Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
LIKE IT IS:
SEC flexes muscle on valued All-America team
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy, outscoring runner-up Manti Teo by more than 300 Heisman voting points. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
LITTLE ROCK There are a large number of All-America teams, most of them legitimate, and Monday the Football Writers Association of America’s team was released. It included 26 players, including a returner, punter, kicker and a tie at running back.
It is one of the most respected All-America teams in the country and is used in all the polls that determine unanimous picks.
Of the 26 players chosen, 10 were from the SEC. Not surprisingly, four of those were from Alabama. Notre Dame, which faces the Crimson Tide for the BCS national championship in January, had only one player named to the team.
What was interesting was that Texas A&M was second in first-team selections with three and not one of them is a senior.
South Carolina, Georgia and LSU each had one player named to the team.
There was something for Arkansas State to take note of, too. Their opponent in the Go-Daddy.com Bowl, Kent State, placed returner/all-purpose player Dri Archer on the first team, but the Red Wolves’ staff probably knew that.
One of the biggest winners when A&M’s Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy was the Cotton Bowl.
It will host the Aggies and Oklahoma Sooners, and having the Heisman winner is a natural ratings attraction.
Of course, the Cotton Bowl, unbeknownst to most, is one of the most financially secure bowls in the country. It is virtually sold out before the teams are invited.
Every room had a Christmas tree of some sort, but only a handful of those who attended the party at Tom and Melissa Meziere’s last Saturday knew the secret.
Tucked away in the media room upstairs was one television that was turned on, and a good number of people were crowded around watching the Arkansas Razorbacks trounce Alcorn State. Maybe no one stayed for the entire game, but there was interest by many.
No doubt, the Razorbacks basketball team is better than last year’s team and it appears Mike Anderson, in just his second year, has a clear vision of where he wants the program to be.
The Hogs have just four nonconference games left, including one in North Little Rock on Saturday night against Alabama A&M, and Anderson will use every minute of those games to prepare for the battles of the SEC, which begin Jan. 9 at Texas A&M.
Last season, the Razorbacks were fun to watch, and will be even more so this season.
A few weeks ago, I called Joe Kleine to tell him I had a book for him.
Kleine loves to read, and this book was about Lamar Hunt and the founding of the Kansas City Chiefs, originally the Dallas Texans.
The Chiefs are Joe’s team.
Joe tried to sound enthused, but then looking at the box scores from Sunday’s NFL games, when the Chiefs had just seven first downs and 119 yards of total offense (only 10 rushing), maybe it is understandable that he hasn’t called to ask about the book.
Or maybe he’s just a little busy with UALR basketball. Or both.
If the Dallas Cowboys win out, they are NFC East champs because they close the season against the Washington Redskins, who along with the New York Giants are tied with the Cowboys for first in the division.
However, the Redskins have an easier game this week, playing Philadelphia (4-10), than the Cowboys, who host the New Orleans Saints (6-8), who are a little better than their record but are a prime example, like the Arkansas Razorbacks, of what can happen when a team unexpectedly loses its coach.
The Giants don’t own any tiebreaker, so their only hope for winning the East is to win out and have Dallas and Washington lose this weekend, which is a long shot but could still happen.
Sports, Pages 17 on 12/18/2012