Bob Knight is upbeat after LU-Ohio State
Merry Christmas to all this column’s faithful readers. Hopefully, Santa delivered exactly what you wanted. Meanwhile, even on Dec. 25, there’s much to discuss in the wild and crazy world of sports.
LU basketball Pat Knight, clearly disappointed at the way his team played in a 70-50 loss to No. 2 ranked Ohio State Tuesday night, was surprised at the reaction of dad, Bob Knight, after the game. “Other than us throwing up too many outside jump shots, he liked a lot of what he saw,” said the younger Knight. “He was really impressed with how hard our kids competed, how tough we defended them and how we got on the boards.” On Monday, the elder Knight had spoken at length to Cardinal players in the locker room, watched their practice and, with Pat’s encouragement, got involved. One point he made to Lamar’s guards was that they weren’t stepping into their shots. Later, he took photos with all the players. . . . Those who watched the Lamar-Ohio State telecast on the Big Ten Network heard a lot of positive things said about the Cardinals by BTN analyst Jim Jackson. Turns out the former Ohio State All-America, who was the fourth player picked in the 1992 NBA draft by Dallas, attended some Five-Star basketball camps many years ago with Pat Knight, then played against him when Pat was at Indiana. At Knight’s invitation, Jackson also spoke to Cardinal players, with his theme that they need to make the most of the college experience and bear down in the classroom. “We didn’t pull off an upset, but between the talks from my dad and Jim Jackson, and the TV exposure, there was a lot of good for Lamar that came from playing Ohio State,” said Pat. “I guess I took how the game played out worse than other people because I don’t believe in moral victories.”
When the Cowboys tangled with the Eagles Saturday aftenoon, it marked only the third time Dallas has played at home on Christmas Eve. One of those two, on Dec. 24, 1989 against Green Bay, remains at the top of Jimmy Johnson’s list of least favorite memories during a five-year, two Super Bowl tenure as the Cowboys’ head coach. With fewer than 30,000 fans in the stands, the Packers won 20-10 in 23-degree temperatues at Texas Stadium, leaving the Cowboys with a 1-15 record in Johnson’s first season. According to a story in the Dec. 24 issue of Dallas Cowboys Star, Jimmy was so bummed out and drained from what he endured in that first NFL season, he flew to Bermuda by himself the following day and spent a week on the beaches there without communicating with anybody. Apparently nobody, not even Jerry Jones, knew where he was. Upon his return, JJ refused to utter the words one and 15 and still won’t . . . One of Dallas’ biggest challenges against Philadephia Saturday — this column was written before the game — was keeping Eagles defensive end Jason Babin off Tony Romo. Babin went into the game with 18 sacks and had an outside chance to break Michael Strahan’s all-time NFL single-season record. While Babin’s name might not resonate with a lot of NFL followers, it makes Houston Texans fans ill. The Texans traded second, third, fourth and fifth round picks to Tennessee in order to move up to 27th in the first round in 2004 so they could take Babin. During three inglorious years in Houston, Babin managed a total of 13 sacks — or five less than he had through the first 14 games of this season. Ultimately, he was traded to Seattle for a defensive back named Michael Boulware. At this point in time, Babin is arguably the Texans’ most successful No. 1 pick, albeit with all his success being in a different uniform.
There’s an interesting subplot for Lamar’s visit to No. 3 Kentucky Wednesday night, a game that’s being televised on ESPNU. Fired LU coach Steve Roccaforte was Kentucky boss John Calipari’s recruiting ace while at Memphis, Calipari lobbied for Roc to get the Lamar job and later made a trip to Beaumont to speak at the Cardinals’ preseason banquet. With Roc having burned some bridges on the way out the door, contending that he was mistreated at Lamar, you have to think he gave Calipari an earful. So the question is whether the Kentucky coach will pile it on Wednesday night, if he gets the chance. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact Bob Knight has trashed Calipari’s coaching methods more than once. Pat Knight, however, claims he has a good relationship with Calipari. We’ll see . . . As one who spent many, many hours covering games and writing about the achievements of Bum Phillips and Little Joe Washington, it’s going to be gratifying seeing them inducted into the sixth Texas Bowl Gridiron Legends Class next Saturday in Reliant Stadium at halftime of Texas A&M’s clash with Northwestern in the Meinike Car Care Bowl. Bum and Little Joe are two of my all-time favorites and two of the greatest sports achievers to come out of Southeast Texas. It’s so appropriate they are being inducted with Lone Star State football heaveyweights like Texas A&M legend John David Crow, Houston Oilers QB Dan Pastorini, Texans owner Bob McNair and former Katy High School coach Mike Johnston. My only real regret for Bum was that the Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty of the 1970s kept him out of a Super Bowl. For Joe, the regret was that Oklahoma’s probation in 1974 cost him the TV exposure that would have helped him win the Heisman Trophy.
Next to missing a season in which he would likely have solidified himself as one of the NFL’s best, most explosive running backs, and having to go through the pain associated with ACL rehab, the worst thing about his knee injury for Memorial ex Jamaal Charles has been putting with irate Fantasy Football fanatics who took him high in their drafts. “I’m starting to hate fantasy,” Charles recently said. “People are criticizing me like I wanted to get hurt. A lot of people come up to me and say like, ‘You caused my season to be messed up.’ I’m like, man, I have a real-life situation. It’s not a fake situation. It’s a real life situation than can affect my whole family.” . . . Tim Tebow mania, as you may have noticed, is clearly out of control. NBC’s Saturday Night Live did an hilarious spoof last week with Tebow and Jesus in the Broncos locker room, and now is trying to land him as the third NFL QB — Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are the others — to host the show. Also, last week in Bartow, Fla., an uproar was triggered after an anonymous person put a cardboard cutout of Tebow alongside the city’s Christmas Nativity scene. The cutout was quickly removed, but a citizen protest soon followed Tebow being sacked. Eventually the cutout was put back in the manger as a wise man, along with a disclaimer sign saying Tebow was not placed there or endorsed by the county. God help us if Tebow ever leads the Broncos to a Super Bowl . . . Where else but JerryWorld could a coach celebrating a state championship, and a sportswriter getting quotes from him in the aftermath, get run down by an unmanned golf cart, as happened last Saturday night following Spring Dekaney’s 5A title victory over Cibolo Steele? Jethro should be thankful that wasn’t Memorial’s Kenny Harrison and me standing at midfield. I’d have sued in heartbeat.
After Thursday night’s clunker in Indianapolis, it’s difficult to be optimistic about the Houston Texans in the playoffs. With rookie QB T.J. Yates running the offense, and their only deep threat, Andre Johnson, on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, the Texans are simply too easy to defend, and they wind up leaving the defense on the field too long. It may be time for Texans coach Gary Kubiak to consider going with one of the two veteran QB’s on the roster — Jake Delhomme or Jeff Garcia. Then, again, if Johnson can’t play and Wade Phillips isn’t back to run the defense, the Texas may not be able to beat anybody. One final thought on the Thursday loss at Indy. Two of the personal fouls whistled on rookie J.J. Watt against Colts QB Dan Orlovsky were as lame as I’ve ever seen. And the second played a factor in the Colts winning drive . . . Here’s hoping that Sugar Bowl folks, and all the other elitists in college football, are happy over relegating one of the nation’s top five teams, Boise State, to the out-of-sight, out of mind Maaco Bowl. By again snubbing Boise, the game’s power brokers denied college football fans a game worth watching against Michigan, instead of a ho hummer between the Wolverines and Virginia Tech. Relegated to a bowl few people saw Thursday night in Las Vegas, the Broncos did what they always do to a BCS opponent, splattering Arizona State 56-24. That made their record over the last four years 50-3, including 6-0 against teams from BCS leagues. Two of their three losses were by one point and the other by three. Victims included eventual Pac 10 champ Oregon in 2009, eventual ACC champ Virginia Tech in 2010 and SEC East champ Georgia in 2011. There would have been more top dogs embarrassed but everybody ran from scheduling Boise. Then the Broncos kept getting snubbed by the big bowls, further protecting the elite.
Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at email@example.com.