, Port Arthur, Texas


October 6, 2012

WEST COLUMN: Bumbling Cowboys again prove Jones is football idiot

PORT ARTHUR — As it becomes more and more obvious Jerry Jones was as wrong about Jason Garrett being a young coaching genius as he is about most things that have to do with making smart decisions as an NFL general manager, it’s time to point out once again what a terrific job Wade Phillips did in his first three years as Dallas’ head coach. Despite being stuck with Garrett as his offensive coordinator, Jones as his talent procurer and a locker room cancer named Terrell Owens, Wade went 13-3, 9-7 and 11-5 and accounted for Dallas’ only playoff win in 15 years. He didn’t have near the talent that Garrett has now, and his quarterback was a Tony Romo who was much less experienced than he is now. For Wade to do as well as he did for three years in Jethro’s coaching burial ground was remarkable. Even with the disaster of year four, he left with a 34-22 record. Garrett is 15-13. One of these days, the diehards are going to figure it out . . . Two of the most delicious aspects of watching the Cowboys get embarrassed by the Bears on Monday night football were seeing Jones finally starting to get trashed by some of the national media for Dallas being 122-122 over the past 15 years, and seeing the myth of Garrett being an offensive whiz get further exposed. Mike Golic, on ESPN’s highly regarded Mike & Mike show, led the wave of those calling out Jones, while Dallas’ offensive numbers speak loud and clear about Garrett. Four games into the season, Jacksonville, which is playing a second-year QB, is the only team that has scored fewer points per game than Dallas’ 16.3. The Cowboys, because Garrett always has refused to make any commitment to the running game, are 30th in the NFL in rushing yards. Part of that is because of a bad offensive line, but much of it is because Garrett wants to be able to dazzle with the passing game.

When the Astros Jordan Lyles, Lucas Harrell and three relievers and Bud Norris and four relievers, worked three consecutive shutouts last week, it brought back memories of probably the most amazing back-to-back-to back pitching performances in baseball history. On the way to winning the NL West in the final week of the 1986 season, the Astros got a two-hit shutout from Jim Deshaies, another two-hit whitewash from Nolan Ryan and Charlie Kerfeld, then a pennant-clinching no-hitter from Mike Scott. Over three games, that’s four hits and no runs. Amazing stuff . . . If you’re a Houston Rockets fan, and that’s not easy these days, it’s time to start worrying about whether you will be able to see any of the team’s telecasts this year. Going forward, Comcast Houston will be airing all Rockets and Astros games. Thus far, none of the possible area providers — Time Warner, DirecTV and Dish — have a deal with Comcast Houston and at this point there have been no indicators it’s about to happen. Best thing about this for Astros fans is there’s still a lot of time before the 2013 season opens to get things worked out. But as folks at ESPN’s Longhorn Network would testify, these negotiations can move slow . . . Those who watched last week’s thrilling Ryder Cup know that Rory McIlroy was nearly late for his Sunday tee time in singles competition. But how many knew that had McIlroy been more than five minutes late he would have had to forfeit his match? I don’t recall NBC spelling it out. My understanding of match-play rules was that he’d have to forfeit a hole, or as many holes as would have been played until he showed up. No so, according to Kerry Haigh of the PGA of America. Imagine the imagine hit McIlroy would have taken in the event of a forfeit.

Houston’s Matt Schaub pretty much flies under the radar, and is never mentioned in the upper tier of NFL quarterbacks, but if he can stay healthy, continues on his present pace and the Texans keep winning, that will have to change. Dating back to last season, the Texans have won Schaub’s last eight starts. Four of those wins have come on the road and Houston led by 21 points in seven of the eight games. If Dallas had done something like that under Tony Romo, there would be an uproar to immediately put him in the Hall of Fame. Here’s the most eye-opening stat on Schaub, though. He’s got a higher career QB rating in road games than Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Eli Manning . . . With West Virginia having beaten Baylor 70-63, Oregon seemingly unstoppable and five Southeastern Conference teams having given up 50 or more points in games this season, Alabama’s Nick Saban, a defensive guru, has started to whine about up-tempo, spread offenses and their non-stop mode of attack. “It’s obviously created a tremendous advantage for the offense when teams are scoring 70 points and averaging  49.5 points a game when people are doing those types of things” said Saban. “More and more people are going to do it. I just think there’s got to be some sense of fairness in terms of asking, ‘Is this what we want football to be.” Although I don’t like Nick Saban, I think he raises a good point . . . College teams aren’t the only one scoring ridiculous amounts of points. It’s not yet mid-season and there have already been four Texas schoolboy games where the combined point total was higher than 133 scored in the West Viriginia-Baylor game. Friendswood beat Galena Park 79-63, Rogers topped Mart, 84-58, Lufkin edged A&M Consolidated 71-68 and Lubbock Monterey outscored Amarillo Caprock 75-61. You have to wonder if the basketball teams at some of those schools will score as many points in their most productive game.

Las Vegas oddsmakers agree with polls, ratings and opinions that the Houston Texans are the best team in the NFL. From 12-1 in February, the odds on the Texans winning the Super Bowl have dropped to 7-2. Next closest is San Francisco at 5-1, Atlanta at 7-1 and Baltimore at 8-1. Any Cowboy fans who still believes in Jethro and company can get 20-1. Longshots, however, do come in. At baseball’s All-Star break, the Oakland A’s were 100-1 to win the America League West. Anybody smart enough, or maybe it’s crazy enough, to have bet $100 on them in July would be $10,000 richer . . . The almighty NFL, after getting its tail kicked in a labor dispute with its officials, couldn’t have been too pleased when the latest issue of Sports Illustrated hit the stands. Cover boy for the Oct. 8 issue was Ed Hochuli, who is probably the most recognizable of the league’s officials because of his bulging biceps. Inside was a terrific and lengthy piece on Hochuli, who is a trial lawyer in Phoenix, plus a back page editorial titled, “NFL, You Have a Problem.” The gist of the editorial was that the NFL is intoxicated over its popularity and was a “pompous drunk.” It was right on target . . . If you’re a true Cowboy freak, the book you’ve been waiting for all your life is due out this week. Plugged in this space a couple of months ago, it’s titled The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America. Skillfully written by native Texan Joe Nick Patoski, the 718-page epic pretty much covers everything from A to Z about the Cowboys, and doesn’t appear to sweep anything under the rug. Especially the animosity between Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson.

Speaking of teams and people you love to hate, there seems to be no end in sight for John Calipari and Kentucky basketball. Latest conquest for the king of one-and-done basketball signees are the Harrison twins from Fort Bend Travis. The 6-5 duo announced Thursday in a nationally televised gathering in the school’s gym that they will take their immense talents to Kentucky after their senior season. Both players — point guard Andrew and shooting guard Aaron — are in the consensus top five of the class of 2013 by all recruiting services . . . Here’s yet another example of why the NFL machine is not very likable. San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith, who is a big fan of the San Francisco Giants baseball team, wore a Giants cap to a post-game press conference to show his support for them in the pennant race. Soon after, he got word from the NFL of a possible fine if he ever again showed up for a pre-game or post-game press conference wearing a Giants cap. That ticked Giants manager Bruce Bochy off so much he showed up the next day wearing a 49ers cap in support of Smith. MLB didn’t issue any cease-and-desist threats . . . Given the modest success of the Lingerie Football League, it was inevitable there was going to be a basketball equivalent. So get ready for the Bikini Basketball Association, which is due for liftoff in mid November. Thus far, there are seven franchises, including the Chicago Desire, Hollywood Hotties, Miami Spice and New York Knockouts. The uniforms, as you have surely figured out, will be bikinis. Itsy, bitsy ones. Basketball skills reportedly will be required to make one of the teams. To shoot down talent skeptics, here’s what Chicago Desire owner Donovan Price has to say about what to expect. “You know what Hooters is, but the wings are actually good.”

    Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at

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