, Port Arthur, Texas

June 15, 2013

West column: No kidding, there's an opera developing on Bum's life

Bob West
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR —     Last time I attended an opera, I was 11 years old and my mother dragged me kicking and screaming to see “Oklahoma.” Even as a kid, I didn’t like the Sooners. My next opera will be the one transplanted Houstonian Luke Leonard is producing on Bum Phillips’ life. Depending on the funding coming through, Bum The Opera is set for a March, 2014 premiere in New York. You can read all the details on Leonard’s motivation elsewhere in this section in a guest column he has written. Bum and opera would seem to be about as compatible as Jethro Jones and the author of this column, but I love the idea and the attention it would get for one of the most legendary figures to ever come out of Southeast Texas. Give Leonard a hand, if you can . . . Too many Port Arthurans fail to appreciate what a good football coach Memorial’s Kenny Harrison is. So here’s a ringing and completely unsolicited testimonial from Cinco Ranch’s highly successful AD/head coach Don Clayton, after working with Harrison this past week at the Bayou Bowl in Baytown. “Since I’ve known Kenny, I have been impressed with how he conducts his business,” Clatyon wrote in an e-mail.  “I now see how passionate he is about coaching and working with kids. The kids have bought into what he is teaching them this week. He is very impressive. I believe PA Memorial has one of the best coaches in the state, and I’ve had a chance to cross paths with some really good ones. I can see where Memorial’s success is coming from. I am glad that I asked him to coach our offense.”

    Most followers of Lamar football would agree the Cardinals need a boost at the quarterback position, and it sounds like they may have gotten exactly that with the transfer of University of Houston QB Rex Dausin. Dausin a red-shirt freshman who will be eligible this season, was a San Antonio schoolboy star and is the son of Warren High School head coach Bryan Dausin, a former Texas A&M star who went on to play in the NFL. Given that coaches’ son are almost always ahead of the curve in the mental aspect of the game, there’s no reason to think Dausin can’t make an early impact. LU head coach Ray Woodard, by the way, also thinks Central QB Robert Mitchell is going to be a difference maker for the Cardinals at some point . . . Guess we can all heave a sigh of relief now that Cowboy head coach Jason Garrett has gone on record as accepting the fact that Jerry Jones has taken play-calling responsibility away from him. Whether offensive line coach Bill Callahan will be an upgrade remains to be seen, but what’s really significant is that Jimmy Johnson suggested Garrett give up play calling over a year ago, and both Jethro and Jason rejected the idea. Now, after another embarrassing season, Jethro has seen the light. So how long you reckon it will take before he gives Jimmy credit? My guess would be about the same time hell freezes over. Or when Jethro grudgingly inducts Johnson into the Cowboys Ring of Honor. That, of course, will probably coincide with hell freezing over.

    Amazing what one impressive performance from LeBron James, DeWayne Wade and Chris Bosh did for Miami with Las Vegas oddsmakers. After opening the NBA Finals as a 68 percent favorite to win the title, the Heat fell to only 44 percent after San Antonio’s Game 3 blowout. Now, following Thursday’s night’s convincing victory, the Heat is up to a 71 percent favorite. But the betting line for tonight’s Game 5 opened as pick-em (0), no doubt reflecting Miami’s inability to play well without being backed into a corner . . . Two thumbs up to San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich and Miami’s Eric Spoelstra for congratulating 11-year-old mariachi singer Sebastien De La Cruz at midcourt after his second-consecutive rousing performance of the national anthem Thursday night. If you didn’t hear about it, numerous racist tweets followed De La Cruz’ singing of the anthem after Game 3. The bigots, it seems, didn’t think a young Mexican kid, even though he was born in San Antonio and has lived there all  his life, should be singing the Star Spangled Banner on such a big stage. Popovich, appropriately, called them “idiots.” . . . If you have the NBA Channel and haven’t seen the 90-minute documentary on Julius Erving, scan through the program listing for the next showing of “The Doctor.” It’s a riveting production from start to finish about a guy who helped keep the ABA alive and provided a breath of fresh air and remarkable style to the NBA after the merger. For a grand finale, the 6-6 stylist, who inspired Michael Jordan and so many players of the next generation, is shown dunking the basketball at age 63.

    Pretty interesting stuff from Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin this week in an interview with the San Antonio Express-News. Sumlin dropped a bombshell by making a point about how the perception of A&M football has changed from rival recruiters telling players a year ago the Aggies were not talented enough to compete in the SEC, to 12 months later telling prospects they should not go to A&M because they would have to sit behind all the talent and, on top of that, the coach is leaving for the NFL. Later, Sumlin revealed he’d turned down an offer to be head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. So who leaves Aggieland first, Sumlin or Johnny Manziel ? ? ? Since I never pass on a chance to take a shot at Notre Dame, Irish coach Brian Kelly’s pettiness in dealing with freshman recruit Eddie Vanderdoes is like a belt high fastball. Vanderdoes, a five-star prospect from Auburn, Calif., signed with Notre Dame last February. In June, he announced that changing circumstances with his family had led him to enroll at UCLA. Kelly promptly did what most coaches at big-time schools would do and refused to grant Vanderdoes a release from his national letter of intent. Consequently, he can’t play this year and must give up a year of eligibility. And the double standard lives. If Kelly broke his contract to leave Notre Dame for another job, he wouldn’t have to sit out for a year. It’s just one of many reasons why college athletes need a union . . . Feel free to remain skeptical about the latest hint Houston Astros baseball may be coming to a cable provider near you. Owner Jim Crane said Wednesday on a Houston sports talk show that he’s optimistic something is going to be worked out within 30 days to get Comcast Sports Net Houston into more homes. Crane then retreated to the position that if not in 30 days, for sure before the end of the season.

    When Texans’ defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was in a couple of weeks ago to play in the Babe Zaharias Foundation fund-raising golf tournament, he had a lot of good things to see about the progress of Beaumont Ozen ex Willie Jefferson. The Texans signed Jefferson, who was forced to leave Baylor after a couple of marijuana busts, as a free agent linebacker out of Stephen F. Austin. Phillips wouldn’t go so far as to say Jefferson will make the Texans’ regular-season roster, but felt he had a good chance of landing on the practice squad and possibly working his way up . . . The pay is good, but coaching in the NBA has to be the most thankless job in professional sports. Denver’s George Karl, who was the NBA Coach of the Year after his team went 57-25, got fired. So did Lionel Hollins of the Memphis Grizzlies, whose team went 56-26 and reached the Western Conference finals before losing to San Antonio. Also getting the boot was Vinny Del Negro of the LA Clippers after a 56-26 season and an early playoff exit. According to Clippers owner Donald Sterling, he fired Del Negro because that’s what the players wanted. Makes you wonder if Jerry Jones and Bud Adams are conducting “Idiot School” for NBA owners . . . A big chunk of the golf community in South County is mourning the passing of Rick LaBove. LaBove, 60, was not only one of the best golfers in the area for many years, but one of the most popular guys to be around.  His family, in a move I know Rick would have loved, is asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to The First Tee of the Golden Triangle. You can find the obit elsewhere in today’s paper.

    Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at