, Port Arthur, Texas

March 1, 2014

West column: Switzer, Emmitt Smith have praise for Jethro

Bob West
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR —     A big deal was made in the Dallas media last week about the 25th anniversary of Jerry Jones buying the Cowboys, and what’s transpired over that quarter century. What jumped out was how certain people were falling all over themselves to bestow praise upon Jethro the football man. Based on my scoring system,  the Jones butt-kissing contest ended up in a tie between Barry Switzer and Emmitt Smith. Switzer said the breakup between Jones and Jimmy Johnson was all Jimmy’s fault, and that Jones did what he needed to do by firing a coach coming off back-to-back Super Bowl victories.  Emmitt praised Jethro the general manager and faulted Cowboys coaches for not doing a better job with talent he’d provided for them. Stay tuned for the tiebreaker to determine the winner of the puckered lip trophy  . . . Jones, incidentally, made the week memorable by offering up his dumbest statement ever. Yes, I know that covers a lot of ground but this was classic Jethro. Jones lamented the way he’d fired Tom Landry and said he wished he’d let Landry coach one more year before hiring Johnson. First of all, Landry needed to be replaced and everybody knew it. Then owner Bum Bright wanted him out,  but GM Tex Schramm reportedly didn’t want to be known as the guy who fired a legend. Landry’s previous three seasons had been 7-9, 7-8 and 3-13. The team was aging and in serious need of a makeover. Second, and most important, had Johnson not been hired until a year later, the Herschel Walker trade would never have been made and all the Cowboys players drafted because of it would have been playing somewhere else. Wish I could pass along Johnson’s response to Jones’ latest lunacy, but he insisted it had to be off the record.

    Some of those who watched or read about Nederland’s 6-5 Colton Wesibrod delivering back-to-back 39 and 41-point playoff performances are probably wondering where he’d rank on a pretty short list of Bulldog basketball greats. From what I can gather, he’d come in at No. 2 or No. 3. Olympic high jump gold medalist Buddy Davis, who went on to excel at Texas A&M,  then won NBA championship rings with the Philadelphia Warriors and St. Louis Hawks in the 1950s , is the clear cut No. 1. After  Davis, it would seem to be a close call between Weisbrod and mid 1980s sharpshooter Jamie Weaver, who played for Guy Lewis at the University of Houston . . . Speaking of Weisbrod, I’m hearing from more and more Nederland fans who are incensed that fired Lamar coach Pat Knight made little or no effort to recruit an area star who would have sold tickets for a school that can’t give them away. One booster, after watching Weisbrod unload 41 points on Ozen, said he couldn’t fully enjoy the afterglow of a  great Bulldog victory because he left the game thinking about how Weisbrod would be playing college basketball in New Orleans, instead of Beaumont. The man’s a former Lamar season ticket holder, with the emphasis on former . . . Two thumbs up to Lamar State College-Port Arthur for saluting Brian English and his Nederland basketball team before the Seahawks final home game Wednesday night at the Parker Center. Seahawks coach Lance Madison has done several things that have impressed me the past two year and this ranks right up there.

    It’s going to be interesting to see how Baylor officials and fans react to Brittney Griner, after her memoir, “In My Skin”, lands in bookstores this week. Griner, who was told to keep the fact she was gay under wraps while putting the Lady Bears on the national basketball map, doesn’t pull any punches when discussing the attitudes of the school or her coach, Kim Mulkey. I’m guessing many of those who thought Griner was wonderful while in the closest will look at her in a much more harsh light after reading what she has to say. Especially since she can’t help Baylor win any more basketball games . . . Another gay athlete — hey, folks, there are many, many more of them than you think in all sports — Missouri football star Michael Sam got admirable treatment at his school during what could have been an ugly scene. With members of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., on hand to stage a protest against Sam, some 2,000 students and  community members turned out in bone-chilling cold to form what was termed a “human wall” of response to the fanatics. One newspaper headline read, “In Columbia, hate meets its match as community stands with Michael Sam.” Later, during recognition of Missouri football players for their Cotton Bowl victory at the Tigers’ basketball game, Sam got the biggest ovation . . . While on the subject of gays in sports, there was an interesting story that came out in USA Today after Sam came out. Vince Lombardi Jr., son of the iconic, take-no-prisoners coaching legend, said his dad would not have discriminated against Sam. Why? Because Vince Lombardi’s brother was gay. So is the brother of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

    Not all NFL observers are in love with Johnny Manziel as a high draft pick. ESPN’s Ron Jaworski, who quarterbacked the Eagles to a Super Bowl in the 1980s, and has proven to be a shrewd evaluator of QBs, said he not only would not take Manziel with the No. 1 pick, he wouldn’t select him in the first three rounds. Jaworski doesn’t think Manziel’s style of play converts to the NFL and sees him as a project at best. I’m guessing that’s music to the ears of Texans’ coach Bill O’Brien . . . It was a busy week for Barry Switzer. In addition to kissing up to Jerry Jones, he found time to alternately trash and praise Manziel. “I don’t like his antics. I think he’s an arrogant little prick,” Switzer declared.  “I've said that and I'll say it again. He's a privileged kid, he's embarrassed himself, he's embarrassed his teammates, his program. He's embarrassed his coach. And they all have to defend him because they have to coach him. I know that. I spent 40 years in the damn game so I know how it works.” Switzer, though, also said of Manziel on a St. Louis sports talk show. “He's the most dominant, most dynamic college quarterback I've ever seen. He takes over a game like Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson.”  He concluded by saying the Rams should take Manziel with the No. 2 pick, if Houston passes . . . NFL fans will be reading a lot about the salary cap in the next few days, as teams try to get high-salaried stars to redo contracts. Here’s  the most stunning, and most telling cap comparison I’ve ever seen. Peyton Manning’s salary cap number last  season was $17.5 million, same as it will be this year. That’s more than was paid to the entire starting defense of the Seattle team that derailed Manning in the Super Bowl. It’s also 25 times that of Seahawks QB Russell Wilson.

    Chris Stroud, disgusted with how poorly he putted on the way to an opening round 69 in the Honda Classic Thursday afternoon, switched to his security-blanket belly putter for round two. The results were off-the-charts. Stroud, despite a double bogey on his second hole, went on to shoot a four-under-par 66 that saw him roll in eight birdies. That’s right, eight birdies. Switching putters mid-tournament is hardly the norm on the PGA Tour, but Chris seems to thrive on it . . . Stephen F. Austin has soared into rare air for a Southland Conference basketball team. The Lumberjacks, who were 27-2 and on a 24-game winning streak, just jumped over Gonzaga to rank No. 2 in the College Mid Major Top 25. Only unbeaten Wichita State ranks higher. SFA, at 14-0 in league play, is also trying to become only the fifth SLC team to go through conference play without a loss. None of the other four ever went more than 8-0. SFA, which is a football school at heart, has been solid in basketball for years thanks to great coaching . . . Sam Houston State is cashing in on its recent run of 1-AA (FCS) football success. The Bearkats have landed in the first televised college football game of the 2014 season, with a visit to another 1-AA power Eastern Washington set for ESPN on Aug. 23. Called the “ESPN FCS Kickoff”, the game represents terrific exposure for a lower-level program.

    Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at