PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Bob West

December 7, 2013

West Column: Sports science finds Jamaal Charles off the charts

PORT ARTHUR — ESPN’s Sports Science, after putting Jamaal Charles through an extensive battery of tests, published some pretty eye-opening facts about the Memorial ex in ESPN The Magazine’s Dec. 9 One Day, One Game issue. Among the revelations were that Charles is the fastest-cutting athlete ever tested, that he experiences 4 g’s of force coming out of a cut to 3’s for the average running back, that he can reach a top- end speed of 23 mph on the field and that he can generate 2,000 watts of peak power in a single burst. Comparisons offered to put those numbers in perspective were that Adrian Peterson’s top-end speed was 21.8 mph, that 3 g’s is what astronauts experience during shuttle launches and 2,000 watts is what it takes to power a lighthouse. A sobering number was that Charles will experience an estimated 630,000 pounds of cumulative force while being tackled 350 times this season. That was said to be the equivalent of being kicked more than 200 times by a horse . . . Ray Woodard will return for a fifth year as Lamar University’s football coach but his working situation with athletic director Jason Henderson will be tenuous at best. Henderson wanted a coaching change and probably would have gotten it done had Woodard not been put on alert by a note in this column the morning after a tough loss to McNeese. Woodard, as coaches tend to do, fought back, mustering support from high- dollar donors and media types who thought he deserved better. In the end, Henderson and new LU president Dr. Kenneth R. Evans realized it would be wise to pull back. Woodard heads to 2014 a lame duck of sorts, something which will be used against him in recruiting. Lamar is once again a house divided when it comes to football

    Congratulations are in order for PN-G and Lamar ex Chris Stroud. Stroud, who is coming off his finest PGA Tour season, and who recently passed Bruce Lietzke for the most money won by a Southeast Texan on the PGA Tour, has been chosen for induction into the Museum of the Gulf Coast. A date for the ceremony is expected to be announced after the first of the year. When it happens, Stroud will become the fourth golfer in the museum, alongside Babe Zaharias, Marty Fleckman and Lietzke. Given his popularity, museum officials should plan on a huge turnout . . . Many area coaches, scores of former high school athletes and every sportswriter whose path he ever crossed were saddened this past week by the passing of long-time trainer George Hawkins. My first dealings with George came when he was at Beaumont High School in the late 1960s, and I got to know him much better during stints at Thomas Jefferson and Nederland. His likeablilty factor, enhanced by a terrific sense of humor,  was off the charts. If you knew George and missed Tom Halliburton’s wonderful column about him in Friday’s Port Arthur News, please check it out on our website. Tom outdid himself with that piece . . .  The final week of November was a special one for Bridge City’s Matt Bryant. Bryant was selected the Atlanta Falcons Community All-Star for November, for his work with teachers, and for buying game tickets and T-shirts for marines who volunteer to work in Atlanta’s Toys for Tots campaign during the  holidays. Being named a monthly winner puts Bryant in consideration to be selected the Falcons finalist for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Icing on the cake for Matt was kicking a game-winning 36-yard field goal in sudden death overtime last Sunday against Buffalo.

     Every time Pat Knight loses another game at the Montagne Center, the days when Lamar was practically invincible in Beaumont seem more and more like a fairy tale. The Billy Tubbs and Pat Foster Cardinals of the late ‘70s and early 80s, of course, won 80 consecutive home games. Foster coached Lamar for six seasons and lost the grand total of nine games (66-9) in three Beaumont venues. Knight, on the other hand, was 1-10 at the Montagne Center last season and is 1-13 in Beaumont with his own recruits. LU, by the way, after finishing No. 346 out of 347 Division 1 basketball teams in USA Today’s Sagarin ratings last season, is No. 344 out of 350 ranked teams this season . . . All that stands between Nick Saban and the University of Texas, from what I hear, is Mack Brown making it official that he’s stepping down. Saban, according to some of the big cigars in the know, won’t even coach Alabama in its bowl game in order to get busy on the recruiting trail in Texas. Brown, on the other hand, is expected to coach the Longhorns in their bowl before riding off into the sunset. If Saban does indeed take the UT job, it will be interesting to see how many of the recruits who committed to Brown that he’ll keep . . . One school pulling for Saban to make the move to Texas is Auburn, and for two reasons. First, no matter who replaces him, Alabama is going to take a step back. Second, Sports Illustrated had a report out this past week that if Saban to Texas fell through, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn would be the Longhorns’ next target.

     No surprise that Bob McNair pulled the plug on Gary Kubiak after Houston’s penalty-marred loss to Jacksonville Thursday night. As much as anything, McNair performed  a mercy killing. Other than relentless J.J. Watt and a handful of others, the body language and overall sloppiness evident as the Texans rolled up 14 penalties for 177 yards in their 11th consecutive defeat left little doubt they had quit on Kubiak. I never thought the Texans were  as good as the city’s media pumped them up to be, and injuries to key players like Arian Foster and Brian Cushing took a heavy toll. But McNair risked losing a huge chunk of the fan base if he didn’t make a change. Once Matt Schaub threw the killer pick six in game four against Seattle, this team was doomed. With salary cap issues looming, and major shortcomings on both sides of the ball,  Houston likely won’t be back in the playoff discussion any time soon . . . I’ll be in the minority on this, but I’d like to see Wade Phillips hired  as the Texans’ next head coach. For all the detractors who point to how things ended in Dallas, Wade’s got some impressive achievements as a head coach. He had Buffalo in the playoffs in two of his three seasons there, while going against Bill Parcells’ Jets and Jimmy Johnson’s Dolphins in the AFC East. The Bills haven’t been in the playoffs since he was fired after the 2000 season. He won two NFC East championships in his first three years in Dallas, with records of 13-3 and 11-5, and did it despite a mistake-prone Tony Romo, being stuck with Jason Garrett as his offensive coordinator and being subject to Jerry Jones’ brain-dead whims. What have the Cowboys done since he left? Wade’s 82-60 record as a head coach puts his .563 winning percentage pretty high among guys who’ve called the shots for over 100 NFL games. The Texans can, and probably will, do a whole lot worse..

     Based on what I’m hearing and reading, former Astro Craig Biggio has better than a 50-50 chance of being voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame on the current round of balloting. One writer whose baseball instincts I trust — Bernie Micklasz of the St. Louis Post Dispatch — is projecting Biggio in a five-player 2014 class that would include Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Jack Morris. A year ago, when not a single player got the 75 percent of the vote needed for election, Biggio was the leader at 68 percent. Biggio’s former Astros teammate Jeff Bagwell, who has steadily climbed from 41.7 percent in 2011, to 46 percent in 2012 to 59.6 percent last year, remains a long shot because of lingering steroid perceptions . . . Word I get is that Lamar University’s Ray Woodard is very interested in Nederland’s versatile Colton Kimler and is going to make signing him a priority. Kimler, picked by District 20-4A coaches as that league’s most valuable player, surprisingly hasn’t been getting much of a recruiting rush. There’s no doubt in my mind he could help Lamar on the field and probably in the stands. From what I’ve seen, he’s a special player . . . How’s this for bringing in a long shot? In 1998 a man from Wales named Peter Edwards wanted to place a wager that his 1 1/2 year old grandson would some day play for the Welsh National Soccer Team. That’s sort of like an American betting his toddler grandson is going to play in the NFL, MLB or the NBA. Edwards was given 2,500/1 odds by a Welsh bookmaker and plopped down the U.S. equivalent of $80. Last month, he collected $200,000 after the grandson, at 16-years-old, became the youngest player ever to step on the field for Wales’ national senior team in a World Cup qualifier. Edwards, 62, celebrated by taking early retirement.

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

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Bob West