Each week, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram's Ray Buck and NBC 5's Newy Scruggs go at it in a point-counterpoint on the sporting issues of the day.
Should Jerry Jones be worried about selling tickets to his $1.1-billion Arlington stadium in ’09 if the Cowboys fail to make the playoffs in ’08?
NEW DAWG: No need to worry. Dallas-Fort Worth is a bandwagon town. People here want to be seen at the biggest stadium ever built. This city is still the home of the $30,000 millionaire.
BUCK: What’s a little pretension in the air when you’ve won bids to host an NBA All-Star Game in 2010, a Super Bowl in 2011 and a Final Four in 2014? Even though the economy has sunk lower than Chan Gailey at the end of his second season here, the new stadium has plenty of sizzle to sell. The Star-Telegram’s Andrea Ahles reports 84 percent of the 61,000 season-ticket eligible tickets have been sold ... and there are still nine shopping months left before the first game. Obviously, Jerry’s “people” are doing a better job than Jerry’s football team.
T.O. is (you pick one): Latest “downturn” in the midst of a steady decline for the remainder of his career ... or a player who can rally the Cowboys to make the playoffs?
NEW DAWG: You don’t win championships with one star. You need a team. T.O. had a tremendous game in the Super Bowl and the Eagles still lost to the Patriots. Owens can help the Cowboys win this season, but he is not the straw that stirs the drink. Tony Romo is. I think T.O. will be a great No. 2 in the offense next year.
BUCK: It’s all about T.O. from here on out, or at least the Cowboys would be wise to play that “game.” Tony Romo was the first guy to recognize it. That’s why he hasn’t wound up under the bus with Jeff Garcia and Donovan McNabb. If I’m Jason Garrett, I’d be telling T.O. “you da man” every day ... maybe even toss in a reminder that his big day Sunday against his old 49ers team came on the same day McNabb was benched against Baltimore. Play the game. At this point, it can’t hurt.
Any truth to NFL defensive coordinators catching up to Jason Garrett’s offensive philosophy?
NEW DAWG: Heck, yes. T.O. was right in his interview with Deion Sanders. Teams did spend all summer breaking down the Cowboys — even Romo said teams were catching up with their scheme after the Bengals game. But I also don’t think Garrett is as good without Tony Sparano on the sidelines.
BUCK: Garrett’s offensive philosophy isn’t the problem. His weakness has been, at times, with his play-calling. Injuries and penalties have been part of the problem. But in the Sept. 28 Washington loss, Marion Barber got 11 touches. Since then, Barber has averaged 26 touches. Garrett was grilled for his mistake — but he seemed to listen. Unfortunately, T.O. knows that, too, about him.
Are the Stars ostensibly done for the season because of so many injuries?
NEW DAWG: How about “are the Stars done because they have chemistry problems and are pointing fingers at each other?” Poor Tom Hicks. He’s spent a lot of money and his club may not make the postseason.
BUCK: Not over, but the season has just become a whole lot longer. I feel sorry for Mike Modano, who is playing really well at 38. But his chances of winning a second Stanley Cup have been greatly diminished by the season-ending injury to captain Brenden Morrow ... and now Steve Ott is out for a month to boot.
Sam Bradford. Graham Harrell. Colt McCoy. Tim Tebow. Which one of these four guys will win the Heisman?
NEW DAWG: I’ll go with Sam Bradford ... this week. I reserve the right to change my mind.
BUCK: Colt McCoy will win the Heisman unless Tebow plays lights-out to beat ’Bama in the SEC title game. Then, it’ll be close. Harrell’s Heisman hopes were dashed Saturday night in Norman, Okla., where Bradford made it look too easy in 44-point win over Texas Tech. You need a “Heisman moment” to win a Heisman Trophy ... and right now McCoy and Tebow have the best chances of attaining that.
Where will Mark Cuban be in five years and what team(s) will he own?
NEW DAWG: Mark Cuban will be the owner of the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks. Chris Bosh will have been named NBA Finals MVP.
BUCK: You dreamin’ again, Newy? Who knows, really? But I’m pretty sure it won’t be the Cubs. And I’m even more sure Cuban won’t be sitting around buying beers for a 73-year-old guy named Nellie. By 2013, Cuban may have unloaded the Mavs by then (for a Guinness Book record profit, of course) and decided to write a book about his life: Dancing with the SEC.