JOHN GRANATO

I miss Blain Padgett

Blain Padgett was taken far too young. Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

Last Friday former Rice football player Stuart Mouchantaf was arrested and charged with delivering a controlled substance which led to the death of Blain Padgett. They played on the defensive line together in 2015 when Blain was a freshman. It’s a second degree felony. Mouchantaf faces anywhere from two to twenty years in prison.

The Padgetts face every day without their son, brother, grandson, nephew and cousin.

The rest of us do too.

In case you don’t know, Mouchantaf allegedly sold Blain what Blain thought was hydrocodone. One pill wasn’t. It was the equivalent of an elephant tranquilizer. Blain took it and died in his sleep hours later.

Your initial reaction may be that he shouldn’t have taken any illegal drug and you would be right. But this wasn’t for party purposes. It was for pain. He was recovering from surgery.

He was finally cleared to resume full football activity. He was excited to work out the next morning. He talked to his mom and dad for about an hour and a half that night and went to bed.

I know all this because I was with Blain before he talked to his parents. He and my son JT lived together before JT transferred from Rice. My wife and I stopped by their house. We sat outside and talked about football, his new coach, his health, his workout, his parents.

He was going to be an NFL prospect. He was that good.

That that one mistake could end all that so quickly is incomprehensible. But it did. And it happens all too often in this country.

The numbers are staggering but that’s all they are until it’s someone you know and love that dies. Then it’s real.

But while thousands are dying every year in this country, every day millions worldwide take something they shouldn’t and still wake up the next morning. It’s literally Russian Roulette. That night the bullet was in Blain’s chamber.

He was by no means a druggie. He loved his beer and country music. He was a giant teddy bear. He loved to laugh.

One time he walked right past JT’s truck into his own and still backed right into JT’s. I never let him forget it.

He would listen to my radio show and tell me how dumb I was for something I said. I’d ask him how someone so dumb could get into Rice.

He was terrible at golf but great fun to play with. We would laugh at three or four of his shots a round. He’d laugh along with us.

Unfortunately most of you reading this didn’t know Blain. For you it’s probably just another story.

For the Padgetts it’s a nightmare they can’t wake up from.

There probably weren’t a handful of days that went by that Blain didn’t talk to his mom, dad or sisters.

Blain’s dad Mical played linebacker at Texas. Blain was bigger and played defensive end but they were almost the same guy. They talked football like mathematicians talk formulas.

There was no less love for his mom and sisters.

Two years ago Rice had practice on Thanksgiving morning so instead of driving all the way to Sour Lake, Blain and a couple other players had Thanksgiving dinner at our house.

Before we ate my wife made all of us write down what we were thankful for then we guessed who wrote what. We do it every year. JT never takes it seriously so we knew which one was his. Blain’s was easy too.

All it said was “mom dad my sisters.”

For some reason my wife saved it.  

JT spoke at Blain’s funeral and at the end gave the Padgetts that piece of paper. It’s proof of what they meant to him. But they didn’t need that proof. They knew.

I only knew Blain for about three years but I can’t stop thinking about him.

I don’t want to stop though and I’m sure I’m not alone.

He was only 21 but Blain was loved by thousands of people. I have never seen a bigger funeral than his and I’m old. I’ve seen a lot of funerals. All of Sour Lake was there and then some. They played his favorite country songs and told stories that made you laugh and cry.

Everyone there cried that day. I still want to.

If this article does nothing other than keep Blain alive in someone’s mind one more day then it was a success.

I miss Blain.

If you knew him you do too.

 

Are Buzz Williams and the Aggies No. 1?

Fresh off a run to the championship game by Texas Tech and some high profile recent coaching hires in both football and basketball, the state of Texas appears to be in great shape when it comes to Division I college coaching duos. We ranked each sport, then took the total. The lower the score, the better. It's a pretty impressive group. We stayed with the six biggest programs (SMU would be No. 7, but there simply is not enough to go on to rank beyond that). Here is how your duo stacks up:

6) Baylor (10 points)

Baylor v Syracuse

Getty Images

Scott Drew (fifth in the basketball rankings) has built a perennial tournament team at Baylor, but they have never been able to get past the Elite Eight. Still, he has been very good. Matt Ruhle (fifth among football coaches) took over a mess of a program and after a one-win season got the Bears to a bowl game last year and could take another step this year.

5) TCU (9)

TCU football coach Gary Patterson Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Gary Patterson (3) has been one of the best coaches in the state for a long time and the Frogs are lucky to have him. Jamie Dixon (6) put up a resume as impressive as anyone's at Pitt but has missed the NCAAs twice in two years at TCU.

4) Texas Tech (7)

Chris Beard. Sarah Stier/Getty Images

It's hard to argue with Chris Beard (1) as the top coach in the state, considering he was just minutes from a title and there is no reason to think he can't continue to thrive. Matt Wells (6) was an off-season hire who came off a 10-win season at Utah State but also had only three winning seasons in six years there and this is a tough step up.

2t) Texas (6)

University of Texas football coach Tom Herman Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Longhorns might have found the right guy in Tom Herman (2) for football, as Texas already has a New Year's Six win, his second as a head coach in the state. Shaka Smart (4) has been a mixed bag at the school, but is one of only three coaches in the state with a Final Four appearance.

2t) Houston (6)

Kelvin Sampson. Bob Levey/Getty Images

Kelvin Sampson (2) has engineered a remarkable turnaround with the basketball team with two straight appearances and a bright future. He also has a Final Four in his past. He has taken four different schools to the tournament. Dana Holgorsen (4) did well in a tough place at West Virginia and should thrive at Houston. He remains one of the best play callers in college football.

1) Texas A&M (4)

Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies debuted with a win. Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Jimbo Fisher (1) has scoreboard with a football national title at Florida State. He did a nice job in his first year at A&M and the future looks incredibly bright, although there will always be that pesky Alabama, LSU and Auburn to deal with. Buzz Williams (3) was a home run hire who had success in a tough Big East and then the rugged ACC. Aggie basketball should be a factor for years to come.

The basketball rankings

1) Beard

2) Sampson

3) Williams

4) Smart

5) Drew

6) Dixon

I had a tough time ranking 4-6, so I went to college basketball A.J. Hoffman, and this is how he ranked them.

The football rankings

1) Fisher

2) Herman

3) Patterson

4) Holgorsen

5) Ruhle

6) Wells

This one seemed a lot more clear cut, although you could make arguments among the top three. Would you trade your duo for any of these?

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome