PORT ARTHUR —
Stefan Huber is about to become a Nederland football rarity — a player who goes on to become a regular starter on a BCS level team. Huber, a fifth year senior, began Baylor’s spring drills as a No. 1 guard, but was shifted to center after an injury at that position. After missing most of the last two seasons with injury problems of his own, Stefan is a virtual lock to open the 2013 season as a starter at either center or guard. Bulldog coach Larry Neumann, who checked out his former PA News Super Teamer in the Bears spring drills last week, said Huber was impressive both physically and in how he played his position on what looks to be an exceptional offensive line. Only other Bulldog of recent vintage that Neumann can recall starting at a BCS school was linebacker Dravannati Johnson. Johnson started five games for Texas in 2010 . . . Neumann, by the way, also made a stop at Texas A&M’s spring practice and was amazed at what he saw from Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. “First of all, if he walked by and you didn’t know who he was or what he’d done, you’d never believe he was a Heisman Trophy winner,” said Neumann. “He’s shorter than I am, and I’m maybe 5-11. But you watch him on the field and you just shake your head at the things he can do. He was scrambling to his left once and made sort of a sidearm, underhand-type throw about 30 yards downfield that was right on target. He’s just uncanny with his timing and the way he gets the ball to his receivers. He has tremendous on-field savvy and great touch on the ball. His arm is stronger than you might think. This will age me, but his ability to scramble reminds me of Fran Tarkenton.”
The Astros opening day payroll, as reported by the Associated Press, is a mere $27,251,33. By comparison, the next lowest payrolls are Miami at $44,619,900 and Tampa Bay at $59,070,272. What’s going to make Houston’s payroll difficult for fans to swallow is where the team falls on MLB’s Fan Cost Index. The reported expense for a family of four to park, buy four average price adult tickets, consume two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular size hot dogs and buy two game programs and purchase the two least expensive adult-size caps, came to $224.33. That’s some $14 above the MLB average and ranks as baseball’s 11th highest, ahead of the likes of the NY Mets ($223.70), the LA Dodgers ($204.95) and the Texas Rangers ($196.13) . . . Most expensive teams on the Fan Cost Index, as you would expect, are the Red Sox ($336.99) and the Yankees ($324.30. San Diego ($151.94) and Arizona ($151.55) reside at the other end of the spectrum . . . Southeast Texas has only two players in the majors at the start of the 2013 season and both are very well paid. West Brook ex Jay Bruce ranks No. 131 in salary , with the Cincinnati Reds paying him $7,541,667. Lumberton’s Clay Buchholz of the Boston Red Sox is No. 179 on the salary chart at $5,750,00. The highest paid Astro, pitcher Bud Norris at $3 million, is No. 291 in pay.
Best sports news of the week was that one of the worst snubs in the history of any Hall of Fame has finally been rectified with University of Houston basketball coaching legend Guy V. Lewis being voted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Lewis’ induction is certainly better coming late than never, and while he’s still alive, though in declining health at 91. But the fact something that should have been done at least 20 years ago took this long puts a permanent stain on the process and those involved in it. There is no reasonable explanation for Lewis’ shabby treatment and no sensible argument against his accomplishment. Thankfully, CBS’ Jim Nantz refused to take no for an answer in his ongoing quest to get Guy V. recognized . . . Louisville being favored by 10 points over Wichita State Saturday made the Cardinals the second biggest Final Four favorite since the NCAA tournament went to 64 teams in 1985. Duke was 11 over Michigan State in 1999. Over-the-top hype aside, I’d rate this as one of the least interesting NCAA tournaments in many, many years. Despite bracket upheaval, only 10 of the first 68 games were decided by three points or less. A whopping 40 games saw the winner prevail by double digits . . .It was mentioned in this space last week that Lamar was a No. 10 seed when it advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1980 with wins over No. 7 Weber State and No. 2 Oregon State. That led to a question about LU’s seeds the other three times it won an NCAA game. The Cardinals were a 10 seed when they bounced No. 7 Detroit in 1979, a No. 8 when they took out No. 9 Missouri in 1981 and a No. 11 when they took routed No. 6 Alabama by 23 points before dropping a 60-58 heartbreaker to No. 3 Villanova in the second round.
Anybody considering knee-replacement surgery might want to have a conversation with former Lincoln, Oklahoma and Washington Redskin star Little Joe Washington. Washington, after undergoing 12 knee surgeries over the years, had right knee replacement in December, followed by left knee replacement in March. “I know a lot about pain and the pain from this has been brutal,” Joe said from his Baltimore home this week. “I can’t truly say I’m at the point where I’d tell you I’m glad I had it done, but I am impressed with how much better I can turn on my right knee. I’ve actually been able to hit wedge shots in my basement. Down the road, I’ll probably been glad I went through with it. For now, the pain keeps me from saying that.” . . . Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, predictably, has stirred up a sizzling controversy with talk that he may take Baylor’s female star Brittney Griner in the second round of the NBA draft, or sign her as a free agent and having her play for the Mavs’ Summer League team in Las Vegas. Most, including college basketball’s most successful women’s coach, UConn’s Geno Auriemma, have called it a publicity stunt, but there are those who would like to see it happen. It wouldn’t be without precedent. The then New Orleans Jazz took Lucy Harris of Delta State in the seventh round of the 1977 NBA draft, a move the NBA voided. Two years later the Indiana Pacers signed UCLA’s Ann Meyers-Drysdale to a $50,000 no-cut contract as a free agent and took her to training camp . . . Congratulations again to Lamar golf coach Brian White for his role in D.A. Points winning the Shell Houston Open last week. At the very least, White’s putting lesson helped make Points over $1 million and got him in the Masters. At the best, it may have been a career changer. White, most deservedly, has become a recognized name in the golf world over the past week. The better Points does from here on, the more attention it will bring to White and to Lamar.
The sports world in general and football in particular lost one of the real class acts with the passing of Jack Pardee last week. Pardee was certainly a counterpoint to the line about nice guys finishing last. And his football teams had a flair that belied a stoic personality. Between the University of Houston, the Houston Gamblers of the USFL and the Oilers of the early ‘90s, Pardee’s team’s did a lot of winning and created an incredible amount of excitement in the Bayou City . . . Beaumonter Jay Bruce’s power has earned him plenty of respect among Las Vegas oddsmakers. In the over/under player props for most home runs in 2013, Bruce’s number is 32.5. Only five other players — Giancarlo Stanton (37.5), Miguel Cabrera (36), Jose Bautista (35.5), Albert Pujols (34) and Prince Fielder (33.5) have a higher number. Vegas’ over/under on Astros wins, incidentally, is 59. Thus far no number has been posted on how many times they will be shutout. The MLB record of 30 is held by the 1963 NY Mets. You have to think the Astros are a threat . . . Throwing big dollars at another team’s backup QB can be dicey, as the Arizona Cardinals sadly discovered when they signed University of Houston ex Kevin Kolb away from the Philadelphia Eagles. Kolb, in 14 starts over two seasons, threw only 17 touchdown passes, while being intercepted 11 times and losing nine fumbles. His QB rating was 83.2. The one number that wasn’t bad for Kolb was the bottom line. By the time the Cardinals cut him, he’d banked $20.5 million.
Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.