GOW MEDIA'S BIG MONTH

David Gow: A peek inside the family

A.J. Hoffman (center) and Fred Faour (right) had the No. 1 sports show in the city in January. Kirsten Gilliam Photography

Last year I caught up with an old friend.  Amazingly, during the conversation, he failed to tell me some exciting news about his kids.  They had gotten exceptionally good grades and were on their way to Stanford.  A very exciting time!  Yet, out of modesty, he said nothing, and I had to learn the big news from a third party.   His omission almost made me feel left out.

Today I will not make the same mistake.  I will share with you some exciting news about “the kids” at the station, who recently got a very good report card.  When Nielsen ratings came out last week, ESPN 97.5 FM finished with the three top-rated sports shows in the city (for Men, ages 25-54, the standard metric for sports).  The top three shows:

No. 1: The Blitz, with Fred Faour and AJ Hoffman; weekdays 4-7 p.m.

No 2:  The Usual Suspects, with Joel Blank and Barry Laminack; weekdays 1-4 p. m. 

No. 3:  The Bench (John and Lance!), with John Granato and Lance Zierlein; weekdays 7-9 a.m.

As always, there is a story behind the successes.    

  • At 8-years old, The Blitz is now the longest continuous-running sports-talk show in the city.  Fred and A.J. do their homework and know all-things-sports.  For that matter, Fred is now also the cerebral editor of SportsMap.com.  But do not consider them the class nerds.  Fred and A.J. talk sports with an edge, perhaps an air of cool.      

  • The Usual Suspects launched one year ago, almost as an odd couple. Joel came from the Rockets and seemed to see everything through the prism of sports.  Barry won our Rock the Mic contest and as a stand-up comic, seemed to see everything through the prism of humor.  Like most good couples, the two have found a solid, compelling balance.  Sports and humor?  Absolutely: the odd couple is now a successful couple.

  • The Bench.  There are many famous duos: Bert and Ernie, Batman and Robin, Heckle and Jeckle, etc.  But in the history of Houston sports talk, John and Lance stand apart.  When we got the opportunity to reunite them, I knew they would be successful; what I did not know was how quickly the market would come.  In this first ratings book since the reunion, they are No. 1 in their daypart.  And they are just getting (re)started.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the other kids.  In middays, Raheel and Del are rising stars on 97.5.  We have one of the country’s top authorities on soccer, Glenn Davis, who hosts Soccer Matters on Tuesday evenings.  Also, I am often asked: what ever happened to Charlie Pallilo?  We got him.  He is on SportsMap 94.1 FM, weekdays from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. And 94.1 FM now includes Golic and Wingo, Barry Warner, Charlie, Nate and Creight and the Sean Salisbury Show.  Check it out!   

Finally, as you read the names above, the family is big now.  Bluntly, we have more sports experts in our building than any other media company in the city.  What do we do with them all?  Our “Stanford” is our new media and new platforms.  All members of the team are now talking on air, writing on sportsmap.com and now appearing on videos here on the site.  A very exciting time!   

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It more of the same from the Houston Texans. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Sunday afternoon provided a high-res snapshot of the state of Houston sports. The Astros, already assured of the best record in the American League, played a game they didn’t need to win. The Astros won, ho-hum, their 104th win of the season.

Meanwhile, eight miles away, the Texans, mired in last place with fan support dwindling, played a game they really needed to win. The Texans lost 34-24 to the Los Angeles Chargers in front of (giggle) 69,071 fans at NRG Stadium. The Texans really ought to stop saying the stands are packed. Every time a team punts, and cameras follow the ball skyward, there are thousands of empty seats on display. I know the NFL methodology for determining attendance, (total tickets sold, no-shows don’t count) but it just looks silly when the Texans announce 69,000 fans.

The Texans came close as usual before sputtering to another defeat. The Texans now stand at 0-3-1, the only winless team in the NFL. It’s the second time in three years they’ve started a season without a victory after four games. It’s telling to note that not one of the Texans opponents has a winning record for 2022.

In other words, the Texans have played four games they shoulda/coulda won. Shouda against the Colts, Broncos and Bears, and coulda against the Chargers.

Should/coulda four wins. Instead, none.

That’s the Texans. They’re in every game but can’t close the deal. Yeah, yeah, on Monday we hear, “the Texans are playing hard for coach Lovie Smith” and “they’re competitive” and “they’re a young team.” These are NFL equivalents of a participation trophy.

Sunday’s loss to the Chargers at NRG Stadium was straight out of the Texans playbook. Fall behind, make it interesting, lose. The Texans stuck to their script, timid play calling, momentum-crushing penalties (nine for 67 yards), self-inflicted drops, lackluster quarterbacking and Rex Burkhead on the field for crunch time. After one play where a Texan player was called for holding, the announcer said, “and he did a poor job of holding.”

Statuesque quarterback David Mills keeps saying “we’re in a good spot” and “we’re improving.” Statuesque as in he doesn’t move – or barely moves to avoid sacks. Sunday saw his first touchdown pass to a wide receiver. He’s now thrown four interceptions in the past two games. Let’s go to the tote board: 5 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, 4 fumbles, 11 sacks, qbr rating 28.5 – good for 28th in the league.

A bright spot, sort of. This was the first week the Texans didn’t cover the spread. They’re now 1-2-1 against Vegas oddsmakers, meaning you’ve won money if you took the Texans all four weeks. They head to Jacksonville next as early 6.5-point underdogs.

Meanwhile, Alabama’s brilliant quarterback Bryce Young, who will be available for the Texans when they draft first in 2023 (as Paul Heyman says, that’s not a prediction, that’s a spoiler), suffered a shoulder injury last Saturday. The Texans need to take out a Lloyds of London insurance policy on Young.

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