, Port Arthur, Texas

Bob West

November 16, 2013

West column: LU basketball foreign territory to Texas players

PORT ARTHUR — It’s far too early to tell how much better Pat Knight’s third Lamar basketball team will be over his 3-28 disaster of last season, but there’s a troubling aspect of the current Cardinals that really jumps out. Only one of 13 players on the roster — 6-5 senior Amos Wilson — is from Texas. As long as I’ve been around Cardinal basketball, and it dates back to the 1960s, I can’t recall so few Texans being part of the program. Out of curiosity, I checked rosters from the Billy Tubbs and Pat Foster glory years. Tubbs had a minimum of five former Texas schoolboys and a maximum of 9 in his four years. Foster, in seven seasons, had a minimum of three , a maximum of seven and an average right at 6. The simple conclusion here is that Knight has little recruiting clout in Texas. Consequently, LU is paying heavily in out-of-state tuition. That’s just one more reason he needs to stop making excuses like “nobody wanted to come to Lamar”, and gets things turned around pronto . . . The Southland Conference’s 50th Anniversary All-Time Football Team selections are down to specialists and head coaches, and there’s only one local nominee in the group. That would be former Thomas Jefferson punter/kicker Don Stump, who was a three-time All-SLC choice at McNeese State from 1979-81, and made first team All-SLC as both a kicker and punter in ‘79. Stump, the brother of former TJ All-State QB Craig Stump, who is currently the head coach at Atascocita High School, was the SLC scoring leader in 1980. Though Don didn’t go on to have an NFL career, his two-way kicking skills should give him a legitimate shot at making the 50th anniversary team.

Sounds like Baylor took very seriously the possibility that Texas might attempt to throw an offer at Art Briles that the Bears popular and high successful head coach could not refuse. Yes, coaching contracts are made to be broken, but Briles doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who would walk away from a 10-year contract extension in the $4 million per year range. Plus, his contract reportedly has some heavy-duty buyout penalties that will discourage him from ever coaching anywhere else. With Briles returning, and Baylor moving into a new stadium next year, the school’s football outlook has never been brighter . . . Besides Briles, you can scratch Florida’s Will Muschamp off the list of possible successors to Mack Brown. Muschamp, who it says here would have been a bad hire for UT, ended the 2012 season at Florida on the sour note of losing  to arch-rival Georgia, then getting embarrassed by Louisville in the Sugar Bowl. Since then, things have gone steadily downhill, with the Gators 4-5, mired in a four-game losing streak and needing to upset either South Carolina or Florida State to get bowl eligible. Many in Gator nation have come to the conclusion hiring Muschamp was a mistake. He’s now got no prayer at Texas . . . So who will be coaching the Longhorns next year? Alabama’s Nick Saban is still at the top of UT Big Cigar wish list, but a new name jumped out Friday that I hadn’t heard. Somebody who knows him well says the Philadelphia Eagles Chip Kelly is not having that much fun coaching in the NFL and might listen to an offer from Texas. It certainly wouldn’t be an unprecedented move for a coach to leave an NFL team to go back to college. Saban, as you will remember,  made that very leap, ditching the Miami Dolphins for Alabama.

With 9-0 Kansas City’s game at Denver tonight getting the NFL spotlight, Jamaal Charles will be receiving a lot of attention on NBC’s pre-game show from analysts Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison. Harrison, the former New England Patriots safety, is one of Charles’ biggest boosters among TV types and has already singled him out as the key to the eight-point underdog Chiefs pulling an upset. One Bronco defender who is a believer is safety Rahim Moore. Moore had this to say about the AFC leader in rushing and total yards:  “People always think he’s not the biggest back, but he’s strong like those big backs, and he has unbelievable speed. He has no weaknesses. He can block, he can run, he can catch the ball out of the backfield. He’s a complete back.” . . . Bridge City’s Matt Bryant has been one of the few bright spots for the Atlanta Falcons. Bryant, at age 38, continues to be as accurate as any kicker in the NFL, having made 13-of-14 field goal attempts. What’s really impressive is that he’s 2-of-2 beyond 50 yards. Wonder where the Texans would be if they had Matt, instead of Randy Bullock?  Unfortunately for Bryant, with Atlanta battling Houston to be the NFL’s most disappointing team, he’s getting less than two FG opportunities per game.  Bryant, over the last four years, has made a remarkable 90 percent (101-of-112) of his attempts.

First thing I thought last week, when I read that New Orleans had made 40 first downs against the Cowboys, was that it was a typographical error. Nobody is bad enough defensively to give up 40 first downs. Well, nobody outside Dallas. ESPN’s Chris Berman was so taken by the Cowboys ineptitude that on his NFL Two-Minute Drill Friday night he showed all 40 of New Orleans’ first-down plays. As you would expect, It took most of the two minuets . . . Dallas’ 73-year-old defensive coordinator, Monte Kiffin, must have thought he was having a groundhog-day experience while watching the Saints score 49 points and gain 625 yards. Last year, as his son Lane Kiffin’s defensive coordinator at Southern Cal, Kiffin looked on helplessly while Oregon gained 730 yards enroute to whipping the Trojans 62-51. Shortly thereafter, the elder Kiffin was unemployed. Jerry Jones, of course, saw something in the old man nobody else did and hired him to run Dallas’ defense. What an absolutel idiot . . .With fourth-place teams celebrating being in the UIL football playoffs, it brought to mind a time when deserving teams often got left out. The year that I’ve never forgotten was 1971. Heading into District 22-4A play, Port Neches-Groves, Thomas Jefferson and Lincoln were all 5-0 and ranked in the state top 10. Five weeks later, a Lincoln team led by Little Joe Washington was 10-0 and headed to the playoffs. PN-G and its great running back Jeff Bergeron were on the outside looking in at 9-1. So was star QB Larry Mayer and an 8-2 TJ team that reached the state semifinals the year before. As our John DeVillier wrote at the time, “From Nov. 5 to Nov. 12, TJ went from No. 1 in the state to No. 3 in District 22-4A.” The Jackets fell to Lincoln, 22-14, in week nine, then lost to PN-G, 28-21.

Johnny Manziel is having another remarkable, Heisman Trophy worthy season at A&M, but apparently his value to the school has been overstated. Or has it? A&M, after saying Manziel’s overall financial impact on the school would at least match the $250 million figure Baylor claimed it reaped from Robert Griffin III winning the 2011 Heisman, has done some serious backtracking. quoted an A&M spokesman as saying the only extra revenue that can be directly attributed to Johnny Football is $20,000, plus a portion of $60,000 in royalties from the sale of football jerseys. The key words, of course, are “directly attributed.” AD Eric Hyman was also quoted as saying A&M has gotten more financial benefit from joining the Southeastern Conference than from Manziel winning the Heisman. Wonder what the SEC benefit would have been if there’d been no Manziel and the Aggies had gone about 4-8 ? ? ? Speaking of the value of college football players, Business Insider published an eye-opening chart that it called “Fair Market Value for Players.” To reach an appropriate dollar figure, it applied the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement in which players get 47 percent of all revenues — TV, ticket sales, etc. Business Insider applied that formula  to the top 25 revenue-producing schools, then divided by 85, or the total number of scholarships. The figures were stunning. Texas, as you would expect, was No. 1. The per year fair market value for a scholarship player at UT was determined to be $578,000. Michigan was second at $470,000, followed by Alabama at $453,000, Auburn at $428,000 and Georgia at $416,000. That’s just a wee bit more than the scholarship so many folks seem to think is ample compensation. The figures underscore what a big business college football at the highest levels has become. And how cheap the labor is.

Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at


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