Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 3/23/12
Five things I'm thinking about this weekend while in no way regretting my decision to not fill out an NCAA tournament bracket this year. 1. Something that seems true (and totally is): A Texans' Super Bowl win would change the demeanor of the Houston sports fan forever. I was struck by this last night, when the Rockets were honoring their team of the '90s, and Hakeem Olajuwon and Robert Horry and the gang were still defending their back-to-back championships against the yeah, but Jordan was gone argument 17 years after the fact. Since those are the only world championships in the city's history, that defensiveness seems to have permeated Houston's sports culture, and I don't think that general demeanor will go away until another Houston franchise wins a title, ideally the Texans. No matter what happens in baseball or football, Houston is always going to identify most strongly with its football team, and because of its geographic location will always be measured against the Dallas Cowboys. One Super Bowl win by Houston would not dethrone the Cowboys as America's Team or Dallas as sort of the Cool Kid of Texas cities, but one unassailable Super Bowl victory finally would give the Houston sports fan something he isn't forever having to defend. And that would work wonders for his demeanor. 2. Something that doesn't seem true (but totally is): The Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools could solve most of its problems by changing its name. This organization has shown itself to be closed-minded, slow to react and possibly discriminatory toward Jewish and Muslim schools, and all of that is bad, but the truth is that if TAPPS were called TACS (Texas Association of Christian Schools), we'd all have a hard time arguing it was out of bounds regarding either of its recent controversies. This is, after all, a free country, and if you want to start a religiously exclusive private organization, you can do that. You wouldn't expect a Muslim school to hire a Christian to teach religious studies. Likewise, you wouldn't be outraged if a Christian athletic association denied membership to non-Christian schools. But when you're trying to brand yourself as one thing (the all-inclusive private and parochial designation) and seemingly practicing as something else (exclusivity), you have a big problem. Which is what TAPPS now has. The pedantically named Texas Catholic Conference Education Department sent a letter to TAPPS notifying it that its membership would consider finding somewhere else to play if TAPPS didn't improve its structure to be more accepting. The 43 Catholic schools in TCCED make up 20 percent of TAPPS' membership, so losing them would be a significant blow. Given TAPPS executive director Ed Burleson's huffy tone throughout all this -- Do they want the TAPPS board to accept without question any private or parochial schools? Is that what you want? he wrote to TAPPS members in a survey recently, according to the Houston Chronicle. I have a hard time imagining TAPPS make any significant changes to the way it operates. It is OK to be a Christian-only private organization. But if that's the way it is, you need to call it that way. 3. Something that is neither true nor untrue (but is fun to talk about): If Rick Barnes started doing a slightly worse job of recruiting, he would start doing a slightly better job of coaching. Let's start by observing that Barnes has gotten Texas into the NCAA tournament 14 years in a row, and that Texas has been in the hunt for a Big 12 championship more often than not. It is good sport to rip Barnes, but it's not totally fair. He has been highly successful at UT. And yet the program under Barnes seems to have underachieved. People see all the great players that have passed through and they can't believe UT has been to just one Final Four and only five times has gotten out of the first weekend of the NCAA tournament. Barnes' teams often look talented but not congealed. They often look like they're about a year away. Which is because they are. It is difficult to build the kind of core necessary to win a national championship when so many of the players in the program decide to leave it early. And it is difficult to keep players from leaving early when you consistently sign players who would have declared for the NBA draft out of high school if that were allowed (which, for some reason, it is not). Don't get me wrong. Texas has a great thing going in recruiting, and should continue to exploit that. You probably can't win a national championship without multiple NBA players on your roster. But you probably can't win one without a couple key four-year guys, either, and you don't find many of them in the McDonald's All-American game. (Counterpoint: Kentucky?) 4. Something that recently happened: Joel Dreessen went all-in. Dreessen is a perfectly competent NFL player. In six seasons he has 107 catches and 13 touchdowns as a backup tight end. And he probably was more valuable to the Texans than he was to the football world at large, because he understood the offense, had chemistry with the quarterback and had the respect of his teammates. He has never been anything resembling a star player, however. Guys like Joel Dreessen get released all the time in the NFL. He was already on a winning team that appreciated him. There was no good reason for him to leave. Except for Peyton Manning. We still don't know if Manning will ever be the same player again, but the player he has been is a man who turned Dallas Clark into a star and Pierre Garcon into a legitimate NFL wide receiver. Dreessen, who turns 30 this summer, made a bet Manning could do something similar for him, and I can't say I blame him. 5. Something that is about to happen: Scott Drew's name is going to pop up in one of these coaching searches. I mean, it has to. Right?
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