receivers to exploit the decimated Seahawks secondary in scoring only 20 points.
But no mistake was bigger than Romo's. Dallas had not played its best game but because of late poise from Romo and shocking intensity from Julius Jones. the Cowboys had a gimme win at their fingertips. The table was set to surprise and get us excited about the weak NFC playoff field. Instead Romo's fingertips failed leaving us looking to training camp '07 in San Antonio.
Bill Parcells and T.O. will likely be gone. Romo, along with the rest fot he team, will hopefully have more discipline. The Cowboys will likely finally use a first round pick on the offensive side of the ball. Greg Ellis is a longshot to return with the second serious leg injury of his career. But Bobby Carpenter ahowed he may have been worth a first round pick last night. So while hanging my head for this season, here's predicting an NFC title in 2007.
Mr. Allen accuses me of a lot of things. Blantant homerism for Texas, being closed minded in my conservative political views, stealing his marijuana stash, etc. But, it got me thinking to what could be done to make college football more exciting.
Right now, there is a lot of excitement to be had. If the BCS is good for anything, it peaks the interest of scoreboard watching to see what your crappy team needs to do to get to a money bowl. But, the system certainly has its flaws. Almost everyone on the planet is screaming for a playoff to determine a true national champion.
So, can yours truley create another flawed system that works better? We shall see.
With this system I kept several things in mind. First, it is a BCS system. Therefore, BCS schools will have an advantage in it. I maintain my stance that non-BCS schools can look into either joining a BCS conference or forming another if they want to be on par. I also took into consideration the abomination of out of conference games against Texas School for the Blind. Frankly, no one wants to see it. Beating up on a weaker opponent with your third stringers should be a novelty. Perhaps most importantly, it saves everyone from having to cheer on your rivals in hopes that your strength of schedule will not suffer. College football is built on rivalries and it diminishes the experience when I have to waive the ou flag for a game.
I'll say this, sewing up all the loopholes is enough to make your eyes go crossed.
So, here it is. Scott's radical-yet-thought-provoking cure to the college BCS system:
-All BCS conferences must eliminate their conference championship game. All conference rankings will be determined by head-to-head and common conference opponents. Conference divisions will remain intact to allow a round robin style of matchups for the larger conferences. (I.E. Texas plays Kansas for 2 consecutive years and won't meet them again for another 2 years) But, there will no longer be a north/south/east/west champ...only a conference champ.
-The BCS ranking system receives an overhaul. Only the mid-major and independent teams receive an official ranking during the regular season. (The AP can do whatever they want) The rankings will not be released until week 4 and do not take into account any preseason positioning. In order for a BCS conference team to make the playoffs, they must win their conference. After all the bowl games have completed, the BCS will release a final ranking that encompasses all schools. This will be the official record.
-The formula for BCS rankings will take into account strength of schedule, wins versus quality opponents and losses. The only exceptions to this rule are independents, which will be discussed later.
-Out of conference schedules for BCS schools serve as nothing more than a warm up for conference play. So, Texas can schedule TCU, Florida, Michigan and USC, lose all the games, and still get into the playoffs by winning the Big 12. A BCS conference team's win/loss record is for statistical purposes only and has no bearing on a berth in the playoffs or the ability to play for the national championship. (Provided that they win their conference) This encourages better out of conference matchups instead of "cream puffs" to pad your place in the current BCS poll. (And serves as better viewing for the fans) This also eliminates the problem mid-majors/independents may run in to trying to schedule a game with a BCS conference team. (I.E. The game benefiting the non-BCS team much more than the BCS team with regards to risk vs. reward) Since rankings and out of conference wins and loses are now moot, it is foreseeable that teams such as Boise St. could garner two games with BCS conference teams. If Arkansas loses to Boise St., the only thing hurt is their pride...not their hope to play for the national championship.
-Every non-BCS team must schedule a minimum of 2 BCS conference school in their out of conference scheduling to be considered for post season play. What conference(s) or teams scheduled are up to the participating schools by agreement. If this requirement is not met, the non-BCS team will not be eligible to play in the postseason. For example, Notre Dame scheduling Michigan and USC as traditional matchups will satisfy this requirement. If Boise St. schedules Kansas State and Arizona St., they too will satisfy this requirement. However, the BCS rankings will be based on strength of schedule. So simply meeting the requirements, and winning the games, is no guarantee of a playoff spot. Further, a loss to a BCS team(s) may not necessarily eliminate your playoff chances as the rankings are based on the entire season.
-Every BCS school must accommodate 1 non-BCS school for an out of conference game.
-All BCS conference schools will be assigned a number proportionate to their current standings. The rankings will be on a descending scale with "10" being the best and "1" being the worst. To eliminate the advantage of conferences with more than 10 schools, only the top 10 finishers will receive a number. The bottom schools will accumulate a ranking of "0". This is the measuring stick to determine strength of schedule for non-BCS schools.
-There are 6 guaranteed spots for the BCS conference winners and one wild card spot for the highest BCS ranked mid-major/independent. The team in the conference of last year's champion will receive a bye. (Ex: Texas won in 2005 so Oklahoma would have received a bye this year) So the matchups would be:
SEC vs. ACC Big East vs. Pac-10 Big 10 vs. WAC (wild card)
The SEC, Pac-10 and WAC all win their game. The lowest ranked school, in this case the WAC, will be pitted against Oklahoma. The SEC and Pac-10 will also play each other. The winner of these two games goes on to play for the national championship.
-Independent schools, namely Notre Dame, receive a handicap. Since they are not bound to play teams in a conference, and subsequently have no out of conference schedule, it eliminates the advantage of scheduling the top schools in all conferences to build up the strength of schedule without penalty. To compensate, Notre Dame will be judged on their two best wins, not games played, for strength of schedule purposes. For example, Notre Dame lost to both Michigan and USC. But, their best wins were against Penn St. and Georgia Tech. More credence will be put in their wins instead of their losses. However, if another independent or mid-major school has a stronger quality of wins, their strength of schedule will more than likely supersede Notre Dame's. (Ex: Notre Dame ends the season with their two losses and Boise St. ends the year with a loss to Oklahoma. But, Boise St. beat #1 USC in week 3. Their strength of schedule, number of losses and quality of wins would most likely notch them above Notre Dame in the BCS rankings)
The Longhorns baseball team is ranked #4 in the Baseball America preseason poll.
With Rice (not surprisingly) placing at #1, Horns fans should make their way to the charmingly dilapidated (but soon to be renovated) DischFalk Field on March 27 to see what Augie and the pitching staff can do against the Owls.
The entire poll:
Baseball America NCAA Div. I Preseason Top 25 (Jan. 4, 2007) 1. Rice (57-13) 2. Miami, Fla. (42-24) 3. Clemson (53-16) 4. Texas (41-21) 5. North Carolina (54-15) 6. South Carolina (41-25) 7. Arkansas (39-21) 8. Vanderbilt (38-27) 9. Virginia (47-15) 10. Wichita St. (46-22) 11. Tennessee (31-24) 12. Georgia Tech (50-18) 13. UCLA (33-25) 14. Cal. St. Fullerton (50-15) 15. Tulane (43-21) 16. Oregon State (50-16) 17. Nebraska (42-17) 18. Florida State (42-21) 19. Pepperdine (42-21) 20. Arizona State (37-21) 21. Evansville (43-22) 22. Oklahoma State (41-20) 23. Winthrop (46-18) 24. Texas Christian (39-23) 25. Mississippi (44-22)
Last night's loss to the Vancouver Canucks exhibits the need for the Stars' injured players to hit the ice again, fast.
The Stars have owned shootouts since the rule's introduction two years ago after the lockout, going 15-2 in 17 tries. Sergei Zubov's slick move on Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo failed with a shot that glanced off the crossbar. The Stars then had to move six players deep into its roster in the ensuing shootout, and Luongo held off five more shots until Vancouver was able to slip one by Marty Turco for the 2-1 win. Turco, though hit with the loss, continued his spectacular play with 20 stops, very little of them the routine variety.
Brendan Morrow and Mike Modano, both excellent shooters, along with other forwards Eric Lindros and Steve Ott, all remain on the injured list.
The Stars did pick up a point in the standings, but continue to stare across a wide gulf separating them with the Ducks in the Pacific standings. Second place is up for grabs as Dallas gained on the idle Sharks. With mid-season approaching, can Turco and Mike Smith continue their stellar play, and can the newcomers on the bench hold off some tough teams in the current Canadian swing until the captains come back?
While it has been fun watching coach Tippett juggle his line, the Stars are in desperate need of some stability to continue the success they have had in their 9-6 December. A lack of offense will become more glaring as the season progresses and the playoff seeding falls into place.
Otherwise, Modano will have plenty of time to enjoy the charming company of fiancee Willa "I hate the Carters" Ford come April.
The Dallas Cowboys get their second shot in four years to end their playoff victory drought. Last time was 2003, Bill Parcells inaugural season when Quincy "Deadhead" Carter improbably led the team to a 10-6 record a playoff loss.
This year it's 9-7 with Tony Romo at the helm. His rise is improbable but only because he was undrafted. Anyone who has closely followed the Cowboys these last few years knew his stock continued to rise.
And despite the horrible month of December the Cowboys have endured, there may be hope. Did you see Romo's stats Sunday minus the fumbles? Wow! And surely he won't fumble like that two weeks in a row.
Did you see T.O making plays? TD reception. Pulled in a pass behind him with one hand for a first down. Fighting for yardage. Is this the '03-'04 version of Mr. Owens now appearing?
And have you heard how beat up Seattle's secondary is? Lost their top three cornerbacks to injury. Even had to call in former Cowboy cornerback from the loan officer biz to fill in for them this week. This means Seattle will likely keep as many back in coverage. The Cowboys should be able to run or pass at will on this opponent.
Nonetheless, it is not to be. Romo will be good, but will struggle in what has become known as the NFL's loudest stadium. So loud they've been accused of piping in crowd noise over the stadium speakers.
This is also, after all, the '06 version of T.O. so a repeat of Sunday's performance is unlikely. He'll flop and be cut, like he should be.
And while the Cowboys offense should have a field day, don't forget the Cowboys defense has made it look like they've played nothing but the NFL's best offenses for the past month. Shaun Alexander and Matt Hasselback should both shake off the rust this week and toast our 'Boys.
And, most important of all, these are the Bill Parcells Cowboys. This year's December flop is no fluke and can't be attributed to solely the loss of Greg Ellis. After all, the Parcells-coached Cowboys are 7-12 in December and January in the Tuna's four years at the helm, including a 29-10 playoff loss to the Carolina Panthers in 2003. This team just lacks the necessary passion in the biggest games and with an identical record as last season wouldn't be in the playoffs if not for just about every other NFC team collapsing alongside Dallas..
So the score: 45-35 Seattle advances. But bright days ahead for Tony Romo and the Cowboys with a new head coach.
Here I was feeling all depressed that my beloved Horns played...nay...escaped a 6-6 Iowa team and coach Stoops had the perfect start to a new year.
I'm torn on the loss for several reasons. The obvious is that it was ou. Anytime this happens is a good thing. (Unless it affects the Horns) But, on the other hand, we will have to endure a week of ESPN clammering for a playoff. While valid arguements can be made in favor for or against a playoff system, Boise St. upsetting the toothless shouldn't be the breaking point.
Point and case: 8 other Big 12 teams had to "upset" ou during the regular season. This win was the biggest in Boise St. history. It was just another skin on the wall when we did it at Texas. Letting a WAC team get a legit shot at the MNC would create utter chaos. When I think playoff system, I envision the conference champs from the BCS schools duking it out. I have no interest in allowing a conference, who's teams are scheduled as "cream puffs" at the beginning of the season, take the place of an actual contender. We'll leave that to March Madness where it rightfully belongs.
Don't get me wrong, Boise St. did an outstanding job. They literally made plays drawn with a stick in the sand look like clockwork and I found myself cheering them on. But, it's not quite the same as Baylor having to defeat former national title winners Texas, ou, a&m, Nebraska and Colorado just to get to a money bowl.