HALL PASS

Fred Faour: Houston's Sports Hall of Fame is a great idea, but they better have a LOT of room

Hakeem Olajuwon is perhaps the greatest athlete in Houston's history. Photo by Tim DeFrisco/ALLSPORT/Getty Images

Last week’s Houston Sports Awards were a rousing success. Several of Houston’s best were honored, including the three “34s,” Hakeem Olajuwon, Earl Campbell and Nolan Ryan. As an offshoot, the Houston Sports Hall of Fame was announced, with those three as the first inductees.

The Hall is an excellent idea. It will be a cool addition to Houston’s downtown area and a great way to highlight Houston’s greatest. There will be no shortage of deserving athletes. As with any Hall, the question will be who is voting, what is the criteria and who will be eligible?

Campbell and Olajuwon are no-brainers. Ryan’s selection is a little questionable, as he had his best years in California and Arlington and is in the baseball Hall of Fame as a Ranger. But he is a legend in the city and would no doubt be inducted at some point, and he played into the “34s” theme, so no real complaint there.

But who else should be in there? You could induct more than 30 additional athletes/contributors right now. Astros Hall of Famers Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell are locks. So, too, is Warren Moon. The Rockets have no shortage of additional potential honorees such as Clyde Drexler, Yao Ming, Rudy Tomjanovich and Calvin Murphy. Olympian Carl Lewis might be the most accomplished athlete this city has ever seen and gets overlooked in any “best of” list. Mary Lou Retton and Laura Wilkinson should make it as Olympians. If you consider Tara Lipinski as part of Houston, she is in. Simone Biles has already done enough.

Andre Johnson will be the Texans representative. The Oilers could also offer up Robert Brazille, Dan Pastorini, Bruce Matthews and Mike Munchak.

You could also devote an entire wing to University of Houston quarterbacks. Andre Ware won a Heisman. David Klingler shattered many records, including Ware’s. Case Keenum’s UH career topped them both. Greg Ward, Jr. was the most successful of all of them.

The Cougars also had several basketball players who belong besides Drexler and Olajuwon. Elvin Hayes and Don Chaney in particular should be in.

As for coaches? Guy V. Lewis and Bill Yeoman. Wayne Graham at Rice. Bum Phillips. Dave Williams, the legendary UH golf coach.

If you put in owners? Les Alexander was already honored with a lifetime achievement award and would also belong. So, too, would Bob McNair, simply for bringing the NFL back to Houston.

Boxer George Foreman and race car driver A.J. Foyt are Houston legends and absolute locks as well.

In 2004, the city saluted 38 legends as a tie-in to Super Bowl 38. You could certainly argue against many on that list, but there have also been several new faces since then. After all, that was 14 years ago.

As John Granato wrote last week, the city has more star power than anyone right now, so when the current crop becomes eligible, you already have several players who would be first ballot, starting with Jose Altuve, J.J. Watt and James Harden. DeAndre Hopkins, Jadeveon Clowney and Deshaun Watson are Texans who could someday make enough of an impact to qualify. The Astros are loaded with young talent and could easily dominate the Hall in a few years. Having already won a title, guys like Carlos Correa and George Springer are well on their way.

For a city short on championships, Houston has no shortage of great athletes. The Hall of Fame better have a lot of room.

 

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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