PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Bob West

January 25, 2014

West column: Broncos prove good medicine for Goose Gonsoulin

PORT ARTHUR —     Nobody in Southeast Texas is happier about Denver being in the Super Bowl than Port Arthur’s original Bronco — Goose Gonsoulin. Goose, a member of Denver’s Ring of Fame, spent last Sunday rooting hard for Peyton Manning and the Broncos from his Beaumont home, and said the victory was better medicine for him than some of his weekly chemo treatments. “I was so happy after that game,” said Gonsoulin, who added that he’s been feeling stronger of late and might have tried to attend the Super Bowl if it wasn’t in frigid New Jersey. “As an old defensive back,” Goose continued,  “I’m fascinated by Peyton and what he’s able to do. He makes it awful tough for opposing defenses. I’d glad I never had to deal with a quarterback like him.” . . . Seattle’s Golden Triangle connection — West Orange-Stark’s Earl Thomas and West Brook’s Christine Michael — will be hoping to swell the total of Super Bowl rings won by players from the immediate area to 20. The individual leaders in that category are Lincoln ex Tim McKyer (49ers, Broncos) and West Orange-Stark’s Kevin Smith (Cowboys) with three each. Interestingly enough, both were cornerbacks and really good ones. Two other players — Charlton-Pollard’s Wayne Moore (Dolphins) and Silsbee’s Reginald  Garrett (Steelers) — played on two Super Bowl winners. Lincoln exes can boast of having won the most Super Bowl rings with six. In addition to McKyer’s three, Aaron Brown (Chiefs)  Joe Washington (Redskins) and Bobby Leopold (49ers) each earned a ring . . . Not to be overlooked on the topic of Super Bowl rings are TJ’s Jimmy Johnson and Nederland’s Bubba Tyer. Jimmy won two as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, while Bubba has three in his collection from 37 years as the Redskins head trainer/director of sports medicine.

    Lamar’s victory over mighty Abilene Christian Thursday night was significant for more than ending a 14-game losing streak this season and another 14-game against Southland Conference foes dating back to last season. Prior to the game in Abilene, LU had moved perilously close to owning the worst RPI (ratings percentage index) in college basketball. After losing their first six SLC games by an average margin of 16 points, Pat Knight’s Cardinals had tumbled all the way to No. 348. Only Division 1 teams below them were Presbyterian, Grambling and Bethune-Cookman. With the win over ACC, which is No. 342, the Cardinals moved all the way up to 346 . . . If Knight won’t do the honorable thing and resign, as was suggested in the space last week, Lamar officials need to come up with a way to move him out. Immediately. Tic Price, who is already employed at LU, would be an excellent choice as an interim coach to finish out the season. The longer Knight stays around, the longer it’s going to take to start a rebuilding process that is going to be painful because of his feeble recruiting efforts and a probable APR hit the school will take. Lamar needs to bring in an outside consultant who knows the school and knows basketball, let him evaluate the situation and oversee a coaching search . . . Mike Deane, who has in common with Knight the fact he took another coach’s players and got Lamar into the NCAA tournament before ensuing seasons exposed his hiring as a mistake, was spotted recently at Lamar State College-Port Arthur’s Parker Center. Deane, now an assistant at James Madison, after being fired at Wagner, was in town on a recruiting trip focused on the Seahawks’ D.J. Blanks.

    Nederland’s continuing basketball success under Brian English, highlighted by last week’s upset of then No. 1 ranked Central, made me wonder if the school’s sports fans realize how fortunate they are. In English and long-time football boss Larry Neumann, Nederland boasts the strongest football-basketball coaching duo in Southeast Texas, and one that would be in the argument for best one-two combo of the last 50 years. Others I’d put in that category would be Charlton-Pollard’s Willie Ray Smith and Bob Woodard in the late 1960s and early ‘70s, Lincoln’s Joe Washington and James Gamble  for stretches in both the ‘70s and ‘80s, Hebert’s Fred Williams and Andre Boutte in the 1980s and Stephen F. Austin’s Richard Marler and Larry Reece in the ‘80s . . . Looks like the ball is rolling on a scenario that was  anticipated when Nolan Ryan was more or less shoved out the door by the Texas Rangers after last season. Astros owner Jim Crane told the Houston Chronicle last week than he hopes to meet with Ryan soon about a position with the team that once let him get away to the Rangers as a free agent pitcher. Ryan’s son, Reid, of course, is the Astros president. If no-nonsense Nolan comes on board, you have to think Crane will have convinced him he’s willing to take the necessary financial steps to build a winner. I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t happen . . . Not everything about Lamar basketball is depressing. Former Cardinal Mike James is tearing it up in an Italian professional basketball league. The 6-2 James, who plays for Paffoni Omenga, is leading the league in scoring at 23.4 ppg. He’s also averaging 6.3 rebounds and 5.6 assists, while shooting 55.4 percent from the field and 37.4 on treys.

    Two best photos I saw all week involved scores of workers trying to remove all the snow from MetLife Stadium in a real-life  post-blizzard drill for what would be the NFL’s worst nightmare, and the Cowboys dynamic duo of Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett hunkered down in the stands watching Senior Bowl practice in Mobile, Ala. A day after he’d endorsed 73-year-old Monty Kiffin as the Cowboys defensive coordinator, Jethro had a ball cap pulled low over his eyes as he intently watched practice. Given his football expertise, he’ll no doubt have some draft recommendations for Cowboys’ scouts . . . Not saying the Pro Bowl will be must-see TV late this afternoon, but I have to give the NFL credit for coming up with a gimmicky idea that might raise the game’s level of intensity. Having Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice head up the two teams, and conducting a televised draft of players voted into the game, was a fun approach. It also gave Memorial ex Jamaal Charles a lot of air time on the NFL Channel, as he and Sanders team co-captain J.J. Watt helped Deion with his selections. Among other things, there had to be some seriously bruised egos for players who weren’t selected until the end of the draft. Former Houston Texans No. 1 draft pick Mario Williams, for instance, was the last defensive lineman taken . . . Irrepressible PN-G ex Lew Ford just keeps on getting his hacks. The 36-year-old Ford, after being released by Baltimore’s AA affiliate this past summer, and rejoining the Independent Long Island Ducks, has spent the winter playing in the Dominican League. On Wednesday, his RBI double in the ninth inning broke a scoreless tie and gave Licey a 1-0 lead victory over Escognido and a 3-0 lead in a best-of-nine playoff series. The double boosted Ford’s playoff batting average to .375.

    One of the well kept and dirty little secrets of the University of Texas football program under Mack Brown was what a poor overall job that was done graduating players. Latest evidence was revealed in a University of Central Florida report on the 70 schools that played in bowl games following the 2013 season. A study of graduation rates dating back to incoming freshmen from six years ago, showed only Oklahoma (51 percent), Mississippi State (55 percent) and Southern Cal (55 percent) with a lower graduation rate than UT’s 56 percent. Texas was actually tied with Oklahoma State for 67th place, giving the Big 12 three of the bottom five. Student athletes? Yeah, right. Rice, by the way, was No. 1 at 96 percent, followed by Notre Dame and Boston College at 94 and Stanford at 93. Texas A&M weighed in with a respectable 74 percent . . . Given the over-the-top reaction toward Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman’s rant after the AFC Championship, here’s an Internet posting with some very interesting food for thought. Titled “Who’s the Real Thug”, the posting had photos of Sherman and pop star Justin Bieber. Beside Sherman, were the words: “Graduated high school with a 4.2 GPA and 1400 SAT score. Member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, graduated Stanford with a 3.7 GPA and a Master’s degree.” (Actually, he’s working toward his Masters). Beside Bieber’s photo were the words “Resisted arrest, threw eggs at a neighbor’s house, drag raced under the influence, snorts coke and smokes weed.” Left out was the fact Bieber dropped numerous “f” bombs on Miami Beach police after his arrest last week. Who, indeed, is the real thug?

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

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Bob West