The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Former TJ great Austin Goose Gonsoulin, who recently had a setback in his battle with prostate cancer, is about to turn up in the pages of a new book by Brian Howell titled 100 things Broncos Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die. Goose, of course, was an original Bronco, still is prominent in the interception section of the team’s record book and is immortalized in Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium as a member of Broncos Ring of Fame . . . My new favorite coach is Baylor baseball boss Steve Smith. After Baylor’s recent series with Texas A&M, Smith had the guts to defy Deloss Dodds’ unwritten mandate for Texas Big 12 schools to no longer play the Aggies because of their move to the SEC. Saying he wants to continue Baylor’s rivalry with A&M, Smith noted, “The crowds are great and the players from both teams have had an experience this weekend they’ll never forget. Do we really want to deny players that opportunity because we’re mad that A&M is leaving the Big 12?” Dodds, of course, could care less what the players or fans want, and he’s either cowered or brainwashed other ADs and coaches into toeing the line . . . Texas-San Antonio appears to be on the verge of setting a new NCAA record for changing conferences. The Roadrunners, as you are probably aware, are leaving the Southland Conference for the Western Athletic Conference on July 1. After just one year in the WAC, UT-SA will then jump to Conference USA, meaning it will have played in three different leagues in three years. C-USA, of course, needs new blood because Houston and SMU are among four schools departing for their neighborhood league — the Big East. North Texas and Louisiana Tech, meanwhile, are also headed to C-USA. Where does it end?
One of the finalists for the Lamar State College-Port Arthur basketball job, who will remain nameless for now, opted to go ahead and interview last week, despite being told by others in the profession that he had no chance. Said coach was told by other coaches that former Southeast Texas Mavericks coach Steve Tucker, who has long been rumored to have the Seahawks job in the bag, was spotted at an AAU tournament wearing an LSC-PA shirt and trying to recruit players. Another college assistant, who would have been a good candidate for the Seahawks job, flat out told me he didn’t apply because he didn’t think the job was really open for anybody but Tucker . . . LU basketball coach Pat Knight was on the verge of committing his final scholarship to a Division 1 transfer, but has backed off because of a late shot at a 6-5 high school star from California who wants to leave the state and is definitely interested in LU. The only holdup is an academic question about computer courses the kid has taken. Knight said he expects to know something in a couple of weeks. He’s not worried about losing out on a transfer because over 400 of them are available. Players are looking to transfer at what is a record rate, and lots of good ones are there for the taking. Knight said he gets an least one request by e-mail every day . . . With the NBA playoff train leaving the station without the Houston Rockets once again, it’s fair to wonder if the franchise is mired in long-term mediocrity. They don’t lose enough games to get high enough in the draft to land a difference maker and can’t win enough without legitimate star to be a playoff factor. At least there is long-term hope for the Astros. I don’t see that for the Rockets.
Beaumonter David Frank, who worked in the Port Arthur News sports department many moons ago, is a serial note writer, and sometimes gets amazing responses. Astros owner Drayton McLane was so taken with one of Frank’s notes a few years ago that he invited him and wife Neil to sit in the owner’s box for a game. More recently, Detroit Tigers owner Mike Ilitch was so impressed he sent two Tigers’ caps, one of which he’d autographed, and autographed jerseys from pitching ace Justin Verlander and sluggers Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera. Among other things in David’s note to Ilitch, triggered by a story he’d read on the Detroit owner, was a brief history of Beaumont’s ties with the Tigers as their AA farm team in the 1950s. “You are a great Tigers fan and I want to make sure you are properly outfitted down there in Texas,” wrote Ilitch . . . Speaking of Minor League baseball, it’s alive and thriving just outside of Houston where the independent Sugarland Skeeters made their debut last week in a $37 million ballpark which features 25 luxury suites and an eight story Texas-shaped video board. The stadium price alone suggests this isn’t a fly-by-night operation, but for added credibility the Skeeters hired former Astros president and general manger Tal Smith as a special adviser and named former Astros hitting coach Gary Gaetti as manager. Biggest drawback for the Skeeters is that they are the only member of the eight-team Atlantic League not located on the East Coast. For those who miss the fun of the minor league baseball experience, field boxes for Skeeters games at Constellation Field are priced at $12. Lawn seating is $8.
It was mentioned in this space last week that Boise State had more players taken in the first round of the NFL draft that Texas and Texas A&M combined. By the time the draft was over, only Alabama (8), Georgia (7) and Oklahoma (7) had more players selected than Boise’s six. It should have been seven but for some reason NFL scouts across the board turned their nose up at 5-11 QB Kellen Moore, his 50-3 record, over-the-top passing stats and wins over Virginia Tech, Georgia and TCU. Moore not getting drafted reminded me a lot of what happened to PN-G ex Dustin Long a few years ago. But at least the Detroit Lions signed Moore as a free agent . . . Nobody, not even No. 1 pick Andrew Luck, was busier in the immediate aftermath of getting drafted than Baylor’s Robert Griffin III. According to Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, RG3 spent two hours and eight minutes doing 20 different interviews at Radio City Music Hall after he was selected. One of those was with Japan’s Nippon TV. In case you weren’t aware of it, Griffin was born in Japan. The kid proved he’s a natural born marketer by telling Nippon: “I just want to say to all the fans — I take pride in where I came from, Japan.” Looks like the Redskins have a chance to become Tokyo’s team . . . Not surprisingly, the Southeastern Conference wound up with the most players taken in the draft. But barely. A total of 42 SEC players were selected, only one more than the Big 10. After that it was the ACC at 31, Pac 12 at 28 and the Big 12 at 25.
Cowboys QB Tony Romo didn’t get much respect in the NFL Network’s ratings of the top 100 players heading into the 2012 season. Romo, in a lineup picked by a vote of other NFL players, was listed at No. 91. Eleven QBs were ranked above him and NY Jets backup Tim Tebow was only four spots behind him at No. 95. That, despite the Dallas QB coming off what was arguably his best season, with an all-time high 102.5 passer rating and a 31-to-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. As if being so far down the list was not insulting enough to Romo, his presenter on the program was Lincoln ex Jordan Babineaux. Babineaux, of course, is responsible for running Romo down from behind on the infamous botched field goal in Seattle . . . Wade Phillips, who thinks he bagged a draft gem with explosive Illinois pass rusher Whitney Mercilus, got a little irate at those who tagged the Texans’ first round pick a “one-year-wonder.” “I mean, the guy had 16 sacks, led the nation in sacks, led the nation in caused fumbles — 9 caused fumbles,” noted Wade. “They say, ‘One-year wonder,’ but what I wonder is why they didn’t play him the year before.” . . . Further proof that the NFL is far and away the most dominant sport in America’s eyes is the recent Forbes list of the Most Influential Athletes. Six of the top 10 are NFL quarterbacks. No. 1, however, for the second consecutive year, was NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson. Only other non NFLers are the list are boxer Manny Pacquiao at No. 4, NASCAR’s Dale Earnhardt at No. 7 and NBA overnight sensation Jeremy Lin at No 10. Tim Tebow, at No. 2, was the highest rated of the NFL QBs, which once again underscores his amazing popularity. Peyton Manning was No. 3, Tom Brady No. 5, Aaron Rodgers No. 6, Drew Brees No. 8 and Eli Manning No. 9.
Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org