From the Pressbox | January 10, 2019

Jimplecute Columnist

It’s been somewhat routine in the past 20-or-so years to get that sinking feeling when the confetti drops on the NCAA National Championship Game – college football’s over. For Dallas Cowboy fans, the season’s usually been over for a couple of weeks but Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott have seen to reversing that long trend.

So Dallas advances to the National Football Conference Division Round against the Los Angeles Rams. It’s been so long since these two franchises played a meaningful football game against one another that you probably forgot how to spell Ferragamo (as in Vince), the Rams’ quarterback in a 1979 playoff defeat of the Cowboys. That particular game is more noted in Texas as being Roger Staubach’s last – “Captain America” retired afterward

and set his calendar ahead five years for a Hall of Fame induction.

The 1975 Dallas Cowboys weren’t even expected to get into the playoffs, supposedly rebuilding after Super Bowl disappointment and joy at the end of the 1971 and 1972 seasons. Tom Landry and Company unleashed “The Dirty Dozen” upon the NFL – 12 rookies that not only made the team but were key contributors all season long.

Dallas needed a Hail Mary connection between Staubach and fellow Hall of Famer Drew Pearson to beat Minnesota 17-14 in the Wild Card game, but who can forget then-rookie linebacker – Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson – spiking the football over the crossbar after a pick-6 thrown by Roman Gabriel the next week as Dallas pummeled LA, 37-7?

The collective memory of so many Los Angeleans over the age of 50 will remember those great games and more as part of a strong rivalry – San Francisco’s 49’ers were known to Ram fans as Public Enemy #1 and the Cowboys were Public Enemy #2.

I suppose when you get blocked from a Super Bowl appearance as often as the Rams did in those days, you collect a lot of Public Enemies.

Now that we’re all racing through the first couple of weeks od 2019, attention turns to the more serious half-a-season remaining in college basketball. The teams have moved into conference play, setting up plenty of riveting fun on TV with regional rivalries and powerhouse battles.

It’s no surprise to find Duke sitting atop the Associated Press Top 25 poll, but Virginia bumped the Blue Devils out of poll position in the Coaches’ Poll. A little lower down the list (#8 in both polls) is Texas Tech, whose Raiders are blasting off under the direction of Chris Beard.

One of the darlings of the national college hoops media, Beard’s career rocketed skyward after he left McMurry University in Abilene for Angelo State. In his two years in San Angelo, there were some epic tilts between his Rams and the Texas A&M-Commerce Lions, including four games in the 2015-2016 season alone.

Beard went on to Arkansas-Little Rock and promptly guided his team into NCAA Tournament history, gaining an upset win in the first round and nearly getting to the Sweet 16.

From Arkansas he was hired to take over a storied-but-not-lately UNLV program. Two weeks later, he was out of that contract and headed home to the High Plains and Texas Tech.

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