(I worked as a Sports Editor from late 2004 until the summer of 2006. This is one of the many columns I was able to save that were originally published in The Sun-Times of Heber Springs, Arkansas.)
On the heels of Arkansas’ first round loss to Bucknell in the NCAA tournament Friday, came some more depressing news for many Arkansans regarding the NFL. I don’t have to tell you that there are a large percentage of citizens in the Natural State who are Dallas Cowboy fans.
Those fans received some sobering news about the state of their team this weekend when word leaked that the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones would be signing Terrell Owens to become a member of America’s Team.
Of course, there are some out there that are excited over the prospect of Owens improving the receiving corps – especially since Keyshawn Johnson was given his walking papers. Those fans probably believe that T.O. has turned over a new leaf and will become a valuable teammate. But I beg to differ.
I don’t know what other people heard during the press conference announcing the signing, but I heard at least one troubling statement from the oft-troubled receiver.
With a big smile on his face, he turned to Jones and said, “I’m going to do what’s expected of me”.
That’s a pretty telling statement isn’t it? For a minute let’s disregard the fact that I’m taking that quote entirely out of context, and let’s treat it like a White House edit of a climate science press release.
Owens said it right there. He let us know that nothing has changed. “I’m going to do what’s expected of me.”
What is expected of him? Well, there’s yelling at coaches on the sideline, disparaging his quarterbacks when they don’t throw him the ball correctly and with frequency, starting fights in the locker room, and generally making a horse’s behind out of himself.
Also note the fact that he has published a book detailing his turbulent two years in Philadelphia called ‘Ineligible Receiver’. If Owens has become a model teammate and citizen, my guess is sales figures for that Pulitzer Prize nominee will crash through second story floor of your local Barnes & Noble.
So, when that happens, Terrell is bound to revert back to what’s expected of him by trying to make Bill Parcells stroke out or Drew Bledsoe cry.
Speaking of Bledsoe, he doesn’t seem too pleased. By taking his quotes purely out of context, one can plainly see there’s a personality clash waiting to create a bigger hole in the roof of Texas Stadium.
Bledsoe matter-of-factly told ESPN that “I haven’t talked to him, I don’t think there’s a lot I need to say to him”. I guess those two won’t be sharing the turkey leg on Thanksgiving!
Owens did say that he’s given Drew a hard time in the past, but then I realized that he was referring to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.
Owens also warned the fans, the NFL, and the Orville Redenbachers of the world when he said, “Get your popcorn ready, it’s going to be a show” when asked about the upcoming season.
The seeds of discontent are starting to pop in Big D; I just hope you Cowboy fans don’t get burned.
As far as Arkansas’ loss to Bucknell goes, the Hogs were one second away from advancing.
Now it’s not a given that if the Hogs had forced a backcourt violation with the score tied at 55, they would have won. But they would have been in a pretty good position to steal a victory.
The count was right; I rewound that play a few times and saw the Bucknell player release the ball at nine seconds.
My question is why continue to press that late in the game when you’ve only forced 14 turnovers for the entire contest?
The press probably got the Hogs back in it, but with less than a minute to go, my feeling is you should drop back and play solid halfcourt defense.
Stan Heath has received a lot of flak for not pressing the entire game, but that isn’t why they lost.
Sure, Heath made mistakes, but so did North Carolina’s Roy Williams – who admitted he was outcoached – and Arizona’s Lute Olsen, who called a timeout just a split second before one of his players sunk what could have been a game changing 3-pointer.
Young coaches make mistakes, and Heath’s biggest was playing Steven Hill a paltry 23 minutes.
The sophomore shot 3-for-5, blocked four shots, and grabbed four rebounds while changing every shot on the defensive end. Aside from Ronnie Brewer, Hill is the only other game changer on the roster.
A coach should play to his team’s strengths, and on this team that should have been an inside-out approach.
Teams can’t single cover Hill, which would leave Brewer and the other wing players open for drives to the hoop.
Notice I didn’t say shoot, because Heath has buried the only pure shooter on the team deep within his bench. The Hogs shot just 14-percent from behind the arc against Bucknell.
Arkansas has gradually improved under Heath. But they may have hit their ceiling with his unwillingness to give the right players minutes.
Will Hog Nation have the patience for one more year under Heath, or will one more year be what Dr. Broyles prescribes?