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Archive : December 2009

December 31, 2009

LEACH DEPARTURE NO SURPRISE HERE

I wrote the following in late February...soon after Mike Leach signed his contract extension after a lengthy and public negotiation:

"...right before the contract was finalized, Chancellor Kent Hance and AD Gerald Meyers wanted to put a clause into Leach's contract that said he couldn't interview at another school.

What they finally agreed upon was that Leach would just have to let them know - or notify them - of his intention to interview with another school.

Through all this haggling back and forth, there's a very good chance that some things were said or communicated between Hance and Leach that won't be soon forgotten. Granted, it's all completely speculation on my part, but usually on something like this, it doesn't just go away with a surface-level press conference...

...when Leach leaves Tech, you can be sure that this two week stretch will be brought up or thought of in the process...if he ever leaves, this stalemate will be a factor."

The treatment (or mistreatment...or even perceived mistreatment) of college football players and how it's changd even in the last ten years is an entirely different subject. That's not what this is about.

Just pointing out that any big-time contract dispute like what Tech went through at the beginning of the year never just goes away.

Plus, all the quirky comments in the media (fat-little girlfriends, etc...) weren't just tossed aside by the Tech administrators. The actual meaning of those comments holds little water. It's how they are perceived and reacted to by the media and the public.

Those things add up, too. This was the straw that broke The Pirate's back.

We should have all seen Leach's imminent departure coming from a mile away.


December 28, 2009

COWBOYS FINALLY ON THE RIGHT TRACK

I'm not saying they're going to stay on the right track...

What I'm saying is that I'd rather end the regular season on a high note, than start off strong and fizzle when it really matters...like we've done the last few years.

With a win next week against Philadelphia, we'll clinch the NFC East.

If we lose next week, we still go to the playoffs in the Wild Card slot (nine Wild Card teams have won the Super Bowl by the way).

If we win next week and Minnesota loses tonight and next week...we get the #2 seed and a first round bye. So the 6- through 2-seeds are up for grabs.

We're in this position because we've won four of our last six games. And that's despite losing the first two games in December which did nothing but bolster the "Dallas Doesn't Do December" belief.

Tony Romo (like him or not) played at a phenomenal level this month. And his play has seemingly rallied the troops...

The offense ranks 2nd in the NFL in yards per play (only the Saints gain more) and 2nd in the NFC in yards per game (again, only the Saints gain more).

Our three "horses" in the running back stable have combined to carry 365 times for 1,784 yards and 12 TDs.

Jason Witten will have a chance at a 100 reception season.

Miles Austin is leading the NFC in receiving yards and touchdowns despite not starting until the 5th game and only tallying 5 catches for 81 yards and a TD in the first four. He's also leading the NFC with 20 catches of 20 or more yards (which comes in at 3rd in the entire NFL). His 7 catches of 40 or more yards is 2nd in the conference and 3rd in the league.

But as good as the offense has been lately, the defense has outshined them.

5th in the NFC in opponents 3rd down conversion percentage.

2nd in the NFC in rush yards per attempt and per game.

We're the only team in the NFC that hasn't allowed a run of more than 40 yards all season. We've only given up 5 pass plays of 40 or more yards. Only the Bears and Seahawks have given up fewer.

The defense ranks 5th in sacks after getting off to a dismal start in that category to start the season.

And, my personal favorite, we have given up the fewest points in the entire NFC and are third in the NFL behind the Jets and Ravens. That's how you win games.

All that to say, after starting off December in what seemed to be pretty typical Dallas Cowboys Disasterdom, we've righted the ship and are now a "Hot Team to Watch Out For" headed into the post season.

And with the Saints, Vikings and Colts all coming off their high-horses lately, I'd say it's anybody's Super Bowl Title at this point.

Will we lose this week and get hammered in the first round? Possibly.

Then it's back to hating the Cowboys all over again...but at least they make it interesting.

 

  • mark rogers
  • December 28, 2009 2:43 PM

December 21, 2009

ONE REASON I LOVE HIGH SCHOOL AND COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Abilene High and the Dallas Cowboys were playing at the same time the other night, and I flipped back and forth between the games.

The Eagles were in the state championship while the Cowboys were playing the biggest regular season game they've played in a long, long time.

And if anyone else flipped back and forth like I did, you couldn't help but notice something:

The atmosphere at the stadiums was completely and utterly discernible.

It wasn't a sole loudness factor or really anything I can put my finger on, but the high school games are electric...NFL games feel like you're watching a soap opera or something.

The Saints (Dallas' opponent) were looking for 14-0 on the year...at home. A huge game. But the atmosphere was absolutely gentle compared to a "measly" HS game. I can think of no other word...gentle.

College games have that same type of electricity.

Just one of the many reasons I enjoy HS and college games more than the NFL...and I LOVE the Cowboys.

Anyway...just something glaring I noticed.
  • mark rogers
  • December 21, 2009 9:16 PM

ONCE IN A LIFETIME

I have to be honest.

I am a bit jealous of the 2009 Abilene High Eagle football team.

They did something on Saturday that very, very few high school football players ever get to do...that millions of high school football players have dreamed about (or dream about) having a chance to do.

They won a State Championship.

In 5, 10 or 20 years, not many people will remember who won the Class 5A Division II title. In the grand scheme of things, not many people know Abilene High won it this season.

But what this team was able to do against a two-time defending state champion is something that every 2009 Abilene High Eagles football player will remember vividly until the day he dies.

They'll remember what the locker room smelled like.

They'll remember what the Alamodome sounded like as they emerged from the tunnel for warm-ups.

They'll remember what the turf felt like under their shoes and hands.

They'll remember specific plays in flashes...a Katy defender falling down in front of them...the feeling of the ground after a solo tackle...the roar of the crowd after they made a huge play.

They'll remember the feeling when the clock hit zero and they were champions. Hugging their teammates. Crying with their coaches. Hoisting that trophy. Shaking their heads in disbelief. It's over. There are no more games to win. No more teams to game plan. They are the best team in the state of Texas.

And when those memories enter their consciousness (which will happen numerous times a day), a lump will form in their throats and they'll have to fight back tears of joy...or sadness after a few years have past and they long to be able to live the experience again.

Sure, they could repeat next year and win it again, but it won't be with this same exact team. It won't be exactly the same.

That is a completely unique and once-in-a-lifetime feeling. One they'll never experience the same way again. But a feeling and a memory that will never fade. Not even a little bit.

I'm jealous because the 2009 Abilene High Eagles won't have to sit around in ten years (like my friends and me do) and talk about what could have been...or how close they were...or if they'd only known that freshman Selvin Young was a complete stud maybe they would have wrapped him one time!!! He was just a freshman! How were we supposed to know he'd play for the flipping Broncos!!!

But I digress.

99% of all HS football players will have to sit around and talk about those things.

1% won't. Actually less than 1%.

1% will get to wear a ring on their fingers and be able to call themselves champions...forever.

I have to admit, I got a little misty eyed when the buzzer sounded and the team stormed the field.

The mist was equal parts happiness for the team and a feeling of having a small idea of what that must feel like because I was so close.

Abilene High joined Plano, Brownwood and Southlake Carroll as the only teams in Texas with 7 state championships.

And in my opinion, they have the best chance at becoming the only team with eight before anybody else.

Congratulations Eagles. You've done something rare. You're state champions. And no one can ever...EVER...take that away from you.
  • mark rogers
  • December 21, 2009 8:51 PM

December 14, 2009

HEISMAN THOUGHTS

Well, for the first time since the 1960s a decade will pass without a Heisman Trophy winner from the state of Texas.

And as much as I wanted Colt to win the award, I'm OK with how it went down. I actually think the votes came out exactly as they should have.

Plus it just sets up another dramatic story line in the national title game next month.

Last year, Sam Bradford won the award. Tim Tebow came in third in NYC but won the title.

Could it be that Ingram wins this year and Colt (who finished third) will come away with the championship?

Believe it or not, not very many Heisman winners have played for national champions.

It's happened 12 times in the 74 years the award has been given out from 1935-2008 and only once in the last 12 years (2004 Matt Leinart, USC).

And winning the Heisman has not been a good sign for players vying for a championship...especially in recent years.

Let's just look at this decade:
2000 - Chris Weinke, FSU, lost championship to OU.
2001 - Eric Crouch, Nebraska, lost champioship to Miami.
2003 - Jason White, OU, lost championship to USC
2005 - Reggie Bush, USC, lost championship to Texas.
2006 - Troy Smith, OSU, lost championship to Florida.
2008 - Sam Bradford, OU, lost championship to Florida.

Even more ridiculous is that only Carson Palmer (2002) and Leinart (2004) won their bowl games after winning the Heisman...everyone else lost.

Not good numbers for Mark Ingram and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Numbers that I hope stay true to form and allow Texas another BCS Title. If Texas wins, they'll have more BCS Championships than OU, USC, Ohio State and Miami.

Only LSU and Florida currently have two BCS Titles.

Let the waiting begin...only 74 years until Bama and Texas play for it all!!
  • mark rogers
  • December 14, 2009 10:05 PM

PROUD OF THE BULLDOGS

I was on the sideline Saturday night in Dallas at the Wylie/Gilmer game.

Gilmer went up quick and stormed to a big win. It was their game...their year.

Man for man, the Bulldogs were simply outmatched. Gilmer was bigger, faster and quicker.

But I was very impressed with the way the Bulldogs came out in the third quarter trailing 24-7. They could have just rolled over and quit, but they didn't.

Those kids came out of the locker room with their hair on fire and put a scare into the eventual state champs.

The feeling on the Wylie sideline was electric. The stands were buzzing. You could almost sense another "one-for-the-ages" Wylie comeback win...but it wasn't meant to be.

Gilmer's cushion was big enough to withstand the surge and counter with more points.

They didn't win, but I couldn't have been more proud of the Wylie Bulldogs and how they represented their team, their school, their families and their community on Saturday night in Dallas.

Great season, Wylie...we'll see you back there next year I'm sure.
  • mark rogers
  • December 14, 2009 9:57 PM

December 7, 2009

DAC GOT IT RIGHT

Colt McCoy.
Mark Ingram.
Toby Gerhart.
Tim Tebow.
Ndamukong Suh.

Those are the five players the Downtown Athletic Club invited to the Heisman banquet. And I think they got it exactly right.

I said in my previous post that I thought Suh deserved to be there, but didn't think he'd get invited. The DAC surprised me. Good job fellas.

There's really only one other player you could make a legitimate argument for - Case Keenum - but the Cougars lost too many games for him to be considered.

I know Nebraska and Stanford lost more games, but we're talking Big 12, Pac 10 and Conference USA here. The Huskers lost to Texas Tech, Texas and Virginia Tech...quality losses. They did lose to Iowa State, but we'll blame that on luck.

Houston lost to UTEP, East Carolina and UCF. And it's an individual award, not a team award...now we're just arguing semantics.

Bottom line is Nebraska is one of the all-time great programs and has more national exposure. Plus, the DAC is always looking for a dominant defensive player to invite that is actually deserving, which Suh is.

Gerhart is absolutely deserving after what Stanford did to Oregon (51-42) and USC (55-21) in back-to-back weeks. He was also in my "players to look out for" article before the season which is another good reason...

http://blogs.scripps.com/abil/bigcountryfootball/archives/2009/08/other-fbs-players-to-watch-for.html

Tebow, McCoy and Ingram are givens...no argument there.

As I said in my previous post, I think Ingram will win the award.

But I sure hope he doesn't. You know who my vote is going to...I just wish it mattered.

LONGHORNS WON, BUT DID COLT LOSE?

As much as it pains me to say or even think about, I think Colt McCoy may have lost the Heisman on Saturday night in the Big 12 Championship against Nebraska.

And you can credit Ndamukong Suh for that. I honestly believe the Nebraska DL should get an invite to the Downtown Athletic Club next weekend. He won't, but I think he should. Not that he hasn't been doing that all year (which everybody that hasn't watched Nebraska all year doesn't know), but I have never seen a more dominant defensive performance than the show Suh put on the other night. Absolutely incredible.

Anyway...

After Colt's Thanksgiving explosion against the Aggies followed by Alabama RB Mark Ingram's 30-yard egg against Auburn, Colt had it in the bag.

Most wins of any QB all-time.
Highest completion % all-time.
Best player on one of the two best teams.
The list goes on.

But the table unexpectedly turned on Saturday as the nation watched an underdog Alabama team, led by sophomore Ingram, absolutely dismantle the pre-season unanimous #1 pick that no one thought would win a game by less than 5 touchdowns all year. They were so heavily favored to start the year, I'm surprised anyone played any games at all...they almost just gave Florida the trophy and said, "See everybody in 2010!"

By the way, the Alabama/Florida game was the most-watched college football "non-bowl" game since the 2006 Ohio St/Michigan game featuring a clash between #1 and #2.

And with a record-crowd watching what did Ingram do?

28 carries (tied for his highest total this year), 113 yards, 3 touchdowns on the ground. 2 catches for 76 more yards and a blow-out win against #1 Florida.

A symbolic "chopping down" of the Almighty Tim Tebow and the Florida Angels Who Can do No Wrong. The end of an era at Florida (if you ask me).

Ingram averaged 127 yards against conference opponents this year. That's including his 50 against Arkansas (they didn't need him anyway) and 30 last week against Auburn.

So when voters are headed to wherever it is each of them go to reflect on and make their Heisman pick, they'll have that performance in that context fresh on their minds.

The last time they saw Colt in action? 20-36, 184 yards passing...3 interceptions in a literal last-second, come-from-behind win against a team ranked in the 20s that the nation (and probably most Heisman voters) thought didn't deserve to be on the same field as the Longhorns.

Now listen, you're preaching to the choir here with your rebuttal...

"Nebraska's defense is nationally ranked."
"It's easier to get up to play the defending champs than a 3-loss Nebraska team."
"Colt's had a better career."
"Ingram's just a sophomore."

I know. And I agree. I also know all of Colt's season and career stats and all the school and national records he holds. They are absolutely staggering.

As a Colt McCoy fan, I want nothing more than for his name to be called next Saturday night at the DAC as the 3rd Heisman Trophy winner in UT history.

Ingram is just a sophomore and Colt is the winningest QB OF ALL TIME.

BUT...the thing that will be repeated over and over in voters' ears is that this is a season award, not a career award.

And Colt and Ingram have both had phenomenal seasons...good enough to lead their teams to the BCS Championship game.

But with things neck and neck (like they were headed into Championship Saturday), it will come down to the best performance on the biggest stage.

Winner on that stipulation?

Mark Ingram.

Fitting that the first-ever sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy was knocked out of the National Title race by, quite possibly, the second sophomore to win the award.

I sure hope I'm wrong.

I hope voters will (just this once) look at Colt's career and not the way he ended the season.

The pieces are in place.

Colt McCoy. After-thought as a freshman to just one vote and one win away from being talked about as the greatest college football player EVER.

If he loses the Heisman and Bama wins the Title, Colt will still go down as a great QB. But it won't be surrounded by the kind of lore or have the same ring as "Heisman Trophy Winner and National Champion QB - Colt McCoy."

I hope I'm wrong about the trophy.

Here's another odd fact. I patted Colt and Ingram on the right shoulders this year.

Colt on Saturday at the hotel and Ingram when I ran into him in the parking lot after they escaped against Tennessee...weird.

I do know one thing...that if this wannabe sports writer had a vote? Colt would be one vote closer to etching his name in the Heisman History books.
  • mark rogers
  • December 7, 2009 1:40 PM

December 6, 2009

FATES OF THE 12-10 GAMES...BCS TITLE GAME

I've been to two college football games this season.

The Tennessee/Alabama game and the Texas/Nebraska game. Two pretty good games to have gone to as two out of those four teams will play for the national championship in January.

The scores of both games were 12-10 with less than a handful of seconds on the clock.

Alabama led 12-10 as Tennessee tried a potential, game-winning FG as time expired. Terrance Cody blocked it...the game was nicknamed "Rocky Block" and will go down as one of the greatest games in Alabama/Tennessee history.

Last night, as the same scenario was playing out right in front of my eyes (which caused me much gastro-intestinal disturbance), I couldn't help but think I was the cosmic link that would cause the Longhorns to miss the FG and make both games end the EXACT same way.

I did not mention this to the crazed group of Longhorns fans sitting all around me. As you all know, Hunter Lawrence made the kick and the cosmic link was broken between me and the football fates. Thank goodness.

I mean, how strange is that the only two games I went to this year ended the same way with the same score??

Before the game, I met my in-laws at the Marriott just north of DFW at about 3 PM. It was only then that we discovered the football team was staying in that very hotel.

I was hoping to see Colt McCoy since the last time I've talked to him was while he was walking down the tunnel at the Cotton Bowl to beat OU in his first Red River Rivalry start.

My father-in-law and I ran into him in an abandoned hallway and I got to say Hi. He was in the zone...and he's gotten much bigger since his sophomore year at Jim Ned High School when I first met him.

I also can't help but think that him seeing me beforehand was the reason that he didn't have a great game.

So maybe the cosmic link hasn't been broken after all...???

More to come...

Alabama/Texas...what a game it will be.