The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
So how big an upset would it be for Dallas to defeat Philadelphia behind backup QB Kyle Orton today and win the NFL East with a 9-7 record? Not that big, really. The Eagles, who are favored by 6 1/2 points, are nearly as flawed as the Cowboys. They are two weeks removed from a 48-30 thrashing at the hands of a four-win Minnesota team that doesn’t have a legitimate NFL quarterback and was playing without Adrian Peterson. Like the Cowboys, they’d be in trouble in any division but the NFC East and the AFC South. Like the Cowboys, they will be one and done if they make it to the playoffs. That these two are playing for a division championship underscores the depressing level of mediocrity in the NFL . . . Win or lose tonight, Jason Garrett won’t be fired as head coach of the Cowboys. Tony Romo’s injury gives owner Jethro Jones just enough wiggle room to stick with his boy genius, even if the end result is another failed season. To fire Garrett, Jethro would be admitting what an idiot he was for proclaiming Garrett his coach of the future, overpaying him and forcing him on Wade Phillips as the Cowboys offensive coordinator back in 2007. But, as Bill Parcells famously once said, “you are what your record says you are.” In his three full seasons as a head coach, Garrett is 24-23. Overall, he’s 29-26. Anywhere else in the NFL, that gets you fired . . . Don’t ever dismiss the Sports Illustrated cover jinx as just a myth. You can bet Tony Romo won’t. Since he appeared on the Dec. 2 SI cover, Romo had to play through the flu while bringing Dallas from behind against Oakland, was part of a blowout loss in Chicago, was the goat in a loss to Green Bay and suffered an injury against Washington that led to season-ending surgery.
Soon after Texas A&M’s Chick-fil-A Bowl game against Duke New Year’s Eve, Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel is likely to announce he’s moving on to the NFL. When he does, I’d love to see Manziel unleash his inner maverick with a rant against the way NCAA rules turn college football players into cheap labor. Something along the lines of: “Hell, yes, I took money to sign autographs. Do I look stupid? Everybody else is making money off me, why should I get left out? I just got my coach a raise to $5 million a year. The school has made millions off the excitement I generated. I helped major stadium improvements get approved. Look at what I did for TV ratings. My only regret is not cashing in bigger on autographs.” . . . Things could get a tad uncomfortable for Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops at the Sugar Bowl Thursday night. Stoops has repeatedly taken shots at the Southeastern Conference, suggesting the league is overrated. Now, with an OU team that even Texas was able to stampede, he’s got to deal with an irate Alabama outfit no doubt still steaming over the way it lost to Auburn. Given that Nick Saban’s response to reporters on Stoops’ early-season comment about the SEC was to remark, “I’ve got more important things to do than sit around and read what Bob Stoops has to say about anything,” you have to think Saban won’t be inclined to pull off if the game gets one-sided. It says here bookmakers were conservative in making Alabama a mere 15-point favorite . . . For those who didn’t bother to count, eight teams with 6-6 records were part of this season’s bowl lineup. The biggest joke of all was 7-6 Colorado State against 6-6 Washington State in the Gildon New Mexico Bowl. Reaching a bowl game used be a meaningful accomplishment. Now, with the exception of a handful of games, it’s nothing special. More specifically, it’s an exercise in profit that creates programing for ESPN and fools gold a coach whose team reached the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl or the New Era Pinstripe Bowl can put on his resume.
With the Kansas City Chiefs locked in to a wild-card game at Indianapolis next week, Chiefs coach Andy Reid has strongly hinted he may not play Jamaal Charles against San Diego today to insure him being injury free for the playoffs. It’s the smart thing to do, but it’s going to cost Jamaal the chance to finish No. 1 in the NFL in total yards. The Eagles’ LeSean McCoy, with 2,012 combined rushing and receiving yards, leads Charles (1,980) by 32 yards. Whether he plays or not, Jamaal does figure to wind up as the AFC’s leading rusher (1,287 yards), the NFL leader in first downs generated (104) and the NFL leader in both touchdowns (19) and points for non-kickers (114) . . . Charles, as anybody who plays Fantasy Football knows, is the 2013 MVP in most leagues. Nobody appreciates him more than a guy from Daly City, Calif., named Matt Renwick. Two weeks ago, Renwick was 32nd out of 40 contestants on the DraftStreet Fantasy Football Championship final-day leaderboard in Las Vegas. Then Jamaal went wild against Oakland with five touchdowns and 195 receiving yards. The outburst generated a record 55.5 points for Renwick’s team and helped elevate him all the way to third place. The payoff was $100,000 . . . Next to Charles and West Orange-Stark’s Earl Thomas in Seattle, Beaumont Central ex Anthony Collins is having the best year on any of the area players in the NFL. Collins, who took advantage of an injury to become Cincinnati’s starting left tackle, is having sort of a dream season for an offensive lineman. In 13 games, five of which have been starts, stats kept by Pro Football Focus say Collins not only hasn’t allowed a sack, but not once allowed his man to even hit the quarterback. Since left tackles generally go up against an opponent’s best pass rusher, it’s a truly amazing stat. Best news of all for six-year veteran Collins is that he becomes a free agent after this season.
One of the most amazing and long-standing records in Texas high school football — the attendance mark of 49,953 for the 1977 4A state championship game between Plano and Port Neches-Groves at Texas Stadium — fell last Saturday afternoon at JerryWorld. Or did it? The UIL announced an attendance figure of 54,347 for the Allen-Pearland 5A, Division 1 title game. A story in the Dallas Morning News, however, indicated that number included fans from Katy and Cedar Hill, who showed up early for the 5A, Division II championship matchup. If that’s the case, an asterisk ought to accompany the new record. Doug Ethridge’s 1977 PN-G team, by the way, played before 177,837 fans — an average of 35,567 — in five playoff games . . . Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty patriarch who has been making news of late, was a pretty fair college quarterback in his younger days. Matter of fact, Robertson was even singled out for his talent by Bear Bryant, after No. 1 ranked Alabama opened with a 34-0 win over Louisiana Tech in 1966. Later that year, Robertson and a Louisiana Tech team headed to 1-9 were beaten 31-16 by Lamar in Cardinal Stadium. He was 11 of 19 for 125 yards and a TD before being spelled late in the game by some guy named Terry Bradshaw. The following year in Ruston, still playing ahead of Bradshaw, Robertson got even against a Lamar team ranked No. 7 in the College Division of the NCAA. He threw for 251 yards and 2 TDs in a 41-31 win . . . Speaking of Bradshaw, he had some choice words about Cowboys coach Jason Garrett on the Fox NFL Sunday pre-game show last week. “He’s no head coach,” said Bradshaw of Garrett. “Never should have been hired in the first place. He’s just a ‘yes’ man for Jerry Jones.” Wow. Seldom do we hear that kind of candor out of NFL analysts.
Pat Knight’s Lamar basketball teams continue to do things unmatched in school history. When they fell to Tennessee Tech Dec. 15 in the Montagne Center, the Cardinals completed the 2013 calendar year without winning a home game. Starting with a Jan. 7 loss to Southeastern Louisiana, the Cardinals have dropped 14 straight games in Beaumont. No LU basketball coach has ever gone a calendar year without a home victory, just like no LU coach had ever won fewer than six games in a season until Knight went 3-28 last year. The 2013 stretch of futility at home is a major reason why apathy has reached the point where Montagne Center attendance is an embarrassment . . . Best news for LU diehards out there is that the Southland Conference, which looks to be historically bad, is going to give Lamar the opportunity to win some games. Eight of 14 teams in the expanded SLC are ranked No. 312 or lower out of 351 Division 1 teams in USA Today’s Sagarin ratings. Lamar, at No. 336, is even above two teams — No. 341 Abilene Christian and No. 344 Central Arkansas. Also in the 300s are Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (312), Nicholls (314), Houston Baptist (316), McNeese (317) and Incarnate Word (322) . . . Happy New Year to one and all for 2014. May your favorite team win lots of games and create many happy memories. Unless, of course, that team has an owner named Jerry Jones. In that case, you have my sympathy.
Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at email@example.com.