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January 6, 2006

by Bob Hulsey

Thank God It’s Over.

If there’s one overriding emotion after the Bush Bowl ended in overtime Sunday, it was that this whole train wreck of a season was finally over. It’s like when the dentist tells you "all done" after performing a root canal. Now, that didn’t hurt much did it?

Personally, 2005 was a great sports year. The Astros won a National League Pennant for the first time in their 43-year history. My alma mater won the National Championship in both baseball and football. My other NFL rooting interest, the Broncos, wrapped up their first division title in seven years and a first-round bye in the playoffs. The Rockets looked like they were getting their house in order if they could just get their stars healthy at the same time.

Alas, there was just not enough good karma left for the Texans. They stunk up their last game of the 2004 season (technically occuring in 2005) and committed one blunder after another from free agency to trades to the first round of the college draft to training camp and on to the regular season. By November, they were so bad that the Houston Heimlichs were being accused of throwing games. And for their efforts, they got four coaches fired and the top pick in this year’s draft – a draft that if they screw it up Houston citizens might take their bull-headed warriors and leave them at the curb.

But before we move on to drafting Eric Metcalf 2.0, a lot of other major items have to be decided. Such as a head coach and a quarterback. Names are flying about like candidates for Governor.

If owner Bob McNair is intent on getting to a Super Bowl, I have the perfect candidate for the head coaching position – Jimy Williams. The guy wins everywhere he’s fired. As a player, he appeared briefly with the 1966 St. Louis Cardinals. He was unloaded as a minor leaguer the next season and the Redbirds went to two straight World Series. His first job as a big league manager was with the Toronto Blue Jays. They fired him in 1989 and soon went to two straight World Series. Next, he shows up in Boston. It took a little longer there because of that whole Bambino thing, but they fired him and a few years later they were spraying bubbly on themselves. Curse – what curse? Of course, we all know what he did for the Astros. Like a real-life Forrest Gump, Jimy always happens to get himself fired just before something big happens.

No doubt Texan fans will quickly tire of having their quarterback yanked midway in the third quarter because he had reached his pitch limit or benching his leading running back before the law of averages caught up to him, but just think how much joy we will have firing Jimy all over again.

McNair shouldn’t get hung up on little details like a lack of NFL coaching experience. Think instead of the good will this will generate with the beat writers when Williams explains why he went for it on 4th-and-22, ahead by two late on his own 15-yard-line with the simple explanation of "coach’s decision". It should ensure that we’ll have the top pick again in 2007. Super Bowl XLV, here we come!

The quarterback position is a little dicier. Our golden child is due a substantial bonus that some say he doesn’t deserve. But then some said the soldiers at D-Day didn’t deserve their purple hearts either. Only a second-quarter injury prevented him from breaking his own NFL record for getting sacked. It wasn’t the sort of record we pictured him breaking when he was drafted back in 2002, but then neither did he or his wife would have made him switch to carpentry.

If we spend our first overall pick on USC’s second-best running back, some say Carr will have an easier time throwing because defenders will now have to respect the run. The issue may be whether David has enough time to perform the handoff. The offensive line is still a mess and if Charley Casserly addresses this problem as well as he did in 2005, Carr may be hoping they don’t pick up his option. He could be desperate enough to show up on a Minnesota Viking sex cruise just so he can get released.

Another season has come and gone while backup Dave Ragone sits and rots on the bench. Ragone’s agent should be pleading with the half-dozen clubs hurting for quarterbacks and begging them to cough up the third-rounder it would take to pry him from the Texans. I’m sure Dave gets a little ill every time he watches Chris Simms take a snap in Tampa. Ragone was drafted ahead of him. Dave’s agent should ask for an incentive-laden contract like the one Master P got for Ricky Williams. Maybe that will tempt a GM somewhere. Ragone’s only hope for staying is if Jimy signals for the lefthander out of habit.

Perhaps another veteran quarterback can be brought in either to replace or mentor Sir David. Perhaps fellow Fresno Stater Trent Dilfer is available.

Before Wednesday night, the debate was whether Casserly should draft Mr. Heisman or trade down for what the team truly needs. Now, a new debate has emerged. Draft Mr. Heisman, draft Mr. Rose Bowl, or trade down for what the team truly needs. Although Mr. Rose Bowl has been steadfast about returning for his senior year, I think his 467-yard performance changes all that and a little assurance from McNair that he’ll be the first player drafted would coax the Longhorn Savior to come out early.

Houston’s pro football team has added a Heisman Trophy winner in the backfield once every decade (Billy Cannon, Earl Campbell, Mike Rozier, Eddie George). Reggie Bush would continue that heritage. Then again, none of those Heisman winners took Houston to the Super Bowl. Perhaps its time for a native son to rescue the Texans the way he overcame a twelve-point deficit with under five minutes to go. One thing the Savior does regularly which this team needs badly – he delivers at crunch time.

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