Thursday, September 27, 2007

My Bad.

I try not to pull this very often, but given the voyage tomorrow morning that leaves Lewisville at 7:00 and arrives in College Station hopefully a bit before 11:00, I cannot blog in the morning.

We are doing the show down Aggie way on Friday, so please alert any and all of our presence at the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house (on 1401 Athens Dr in College Station- a couple of blocks behind The Tap) from Noon - 3pm. Please join us.

Beyond that, I expect the Aggies win, the Longhorns win, and the Cowboys should strut to a 31-21 win over the Rams.

The Packers, meanwhile, should come back to earth with a 17-13 loss in Minnesota, if you care.

I wish you a happy Friday, and please excuse my blogging this morning...

Looking at the Rams

I finally sat down and watched the Rams last two games, the loss against the 49ers, and the pounding they took at Tampa Bay.

A couple things jump our at me: First, they appear to have the number of necessary weapons to allow Marc Bulger to put up 300+ yards if he is only given time. Bruce and Holt still get open routinely for big yards down the field. But, the offensive line is in such a chaotic state that there is little chance for Bulger to get comfy back in the pocket before he is hit again on his broken ribs.

So, they run sideline outs over and over. If you thought Grossman and Berrian ran that a lot on Sunday, you haven’t seen anything yet. Holt and Bruce will take that 10 yard cushion all night. So, does Wade Phillips have the CBs up tight and hope that the rush gets to Bulger before Holt gets behind Anthony Henry? We shall see…

But, I must remind my Cowboys readers of one thing. Yes, they have no offensive line, and yes, Steven Jackson is gone. But, do you remember Kitna and the Lions putting up 39 points last season in Week 17? Well, the Rams have the same weapons and the same type of QB, so beware that you don’t make mistakes and get into a shootout with these guys. They may be 0-3, but they still have tools to beat you on Sunday.

On Defense, they are pretty unremarkable. They bring a fair amount of secondary blitzes, but can be run upon with regularity. Watching SF and TB play them, I don’t really know what sort of pass defense they have (They are ranked #1 against the pass so far, but is that because of who they have played?), but I can assure you they have not seen the likes of Romo, Owens, and Witten. Leonard Little is not Strahan in his prime, but he will give Mark Columbo another difficult challenge.

I guess overall, I am saying that all of this talk this week like the Cowboys are playing the worst team ever is silly. The Rams had playoff talent before the injuries to Pace, Jackson, etc, but they can still win on any given Sunday. The Cowbys better be ready to play at noon on Sunday.

USA Today cover story on Bulger

A campaign that began with bright playoff expectations is suddenly on the ropes, along with a battered quarterback. The season-ending loss of perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace to a shoulder injury in Week 1 was compounded by preseason injuries to two other offensive linemen, veteran reserve tackle Todd Steussie and starting right guard Richie Incognito. Starting left guard Mark Setterstrom is also gone for the year after tearing a knee ligament during the Rams' 24-3 defeat in Tampa last Sunday. The injuries have forced Linehan to continually reconfigure the line.

When protected and given time, Bulger is as accurate and productive as any quarterback not named Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Carson Palmer. Bulger, 36-27 as a starter in his career, threw for 4,301 yards, 24 touchdowns and just eight interceptions in 2006.

But as the 2007 season nears the quarter-pole, Bulger has just two touchdown passes, three interceptions and a 69.8 rating.

Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly -- who, like Bulger, hails from western Pennsylvania -- admires Bulger's dogged resolve, nicely illustrated by his completion of a two-handed chest pass to running back Steven Jackson a beat before the 49ers pass rush converged yet again on the quarterback two weeks ago.

"The thing I always see from Marc is his toughness and the way he goes through his progressions," Kelly says. "I've seen Marc get battered. But I don't ever hear him complaining.

"I see how he stands in and looks for a big play. He has every intangible you want to be a top-notch quarterback."

What Bulger doesn't have is the prototypical measurables of a franchise field general. He's a lean, 6-3, 212 pounds. In public, he might be mistaken for a weekend warrior rather than one of the NFL's elite passers.

"If you looked at him without his pads on, you'd go, 'This guy's a bad-ass quarterback?' " Rams receiver Drew Bennett says, smiling. "Yeah, he is.

"Marc's not on the TV commercials or on the Times Square billboards like some other quarterbacks. He's more of a homebody. But he does things just as well as those other top quarterbacks."

Baldinger concurs.

"Marc would rather be behind the camera than in front of one," he says. "He's not dating any supermodels. He doesn't have any big national television commercials. But the guy's a quiet assassin. When he smiles, you half expect to see two fangs sticking out like a vampire ready to suck some blood.

"He's a competitor."

Former NFL quarterback and CBS analyst Boomer Esiason calls Bulger, "the most under-appreciated player in the league."

The player most under siege is more like it.

The plan was for St. Louis to run a balanced, ball-control offense keyed by the pounding running of Jackson, a Pro Bowler who's shown steady improvement each year since entering the league in 2004. That figured to open opportunities for Bulger to spread the ball to age-defying receivers Isaac Bruce, 34, and Torry Holt, 31, who received new complements in the offseason with Bennett and tight end Randy McMichael joining the team.

But playing behind a tattered line, Jackson is averaging 50 fewer total yards per game than he did last year when he paced the league with 2,334 yards from scrimmage. Worse, he'll miss St. Louis' next game and perhaps more after partially tearing a groin muscle in the loss to the Buccaneers.

The Rams run the prevent offense …prevent Bulger from getting killed…

Monday, I wrote a blog on about Linehan's "prevent" offense. I simply do not understand an offensive approach that has Marc Bulger throwing mostly quick-hitch sideline passes to the wideouts. Those wimpy plays achieve little except create the impression that Linehan and offensive coordinator Greg Olson are playing scared with their obsession to prevent sacks, hits and turnovers.

What they're preventing is big plays.

Think I'm exaggerating? The Rams have attempted 109 passes so far, and 22 have been caught behind the line of scrimmage. Another 51 have traveled 10 yards or less. That means 67 percent of the Rams' passes so far have been dinks. If you're petrified of throwing the ball downfield, then why have so many expensive wide receivers? Why sign Drew Bennett and tight end Randy McMichael? If Bulger's ribs prevent him from making longer passes, then play Gus Frerotte. That's why you gave him a three-year, $6.3 million deal.

The coaches did the smart thing in establishing the running game at Tampa Bay, but then failed to follow up by stinging the Bucs with downfield throws. Bulger always has thrived on those intermediate throws; this season when he attempts passes that are airborne for 11 to 20 yards, Bulger has completed 18 of 27 and has a QB rating of 114. I'd like to see the coaches play to their players' strengths for a change.

Linehan has lost Jackson to injury, and the offensive line is scrambled. The situation is tough, and unfair. But the Rams can't go to Dallas and turtle. They have to at least earn respect by putting up a fight. Linehan's job may be safe, but that's no reason to play it so safe.

Owens wants to stay

Terrell Owens told reporters in Irving today he wants to finish his career with the Cowboys.

He also said he sees himself playing another three or five years.

"I definitely would like to retire here and go into the Hall of Fame as a Cowboy,"
said Owens, who turns 34 in December. "It's a lot of fun right now. Throughout training camp, we knew we had something special."

Owens suggested he owes his newfound happiness in large part to the addition of Jason Garrett as offensive coordinator.

"They're giving me those opportunities," T.O. said. "That's all I ever wanted last year. I think I mentioned that when I said, 'Why did you bring me here?"

In other news out of Valley Ranch:

• Wade Phillips said Greg Ellis has "an outside shot" at playing in Sunday's game against the St. Louis Rams.

• Bobby Carpenter missed practice with a quad strain.

• Phillips said he thinks it will be "real difficult" for safety Keith Davis to play this week after injuring his right shoulder in Chicago.

Its Thursday? Time for Jimmy Burch Gold

Fast forward to Saturday, when No. 7 Texas (4-0) meets Kansas State (2-1) in a Big 12 opener for both teams. McCoy is pain-free and coming off a 333-yard passing performance against Rice that, in the words of coach Mack Brown, evoked memories of "the Colt of old."

Reinforcing that notion against K-State is important to McCoy, who bulked up by 15 pounds in the off-season to improve his durability. Now, he gets to address some unfinished business against the Wildcats.

"Last year, it was tough for all of us. We had something special going, but we didn't finish the game," McCoy said. "We felt like we had a good handle on them. We've just got to come out and do the same thing again this year and finish. That's the big thing for us."

In some ways, McCoy said last year's injury taught him a valuable lesson.

"That motivated me to put on the weight, to get stronger, to be a little bit more durable because it's a long season," McCoy said. "The more you can withstand, the better your team is going to be."

This time around, McCoy plans to withstand four quarters against Kansas State. If he does, that will dramatically increase Texas' chances of carrying an undefeated record into next week's showdown against No. 3 Oklahoma.


Progress up front: After struggling to run the ball for three weeks, Baylor (3-1) ground out 229 yards in last week's 34-21 victory against Buffalo. That figure represents 56.4 percent of the Bears' season rushing total (406 yards) and, in the estimation of coach Guy Morriss, suggests the Baylor offensive line is making "quite a bit" of improvement heading into this week's start of Big 12 play. "You have to give those [backs] a seam, and we did that," said Morriss, who likes the elusiveness of freshman tailback Jay Finley (15 carries, 80 yards against Buffalo). "With Finley back there, he gets through that hole in a hurry. There were a couple of runs where he was just a hair away from breaking it for that big run."

Counting on Crabtree: Texas Tech coaches and players expressed no concerns about a confidence crisis for receiver Michael Crabtree, who leads the nation in touchdown catches (11) but let the potential game-winner bounce off his hands in the Oklahoma State end zone during the final minute of last week's 49-45 loss. "He's got a lot of personal assurance and confidence. He's not an excuse guy. Crabtree... believes in himself," coach Mike Leach said. Tech quarterback Graham Harrell said: "It was a tough loss for him... but he's ready to get back on the field and play."


Matchup of the week

Kansas State at Texas: The Wildcats feature a big-play offense and a hard-nosed defense, the same two elements they used to spring an upset in last year's matchup. This time, the Longhorns have an answer. They keep QB Colt McCoy healthy for four quarters.

Pick: Texas 28, Kansas State 24


Texas A&M 35, Baylor 24: The Aggies bounce back from their meltdown in Miami with a hard-earned victory at Kyle Field.

Oklahoma 31, Colorado 10: The Sooners tune up for next week's Red River Rivalry by winning in their first trip outside the state of Oklahoma.

Texas Tech 63, Northwestern State 13: Pity the visiting Demons, who feel the backlash of coach Mike Leach's midseason makeover.

Oklahoma State 42, Sam Houston State 24: The Cowboys won't let visiting QB Rhett Bomar engineer another victory on Oklahoma soil.

Nebraska 45, Iowa State 20: Rest easy, Huskers fans. Iowa State really is a step down in competition from Ball State.

Burch looks at the Big 12 so far

Biggest surprises

Kansas is the national co-leader in scoring defense (5.8 points per game) after ranking 81st in that department last season (25.5).

Oklahoma, which entered the season without an established quarterback, leads the nation in scoring offense (61.5 average).

Iowa State coach Gene Chizik, who had a history of improving teams' turnover margins while serving as a defensive coordinator, is staring at the league's worst turnover ratio (minus-7) after four games with the Cyclones.

Texas has had more players on the local police blotter (7) than victories (4) since June 1.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy used his postgame interview session after last week's 49-45 victory over Texas Tech to berate a columnist from The Oklahoman rather than to answer questions or praise his team for its comeback victory.

Texas Tech defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich resigned after the team's loss to OSU, in part to spend more time with his wife, Kathy, who has battled recurring health issues since 2005.

Encouraging signs

Kansas, which finished minus-5 in turnover margin last season, is plus-4 through four games.

Missouri QB Chase Daniel, a Southlake Carroll graduate, has built on last year's breakthrough season. Daniel, a junior, ranks seventh nationally in total offense (356.8 yards per game), with 13 TD passes and 4 INTs.

Texas K Ryan Bailey, who attempted only one field goal longer than 29 yards last season, has connected on 4-of-5 from 40-plus yards this season, including a 52-yarder.

After a rough opener, Baylor QB Blake Szymanski has thrown 14 TD passes and 2 INTs during the Bears' three-game winning streak.

Ominous signs

In a season marked by challenging road trips, Texas A&M showed little spark while falling behind Miami 31-0 during a 34-17 drubbing in the Aggies' first game away from Kyle Field.

Nebraska ranks 99th in the nation, and last among Big 12 teams, in rushing defense (203.5 yards per game).

Kansas State QB Josh Freeman, who struggled with turnovers last season, has more interceptions (4) than TD passes (2) this season.

Texas TB Jamaal Charles, the Big 12's leading rusher, has lost three fumbles in the team's last two games.

Primary title contenders

No. 3 Oklahoma (4-0): The league's most dominant team on both sides of the ball, until proven otherwise.

No. 7 Texas (4-0): Not as dominant as recent editions (2004-06), by admission of coach Mack Brown.

No. 20 Missouri (4-0): Great offense, suspect defense. Don't expect that to change.

No. 25 Nebraska (3-1): Defending champs in North Division must play better run defense, improve the pass rush (league-low 3 sacks).

Dark horse contenders

Kansas (4-0): Don't laugh. The statistics are impressive, the confidence level is high and the schedule is favorable (it doesn't play Texas or Oklahoma).

Kansas State (2-1): Strong defense, electric quarterback. But the Wildcats must cut back on self-inflicted wounds.

Texas A&M (3-1): A&M qualifies only if coach Dennis Franchione truly can flip a switch and elevate his team's play now that the "exhibition season" (his term) is over.

Coaches on the hot seat

Dennis Franchione, Texas A&M: The league's runaway leader in this department, after last week's meltdown in Miami.

Guy Morriss, Baylor: Listed here only because school administrators chose not to extend his contract after a 2006 season when the Bears posted their best conference record (3-5) of the Big 12 era.

Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State: The loss to Troy got the naysayers busy, and a porous pass defense compounds the challenge in this league.

Michael Young’s nice accomplishment

The Texas Rangers' Michael Young reached 200 hits for the fifth consecutive season, joining Wade Boggs and Ichiro Suzuki as the only players since 1940 achieve the the feat.

Young's 200th hit was an RBI single in the seventh inning of the Rangers' game against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday. It was his third hit of the game and pushed his season average to .314.

Boggs and Suzuki both had seven straight 200-hit seasons, including this year for Suzuki. Boggs had at least 200 hits from 1983-89. Young matched Hall of Fame second baseman Charlie Gehringer (1933-37) for the most consecutive 200-hit seasons by a middle infielder.

Young, who during spring training signed an $80 million contract extension through 2013, got off to a miserable start. He was hitting only .192 (23-of-120) on May 3 after he went 0-for-13 in the Rangers' three-game sweep at home by the by New York Yankees.

But Young's average started to steadily climb after that, and he hit .361 in June to earn his fourth straight All-Star nod. In 51 games since Aug. 1, Young is hitting .349.

Yankees are in, AL is set

The Yankees became the fourth and final postseason qualifier for the American League on Wednesday. All that's left to do is sort out the playoff matchups.

At this point, the most likely first-round scenario is Yankees-Indians and Red Sox-Angels. This quartet will play out the regular season with varying objectives to get ready for next week's action.

The Angels must get a few things fixed. They've slumped since clinching the AL West and figure to go as far as John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar can carry them.

The Red Sox have gotten their big bats healthy. Now, Boston just needs to make sure it doesn't fall off in the final days and lose its season-long hold on first place.

The Indians have their two aces ready and hot at the right time. They need to get over the mental hump and avoid being intimidated by facing the Yankees.

New York simply wants to maintain its status as baseball's hottest team.

Ken Burns is my leader …The War is a wonderful view…

Burns, in his relentless promotional trumpeting of "The War," has repeatedly emphasized that a thousand WWII veterans are dying every day. We can't vouch for the accuracy of that figure, but his point is clear: There's a need -- an urgency -- to cozy up to our elders and ply them for their stories.

That's exactly what Burns and his team do for 15 astonishing hours of a film that ushers us through "the greatest cataclysm in history." Dispensing with egg-headed historians and windy military experts, they establish a riveting dialogue with "ordinary" servicemen who experienced the hell of war up close and personal, and with loved ones who anxiously paced their living-room floors back home.

Their stirring accounts help to make "The War" Burns' most intimate and deeply felt film to date -- a work of insightful intelligence and emotional oomph, of brutality and beauty, universal truths and boldness of spirit. Quite simply, it's the must-see program of the fall.

All the typical (some would say, overdone) Burns trademarks are on display: The talking-head interviews, the modulated narration (by Keith David), the celebrity voiceovers (Tom Hanks is wonderfully affecting as a small-town newspaper editor), the moody soundtrack (arranged by Wynton Marsalis) and the pan-and-zoom camera technique that brings still photos to life.

But two things help to distinguish this production: An abundance of rarely seen battle footage, much of it incredibly harrowing, and a narrative device that sets up four American communities -- Waterbury, Conn.; Mobile, Ala.; Luverne, Minn.; and Sacramento -- as windows into the WWII experience.

The four-town approach proves to be problematic, coming off as stilted and limiting at times. On the other hand, it does plop us onto the doorsteps of several intriguing people. Among them: Quentin Aanenson, a fighter pilot from Luverne who flirted with a fiery death during a mission over Europe; and Sascha Weinzheimer, a Sacramento native who now lives in Vacaville and who was with her family in the Philippines when the Japanese invaded, and spent the war in a prison camp. Then there's the gut-wrenching story of Alabama native Glen Frazier, who was only 17 when life as he knew it ceased to be. Distraught over a breakup with his girlfriend, he enlisted in the Army and chose to be posted in the Philippines, figuring that if war did break out, it would be with Germany. Instead, he endured the torturous Bataan death march and was a POW for the remainder of the conflict. As the film's poignant testimony accumulates, it becomes painfully apparent to the viewer -- especially to those of us who know war only as a video game -- that this so-called "Greatest Generation" made the kind of personal sacrifices that are almost beyond comprehension, and came face-to-face with horrors that defy the imagination.

To his credit, Burns doesn't want you to stand outside this war at a safe distance. He wants to draw you in, no matter how many times you find yourself gasping for breath or wiping tears on your sleeve. Like any great filmmaker, he doesn't spare our feelings, he intensifies them.

As you would expect in a 15-hour opus, there are bumps along the way. A few scenes play on for way too long. Some points are hammered home to the point of tedium. The background music is jarring and distracting at times. And the segments Burns added to appease Latino groups wind up feeling like he said they wouldn't -- grafted on. Still, these flaws can't diminish the powerful you-are-there sensibility that makes "The War" so extraordinary. More than any documentary or fictional film I can recall, it lets the audience know what it's like to be stuffed in ball-turret on a B-17, or to nearly freeze to death in the Battle of the Bulge or land in the calamitous chaos of Omaha Beach, or be exposed for the first time to the gruesome atrocity of the Holocaust.

A Few Good Monkeys

I wish Steven Jackson was playing Sunday. He is fun.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dance, Mark!

It is clearly gay that this leads the blog, but since he is our Mavericks’ leader, a review of Mark Cuban’s big night …including some award winning self-righteousness…

Nobody was expecting billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban to be a runaway surprise on the ABC reality show Dancing with the Stars, but he naturally managed to raise a few eyebrows on his Tuesday night dancing debut. For one, the opening credits featured the Dallas Mavericks owner and HDNet guru shouting "I am a lean, mean dancing machine!" And paired with scantily-clad Australian dancer Kym Johnson, the 49-year-old entrepreneur wiggled his hips, snapped his fingers, lip-synched, and (naturally) let his tongue hang out.

Cuban did indeed "churn the butter" as he'd promised his blog readers. He also ended his dance with an odd little hop that led one of the judges to characterize him as a "bouncing bionic billionaire."

He clearly had a lot of fun, and was remarkably good-natured about the whole process despite his reputation for picking fights around the NBA. But it was borderline offensive when Cuban, who is reportedly worth $2.6 billion, showed up in brown coattails covered in faux tatters and danced the foxtrot with Johnson to the tune of hobo anthem "King of the Road."

It's going to sound preachy of me in the midst of an otherwise fluffy blog post, but homelessness and poverty are legitimate problems in the U.S. and it was neither cute nor funny for Cuban to evoke vagrancy in his dance debut. What would happen, for example, if Apple CEO Steve Jobs dressed up as a homeless person for Halloween?

All political correctness aside, Cuban also managed to look adequately ridiculous. As one anonymous observer glued to a TV screen told me, "That jacket is a fashion felony."

Cuban earned a final score of 21 (a seven from each of the three judges), to which he responded with "Blackjack, baby!" Viewers won't know until Wednesday night whether he makes it to the next round. Whether or not more dancing from Cuban will be amusing or simply irritating remains, well, up in the air.

On to the Cowboys, 1 year ago today Owens stole the show

A year ago today, Owens was rushed to Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas after what was later termed an accidental overdose of pain medication.
Police originally thought Owens tried to commit suicide.

That initial report created a national uproar. Soon helicopters soon were hovering over his Deep Ellum condo, and TV and print reporters were stationed in the front and back of his home.

Owens' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, flew in from Miami and Deion Sanders left his home in Prosper to support Owens.

A year later, Owens wishes he could erase one of the worst moments of his life. He said he was embarrassed by the incident but has grown from it.

"That's not something I really want to be remembered for," Owens said. "The thing is, people can take things the wrong way and misinterpret the situation. I go from accidental overdose to suicide attempt. That's two totally different things. People who know me, my family, know I love me. It was an unfortunate situation."

Cowboys dominate the 4th Quarter

A mark of a good team is how it finishes.

In the big picture, the Cowboys' season will be defined by how they finish in December, which is why coach Wade Phillips reminded his team on Monday they have played just 19 percent of the season. Of course, many of his players can remember the 1-3 close to the 2006 season that cost the Cowboys a chance to win the NFC East.

But in the small picture, the Cowboys' ability to finish games has been impressive through three games.

The Cowboys have scored 86 points in the third and fourth quarters. That's more than every team in the NFC, including division rivals New York, Washington and Philadelphia.

For comparison, New England has the second-most second-half points with 59. The fourth quarter is even more impressive. The Cowboys have scored 48 points in the final 15 minutes that's more points than Buffalo (24), Jacksonville (46), Kansas City (26), Chicago (33), New Orleans (38), Atlanta (30) and – Sunday's opponent – St. Louis (32) have scored in three games.

"You can see at the end of ballgames our team is really powerful," coach Wade Phillips said. "I like the way we finish now. We have finished three games, and we have been the dominant team in the fourth quarter."

Phillips points to the work his players put in during the off-season from the organized team activities, mini-camps and training camp to learn a tweaked offense. But he also credits strength and conditioning coach Joe Juraszek for having the players in excellent shape.

Phillips did not mention halftime adjustments, which can be somewhat overrated because of how little time a team has make changes between the first and second half. But clearly the Cowboys are doing something right at intermission.

Rams limp in to town

Few could have predicted the Rams would start the season 0-3. That in itself is surprising.

But when you consider the fact that the team is 0-3 largely because of inept offense, well, that goes beyond surprising and into the realm of shocking.

The Rams have scored only 32 points in three games, the fifth-lowest total over any three-game span since the team moved to St. Louis in 1995.

This season, only three NFL teams have scored fewer points. The Rams rank 25th in total offense, 22nd in rushing offense, 20th in passing offense and 32nd in red-zone offense.

How can this be?

The Rams entered the season with five Pro Bowlers among their 11 starters on offense. The offseason additions of tight end Randy McMichael and wide receiver Drew Bennett were supposed to add even more options, and more flexibility to the attack.

In Bennett, McMichael, running back Steven Jackson and wide receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, the Rams had five players who caught 46 or more passes last season. That quintet combined for 365 catches last season, more than all but three entire NFL teams.

For all of those reasons, and more, this was supposed to be the most potent offense in St. Louis since the days of the Greatest Show on Turf. Instead, it has been a train wreck. There are many reasons. And because of a rash of
injuries, there's no easy way out.


In 21 red-zone plays, the Rams have gained a mere 30 yards. Running the ball effectively in the red zone is a key to scoring TDs, but the Rams have gained only 12 yards on 11 red-zone carries. Five of those carries, including four by
Jackson, resulted in negative yardage.

Games are often won or lost inside the 20. The Rams have been woeful in close this season, scoring only two TDs on eight trips inside the red zone. They've turned over the ball twice in the red zone.

"That's been our nemesis all season," Olson said. "It's gotta be corrected and it will get corrected."

That's proving easier said than done in what so far is a lost season.

To College Football we go, Coach Fran finally sort of answered some questions

Coach Dennis Franchione wanted to talk about Baylor, but he spent most of his time re-examining topics that arose from the Miami debacle.

•What did Franchione mean by saying the first four games were the "exhibition season?"

"I didn't mean that those games weren't important," Franchione said. "I didn't mean
anything other than it was just a different way to classify that non-conference is over. That's all it was."

•Why did running back Jorvorskie Lane get only two carries against the Hurricanes?
Franchione said A&M wanted to neutralize Miami defensive ends Calais Campbell and Eric Moncur by using the zone read option. On that play, Miami's ends consistently came down the line of scrimmage to stop Lane. Quarterback Stephen McGee's job was to pull the ball back and race outside.

"The same play Jorvorskie carried 23 times in the Fresno game, they weren't going to let him carry the ball as much on that play," Franchione said. "We didn't get the ball to the edge and do as much with it after that as we hoped we could."

•Did Franchione at least consider giving it to Lane once or twice to see what would happen? One of A&M's best offensive weapons finished the game with 2 yards.

"We had a lot of those thoughts all week long," Franchione said. "That was in the plan, and it just didn't work out in that game."

A&M players said they normally start looking at the next opponent on Sunday nights. But last Sunday, the Aggies didn't study anything about Baylor. Several players said a two-hour practice was devoted to fundamentals.

Players have been unable to avoid criticism outside the Bright Football Complex, though.

Two A&M officials said McGee found a negative letter under the windshield wiper of his car when the team returned from Miami. Asked about it Tuesday, McGee said, "My car is fine."

The quarterback said he's used to negative feedback and "that's just the way life is.

"Listening to what some negative guy sitting up in section 81 has to say about our team isn't going to help us beat the Bears at all," McGee said. "If it's not going to help us beat the Bears, what's the point of listening to it?"

Why is Byrne protecting Fran?

The Sooner machine keeps destroying

The Sooners certainly have done that so far, winning their first four games by an average of 49.8 points and scoring more than 50 points in four straight games for the second time in school history. For their chance at an unprecedented fifth straight 50-point game, Oklahoma faces Colorado (2-2) on Saturday in the Big 12 opener for both teams.

But that won't be the team's focus.

"We don't pay attention much to what the other team's doing or how they're acting or stuff like that," Murray said. "We know we have a goal to put points on the board, have fun doing it and continue to work hard."

In redshirt freshman Sam Bradford, the Sooners chose a quarterback who personifies that "robotic" approach. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said Bradford has been able to keep a level head through his early success — he's completed 78 percent of his passes for 1,067 yards and 14 touchdowns — but also was able to shrug off a shaky start with an interception on the first drive last week at Tulsa.

While Wilson was at first worried that Bradford might be too reserved and could "go in a shell," he now considers the quarterback an extension of the coaching staff on the field.

"As quiet as he is, there is a competitive spirit about him. He has a significant amount of personal pride to go with some athletic ability and a calmness that makes it a pretty unique deal," Wilson said. "He's got some unique intangibles. He has some things that you don't coach."

What the Sooners have been coaching is discipline, with an emphasis on eliminating the occasional mistakes that have popped up — penalties and turnovers on offense, and breakdowns in fundamentals on defense. The approach has kept players humble.

"I don't think we'll come out thumping our chests and saying we're the greatest because we've won a couple games or what not," Murray said. "We've just got to stay focused, stay levelheaded and look at the prize that we've been trying to work for."

The Longhorn media gets a laugh out of Kansas State paper

Has it come to this?

Is Texas’ 4-0 really that unimpressive?

The Kansas City Star has a headline that states (with a straight face), “K-State isn’t overlooking Texas.”

Huh? Isn’t Texas the one with the No. 7 ranking, the perfect record and a date with Oklahoma next week?

Seems that the buzz in Manhattan these days is about Kansas State’s upcoming game with Kansas, just as the buzz (or maybe it’s dread) in Austin is about Texas’ upcoming game with Oklahoma. (Except that the latter game actually matters.)

Explains Wildcat nose tackle Steven Cline:

“All these people are talking about Kansas this, Kansas that. It’s the talk of the town. We’re just focused on Texas. That’s all that matters.”

Who is your Heisman?

The Heisman race is muddled one-third of the way into the season. Here's a quick update on some of the candidates that explains:

A running back (Arkansas's Darren McFadden) who gets most of his highlight footage lining up at quarterback.

A quarterback (Florida's Tim Tebow) who plays like a running back.

A quarterback (Oregon's Dennis Dixon) who spent the summer playing minor league
baseball instead of working on his passing skills -- and was ripped by his coach
(Mike Bellotti) for the choice.

A quarterback (Kentucky's Andre Woodson) who nearly quit football before the 2006 season but was convinced by his mother to keep playing.

A quarterback (Boston College's Matt Ryan) who is flourishing under a new coach (Jeff Jagodzinski) and offensive coordinator (Steve Logan).

McFadden, the preseason Heisman favorite, leads the nation in rushing. That's the good news. The bad news is that Arkansas has two losses. Given the Razorbacks' remaining schedule, it's difficult to imagine them closing out the season without another loss.

USC's Carson Palmer (2002) and Wisconsin's Ron Dayne (1999) won the Heisman playing on teams with two regular-season losses.

Since 1970, only Texas running back Ricky Williams -- who was on his way to becoming the career rushing leader -- has won the Heisman playing for a team that lost three games before the votes were tallied.

In its weekly survey of 10 voters, the Rocky Mountain News Heisman poll had this top three: Tebow, McFadden and Woodson.

Four players received first-place votes and 12 players were listed in the voters' top five.

With the Stars season opening one week from tonight, the preseason rolls on

So the Stars' defensive coverage wasn't perfect Tuesday, even after a grueling workout Monday to stress the team's need for improvement in that area.

The Stars were competitive across the ice at the Pepsi Center, and coach Dave Tippett believes that had a lot to do with a 5-4 overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche in preseason competition.

"We were fatigued, and you could see that on the bench, but we fought through it," Tippett said. "And we showed a lot of battle when we needed it."

And how about that power play?

"That didn't hurt at all, either," Tippett said.

Going against an Avalanche team that was almost at full strength and battling to keep up with their top skaters, the Stars handed out 10 power-play opportunities. However, Dallas killed off eight of them, thanks to a lot of hustle and an impressive game from goalie Mike Smith, who faced 35 shots.

On the other side of the coin, the Stars created some power plays of their own, and cashed in on four-of-seven, including Sergei Zubov's game-winner in overtime. Getting Zubov and Mike Modano in for only the second time in five preseason games, the Stars relied heavily on their biggest stars.

Zubov finished with two goals and an assist, and Modano with a goal and two assists.
Chris Conner, who played on a line with Modano and Brenden Morrow, chipped in three assists.

It was the perfect game to get the Stars going forward in a 2-2-1 preseason that has been a bit disjointed.

"It was a great test for us," Tippett said. "And I really liked the way we responded."
Smith turned away 10 shots in the first 10 minutes before he was scored on, and was spectacular at times while keeping the Stars in the game. Even when Colorado went up 4-2 with 11:56 remaining in the third period, Smith was there to keep the chances of a comeback alive.

That's when Niklas Hagman converted a perfect pass from Antti Miettinen on the power play to make it 4-3. A minute later, Morrow was chipping in a shot in the crease on a pass from Conner off the half wall to tie the score.

William Wirtz, dead at 77

As a boyhood Blackhawks fan, I often claimed that I would celebrate on the day Dollar Bill Wirtz died, given that finally, the Chicago Blackhawks could stop embarrassing themselves with a greedy owner that didn’t seem to care. Perhaps those who follow after him will take better care of one of the NHL’s true jewels, but now I am awfully uncomfortable since he really did die of cancer last night. I think I will postpone the celebration.

A throwback to a bygone era in American sports when family ownership of professional sports franchises was the norm, Bill Wirtz died early Wednesday morning at age 77 at Evanston Hospital after a recent battle with cancer.

Many considered Wirtz to be a dinosaur in today's environment of corporate ownership.

A more apt metaphor would be to describe him as a mammoth, a giant of the modern ice age that saw him play an integral role in the expansion of the National Hockey League from six to 30 teams.

Although Wirtz was best known for his long tenure as president of his family-owned hockey team, the Chicago Blackhawks, his business ventures went far beyond sports. And his sports ventures went far beyond the Blackhawks.

How does Chelsea rally from firing Jose? Buy Ronaldinho! …of course, he is not the man he was, but who cares?

The Sun has reported that Chelsea's rumoured approach for Ronaldinho is still very much alive, with the London club set to offer the player 16 million euros a season for the next five years, should they agree a transfer with his current club, Barcelona.

The newspaper claims that the Stamford Bridge side is eager to coax the player to the Premiership, offering him almost double his current salary of 8.5 million euros in doing so.

Liverpool’s Fernando Torres is the King


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Martellus dunks on Coach Fran

Don’t Tase me, remix

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Mascots on Patrol

To Lead off today’s blog, we must all ask if there has ever been a better example of what a mascot could be. Somehow, the Chiefs Mascot understands what Rowdy will never know….

Also, to all of our faithful Ags, we are coming to you on Friday. So, bring your great hat or something. And despite what Tom writes below, you Baylor fans (all 4 of you) should feel welcome, too.

BaD Radio is Rolling into College Station this Friday, Sept 28
We are doing the show from the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity house (on 1401 Athens Dr in College Station- a couple of blocks behind The Tap) from Noon - 3pm. We want all of our A&M P-1s to show up as we get things rolling before the Ags BTHO baylor.

Ok, on to Romo love. First, Cowlishaw looks at Romo – Favre

If you've been awake in Dallas at any point in the last year, you probably have heard how Romo idolized Favre growing up, even tries to run onto the field the same
way Favre lopes out there.

This both helped make Romo what he is when he's going good, as he is now – eight TD passes, two interceptions in just 88 attempts – and delayed his arrival in the NFL because of what he could sometimes be.

Favre's creativity brought him trouble in the past. Trying at times to do too much for an outmanned team, Favre has thrown 275 interceptions, although his TDs-to-interceptions ratio isn't as bad as you might think (it's far better than Troy Aikman's, for example).

The Cowboys, namely Bill Parcells, had to work to get Romo to curb his enthusiasm, to accept a poor play rather than risk a really bad play. Of course, Parcells worked overtime in this regard, and by the end of last season Romo's substantial self-confidence had been whipped into submission.

Now, a risk-taking coordinator and a rejuvenated and powerful weapon at receiver have joined forces to bring out the good Romo and the better half of his Favre-ian nature in 2007.

Jason Garrett has been saying this since he was brought on board, but we wanted to see it to believe it.

We have seen it. Garrett is a risk-taker. He has the Cowboys' offense on the attack, which is why their three-game point total of 116 is the NFL's highest since the 2000 St. Louis Rams (119 points) from their "Greatest Show on Turf" days.

In a game that was 3-3 at the half, when some would have viewed it as a game "not to lose," Garrett went for the win. The Cowboys scored 17 points on their first three possessions to take a 20-10 lead before Anthony Henry's interception return for a touchdown basically gave them the win.

On those three drives, 19 of 25 play calls were passes.

On the two touchdown drives, six out of seven first-and-10 calls were passes.

Romo-mania lives.

Revo on Romo

Bill Parcells would never admit it, but there was something about Tony Romo that scared him to death.

Sure, Parcells uncovered the piece of coal that would become the "Hope" diamond now admired by every Cowboys fan around the globe, and for that we will always be grateful.

But Parcells, ever the conservative, play-it-close-to-the-vest, defense-first, old-schooler desperately feared Romo's gunslinger instincts and mentality.

The very thing that makes Romo special, his riverboat gambler approach to the game, is what Parcells tried to coach out of him.

It was his natural instinct. In the NFL that Parcells grew up in and conquered there were two rules: 1. Don't beat yourself (i.e., never trust a young quarterback); 2. When in doubt, see Rule 1.

On most teams, that's still true. But when you have a special talent, a quarterback with the ability to make plays with his head, with his arm and with his feet, you say a prayer of thanks and use him.

Thank heavens, Mama Garrett didn't raise any dummies.

Maybe I'm hallucinating, along with the rest of Cowboys Nation on a glorious 3-0 Monday morning, but it just may be that new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett is becoming to Romo what Norv Turner once was to Troy Aikman.

Mentor. Facilitator. Big brother. And the man who has devised an offense that emphasizes what Romo does best by giving him the latitude to improvise.

Rather than running from that part of Romo that Parcells seemed to fear, Garrett has embraced the wild child in his quarterback. He has turned that part of the Cowboys quarterback loose, for better or worse, and not many in America today would care to argue that it hasn't been for the better.

There's no better illustration of Garrett's confidence in his young quarterback than in the third quarter of Sunday night's eye-popping 34-10 destruction of the defending NFC champion Chicago Bears in their own back yard.

Tied 3-3 starting the second half, the defensive-minded Bears had the Cowboys exactly where they wanted them, ready to turn the game into one of those ugly Chicago grind-it-out, slug-it-out, Monsters-of-the-Midway, deep-dish specials.

Garrett and Romo were having none of it. Instead of allowing the Bears to pull them into that morass, Garrett simply quit beating his head against Soldier Field's storied brick walls and abandoned the run. Essentially, what he told Romo was to go out and win the game for the Cowboys.

So Romo, wearing that aw-shucks grin, did.

After swapping touchdowns to tie it at 10-10, penalties pushed the Cowboys back inside the 10, where Romo faced a critical third-and-11 with just six minutes left in the third quarter. There's no question that the conservative Parcells would have told Romo to stick the ball in Marion Barber's belly on one of those everybody-knows-it's-coming delayed draws and then punted to the ever-dangerous Devin Hester.

If there was ever a notice sent that this isn't Parcells' team anymore, it came when Romo, using his feet to buy some time, instead hit Terrell Owens for 35 yards, the key play in what would be a 91-yard touchdown drive that gave the Cowboys the lead for good.

A national sports radio talk show host was arguing Monday that the Packers are the best team in the NFL because Brett Favre is a proven quarterback and Romo is not.
I'm not sure at what point Romo becomes a "proven" quarterback -- maybe after he takes the Cowboys to the Super Bowl, or at least wins a playoff game or two -- but the very fact that his name is coming up in a debate about who's better, him or the rejuvenated Favre, tells you how far Romo has come in less than a year.

Sometimes the best way for a reporter to fully grasp what he's seeing on a regular basis is to read what others are saying about the team and the players he covers.
Certainly the Chicago press had a field day Monday comparing "Wrecks" Grossman with Romo.

Wrote Dustin Beutin of the Chicago Sports Review: "Romo worked all night at Soldier Field with the NFL's best defense in his face. He had one of the NFL's premier linebackers spying on him and on at least two occasions was knocked to the ground harder than a drunken cowhand in a saloon fight.... He had a running game that was stuck in the mud, unable to move the ball against the Bears' front seven, daring him to beat the Bears in the air.

"Despite all of that, he completed passes in the face of all this pressure. He danced around in the pocket.... Let's be honest about it, if we can bear the implications: Tony Romo put on a demonstration of how a premier quarterback should handle an elite defense."

One Chicago newsman wrote that Romo "looked like a more mobile Tom Brady." Another said Romo looks "like a young Brett Favre."

Wrote Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Tribune, "There are a lot of things Romo can do better than Grossman, but one stood out Sunday night. He can avoid a rush and make a play. By comparison, Grossman moves like a couch."


According to numbers scoured from somewhere by The Ticket's Norm Hitzges (and I don't argue numbers with Norm), Peyton Manning is averaging 13 yards per completion. So is Jon Kitna. Brady is at 12.5 and Carson Palmer at 11.5. They would be the cream of the NFL except for this:

Romo is averaging a whopping 17 yards per completion.

In other Cowboys news, Steven Jackson is out for Sunday

St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson will miss at least one week with a partial tear of his left groin, an injury sustained in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 24-3 loss at Tampa Bay.

Rookie Brian Leonard, a second-round pick from Rutgers, will get his first start Sunday at Dallas. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson was hopeful Jackson would be out only one game.

"He's one of our best players, if not the best player," Olson said. "As we tell our players, anytime someone gets injured the rest of us have to pick up the slack.

"We'll find a way to spread the ball around."

The 0-3 Rams learned they lost Jackson a day after guard Mark Setterstrom was lost for the season with a torn left knee ligament and cartilage damage. Setterstrom is the second lineman the Rams have lost this season, after seven-time Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Pace sustained a season-ending shoulder injury in the opener.

The Rams were in conservative mode against the Buccaneers, intent on protecting quarterback Marc Bulger. Olson disclosed Monday that Bulger was playing with two broken ribs, an injury likely sustained in the opener when he was sacked six times.

Will Wrecks Grossman start Sunday? Don’t Count on it

Rex Grossman still had his health when he walked off the field. But he may not have his starting job much longer after his latest meltdown.

Grossman threw three interceptions as the Chicago Bears fell to the Dallas Cowboys 34-10 on Sunday night, and he did not get a vote of confidence from his coach a day later. Now, the question is: Will he start this week at Detroit?

"Will Rex Grossman start Sunday?" coach Lovie Smith asked on Monday, repeating the question. "Well, our evaluation process is going on right now, and if you come out to practice Wednesday, you'll have a better idea of who will be starting at all positions."

Has Smith made a decision?

"I'm always thinking ahead," he said.

Smith gave his usual answer when asked Sunday night about Grossman -- "Rex Grossman is our quarterback" -- but his tone was different on Monday, fueling speculation Brian Griese might start Sunday against Detroit.

Grossman's supporters would have a hard time arguing against the move, considering he ranks 23rd in the league with 500 yards, has a 45.2 rating and is 47-of-89 (52.8 percent) with a league-leading six interceptions and just one touchdown.

But is Griese the answer?

A Pro Bowl pick with Denver in 2000, he has passed for 16,564 yards, but has also been released three times -- by the Broncos, Miami and Tampa Bay.

"I have confidence in our entire football team," Smith said. "Brian is a part of that. After you have a loss like that, we all feel bad. We should."

This is from Friday, but DMN blogger Tim McMahon had a good bit when he rated the QB class of ’03

Ranking the Class of '03 QBs

Undrafted Tony Romo looks like a Pro Bowler, and first-round pick Train Rex Grossman might be looking for a seat on the bench soon. With those two meeting Sunday night at Soldier Field, I figured this is a good time to rank the quarterbacks from the draft class of 2003.

1. Carson Palmer, Bengals (First round, first overall)
2. Tony Romo, Cowboys (undrafted)
3. Byron Leftwich, Jaguars/Falcons (First round, seventh overall)
4. Kyle Boller, Ravens (First round, 19th overall)
5. Rex Grossman, Bears (First round, 22nd overall)
6. Chris Simms, Bucs (Third round, 97th overall)
7. Seneca Wallace, Seahawks (Fourth round, 110th overall)
8. Brooks Bollinger, Jets/Vikings (Sixth round, 200th overall)
9. Brian St. Pierre, Steelers (Fifth round, 163rd overall)
10. Ken Dorsey, 49ers/Browns (Seventh round, 241st overall)
11. Drew Henson, Texans (Sixth round, 192nd overall)
12. Dave Ragone, Texans (Third round, 88th overall)
13. Kliff Kingsbury, Patriots (Sixth round, 201st overall)
14. Gibran Hamdan, Redskins (Seventh round, 232nd overall)

You could make a case that I've underrated Grossman on this list. He was the starter on a Super Bowl team last season. Leftwich has been cut, and Boller was demoted to a backup.

But the Bears would have made a Super Bowl with Leftwich or Boller under center. And they would have had a better chance of winning.

In College news, Texas Tech shakes up staff

On Sunday, defensive coordinator Lyle Setencich stepped down at Leach's suggestion. Setencich was replaced by defensive assistant Ruffin McNeill for the remainder of the season.

The news was greeted with surprise among the team, coaches and Tech fans, and prompted a banner A-1 headline in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Leach admitted the decision was difficult. Setencich had once hired a young Leach as an assistant at Cal Poly SLO and has faced severe personal challenges. Setencich's wife, Kathy, suffered a stroke-like hemorrhage called a "brain bleed" and recently underwent further surgery.

"I just think we need a change in mentality," Leach said. "With that said, we wish him the best. For some years he's been trying to balance a lot of things and trying to take care of a lot of things at once. At some point, it just got to be too much."
McNeill received the news from Leach on Sunday afternoon, something he described as "bittersweet."

Monday, McNeill was busy watching film on the large-screen Sony in his office and meeting with assistants, a takeout lunch still untouched on his desk.

He said he wanted to build an aggressive, swarming defense as a counterpart to Tech's spread offense.

"They do a great job of moving the football and a great job of doing what they do," McNeill said. "We have to do a great job of upholding our end of the bargain."

McNeill acknowledged an emotional side that manifests itself in yelling, high-fives and even the occasional chest bump.

"Coach Ruffin is going to get in your face and he's going to yell at you a little bit more and make sure you do it right," cornerback Chris Parker said. "With cCoach [Setencich], it was more of that he would just expect you to know it."

McNeill acknowledges a difficult situation with a relatively inexperienced unit.
Setencich had shown solid progress after inheriting a unit that ranked 85th nationally in 2002. Tech's defense ranked a respectable 30th in 2005, the year the Red Raiders reached the Cotton Bowl. Tech's defense stands 74th this season.

The defense could determine how the season goes. The Red Raiders rank second nationally in total offense (606 yards a game) and fifth in scoring (49.5 points a game).

Leach's 10-minute postgame verbal dissection of his team has apparently left few lasting scars. Most of the veterans have heard variations before and understand it comes from playing for a coach who speaks his mind.

Texas prepares for Kansas State…the team that started this slide….

The Texas Longhorns remember 45-42, when Kansas State's Jeff Snodgrass kicked a game-winning 51-yard field goal. They were supposed to beat Kansas State that day. They were supposed to celebrate a Big 12 South title in front of the Wildcats.

But it was the Wildcats celebrating as the Longhorns faded into oblivion.

One year later, as the teams prepare to meet Saturday in Austin, it's time for revenge.



For the Longhorns, revenge is a dish best served somewhere else.

"This is not a revenge game," offensive tackle Tony Hills said. "What happened in the past is in the past. We're just looking forward to opening up conference play and getting started on one of our goals: winning the Big 12. But this is not a revenge game."

Kansas State (2-1) might have been the team that derailed the Longhorns' 2006 season. They might have been the team that injured Colt McCoy, knocking him out, along with any thoughts of a national championship. They might represent the beginning of the end to the Longhorns' 2006 season.

The No. 7 Longhorns (4-0) aren't buying it.

"You sell every day on this being a different team. You're trying to build chemistry
with a different team," Mack Brown said on why revenge isn't a motivational tool the Longhorns use. "Last year's loss isn't about this team. I'm sure some players use revenge. If somebody wants to stay mad over last year, that's their deal. And some will. But that's not my deal."

It doesn't need to be.

Opponents might find a way to beat Brown's teams once, but it's rare to go back-to-back against the Longhorns.

Besides Oklahoma, which won five straight Red River Rivalry contests from 2000-04, only one Big 12 team has posted back-to-back victories over the Longhorns since Brown arrived — Kansas State in 1998-99.

That still doesn't play into Brown's philosophy.

So what does he use to motivate?

"We want to win the Big 12 championship," Brown said. "This is the opening game. We still haven't played our best game, and Kansas State is really good. I really feel like if guys can't get excited about playing in the opening conference game, they shouldn't be playing anyway."

That's how Texas is looking at Saturday's showdown at Royal-Memorial Stadium.

Weiss believes Mike Gundy should apologize

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy didn't have time to talk about his team's 49-45 victory over Texas Tech on Saturday in Stillwater. Instead, he chose to use his postgame interview session with the media to go ballistic on Jenni Carlson, a columnist for the Daily Oklahoman.

Carlson wrote a piece critical of junior quarterback Bobby Reid, who had been replaced by sophomore Zac Robinson prior to the game, suggesting among other things the coaches had sacked Reid, the most talented quarterback on the team, because of his attitude. Carlson claimed Reid had not always handled his nerves well and was "nicked in some games and sat it out instead of gutting it out."

She also painted a disturbing picture of Reid as a coddled player, standing near the team charter buses, using his cell phone while being fed chicken by his mother out of a boxed meal.

Carlson obviously tweaked a nerve that sent Gundy over the edge after Reid's mother came to his office to complain.

He characterized Reid as "a good kid" who goes to class and is respectful of the media and was the victim of yellow journalism.

"Three-fourths of this is inaccurate," Gundy claimed, holding up a copy of the column. "It's fiction. And this article embarrasses me to be involved with athletics."

Then he started raising his voice, pointed his finger in Carlson's direction and appeared to be moving toward her in a threatening manner. Video of the entire meltdown is already available all over the Internet.

"That article had to have been written by a person that doesn't have a child," Gundy wailed. "And has never had a child that had his heart broken and come home upset and had to deal with a child when he is upset. ... He's not a professional athlete and he doesn't deserve to be kicked when he's down.

"If you have a child someday, you'll understand how it feels but you obviously don't have a child. I do. If your child goes down the street and somebody makes fun of him because he drops a pass in pickup game or says he's fat and he comes home crying to his mom, you'll understand."

Great, coach. Scream a little louder in what certainly looked like an effort to intimidate Carlson because she dared to fairly criticize a 21-year-old scholarship player. Under a little stress, are we? Not everyone in Stillwater is buying into this uncalled-for diatribe after the Cowboys' ugly loss to Troy the previous week, where Gundy looked so disinterested on ESPN. As for accusations that Carlson claimed Reid was scared, we don't remember reading that in her column.

Gundy, who claims he doesn't read Carlson's newspaper "because it's garbage" and went on to say "the editor who let it come out is garbage," left without taking questions, and was applauded by what must have been cronies as he stormed out of the room. The Oklahoman stands by its columnist and its story. We wonder if Gundy would have made those outrageous comments if a male columnist had written that. For most rational coaches, these things are best handled in one-on-ones behind closed doors instead of on a bully pulpit.

This story has become a national emebarrassment for the program, the university and the Big 12. Gundy owes Carlson an apology for his outrageous behavior. And Oklahoma State needs to review whether this is someone it wants representing its school.

2 new, nice, strong blogs from our audience:


I have been asked by John Winchester and Lauren Greenhaw (of your Promotions Dept) to be Team Captain for The Ticket Team’s Race for the Cure.

I’m sure you all know what the Race for the Cure is – but I didn’t know if you were aware that The Ticket has a team.

I would like to invite you all to be a part the Race For The Cure by joining The Ticket Team.

If you would like to make a donation to Komen, you may do so at the same link:
There is a direct link to the team on The Ticket’s website.

Or if you want to go directly to the registration/donation page, go here:

Race Info:
The 5K is on Saturday, Oct 20th at 8:00 AM at NorthPark Center.

Directions to NorthPark:

Online registration closes at 11:59 pm on October 15, 2007!
Pledges and donations will be accepted through November30, 2007.
Feel free to forward this email to anyone who may be interested.
It would also be great if you could mention it on the air.
If you have any questions for me, please ask!
Laron Cheek


I love hearing you boys talk college football, and I always appreciate some good Aggie ripping. Anyway, I hear the comment thrown out every now and then (not from you) that the 2005 Longhorns were "just Vince Young", and while I agree that he was maybe the single greatest college football player ever, that team was far from a one man show.

Case in point, after only 2 graduating classes since the National Championship, there are 16 members of that team currently on an NFL roster. With Limas Sweed and Frank Okam certain (barring injury) to be high draft picks next April, this number is likely to hit 18 and could go higher if any of Quan Cosby, Billy Pittman, Robert Killebrew or Rashad Bobino also make an NFL team.

This may also be a big reason why the team currently seems so green. Many top players have left for the pros over the last couple of years, leaving the younger guys to fill in. Of course, without Vince the team doesn't win in Pasadena, but there were a few other good players on that team too.

Here are the current NFL Longhorns.

Justin Blalock - OG - Atlanta Falcons
Tarell Brown - CB - San Francisco 49ers
Tim Crowder - DE - Denver Broncos
Cedric Griffin - CB - Minnesota Vikings
Michael Griffin - S - Tennessee Titans
Ahmard Hall - FB - Tennessee Titans
Michael Huff - S - Oakland Raiders
Brian Robison - DE - Minnesota Vikings
Aaron Ross - CB - New York Giants
Jonathan Scott - OT - Detroit Lions
Lyle Sendlein - C - Arizona Cardinals
Kasey Studdard - OG - Houston Texans
David Thomas - TE - New England Patriots
Rodrique Wright - DE - Miami Dolphins
Selvin Young - RB - Denver Broncos
Vince Young - QB - Tennessee Titans

Take care and have a great day.

P1 - David in Dallas


Hey Bob, heard you talking Friday about how the front office spent so much on Defense and Draft picks that havent worked out. I know hindsight is 20/20 but this boggles my mind what kind of team we could have if they made a few different decisions:

Julius Jones (43rd 2004)
Sean Ryan (144th 2004)
Marcus Spears (20th 2005)
Instead of
Steven Jackson(24th 2004).
Think St. Louis would do this trade?

Kevin Burnett (42nd 2005)
instead of
Lofa Tatupu (45th 2005)
(Response to Parcells liked his LB's bigger argument:
Tatupu is 10 lbs heavier than Burnett, Tatupu's the
same weight as Bradie James and 2 inches shorter than
both (6 foot even))

Anthony Fasano (53rd 2006)
instead of
Devin Hester (57th 2006)

Pat Watkins (138th 2006)
instead of
Dawan Landry (146th 2006)

Bobby Carpenter (18th 2006)
Instead of
Antonio Cromartie (19th 2006)(Personal Hunch he'll
develop to be better than Carpenter)
Tamba Hali (20th 2006)
Santonio Holmes (25th 2006)

Longhorns Crank that Soulja Boy

Ibis Cranks that Soulja Boy

Monday, September 24, 2007

Week 3, Cowboys Stomp Bears 34-10

There are days to attempt to be the voice of reason around here. There are times when you talk people off the ledge or warn them of tough times that wait further down the trail. I wouldn’t do that to you today. This was one of those signature wins that you imagine will sit there with the Colts win of 2006 and the win at the Linc in 2005 as possibly the first thing you remember about a given season. Of course, for this to be the biggest win, the Cowboys will have a quiet January. And I am starting to think that won’t happen this time.

Yes, it has been 3,922 days since the Cowboys last playoff win, but I have a feeling that Tony Romo knows what to do about that streak. Kind of like he knew what to do last night against those big, bad, mean Chicago Bears. I would not have blamed him had he been lit up like so many who have entered Soldier Field before him, but instead he put on a clinic that has the country taking notice. No fluke here, kids. He is the real deal.

The following are notes and recollections of the Shellacking in Chicago…

• How could anyone still doubt this QB? What do you still need to see? He wants you to blitz. He wants you to try to sack him. I can’t blame America for not catching on given that his own owner has not signed his extension yet, but I would have to believe the doubters are now scattering. How many times would Drew Bledsoe have been sacked last night? I would imagine somewhere between 6-10. No offense, Drew, because the Bears generally get to everyone. Somehow, Romo takes one lateral step and buys himself another second.

• Let’s move on to “the player”. Terrell Owens brings plenty of nonsense to the table when you sign him. Owens will talk too much, celebrate too much, and test your patience overall, but boy, last night, he demonstrates why he can be worth the trouble. He dominated the Bears defense. They had no idea what to do with him as he cut across the field on another crossing pattern for 18 yards. I really doubted the Cowboys weapons without Terry Glenn, thinking that a good defense could figure out how to contain Owens and Jason Witten, and make Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd beat them. But, amazingly enough, Romo keeps working Witten and Owens play after play, and the chains keep moving.

• I would like to tell you Devin Hester really isn’t that great and that the hype just got away from us this week. But the fact is he is great. And that the coverage team of the Cowboys should be congratulated. I was certainly worried when Nick Folk kicked his first ball out of bounds, but to his credit, he had a real nice night of quality deep kicks, and of course a high pressure 44 yarder that gave them a 20-10 lead at the time. The coverage teams are the true heroes here, though. That Keith Davis talked some trash, but then he ran down the field and made a play. Special teams aren’t always special around these parts, but that was very solid.

• In the true spirit of being a homer-blog, weren’t those refs the worst? The penalty on Witten was absurd (Block in the back wasn’t even close), the penalty on Owens was ridiculous (Pass Interference?), and the way those keystone cops ran off the field at halftime instead of giving Dallas its rightful opportunity to kick a Field Goal was robbery. I was shocked at how bad they were. Of course, the Cowboys may have been beneficiaries of an inconclusive replay on the Benson fumble, so they weren’t total victims.

• The defense was ok. I think the plan was to make Rex Grossman drive the Bears all the way down the field with no big plays. They did get one big play thanks to another brain-dead tackle “attempt” from Big Roy on Desmond Clark, but for the most part they surrendered the sideline routes to Bernard Berrian all night to insure that he didn’t get deep on them. You may feel there was too much cushion from the CB’s, but I think that was by design.

• Some fun for the tivo viewers: 8:41 3Q Roy’s laughable shoulder to Clark; 6:15 left in the 3rd, the Ref gives the shocker (countless emails); 9:45 in the 4th – Chris Canty celebrates a tackle by hitting John Tait with a shot in the groin by accident. And 8:07 in 4th – Mark Columbo chops Tommie Harris at the knees and injures him with a legal, yet sometimes considered dirty play.

• Anthony Spencer is noticed on a regular basis, which is more than I can say from other high recent draft picks. He lost contain a time or two last night, but he also chipped in with a nice sack. Based on that sack and the Eli Manning toss to the ground, I would suggest to you that he appears to have rather strong hands.

• The Bears have a great defense, and other countless nice parts. But, I think their QB is a joke (who doesn’t) and I have major doubts that Cedric Benson is a big time running back. If you think QB is a tough place to find a star, ask the Bears about drafting Running Backs in the top 5. Curtis Enis and now this? By the way, is there a better nickname than "Wrecks" Grossman?

• While we are complaining about Roy, who should be complimented for his Int
in the 4th, could we ask if he is familiar with the “Roy Williams horse collar rule”? It doesn’t appear so.

• Sam Hurd jacked up Adam Archuleta, eh? That was so sweet.

• Anytime you are penalized 100 yards on the road you should likely be in for quite a tough lesson about composure. Instead, they won in a laugher.

• Despite the fact that Wade Phillips appears to hand out 21 game balls, I will certainly make sure Anthony Henry, Leonard Davis (for wrestling Tommie Harris pretty well all night), Marion the Barberian (what a touchdown...again) and the special teams captain get one.

• DeMarcus Ware wasn’t going to sit on 0 sacks for too long. 2 last night. He will be right back at 12 by season’s end I am sure.

• Bears new defensive coordinator Bob Babich has crazy eyes.

• While we offer Jay Ratliff another high 5, let’s also give Stephen Bowen and Remi Ayodele our compliments in this week’s anonymous defensive linemen that did something category.

• Jason Garrett. I don’t know what to say. He rolls the dice with regularity. He calls a game like he is playing Madden. He is the opposite of conservative. He is calling deep throws on 3rd and 18. He has called the 3 most perfect games ever. Maybe not. But wow. He is good. And the idea of lining up Owens in the backfield to cause chaos for the opponent is brilliant. It would be even better if Glenn was around, because the DB’s would have more trouble switching, but I still love it.

• The Rams are dangerous, but this team should be 5-0 waiting for the Patriots in 20 days. This could be a special year, folks.

Like I told you, He is a Jedi, like his hero before him.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Back to the Drawing Board

That didn’t go very well. There is no way that was as close as the final score would indicate. The offense was dreadful. The defense could not get off the field. The Coach did not use his weapon on offense, and despite Miami not really being Miami, it was very obvious to anyone that watched that the only way to describe the battle at the line of scrimmage is “Men against boys”.

I really want to see this program do well, as it is clear to me that college football down Texas Way needs the Aggies to be good, but this could go south quickly. With all of the road battles, and with all of the upperclassmen that are “Fran’s Guys”, this has all the makings of a disaster where A&M is performing a coaching search around the holidays.

JJT Seems to nail the feelings of most this morning

Every college football fan watching Texas A&M's nationally televised game against Miami on Thursday night discovered what many unbiased observers have known for years: The Aggies are wannabes.

They wanna be an elite program.

They wanna be like Texas and Oklahoma, teams that have recently won championships.

They wanna be relevant.

Based on A&M's raggedy performance against the Hurricanes, that's not happening anytime soon.

Miami 34, Texas A&M 17.

Trust me, the game wasn't nearly that close. It's hard to believe this is the same Miami team that OU thumped 51-13 just a couple of weeks ago.

It kind of makes you wonder whether the Aggies, ranked No. 20 by the Associated Press poll until the next poll is released, are due for another 77-0 shellacking when they play the Sooners in a few weeks.

Don't laugh.

To his credit, a somber coach Dennis Franchione offered no excuses after the debacle in the Orange Bowl.

"We didn't play our best tonight, taking nothing away from Miami," Franchione said.
Once again, Coach Fran failed to have his team perform to a high standard in a high-profile game that could've generated some excitement for A&M, which has become a second-tier Big 12 program during the past decade.

We really shouldn't be surprised.

Aside from what now appears to be a fluke win over UT last November, what have Coach Fran's teams accomplished in his five seasons? Not much. He is 1-9 against Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska, the best teams in the Big 12.

The Aggie faithful are tired of reading Coach Fran's record against the Big 12's big boys.

Too bad.

It is what it is.

More on the debacle at the OB

Franchione was right about one thing. The Hurricanes will be back in the Top 25 before too long. Problem for Franchione is it's at his expense.

If the Aggies had come down to South Florida and handed the Hurricanes a second loss in four games, it would have taken Miami four or five straight victories just to make the list for teams receiving votes.

Instead, A&M might drop out of the Top 25 with Miami taking over its respective spots in the AP and coaches' polls.

Remember, this is nearly the same team Oklahoma beat 51-13, which admittedly wasn't as bad as the score indicated.

Unfortunately for A&M, Thursday's game wasn't as good as the score indicated. A&M lost by 17 points but was down 31-0 until early in the fourth quarter.

What hurts more for Franchione's legacy may be the missed opportunity on a national stage.

A&M is now 0-3 on ESPN's Thursday night games under Franchione, including losses to Virginia Tech (2003), Utah (2004) and now Miami. The combined score: 110-58.

Oh, and by the way, the Holiday Bowl was also on a Thursday night.

So outside of the Big 12, the Aggies of late are 0-for when they have the undivided attention of college football fans across the nation, which is something that will take more than a few Big 12 victories to remedy.

Cessna’s report card …I know it is a bit much info, but I thought it was worth looking at today…

Robert Cessna Grades the Aggies


What went right: A&M was able to score twice off Miami fumbles, and added a consolation touchdown. A&M got the ball to running back Mike Goodson 21 times, but he has to have a lot more help.

What went wrong: The starting offensive line, which has a combined 125 career starts, was manhandled from the get-go by Miami's defensive front four. That led to a fruitless first half -Ê38 yards on 21 plays.

Bottom line: A&M lost three yards on its first play, which was a telling sign of what was ahead - or what wasn't ahead. D-


What went right: A&M recovered three fumbles.

What went wrong: A&M couldn't get pressure on Miami quarterback Kyle Wright. The Hurricanes passed for 275 yards on 21 of 26 passing with three drops. They came in averaging 130.7 yards per game, which was 113th in the nation.

Bottom line: Miami was 4 of 5 on third downs on its opening drive, picking up a first down on fourth down the only time it didn't convert. F

Special Teams

What went right: Jordan Peterson fumbled a punt return in the third quarter, which A&M recovered for an 11-yard gain. Sadly, that was only 27 yards short of matching A&M's first-half offensive output.

What went wrong: A&M was short on a 50-yard field goal try with Miami up 7-0. ... A&M's blockers fumbled a pair of kickoff returns. ... A&M punted out of field-goal formation, netting only 15 yards. ... A&M didn't recover an onside kick, but it would have been wiped out by an illegal formation even if it had.

Bottom line: Miami's speed and ability to get lots of hangtime on kicks grounded one of the country's best kickoff return games. F

What went right: This was ugly, but it could have been worse. A&M scored 17 fourth-quarter points, so the players never gave up.

What went wrong: The Aggies didn't play like a team made up of upperclassmen that had been 3-4 years in the making. A&M's offense didn't convert a third down in the first half as Miami took a 24-0 lead. The defense couldn't get itself off the field -ÊMiami didn't punt until the third quarter.

Bottom line: The armchair quarterbacks had a field day on a nationally televised game. Tailback Jorvorskie Lane got 2 yards on two carries. If he'd carried the ball 10 times, maybe he'd have had only 3 yards since Miami's defense was swarming. But A&M's offense looked overmatched in the first half. F


What went right: The weather was great. This is a must-see destination. First-timers saw why the Orange Bowl has been one of the nation's premier destinations during the regular season and postseason.

What went wrong: A&M didn't look anything close to being the nation's 20th-ranked team. Forget the final score, this game had a much worse feeling than a 17-point loss if you were wearing maroon.

Bottom line: A&M was blown out by California in the Holiday Bowl last season. Now it was blown out on the East Coast. This wasn't the balance the Aggies were looking for. Now, they have to go back and regroup for four more tough road venues. F

OK. Enough about that rubbish. Let’s move on to the main event on most of our weekends (save for Lambeau at 12 noon as they attempt to stave off LT and the Chargers), that is the Cowboys trip to go see the NFC Champion Chicago Bears at their place on National Television.

This game should be a loss. But, what a fine measuring stick to compare yourself to. The defense is the best in the business, and Tony Romo can see where he stands against a D that will pull out all the stops.

I see it, Chicago 20, Dallas 17. But, this may be a coin flip game.

I also see it, Chargers 27, Packers 20. Such a pessimist.

Brandt looks at the Bears D vs the Cowboys O

In their last three regular-season games played in Chicago, Dallas has scored a total of just 25 points. In the two games this season, however, Dallas leads the NFL with 82 points and ranks fourth in total offense. The Bears, meanwhile, have allowed 24 total points and rank fifth in total defense.

Dallas will have hard time running the ball here, so they have to beat the Bears through the air. To do so, they'll need to protect QB Tony Romo against the Bears' front four and blitzers -- Chicago blitzes more than you think. Romo will look to exploit the two safeties, Adam Archuleta and Danieal Manning - the latter is a second-year player and the former is in his first season with the Bears. Up front, the Cowboys need to block DE Tommie Harris on the inside. Harris is a native Texan who will probably have a little extra motivation here. DT Mark Anderson has 13 sacks in 18 games for the Bears.

Chicago ranks 30th in total offense and has scored just 23 points in two games -- the only offensive TD has come on a 2-yard pass to a backup offensive tackle.
To stop Devin Hester in the return game, Dallas can do any of these three things: punt out of bounds, kickoff to the sidelines (and hope ball doesn't go out of bounds), or sky the ball to force a fair catch and prevent a big return.

The Cowboys will most likely change the makeup of their roster for this game by going short on one position, maybe offensive or defensive line, in order to get the best special teams players active. Keep I mind that it's not just Hester they are facing here: Bears special teams coach Dave Toub is very good, and kicker Robbie Gould led the NFL in scoring last year with 143 points.

This weekend is also a matchup with Cedric Benson. Benson has not been overly impressive, and when he has been good, it has been running around the corners. I think this is a great matchup for the Cowboys, since the 3-4 doesn’t give up much wide. The way to attack a 3-4 on the ground is up the gut, and Benson has never shown the gut to do that. Advantage Cowboys.

Feature on Benson

Benson, the fourth overall pick of the 2005 NFL draft, comes into Sunday night's game against the Dallas Cowboys fresh off the second 100-yard game of his career. Despite improved production against the Chiefs, Benson still is hearing it from critics. And he will until he performs at a high level on a consistent basis.

Benson insists he ignores negative publicity. John Parchman, his high school coach and mentor, begs to differ.

"It bothers Cedric when people are critical of him. It crushes him," Parchman said. "He thinks a lot. He probably thinks more than he should about things like that.

"The man gets disappointed easily. He's misunderstood sometimes. He's very sincere, very conscious of the job he does. And because he's quiet, that comes across sometimes as being kind of aloof."

The Bears must have faith in him, though, because they parted ways with Thomas Jones in favor of the younger Benson. He might not be the vocal leader or the blocker Jones was, but Benson has potential the Bears clearly found irresistible.

Benson would be the first to say he has yet to fulfill his promise. He says he hasn't played his style since his final home game in college, when he led Texas to a 26-13 victory over rival Texas A & M with 165 yards on 33 carries. Back then, the offense revolved around him.

"We do a lot of rotating here, a lot of situational stuff," Benson said. "You don't really feel like you are just that guy, that player in the offense. Do I want that feeling back? Yeah. But you have to show that with your production on the field. I'm confident things will take care of itself."

During training camp, Benson often would sit alone in the dining room with sunglasses covering his eyes. An outsider might view him as an arrogant player distancing himself from his teammates. Benson says that wasn't the case.

"I understand that people don't know me, don't know me personally," he said. "Some things that you think about a person, that you perceive about a person, you made up or come up with yourself."

Benson put himself on shaky ground during an acrimonious holdout before his rookie season. His rift with the well-respected Jones over the previous two seasons wasn't an ideal scenario either.

Benson doesn't want to be judged on the past.

"Who is Cedric Benson? I'm nobody in particular," he said. "I'm just a Southern boy who's old school. I like to be at home with my two Rottweilers. I like things to be real simple."

Keith Davis is not careful about what he asks for

Special teams ace Keith "Fiddy" Davis doesn't want to hear any talk about kicking away from Bears return man extraordinaire "Heaven" Devin Hester.

"We better kick it to him," said Davis, who's been dreaming about putting a big hit on Hester. "I don’t want to go around and start pooch kicking and start trying to kick away from him. I don’t like that. I figure, if he’s supposed to be the best, let’s see how good we are."

The Bears laugh at opponents who want to challenge Hester.

"It's an ego thing in the NFL: 'We can cover him. We can tackle this guy,'" Brian Urlacher said on yesterday's conference call. "Everyone says that, but I don't see too many guys doing it so far in his career. I just hope people continue to kick to him and keep thinking they can tackle him."

Gold. Gold. Gold.

Jake Byrd Crashes OJ Press Conference - Watch more free videos

This weekend’s College FB Tv Schedule

Below, please fine the Soccer Schedule from The Premiership, including Chelsea without Jose, visiting Old Trafford…

Sat Sep 22 08:45AM Central
Setanta Sports USA
English Premier League
Liverpool vs Birmingham City

Sat Sep 22 08:55AM Central
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC) - US
English Premier League
Arsenal vs Derby County

Sat Sep 22 11:00AM Central
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC) - US
English Premier League
Fulham vs Manchester City

Sun Sep 23 07:25AM Central
Setanta Sports USA
English Premier League
Newcastle United vs West Ham United
Setanta Broadband

Sun Sep 23 10:00AM Central
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC) - US
English Premier League
Manchester United vs Chelsea

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