THE AAC REPORT

The UH/AAC Report: rough week for some, cruise control for others

As the AAC enters week two of the season, we start to see who's who. Some teams are challenged in ways others aren't by playing Power 5 schools. Others smash Group of 5 weaklings and continue to roll. When conference play starts, all that goes out the window. This week will see more tests and cupcakes for AAC teams.

UH outlasts PVU

The Cougars won 37-17 over a team they should've hung at least 50 or more on. The margin of victory should've been at least 30 or more. A team who fancies themselves as an offensive juggernaut has to do more against a much lesser opponent. The 24 points they scored in the first quarter was great, especially giving up only 3 points. But being outscored 14 to 13 in the remaining three quarters is awful. The Cougars are going to have to make some serious adjustments if they plan on being taken serious in Dana Holgorsen's first season as head coach.

Other key results

UCF 48, FAU 14: The Golden Knights continue to roll with an easy win over the fighting Lane Kiffins. Another 500+ yards of offense despite a -11 minute disadvantage in time of possession.

Auburn 24, Tulane 6: Holding a top 10 team under 30 points in a loss is considered a moral victory in my book. Coach Fritz continues to improve the Green Wave as they're a team to watch.

Memphis 55, Southern 24:The Tigers of Memphis are on a roll despite losing some NFL talent the last couple years. Southern gave them a bit of a fight, but they managed an easy win anyway.

Stars of the week

Xavier Jones, RB, SMU: Jones had 16 carries for 127 yards and three touchdowns in their 49-27 win over North Texas. The Mustangs are a passing team, but if the run game can produce like this, look out.

Gabriel Davis, WR, UCF: Although he ddin't have a touchdown catch, I think Davis is showing some NFL potential. Three catches for 98 yards is impressive when you see his 6'3 212lb frame going against college defensive backs.

Darius Pinnix Jr, RB, ECU: the 6'0 234lb bowling ball totaled 134 yards and a touchdown in a 48-9 win over Gardner-Webb. He's another NFL-sized guy going against smallish defenders and making it count.

5 games to watch this week

Houston vs Washington State

UCF vs Stanford

Temple vs Maryland

Tulsa vs Oklahoma State

ECU vs Navy

3 players to watch this week

D'Eriq King, Houston: Two pooor performances to start the season is uncharacteristic. Despite coming off ACL surgery, he should be showing better.

Gabriel Davis, UCF: Seeing him go against Power 5 defensive backs will be interesting. This whole offense should be watched to see how they'll perform.

Justin McMillan, Tulane: Coming off a loss to Auburn, Missouri State shouldn't provide much of a challenge for the Cedar Hill native.

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The Supreme Court came to a decision this week. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.

Since the Astros seem to be doing fine without my help and a decision on Deshaun Watson’s future is still a few days away, I’m going to touch on a different subject from a different point of view on sports.

Earlier this week the U.S. Supreme court ruled that a public school district in Washington State deprived a high school football coach of his First Amendment rights of free speech and religious expression by suspending him after he refused to stop leading prayer sessions with his players on the field after games.

The ruling determined that the school board overstepped its authority, even though the coach is a government employee and the football field was public property.

I’m not going to get into separation of church and state, First Amendment rights or constitutional debate, conservative vs. liberal, secular vs. religion-affiliated, or the coach’s dedication to his faith.

I’m saying it’s not a good idea for a coach at a public school to lead players in prayers connected to one denomination of the U.S. religious community. Here’s why:

Several years ago, I was a manager in a youth baseball league. The age group for the kids was 12-13 years old. League officials discovered that one of the managers was instructing his players to kneel in the dugout while he recited a Christian prayer.

The league asked the coach to stop leading his young players in prayer. He did. After the season, the coach and I discussed the matter. He explained that his faith was so strong, he wanted to spread the comfort it brought him.

I offered my view that parents, those who wish to, send their kids to churches and temples and mosques, where qualified religion instructors guide the children spiritually. These leaders often get to know the families in their congregation and understand their needs. I didn’t believe that parents who register their kids for youth baseball expect the coach to offer religious guidance. You’re a kids’ baseball coach. You’re out of your league. We're still good. We say hello at local burger joints.

A couple of years later, I was covering the Little League World Series in South Williamsport. I attended a press conference with one of the coaches. He said he was disappointed that his team didn’t win the championship, but he was pleased that he got the chance to instill some religion in his players through prayer.

That was Little League, the most public and American of institutions. I think a Little League coach should teach kids how to catch fly balls, hit a baseball and never slide into a base head-first. And that’s pretty much it. Oh, and never tell a child “just don’t strike out” because that guarantees he’ll be back in the dugout in three pitches.

A youth sports coach is a pretty powerful person in a neighborhood. They’re volunteering their time, so thanks for that. If a player feels uncomfortable praying to an entity that isn’t part of his family’s faith, that’s unfair to the player, who may not want to upset or alienate his coach. The idea is to find commonality among a team, not divide the players.

There are few people more influential in a town than the high school football coach. Players and their parents often do not want to upset the coach or create a problem that has nothing to do with skill level. Or give the coach reason to think the kid is not a “team player,” not one of the guys. At least not one of the coach’s guys.

The Washington State public school coach did not force his players to join him on the field for prayer after games. But some parents of players on that team said their kids felt compelled to join the prayer session. At least do it in private, so fans can't see who's on the field and who's not.

It creates a situation where if a player doesn’t go on the field for prayers, and the coach later benches him – for whatever reason – it could be a problem. You know how competitive high school football can be. College scholarships are riding on a player’s on-field performance. Parents could say to the coach, you benched my kid because he didn’t pray with you and you’re a bigot.

It just creates problems that aren’t necessary.

I know, this is America and the Supreme Court is the final word on what is constitutional and what isn’t. So now public school coaches can lead their players in public prayer on public property.

Doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

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