Monday, November 23, 2015

In Defense Of Les

Where in the world is Joe Alleva? The LSU athletic director hasn't been heard from since the beginning of the "Les Miles must win his final two games or he's gone" situation. 

Alleva's strong-handed ways may not have shoved John Chavis out the door, but he certainly made the former Tigers defensive coordinator aware that his car was waiting outside with the engine running and the tank on "E" at the end of the 2014 season. 

With his successful head coach wafting in the wind, publicly outed as "fired coach walking," Alleva has chosen to remain hidden behind the practice of not commenting on a coach's status until after the season. 

Now this? Sending Les out to face questions about his employment status? Has Les Miles delivered the goods to rival Nick Saban and Urban Meyer consistently as the greatest coach in the country? No. However, aside from those two upper echelon coaches, Miles really doesn't take a backseat to anyone over the last ten years.  Jimbo Fisher has made his presence felt on the coaching landscape the last six years to join the list of elite coaches. Aside from that trio, is there a coach more successful than Les Miles in college football? 

Miles has made his share of mistakes in critical situations. There have been times when his disciplinary procedures lacked backbone; he has proved stubborn and unaccountable (21-0 loss to Alabama in 2012  BCS Championship); and his skills as a tactician leave something to be desired.  

But... He doesn't light into players like they just violated curfew with his daughter the way Saban and Jim McElwain have exhibited regularly; his bravado doesn't supersede limitations, ala' Bret Bielema; he is not aloof and anal like Meyer; he drags his wife and kids around everywhere he goes, not as a trophy to indicate his "family-man" status, but simply because he seems to really like seeing them.  

                                           HESTER'S OFFICE SOLUTIONS 
                                                    2450 E. 70th Street 

And... He wins. 10 games a year on average, even though the last three seasons have fallen shy of his version of average.  He's a national media star, which definitely aids on the recruiting trail. ESPN, SEC Network, national radio shows... They all love Les. 

Quick, name a coach that networks crave interviews with... Spurrier isn't walking off the tee box and through that door; Les is the guy.

As a lifelong Razorback fan, and reporter covering LSU since 1995, I'm not sure what LSU's fan base is looking for if title contender, ace recruiter, genial CEO, family man and media star doesn't fit the bill. 
There are over 100 college football fan bases that would gladly trade the past ten years' results with Tiger fans---Woo Pig Sooie's, Rebels, Cowbell Clanga's, Aggies, Gamecocks, ShowMe's, Wildcats, Plainsmen, Commodores, UGA's, Volunteers and Gators included. 

Friday, September 4, 2015


Radio: K94.5FM
Live updates from local games all over our area plus coach's interviews.

Highlights, highlights AND MORE HIGHLIGHTS! From Minden to East Texas we will have the highlights of players, band, cheerleaders, danceteams AND STUDENT SECTIONS!


Friday, August 14, 2015


Friday, August 28, Fletch & his merry band of photographers will be returning to cover high school football with all the gusto it deserves!

Radio: K94.5FM
TV: My45
Live updates from local games all over our area plus coach's interviews.

Highlights, highlights AND MORE HIGHLIGHTS! From Minden to East Texas we will have the highlights of players, band, cheerleaders, danceteams AND STUDENT SECTIONS!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mock Draft 2, Electric Booglaloo

Mock 2.0 Fletcher Draft

1.       Tampa Bay-Jameis Winston
2.       Tennessee-Marcus Mariota
3.       Jacksonville-Leonard Williams
4.       Oakland-Amari Cooper
5.       Washington-Dante Fowler
6.       NY Jets-Vic Beasley
7.       Chicago-Kevin White
8.       Atlanta-Shane Ray
9.       NY Giants-Brandon Scherff
10.   St. Louis-Trae Waynes
11.   Minnesota-DeVante Parker
12.   Cleveland-Todd Gurley
13.   Saints-Danny Shelton
14.   Miami-Marcus Peters
15.   SF-Arik Armstead
16.   Texans-Breshad Perriman
17.   San Diego-Melvin Gordon
18.   Kanas City-Cameron Erving
19.   Cleveland-Malcom Brown
20.   Philadelphia-Landon Collins
21.   Cincinnati-Randy Gregory
22.   Pittsburgh-Shaq Thompson
23.   Detroit-Kevin Johnson
24.   Arizona-Bernardrick McKinney
25.   Carolina-Nelson Agholor
26.   Baltimore-Shane Ray
27.   Cowboys-Paul Dawson
28.   Denver-Eddie Goldman
29.   Indianapolis-Andrus Peat
30.   Green Bay-Jordan Phillips
31.   Saints-Bud Dupree

32.   New England-Dorial Green-Beckham

Mock Draft 1.0 (From Three Weeks Ago)

Mock It Up To Mock It Down
By: Tim Fletcher
Grab your nearest recording device, it’s time to mockument the sports season in full swing now that The Masters, March Madness and MLB’s Opening Day have come to pass (as soon as Jordan Spieth finishes the drill this afternoon).  Throw on your airiest, lightest mock turtleneck; add some ham mocks to that bean soup; let that Mockingbird sing… its Mock Draft Season!
Many, many years ago, when Mel Kiper, Jr.’s hairline started at the tip of his nose, there were only a handful of NFL draft experts who tried to forecast the 1st round in advance of the actual event. These people were called, “nerds.”  You know them now as, “experts.”   Whereas before, you would find “nerds” congregating in packs, similar to a group I ran around with (coincidence, I’m sure), you now will find “experts” on the draft on anything that features a .com, .org, .edu, or .polka.
Not only do these draft experts have to file a “Mock Draft” to keep the white apple on their laptops lit, they also must adjust their content more than a big league pitcher on a humid, summer evening.  This is why you will see such headlines as, “Mock Draft 1.1” or “Mock Draft 2 Electric Boogaloo”.  By the time the NFL stages the 1st round of the draft in Chicago’s “Auditorium Theatre” (as opposed to the run-down Theatre Auditorium) on April 30th, the draft “experts” will have more versions of the draft than a list of Jay Z’s biggest problems.
Not wanting that ‘left-out’ feeling I get at family reunions, I present to you, “Tim Fletcher Mock Draft 0.00,” an ode to my fifth-semester GPA at then-Northeast Louisiana University.
1.       Tampa Bay-Jameis Winston, Florida State. QB and meme sensation for his starring role in “Oregon fumble.”
2.       Tennessee-Marcus Mariota, Oregon. QB and most likely to carry Zach Mettenberger’s mustache clippings in a glad bag as part of rookie rituals.
3.       Jacksonville-Leonard Williams, Southern Cal. DE stands 6’5” and weighs a steak or two over 300 pounds. Played every position on Trojans d-line and replaces Polamalu as most noted hair in NFL.
4.       Oakland-Kevin White, West Virginia. WR with the thing that Raiders brass loves most: speed to track down defensive backs after interceptions.
5.       Washington-Dante Fowler, Florida. DE and pass rush specialist.  Some burgundy and gold fans would like to see him test his skills to the utmost in practice.
6.       NY Jets- Shane Ray, Missouri, DE/LB was all-everything at Missouri, which churns out SEC defensive players of the year regularly (at least last two years).
7.       Chicago-Amari Cooper, Alabama. The Best WR in the draft will need to work on his reaction time (not in terms of how DB’s play him, but how quickly he responds to Jay Cutler calling him out).
8.       Atlanta-Vic Beasley, Clemson.  DE who powered through 35 reps in the bench press at combine.  Scouts question his lack of alpha-dog mentality. However, his beta-tape usage is off the charts.
9.       NY Giants-Brandon Scherff, Iowa. Interior OL is everything last year’s 1st round pick, Odell Beckham, Jr. is---but opposite.
10.   St. Louis-Trae Waynes, Michigan State. CB who is more handsy than a pick-pocket.  Penalized 9 times in college. NFL receivers are just like those at Purdue and Indiana, so he should be fine!
11.   Minnesota-DeVante Parker, Louisville. WR gives his old college teammate a reliable target… in the city that serves as HQ for Target!
12.   Cleveland-Danny Shelton, Washington. DT who stands 6’2” and weighs 332 pounds. Will not be recognized walking around with other Browns fans.
13.   SAINTS-La’El Collins, LSU. OT from LSU.  Saints rarely look to BR for help and why should they? Name 15 LSU alums who have turned out great in last 4 years.
14.   Miami-Marcus Peters, Washington. CB who was suspended a game last year for throwing a sideline tantrum.  
15.   SF- Randy Gregory, Nebraska. DE who stands 6’6” and tips the scales at 255. Just missed out on playing for Bo Pelini and Jim Harbaugh.
16.   TEXANS-Dorial Green-Beckham, Missouri. Can’t count Oklahoma since he never played there. Most talented wide-out comes with more baggage than George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
17.   SD-Todd Gurley, Georgia. RB coming off knee surgery.  If he pans out, Phillip Rivers may name his 8th, 9th, or 10th child after Gurley.
18.   KC-Cameron Erving, Fla.State. OL who can do it all. Kept Winston out of trouble. On the field.
19.   Cleveland-Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin. RB who specializes in big plays but was held to 1 yd. or less nearly 20% of his carries last year. Boom or bust? Sounds familiar w/their draft picks.
20.   Philadelphia-Landon Collins, Alabama.  S who goes from Saban’s “my way or highway” style to Chip Kelly’s “my way or highway,” style.
21.   Cincy- Arik Armstead, Oregon. DL who spells Eric completely wro…he’s how big? Spell it like you want, big man!
22.    Pittsburgh-Shaq Thompson, Washington. S who steps into Polamalu’s shoes at safety. Can also fill in for Le’veon Bell at RB (Shaq ran for 456 yards last year).
23.   Detroit-Jalen Collins, LSU. CB is most recent product of DBU. 
24.   Arizona- Malcom Brown, Texas. DT who is accustomed to knocking the “L” out of things, including his name.
25.   Carolina-D.J. Humphries, Florida. OL who was NOT one of three Gators who blocked their own teammate in last two seasons.
26.   Baltimore-Duke Johnson, Miami. RB who we saw in between Duck Commander BBQ sauce commercials in Independence Bowl.
27.   COWBOYS-Eddie Goldman, Florida State. DL who “plays the run like a full-grown man,” according to I’m a full-grown man. Hopefully he’s better than me.
28.   Denver-Eric Kendricks, UCLA. LB who is high character. Hey! Something “else” in Denver that’s high!
29.   Indy-Andrus Peat, Stanford. OL continues to make Indianapolis the “Palo Alto of the Midwest”.
30.   Green Bay-Maxx Williams, Minnesota. TE whose first name already looks like it’s been double-checked.
31.   SAINTS- Bud Dupree, Kentucky. LB is only guy named, “Bud” who weighs 270 pounds and runs a 4.56 40-yard dash.
32.   New England-Byron Jones, UConn. CB who will fill a role and be let go five years from now before he become too expensive.

With just 18 days separating us from the 1st Round of the draft, I have just enough time to roll out enough Mocks to number all the way from 0-to-turtlenecks. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Fletcher Articles

For The Shreveport Times
Date night in Haynesville Online Version
By: Tim Fletcher

Pulling into Haynesville this foggy, Friday night, there is no need for signs directing us to Red Franklin-Memorial Stadium.  Above the pine trees we spot a glowing, vapory mushroom-stadium lights limited in reach by the low hanging clouds.

Pulling off the main highway, nosing toward the shining mist, we curve around the neighborhood that hugs the stadium.  Yards and houses decorated with Christmas lights serve as the 12th man, welcoming us to a place that is home for Golden Tornado football and their faithful following.

To our left, the stadium appears, crystal clear as the fog drifts upward above the lights.

“How beautiful,” my wife, a first time visitor to the stadium gasps.
“Do you want me to let you off near the stadium?”
“No.  I’ll walk.”

There is no parking spot close-by less than twenty-minutes before kickoff. Especially tonight: State semifinal pitting the second-seeded Tors against the #3 seed West St. John Rams.

Three minutes later, parked close enough to the Arkansas state line to hear a hog call, we make the trek. 

Aly voiced her only regret of the night, “I should have gotten out earlier.”

While I grabbed a pair of tickets, Aly was already chatting up the cheerleaders and clutching our soon-to-be well-used game program.

We entered the stadium visiting with our friend, Kevin, who also made the trip. “My neighbor is a Haynesville alum and I’ve been telling him that I wanted to go to a game one day. What better game than Number 2 vs. Number 3?”

Kevin was decked out with a black cowboy hat, gold long-sleeve shirt over a black t-shirt.
Aly had a gold fleece jacket over a black t-shirt.  I wore a black sweatshirt. 
Three out-of-towners appeared on the doorstep of north Louisiana’s football kingdom dressed appropriately. 

Once inside, Aly said, “I forgot to bring something to dry off the bleachers.”  A lady three rows back handed us a garbage back to sit on. Family looks out for family.

Quick demographic check of those surrounding us: White, black, old, young, male, female, repeat.

Blood-type: black and gold.

On come the Tors! Bursting through the paper sign, third-and-fourth generation Golden Tors experience the magical transformation from an unknown chanting, bobbing mass to “our boys”, hell-bent on doing their daddies, brothers, uncles and grandpas proud by punching their ticket to a 24th state championship game.

It didn’t take long for the elements to make its presence felt.  Haynesville’s first of nearly ten fumbles ended a promising drive at the Rams 30 yard line.  The Tors’ defense clamped down on the visitors from south Louisiana throughout the early portion of the game, limiting the Rams to -1 yard on their first 12 plays. 

Public Address announcer Tommy Franklin (Red’s son and head coach David’s younger brother) voiced his genuine concern for the visitors with specific instructions on the location of the women’s restroom, the men’s restroom, the visitors’ concession stand as well as the gumbo hut near the home concession stand.  He banged the drum for the voters in the crowd to hit the booth on Saturday---an important millage for the school system is on the ballot. 

On the final drive of the first half the Rams found traction in the Claiborne parish muck.  Lamore Boudoin (Franklin pronounced it Boo-DAN… I would have done the same. He’s a south Louisiana kid for crying out loud) gained 11 yards; the Rams sent another running back on the same path and he chewed up 13 yards.  The home crowd yelled. They rattled their two-liter bottles filled with beans. A cowbell clanged from up above us.  Nothing worked. On 4th and goal from the 1-yard line, Boudoin balled into the end zone. The Rams grabbed a 7-0 halftime lead.

‘Preacher Man,’ a frequent caller to our radio show found us at the half telling us he wasn’t worried. “David says, or does something at halftime that transforms those boys.  He’ll drop a dang-it and a durn-it but that’s as bad as it gets.”

Led by star quarterback, Kendrick Jackson, the Tors had some fire in their bellies in the third quarter. The hulking 240-pounder will be a linebacker on Saturdays but he is the heart and soul of the offense on Fridays.

He has plenty of help though. Keandre Harris narrowed his body to squeeze through a small crease and then jetted toward the Haynesville sideline. 18 yards later a Ram defender banged him out of bounds into the roux of mud and sweat beneath the Tors cleats.  That play is what turned the tide. 

The octogenarian school-teacher, who has enjoyed the same box seats for decades near midfield clapped in delight. The crowd roared their approval as Harris slid, belly-side up clutching the ball like he was rescuing the pigskin from a burning building. When he stood up, the “44” on the back of his jersey was a secret, hidden by layers of muck.

Harris punctuated the drive on a touchdown gallop that looked like a carbon copy of his mud run, minus the gleeful slide. Success on the 2-point try turned the scoreboard into a hometown delight with the Tors on top 8-7.

Demarcian McCutcheon’s 80-yard lightning bolt early in the 4th quarter featured a stutter step in front of the Haynesville bench that froze a Ram like a set of high-beams.  It provided just enough breathing room when McCutcheon geared back up to stave off the defender.  More bottle-shaking, cowbell-clanging and shrieks of joy. 

West St. John cut the lead to one with a score on their next drive but a heavy dose of Harris, Kendrick Jackson and James Jackson left the guests on the short end of the 26-13 decision. 

Our well-worn program, with dollops of chili dog, Sprite, rain and mud, will serve as a constant reminder of a night under the lights in beautiful Haynesville, Louisiana.  We arrived as guests but were leaving as brethren.

We began to stand when a larger than life cowboy sat on Aly’s purse, pushed back his big black hat and engaged us.  “When you showed up, I mentioned how other schools in Shreveport get the ink and attention.  I said y’all didn’t cover us enough.  I’m just proud of these kids and these coaches. Here in Haynesville, we do things right. Have y’all seen ‘Dances With Wolves?”

This caught me off guard, “Uh, sure.”
“’Do you see that I am your friend? Can you see that you will always be my friend?’ Do you see that this is what football is about? Do you see it’s not about recruiting, it’s bringing together kids that grow up here, live here and play in your hometown.”

This Golden Tor devotee and local attorney, Jack Slaid obviously knew how to drive home a point and left us with a smile and a handshake.

Aly and I strode out of the stadium, arm-in-arm, relishing our time with company that knows no strangers. In the dimly lit area where we parked, a young man who was next to our vehicle asked quietly, “Sir. You interested…”

I didn’t quite understand him. 

“We have turkey legs for $8 and sausage for $2.  You interested?”

The grill was still smoking with meat as I saddled next to his tailgate. Presented hand sanitizer, a loaf of white bread and a bin of steaming hot sausage, I handed the man $5; sanitized my hands, grabbed four slices of bread and two sausages. 

The night, complete with entertainment, friends and dinner, was a success.

Fletcher Articles

For The Shreveport Times
Dak Prescott You gotta have faith
By: Tim Fletcher

Dak Prescott was on top of the college football world midway through the 2014 season.  

The Haughton High School alum and Mississippi State quarterback had performed at a level that pushed his name to the forefront of Heisman Trophy talk and his teams’ play landed them atop the College Football Playoff rankings. 

But then, Alabama happened. The Dogs dropped from the top spot and Dak’s name disappeared from Heisman discussion.  

Two weeks later, Ole Miss took it to MSU, ending any hope of a slot in the first college football playoff among the Football Bowl Subdivision. 

Where is the motivation at this point? What drives Dak when lofty goals, close enough to lower the helmet and bull through, disappear? The same place it’s been for over a year now.

He looks to his wrist. 

“I tape my wrists before games and before practice,” Dak explained. “I simply write ‘Faith’ on there for the faith that my mom showed me; the relationship we built from the faith we had and my faith in God. I write another little note that changes every day based on how I’m feeling. ‘I miss’ her, or, ‘I love’ her. I’ll write something like that on there.  But I talk to her through the day. It’s just something that makes me feel better, knowing she’s right there listening. She’s with me in everything I do—the good and the bad.”

Dak and his brothers Tad and Jace, lost their driving force in life, Peggy Prescott last fall when their mother succumbed to cancer.  Peggy drove the boys to succeed at any task attempted.  As a single mom, it was her duty to push hard rather than always coddle them.  But she was still a Mom---a caring, loving, Mom whose presence is greatly missed.

“Mostly during the hard times,” Dak said. “The easy times it’s easy to have people around you. When we’re winning, having success… of course I wish she was there and could celebrate with me in physical form; to see her smile and listen to her tell me how much she loves me and how proud she is of me; but through the hard times, she’s the one that I would talk to. After losses or after something bad happens, she would make me feel better. In situations like that, I talk to her in my head and feel her the most.”

Peggy must have been smiling ear-to-ear on September 20th.  That’s the night Dak and the Bulldogs pulled back the curtain in Baton Rouge, revealing just how dangerous they could be.  He ran for 105 yards and a score and blistered the Tiger secondary for 268 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Prescott’s humility prevented him from saying, ‘How ya’ like me now?’ but it was noticeably enjoyable.

“To be able to beat LSU like that in Death Valley, in front of friends and family as well as people who don’t normally watch me because they’re usually watching LSU...for them to watch me as well as the team I play for was special.”

Making it even sweeter for Prescott? LSU’s recruitment of the home-grown talent was awkward from the start.  “Early in the recruiting process, they were trying to recruit me as an athlete I went down to the camp and they put me in at tight end for a route or two. That really pushed me away from them. They came around later saying they wanted me to play quarterback, but still knowing they could easily switch and put me in a different position.”

Mississippi State head coach, Dan Mullen never wavered with the decision to keep the physically imposing Prescott at quarterback.  That choice helped MSU win their final three games of 2013, including the Egg Bowl, as well as enjoy unprecedented success this season.  The coach’s faith in Prescott also helped make Mullen a popular name to drop during conversations about head coaching vacancies around the country.  Dak’s not buying what “sources” are selling.

“Coach Mullen loves Starkville and what he’s doing with this program. It’s his program. I don’t see him leaving. He wants to be the best coach in Mississippi State history.”

Dak has faith in his coach to remain with the Cowbell Clanging Crew…will Dak be back for a final run with the Dogs? He graduated earlier this month with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Psychology and Physical Training.  His skill set certainly fits what NFL teams like to see from the position.  However, there is the possibility the 2015 Bulldogs could be better than this batch.

“We’ve got a lot of young guys that didn’t play or saw minimal reps that will come in and get better. We’re a talented team with a bunch of underrated freaks that can gets things done and win in this conference.”

“Underrated Freak” is a way to describe what Haughton head coach Rodney Guin and his Buccaneer coaching staff helped create in 2009 and 2010.  Only TCU joined LSU and MSU with scholarship offers from a “Power 5” team.

Guin was much more than a molder of football talent, though. Without a father around on a regular basis, Guin grew into the role for Dak and remains there to this day.   “

He’s always been there, even before I started playing for Haughton High because of the relationship I built with him when he coached my two older brothers. He’s everything a young man needs in his life; just being the great man he is today, that gives me and others a standard to live by.”

Imagine the feeling for Prescott, months after losing his mother when he found out his high school coach and role model suffered a massive heart attack.

“It was shocking, mind-blowing. I immediately tried to contact his family and the other coaches to see what was going on. The condition he was in when I got the news wasn’t comforting. Knowing the person he is, I never lost faith that he would fight through it and make a full recovery.”

This past season, when Mississippi State bounded off the bus at Davis-Wade Stadium on game day and made their way to the locker room through the crowd as part of their game-day ritual, Prescott had his eyes peeled for one man in the throng to deliver a bear-hug: Rodney Guin.

“That’s just the hug of love and being proud and thankful for the moment and thankful to him for helping me get to this position.  Being able to give him a hug to say, “thank you,” before I go play the game that I love.  He actually helped me get to this university…that’s a special moment each time I get to do that on the Dog Walk.”

The special moments on the field make an incredible highlight tape. The special moments from life make a message on a piece of tape around Dak Prescott’s wrists, the highlight of his day.