, Port Arthur, Texas


December 6, 2012

Best of West: Ducking Miami key for Lou Holtz, Irish finishing No. 1

PORT ARTHUR — Editor’s note: The following column from the Best of West collection was originally published in the Port Arthur News on Jan. 4, 1989.

      Based on the final poll, which unfortunately is the way college

football determines its national champion — make that mythical national

champion — Notre Dame reigns today as No. 1.  Certainly no surprise


     We all knew the Fighting Irish would end up on top from the day they

designated overrated, overmatched West Virginia as their bowl-day patsy. 

The outcome of the Fiesta Bowl offered about as much suspense as a foot

race between Florence Griffith-Joyner and Tommy Lasorda.

     What the final polls don't tell us is whether Notre Dame is actually

the nation's best team.  That's a subject even more open to debate now

than it was before the bowls.

     Miami strengthened its case by literally stuffing a Nebraska team

that's a legitimate football power.  The Cornhuskers lose from time to

time, but they never get overwhelmed like they did Monday night.

     Notre Dame, meanwhile, basically proved one thing.  Namely that

those of us who've been saying all along West Virginia was out of its

league were right.  Truth is, the Mountaineers didn't have enough quality

athletes to be on the field with a Notre Dame, a Miami or half dozen

other top 10 teams.

     So who is really better -- Notre Dame or Miami?  Actually, I'm not

sure, and I don't think anybody who'll give an honest answer is either. 

My thoughts, which have been well documented over the last couple of

months, are that Miami's the best.  But I wouldn't bet my next paycheck

they'd beat Notre Dame if the two played again.

     And there's the rub.  Notre Dame and Miami are clearly the two best

teams in college football.  The difference between the two teams on Oct.

15 was one point at South Bend.  Since then both have been near

invincible.  They should have played again in the Fiesta Bowl.

     What Notre Dame did by dodging Miami was deprive football fans

everywhere of a game that would have been the most talked about in the

history of the collegiate game.  A Notre Dame-Miami Fiesta Bowl would

have made the Super Bowl, any Super Bowl, pale by comparison.

     Spare me the rhetoric about rematches not being desirable, or about

the Fiesta Bowl preferring to have West Virginia.  The Fiesta Bowl wanted

whatever Notre Dame wanted.

     If Lou Holtz had said he wanted to play

Lamar, the Cardinals would have been the first 3-8 team in history to

play in a major bowl.

     Rematches happen all the time.  Both NFL conference championship

games this Sunday are rematches.  Oklahoma's basketball team lost the

NCAA championship game to Kansas last year, after defeating the Jayhawks

twice in the regular season.

     The bottom line is that Holtz knew he was fortunate to edge Miami in

October, knew the Hurricanes wouldn't turn the ball over seven times if

they played again, knew that Notre Dame, because it's Notre Dame, could

get away with playing a lesser foe.  And that's exactly what he did.

     It's also why I stuck to my guns about voting Miami No. 1 in the

final poll.  I still believe a true champion refuses to take the easy way

out, doesn't duck the best opponent available.

    A true champion does what Miami coach Jimmy Johnson did at the end in South Bend. Knowing that a pretty much automatic kick would have resulted in a 31-31 tie, he opted to go for two and the victory. When the Hurricanes failed, he gave Holtz an escape route.

      I'll always believe the Notre Dame coach  feared he couldn't beat Miami again and knew he had a cinch with West Virginia.

     Obviously, I'd have to had to back down if Miami had lost its bowl game to

Nebraska.  But the Hurricanes beat a better team than West Virginia, and

did it at least as convincingly as Notre Dame. 

    So to change my vote now would be

hypocritical, would be to admit that arguments advanced before the bowls

weren't valid.

     It would also be like trying to sell West Virginia as legitimate,

which brings up another sore subject.

     What disappoints me most about all this is the media, the same media

who're always lobbying for a national playoff.  By not speaking out, by

fawning over Notre Dame, by promoting Notre Dame-West Virginia as a

national championship game, the media helped perpetuate a hoax.

     With a couple of notable exceptions, like author Dan Jenkins and New

York Daily News columnist Mike Lupica, the national media failed to blow

the whistle on Holtz' little con game.  Instead of questioning the

validity of West Virginia as a legitimate opponent, instead of pointing out

this was like a race between thoroughbreds and donkeys, the media sold

America a bill of goods.

     The simple-minded rationale seemed to be that West Virginia deserved

to play for a national championship because it was 11-0.  And so what if

the Mountaineers got there playing only one ranked ream, so what if

Florida State and Auburn at 10-1 were obviously better?  Not to mention


     If nothing else, the one-sidedness of the Fiesta Bowl provides the

perfect argument to the fallacy of rating a team strictly by its record. 

West Virginia was never in the game, was never a threat.  It got blown

away physically on the line of scrimmage, which is always a telltale sign

when a team is in over its head.

     Rather than a national championship game, what we got was a yawner,

a predictably boring example of what happens when two teams of decisively

different levels of talent and ability play in a big game.  West Virginia

couldn't have seriously challenged Notre Dame, even if Jerry Glanville

had been coaching the Fighting Irish.  Or Gerry Faust.

     It could have been so much better, could have been a national

championship game people talk about years from now.  Instead the Fiesta

Bowl was a game people won't be talking about this time next week.

     Notre Dame is No. 1, but are the Fighting Irish the best?

     Bob West is the Sports Editor of the Port Arthur News


Text Only
  • Bassmaster Elites are coming back

    The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
    The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
    I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
    It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
    • Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
    Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
    Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
    • East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
    • Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
    • Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
     It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
    The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
    We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
    It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
    (To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on

    July 23, 2014

  • Mid County knocked out of tournament

    The Mid County 16-18 Babe Ruth squad’s run to the World Series is over.

    July 22, 2014

  • West golf notepad: West duo claims title in Texas Father-Son

    July 22, 2014

  • Mid County sets up championship series with Tri County

    The Southwest Regional Babe Ruth championship series is set and yes the hometown Mid County squad will be there to play.

    July 21, 2014

  • MC Babe Ruth goes 2-0

    First things first, give Clint Landry and the rest of the officials credit for making the Southwest Regional Babe Ruth tournament possible this weekend at Nederland High School.

    July 19, 2014

  • Up the odds for solid bank fishing

    There are certain limitations to fishing without a boat.

    July 19, 2014

  • Derek Williams, Summer Money League light up the lanes at Max Bowl

    Thursday nights Summer Money League produced some very impressive scores.

    July 19, 2014

  • West column: Pacers hiring Pat Knight didn't help Lamar

    July 19, 2014

  • Babe Ruth.jpg Mid County Babe Ruth set to host Southwest Regional

    The Mid County Babe Ruth 18U team is once again knocking on the World Series door. Mid County will host the Southwest Regional at Nederland High School starting today. Mid County’s first game of the tournament is slated for 7 p.m. Friday against Pine Bluff, Ark. Thursday was a special day for Mid County Babe Ruth as two locals, Jimmy Collins (shown speaking) and Skip Hopkins (back left) were inducated intot he Southwest Regional Babe Ruth Hall of Fame. Both Hopkins and Collins have been involved in Babe Ruth for over 40 consecutive years either as player, coach or board member. There are nine teams in the tournament with the winner headed to Washington state for the World Series.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • West golf notepad: Eleven-year-old Henry scores ace in YMBL tourney

    July 15, 2014

From the Fieldhouse blog