PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Sports

November 9, 2013

West column: Kubiak not first Houston coach in scary scene

PORT ARTHUR —     Houston sports teams may not win many championships, but they are clearly No. 1 when it comes to scary health issues involving coaches. No Astros fan will forget the sight of manager Larry Dierker’s near-death experience  in the dugout, after suffering a grand mal seizure during a 1999 game against the Padres. Four years later Rudy Tomjanovich stepped down as head coach of the Rockets, after being diagnosed with bladder cancer. Last Sunday night, of course, there was the horrific scene of Texans coach Gary Kubiak laying on the Reliant Stadium turf after being felled by what was diagnosed as a “mini stroke.” Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips could also be included on the list. Two years ago, Phillips missed a couple of late-season games with gall bladder and kidney problems that were much more serious than was ever made public . . . Dierker, by the way, authored a terrific and extremely thoughtful piece in Thursday’s Houston Chronicle about his seizure — “I was kicking and screaming like a madman” — about Kubiak and about the out-of-control vitriol toward coaches on talk shows. On the latter, he wrote: “What bothers me as an insider looking out is the societal outrage in sports. It’s not just in Houston and, indeed, not just in sports. I think it’s natural to be happy when your guys win and disappointed when they lose. But I don’t think it’s normal to be delirious every time they win and enraged when they lose.” Those are words a lot of folks should probably think about and try to apply.

    Congratulations to Larry Neumann and the Nederland Bulldogs for a third consecutive unbeaten run through District 20-4A, and for putting the finishing touches on No. 3 in style by dominating runner-up Central Friday night. For a team to win 24 consecutive games in a district so tough year in and year out is off-the-charts good. Among the many impressive Nederland stats during the winning streak is that only Vidor and Ozen, both in 2011, came within a field goal of the Bulldogs. PN-G, though, probably had the best shot last month in Nederland, but a costly offside penalty late in the game enabled the Bulldogs to do what champions do — take advantage . . . In nearly a half century of covering high school football, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen anything remotely close to the sensational two-way performance Nederland’s Colton Kimler delivered Friday night. Four interceptions, with one a pick six, is amazing stuff in itself. But when you throw in five receptions for 128 yards, including a 22-yard, one-handed catch as good as anything you’ll ever see in the NFL, it starts to get unreal. For good measure, Kimler also made a handful of key stops defensively. Even if you aren’t a Nederland fan, it would be worth watching the PA News Friday Night Experience telecast at noon today to see one of the all-time great individual performances . . . One thing I’ve never liked is allowing so many teams from each district in the playoffs. Basically, it waters down the accomplishment of deserving teams when three and four schools, some of them with losing records, get to keep playing. Exhibit A of such absurdity happened Friday night when Diboll advanced out of District 20-3A with a 1-9 overall record and a 1-3 league mark. It’s really sad that lost in the shuffle of a UIL push to make more money is the lesson kids learn when they have to earn something.

    One of the first questions that surfaced with Texas’ somewhat surprising announcement that Steve Patterson — not Oliver Luck — would succeed Deloss Dodds as athletic director is how that might impact on getting Texas A&M back on the schedule. Interestingly enough, it may not make any difference, and not because the vindictive Dodds won’t have a say. Reports out of College Station earlier in the week indicated the Aggies are no longer interested in scheduling Texas. The two could meet again, though, in a bowl game, perhaps as early as the 2014 Cotton Bowl . . . Two thumbs up to Baylor for the way it took care of Oklahoma Thursday night, despite losing its top two running backs. While it was a great victory for the Bears’ program, and keeps alive some very special possibilities, the win is tempered a bit by the fact Oklahoma being ranked No. 12 was a joke. As was pointed out in this space after Texas pounded the Sooners, Bob Stoops and OU have been living off their reputation for the past few years. Expect Sooner nation to grow more and more restless over the program’s lose of relevance . . . Former OU coach Barry Switzer, of all people, has some advice for the powers that be at the University of Texas. Switzer, who called the UT football job “the best in America”, said Baylor’s Art Briles is “the perfect fit” to replace Mack Brown. I couldn’t agree more but for Baylor’s sake I hope it doesn’t happen. If Briles isn’t the best coach in the Big 12, he’s 1A, next to Kansas State’s Bill Snyder. On Texas going after Briles, Switzer also said, “I don’t know about the people hiring at Texas. They’re kind of blue-bloods down there. Art Briles might be too country for them.” He might be right, although Darrell Royal made country fashionable in Austin in another era.

    With the Texans hopes of making the playoffs for a third consecutive year realistically down the drain, the team’s biggest issue during the season’s second half will be determining whether Case Keenum is their quarterback of the future. Keenum was certainly impressive in close losses to Kansas City and Indianapolis, but two games don’t make an NFL QB. Easily his best and most impressive attribute has been throwing the ball downfield. Keenum, amazingly, is in a class of two with San Diego’s Philip Rivers as the only QBs this season to twice have five completions longer than 25 yards in a game . . . Here’s a couple of interesting betting trends for what should be a wildly entertaining game between the Cowboys and Saints tonight. Dallas, which is getting 7 points, is 11-1 against the spread  as an underdog by more than a field goal. New Orleans, on the other hand, has covered the spread in 13 straight home games with Sean Payton on the sidelines. And, coming off a loss with Payton as head  coach, the Saints are 15-4 against the spread in the next game. Something’s got to give. I’m guessing it will be Dallas’ defense . . . The Southland Conference’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Football Team is zeroing in on defensive backs this week and two players with area ties – Lincoln ex Tim McKyer, who played at UT-Arlington, and Lamar’s Rondy Colbert — are on the ballot. You have to think McKyer’s a lock to make the first team. He was a two-time All-SLC choice at UTA and  a third round pick of the San Francisco 49ers where he was a two-time All-Pro cornerback. Before he retired, McKyer was the proud owner of three Super Bowl rings — two with the 49ers and one with Denver.

     Beaumonter Jude Messina received a most interesting phone call at his liquor store on Phelan Blvd. Thursday. On the other end of the line was Jim Nantz of CBS Sports. Nantz was phoning from his home in Pebble Beach, Calif., to thank Messina for going out of his way to stock a wine label — The Calling —  that he’s become invested in heart and soul. “We had a 15-minute conversation about wine and about sports,” said Messina. “What a nice guy. He is so passionate about being hands-on involved in the wine business. And so knowledgeable. He’s clearly not a celebrity wanting to put his name on something. He understands the proof is not in a name but what’s in the bottle. He didn’t want his name  on it.” Messina said The Calling will be available at the family’s five stores in Beaumont and Port Arthur at the special introductory price of $25.99 a bottle for Chardonnay and $33.95 for Cabernet Saubignon through the Christmas holidays . . . It’s back to the drawing board for officials in the Katy Independent School District who were trying to push through a $99 million bond issue that would cover the cost of 14,000 seat football stadium for the city’s seven high schools. The outcome wasn’t even close, with 54 percent of 16,559 voters saying no. Among those impacted was former Nederland quarterback Don Clayton, the highly successful head coach at Cinco Ranch high school. “It’s just people that didn’t want it,” Clayton told the Houston Chronicle. “It’s people that probably don’t have kids in school any more or that have kids in elementary that can’t see down the road. They’ll just think it will all get fixed by the time they get there.”

    Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at rdwest@usa.net

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