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Till The Last Buzzer Sounds

R.K. Speights - Editor-in-Chief

Ouch, that hurts ...

Ever year in late August, the coaches, players and fans of high school football begin to get that feeling inside. They begin to visualize that district crown, a playoff berth, even maybe a state championship.

Two-A-Days begin ... They dig out lawn chairs and brew some ice tea. The last season is hashed over. Remember that 75 yard TD run by Ole #33. How about the bomb Tommy Joe threw? These boys got a little size to them. I see your boy is playing on the scout team. Man, we are gonna have a team this year.

Then the games begin. They watch their team struggle and lose the season opener. Everybody knows they need improvement and hey, it’s just the first game. They begin to assess the team players again. A fairly good quarterback, one maybe two backs with speed and one even has a little size. The line averages 220 pounds. Not real fast though. Our defense looks stout Awe, it’s just the first game anyway.

Game two ... It’s a win-- an ugly win -- with lots of turn turnovers and penalties. But it’s a win just the same.

Game three ... The most formidable foe of the non-district games yet. The boys play with heart and only lose by two touchdowns. The goose egg on the scoreboard doesn’t matter. We held them to just two TDs.

Game four ... The defense is clicking but the offense cant seem to get it together. Another loss. Maybe it’s the coaches play calls. Yep, that’s it. Hey, you can’t ask the boys to play any harder so it's got to be the coaches.

Game five ... Its homecoming and you win big against a team that’s been struggling, too. But that doesn’t matter. The boys looked real good. Bring on district!

District begins ..You go into district 2-3. No bad. The boys play with all their talent and heart but get spanked 35 to zip.

Reality sets in ... The next three games are against the top three ranked teams in the district. Have our expectations exceeded the talent of our players. It kinda’ looks like there will be no district title or playoff berth.

Hey, maybe the coaches are doing the best they can with the talent they have.

Well, just one more game and the season is over.

Ouch, that hurts ...


It’s Heating Up

By R.K. Speights

We are into the "Dog Days" of summer and it’s heating up but the heat I’m talking about is not from the sun.

Everywhere you look football is the hot topic.

Yep, for the football junkie the news wires are getting hot. Coaching reports, players reports, team reports, recruiting reports. PR writers for the Pros, SID writers for the colleges and the high school staff journalist and stringers are pounding away at the keyboard preparing us for the upcoming 2004 football season.

From high school to the pros, coaches, players and fans are sweating it out. Sweating out: Will the practice sessions turn into a championship. Sweating out: Will the new fields and facilities be ready for game time. Sweating out: Will the new coaches and players be able to make the grade. Sweating out: The purchase of season ticket release.

Football is hot anyway you cut, chop or slice it. Sure the temperatures may be a little warm but it will never get as hot as the seat the coaches are in. Each year at this time football coaches as placed in the position of winning.

There is no other "Hot Seat" including the Presidency with a higher degree on the thermometer at this time of the year than the Coaches Hot Seat.. No excuses will eliminate the reason for a losing season. With every loss the temperature rises.

Pro Hot Seat: Parcells to make the Boys’ a name again.

College Hot Seats: Brown, beat OU. Franchione to resurrect the "Wrecking Crew", Leach to shore up the TT defense. Price, well...

High School Hot Seats: Ford to take the Wolves back to the 2A state finals. Henigan, take the Tigers to the next level, state finals. Caniford, break .500 with the Dragons. Danaher, CC Calallen, 300 career wins.

It’s heating up and this journalist is burning up the keyboard, in-between sips of cold ice tea and adjusting the thermostat.

Dum, Dummer and Dummest!

By R.K. Speights

Yeah, I know the title words are spelled wrong but they do apply to this column.

Since the first of the year I have read tons of articles about talented football players who make dumb decisions.

Young high school football players that have talent coming out the kazoo, get a D1 scholarship and then make a stupid decision like snatching a purse and end up in jail.

Zip...the scholarship is out the door. Kiss $60,000 to $100,000 in education money goodbye. Yep, that’s dum. But we can maybe attribute the mistake to not enough I.A.R. W. (It’s A Real World) experience.

Next, we hear of the boys from higher education - that’s already hit the college jackpot and are on the way to a pro career - make a dummer decision. Partaking of the forbidden juices and fruits, getting arrested for all sorts of minor and major law infractions,

And zip... the dream is out the door. Yep, that’s dummer, but again, maybe they just don’t have enough I.A.R.W. experience to cope.

Last but not the least, and at the top of the dumb chain is the pro football player that makes the dummest decision. Excuse me but throwing away millions per year for a little unlawful pleasure is the dummest thing I have ever heard of.

Let some periodical offer me a million bucks a year, hell, 50K per year and I’ll become a celibate monk.

By the time you hit the pros the I.A.R.W. should have sunk in. There’s no excuse whether it’s your first or 15th year. Profession means job. Trashing big bucks for quote unquote pleasure is dumb.

In the past two weeks the "Dummest Award" could have been given to three players that we all know. It seems like the older they get, the dummer they get.

Sowing wild oats, whacky tobacky, murder, mahelm, sounds like a soap opera doesn’t it. Well maybe it is.

Maybe there should be a programs in our educational systems for these athletes. Let’s see, high school, DumbClass 101; college, DumbClass 102 and Professional DumbClass I.A.R.W.

Yep, dum, dummer and dummest.

What A Week!

Monday I drove to Jonesboro, La to check out a runningback that has moved into the 17-4A district. The kids the real deal. Jermane Washington. he not a big back but according to the local football gurus in Jonesboro, he fast and can juke with the best.

On the way out of town the local police sold me a ticket to the fund-raiser for the city. 59 in a 45, ouch... Twelve miles from Jonesboro, in Dodson, La., their police department was having a fund-raisers inviting out of staters to donate. 62 in a 45, ouch, ouch...

It seems my speedometer and their radar gun - bought from ACME CASH COW Corporation - don’t match in calibration. When the little red hand on my speedometer was between the 45 and 50 mark, theirs was between 55 and 60 or more. It was real funny that only those cars with out of state tags had speedometer problems. LOL.

Anyway back to football. I had a long visit with Rodney Southern - head football coach Marshall I.S.D. - this week. He believes this is the Mavs year. They have got a dynamite runningback in Jackie Robinson and a front five to protect him and the QB. Defense will probably be the best since he took over two years ago.

I visited with several more Marshall Mav fans and it seems that the general consensus is that Marshall may give Kilgore a run for their money at the district title in 17-4A this year and it will not be another blowout in Hallsville this season.

Five out of the eight coaches in the district believe they have a shot at the title and the way things are shaping up, so do I.

The overall talent pool in the district is fantastic but the winner will be the team with the fewest mistakes.

Weather and field conditions favor Kilgore, who plays five of their seven district games on artificial turf. Whitehouse has home field advantage playing five of seven district games at home.

Is 17-4A the toughest district in the state. May and maybe not but it’s for certain that the district title won’t come easy.

Look for this season to be one of the old smash mouth running attacks. Their are no real aerial attacks in the bunch but lookout for the GOOD runningbacks in this district; that includes some good fleet of foot QB’s.

If I had to rank the defenses this season and I will, Hallsville’s got the No.1 defense with Kilgore next followed by these three in no particular order: Marshall, Nacogdoches and Jacksonville.

Now my pick for district champ...

(To be continued in late November)

You Gotta’ Love It!

Football, you gotta’ love it. Well maybe you don’t but I do. Maybe tidally winks or golf is you game.

For me, football is a year round sport. The season never ends. Sure the exciting part for most of you is about to start up again in a few weeks but it only last four months.

This past week started out playing phone tag with Jamie Newberg, Fox Sports, and Gary Gaines, ACU head football coach.

I dropped by and visited with Hallsville head football coach, Roger Adams. Talked about when the new turf on Bobcat field will be ready and Bobcat lineup for the upcoming season. Looks like the Cats may have a fair team this year. Adams was a little disappointed with Dave Campbell’s picks this year for district 17-4A. The Bobcats are picked No. 2, in the past four years they have been picked last or next to last. Adams said he likes being picked last because the no place to go but up.

The next stop was at ETBU and a visit with Ralph Harris. Harris was on vacation but I spent an hour talking will Merrill Middleton, recruiting coordinator and runningbacks coach. Looks like ETBU is going to have stud team this year. One better than last year and that team was no slouch.

Then a visit via phone with an East Texas football legend, a Louisiana football legend and NFL football legend and that was just one man, Y. A. Tittle.

I checked out the new turf at SFA. I walked, lumbered 9notice I said lumbered not run), sat and stretched out on the Lumberjcak’s new carpet. The tuffs look like grass, feel like grass but they don’t quite taste like grass. Probably the best turf I have seen. Coach Santiago had gone fishing literally. He takes a week long fishing trip each just before things get hot and heavy. I did get to visit with James Dixon , assistant Sports Information Director. His office has a bird’s eye view of the field. Dixon said, the players love the new turf. I also collected my press passes for seven SFA games this coming season.

While in Nacogdoches, I dropped in on the Dragons head football coach, Chuck Caniford. He told me about a secret weapon that moved in from Louisiana. Ironically, next Tuesday I will be real close to the town the secret weapon hails from, so naturally I plan on dropping by and talking to a few of the folks there about this kid.

Think about this, when season starts, I will be sitting in the press box at one of the 17-4A games on Friday night, then on Saturday afternoon at ETBU and that night SFA. Might even catch a few JV games on Thursday.

Now also during the week, I talked with Dr. James Peterson, Coaches Choice Publishing, about a book on the spread offense I represent as a literary agent. I talked with some more publishers on other sports books I represent, Zebras, Play It Like He Would, Robyn Benincasa - Two time World Adventure Racing Champion, LoneStar Legends, The Scoop - What Parents Need To Know About The Game Of College Recruiting, Run the other play, Coach.

Yep, football, you gotta’ love it...

Do you have school spirit?

School spirit can change the outcome of a game. A game can change the school spirit. Schools with high school spirit have a student body that excells.

Educators tell when school spirit is high they have far less disciple and attendance problems.

It is essential for youngsters to be taught school spirit. Most people spend 13 years of their life in the same school. They will have memories the rest of their life and relate stories about that life till the day that they die.

The following is a story about teaching those youngster school spirit. Actually name have been changed to protect the innocent.

A varsity high school coach was asked by the principal of the elementary school if he would give a spirit talk to the first grade class.

The coach agreed and decided to go all out and teach the youngsters school spirit.

The coach had the kids brought to the football field where he and the other coaches had set rows of chairs on the sidelines.

The first graders were excited, this was the MAN they all worshipped.

The coach had all of the other coaches lined around him, the cheerleaders were ready. All were dressed in the school colors.

The coach faced the kids and hollered, "I’M A MIGHTY FIGHTIN’ BULLDOG." In the background the cheerleaders were shouting, Go Dawgs Go, Go Dawgs Go) the other coaches were shouting and waving the arms. He hollers again, "IF YOU HAVE SPIRIT HOLLER"

The kids having no idea what "Spirit" was but wanting to please the MAN, hollered as loud as they could. All but Johnny. The MAN noticed this but kept on.

He shouted, "IF YOU ARE A BULLDOG RAISE YOUR HAND." Again, the kids didn’t know what it meant to be a Bulldog but the MAN wanted them to raise there hand and they did, all but Johnny.

The coach turned to Johnny and said - with his big smile and a soft voice - "Son, aren’t you a Bulldog." Now Johnny had a deep booming voice for a first grader and when he answered, is was, "NOPE."

The coach with that same big smile and soft voice asked, "Well son what are you?" Johnny replied, "A BOBCAT." It got quiet, the Bobcats were the cross town arch rivals of the Bulldogs.

The coach wanting to get on with his spirit talk decided to try a little psychology on the young man. He asked him, "Why are you a Bobcat?" Johnny replied, "Because my mother’s a Bobcat and my daddy’s a Bobcat."

The coach smiled to himself and thought "I got him." The coach asked Johnny a trick question. He said, ‘If your mother was a moron and your daddy was a moron, what would that make you?’

In that deep voice and without hesitation, Johnny answered, "A BULLDOG."

Tiger's Roaring Under New Coach!

By R.K. Speights

Before I get into the meat of this column let me make this perfectly clear. I "KNOW" this is a Texas football Web site so don’t blast me with hate mail because I happen to mention a Louisiana football program.

And, no, Nick Saban didn’t leave the LSU Tigers. The Tigers I am referring to are the "Roaring" Grambling State Tigers under new head football coach, Melvin Spears.

When Doug Williams left earlier this year, the Grambling hierarchy made a wise decision and moved Spears from offensive coordinator to head coach.

I was over in the area yesterday so I dropped by to visit with Coach Spears. Actually, I was bearing a message from a long time friend of his, Aaron S. Lee. Lee asked me to send his congratulations to Spears for being inducted into the Alcorn State sports Hall of Fame recently.

While we were visiting, Spears paid East Texas a great compliment: "East Texas is a hot bed for football talent. I have 63 scholarships and I’m going to fill a lot of spots with East Texas athletes."

He and GSU defensive line coach Luther Palmer are going to be looking to East Texas for some big fast D-line athletes.

I was disappointed that Spears didn’t offer me a cup of coffee though. Of course that might have been because the power was cut off as maintenance was working on the building.

The last time I was by Grambling was six years ago when Williams took to over as head coach after legendary Eddie Robinson retired. What used to be a dingy looking campus is now rather crisp, the change made an impression on me and I shared that with Spears. He informed me that they are in the process of building an new basketball coliseum.

Another thing I noticed was, when you enter the athletic building, there’s a very large bragging case on each side. Trophies everywhere! I asked Spears, "Will I see another one added in December?" He just smiled. There’s even a signed copy of "Quotable Eddie Robinson" sitting on a shelf. For those of you who don’t know, it was written by Lee, who is none other than The N.E.T. Sports Gazette’s managing editor.

Now, if Texas is going to lose some of our talent to other states and programs, they couldn’t go wrong by joining Spears and the "Roaring Tigers."

Coach, I enjoyed our visit.

Are you suffering from LHSFS?

By R.K. Speights

Editor-in-Chief, The N.E.T. Sports Gazette

Are you one of the many football fans suffering from LHSFS (Lack of High School Football Syndrome)?

By this time each year many high school fans are having major withdrawals due to the lack of exposure to some form of high school football.

In December the high school football playoffs ended. In January, we had the Army All-Star Game. Then in February, National signing day came and when.

Then zap... March and April, nada. Nothing to feed the addiction.

Ahhhhh.... May spring practices for some 4A and 5A schools. Now that’s a little better.

Next, June and July, 7-0n-7 competition. Contrary to popular believe, 7-0n-7 was not started to keep players active nor to hone their skills in the off-season but to treat LHSFS suffers.

The summer weigh training programs help if you hang around the weight room but just barely.

Sports journalist and football coaches are immune to this syndrome. Their immunity comes from never having an off-season in high school football. There’s always something to help stimulate the FOBG (Football on the Brain Gland) that secrets the fluids necessary to satisfy the physical addiction caused by football.

There is no know cure for LHSFS only various forms of physical and emotional treatments to help alleviate the symptoms in the off-season. Aromatherapy is very effective. Carrying a sweat towel - used during the season and never washed - around with you and sniffing it helps somewhat. Another aromatherapy product - fresh on the market - is a cologne/perfume called the Locker Room, and yes it smells like a locker room.

A physical form not used much anymore is the old nerf football. It was created so grown men would not look so dumb carrying it around all day instead of a real football. The nerf football didn’t help much because it just didn’t smell like sweaty leather.

Another is sight stimulation, this is where journalist like myself become LHSFS therapist, writing explicit high school football articles in the off-season to trigger the FOBG.

So, till Two-A-Days start, I will do my best to write articles that stimulate your FOBG. Hopefully some of you LHSFS suffers will find some relief in my words about the upcoming season.

If this happens, send $25 to Bob Speights, LHSFS Specialist - therapy and treatment fee - each time you read and feel somewhat relieved. For more treatment articles call BR549.

What’s Black and White and runs on grass.

By R.K. Speights

What’s black and white and runs on grass? You guessed it, a zebra.

What’s a zebra? Is it a medical term used for a condition whose appearance at a particular time and place, in a particular person, is both unexpected and astonishing or is it a fingernail-sized mussel native to the Caspian Sea region of Asia or is it one of the largest resources for searching the local and African Web or is it a black and white, sport modeled jackass found on the Serengeti Plains in Africa.

If is runs on grass it must be the latter. Nope, a true zebra is a male or female homo sapen native to the football fields found across the world. One of the most ridiculed, slandered, critiqued, unappreciated form of human beings on the planet, even more so than a group known as politicians.

The correct definition of a zebra is one who officiates at a football game.

I have often said, "There are three jobs you couldn’t give me, President of the United State, head football coach or .head zebra" No matter what you do, there’s always somebody that you don’t please. Any even then the ones you do please still gripe.

Ever wonder if the United States could function without the President. Probably. Could a team play without out a head coach. Probably. Could a football game be held without the zebras? No, well yes if you wanted utter chaos on the field.

I listen to lots of football game each year broadcast via radio. A couple of year ago, I heard two that stuck in my mind. One was a district game between the Marshall Mavericks and the Pine Tree Pirates, the other was an SFA game.

The Pine Tree-Marshall game wasn’t going quite like the announcers wanted it too, so by the second quarter, all the broadcasters could talk about were the bad calls from the zebras. How one-sided the calls were. Home cookin was repeated many times by these professionals. If you believed the announcers you would have thought their team lost because of the zebras not because of poor play.

A couple of weeks later, while driving back from visiting my daughter at Texas A&M, I caught part of an SFA game. The same was happening. The zebras cost us the game.

Have you ever given thought as to why you would want to be a zebra? Why would you subject yourself to the verbal and even sometimes, physical abuse - from an group indigenous to the planet called football fans - that the zebras do.

Some of the more common verbal abuses are: You’re blind ref, turn your head the other way, ref, throw the flag, ref, call them for holdin’, too, home cookin’...

Why? Because hey love the game pure and simple. There’s no other reason a person would subject themselves to the abuse they take.

So folks the next time you’re at a game, "Give’em A Break" cause they human, too. Remember this -- without them, there would be no game only chaos

Kiddie pool or Olympic size...

By R.K. Speights

In high school sports the next thing on the athletic agenda is Football. Two-a-days begin in just over two months so the talk has migrated to who’s gonna do what and with whom.

In cruising the internet forums, one topic is why very few of the talent from the lower classifications are not mentioned in the scouting reports. Another is could lower classifications play ball with the upper classifications.

Good questions...

First let me say this, many, many of your class 1A, 2A and 3A schools have top athletes but not every position is filled with the caliber of athlete that a 5A school can put on the field.

Colt McCoy from Jim Ned, 2003 state finalist,, can play in any classification but could the Indians complete with teams like the Katy Tigers or the La Marque Cougars. Very doubtful.

The same could be said for Rusk’s Cody Glennn or Tatum’s Stephen Hodge. All of them are talented athletes but the teams as a whole don’t have the talent across the board.

Let’s back up for a minute, they do have the talent to compete but in their own classification. And yet many of their non-district games are against the upper classifications.

Last year’s 3A state champ, Atlanta schedules all 4A school for non-district games but and I repeat but, could the Rabbits play successfully in a 4A or 5A classification. Probaly not.

What it boils down to is that the 4A and 5A schools have an Olympic size talent pool and the others have a kiddie pool or maybe a Motel 6 size talent pool. Sheer numbers give the bigger schools an edge.

Shoot the S.O.B.

By R.K. Speights Editor-inChief

Here I am sitting at the computer - freshly cleaned up from repairing a radiator link on the old Taurus. I pop up my favorite search engine, Google. Type in the word "Football" so I can cruise the latest football headlines, I click a headline, three down from the top that looks interesting,

And Bam... Zap... Kaboom...

My Norton, AVG and Inoculan anti-virus protectors go haywire. The battle in on. Screens popping up all over screaming "Virus Detected." A Trojan Horse named Do.exe. Another with nothing but a string of random numbers and letters. Twenty -five or more of the skimpiest dressed ladies kept popping up inviting me to well... and I wasn’t even on the net. Needless to say, me and the anti-virus warriors lost the war.

For the first five hours, I manually (safe mode) and auto removed temp files, temporary internet files, cookies, application exe files, ini files, recycle folders and a host of UFOs (Unwanted File Objects)

Then and I repeat then... for the next 12 hours I tried to connect to the internet. I talked with 400 SBC technicians and did everything short of wiping the hard drive clean. Nada...

Now it is 2 p.m. Sunday,I am sleepy, grouchy and needless to say, a very irratable mood. I worked through the night. I just finished updating the site. How did I accomplish this? I setup an old computer (kludge) and transferred the pertinent data to it.

The next step it to save all the important data on my No. 1 computer then wipe the hard drive clean and reload all the (*!=**?) on it.

This one site - in one click of the mouse - downloaded four viruses, eight applications and over 80 UFOs.

Hell of a way to spend all Saturday and most of Sunday and it ain’t over yet..

Do I believe in capital punishment? Hell yes.

I think a S.O.B. who designs a website loaded with this crap and uses the word "Football" anywhere in the site should be shot, right between the eyes. No judge, no jury, no trial, just shot.

Now that’s Capital Punishment...

And yes, I did get to cruise the headlines but not before writing this column.

NOTE: If you think your anti-virus software can protect you, "Get Real. The Idiots - like the one who designed the above mentioned site - can design virus and spyware faster than the anti-virus computer geeks can create updates.

I have my computer set to run updates, scans and maintenance everyday between three and five a.m., so I know my computer was clean barely five hours before the attack.

Sunday August 29, 2004

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