Tag Archives: featured

Under the Friday Night Lights

In Texas, football is king. It’s something we’ve all heard and know to be true. High school football is a huge part of the culture in Texas, and each game is an event.  But moving to Midland, TX has made me realize that it’s more than just a game to folks in West Texas… it’s a way of life.

From the smallest towns that can barely field squads in six-man football to the largest Class 5A schools, life revolves around football out here. During the season, towns virtually shut down every Friday night. Whether the team is good or bad, stadiums are always at or near capacity.

Pro and College games are indeed spectacles, but high school football is about family and community for these fans. Everyone watches the boys grow up, and they take pride in each young man’s performance. It’s more personal than any nationally televised game; these are their boys representing their town.

The America presented out here is one of football, Oil and God. And those who play it, coach it and watch it have a hard time explaining to people on the outside why it matters so much. To put it simply though, high school football in-and-around the Permian Basin is just… different. The stadiums are bigger, the crowds are louder and the love for the game runs deeper.

These Texans are united by a passion for high school football that never ceases to amaze me. It’s what makes football here unique and incomparable.  And while teams may face harsh criticism at times, the overall support from the community is unwavering.

In West Texas, everyone comes together under the Friday night lights.

Hard Times & Hard Knocks

It’s baaack! Training camps for America’s favorite sport have convened across the country. Hard times and hard knocks will soon befall each team. But if you’re the Houston Texans, it’s already happened.

HBO’s Hard Knocks returns August 11 with the first of its five-episode run featuring the Texans. Houston may not have been the popular choice, but the team has a number of intriguing story lines to keep viewers tuned-in.

Two-time Defensive Player of the Year and overall showman, JJ Watt, will obviously be a focal point of the series. An All-American on and off the field, his epic off-season activities with Jennifer Aniston, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Zac Brown Band (to name but a few), could fill an entire show alone. In fact, many Houstonians felt the Rockets should have brought him on board for their playoff run due to his incredible “shot-blocking” abilities. He will indeed be fun to watch.

But the most compelling storyline has to be the competition for quarterback, even more vital now with the loss of All-Pro running back, Arian Foster. For a team with a history of hard times, this loss seems unusually cruel. All eyes will be on Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett as they battle for the starting role. Fans and media have serious doubts about the Hoyer-Mallett tandem being a quality one, which will make their rivalry all the more interesting.

And for you Patriots fans that are tired of hearing about the PSI in footballs and what’s on Tom Brady’s cell phone, you’re in luck! Several former Pats are on the Texans roster. Both Mallett and Hoyer duked it out to be Brady’s backup just a few years ago. And new defensive tackle, Vince Wilfork, will also likely be featured on Hard Knocks as he transitions from Foxboro to Texas.

The show will also give viewers a better feel for the Texans second year Head Coach, Bill O’Brien. Coming from the Belichick tree, O’Brien has a dry sense of humor and a no-nonsense approach. And it’s no secret that he can yell with the best of ‘em. Profane or not, watching him will be entertaining.

There are a number of other players and story lines I could cover, but I’ll leave those to HBO.

The Real MVP

Over the course of this NBA season, a few players have stood out in the race for MVP. As the playoffs near, though, two have separated themselves from the pack. All-Stars Stephen Curry (Warriors) and James Harden (Rockets) have both made strong cases for why they deserve the Maurice Podoloff Trophy. But when it comes down to it, there’s really only one choice: James Harden is the MVP.

Yes, Curry is deserving of MVP, leading the Warriors to the best record in the NBA. Ever since the ball went up in October, he has been making a case for MVP. Curry has had a remarkable season with a remarkable team.

However, no player has done more with less than Harden. He has kept the Rockets afloat without the benefit of All-Star Dwight Howard who was out due to injury for most of the regular season. Not to mention that Houston lost two of its top four scorers over the offseason in Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons.

Harden has remained a constant on the Rockets team. He continues to dominate on a nightly basis, and it’s because of that the Rockets remain in the championship discussion. However, many believe the true test of Harden’s MVP status will be in the playoffs. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to watch The Beard “stir up” this postseason.

Who do you think this years NBA MVP is?

The Hall Pass

Hall of Fame day is always one of the most talked about days in baseball, and this years class included Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez.

On his third try, former Houston Astro, Craig Biggio, got his Hall pass into Cooperstown after finishing a mere two votes shy last year. Biggio transformed himself from an All-Star catcher into a Gold Glove-winning second baseman; then, with the help of former teammate, Jeff Bagwell, helped usher in the most successful era in Astros history.

Sadly, B-G-O’s teammate of 15 years was once again denied. This was Bagwell’s fifth bid. After receiving 54.3 percent of the vote last year, he only got a mere 1.4 percent more this year. If this is any indication of what’s to come, then it seems unlikely that “Bags” will reach the required 75 percent in his remaining 5 years of eligibility.

So why isn’t Bagwell in the Hall of Fame? His stats are certainly worthy. Is it personal? Are some voters jealous of his attractive ex-wife, his big muscles, or his manicured goatee? Or are many grouping him with “The Abusers” . . . steroid users prevalent during his time in the league. That easily explains why his former teammate and pitching great, Roger Clemens, and home run king, Barry Bonds, only received 37.5 percent and 36.8 percent, respectively.

Hopefully, those “No” voters will soon realize the error of their ways, so that a year from now I’ll be congratulating another Houston Astro on his well-deserved Hall pass.

College Football Playoff

For years, most of us complained about the Bowl Championship Series (BCS). We wanted a playoff system that would give us a “true” national champion; one that could be determined on the field, just like every other sport. And now we’ve got it.

Yesterday, the College Football Playoffs Committee announced that top-ranked Alabama will play #4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl while #2 Oregon will face #3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl. The winners of those games will meet January 12th at AT&T Stadium in Arlington to play for the national title.

But what about Baylor and TCU? Truly there were six deserving teams for the four available spots, and the state of Texas and the Big XII conference got shutout. Just like the BCS, though, someone is always going to feel their team got short-changed. So whether you’re happy with the final four or not, just remember . . . we asked for this.