Monthly Archives: July 2013

SEC Teams Would Gladly Take Pelini Up on Offer

It seems like Big Ten coaches spent more time talking about the SEC than their own programs last week at the conference’s Media Days. From Urban Meyer explaining Ohio State turning in his former school Florida on a recruiting violation, and defending the discipline of former Gator Aaron Hernandez to Nebraska coach Bo Pelini’s comments comparing the two leagues.
This is what Pelini answered when asked about how his conference “can bridge the gap” between the Big 10 and SEC.
“You talking about Alabama? I guarantee there are a lot of teams in the SEC that aren’t Alabama that wish they were Nebraska, wish they were Michigan, wish they were Ohio State. Don’t talk to me about the SEC.
“You know, the whole SEC isn’t Alabama, it isn’t LSU, it isn’t Georgia. Let’s talk about certain teams. … There are some teams in the SEC that are trying to bridge the gap to be us. Everybody wants to lump the whole SEC into one category. Let’s not go there.”
First, do you think anyone ever asked former legendary Husker coach Tom Osborne about another conference’s dominance? Nada. Pelini, the former LSU defensive coordinator, isn’t chopped liver guiding Nebraska to the … Read more >

Former UA Running Back Cedric Cobbs Makes His Boxing Debut Saturday

An interesting press release hit my desk Thursday. It comes from the Memphis area and announces the pro boxing debut of Cedric Cobbs Saturday night. Yes, that Cedric Cobbs. The Little Rock Fair product, who became one of the University of Arkansas’ all-time great running backs.

It should be a debut Cobbs won’t forget. He is the main event on a card that includes 15 fights that features boxing and mixed martial arts and includes “fighters from as far away as China.”

Mid-South Boxing & MMA promotes the Charity Fight Night Event that begins at 7:30 p.m. with doors open at 6:30 at Bumpus Harley Davidson in Collierville, Tenn. General admission tickets are $35 and VIP tickets, which include a meal are $50. All proceeds support The Anti-Bullying Program.

A source close to Cobbs told me not long ago that the former Hogs back had began training for a boxing career. Appraently, the trainer he works with is impressed with his supreme athleticsim and his progress in the ring.

Former UA Running Back Cedric Cobbs makes his ring debut Saturday night.

Former UA Running Back Cedric Cobbs makes his ring debut Saturday night.

Nowhere on the release does it mention who Cobbs is fighting. A quick check of the website www.midsouthboxing.com shows … Read more >

Matt Jones May Not Have Been Basil Shabazz But He’s The Best Arkansas Prep Athlete I’ve Seen

The more I delved into Basil Shabazz’s prep career, the more apparent it became that I’ve never seen anyone like him in 15 years covering prep sports in Arkansas. There are great athletes, and then there is Shabazz. He is in a class by himeself.

The stories that former prep sportswriter Wadie Moore (now with the Arkansas Activities Association) and former Arkansas men’s basketball coach Nolan Richardson  and others tell, make it clear. Moore said the only other athlete he’s seen that compares to Shabazz is Brinkley’s Jerry Ecwood, who eventually starred at running back at the U of A and played in the NFL.

That made me wonder, ‘Who have I watched in 15 years that comes close to the mystique of Shabazz?’

One name popped into my mind — Matt Jones.

Before he starred at Arkansas as a dynamic quarterback, he played wide receiver at Van Buren High School. The Pointers employed the Wishbone offense and very rarely passed. The gangly Jones, split out wide, with a veteran quarterback under center. In a game against Rogers, Jones caught all three Van Buren passes for 103 yards. Two of them were touchdown catches. A star was born.

Jones played … Read more >

Longtime Friends Shabazz, Hunter Take Different Paths

Torii Hunter freely admits it — his friend Basil Shabazz was the better athlete. Hunter is the five-time MLB All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove winner. However, as the two grew up together in Pine Bluff, Shabazz stole the spotlight. Shabazz starred in four sports and was among the best sprinters, running backs and baseball prospects when he graduated from Pine Bluff High School in 1991.
Hunter, who was two-years younger than Shabazz, looked up to his older friend. The two also hung out with Carlos James, a 1990 PBHS grad, who played junior college baseball and a year with the University of Arkansas before playing in the independent league ball. The trio formed a bond in elementary school that is still strong today. The friends looked out for each other on the mean streets of Pine Bluff and even shared clothes. James eventually shared his room with Shabazz.

Basil Shabazz played five years of minor league baseball.

Basil Shabazz played five years of minor league baseball.

All three had dreams of playing pro sports but only Hunter realized it. His home life wasn’t great with his father Theotis, who has struggled with drug addiction, but mother, Shirley, kept enough stability to keep Hunter on track. Shabazz’s mother, Khaleelah, struggled … Read more >

Marcus Dupree vs. Basil Shabazz

I heard it late last year, and now I’ve heard it again. ‘ESPN should do a 30 for 30 documentary on Basil Shabazz.’ For those that don’t know what the series is (You are seriously missing out and must live under a rock), it’s a volume of sports documentary films aired on ESPN.
The Best That Never Was — the story of former Oklahoma running back Marcus Dupree was highly acclaimed, and in Arkansas spurred fans to wish someone would profile this state’s version — Shabazz.
The film was well done, and Dupree’s  story that begins in Philadelphia, Miss. is a good one. However, I thought then, and even more so now that Shabazz’s story is better.
There is no disputing Dupree is arguably the greatest all-time prep running back. He played on the varsity squad as a freshman, and ran for nearly 3,000 yards his senior season. He totaled 7,355 yards and 87 career touchdowns. Dupree was so dominant college football assistants took residence in Philadelphia so they could court him easier. His high school coach fielded up to 100 calls a day asking about the star back.
Dupree also competed at a high level for the school’s basketball … Read more >