- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2005

Heartwarming story out of Lubbock, Texas. Pat Knight will receive a five-year contract as Texas Tech’s basketball coach whenever his father, Bob, decides to step down. The elder Knight is said to be thrilled that his son will succeed him. Indeed, he’s already agreed to show up at Pat’s first game as the head man and throw out the first chair.

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Tony Peters, Dexter Manley, Raphel Cherry, Barry Wilburn, Terry Orr … and now Timmy Smith. The list of 1980s Redskins running afoul of the law is getting depressingly long.

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“Hail to the Redskins”? How about “Bail for the Redskins”?

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Flipping through Sports Illustrated the other day, I came across the following fascinating information: Actor Matthew McConaughey’s late father, Jim, was a 27th-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers in 1953. I immediately grabbed my copy of the Packers’ 1953 media guide — yes, I have such things lying around the office — to see if Jim McConaughey was in it. Sure enough, he was.

“First year in professional football …” his thumbnail reads. “Regular defensive end for powerful [University of] Houston team [the] last two years … Received a wrist watch from Missouri Valley Conference officials for being voted the most improved player … Should hit his peak in pro ball … Married … Irish descent … Plans to continue education in the off season.”

Matthew told SI he didn’t know many details about his father’s career. “He never talked about it,” he said. But there was one game, he claimed, in which his dad “sacked Johnny Unitas twice, but I don’t know if that was an exhibition.”

Actually, it couldn’t have been an exhibition game because Unitas was still in college in ‘53, the year Jim McConaughey was in camp with the Packers (and got cut). But the two did cross paths two seasons earlier, when Johnny U., then a freshman, led his Louisville team to a 35-28 upset of McConaughey’s Houston club. The Cardinals weren’t very good — they went 12-22 during the Unitas years — and it’s entirely possible McConaughey dumped him for a couple of losses that day.

According to the Louisville Web site, Johnny made one of his most memorable plays in that game. On third down from his 8-yard line in the fourth quarter, he “dropped back into his own end zone, sidestepped two defenders and threw a pass to Babe Ray, who scored a 92-yard TD.” Maybe one of the two defenders he sidestepped was Matthew McConaughey’s father.

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Another tidbit you might find amusing: Jim McConaughey was the 319th player taken in the 1953 draft. Two picks later, the Giants selected an offensive tackle from Morgan State named Roosevelt Brown — who, the last time I checked, was in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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So I’m reading this story about the visitors locker room at Iowa’s football stadium being painted pink, and I’m thinking: can hardly wait for Pittsburgh to play there. Everybody will be calling them the Pink Panthers.

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Jimmy Rollins’ club-record 35-game hitting streak for the Phillies has been accomplished with a maple bat, a wood that’s beginning to cut into ash’s market share among big leaguers. Hillerich and Bradsby must be beginning to panic; they were recently seen hiking in a petrified forest.

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Having some time on my hands the other day, I decided to compare the ongoing exploits of David Ortiz with those of Red Sox icon Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, the year Yaz won the Triple Crown and Boston went to the World Series. I always thought Yastrzemski’s was the greatest clutch-hitting season I’d ever seen, but Ortiz’s, amazingly, has been even better. The numbers (culled from the database at retrosheet.org):

• Ortiz has hit 20 homers that have tied the game or given the Sox the lead. Yaz hit 15.

• Ortiz has hit 19 homers in the seventh inning or later. Yaz hit 17.

• Ortiz had 11 homers and 28 RBI in September. Yaz had nine homers and 24 ribbies.

• And get this: 13 of Big Papi’s last 21 homers have come in the seventh inning or later, including three in the ninth and two in extra innings.

If that isn’t an MVP, I don’t know what is.

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As you can guess from his 6-foot-4, 230-pound physique, Ortiz likes to chow down almost as much as he likes to hit home runs. In fact, according to the Boston Globe, he’ll be appearing on a future episode of the PBS cooking show “Simply Ming” to whip up some “Papi’s Grilled Three Mustard Marinated Chicken with Sweet Potato Fried Rice” with chef/host Ming Tsai.

One more culinary note: “Ortiz’s ‘Big Papi’ salsa is now available in stores,” the Globe reports.

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Number of the Week: 111.

That’s how many changes there’ll be in the rules of golf next year (courtesy of the Guardians of the Game, the U.S. Golf Association and the Royal & Ancient Golf Club).

What this means, in layman’s terms, is that TV viewers will now have 111 more reasons to jam PGA Tour switchboards with complaints about players breaking obscure and generally meaningless regulations.

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Imagine: 111 rule amendments in a single year. If I were Tiger Woods, I’d read them very carefully — just to make sure low score still wins.

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Seriously, how does a golfer keep up with all these changes? Is there a “CliffsNotes” version of the rulebook?

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A number of other proposed amendments were tabled for further discussion. One would have eliminated the free drop and, on a trial basis, made players pay a small, tax-deductible service charge.

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Another would have required scorecards to be not only signed but also notarized.

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Speaking of golf, there’s no truth to the rumor that the Island Hole at TPC Sawgrass will serve as the site for a future “Survivor” series.

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How did I miss this? During hockey’s hiatus, former Capitals coach Ron Wilson tried to qualify for the U.S. Open golf championship. He shot a 68 at Timacuan Golf and Country Club, outside Orlando, Fla., in local play and nearly advanced to the sectional round. Alas, he lost in a seven-man playoff for the last three spots. Not bad for a guy old enough (50) to compete in the Senior Open.

“During my career in sports,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle, “I feel like that’s my best accomplishment.”

Wilson lives in the offseason in Bluffton, S.C., near Hilton Head. Not many golf courses around there.

• • •

And finally …

Michelle Wie reportedly will turn pro this week, days shy of her 16th birthday. Many are skeptical of her plan to play in even more PGA Tour events next year, but I’m thoroughly convinced Wie shall overcome.

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