PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

December 1, 2012

West column: Taking out No. 1 Dawson may be Nederland's best

Bob West
The Port Arthur News

HOUSTON —





    One of Port Arthur News sports writer David Coleman’s projects this week will be to try and put a perspective on Nederland’s 22-16 overtime upset of No. 1-ranked Pearland Dawson Friday night at Reliant Stadium. I’ve already heard from those who think it was Nederland’s most prestigious statewide victory since the Bulldogs won the 1957 state championship. Considering that Dawson was undefeated, ranked No. 1 for 10 consecutive weeks and had a clear edge in talent and athleticism, it may have been. So what do you think, Bulldog fans? Has there been a better, bigger, more improbable win since 1957? Send your thoughts to dcoleman@panews.com. Provide as much detail as you can . . . Sports Illustrated has a celebrated cover jinx, with unfortunate things often happening to athletes and coaches after they’re on the cover. That’s certainly not been the case of late with the Port Arthur News Football Tab cover subjects. Last year, following their cover shot, Memorial’s Terrence Singleton, Nathan Holmes and Tre’Von Armstead led the Titans to the 5A semifinals. Nederland’s Larry Neumann adorned the cover this year and his ‘Dogs are deep into the playoffs. Any volunteers for 2013 ? ? ? My good friend and former PA News co-worker Burt Darden of the Houston Golf Association has to be doing back flips over last week’s announcement that world No. 1 Rory McIlory has added the Shell Houston Open to his 2013 schedule. The SHO, which had to give up its date the week before the Masters, was expected to take a ratings and attendance hit by going a week earlier, but getting McIlroy changes everything. Matter of fact, it will almost certainly boost both TV ratings and ticket sales, because it’s going to be McIlroy’s last tune-up prior the Masters . . .  

    Texas’ Mack Brown can’t be too thrilled about the probability Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel is going to win the Heisman Trophy. If it happens, and it’s hard to believe that it won’t,  Mack will go down in recruiting lore as the head coach who told back-to-back Heisman winners — Robert Griffin III and Manziel — that they didn’t measure up to playing quarterback at UT. And he did it in conjunction with a period when the Longhorns’ QB play has left a lot to be desired. At least Brown made Griffin a scholarship offer as an “athlete.” He didn’t even think enough of Manziel to offer him as a defensive back. Throw in another great QB he snubbed — Drew Brees out of Austin Westlake — and that’s quite a trifecta of bad judgment for Brown . . . Don’t feel too sorry for former Longhorn assistant Gene Chizik, fired by Auburn two years after winning the national championship with Cam Newton. Chizik’s contract payout is set at $200,000 a month for the next three years. The total is $7.5 million. Only way that changes is if he takes another job. Elsewhere around the SEC, Tennessee is paying Derek Dooley $5 million to hit the road and Joker Phillips is getting $2.5 million from Kentucky to vacate his office . . . Texas A&M’s impressive success with a freshman QB is being duly noted in regard to 2013. I’ve seen several projections that the Aggies will be ranked in the top three in preseason polls. Depending on what happens in the bowls, Kevin Sumlin’s team could even go into next season ranked  No. 1. That’s certainly a far cry from the gloom and doom being projected when A&M left the Big 12.

    If you are a fan or admirer of Earl Campbell, plan on watching NBC Sports Network’s gripping documentary titled Still Standing: The Earl Campbell Story. It’s equal parts Campbell the football great at Texas and with the Houston Oilers, and Campbell’s battle with pain pills, addictions and life in a wheelchair for six years. You will see a lot of familiar folks offering their thoughts on Earl, including Bum Phillips, Wade Phillips, Fred Akers, Willie Nelson and  Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer “Mean Joe” Greene. The documentary debuts Tuesday at 9 p.m.  . . . As if the Texans didn’t have enough defensive concerns against Tennessee and ever dangerous Chris Johnson today in Nashville, what with an injury-ravaged linebacker corps, the Titans have thrown in a bit of a curve ball. Head coach Mike Munchak, the Houston Oiler Hall of Famer, fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer on Monday and replaced him with highly regarded quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains. Loggains, a former Arkansas QB, cut his NFL teeth in Dallas with Bill Parcells and Sean Payton. So, in addition to multiple player changes on the defense, Wade Phillips must deal with a blank slate as far as play calling and tendencies . . .Don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything more ridiculous related to the NFL than the national media flap about Jamaal Charles getting Payton Manning’s autograph for his mother after Kansas City’s loss to Denver last week. People have no life when they make something so insignificant into such an issue. Jamaal was still being asked about it as late as a press conference after the Chiefs Wednesday practice and Manning was clearly annoyed at having to field questions after a midweek Denver practice. Interestingly enough, a poll in the Kansas City paper showed 86 percent of over 6,000 participants in an online poll side siding with Charles.

    Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was sadly spared some serious humiliation when somebody at the White House pulled an online petition seeking to get him removed as Dallas’ GM. The petition, which had been up for only a day, had over 4,000 of the necessary 25,000 signatures to trigger a White House response, when it was taken down for being “in violation of our Terms of Participation.” Obviously President Obama couldn’t and wouldn’t attempt to force Jones out, though it would have improved his standing in Texas, but think how embarrassed Jethro would have been had the petition gone the distance . . . In the immediate aftermath of Robert Griffin III’s demolition of the Cowboys defense on Thanksgiving, Redskins coach Mike Shanahan referred to him as “Cool Hand Luke.” Griffin, as you would suspect, had never heard of the hit 1967 movie starring Paul Newman, and said so when asked about Shanahan’s comments during his post-game press conference. His only comment was “the guy must have been pretty cool.” The next morning Shanahan had a DVD of Cool Hand Luke delivered to Griffin’s hotel room . . . The NFL has a late season proviso called “flex scheduling” that allows NBC to replace its planned Sunday night pairing with a more playoff-significant contest. That’s exactly what should have happened for tonight’s matchup between the stumbling, 5-6 Cowboys and the abysmal 3-8 Philadelphia Eagles, with on-the-rise Tampa Bay (6-5) at Denver (8-3) being the replacement. But, because the over-hyped Cowboys have such a cult-like following that guarantees big ratings, fans are stuck with the latest chapter in 15 years of Jethro-induced mediocrity. Philly is so bad the game probably won’t be watchable by the third quarter. What a shame if it turns into a ratings dud.

       For those who have wondered if Lamar has ever tackled a more daunting non-conference schedule  that what’s overwhelming Pat Knight’s second Cardinal team, there is only one year that’s comparable. During the 1985-86 season, Pat Foster’s Cardinals opened with No. 6 ranked Duke in Houston, met defending NCAA champion Villanova in the home opener, played Texas A&M in Houston, took on No. 11 LSU in the Montagne Center, played Purdue in a tournament in California and took on Washington in Beaumont. Lamar went 3-3 in those six games, but its season went south soon thereafter and Foster felt like part of the reason was having overscheduled . . . Craig Biggio fans will want to stay tuned for Tuesday’s results of the Baseball Hall of Fame vote. Biggio, who in this opinion shouldn’t be a first ballot Hall of Famer, might slip through because of the expected voter backlash toward the steroid-tainted trio of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa, all of whom are eligible for the first time. It’s a total long shot, but Biggio and his Astro teammate Jeff Bagwell could make it together. Bagwell was on 56 percent (75 percent is needed) of the ballots last year . . . Lew Ford wasn’t the only PN-G ex in professional baseball last season. Jon Carnahan, a catcher  who helped Delta State reach the 2012 NCAA Division II World Series, played 13 games with Houston’s short-season minor league team — the  Gulf Coast Astros. Carnahan hit .250, had two doubles and drove in two runs. No word on his status for next year.

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