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When push comes to shove: Random thoughts on Pushgate

- by Jon Mark Beilue

As the news cycle spills over onto Michael Sam, the Missouri defensive end who announced Sunday that he was gay, here’s some random  thoughts on Pushgate – Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart’s push of a Texas Tech fan in the last few seconds of Saturday night’s basketball game:

1. There are no winners. Smart looks bad, and Jeff Orr, the Tech fan, looks bad.

2.  As badly as that incident unfolded, Sunday’s action was appropriate. Smart was suspended three games, and  in a news conference in Stillwater, apologized to Orr and others, saying his “emotions got the best of me” and “I take full responsibility.” Orr too apologized to Smart, OSU, Tech coach Tubby Smith and the Tech basketball team. Both schools took the high road, refusing to blame the other side.

3.  The narrative until Sunday afternoon on ESPN platforms, in particular, was that Orr might have directed a racial slur, and possibly, maybe, could have, thrown in the N word, at Smart. This was fueled by an Oklahoma State broadcast crew reporting Smart told someone that he was called the N word. This would have been about third-hand information.

But Smart never said that Saturday night, and with the opportunity to do so Sunday via Twitter or even in the news conference, did not accuse Orr of that. Had he heard Orr say that, you have to think he would not have remained silent.

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Playoff parody — yes, parody

- by Jon Mark Beilue

Once upon a time, when society didn’t believe everyone needed a participant trophy and a snow cone to help kids’ self-esteem, high school football teams had to earn a spot in the playoffs.

The post-season was resevered for the best. To be in the playoffs was a designation of a quality season, a sign of worthiness and talent.

There was a time when good teams, 9-1 kind of teams, were left home because they didn’t win district. That was too harsh.  Finally, in the early 1980s, two teams from a district were allowed in Class 5A.  That was fine, and warranted.

But it was inevitable that it would expand. No matter the sport or the level, pro, college or high school, more teams get in the postseason. Some of it is money-driven, and some of it it job security, but none of it is because all of these quality and worthy teams were staying at home.So two eventually became three, and three soon became four, and at some point, everyone will get in.

Four teams from each district in Class 5A through 3A get into the postseason. Classes 2A and 1A are now broken into Division I and Division II, and still three teams from each district go. Six-man, which is in divisions as well, is a little more realistic with two from each district into the postseason.

So, this year, in Texas, there are two teams in the playoffs with exactly one win. One. One of them is Pampa, which is 1-8.  The Harvesters beat River Road, and wereable to finish fourth in five-team District 1-3A. They were outscored this season, 347-150

Playoff-bound and the hammer down.

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Leach in another post-game dust-up

- by Jon Mark Beilue

Mike Leach didn’t endear himself to a lot of his colleagues when he was head football coach at Texas Tech from 200-2009 with his refusal to take his foot off the gas pedal many times when the Red Raiders had a comfortable lead and the game was essentially over.

He and then-SMU coach Phil Bennett got into a bit of a heated post-game exchange in 2004when Bennett thought Leach should have taken a knee late in Tech’s 27-13 win.

In his second year at Washington State,Leach raised the ire of Idaho coach Paul Petrino,though it looks like Petrino, brother of Bobby, is the one overreacting in a 42-0 loss Saturday night.

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Cheap Hits: Eugene Sims’ return to Texas ‘good experience’ despite loss

- by Jacob Mayer

St. Louis Rams defensive end and former West Texas A&M standout Eugene Sims’ return to Texas did not go as planned, the Rams lost 31-7 Sunday to the Dallas Cowboys, but he was still able to take time to appreciate the experience of playing in the state where he excelled as a college player.

Sims, who the Rams drafted in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, played for West Texas A&M in 2008 and 2009, and is sixth on the Buffs’ single-season sack list with the 10 he had during the 2008 season.

Sims recorded one tackle Sunday, but the loss stung particularly hard because he wanted his team to play well in front of his friends and family, he said.

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When boxing was relevant

- by Jon Mark Beilue

You have to be of a certain age to remember when boxing, particularly the glamour heavyweight division, mattered.  There was a time, harkening back to the 1970s, when that division was full of talent, the personalties were bigger than life, and a heavyweight bout was an event.

Now it’s not even so much an afterthought. Who is The WBC/WBA alphabet soup supposed heavyweight champion? Some guy from Russia? Not sure. Used to be even the casual fan could immediately name the heavyweight champion, but that was well before the days of a washed-up Mike Tyson.

Ken Norton, one of the great fighters from the 1970s, died Wednesday at age 70 in a care facility in Las Vegas. He has been debilitated by a series of strokes.

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Saban to Texas? Unlikely, but possible

- by Jon Mark Beilue

It is ugly in Austin, and will only get worse as the football season clicks down for embattled Texas coach Mack Brown.

Even three weeks into the season, it seems like a foregone conclusion that Brown’s 16th season at UT will be his last. The Longhorns are in their fourth season of mediocrity — by Texas standards — and the patience from a 128-27 record from 1998 to 2009 seems all but exhausted.

Texas, 23-18 since playing Alabama for the 2009 national title, is 1-2 and in disarray. After giving up a school-record 550 yards rushing in a 40-21 loss to Brigham Young on Sept. 7, a desperate Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Most wondered why Brown hired the young coordinator from Mississippi State before the 2011 season anyway.

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Is West Texas A&M QB Vaughan Division II’s top football player?

- by Jim Lexa

West Texas A&M quarterback Dustin Vaughan took a huge step Thursday night in a bid to capture the Harlon Hill Trophy, Division II’s version of the Heisman Trophy.

Vaughan could be the first WT football player to win the award. After an All-American season last year, he boosted his value with a prime-time performance Thursday.

Vaughan led WT’s comeback from deficits of 24-6 and 31-16 as the fourth-ranked Buffs beat 18th-ranked Chadron (Neb.) State 34-31 on Sergio Garcia’s last-minute field goal at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

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335-pound lineman is also football cheerleader

- by Jon Mark Beilue

Armand Fernandez-Pierre is a cheerleader for the Episcopal School of Dallas. All right, fine. Though obviously not as many as girls, there’s more than a few boys who are high school cheerleaders.

But not many who are 335 pounds and play nose tackle on the football team.

Last week, Fernandez-Pierre had his way on the line of scrimmage in Episcopal’s season opener. At halftime, he didn’t join his teammates in the lockerroom, but his cheermates on the sideline for a routine at intermission.

That’s as it should be because Armand was a cheerleader long before he joined the football team.

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WT fires head football coach Don Carthel 

-by Jacob Mayer & Lance Lahnert

The West Texas A&M football team didn’t need any game action to take its first big hit of the season.

WT Athletic Director Michael McBroom announced Thursday popular head football coach Don Carthel has been relieved of his duties, effective immediately, just two days before the team’s first scrimmage, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday on Happy State Bank Field at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium.

Assistant head coach and offensive line coach Mike Nesbitt will act as interim head coach for the remainder of the season, McBroom said.

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H.S. volleyball: Amarillo High Lady Sandies regroup to defeat Tascosa Lady Rebels

-by Terrence Hunley

When Amarillo High and Tascosa play in volleyball, it doesn’t matter what time of year it is.

When the Lady Sandies faced off against the Lady Rebels on Tuesday, for just the second time since departing Class 5A for 4A a season ago, it was in front of nearly 1,500 fans even before the school year had started. Amarillo High won the match, 20-25, 25-12, 25-17, 25-13, at AHS Activity Center.

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Amarilloan’s endurance race feat part of larger mission

When the going gets tough, Kyle McAdams uses motivational quotations like the one he had written in a notebook to keep in mind and keep moving forward on his mountain bike.

“Early on, I realized I would never be the fastest or the strongest, and I accepted it,” McAdams, 37, said. “Not once have I entertained the notion I can’t be one of the toughest.”

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