, Port Arthur, Texas

October 5, 2013

West column: NFL QB position tilting heavily to Texas

Bob West
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — For years and years of wishbones and veers, nothing was more rare than an NFL quarterback who played high school football in Texas. It’s a different story these days, of course, as Sports Illustrated detailed this past week in a terrific piece discussing how Texas-bred QBs are starting to take over in the NFL. Among the eye-opening facts presented were that only three former Texas schoolboys — Andrew Ware, David Klingler and Tommy Maddox — were taken in the first round of the NFL draft between 1978 and 1996. By comparison — three of the top 8 picks in 2011 — Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill — had Texas’ backgrounds. Even more amazing, seven of the 32 starting QBs in the NFL in week 3 hailed from Texas high schools. Twelve more were backups or on practice squads . . .  SI writer Andrew Perloff, by the way, credited former TJ quarterback Todd Dodge as being one of three high school coaches who played a major role in the Lone Star State’s evolution from heavily run-oriented to spread the field and throw the ball all over the place. Also credited were current Baylor coach Art Briles from his days in Stephenville and SMU assistant Hal Mumme during his time at Copperas Cove. The other major factor Perloff cited was the way summer seven-on-seven programs have exploded. He quoted some of the Texas NFL QBs on how much they learned, and how much they improved their skills, through seven-on-seven. My only disappointment with the story was that Perloff didn’t research back far enough to credit Ronnie Thompson’s role in altering offensive thinking, with Dodge as his TJ quarterback in 1979-80. Arguably, that’s where it all began.

    Sad to say Goose Gonsoulin wasn’t physically up to making the trip to Denver last week to be a part of the Broncos unveiling their new Ring of Fame Plaza monuments. Goose, who was part of the original Ring of Fame induction class in 1984, was represented by former Denver head coach Red Miller for the unveiling of his monument. “I hate it that I couldn’t go,” said Gonsoulin. “It’s such an honor. So many people called and talked about how I was the original Bronco and how it wouldn’t be the same without me. But I just couldn’t make it.”  The unveiling, ironically, came one day shy of Gonsoulin’s 49th wedding anniversary. He and Nickie were married Sept. 28, 1964 in Denver. “Yeah, one day after we played the Houston Oilers,” he recalled . . . For Jamaal Charles’ sake, it’s nice to see the Kansas City Chiefs have already doubled their win total from last season, with a 4-0 start. But, since three of the Chiefs wins — Dallas, Philadelphia and the NY Giants — are over teams from the woeful NFC East , it’s too early to tell how good they really are. Charles, meanwhile, though his rushing numbers are down in an offense geared to the pass, continues to establish himself as one of the most valuable players in the game. Two statistics underscore that fact. He remains No. 1 in the NFL in first downs produced (29) and he’s No. 2 to LeSean McCoy of the Eagles for total yards from scrimmage . . . Here’s a couple of numbers Cowboys fans might keep in mind today, if Dallas manages to hang with Peyton Manning and the Broncos through the first two quarters. Denver has outscored its four opponents 59-14 in the third quarter and 107-45 in the second half. The Cowboys, on the other hand, have failed to score a touchdown in the second half of their two losses, while being outscored 27-6.

    Sounds like it’s already time to re-evaluate how many millions Johnny Manziel has been worth to Texas A&M. According to figures released last week, Texas A&M received an all-time record $740 million in donations over the past year. That’s 70 percent more than in any previous year and $145 million more than what the University of Wisconsin banked in 2005 when it set the all-time high for money raised by a public university. We all know who the A&M catalyst was . . . Biggest shocker in college football last week didn’t happen on the playing field. That distinction goes to former University of Texas great Earl Campbell for being quoted as saying it’s time for Mack Brown to go as the Longhorns head coach. Earl is not a rock-the-boat kind of guy, and is part of the inner circle at UT. So it was shocking to hear him throw out anything but the party line. If there was a last straw for Mack, it had to be Campbell saying the Longhorns need to go in a new direction. I’d give anything to know how long he’s felt that way . . . Speaking of the Longhorns, what an impressive performance on national TV Thursday night against mighty Iowa State. Against the backdrop of ESPN announcers saying word around the Big 12 is that UT is prone to laying down late in games they’re losing, Mack’s four and five star recruits showed their character with a late game-winning TD drive to clip Iowa State, 31-30. Never mind that they needed the help of three 15-yard penalties, plus a controversial call on what appeared to be a lost fumble two plays before Case McCoy scored the winning touchdown. If you can also overlook the fact Iowa State was No. 65 in the USA Today Sagarin ratings, with earlier losses to Northern Iowa and Iowa, this was an absolute head-turner of a victory.

    The most knowledgeable inside source on the UT coaching situation — the guy who mentioned way back in January that Alabama’s Nick Saban had been approached — said last week that four head coaches have been contacted about replacing Mack Brown, and one was told he’d be offered $8 million per year. That could only be Saban. The source didn’t name the other three coaches, but said they would be offered what Brown makes ($5 million) and assured their staff would be the highest paid in college football . . . Texas A&M is almost certain to lose Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel to the NFL after this season. Compounding the blow is the possibility head coach Kevin Sumlin might also be on the move. Sumlin is said to be high on the list of coaches Southern Cal is going to take a hard look at, along with Washington’s Steve Sarkasian and Denver defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. There is also the probability that an NFL team is going to make a run at Sumlin. It’s a no-lose situation for him. At the very least, A&M is going to have to pony up with a huge raise to keep him in College Station . . . If you care at all about what repeated concussions do to football players, a two-hour special airing Tuesday at 8 p.m. on PBS’ Frontline is must-see TV. It’s called League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis. A book with a similar title — League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth is also being released Tuesday. Both deal with the NFL’s alleged attempts to whitewash and suppress information that it had for years on concussions. The authors are ESPN reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru. ESPN, under what many believe was pressure from the NFL,  withrew a few weeks ago as a co-presenter of the TV special.

    Irrepressible PN-G ex Lew Ford recently added another chapter to his amazing baseball resume. After being released by Baltimore Orioles organization, following an  injury-plagued summer, the 37-year-old Ford rejoined one of his former teams — the independent Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League. The Ducks, who had struggled during the regular season, went on a tear with the help of Ford’s hot bat and claimed the Atlantic League championship. Ford, during the playoffs, had a least one hit in a all seven games he played, finishing with a .412 batting average on 14-of-34. Latest word on Lew is that he’s considering playing winter ball in Venezuela . . . Former Astro Carlos Beltran put himself in some pretty elite company when he bashed a 3-run homer in St. Louis’ 9-1 NLDS Game 1 rout of Pittsburgh on Thursday. It was Beltran’s 15th homer in 129 career postseason at bats. Only other player to have 15 home runs in his first 129 postseason at bats was Babe Ruth. In addition, Beltran ranks No. 1 all-time in postseason slugging percentage (.783) and No. 1 in combined onbase-slugging percentage (1.244). No. 2 and No. 3 in the latter category are Lou Gehrig and Ruth . . . Not much attention is paid to college baseball this time of year, but Lamar’s Jim Gilligan is rightfully proud of what his Cardinals accomplished last week. LU, playing the first of two games on its fall schedule, used a seven-run eighth inning to overcome the University of Texas, 10-8, in Austin. It was the official launch of Gilligan’s 37th year of calling the shots for the Cardinals. LU’s other fall game is at perennial power Rice.

    Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at