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Archive : December 2008

December 28, 2008

COLT McCOY'S SHOE-FILLER

Garrett Gilbert. 6'4" 210 pound quarterback at Lake Travis in Austin.

If you haven't heard this kid's name by now? Memorize it. Because unless he gets in some kind of freakish accident or pulls a Josh Hamilton with no miraculous recovery, you'll be hearing his name for about the next 20 years.

No more than three as a quarterback at the University of Texas, then as many as he wants in the NFL. He will be a star at both levels.

Gilbert has led Lake Travis to two consecutive Class 4A State Championships and in the final game last week broke Graham Harrell's all-time state passing mark...by five yards.

His coach (ex-Stephenville coach Chad Morris) knew how many yards he needed to break the record and told Gilbert.

Gilbert told Morris that he didn't care about the record.

Morris promptly told Gilbert that he didn't care if he didn't care and sent him back onto the field to make history.

Four completions later Gilbert stood alone on top of the all-time passing yardage list: 12, 537 for a career. Not too shabby.

There are two schools of thought about Gilbert's role at UT.

1. He will not redshirt and be Colt's backup for one year with current back-up John Chiles moving to receiver. Playing in mop-up duty. Getting much-needed experience before he takes over as the starter in 2010.

2. He will redshirt letting John Chiles continue to back Colt up, then compete with Chiles for the starting job in 2010. A competition he will undoubtedly win.

But both roads have the same ending: Gilbert will be gone after the 2011 season.

So the Longhorns better get the most out of him while they can. My hope is that they let him get experience and be the back-up next year, but what do I know?

I was in Austin this past week and heard a lot more about Gilbert than I ever have before. He is a remarkable athlete and person, I could go on and on about him but you could just Google or YouTube him and find out all you want.

Bottom line is the Gilbert is one of the best high school QBs to come out in a long, long time and will be a name we all remember for a many years to come.

  • mark rogers
  • December 28, 2008 9:59 PM

COWBOYS DESERVE TO WATCH FROM HOME

First of all let me say Happy Holidays to all out there, and I hope everyone had a safe time with friends and family.

Second of all let me say that I think the Dallas Cowboys are exactly where they should be at this point of the 2008 season - out of the playoffs...watching from home.

In a season filled with drama (Adam Jones reinstatement and fight with his own body guard and reinstatement, TO apparently getting jealous of Tony Romo's relationship with Jason Witten, Wade Phillips stripping duties of defensive coordinator Brian Stewart), injuries (Romo's pinkie finger, Marion Barber's pinkie toe, Witten's ribs, Felix Jones' hamstring and foot, Roy Williams' arm, Kyle Kosier's foot, Mat McBriar's foot, and on and on and on) and underachievement (losing to Arizona and St. Louis), the Cowboys don't deserve to make the post-season or receive any type of positive recognition.

Granted, the injuries weren't anyone's fault, but Dallas has to get rid of the drama and underachievement if it ever wants to win another playoff game...ever.

The start of the season was so promising: 3-0, everyone's pick to win the Super Bowl in the last season at Texas Stadium. It was just all a little too perfect.

This season will forever be remembered as the season of the pinkies: Romo's finger and Barber's toe. The pinkies that ruined us all.

A few months ago, I said that at 5-4 the Cowboys would have to do no worse than 5-2 in their last seven (very tough) games to have a chance to make the tournament. They went 4-3 and could have easily gone 6-1.

They had the Pittsburgh game in the bag. The Baltimore game was winnable before the defense just absolutely imploded and did something it hadn't done all year - give up big plays.

What a way to leave Texas Stadium. Giving up two 70+ yard touchdown runs on consecutive possessions to let the Ravens make it a horrible night.

Kind of reminds me of the night Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin were inducted into the Texas Stadium Ring of Honor.

We were beating Washington 13-0 with five minutes left and lost 14-13 on two long Santana Moss TD catches.

And the big plays just kept coming today against the Dallas defense. That game was over in the first quarter. We looked like we could've cared less about winning that game.

Whose fault is that? Coaches? Lack of player leadership? Jessica Simpson?

I don't know. But I do know this. Another season in Cowboys history is in the books and it might just go down as one of the most disappointing in franchise history - and we've had some disappointing seasons in 49 years.

We shouldn't have lost to Arizona, St. Louis, Pittsburgh or Baltimore. Fix those games and even with a loss today Dallas is 13-3 with its only losses to New York, Washington and Philadelphia. Shoulda woulda coulda.

Something has to change. You know it. I know it. And Jerry Jones knows it.

Now it's up to him to right the ship and get the Boys back on track. At least no one on our team accidentally shot himself in the leg...

...not yet anyway.

  • mark rogers
  • December 28, 2008 9:41 PM

December 19, 2008

BOWL PREVIEWS (Dec 27-28)

All right - the first really good weekend of games during bowl season. Three on Saturday, all BCS schools and one more on Sunday, .

Saturday at noon will see North Carolina and West Virginia in the Car Care Bowl. This is a game I will absolutely LOVE to watch. UNC has overachieved, WVU has way-underachieved.

The Tarheels are loaded with athleticism on both sides of the ball. Watch safety Tremaine Goddard. I called UNC to be one of my surprise teams of 2008, and they came pretty close to playing for the ACC Championship.

West Virginia QB Pat White has smashed all sorts of records, but I've never been that impressed with his performances in big games (except for the win over OU). He's hurt a lot and seems to disappear when it matters most.

I've enjoyed watching both of these teams this year but will be rooting for Butch Davis and the Heels.

After that game, Florida State will meet Wisconsin in the Champs Sports Bowl. A potentially great game. FSU running back Antone Smith will need to be healthy and QB Christian Ponder played terrible against UF in the finale, but if those two guys are at full speed, the 'Noles are very dangerous.

Wisonsin averaged 212 yds/game rushing with PJ Hill and John Clay. Watch Wisconsin defensive end Matt Shaughnessy and FSU defensive end Everette Brown.

But the day's not over!

Cal and Miami play in the Emerald Bowl in prime time. The Canes big issue is their lack of experience at the QB position. Robert Marve and Jacory Harris are great athletes but get rattled easily.

Cal running back Jahvid Best is fun to watch. So is their center Alex Mack. He's a first round pick...and can do the splits.

The Sunday game features Louisiana Tech and Northern Illinois in the Independence Bowl. Watch LT running back Daniel Porter. They average 200 yds on the ground and only give up 99 rush yards. Porter's an NFL prospect.

At this point? 12 games down, 22 to go...this is the greatest time of year!!!!!


  • mark rogers
  • December 19, 2008 11:01 PM

BOWL PREVIEWS (Week of Dec 22-26)

We'll just be treated to three games during the work week (Monday - Friday, December 22-26).
Again, a quick note about the games and a player to watch to make it more interesting.

On Tuesday Boise State and TCU will meet in prime time in the Poinsettia Bowl. These teams are a combined 22-2. Boise State hasn't lost and the only reason the Broncos aren't playing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl is Utah.

TCU has the top-ranked rush defense in the nation, and they've played a decent schedule. They held OU to less than 50 yards rushing and only 35 points...what is that about half their average?

Look for TCU QB Andy Dalton.

On Wednesday Notre Dame and Hawaii play all the way down in Hawaii. Yeah, a great vacation for the Irish. They can get away. Spend some time on the beach. Get out of the spotlight for a few weeks...but if they lose? It may be the end of the line - or much closer to it - for Charlie Weis. I think the only reason he's still there is that there wasn't a better option for the Irish.

It's a home game for Hawaii, a team wanting to prove that last year's BCS berth wasn't a fluke.

89 teams have won a bowl game since Notre Dame last won a bowl. They MUST win this game, but it may be the absolute worst scenario for them...it could get ugly...like it could get any uglier for ND?

Watch ND linebacker Maurice Crum.

No game Thursday, but on Friday Central Michigan and Florida Atlantic play in the Motor City Bowl.

Two great QBs to watch in this one. Central Michigan dual threat Dan LeFevour (the second QB to rush for 1,000 yds and pass for 3,000 in a single season - the first? Vince Young) and FAU's Rusty Smith. Smith is an NFL prospect. Lefty. Tall. Rocket arm. I can't wait to watch these guys dual on the field.

FAU will need to make Central Michigan run the ball if they want to win.
  • mark rogers
  • December 19, 2008 10:51 PM

HEISMAN HEAD-SCRATCHER

I don't know what confused me more...the fact that Tim Tebow lost the Heisman Trophy to Sam Bradford...or the fact that Colt McCoy finished second.

Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled that Colt was that close, but the voting goes against the majority of the history of the Heisman voting. If you have three players in the running and two of them are from the same region and the other is in a big market or on a coast playing for a national title contender, it would seem obvious that the voting would split between the players close together and go to the "single" finalist.

That didn't happen.

And I was very confused.

I've thought about it over the last week and think it might have to do with technology. Voters have blackberrys and iPhones and get updates on every player at every school. ESPN, CSBC, Versus, NFL Network and ESPN Gameplan allow more games to be watched by more people every weekend.

So maybe the fact that regional lines have been blurred by the massive increase in technology has made that "splitting votes" factor a moot point...???

It's the only thing I can come up with. I will say one thing: I love the fact that the lines are blurred.

It makes it more fair because I believe Colt and Sam both deserved to get more votes than Tebow. I just never thought it would happen based of how the voters normally perceive the situation.

The voters are smarter and more informed than ever before...and that's great for the Heisman Trophy and college football.
  • mark rogers
  • December 19, 2008 10:43 PM

BOWL PREVIEWS (Dec 20-21)

The first weekend of the 2008 Bowl Season starts off with some pretty good match-ups. Five games - four on Saturday and one on Sunday. I'll give a short fact about each game and give you a player to look out for...which always makes games with two teams you don't know very well a little easier to watch.

Navy and Wake Forest will meet in the Congressional Bowl in a rematch of a game Navy won early in the year. The Midshipmen jumped out to a 17-0 lead in that one and held on 24-17. Wake turned it over SIX times in the game.

If the Demon Deacons can hang on to the ball, they'll win. It's tough to beat a team twice in the same season. Player to watch: WF linebacker Aaron Curry...he's a stud.

The New Mexico Bowl pits Colorado State against Fresno State. The Rams won their last two games to become bowl eligible. Fresno's last game was a 61-10 loss to Boise State. I like Colorado State. Look out for Fresno QB Tom Brandstater. You may see his name in the NFL one day.

Memphis and South Florida meet in the St. Petersburg Bowl. It's basically a road game for the Tigers and a home game for USF but watch out for Memphis RB Curtis Steele. If he has a big game, Memphis has a good chance.

USF started 5-0 and ended up 7-5...they have not looked like the 2007 USF team the last two months of the year. Bulls DE George Selvie has first round pick written all over him.

The Las Vegas Bowl - Arizona vs. BYU. I love Cougar RB Harvey Unga. 240 pounds of hugeness. BYU QB Max Hall shows flashes of brilliance, too.

Arizona QB Willie Tuitama ranked second in the Pac-10 in passing efficiency.

On Sunday Troy and Southern Miss will meet in the New Orleans Bowl...can't remember where that one is.

Southern Miss finished 6-6 but lost three games by a total of 14 points. They did win their last four and are on a roll.

How about this for a tough schedule. Troy lost to LSU (a game they led BIG at the half), Ohio State and Oklahoma State. They know what a good team looks like and how to prepare for one. This should actually be a really good game.

That's the first weekend. All games are on ESPN or ESPN2. I won't miss any of the 34 games!!!! Here we go...


  • mark rogers
  • December 19, 2008 10:27 PM

December 12, 2008

DID HARRELL GET SNUBBED?

That's the question tearing through Lubbock and the Big Country right now. Did Graham Harrell deserve to get a trip to New York City?

I'm torn on the issue.

Part of me says, yeah, he's not going to win but the senior sure did deserve to at least get a free trip to New York and get some priceless media coverage.

If he has an average game against Ole Miss in the bowl, he'll have nearly every passing record in NCAA history.

And it's not like the Downtown Athletic Club hasn't hosted many more than three players in previous years. They can invite as many as they want.

The other part of me says, no, he shouldn't be there because players should only get to go who have a legitimate shot at winning...no free rides.

So sitting here, debating this in my brain while I'm writing this, I'll make a decision...

YES, Graham Harrell got snubbed. Having one game that he didn't play great this year was not enough for him to get the cold shoulder from the DAC. He had just too good a career.

Kind of the same reasoning why I was upset that Darren McFadden didn't win it last year. After such a great career, how could the award go to a true sophomore (granted that sophomore was the only player EVER to throw and rush for more than 20 TDs in a season).

Anyway, that sophomore is now a junior and will likely become just the second player in history to win the Heisman twice.

Bah-humbug.
  • mark rogers
  • December 12, 2008 9:14 PM

AN UNFORTUNATE CASE FOR TEBOW

As much as I'd love to hear Colt McCoy's name called tomorrow night at the Downtown Athletic Club as the winner of the 2008 Heisman Trophy, I just don't think there's any way it's going to happen.

Just like I wrote in a post on this blog back in August, the way the Heisman vote works is definitely working against Colt.

The factor is this - when two or more players from the same region or team are both deserving of the trophy, neither will take home the prize. Oklahoma's Sam Bradford has had an exceptional year, leading the Sooners offense which can now be called the most prolific in the history of college football.

And because there's really no other deserving candidate (that will be in New York - uh hmm Graham Harrell), those two will split votes and the award will go to Florida QB Tebow in a landslide.

It also doesn't help Colt's cause that he didn't play last week and all Tebow did was come-from-behind and defeat #1 Alabama in a spectacular fourth quarter performance on national TV.

I can recall nearly 14 close Heisman races that were decided by this "2 or more = 0" factor...as I like to call it. We could go way...way back.  But let's just look at some of the more recent instances.

2004: Defending Heisman Trophy winner Jason White leads the Sooners to an undefeated regular season and Big 12 Championship. His freshman running back, Adrian Peterson, has one of the greatest rushing seasons in history. The national media was claiming Peterson deserved to win despite being a true freshamn (some said that's WHY he should win). Both deserved the award but being from the same team, the votes were split and USC's Matt Leinart won.

Now, it's not to say the Leinart didn't deserve it. He surely did. USC won the Title that year. But I'll bet White would've won it again on name recognition alone with the season he had if Peterson didn't have the season that he did.

2002: Iowa QB Brad Banks burst onto the scene and leads the Hawkeyes to a terrific season. Fellow Big 10 athlete, Larry Johnson, leads the nation in rushing with Penn State. They split the Big 10 vote and a virtual unknown from USC, Carson Palmer, won the award (it also didn't help that the two favorites heading into the season were teammates for Miami).

2001: Two QBs from the state of Florida (Rex Grossman, UF and Ken Dorsey, Miami) split the east coast votes allowing Cornhusker Eric Crouch to swoop in and win by a mere 62 votes. Nebraska didn't even win their division that year.

1967: Here's an older one with a current spin. USC running back, OJ Simpson (current because he's still in the news), has a breakout year, but Gary Beban, the QB at crosstown rival UCLA, has a pretty good season himself. Simpson comes in a close second and wins the award by 1,700 votes the next year. Had Beban not been around, we'd be talking about Tebow becoming the third player to win the Heisman twice.

Army's Glenn Davis probably could have won the award THREE times. He was in the same backfield with Felix "Doc" Blanchard and came in second in 1944 and 1945 before finally taking home the award in '46. Had Blanchard not been in the picture stealing all of Davis' votes...the three-peat might've happened.

And I don't make the argument for Blanchard since he won the award in 1945 and came in third and fourth in two other seasons...not quite as close as two second place finishes.

Look, I could go on and on, but I fear I may have already bored you enough. Other recognizable names that won in seasons like this include Danny Wuerffel, Billy Sims, Bo Jackson and Paul Hornung.

It's how the system works...it's how it's always worked.

The other interesting thing about the Heisman winner? The last winner to be an NFL MVP was Barry Sanders, and he won the award 20 years ago. So if Colt doesn't win, maybe it's a blessing in disguise - unless he's in contention next year, then we'll throw that argument out the window!

Colt winning would be huge for the state of Texas, for college football in Texas, for the Big Country and for all the folks out there who've supported and believed in him when no one thought he would start over Ryan Perilloux (and we all know how THAT turned out!).

Believe me, I'm one of those supporters. I covered Colt for the first time at the Gordon Wood Classic his junior year, and I could tell right away that the kid was special.

I was there when he signed with Texas and flashed the Longhorns "officially" for the first time.

I was also ridiculed for my belief that he would one day be the starting QB at Texas.

I hope I'm wrong more than anything and that Colt's name is called tomorrow night. But I'm also passionate about the entire college football spectrum, especially the Heisman Trophy...and knowing that? I don't want to get my hopes up.


  • mark rogers
  • December 12, 2008 8:29 PM

December 6, 2008

REVEALING MONTH FOR COWBOYS

The Dallas Cowboys are on the brink of one of the toughest and most important four game stretches in the history of the franchise.

Sitting at 8-4 and on the bubble in the playoff race, the Cowboys have to win at least three of the last four games to even feel good about their post-season chances.

And the Cowboys haven't won a playoff game in a long, long....long time.

Game #1 is against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the #1 ranked defense in the NFL. The Steel Curtain is first in scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and passing defense.

They're fast, mean, smart and don't give up much to anybody.

The key matchup will be the Cowboy Offense vs. the Steeler Defense. Can Tony Romo, Terrell Owens, Roy Williams, Marion Barber, Tashard Choice, Jason Witten and Flozell Adams move the ball and score points on the best defense in the league? That's the question that must be answer "yes" if Dallas has any chance.

The three games after the Pittsburgh game are against the #2 defense in the league (Baltimore), the #3 defense (Giants) and the #7 defense (Philadelphia).

One of two things will happen...

Dallas won't be able to get into an offense rhythm in these games and will completely miss the playoffs.

-OR-

The Cowboys will find their identity against quality opponents, will steamroll their way into the playoffs riding a huge wave of momentum, will win the Wild Card game on the road, gain even more confidence, win the divisional game, the conference championship and play in the ninth Super Bowl in franchise history.

It's one or the other...my choice is the latter.

As ridiculous as it sounds now, I really believe that if Dallas makes the playoff after going through this gauntlet, they'll be battled tested and playing the best football in the league which will propel them to the Super Bowl.

And speaking of the Super Bowl, tomorrow's game is a rematch of Super Bowls 10, 13 and 30. The Cowboys are 1-2 all-time against Pittsburgh in the big game. They lost 10 and 13 by a total of eight points.

Now that I think of it...the only other Super Bowl Dallas has lost was a 16-13 loss to the Colts in Super Bowl 5. So the Cowboys are 13 points away from being 8-0 in Super Bowls...just a side note.

After this month we will have a pivotal question answered about this group of guys: are they good enough, tough enough and smart enough to get their act together and do something special?

It's a yes or no question. Four games to find out.


THE BEAUTY OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL

All anybody has been talking about for the last seven days (except OU fans) is how terrible, traumatic and agonizingly horrible the BCS and Big 12 Conference treated Texas when they allowed OU to represent the Big 12 South in the conference title game.

I'm not saying I'm thrilled with how it all worked out, but to tell you the truth? I'm not that outraged.

The reason?

That's how college football works, and it's what makes it so dramatic and interesting. It's why college football is my favorite sport and nothing else even comes close.

College football has ALWAYS been unfair and mistreated teams. People are acting like what happened to Texas has never happened to any other football team in the history of the universe.

Now, I can understand why UT players, coaches, alum and others involved with the program are outraged. And they should be. But looking at it from a historical perspective...it's the same story, different year.

Going just a few years back the Auburn Tigers were 12-0 at the end of the 2004 regular season having just won the hard-nosed, punch-you-in-the-neck SEC. The problem? OU and USC also won their conferences and were both undefeated.

You don't think Auburn fans hated the college football system and the BCS that year? USC obliterated OU in the BCS Championship and Auburn beat ACC champ Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. That scenario didn't help because after the bowls it sure looked like Auburn would have put up more of a fight against the Trojans than OU did.

How about this one...2001, Oregon beats in-state rival Oregon State on Decemeber 1 to improve to 10-1 and is the #4 ranked team in the AP. Highly ranked Texas loses to Colorado in the Big 12 Championship so Oregon should move up to #2 and play Miami in the National Championship. Nebraska, ranked #4 in the AP, jumps to #2 in the BCS after not even winning their division and gets slaughtered by the Canes 37-14.

You don't think Oregon got hosed on that deal? They finished the season #2 in the AP and didn't get a chance to play the #1 team.

Let's go back a few years...

1966. Alabama is the two-time defending national champs. Ranked #3 late in the year with no loses or ties, Bama gets to watch #1 Notre Dame and #2 Michigan State play to a tie. It would make sense that Bama would move to #1 and claim its third straight championship.

But the rankings remained the same and Notre Dame was crowned the champion...figure that one out. You don't think that was unfair?

However, that season was seen by many as retribution for the 1964 season when Alabama was crowned national champion even though they lost to Texas in the Orange Bowl.

In that season Arkansas finished the regular season 10-0-0 and #2 in the AP. One of those 10 wins was against conference rival, Texas.

The Razorbacks beat #7 Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl and improved to 11-0-0. With the Bama loss to Texas (a team Arkansas defeated during the season) they ended up 10-1.

BUT THERE WERE NO MORE AP RANKINGS AFTER THE BOWLS BACK THEN!!!

That year it was Arkansas' turn to throw a fit and claim that the system was unfair. Can you imagine the outrage if that was the case today? 

I could go on and on and on, but I think I've made my point.

College football has made strides in the naming of its yearly champion (at least they have polls AFTER the final bowl games!), but if it wasn't working and people thought it was so outrageous, it wouldn't be one of the most popular sports with the most passionate fan base in the history of America.

The reason it's so popular is because it's interesting...it's dramatic. It gives people something to discuss, to argue over, to buy planes with banners behind them and fly them over their rivals' stadiums.

It's why Texas Tech fans camped out at Jones Stadium for a week prior to the Texas game. It's why the college football TV ratings absolutely shatter ratings for college basketball, NBA, MLB and every other sport besides the NFL. It's why the list of the Top 20 largest arenas in the world is dominated by college football stadiums. It's why in some states the head coach of the biggest college football team is the highest paid public person in the entire state. It's why I watch (or should I say my wife allows me to watch) more than 30 games every week during the regular season.

That's the beauty of college football. Sure it can be unbelievably unfair...but I wouldn't want it any other way.

  • mark rogers
  • December 6, 2008 11:46 AM