PORT ARTHUR —
Clarence “Buckshot” Underwood’s lasting impact on the football players he coached in Port Arthur will be in-your-face evident when they show up in large numbers for his induction into the Texas High School Coaches Association Hall of Honor Wednesday in Fort Worth. According to Dr. Jesse DeLee of San Antonio, one of those former Underwood players who helped organize a Yellow Jacket reunion of sorts for Tuesday night, some 40 ex players have confirmed their attendance. Included are three first team all staters — Ronnie Stanley, Mickey Walker and Jay Hebert — from Underwood’s 1957 state finalists and others whose names resonate in Yellow Jacket history like Ragan Gennusa, Kyle Haines and Charlie Wilson. Add in members of Underwood’s family, player wives and friends, and even former Baylor coach Grant Teaff, and the Buckshot contingent is expected to be close to 100. That’s quite a statement on behalf of a guy whose last season in Port Arthur was 48 years ago and who passed away in 1985. Underwood, a one-time Bear Bryant assistant at Kentucky, posted a 73-33-6 record as head coach of the Yellow Jackets, won six district championships and took three teams as far as the state semifinals. His most famous former player was Jimmy Johnson, who earlier this year credited the work ethic instilled by his dad and by Underwood for his success in life. While Underwood is certainly deserving of induction into the TSHSA Hall of Honor, it’s only happening because of a massive lobbying and letter-writing campaign by his former players, the likes of which THSCA committee members say they’ve never seen.
Though it’s true that pre-season predictions often are nowhere close to what ultimately becomes reality, it has to be alarming to Lamar football coach Ray Woodard that his peers in the Southland Conference have picked the Cardinals to finish seventh out of eight teams. Both Woodard and Lamar fans had every reason to expect a little more respect in year four of the program’s restart. The seventh-place prediction, of course, won’t make any difference if LU can at least manage a middle-of-the-pack season. If the opposing coaches prove to be right, however, Woodard should brace for considerable grumbling from the school’s fan base . . . Another LU coach facing what could be a make-or-break season, Pat Knight, has added an interesting player to the Cardinal mix. Knight, whose biggest need is players able to contribute immediately after last year’s 3-28 disaster, signed the soon-to-be 26-years-old son of LA Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. Preston Mattingly, 6-3, was a three-sport schoolboy star in Indiana, and averaged 21 points a game his senior season at Evansville Central High School. But that was in 2006. He was the 31st pick in the baseball draft that year and has since bounced around the Dodger and New York Yankee farm systems . . . Figure this one out. Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, whose college career wound up in scorn and ridicule over the infamous fake girlfriend, is the most popular incoming rookie in the NFL in terms of jersey sale. NFLShop.com says sales of Te’o’s San Diego Chargers’ No. 50 rank ahead of the sales of St. Louis’ Tavon Austin, Buffalo’s E.J. Manuel, Minnesota’s Cordarrele Patterson and Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy.
Nice to see the world’s wealthiest snake-oil salesman was in mid-season form for the opening press conference at Dallas Cowboys training camp last week. Good old Jerry Jones, apparently without fear his nose was going to grow, professed full confidence in head coach Jason Garrett and acted like it was ludicrous for anybody to suggest his job might be on the line after back-to-back 8-8 seasons. P.T. Barnum, who once noted “there’s a sucker born every minute,” must have been smiling. Dallas’ record since 1995, by the way, is 140-141, so maybe Garrett is the right guy for the job . . . I haven’t seen an advance copy yet, but I don’t think it’s a reach to predict the upcoming biography on Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III — RG3: The Promise — is going to be exceptional. Washington Post writer Dave Shenin, who authored the book, said after spending considerable time with the former Baylor star: “Well, he sort of reminds me of a modern Bill Bradley.” That’s not Bill Bradley, the former UT great and current Lamar assistant, but Bill Bradley, the Rhodes Scholar and one-time Princeton and New York Knicks star who spent three terms as a United States senator representing New Jersey. Says Shenin of Griffin, “What Griffin seemed to share with Bradley, beyond interest in law and politics, was the sense that their chosen sport was not their destination, but rather the vehicle to something bigger.”
At first glance, it might appear the Milwaukee Brewers suspended slugger, Ryan Braun, is paying a steep price for his role in baseball’s latest drug scandal. Nothing could be farther from the truth. While Braun forfeits $3.1 million in salary for sitting down the final 65 games of the 2013 season, he still has $127 million coming over the next seven years on a fully guaranteed contract. Until baseball can figure out a way to insert clauses that void high-dollar contracts when players get busted for PEDs, there’s not much of a fear factor at work . . . That, by the way, is pretty much the sentiment of Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg, who took one of the harshest public stances I’ve seen on baseball’s cheaters and liars. Here’s what Sandberg had to say: “The bottom line is that the players are still comfortable with the penalties involved. Guys have failed tests and sat out two months and got big multi-year contracts the next year. And they don’t seem to worry about it. They’re still in the game. I’d like the penalties really stiffened up.” . . . Could anything be scarier for MLB than to have its two TV ratings darlings — the Yankees and the Red Sox — get blown away in the ratings by the final round of the British Open? That’s exactly what happened last Sunday when Phil Mickelson’s come-from-behind win drew a 3.6 rating (2.8 million households) to a 2.1 (1.6 million) for Boston-New York. Making it worse, Yankees-Red Sox aired in prime time, while the British Open was on from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. That’s enough to make Bud Selig stutter.
For once, Charles Barkley created a buzz without opening his mouth and saying something controversial. Playing in the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship at Lake Tahoe last weekend, Barkley had one of the members of his posse start handing out $100 bills to chosen ones in the gallery around the 7th green. A day later on a Philadelphia sports talk show, the man with the world’s worst golf swing denied the largesse. But there were numerous twitter posting from folks who walked away $100 richer . . . Phil Mickelson will be sending the equivalent of thousands of $100 bills to the United Kingdom, after back-to-back victories in the Scottish Open and British Open. Mickelson won the U.S. equivalent of $2,167,000 but, according to Forbes magazine, will be keeping only $842,700 after taxes he must pay to the United Kingdom, California and Uncle Sam. Phil’s tax hit to the British government is pegged at a whopping 45 percent of the winnings, and the Brits will also get a percentage of any endorsements he receives from hoisting two championship trophies in Scotland. For Mickelson, who infamously whined about California’s 13.9 percent state tax rate this past winter, there’s some serious irony at work in all this . . . Terrific piece recently by a writer named Will Leitch of sportsonearth.com. Writing about how some of the hallowed franchises in sports — the Cowboys, Yankees and Lakers — are losing their relevance through ongoing mediocrity, Leitch’s effort went from good to great with the following thought. “The Cowboys might be nearing Notre Dame status: Old people understand and remember why they’re important, young people don’t really care.” How profound!
Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at email@example.com
PORT ARTHUR —
WEST COLUMN: Bum Phillips trophy an impressive piece of work
There was lots of excitement around the Port Arthur News this week, with the long-awaited delivery of the magnificent Bum Phillips trophy that will be presented annually to the winner of the Nederland-Port Neches-Groves football game.
Ned 13U Babe Ruth wins
It was a much better day Saturday for the Nederland 13U Babe Ruth team compared to Friday.
MOORE COLUMN: Flounder dream started in Bridge City
The first flounder that grabbed my attention lived in what is now the Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area in Bridge City.
ESTRADA COLUMN: PED update /Key injuries with contrasting outcomes
The results of Saturday night’s UFC on Fox: Lawler vs. Brown event were not available as of the time of this writing. It will be covered in a future column.
TODORA COLUMN: Hermsen rattles racks in Monday Seniors League at Max Bowl
Mondays Seniors League had some nice scores this past week. Rick Hermsen started with a 263, finished with a 270 and fit in a 212 in the middle for a nice 745.
Nederland 13U Babe Ruth loses 9-0
The Nederland 13U Babe Ruth team lost 9-0 Friday to Bryant.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on GETV.org)
Mid County knocked out of tournament
The Mid County 16-18 Babe Ruth squad’s run to the World Series is over.
- West golf notepad: West duo claims title in Texas Father-Son
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.
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- WEST COLUMN: Bum Phillips trophy an impressive piece of work