Category Archives: Sports news

How do you ‘prepare’ for NFL draft?

I do not understand this development, so someone might have to explain it to me.

Will Grier, a top flight quarterback for West Virginia University is the latest top-tier athlete to forgo a football bowl game to “prepare for the National Football League draft.”

Let’s ponder that for a moment. The Mountaineers are going to play a game against Syracuse in the Camping World Bowl.

Grier received a scholarship to play football in Morgantown, W.Va. The school paid for his education. The school’s fans packed the stadium to watch Grier play QB. So now he wants to exhibit his loyalty to the school by skipping the team’s final game of the year?

To prepare for the NFL draft? What in the world do these guys do to prep for a draft? Spare me the excuse that they are seeking to prevent career-ending injury; that event could happen at any time of the year.

Royce Freeman, a running back at Oregon, stiffed the Ducks a year ago. So did Christian McCaffrey at Stanford a couple of years before that. These high-profile athletes occasionally bail on their schools to, um, get ready to be drafted.

I keep circling back to a series of questions: What in the world do these fellows do to prepare to have their name called as a member of an NFL franchise? Do they run wind sprints in their front yard? Do they practice blocking and tackling in the garage? Do they, um, memorize play books?

Moreover, is there no more loyalty to the schools that shell out good money to pay for their education?

Pulling for ‘home boy’ of sorts for Heisman Trophy

I haven’t had this much interest in the Heisman Trophy since, oh, 2015 when Oregon’s Marcus Mariota won the award as the nation’s top college football player.

The object of my attention this year is a young man from Allen, Texas, who plays for the University of Oklahoma. I refer to Kyler Murray, the OU quarterback.

Given that I now live about one mile north of Allen High School — and one of my granddaughter’s brothers graduated from there while another one is attending Allen HS — I want Murray to win.

He’s got some tough competition among the finalists: Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama and Duane Haskins of Ohio State. All of them are QBs.

But . . . I’m going to pull for Kyler Murray. I don’t particular follow OU football. I haven’t yet gotten into the Allen Eagles’ groove, although I am aware of their multiple Texas Class 6A football championships — with is a real big deal!

We’ll know shortly who gets the Heisman. Kyler Murray has a decision to make: football or baseball? He’s signed a contract with the Oakland A’s. The kid can play hardball, too.

Come to think of it, John Elway was thought to be a better baseball player than a football player when he graduated from Stanford in the early 1980s. He chose football.

Elway’s gridiron career turned out all right.

No legislative interference on this football matter, please

Texas House Bill 412 needs to go . . . nowhere!

What is it? It is a bill proposed by state Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, that requires the University of Texas and Texas A&M University to play a football game sometime in November each year.

That’s right. Rep. Larson — an A&M alumnus — wants the Legislature to intervene in a decision that should rest entirely with the athletic directors of the respective universities.

I’ve already endorsed the so-called “end game.” I want the Longhorns and Aggies to resume their storied football rivalry, which ended in 2011 when A&M left the Big 12 Conference for the Southeastern Conference.

When the Aggies bolted, the series ended. Period.

But is the Legislature the right avenue to travel to bring this thing back? No. It’s the kind of feel-good legislation one sees on occasion. Legislators and members of Congress occasionally get all worked up when tragedy strikes; they seek a legislative remedy to prevent horrible events from recurring.

This kind of legislation sort of falls into that category.

I respect Rep. Larson’s desire to bring the rivalry back. I do not believe the Texas Legislature should waste a moment of its time debating it. Lawmakers have a lot of other matters to consider. You know, small stuff such as, oh, water policy, highway construction, education reform, tax-and-spend matters. The 2019 Legislature might even consider whether to rescind the authority it granted cities to install and deploy red-light cameras to catch traffic violators in the act of breaking the law; don’t go there, lawmakers.

Larson did make a cogent point, though. “It’s time for the folks in Austin and College Station to get in a room and make a deal to restore the rivalry,” he told the Texas Tribune.

You are correct, sir. They can — and should — hammer it out without interference from the Texas Legislature.

Excellent outcome, flawed tactic to get there

A San Antonio state representative has pitched a marvelous idea, but I do not believe his tactic to get there is the right way to go.

State Rep. Lyle Larson, a Republican, has filed a bill to require the University of Texas and Texas A&M University to play a non-conference football game each year. Larson, an A&M graduate, has put his name on House Bill 412, which would require the teams to play that game some time in November.

Oh . . . my!

First of all, I applaud his intent. I, too, would love to see the teams play each other again. The Longhorns and Aggies last played a tackle football game in 2011, before Texas A&M bolted the Big 12 Conference for the Southeastern Conference.

The Longhorns and Aggies used to play on Thanksgiving Day. It used to be part of Texas’s holiday tradition. It was a home-and-home series, alternating between Austin and College Station.

It’s huge, man!

But now it’s history.

Should there be a legislative remedy? Umm. It’s unnecessary. The Legislature must spend more time dealing with issues that are infinitely more critical to Texans than requiring an annual UT-A&M football game. OK, I get that such a football game is about as important as it gets for some Texans. But, c’mon!

I would like to implore the athletic directors at both schools to consider scheduling such a game earlier in the season. Most of the nation’s top-drawer football programs schedule a series of non-conference games at the beginning of each season. Many of their non-conference opponents are of the “cupcake” variety; they bring teams representing smaller colleges and universities into their mammoth stadiums full of fans, giving those smaller schools a slice of a large revenue pie to take back home.

That, of course, is not the issue with either UT or A&M. Both schools are loaded with money. Their endowments are among the richest in the world. Their respective athletic budgets are among the priciest of any in the country.

The issue here is to have student-athletes from these universities play football. It is to give loyalists, alumni and just plain fan(atics) a chance to cheer for their favorite team. It enables one of them to achieve bragging rights for the rest of the year when they defeat the other guys.

I appreciate Rep. Larson’s desire to see the teams return to the field of competition.

However, we should take this battle straight to the schools’ ADs.

Texas Tech coach is out . . . despite all the love

Kliff Kingsbury has been fired as head football coach at Texas Tech University.

He was a fan favorite. Kingsbury played quarterback at Tech. He was reportedly destined to be the Red Raiders’ head coach.

Tech’s athletic director heaped praise on him for his character and for being a great role model for his players. Tech’s president said much the same thing and thanked Kingsbury all he did to advance the school’s football program.

Give me a break, will ya?

Neither of them said a word publicly about the reason Kingsbury was canned: He didn’t win enough football games. He had a losing record as a head coach.

All that happy talk was chock full of platitudes.

I feel badly for Kingsbury. I just wish his bosses wouldn’t speak with so many clichés that don’t mean a single thing.

Here come the Sod Poodles gags

Here they come. The jokes are going to become part of conversation in Amarillo, Texas, which is preparing to welcome the return of minor-league baseball next spring.

The hole you see in the picture above is meant to poke fun of the new baseball team’s name, the Amarillo Sod Poodles.

Sod Poodles supposedly is one archaic term for prairie dogs. I haven’t talked to anyone with any history in the Texas Panhandle or the High Plains who has heard of the term “Sod Poodles.”

Whatever, the jokes are piling up around the Panhandle.

My hunch is that the team owners are laughing hysterically themselves at what they have brought to the region.

The Sod Poodles will be a AA minor-league outfit affiliated with the National League’s San Diego Padres. The team used to play as the San Antonio Missions, but moved to Amarillo when San Antonio welcomed a AAA team.

My wife and I have moved away from Amarillo, but I am having fun watching this team’s presence in the city evolve and develop.

The multipurpose event venue/ballpark will be done by April 2019 when the Sod Poodles open Texas League play. They’ve laid down the sod. The structure is taking shape downtown.

And the jokes are flying.

Let’s play ball!

Missing this holiday tradition

If only Texas A&M University hadn’t decided to play football in the Southeastern Conference. If only the Aggies had stayed put in the Big 12. If only . . .

I’d be watching a Texas tradition today while consuming some turkey and all the other stuff.

Thanksgiving Day meant some good ol’ college tackle football between the University of Texas and them Aggies of A&M.

I wasn’t born in Texas. I didn’t attend either school. I’ve lived in Texas long enough — 34 years now — to appreciate the thrill, the pageantry and the excitement associated with this holiday tradition.

If only the Aggies hadn’t bolted to the SEC.

I have made the acquaintances of many Texas Exes and dedicated Aggies over the years. I have no particular loyalty to either school. Neither of my UT or A&M friends are “better” friends than the others. I do like to watch tackle football played at the college level.

My wife and I have attended one A&M football game. It was years ago in Lubbock, when the Aggies played Texas Tech’s Red Raiders in a windswept event at Jones Stadium. The Red Raiders won that game in a thriller.

Do you know what thrilled the daylights out of me, though? It was the sight — and the sound! — of the Aggie marching band walking onto the field. Talk about spit-and-polish precision!

Well, we won’t see any of that today. Nor will we get to see Bevo the steer roaming the sideline in front of the Longhorn faithful while his UT gridders play some block-and-tackle with their Aggie rivals.

Dang it, anyhow!

A deal to keep the Sod Poodles long term?

A friend of mine who responds regularly to my blog posts has pitched an interesting note of skepticism about the new baseball team that will start playing ball in downtown Amarillo next spring.

He wonders about the ownership of the Amarillo Sod Poodles and whether the owner — the Elmore Group — is devoted sufficiently to keeping the Class AA team in Amarillo over the long term.

My friend says if the team fails to fill a sufficient number of seats at the shiny new ballpark under construction across the street from City Hall, the Elmore Group is likely to look elsewhere to play hardball.

Interesting notion, don’t you think?

The Sod Poodles’ owner already has shown a willingness to move. After all, the Elmore Group relocated the San Antonio Missions from the Alamo City to the Panhandle. San Antonio is going to get a Class AAA team in exchange. But my friend does raise a valid question.

I’m wondering if there’s an option for the city to pursue that might get the Sod Poodles’ owners to committing to a lengthy stay in Amarillo. I am unaware of any such stipulation at the moment. Nor am I well-versed enough in how these kinds of arrangements are finalized.

I’ll just ask it here, using this forum to keep the discussion going.

I remain an unbridled optimist nevertheless about the prospect for the Sod Poodles’ success. They have a team already established; it’s just headquartered in another city at the moment. The new team has a name that, granted, will have to grow on us.

What we don’t have is a long-term commitment from the team owners to stay put.

Maybe the city can secure such a commitment, yes? Maybe? Perhaps?

Sod Poodles name will catch on eventually … honest, it will

I am quite sure the Amarillo minor-league baseball community is trying to digest the name of the city’s new team.

The team ownership announced that the Class AA team will be called the Sod Poodles, which reportedly is an old-fashioned term meant to describe prairie dogs. Whatever they say, I guess I’ll have to go along with it.

As dubious as I am of the alleged origin of Sod Poodles, I do like the name.

It grew on me quickly. My first reaction to the name that appeared on the list of “finalists” under consideration was pure,, unadulterated hatred. However, my conversion from name hater to name lover was rapid.

The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. Then I heard about the ownership’s logic in selecting this group of names. They sought quirky names. They want the community to talk about them. They want the rest of the Texas League to talk about them, too.

From what I hear, Amarillo’s baseball fans are talking all right. It isn’t all goodness and light. There’s some grumbling from what I have heard.

Hey, pay attention. These kinds of reactions have this way of passing. I know how it goes. I’ve lived through some of this already.

My hometown of Portland, Ore., was awarded a National Basketball Association franchise. The team began play in the fall of 1970. They had to come up with a name. I was finishing my hitch in the Army and I submitted the name Lumberjacks to the powers that be. Hey, Portland is at the hub of the nation’s timber industry. Therefore, Lumberjacks made perfect sense.

The team owners didn’t think so. Neither did the rest of the community. They came up with Trail Blazers as the name for the new NBA team. You could hear the shrieks up and down the Pacific Coast.

Then it dawned on a lot of us: Trail Blazers pays tribute to William Clark and Meriwether Lewis, who “blazed the trail” in the early 19th century from the Midwest to the Pacific Ocean, trekking along the Columbia River to their destination. The team name honors the exploits of Lewis & Clark. It’s perfect!

I believe Sod Poodles will become part of Amarillo’s identity. Eventually.

It might take some time, but I am keeper of the faith in good things happening for the city I used to call home.

Big baseball day set for Amarillo

They’re waiting with bated breath in Amarillo, Texas, for an announcement that’s set for Tuesday.

The owners of the Double A minor-league baseball franchise, the Elmore Group, is going to reveal the name of the new team that opens play in April. I also understand they’ll reveal the new team logo.

The Elmore Group, which relocated the San Antonio Missions to Amarillo, revealed a list of five finalists culled from a long list of proposed team nicknames.

My favorite team name, the Sod Poodles, initially was my least favorite among the finalist names. It’s now my favorite name. I hope the team will be called the Sod Poodles when they begin playing hardball at the downtown stadium that’s under construction.

But . . .

A snitch who claims to have knowledge of the situation tells me that the Sod Poodles won’t take the field next spring. The team will be called something else, according to my snitch/friend. I won’t reveal his name; instead, I’ll just say he is someone who’s been associated with the Panhandle athletic community for a long time.

The five finalist names are: Jerky, Boot Scooters, Bronc Busters, Long Haulers and, of course, Sod Poodles.

The multipurpose event venue that’s being built will seat about 5,000 fans. It will be used primarily as a baseball park for the newly relocated franchise. Other events will occur there, too; hence, that’s why it’s being called a “multipurpose event venue.”

Baseball fans long have suffered sitting through games at that rathole ballpark next to the Tri-State Fairgrounds. It’s a dump that needs to be knocked down; they need to clear out the rubble and make the space available for other fair-related uses.

As for the new team’s nickname … I am awaiting with my own bated breath to know what they’re going to call the team.

I’ll hope for Sod Poodles until I hear it will be something else.

Whatever they decide, just don’t call the team “Jerky.”