Busy sports weekend the beginning of things to come
Now that the regular college basketball season is over, major league baseball is still a couple of weeks away from starting and the NFL draft is a month away, the world of sports still is bustling after a very active weekend.
One of the biggest events concluded in Orange Sunday when the exciting and local economy-boosting four-day Bassmaster Elite Series Sabine River Challenge was won by Jasper pro angler Todd Faircloth.
Faircloth netted the $100,000 first-place money with his winning total of 49 pounds, 6 ounces over the four-day haul and won an automatic entry into the 2014 Bassmasters Elite event.
Orange now has the distinction of having the largest crowd to ever watch a Bass-master event as an estimated 33,000 onlookers witnessed either the 6:30 a.m. starts or the 3:15 p.m. weigh-ins during the four-day event. And with that many folks milling around town, Art in the Park on Saturday also benefited tremendously.
The tournament was sponsored by the Stark Foundation and can be seen Sunday at 7 a.m. on ESPN, which filmed the entire four-day tourney and will somehow condense it into a one-hour show.
The NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament bracket was set Sunday afternoon for the fortunate 68 teams that were chosen by the selection committee, as the final two teams—LaSalle and Middle Tennessee State—rounded out the field.
Middle Tennessee State met St. Mary’s and North Carolina A&T tangled with Liberty to get things started last night (Tues.) while LaSalle –Boise State and LIU-Brooklyn vs. James Madison play today (Wed.) in the opening round before second-round action begins Thursday and Friday.
The No. 1 team in the last two Associated Press Top 25 Men’s Collegiate Polls, Gonzaga, did manage to nail down a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament along with Louisville, Indiana and Kansas, with Louisville having the honor of being the tourney’s top team.
The Zags (31-2) were named as the nation’s No. 1 team in the AP Poll for the first time in the school’s history two weeks ago. But the small Jesuit school in Spokane, Wash. with an enrollment of only 4,900 has been to the NCAA Tournament 15 years in a row and has made the Sweet 16 five times since 1999.
Oddly enough last year’s national champion Kentucky was not named to this year’s event and for the first time since 1977 no Texas team was selected for the 2013 NCAA Tournament. There were two small-college teams (Northwestern State and Southern) chosen from across the Sabine River in Louisiana.
The Texas Longhorns (16-17) and the University of Houston Cougars (19-12) were named to play in the College Basketball Invitational and strangely enough will face each other 8 p.m. tonight at the Hofheinz Pavilion.
Baylor (18-14) and Stephen F. Austin (27-4) landed berths in the National Invitational Tournament. The Lumberjacks from the Southland Conference played at Stanford (18-14) Tuesday night while the Bears, NIT runners-up four years ago, will host Long Beach State (19-13) today at 8 p.m.
Most of the major league baseball teams made their first cuts last week in an effort to get ready for Opening Day at the end of the month. The Houston Astros reassigned 10 more players to their minor league camp paring their roster to 39.
However most of the names of the players sent down are foreign to the average Astros fan. But so are most of the players who will be playing at Reliant Field as the upper management decided to go with young players to lay a foundation for a future championship team, if we all live that long.
Last week the NFL’s free agent marketplace opened and before one could blink an eye, our Houston Texans lost starting free safety Glover Quin, fullback/tight end James Casey and linebacker Connor Barwin to teams that could afford to wave big bucks at the talented trio. Cornerback Brice McCain could be the next Texan to leave.
This week the NFL’s Competition Committee is meeting in Phoenix to consider several rules changes that will impact the games in future seasons.
Some of the items to be discussed include a change in instant replay rules allowing for a video review even when a coach makes an illegal challenge.
Our Houston Texans were the recipients of a blown call Thanksgiving Day against the Detroit Lions when Coach Jim Schwartz challenged an 81-yard touchdown run by Houston’s Justin Forsett that stood even though replays clearly showed his knee was down. Schwartz could not challenge the call and when he did, the touchdown stood.
A proposal will be introduced that will ensure the play is reviewed and the right call is made. However, the coach making the illegal challenge because his team is out of timeouts, he has used up his challenges or if the game is in the final two minutes of the half or in overtime, his team will draw a 15-yard penalty.
Another matter that will be considered is the “tuck rule” when the passer brings the ball down and then fumbles as opposed to being in the act of throwing when the ball squirts loose. The game officials will go into replay and decide whether or not it is a fumble.
A rule for next season that many players dislike—especially those in the skill positions—is that players will be required to wear knee and thigh pads. The players believe the extra pads will slow them down.
KWICKIES…Two Sunset Grove golfers that I play with quite often had interesting experiences last weekend. Ken Ruane ran in the Community Christian School Lion’s Pride 5K Run Saturday morning at Claiborne West Park and won the Masters Award for being the first male over 40 years old to cross the finish line. Ruane, who finished in the top 10 of the estimated 100 participants, had an impressive time of 22:20 which is good for any runner, especially one who is 71 years old. And Jim Rodda eagled the Par-5 No. 15 hole at Sunset while competing in the Men’s Golf Association’s One-Man Scramble format Saturday morning by using two drivers and a putter.
Athletic supporters were first used by bicycle riders (jockeys) in the early 1900’s for protection and support when riding over cobblestone roads, hence the name jockey-straps.
Defensive lineman Elvis Dumervil was waived by the Denver Broncos Friday after a foul-up by his agent Marty Magrid, who failed to fax Dumervil’s signed $8 million contract to the team by Friday’s 1:59 p.m. deadline. The original contract called for Dumervil to receive $12 million, but he agreed to take a $4 million cut to remain with the Broncos. Dumervil fired Magrid after the snafu. Quarterback Matt Hasselback was released by the Tennessee Titans Monday afternoon, according to ESPN.
JUST BETWEEN US…There are so many teams capable of getting hot in the next two weeks and winning the 2013 NCAA Men’s national basketball championship. Everybody likes Louisville, which is favored to win it all, but I think that if Duke can make it to the Midwest Regional finals, the winner between Duke and Louisville should be the national champion. I really like Ole Miss as a dark horse, but they must get by red-hot Wisconsin early Friday in their first game. Georgetown has been playing well and could reach the Final Four.