The most memorable part of the 2014 NCAA title game wasn’t Shabazz Napier, Julius Randle or any of the games but rather Big Rob and his kid.
By now, there is a good chance you have seen Rob Maiden and his 15-year-old son, Trey, getting down during the title game when the cameras at AT&T Stadium caught them doing their wonderfully executed dance to Pharrell’s Happy.
It was the best performance of the entire Final Four, generated the biggest cheers, a pop-culture splash that has not quite settled down.
Rob knew what he was doing. He is a veteran Mavs ManiAACs dancer, and he and his son rehearsed the dance the night before the title game. Immediately after the cameras at AT&T Stadium cut away for the game, the duo were overwhelmed by the fans, and media, that came to their seats.
Later in the night, Trey actually felt sick to the point where he asked his dad if they could leave with five minutes remaining in the game.
“Are you sure?” Rob asked his son. “All of this attention, these accolades — they’re done when we leave the building.”
Not entirely true. While at his job with the Dallas Cowboys in the accounting department the next morning, Rob received a phone call from the Today show. A few hours later, after pulling Trey out of Lancaster High School, the family was on the plane to NYC to meet Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie, Al Roker and Carson Daly.
“Couldn’t believe it; we got there and they all knew our names. The [producers] said Matt Lauer really wanted to get us,” said Maiden, who also took son Rob Jr. and wife LaDonna on the trip. “I had never been to New York. They put us in a five-star hotel, and we got to stay two nights. The Mavs and Cowboys really helped us with this.”
Since Today, the pair have performed on Fox & Friends and has made a number of local media appearances. Because he had to return to work, and his son to school, they couldn’t make every request that spanned from Washington, D.C., to LA. He said there is a chance at one more late-night appearance, for which he is holding out hope.
He also started a Facebook page called, “Get Rob & Trey to Ellen Show.”
“I have received messages from New Zealand, London and Ireland. I didn’t get it at first,” he said. “It was weird to see a dad dancing with his son. Then the question was, ‘How did you get your teenage son to do it with you?’ That part is a bit different.”
Rob Jr. helped devise some of the moves the night before the game, which happened to be his parents’ anniversary.
“We only had two tickets, and it’s my anniversary — I was going to be in the doghouse,” Maiden said. “My wife said, ‘It’s the NCAA championship game. Take Trey.’ ”
The moral of the story? Always go to the game, even on your anniversary.
My push to make Alexi Ogando the closer for the Texas Rangers is going to have to wait a year, after Joakim Soria leaves as a free agent.
Some of this is on Ogando’s unique ability to go longer than an inning, and some of this is on the Rangers’ inability to decide what role fits him best.
This man has dominant closer-stuff, but in his ascension to a role that from an ability standpoint should be his, the Rangers have screwed around with him so much they have stunted his development in a role he could dominate.
First, he was a reliever. Then the Rangers made him a starter, something that durability-wise he never could do. Now he’s back to being a reliever, and a setup guy for Soria, who is a one-season fix.
When the Rangers let Joe Nathan go in the off-season, there was no apparent replacement. Neftali Feliz’s brain reprogramming is apparently a work in progress in the minors, and he may be back within a week or two.
Baseball’s better closers are hard throwers with dominant out pitches, preferably fastball, slider. That’s Ogando.
“Ogando is going to get some more opportunities to close some ballgames,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said this past week.
Wash sounds like he has zero faith in Ogando to work out of mental jams just yet.
“He throws it hard and he’s got all of that. It’s not just about stuff,” Wash said when I asked him about Ogando getting more opportunities. “You gotta have nerves. You have to be able to settle down and do things when things aren’t falling in place. Like Joe Nathan.”
This part of the closer’s job makes it so difficult — one inning to be perfect when maybe nothing is going right. Guys such as Nathan could do it. Some guys can do it only for a season and they’re toast.
Stuff wise, Ogando has the tools. Mentally? The Rangers don’t think he’s ready yet.
The key isn’t Joeckel
Former Arlington quarterback Matt Joeckel’s decision to transfer from Texas A&M to TCU could be a nice marriage of convenience for both, but it will only really work if his offensive line can block.
Joeckel’s upside is that he is 6-foot-4, 230, 22 and knows the routine of big-time college football. He will have a clue. And his place on the roster should allow for Trevone Boykin to remain at receiver.
The downside is that a previous coaching staff apparently didn’t think he could play. There is a reason he wanted to leave College Station; he knew he was not going to play for Kevin Sumlin, and the head coach had no problem letting him go for precisely that reason.
Adding Joeckel works because it could allow TCU to redshirt incoming freshmen Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein.
But it’s only going to really work if he has time. Joeckel is a traditional pocket-passer who is not fleet of foot. If his line can provide him some space, Joeckel could be a nice bridge to the long-term answer for TCU.
The final word
Props to both Stars GM Jill Nill and the Mavs for major gambles they made in July that are paying off.
Acquiring Tyler Seguin for the Stars and guard Monta Ellis for the Mavs is the biggest reason those teams are in the playoffs.
Follow Mac Engel on The Big Mac Blog at star-telegram.com/sports/.