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Sports Update: Poinsettia Bowl, SDSU Basketball, Chargers Playoff Hopes


What are the key matchups to watch in tonight's Poinsettia Bowl game featuring SDSU versus Navy? How good is the Aztecs Men's Basketball team? And, what needs to happen for the Chargers to make the playoffs? We speak to Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton about the top local sports stories.

What are the key matchups to watch in tonight's Poinsettia Bowl game featuring SDSU versus Navy? How good is the Aztecs Men's Basketball team? And, what needs to happen for the Chargers to make the playoffs? We speak to Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton about the top local sports stories.


Lee "Hacksaw" Hamilton, host of "Sportswatch" on XX1090, weekdays from 10-2 p.m.

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This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. To Aztecs fans awaiting the poinsettia bowl, what a difference a day makes. Qualcom stadium crews seem to have turned off the impossible, turning yesterday's swimming pool back into a stadium for today's game between SDSU and Navy. For an update on the Pacific Beach and other sports news. I'd like to welcome my guest, Lee Hacksaw Hamilton, local sports talkshow host. Lee Hamilton hosts sports watch on XX1090 weekdays from 10:00 to 2:00. And Lee, good morning. Happy holidays.

HAMILTON: Good morning, were you out there pupping water?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I was tempted but I didn't actually get myself to did it.

HAMILTON: Let's give a gold star to the guys at Qualcom stadium. Our people were out there yesterday afternoon as your people probably were too. And it was unbelievable. 50 percent of the football field was under water, both side lines were under water, huge, I'd say 70 percent of the parking lot was under water, and obviously they pumped it out of the stadium. I don't know where they sent it after it came out of the stadium because everything else was so soggy. But I'm very, very impressed, the sun is shining, we're back to vintage San Diego weather, and the nation will get a nice good postcard shot of the city today.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Do you know what the field conditions are of the stadium?

HAMILTON: It's been covered since last Thursday, since the Chargers game against the 49ers. But there were water standing on top of it, and obviously all of the rain, it's probably gonna be a little bit soggy. I think it'll probably be a little bit slick. I think the side lines are gonna be a quagmire. But I think the field will hold up, and the fact this we got a whole at a of sunshine here ahead of us is probably gonna be a great great help.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So Lee, give us a preview of tonight's ball game featuring SDSU versus Navy. How do the two teams match up.

HAMILTON: You know, Maureen, when they first formed the Pacific Beach a few years ago, I thought to myself, Joe, do we need another bowl here? The holiday bowl has such great history and legacy to our community, and has featured some just fabulous shootout games, and I thought, boy, I don't know if this is gonna work. But it has worked this year. They're gonna have 52000 probably for the game tonight, now that the sun has come out, which is probably. And obviously Navy is a great draw because this is such a military community, and they're bricking everybody from Annapolis, I don't think there's anybody left in Annapolis today outside of Baltimore. But the fact that the Aztecs program has turned and there's been a huge huge sale of tickets. I think San Diego state sold out it's first 7500 tickets lickety-split, then they asked for more. So it's gonna be a great turn out. Half the stadium will be red and black, the other half will be screaming anchors away. So that's gonna be fun. In terms of on the field, you've knot two very, very different football team, San Diego state throws the ball a lot. Ryan lilly is finishing up his third straight year as a starter, and he's on track to probably bust all the records at San Diego state by the time he is done. They do go down the field a lot. Navy runs kind of a wish bone option attack but they also have a very good quarter back that not only runs want the option but it drops back and throws. Robby Dobbs who's gonna be commissioned in a couple weeks in the Navy is go aboard a cruiser upon graduation, Ricky Dobbs is the most prolific throwing quarterback in the history of the navy football, and there have been some really good quarter backs like Roger Staubach of the Dallas Cowboys who played at the naval academy. This is gonna be a fascinating game because I have no doubt that the Aztecs are gonna go by air, and I have no doubt that the navy is gonna go by land, even thought the football field probably resembles a sea.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Exactly right. Now. SDSU hasn't played in a bowl game since 1998. How of big of a deal is this for Aztec football?

HAMILTON: It's capturing the fancy of the community. This is step one for what you hope is none be a three step program. The first days hoped the coach would have changed the program, change the culture of his own precedents and how he wanted to operate, and remember this guy turned the bowl state football program around. When Brady Hoke started that they were 1 and 25, and when he was done, they were 12 and 0. He has turned what have been a decade worth of losses into a football pro program. So it is really step one. Step two will be next year, which will be get back to a bowl game, it may be a bigger bowl game, maybe win the mountain west playoffs, that would be huge, and then obviously step three would be to keep this coach here, because when you're at a midlevel, midmajor football program like San Diego State is and you have success, guys come cherry pick your coach, and after one good season in the turnaround, Brady Hoke had conversations with a bunch of people, and of course Michigan, the university of Michigan is still very much out there looming in the distance as a school that he might take a look at. But that's down road. So yeah, is it big for San Diego state? It's the start for something big if they can hold onto this coach.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, Lee, I hear you'll be hosting a special broadcast from the Poinsettia bowl tonight. Tell us about that.

HAMILTON: Well, I couldn't find my umbrellas in the closet last night. So lucky me, the sun is shining, we're gonna be out there doing our sports talk show at double X, special Poinsettia pregame show, it starts at 1:00, and we're gonna go right up to 4:00 o'clock. And then our pregame show on radio and of course we'll have the Aztecs and the naval academy broad cast on double X. But it's neat. I have such great respect for the people in the community, the sports council, the people that formulated the holiday bowl back in the day lead by John reed, and the hard work of guys like their current executive director, Bruce Binkowski, and all the guys that to all this volunteer working and there's not a lot of pays executives that are there, putting this game on. And they work enormous hours. So it's gonna be fun. It's the only bowl game in the nation tonight. So there will be a whole country who will be watching Navy and trying to figure out who San Diego state is and obviously fascinated by the fact that the stadium was under water yesterday. So what a great post guard we get to be able to sell the nation about the beauty of San Diego, and the bowl game. I mean, the people in the community that have made this really special need to be credited for all the hard work.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You know, as momentous as this is for the Aztec football program, this is not the only Aztec news we sa. We have the Aztecs men basketball team now ranked 14 and O, seventh in the nation. How good is this basketball team, Lee.

HAMILTON: Oh, I think it's very good, Maureen. You don't get to be seventh in the nation unless you have respect, not only from opponent but you have respect from coaches around the country because in the coaches' pole. They are also rated there. . And there are a lot of good bask ball players in the country, and there are a lot of good basketball teams in the country, but for San Diego to be a midmajor and to be ranked seventh at this point, in all likelihood, they're gonna get to the conference schedule with a 15 and O record. I will tell you, they have a very good team, a very athletic team, a very deep, depth wise team. But this conference is really good. The top four teams in the mountain west conference, San Diego state, BYU, New Mexico, those guys have a combined record of 46 and 4 as of this morning. And the conference play has not even started. So it's gonna be fascinating to watch 81s woo get to the first week of January, and then start -- they move into conference basketball games, how will Aztecs are gonna shape up against Nevada, Las Vegas, which is obviously nationally ranked and the other ones too. It's gonna be a fun college basketball season. And I won't tell anybody that I saw you sitting in the front row of the in-house arena with your face painted. Basketball fever is everywhere in this community. Everyone is so excited they're drawing crowds of 12000 for every home game. That used to be the exception to the rule. Maybe a big game to draw a near sell out, but they're selling out virtually every one of these home games. So Steve fisher has done just a tremendous job in terms of recruiting and building this basketball program.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, do the Aztec basketball team have any tough match ups in the next few weeks? Don't they get a long break somewhere in there.

HAMILTON: Yeah, they're coming home. They're kind of limping home. [CHECK] holiday tournament, and they really struggled in both those games against lesser competition. And they got some nagging injuries and they have had, I think, four play ares who have tried to play through the flu, which has been really, really hard. But they're gonna be off for a period of time before we get into the first week of January, and obviously [CHECK].

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, there are things happen think that don't have to do with the Aztecs, I want to talk to you about the Chargers, they're 8 and 6 this weekend, in sin sip. What needs to happen for the Chargers to make the playoffs.

HAMILTON: They need to found a friend. First they need to win their final two games in Cincinnati and then really [CHECK] Denver that final week of the season, both those teams are really down. I do think the Chargers will win those two. But Kansas city has to lose a game, and San Diego win its two for San Diego to win the division. Of and Kansas city is playing its final two games at Arrowhead stadium. And they're playing Tennessee, which is a mess, is the Oakland raiders of all people. And as I left on our talk show, the Chargers need to find a friend to knock out Kansas city. Could you imagine a day in this community, Maureen, where a Chargers fan would route for the raiders?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: It takes a lot.

HAMILTON: [CHECK] the raiders could cause Kansas city some problems. But the flip side of that is that the raiders for the most part are out of the playoffs, and if they get bombed by Indianapolis on Sunday, maybe they raise the white flag, and they [CHECK] and they won't be the same team. If they do beat Indianapolis, then I think they'll go in with full force [CHECK].

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, wide receiver Vince Jackson, he went off last Thursday storing three touch towns against the 49ers. How important is Jackson to the Chargers' success, and what are the chances he's gonna be with the team next season.

HAMILTON: Well, as you and I have spoken in the past about the contract dispute that really marred the first half of the season, and obviously some big decisions were made by management, and equally bad decisions made by the wide receiver to turn down the first contract offer, then they wound up cutting the contract, then they found out suspecting him, when he didn't sign the contract, and finally he came back to camp after his suspension was served, [CHECK] I think he's an integral part to what they do offensively. And I just -- I think he -- it's incumbent upon this team to get its behest players in cap and on the field for all 16 games, and this is not gonna be the case with Vincent Johnson. And there's till gonna be argument about what his real dollar value amount is to the Chargers. If you look at what he's done the last two weeks, is he finally got healthy, postsuspension, guy's made big contributions of [CHECK] which is phenomenal in the league, and he's got three touchdowns out of the seven representations, I think he's one of the primary reasons they have been able to continue to win when you consider all the other injuries they have to their star tight end, Antonio gates and so many of their other wide receivers are beat up. I got a funny feeling though wee gonna be talking about Vincent Jackson, contract value, maybe [CHECK].

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Talking about management decisions, finally just a word about the Padres deciding to trade star first base man Adrian Gonzalez to the Boston Red Sox. What would you like to play about the Padres' off season moves.

HAMILTON: Well, it's been hard to swallow. But it's the reality of small market baseball, what San Diego was forced to do because they could not afford a $16 million a year prayer. What San Diego has been forced to do is no different what Pittsburgh has done, what Kansas city has done. A bunch of the other small market teams. I think that the intriguing aspect of this, limited budget, but their general manager Jud Hoyer came from Boston, as did their farm director, Jason McCloud and I've laughed and joked about this on the talk show, and I've written chums about it. The one key aspect is those guys really had inside information about the players and the Red Sox farm system, by the time they get done with the trading of Adrian Gonzales, they wound up with three can't miss prospects, the only problem is they're not gonna be in the major leagues. But because they were in Boston's organization, they know the difference between junk and jewels. And I think the general consensus of baseball people off campus is that it turned to be a win-win deal. Adrian goes to Boston where he will hit a ton of home runs, San Diego turns out to get a win-win here because they're getting three really good prospects. The other piece of the equation is the Padres in the last week have gone out and acquired a form upper all star short stop, they've acquired a very productive leadoff hitter and second baseman, has been an upgrade from what was here last seen, and the other factor is, by virtue of the deals they've made, they also picked up a center fielder in trade, they didn't trade any of their jewels in their Farm system, and they did not touch their pitching staff, which has really been the corn upper stone of success that they had last year. However, at the on set, they got a huge hole at first base. I don't know how you replace 32 home runs and a 298 batting average. They haven't done it as today, it's gonna be interesting to see what the next couple weeks bring. Because they got one more acquisition to make, and it's gonna be somebody's first baseman, but it's not gonna be the equal of Adrian Gonzalez.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Finally, Lee, which does that special broad cast for the poinsettia bowl begin again.

HAMILTON: We'll be on the air today for all of your listeners who might be sports fans, we'd like them to be part of our show. We start at 1:00 o'clock in section D2, right next to the high water, in the parking lot at Qualcom stadium.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Take your mask with you there just so can see the game.

HAMILTON: My snorkels and my kayak is strapped to the vehicle.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Lee Hacksaw Hamilton, thank you. Happy holidays.

HAMILTON: Merry Christmas, Maureen. We'll talk to you again.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. And of course Lee Hamilton hosts a sports talkshow, Sports Watch at double x 1090 weekdays from 10 to 2:00 PM. And you're listening to KPBS. If you'd like to comment, Days. Coming up, San Diegans react to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. That's coming up as These Days continues here on KPBS.

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