Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Per ESPN, K-State the #20 Program since 1997

I'm late to the party (as usual) but ESPN ranked all 119 Division I-A football programs based on their performance the last 10 years. The boys from The Little Apple ended up 20th. Not too shabby, in my opinion. I could make an argument that we should be in front of a few teams ahead of us, but there's also an argument that we could be lower. All in all, a pretty fair ranking.

It also makes me wonder where we would have been ranked if this would have been done after 2003. At that point, we would have been 100-27 with one conference championship over the previous 10 years. That's a .787 winning percentage, which is better than any team in the nation over the last decade. Obviously we wouldn't have been number one based on winning percentage alone, but my guess is easily top 15, if not top 10.

All that is nice to speculate on, but we need to focus on this season and getting back to that level. At this point, I project us as a 7-5 team this year. Obviously that can change upward if we see improved play on the offensive side of the ball (particularly the line and Josh Freeman), but it could trend downward if the line makes no strides and Freeman is inconsistent like he was last year.

None of this should be construed as me being impatient with Ron Prince. If we go 7-5 or better this year, I'll be content. But that's for this year. I want to see the Cats back to winning nine, 10, or 11 games per year. I want to see some Big 12 North titles. I want to see us challenge the South's dominance of the conference title game. At this point, that might sound like a pipe dream. But K-State football taught me that's not a dream. It can be reality.

God I'm excited for football season. Can you tell?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

2007 Season Preview: San Jose State

Game Two:


2006 Record: 9-4 (5-3)
Conference: Western Athletic (WAC)
Returning starters: Six offensive, seven defensive

Game Information
Saturday, September 8
Manhattan, Kan., Bill Snyder Family Stadium
6:05 p.m. Central Daylight Time

When San Jose State has the ball...

Week two will bring another team with an experienced quarterback. Senior Adam Tafralis (181-276, 2284 yards, 21 TDs/7 INTs) leads the Spartan attack, with a 19-5 career record for SJSU. Tafralis is a big guy at 6'1", 219 pounds, but isn't much of a running threat (90 carries, 224 yards last year).

K-State fans will find themselves reminiscing about the days of Darren Sproles when SJSU running back Yonus Davis takes the field. The senior is only 5'7" and 180 pounds, but put up some big numbers last year (163 carries, 1007 yards, 6.2 yards per carry, 6 TDs).

The Spartans lost both of their starting wide receivers from last year, and their top returnee had all of three catches last year. This unit should be an area of definite concern for SJSU, as they will be relying entirely on new faces.

Along the offensive line, the Spartans return only two starters from last year (center Justin Paysinger, left guard John Booker), along with tight end Jeff Clark. This group did a good job last year, clearing the way to 175.6 rushing yards per game. The pass protection was a little more suspect, giving up 20 sacks. The Spartans will need to replace that run blocking and find a left tackle to protect Tafralis' blind side.

When K-State has the ball...

The Spartans return three of four defensive line starters from a unit that gave up 148.4 rushing yards per game last year. The returnees include Justin Cole, Jerome Pulu and Jarron Gilbert (combined for 19.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks). This is not a large group, however, as the three average only 267 pounds (Cole checks in at only 240).

At linebacker, SJSU has two returning starters, Demetrius Jones and Matt Castelo (combined 243 tackles, 13 TFL, 0 sacks and 1 INT). Castelo is a particularly efficient tackler, registering 165 tackles by himself last year. The Spartans linebackers don't appear to do much with regard to rushing the passer or defending the pass, registering zero sacks, one interception and three pass breakups last season.

Both cornerbacks return for the Spartans, but both safeties were lost. The cornerbacks are Dwight Lowery and Christopher Owens, who combined for 98 tackles, 13 INTs (nine for Lowery alone), and 12 PBUs.


K-State Offense vs. San Jose State Defense

The Spartans were not particularly solid against the run last year with their undersized defensive line. The Wildcats need to use their bigger linemen to establish a running game with Leon Patton and James Johnson, because SJSU's front four hounds passers. If we can get the run going, a few nicely timed play-action passes should keep the defense on its heels. Freeman will want to avoid throwing toward Lowery's side of the field, but if we can get some receivers downfield against the Spartans inexperienced safeties, big things might happen.

K-State Defense vs. San Jose State Offense

Tafralis probably won't be intimidated by playing in Manhattan, as the Spartans will travel to Tempe and play Arizona State the first week of the season. He's a pretty well-poised QB who doesn't make very many mistakes (3-to-1 TD-to-INT ratio last year). However his lack of mobility may be a liability against the K-State pass rush. The Cats will need a good game from their front seven to prevent SJSU from establishing its rushing attack. If the Spartans can run the ball, the Cats may be in trouble.

Special Teams

San Jose State has a good punter back in Waylon Prather (44.0 yards per punt last season). Veteran placekicker Jared Strubeck returns for SJSU, with career stats of 64-70 PATs made, 20-30 FGs made (a long of 48) and five out of 10 onside kicks recovered. Cornerback Dwight Lowery has the most experience returning punts, but only averaged 8.4 yards in five attempts last year. Backup running back Jacob French averaged 16.7 yards per kickoff return last year in 10 attempts. Look for Yonus Davis to join him returning kicks.

Three reasons K-State could win...

1. Beat up the SJSU defense: The Spartans are not large nor particularly effective at stopping the run, and K-State's offensive line will be one of the bigger ones they've faced. If the Cats can't pick up 150 yards on the ground in this game, we will have good reason to question the offensive line progress, even this early in the season.

2. Stifling pass defense: K-State's secondary is one of the better units in the Big 12. On top of that, SJSU returns very little at wide receiver. If the corners and safeties can shut down the passing game, the front seven can go to work on Yonus Davis.

3. Put the heat on Tafralis: It's going to be a common refrain this season, but Ian Campbell and Rob Jackson need to live in the opposing QB's grill. With inexperienced wide receivers against the Cats veteran secondary, Tafralis may try to take time he doesn't have to get passes off with an offensive line that gave up 20 sacks last year.

Three reasons San Jose State could win...

1. Rock the rushing game: K-State's primary question is stopping the run, and the Spartans do run pretty well. If Yonus Davis has a 100-yard game, the Spartans have a chance.

2. Don't force things: Tafralis proved to be a good decision maker last season by only throwing seven INTs. He'll need to make good decisions and not force the ball down field, or K-State will likely make him pay.

3. Make it come down to a kick: Strubeck is an experienced kicker, something K-State doesn't have this year. He is also incredible at booting recoverable onside kicks. If it comes down to field goals or an onsider, SJSU has an advantage.

Prediction: The Spartans beat few quality opponents last year despite winning nine games (combined record of teams defeated was 33-76, including 7-4 I-AA Cal Poly). They were 2-3 on the road, including a loss at 5-7 Washington and a blowout at the hands of Hawaii. This could be a trap game for K-State if Ron Prince can't get the team to take SJSU seriously after the bright lights of Auburn. However, the Cats should be able to establish the run against SJSU's undersized defense, in turn giving Freeman a chance to pick on the somewhat inexperienced secondary. At this point, I'll call it a 27-13 victory for the Purple and White.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

2007 Season Preview: Auburn

Boredom makes for long, crappy afternoons, but it probably does wonders for my blogging. As such, I decided to dig into our schedule for the upcoming year and start previewing opponents, starting with the season opener at Auburn.

Game One:


2006 Record: 11-2 (6-2)
Returning Starters: Five offensive, seven defensive

Game Information
Saturday, September 1st
Auburn, Ala., Jordan-Hare Stadium
7:45 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time/6:45 p.m. Central Daylight Time (ESPN)

When Auburn has the ball...
Senior quarterback Brandon Cox (163-271, 2198 yards, 14 TD/9 INT)will be taking the snaps from center. I watched him play (on TV) last year in the LSU and Nebraska (Cotton Bowl) games, so I saw the uninjured version against LSU and the injured version against Nebraska. He's a solid, if not spectacular QB who avoids making mistakes. In fact, from what I could tell, Auburn is the kind of team that will make sure it doesn't make mistakes and will wait until the other team does. The Tigers beat LSU, 7-3, in a game in which one turnover (a Cox INT) was committed.

Cox is one of the few returning starters of note for the Tiger offense. Auburn loses four starters on the offensive line, its top receiver (Courtney Taylor) and its top running back (Kenny Irons).

Returning running back Brad Lester (104 carries, 510 yards, 9 TDs) will carry the load this year for the Tigers. Cox's primary throwing target will probably Rodgerigus Smith (26 catches, 452 yards, 4 TDs). However, we'll see if he has any time to throw. The offensive line allowed 35 sacks last season (second-worst in the SEC) and lost four of five starters.

When K-State has the ball...

This Auburn defense is nasty. It finished fourth in the SEC in total defense last season, and I shouldn't have to tell you how good the SEC was.

Up front, four major contributors return for the Tigers (Quentin Groves and Sen'Derrick Marks at DE, Josh Thompson at nose guard, and Pat Sims at DT). That's 13.5 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss returning among that group. Not to mention, the group gave up only 3.7 yards per rush and eight rushing touchdowns last year.

At linebacker, Auburn has potential far beyond what they have in returning production. The top three returnees, stats-wise, are Merrill Johnson, Steve Gandy and Patrick Trahan (combined 61 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks). However, they may get Tray Blackmon back from academic problems, although he didn't play this spring. Blackmon is a stud who would make a big difference for AU.

In the secondary, Auburn loses its best player, CB David Irons, but shouldn't lose a lot of overall production. Erick Brock, Airon Savage, Patrick Lee and Jonathan Wilhite (147 tackles, 4 INT, 19 passes broken up) return for the Tigers.

Special Teams:
Auburn lost its placekicker, punter and kickoff specialist, which could make things interesting if the game comes down to a kick. Freshman (RS) Ross Gornall will likely be the placekicker, and freshman (RS) Ryan Shoemaker will take over the punting duties from Kody Bliss (who was among the best in the nation last season).

The Tigers were first in the SEC last year in kickoff returns, and Tristan Davis and Brad Lester return for more this year. Strangely, Auburn was 11th in the SEC in punt return average. Robert Dunn was the primary punt returner last year, and he returns for this season.


K-State offense vs. Auburn defense
Auburn is going to make things miserable for offensive coordinator James Franklin and the K-State offense. While I'm cautiously optimistic our offensive line will be better, it will take them a while to improve. This is not the defensive line to start that group against, and you can bet the crowd noise at Jordan-Hare will make signal-calling difficult. Establishing the run will be crucial to make sure Josh Freeman doesn't get killed, and I'm not sure we can establish much of a running game. James Johnson and Leon Patton will have to have the game of their lives.

K-State defense vs. Auburn offense
Auburn's serious questions on the offensive line may allow Ian Campbell, Rob Jackson and company to make life difficult for Brandon Cox. However, Auburn is a patient team who will probably try to establish the run, and stopping the run is the major question mark of the K-State defense. Auburn was third in the SEC in time of possession last year (30:08 per game), and if the K-State offense can't keep the defense off the field, they'll probably be content to grind it out and wear down the Cats defense.

Three reasons K-State could win:

1. Exploit Auburn's offensive line: This is a unit that wasn't particularly outstanding last year, and lost four starters. If K-State's front seven bottle up the Auburn rushing game, they will force Cox to beat them.

2. Make turnovers happen: Cox threw nine interceptions last year. K-State's secondary is athletic and plays together well, and a healthy Marcus Watts could turn the ball over a couple times.

3. Auburn struggles in season-openers: The Tigers are 4-3 in season openers under Tommy Tuberville, including a shutout loss at home to USC in 2003. Other losses have come to USC in Los Angeles (2002) and at home to Georgia Tech (2005). Wins have come over Appalachian State (1999), Wyoming (2000), Ball State (2001), Louisiana-Monroe (2004) and Washington State (2006), all in Auburn.

Three reasons Auburn could win...

1. Dominating defense: Auburn returns solid contributors at each defensive unit. We saw last year how much K-State struggled in games in which it could not establish any running game, and we saw what happened against athletic defenses that didn't give Freeman time to throw. If the Cats put up a lot of three-and-outs, it will be a long night in the South.

2. Senior quarterback: Cox is 19-5 as a starter the last two years, and has played in his share of big games, including two bowl games. He's patient and, depite last year's nine INTs, generally doesn't force the ball. If he is truly healthy, he will be much better than he looked in the Cotton Bowl.

3. Talent: It was really difficult to put together the previews of Auburn's units, because they have so many new players who could challenge for starting time. And with all those bodies, the Tigers' coaches can keep running fresh bodies out there on both sides of the ball. Big-time programs in the South have a major recruiting advantage, because there are an unbelievable amount of great recruits in this region.

Prediction: I look for a very low-scoring affair. Auburn's offensive line may have trouble coming together and establishing a running game and protecting Cox, which should give the K-State defense a chance to bottle up the Auburn attack. Conversely, the Auburn defense won't give up much either. Auburn has proven it is a patient team that will allow its opponent to beat itself if necessary. The Auburn offense will eventually wear down the Cats' defense to pull away for a 21-10 win.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Luis Colon Arrested

My weekend is off to a nice start, but Luis Colon's isn't. He was charged with simple battery after an incident in Manhattan today.

The story says no serious injuries were caused, so Colon was not incarcerated. Ordinarily, I'd say a thing like this isn't worth drastic measures.

Not with this guy. I won't be unhappy in the least if Frank Martin sends Colon down KS 177 and tells him not to bother coming back.

Maybe those are harsh words, but Colon is hardly a first-time offender. Last year against Cal, he got tossed for throwing a punch (a sucker punch, at that) late in the game.

--As the announcer says, that defines cheap shot--

Colon has obvious temper and attitude problems. There were numerous times last year when I saw him throw his headband and pout when taken out of the game. He obviously angers way too easily. Why that is, I have no idea, but it's not a good attitude to have around.

Further, here's a quote from the KC Star that makes this much worse:

Colon, a sophomore, allegedly punched a fellow student on campus.

This incident happened on campus. During the day. This wasn't some beer-fueled episode in Aggieville. Not that drunkenness is an excuse, it's merely an explanation, but at least it indicates a problem that can be worked on. If I'm a coach (and nobody is beating down my door to offer the job), any incident on campus is an immediate suspension.

It's Frank Martin's call. But I won't shed any tears if Luis Colon is sent packing.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Big 10/11 Expansion and Final Preseason Predictions

Picked this story up from the extensive comments on Burnt Orange Nation's Big 12 blogger poll post. It seems that in the wake of the Big 10 Network's struggle to gain acceptance from cable providers, the conference may look to extend its already sasquatchian footprint.

Considering the conference already stretches from Iowa to Pennsylvania, this will naturally have far-ranging speculation as to who will be added (not to mention whether the conference will change its logo to a "10" with a 12 cut into the number).

Naturally this got the crack reporting squad from the KC Star on the case by talking to...Missouri. They came to basically the same conclusion I did. Mizzou is pretty far down the Big 10's list. I can't figure out a few of the things about the Mizzou-Big 10 connection. Mizzou doesn't have it too bad in the Big 12, as they have more money than most other schools and one of the best natural rivalries in the conference with KU. In the Big 10, they'd have a minor rivalry with Illinois and would be stuck in a conference with Ohio State and Michigan rather than Texas and Oklahoma.

If the Big 10 is looking to add TV markets, Mizzou is not the place to go. While it certainly is a presence in St. Louis and Kansas City, it's far from the primary presence in either town. It shares STL with Illinois (as mentioned in the Star), and shares KC with K-State and KU.

Even if it had sole control of both markets, Mizzou wouldn't be nearly as attractive as Rutgers and (maybe) Syracuse, who are the other schools being talked about right now (we'll get to Notre Dame in a minute). I have to believe Rutgers is the leader in the clubhouse right now. They bring a far better football team than Mizzou does, and open the doors to lovely Piscataway, N.J., not to mention the rest of Joisey and probably at least a solid presence in NYC.

--Welcome to New Jersey!--

As for Notre Dame, it's my guess that the Big 10 doesn't want a re-run of its failed attempt at the Leprechauns in 1999. Not to mention, Notre Dame doesn't really bring in any new markets, which is what the conference is really looking for. Sure, they're a national team, but you don't point to Los Angeles and say "hey, ND is a national team, let's put its game against Navy on TV next week."


It's time to wrap up my preseason predictions for the 1st Annual Big 12 Blogger Days. PB over at BON posted the results or all our votes, which I linked above. Here are my results for the top units (not individuals) at each different group of positions, along with some miscellaneous picks...

1. Texas: Colt McCoy is the real pick here. He was great last year until he got hurt, even being mentioned as a darkhorse Heisman candidate. We'll see if the newcomers on the offensive line come together, but he's got a good running back to help him out and a tanker full of good receivers.
2. Oklahoma State: My man-crush on Okie State continues. But I picked Bobby Reid as the offensive player of the year, so it's probably a little disingenuous that I would pick him behind anyone. However, I think McCoy will lead his team to more wins, as I noted in my other picks.
Notes: I had a hard time not picking Mizzou with Chase Daniel on this list, especially given the targets he'll have. Just shows the talent coming back at QB in the conference this year.
K-State at QB: Right now I have us listed at eighth. I think most would agree we have the potential to move way up from that position. We'll see how much Josh Freeman matures and whether the offensive line actually gives him time to throw, not to mention a viable running game.

Running Backs
1. Texas A&M: It's the old lightning/thunder thing. Jorvorskie Lane is about as easy to stop as an 18-wheeler on an ice road once he gets going, and Mike Goodson has some moves. Throw in an experienced offensive line, and this group could put up big numbers if they don't trip over Coach Fran.
2. Oklahoma State: Dantrell Savage and Keith Toston. Two good backs, in a good system, with weapons at other positions (Reid, Adarius Bowman) to keep the focus off them.
Notes: I probably shortchanged UT's Jamaal Charles here. I question his offensive line, but knowing Texas they'll just plug in another couple future all-conference linemen in and will never miss a beat.
K-State at RB: I really like both of the Cats' returning rock-toters. The KC Star confirmed this morning that Leon Patton is expected to be back with the team for fall practice after an undisclosed academic issue. He's the 'moves' back while James Johnson is supposed to bring the hammer. I have the Cats at seventh based on statistical formulas that are too complicated for you to understand (mainly because they don't make any sense), but again, given some offensive line improvement, this group could easily be among the four or five best units.

Wide Receivers (***Note: Because this group is called "Wide Receivers" I didn't include tight ends, which explains why Mizzou isn't among my top two teams.***)
1. Oklahoma: They only return Malcolm Kelly and Juaquin Iglesias, not to mention Manuel Johnson. Maybe an audacious pick because they aren't sure who's going to throw to them, and OU may focus on the run this year.
2. Texas: Close call with these two teams, especially with UT returning Limas Sweed, Quan Crosby and Billy Pittman. With a proven QB throwing to these guys, I may end up looking like an idiot for picking them second.
Notes: As mentioned, I didn't include Mizzou in this. If it was just receivers, they would likely be one or two. Nebraska has a lot of decent receivers, but nobody that really stands out. Finally, Bowman from Okie State may be the best individual receiver in the league, but nobody else really sticks out. Oh yeah, and best wishes go out to Artrell Woods after his injury, though I know I'm quite a bit late.
K-State at WR: Losing Yamon Figurs knocks us down to the lower echelons of the conference at this position, at least on returning talent. Jordy Nelson and Daniel Gonzalez were solid if not spectacular; if Jordy can stay healthy he should return to his 2005 form. We should also see highly touted athlete Lamark Brown at WR, and a solid corps of tight ends (Jeron Mastrud, Brett Alstatt, Rashaad Norwood, Michael Pooschke).

Offensive Line
1. Oklahoma: Lots of returning players with starting experience, lots of rushing yards, not many sacks allowed. You know what's scarier? All that experience, and no seniors. Look out in '08.
2. Texas A&M: If you're going to run a rush-based attack, you better have the hogs up front. Four seniors and a junior from one of the Big 12's best rushing attacks return.
Notes: Nebraska has quite a bit of experience returning and just missed the list. Okie State also has quite a bit of experience returning.
K-State at OL: A lot of returning experience...but not a lot of production. This unit couldn't open up much in the running game and Freeman was running for his life way too often. Here's hoping Ron Prince's experience as an offensive line coach, as well as the additions of Alesana Alesana and Clyde Aufner lead to an improved unit. It will be the key to the season.

Defensive Line
1. Texas: I don't know how anyone is going to run on the Horns this year. For that matter, I don't know how they'll pass. This group is stacked.
2. K-State: This group returns Ian Campbell, Rob Jackson, Steven Cline and Alphonso Moran, not to mention a few reserves. Campbell and Jackson will take care of the pass rush, we need the guys in the middle to stiffen up against the run.

1. Oklahoma State: Return six players with a combined 36 starts from last year, not to mention 7 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. I can't argue with that, although stats don't always tell the entire story.
2. Nebraska: Bo Ruud, Corey McKeon and Steve Octavian will anchor this group as long as they stay healthy. Rangy players who will be asked to do a lot with an all-new defensive line.
Notes: Iowa State's Alvin Bowen led the country in tackles last year, which should give Gene Chizik something to build around. Colorado also returns highly acclaimed Jordan Dizon. Texas has a lot of returning experience, but this group has underachieved a little bit thus far.
K-State at LB: On paper, we have probably the weakest linebacking corp in the conference. That'll happen when you lose guys like Brandon Archer and Zach Diles. Marcus Perry needs to anchor the group, and it would help if JuCo transfer Chris Patterson could step in and provide immediate help. Going to a 3-4 will be interesting, as it will mean Ian Campbell and Rob Jackson occasionally lining up at LB. JuCo transfer Gary Chandler may see some time here.

1. Oklahoma: Returns four players who were all-conference second team or better, including preseason media defensive player of the year Reggie Smith (also second-team all-conference and former first-team freshman All-America).
2. K-State: This group has a lot of returning experience, including Marcus Watts at safety, probably the team's most valuable player. Joshua Moore had a good freshman season, making the all-conference freshman team. Other returnees of note include Bryan Baldwin, Byron Garvin, Justin McKinney and Andrew Erker.
Notes: Other notable secondary players in the North include Colorado's Terrence Wheatley and KU's Aqib Talib. Also keep your eye on Okie State's Andre Sexton.

Most exciting/interesting/compelling conference game of the season (I'm not allowed to pick a K-State game): Nebraska @ Mizzou
--I'm sure the South-centric folks in this conference would pick the Red River Shootout or the Lonestar Showdown, but this game is more interesting to me. It determine who has the upper hand in the North, and should be a primetime game in front of Columbia's snakepit. They've been hyping this game on KC sports talk radio since May. Honorable mention goes to Nebraska at Texas and Texas A&M at Mizzou, because I want to see the best of the North get back into the game with the South.

Most exciting/interesting/compelling non-conference game of the season (again, I can't pick a K-State): USC @ Nebraska
--Nebraska gets one of the national title favorites in Lincoln. On paper they don't match up well, but we'll see if they can give the Trojans a game. Honorable mention goes to Oklahoma State @ Georgia in the opening game of the year. We need to get some national respect back by beating power conference powers.

That's it for Blogger Days. Happy Friday.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Blogger Media Days

San Antonio bid adieu to a bunch of journalists and Big 12 football coaches and players today as the Big 12 media days wrapped up. Before I begin my coverage, I should note a couple other Big 12 blogs that have also noticed something is happening in San Anton...

AJ the HuskerH8er--He hates the Huskers first and loves Missouri second

BearMeat--These Baylor fans realize they probably won't win the conference this year, so they make the best of it...by noticing they have a quarterback whose last name is Weed.

AJ takes note of the hard-hitting journalism on display in San Antonio by noting that some Nebraska journalists asked Missouri players about Chase Daniel picking his boogers...

...and eating them. Wow, I'm sure that will be vital to Nebraska Big 12 coverage.

Anyway, the Prince and His Court made their appearance today. Prince's comments didn't consist of a lot more than typical offseason coach-speak. He did note that he expects to be back in San Antonio on December 1 to play for the conference title. Like the attitude, waiting to see the results (in person, since it's San Anton).


Now that the 'official' media days are over, I'm going to continue my preseason coverage. On Monday I brought you my predictions for conference finish; today, you shall find out who I predict (and therefore, will be) the best offensive and defensive player, as well as the best offensive and defensive units.

Offensive Player of the Year: Bobby Reid, Oklahoma State
I'm high on Okie State this year. No doubt about that. Reid is a threat running and passing. He can hand off or pitch out to Dantrell Savage. And he can throw to Adarius Bowman, also a contender for top offensive player. Not to mention Mike Gundy runs an offense designed to garner big numbers for the quarterback. The only drawback is he has to play OU, UT and A&M this year, not to mention a trip to Lincoln and a visit from K-State's defense.

Defensive Player of the Year: Ian Campbell, K-State
OK, I admit it, I'm a homer. There are a lot of good defensive players in the Big 12, and a defensive end is not the most glamorous position. Still, Campbell was second in the conference in sacks and first in tackles for loss. The Houston Chronicle named him its defensive player of the year.

Best Team Offense: Oklahoma State
There are a lot of teams contending for this spot. Texas has weapons everywhere, but lost quite a few good offensive linemen. Oklahoma has to find a new quarterback. Texas A&M seems to have a lot, too, but I'm a little suspicious of McGee's offseason surgery (K-Staters saw what shoulder surgery can do to a QB last year in Dylan Meier).

In the end, for me, this ended up being a two-team race between Mizzou and Oklahoma State. The Tigers have Chase Daniel at QB (3527 yards, 28 TDs, 10 INTs), Martin Rucker--Chase Coffman--Will Franklin receiving passes(combined 1978 yards, 20 TDs) and Tony Temple at RB (1063 yards, 7 TDs). The Pokes have Bobby Reid at QB (2466 yards passing, 24 passing TDs, 11 INTs, 500 rushing yards and 5 rushing TDs), Adarius Bowman split wide (1181 yards, 12 TDs), and Dantrell Savage and Keith Toston toting the rock (1451 yards, 14 TDs).

The offensive lines are approximately a wash, so the deciding factor for me was the offensive balance. Mizzou relies very heavily on the pass, whereas Okie State isn't afraid to run the ball. Thus, it should be more difficult for Big 12 defenses to take away the Cowboys' entire offensive game, although Temple could keep defenses honest.

Best Team Defense: Oklahoma
This is really nothing more than a hunch. Actually, the Sooners lost quite a bit from last year, but they did have the best defense in the conference last year. The defensive line doesn't return much experience, but has some new faces with solid credentials (including Gerald McCoy, Cory Bennett and Jeremy Beal). A decent linebacking corp comes next, followed by what I consider the best secondary in the Big 12. Having lockdown guys like Marcus Walker, Reggie Smith and Nic Harris back there will help the front group get up to speed. Having Brent Venables and Bob Stoops puts them over the top.

That does it for today's predictions. Tomorrow I'll get in to listing my top units at each group of positions. Keep checking in with Burnt Orange Nation for the Big 12 bloggers compiled results.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I couldn't help but be proud...

...when I saw this on my sitemeter. I am the number one hit when you type in "HELP! I married a Husker Fan" on Google. Hell, if this law school and blogging thing doesn't work out, maybe I have a future as a marriage counselor. I'll be the guy who helps people who marry fans of rival teams work out their differences.

Oh yeah, and the Astros game was sweet. Craig Biggio announced his retirement today and then hit a grand slam tonight. Chills.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Media Days Malaise

Big 12 media days have begun. Check out the following blogs in the coming days for coverage of the Fourth Estate's binge in San Antonio, as well as our own takes on various issues.

Burnt Orange Nation--The visionary of Big 12 bloggers
The 12th Manchild--Solid coverage of one of the most interesting South teams this year.
Corn Nation--Excellent Husker coverage. Like the addition of occasional Husker Mike posts recently.
Clone Chronicles--CrossCyed will keep you up-to-date on Gene Chizik's first year.
Rock Chalk Talk--Great coverage of that school to the east.
Double T Nation--Seth C keeps a watchful eye on Crazy Mike Leach's team from the South Plains.

I'll begin my preseason coverage by reiterating my predicted finish in each division:
1. Missouri
2. Nebraska
3. K-State
4. KU
5. Iowa State
6. Colorado
***I will stick with these predictions even though they were made in May. CU should be better than last year, but I'm not sold that they'll be much better.

I think Chizik knows his X's and O's (esp. on defense) and will get Iowa State to play hard, which could be worth a slight improvement.

I question KU's offense a little bit after losing Cornish, but they do have a pretty good defense.

Some others think I'm picking K-State too low. I would consider us the darkhorse for the North right now, with Mizzou and Nebraska being the pick of the pundits. The questions are at offensive line and linebacker (and maybe wide receiver). If we see improvement there, we have a chance.

Nebraska has some defense questions, particularly with the defensive line and secondary. The offense should be pretty good. The key will be the defense's improvement and how well Sam Keller (or whomever the QB is) plays. No earth-shattering news there.

Mizzou has, on paper, the best offense in the North. They also have the most questions on defense. I think they'll score a lot of points, enough to win some games their defense might lose them if the offense was only average.

1. Texas
2. Oklahoma
3. Oklahoma State
4. Texas Tech
5. Texas A&M
6. Baylor

Baylor lost a lot and is going to have a really tough year.

I probably picked A&M too low. I think they'll probably finish above Tech, and could possibly be better than one of the three of Okie State, OU and UT. We'll see how they deal with a brutal schedule.

Tech has a quarterback returning for the first time in probably my lifetime. But they lost a lot of good players (especially Filani) on offense and defense. Can the Mad Scientist reload, or will he have to rebuild?

Oklahoma State is my surprise team this year. I think they could very well win the South, maybe the conference, but I just don't have the cojones to make that pick. Love the offense, reminds me of Snyder's offense in the late 90s.

Oklahoma has to replace Paul Thompson, but other than that they're in pretty good shape. Could very well win the division.

The Horns' pass defense was pitiful last year, and they lost several of their best secondary players. Will it be addition by subtraction? Or will the newcomers fail to step it up?

Check back in the coming days for more of TB's preseason prognostications and other astounding alliterations.


I want to lay to rest one thing that still pops up occasionally, although I know I'll never convince the haterade drinkers otherwise. Big 12 media days started today, and even though The Prince and His Court aren't up until tomorrow, I figured I'd be an informed blogger by reading the comments from Oklahoma, KU, Nebraska and Baylor.

I started off with KU. Not much exciting there. Mangino used his favorite phrase, "hard-nosed", to describe a few of his players. Good to know we won't be seeing any broken noses keeping KU players out of football games this fall.

Then I moved on to Nebraska. And while I was reading, I realized I just couldn't let some of these Callahan Classics go without commenting. The man from Oakland described his staff's recruitment of Terrence Nunn as such...

We had an opportunity to recruit Terrence, who at that point was committed to Wisconsin. And first off...Turner Gill and myself went down. And he was initially going to be committed to Nebraska. Then there was a coaching change. He decided to go to Wisconsin. So we went back down there. I told Turner, I said, 'Let's go down there and get this guy.' There's no way we're going to let this guy go to Wisconsin where he can be in a pro passing system.

If I had a dollar for every time a Nebraska fan/friend/family member of mine told me Ron Prince was a dirty recruiter for "stealing" Josh Freeman from big red, I'd have enough money to join River Oaks Country Club.

We need to put to rest one major myth of recruiting that is poorly understood by the average fan. When a recruit is "committed" to a certain school, it usually means he's orally committed, which is non-binding. Is it questionable to recruit an oral commitment? Maybe. Is it ethically indefensible? Despite what Jim Rose may have told you (listen to it, it's comical), no, it is not. Is it at least ethically questionable to hope another player gets hurt? And congrats to your coach for handling the situation really well.

The Josh Freeman situation was pretty much identical to the Terrence Nunn situation. Ron Prince recruited Josh Freeman while he was at Virginia. Nebraska had recruited Nunn before Callahan got there. Freeman orally committed to another school; Nunn committed to another school. Prince reopened recruitment of Freeman; Callahan reopened Nebraska's recruitment of Nunn.

This happens every year at a lot of different schools. Every school has benefitted from it, and every school has been jilted by it. It happens. Get over it.

I bet I didn't change anyone's mind. But it sure made me feel better.

I'll be at Minute Maid watching the Dodgers slaughter the Astros tomorrow, but I'll be back Wednesday with more preseason media days rants.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

USA Drops U19 Title Game

Well, at least now Michael Beasley can leave the land of crappy food and return home to Manhattan, and his mom's homecooking. Team USA lost to host Serbia today in the U19 World Championship Game, 74-69.

Beasley had massive foul trouble during the tournament, picking up 20 personal fouls in nine games, limiting him to 17 minutes per game (stats here). Despite the limited playing time, Beasley scored 12.8 points per game, second most on the team. He also pulled down 5.3 boards per game. His overall shooting was pretty good (56.7 percent), but from three-point land he was woeful (one of 10). Who am I to nitpick though, it was a pretty good tournament for Beasley.


Nice article about Josh Freeman in the Manhattan Mercury today. It's mostly a bunch of offseason-speak about how he wants to be a leader and has worked hard in the weight room, but it's a good read nonetheless. Also interesting to hear he's up to 260 lbs. now, although he estimates he'll play at more like 250. Considering the average (projected) starting linebacker in the Big 12 North weighs about 230 lbs., Freeman will be a difficult target to take down.

Now if the line can just keep those guys off him...


Big week coming up here in the Cat Zone. The Big 12 media days are upon us, and I'm sure I'll have plenty to say about the paid writers' predictions. Particularly if I can get my hands on the print copy of Tom Shatel's columns for the Omaha World-Herald.

That said, us bloggers have some good stuff in store, too. Stay tuned...

Oh yeah, and congrats to Padraig Harrington for his big win at the British Open today. That was one of the most exciting final rounds I've ever watched.

Friday, July 20, 2007

More preseason stuff

The Big 12's Fourth Estate released more preseason conference stuff today. Specifically, they picked offensive, defensive and newcomers of the year, as well as preseason all-conference teams.

Offensive player: Colt McCoy, Texas (No argument here, as long as he stays healthy)

Defensive player: Reggie Smith, Oklahoma (Not Ian Campbell? He was defensive player of the year last year...by the Houston Chronicle.)

--This guy once called me mouthy in an intramural basketball game. I shut up immediately.--

Newcomer of the year: Sam (Flippy Cup) Keller, Nebraska (Certainly the most hyped, although he went 3-4 in 2005 and is supposedly in a fight for the starting position...)

--Nice toss kid!--

First Team Offense:
WR--Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma State
WR--Limas Sweed, Texas
TE--Martin Rucker, Missouri
OL--Tony Hills, Texas
OL--Duke Robinson, Oklahoma
OL--Matt Slauson, Nebraska
OL--Anthony Collins, Kansas
C--Cody Wallace, Texas A&M
QB--Colt McCoy, Texas
RB--Jamaal Charles, Texas
RB--Mike Goodson, Texas A&M
PK--Garrett Hartley, Oklahoma
KR--Perrish Cox, Oklahoma State
Hmm, 13 players, three of them from the North. No Wildcats, which I can't argue with at this point.

First Team Defense:
DL--Ian Campbell, K-State
DL--Frank Okam, Texas
DL--Chris Harrington, Texas A&M
DL--James McClinton, Kansas
DL--Derek Lokey, Texas
LB--Bo Ruud, Nebraska
LB--Alvin Bowen, Iowa State
LB--Jordan Dizon, Colorado
DB--Reggie Smith, Oklahoma
DB--Aquib Talib, Kansas
DB--Marcus Watts, K-State
DB--Marcus Griffin, Texas
P--Matt Fodge, Oklahoma State
PR--Reggie Smith, Oklahoma
Fourteen players, seven from the North. Two Wildcats, more than any other North team, only behind Texas. Like I said yesterday, I'm pretty excited about the defense this fall.

Preseason predictions carry the approximate value of a warm bucket of piss. For what we know right now, this seems like a pretty good forecast by the writers. Of course, fans of every team disagree, because they see their teams' potential and other teams' flaws. I happen to think James Johnson could be one of the better running backs in the league, and I'd like to think Josh Freeman could be one of the better QBs. But we'll have to see how the big guys up front do...


At least the Big 12 writers seem to be somewhat informed. I had the misfortune to waste five minutes reading collegefootballnews.com's preseason predictions today, here are some of the lowlights:

Coach on the Hot Seat: Dan Hawkins, Colorado
--Are you kidding me? It's his second year, and all he has to improve on is a 2-10 record. Dear God, how hard can that be? He is not on the hot seat, unless he continues the proud Colorado tradition of getting into trouble with the NCAA.

About Missouri: "The defense should be far better"
--Uhh, ok. They return five starters on defense. On a defense that was seventh in the league in conference games in overall defense. I'll be surprised if they're better, much less far better.

Five games the Big 12 better take very, very seriously: Oklahoma at Tulsa
--What the hell is OU doing playing at Tulsa?

Top Offenses:
11. K-State
--Well, we were a stellar ninth in the league last year, return most of the offensive line, the quarterback, two running backs, and Jordy Nelson at WR.

I'm not a genius. But at least my predictions are internally consistent.


In other news today, Nebraska wide receiver Maurice Purify got a one game suspension for his legal troubles. To recap, his legal troubles included:
--Assaulting another dude at a Lincoln bar
--'Accidentally' hitting the dude's girlfriend (that charge was dropped as part of the plea deal...would have been difficult to prove anyway)
--Failure to comply when police were trying to cuff him
--DUI one month after all that trouble

Boy, I bet he learned his lesson, and learned it just in time to travel to Winston-Salem, N.C., and return to Lincoln for the invasion of the Condoms.

Oh, but I forgot. There is a little more to the punishment. Purify is also prohibited from making "any appearance in a drinking establishment that primarily serves alcohol." (Redundancy, anyone?) That's gonna narrow his entertainment options in Lincoln.

--Rousing game of Scrabble, anyone?--

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Where is Bill Snyder now?

A couple days ago, KC Star reporter Howard Richman caught up with Bill Snyder to see what he's up to these days. Apparently he's keeping pretty busy, between jet skiing and golf.

Oh yeah, and helping kids across Kansas. Between mentoring, leadership groups, promoting cancer research, and being inducted into halls of fame I'm guessing he hasn't had much time to watch much South Park.

Bill Snyder was a part of the revolution of K-State, and in doing so he proved, in my mind, what a proud sports program can do for a university. This article notes the enrollment growth at K-State during Snyder's time as coach. Obviously that was not entirely due to football, but putting a winning team on the field each fall helps. Manhattan is a college town, so it relies on K-State activities. When you add something like college football to the list of can't-miss activities, you open a huge pipeline for growth. So for the one-millionth time, thanks Coach!


It's preseason media time for Big 12 football. That means the people who get paid to write about Big 12 football have voted on who will finish where, among other things, in the conference.

In the North, the writers predict the order of finish will be as follows:
1. Missouri
2. Nebraska
3. K-State
4. Kansas
5. Colorado
6. Iowa State
Hmm, I picked ISU over CU, but otherwise they just ripped me off. Or maybe not.

In the South...
1. Texas
2. Oklahoma
3. Texas A&M
4. Oklahoma State
5. Texas Tech
6. Baylor
I predicted less for A&M and more for Okie State. But I think this is the most wide-open year in the South in a while. I could honestly see Okie State winning the South this year. There, now you all know how crazy I am.

In other prediction news, Michigan blog "Maize and Brew" has its Big 12 predictions up. Let's just say they predict a K-State-Texas showdown in San Antonio for the Big 12 title. I'd be okay with that, only about three hours from Houston to San Anton.

Of course, all these predictions that don't include Nebraska winning the North have sent Husker fans into a tizzy. I'll just say this: all three of the projected top teams in the North (Mizzou, NU, K-State) have potential upside, along with serious questions marks. Mizzou lost a lot on a defense that wasn't very good to begin with. Nebraska also has serious defensive questions (defensive line, corners and safeties), not to mention a new QB and and lack of depth at running back. K-State could have the best defense of the three if the run defense stiffens up, but the offense is a huge question. We got a glimpse of what Josh Freeman can do last year...

...and we got a glimpse of what Josh Freeman can do last year...

Of course, a lot of this depends on the offensive line. If they protect Freeman and open some holes for the running backs, we could actually score some points. If not, well, it might be last year all over again.

Either way, football's almost back. Forty-four more days til the Cats travel to Auburn for a primetime, nationally televised opener. And with that, you'll have to excuse me...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tribute to Big 12 Fanbases, Part XII: Texas

"Bud Light presents, Real Men of Genius (Real Men of Genius!)
Today we salute you, Mr. Way Too Proud of Texas Guy (Mr. Way Too Proud of Texas Guy!)
Men from lesser states may know their state's capital,
But you, you know your state's bird, tree and even reptile (Love that horny toad!)
You display your pride with your Lone Star Tattoo, Native Texan bumper sticker, and contempt for any state that doesn't start with 'Tex' and end with '-as' (That spells Texas!)
Sure there are 49 other states in the Union,
But they're smaller, wussier, and the people talk funny (Yankee wussies!)
So crack open an ice-cold Bud Light oh lover of the Lone Star State,
Because all that flag-waving must have made you mighty thirsty (Mr. Way Too Proud of Texas Guy!)"

Tonight, we wrap up our tour of Big 12 fanbases and their more out-of-control behavior in Austin. If you don't know the basis for this harebrained idea, hit this post first so you don't think that I really hate every Big 12 school.

Anyway, on to UT. This was probably a bad school to do last, because there isn't a lot of media documentation of fans being arrogant.

Fortunately, there is my own personal documentation of other forms of arrogance. In 2002, I witnessed UT kicker Dusty Mangum practice field goals at halftime in Manhattan...over K-State's marching band. Then the bastard made the winning field goal later that night. So, yeah, damn.

One of the more entertaining moments of my undergraduate education occurred during my cultural anthropology class. Basically, my professor told us the origins of the hook 'em horns handsign.

So from now on, every time I see a Longhorn fan throw up the horns, I don't throw 'em up upside down, OU style. I stand there and say, "That sucks that your wife is cheating on you and you don't have the balls to do anything about it. What can I do to help?"

You should also be proud, UT. Despite the fact that you declined him for your law school, approximately 31 percent of the country supports UT. That's an incredible percentage.

Exciting as Austin can be...

...there has to be some down time, with little to do. Apparently the lull between the Lonestar Showdown (I guess that's what ABC calls it) and the 'horns bowl game last year proved to be one of those times. Further, the 'horns apparently aren't very good at dealing with losses, if this is what they do when they lose.

That great law school, and they sue over...t-shirts?

Anyway, Austin is a rather open-minded, accepting town, which means it's home to a lot of, uhh, alternative lifestyles. And I don't mean homosexuality, I just mean people who do their best to...

Apparently these people also double as trumpetists.

--All hat, no cattle.--

So that's it, friends. We have reached the end of our journey of shame through the Big 12. I suppose now I'll have to get back to posting actual content. In the next few weeks I'll try to do some basic outlines of K-State's opponents this year, as well as make some more crazy off-season lists. If there's anything you want listed, let me know.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Some Cat Tracker News

Wildcat fans in particular, and possibly fans of other schools, remember the Cat Tracker incident in Lawrence last year. In case you've forgotten, one man was killed and another suffered a serious head injury when the double-decker party bus went under an overpass (they were standing on the roof). A terrible tragedy that was totally preventable.

Anyway, the good news this week is that Chris Orr, the man critically injured but not killed in the wreck, is starting to regain his memory. It's been quite the journey for the former sportswriter, who has recovered from injuries that left him in critical condition. Best of luck to you, Chris.

Now, on to the news you knew would be coming after something like this happens. That's right, a lawsuit has been filed. The widow of victim John Green has sued the bus owner, Bob Pottroff (among others). This is a civil lawsuit, which means the widow (plaintiff) will have to establish the bus owners had a duty of care toward her husband, that they breached that duty, that their breach was the cause of her husband's death, and that damages resulted.

***Note: None of this is legal advice, and none of it is based specifically on Kansas law. It's merely based on general principles of tort law, and is espoused by someone who is not a lawyer (yet).***

The plaintiff probably can't establish a duty of care based merely on operation of the vehicle, because it didn't actively create a risk. Most likely, the plaintiff will have to establish there was a special relationship between the deceased and the driver. Is there a special relationship between the driver of a party bus and its passengers?

If a duty is established, the plaintiff must next establish the defendant was negligent in performing that duty (or breached that duty). Negligence is the failure to conform one's actions to the standard of a reasonable person. Was it reasonable for a person in the defendant's position to know there were people on top of the bus, and if it was, was it reasonable to keep driving the bus with such knowledge? Seems pretty likely to me. Further, the driver was not licensed to drive a bus, and was driving the bus with people on top, which is against the law. A violation of the law is negligence per se, which means such a violation is presumed to be negligence. There is some issue of contributory negligence on the part of those who were standing on top of the bus as well.

If a duty and a breach of that duty are established, we move on to causation. Causation is really freakin' complicated. Suffice it to say, it's likely provable to a jury that the continued driving of the bus with people on top led to the injuries (although there is an argument that the 'cause' was the victim climbing on top of the bus).

Finally, if all elements are proven, we must ask if there were damages. Damages are pretty easy, we have a man dead. Further, he was a young, Kansas City-area businessman. There could be a lot of future income at stake here, and this could end up being a fairly high dollar lawsuit, when you factor all types of damages in.

Bob Pottroff is a fairly high-powered, if not universeally well-liked (in comments), Manhattan lawyer. He's the guy you turn to if you want to get out of a legal jam (and you have the money to pay for it). Maybe he can get himself out of this jam.

Oh wait, forgot two things.

1. Juries hate lawyers, especially lawyers as defendants.

2. The plaintiff, the dead man's widow, was eight months pregnant at the time of the incident.

Settle, Bob.

Dumbest Quote of the Year

Just so you know, the clip is JD Quinn, who was dismissed from OU's team last year for his fake job at some Norman, Okla., car dealership.

So just to recap...
Gainfully employed journalist: "JD, what do you think of Oklahoma's penalties?"

College student/athlete who's never had a real job in his life: "Get a real job."

You missed your calling, JD. You should have been a Ruf/Nek.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tribute to Big 12 Fanbases, Part XI: Texas A&M

"Bud Light presents, Real Men of Genius (Real Men of Genius!)
Today we salute you, Mr. Way Too Proud of Texas Guy (Mr. Way Too Proud of Texas Guy!)
Men from lesser states may know their state's capital,
But you, you know your state's bird, tree and even reptile (Love that horny toad!)
You display your pride with your Lone Star Tattoo, Native Texan bumper sticker, and contempt for any state that doesn't start with 'Tex' and end with '-as' (That spells Texas!)
Sure there are 49 other states in the Union,
But they're smaller, wussier, and the people talk funny (Yankee wussies!)
So crack open an ice-cold Bud Light oh lover of the Lone Star State,
Because all that flag-waving must have made you mighty thirsty (Mr. Way Too Proud of Texas Guy!)"

We're starting to get to the end of our journey through the goofier side of the Big 12. For a little refresher on what this is all about, hit this link. Basically, I heard on the news that a couple in Oklahoma, OU fans, judging by their shirts, had won a wedding...in Wal-Mart. Of course that inspired in me the typical "what a bunch of rednecks" response, but then I realized that's a trite reaction to news that could have easily happened in any other Big 12 state. So don't think I'm doing this out of spite for your team, I included my own team. Think of it as a handy reminder of your rival's downfalls next time they need to be reminded.

So anyway, on to College Station. I had a huge misperception of A&M before I came to Texas. All I saw was the pageantry of games at Kyle Field (which, if you read this regularly, you know I love the pageantry of college football). I thought the Corps of Cadets were a revered group at A&M.

Judging by Aggie fans I've met since moving here, I could not have been more wrong. Some of them told me they wouldn't piss on the quad if it was on fire.

Now don't get me wrong. It's great that A&M contributes to the United States Armed Services. But some of the Corps, uh, activities hardly seem to be related to that end.

There's also a fine line between celebrating your military heritage and being an out-of-control mob of angry Texans. At least a few times in history, members of the Corps have gotten into fights with fans of other teams who have trespassed on the sacred ground that is the Kyle Field grass.

So let's recap. Because some total idiots from another school go out on your field, you run out there, get out your sabers, and cause mass chaos. I realize you are in a military-type group and Kyle Field is your 'home base,' but you're not Marines and this ain't Fallujah. Surely your security can take care of a few drunken Cornhuskers.

Like I said, I like the pageantry of college football, so traditions are high on my list. But as I found out once I moved to Texas, if they do it once at A&M, it's a mistake. If they do it twice, it's a tradition.


Unfortunately for Aggies, sometimes their players take their traditions just a little too seriously, like this one I witnessed in person last fall.

--Home of the 12th Man--

Now unlike some people...

...I actually believe A&M is a pretty good institution, academically (I should have noted yesterday that Baylor is, as well). But between its agricultural and military training, apparently there isn't much instruction on meteorology, or basic shop class.

So Aggies, while you may often end up at the butt of jokes made by those evil UT and Baylor fans...

...you always have a loving home in Houston!

Tribute to Big 12 Fanbases, Part X: Baylor

"Bud Light presents, Real Men of Genius (Real Men of Genius!)
Today we salute you, Mr. Way Too Proud of Texas Guy (Mr. Way Too Proud of Texas Guy!)
Men from lesser states may know their state's capital,
But you, you know your state's bird, tree and even reptile (Love that horny toad!)
You display your pride with your Lone Star Tattoo, Native Texan bumper sticker, and contempt for any state that doesn't start with 'Tex' and end with '-as' (That spells Texas!)
Sure there are 49 other states in the Union,
But they're smaller, wussier, and the people talk funny (Yankee wussies!)
So crack open an ice-cold Bud Light oh lover of the Lone Star State,
Because all that flag-waving must have made you mighty thirsty (Mr. Way Too Proud of Texas Guy!)"

Today we swing south into the heart of central Texas to honor those hardy folks who have the bad fortune to be Baylor fans. Some of them also have the misfortune of living in a city, Waco, that I've lovingly referred to as the "shithole" in previous posts. The good people over at BearMeat tell me the town grows on you. That's probably true, and I should be more open-minded, but rashes grow on you as well. I shall give the town another try, however.

Speaking of being open-minded, we needn't worry about encountering any of that wild mindset in Waco. I give credit to Baylor for keeping its Baptist principles in what can be a scary world, but sometimes I think you have to wonder whether Waco realizes it's not 1907 anymore.

--Waco, home of hoop skirts and bouffant hair--

Such fastidious adherence to principles often leads to some head-scratching results. For example:

1. The always-reliable Wikipedia informs me dancing has been around since about 3300 BC. At Baylor, it's been around since 1996.

--Snap yo fingas, do yo step, you can do it all by yoself!--

2. To the great dismay of all who have had to endure years of bad football and basketball at Baylor, alcohol has no place on campus to provide comfort through the endless suffering.

--You just know she's jonesin' for a tumbler of Maker's Mark--

3. Baylor is a place where years of service and money donated can be taken away for an inconsequential little thing like being gay. This guy is a grad, served the university for 18 years, donated $65,000, and raised money for an endowed scholarship...and then was told to take a hike.

4. Apparently, homosexuality is such an abomination in the eyes of the Bears that quotes by gay people can't even be read on campus. I wonder if the poems of Whitman, the music of Tchaikovsky, and the economics of Keynes are taboo, as well?

But the bears are fair. They discriminate against cheaters who tarnish the university's good name just as they do those who dedicate their gay life to helping...

Next up: The Aggies

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Tribute to Big 12 Fanbases, Part IX: Texas Tech

"Bud Light presents, Real Men of Genius (Real Men of Genius!)
Today we salute you, Mr. Way Too Proud of Texas Guy (Mr. Way Too Proud of Texas Guy!)
Men from lesser states may know their state's capital,
But you, you know your state's bird, tree and even reptile (Love that horny toad!)
You display your pride with your Lone Star Tattoo, Native Texan bumper sticker, and contempt for any state that doesn't start with 'Tex' and end with '-as' (That spells Texas!)
Sure there are 49 other states in the Union,
But they're smaller, wussier, and the people talk funny (Yankee wussies!)
So crack open an ice-cold Bud Light oh lover of the Lone Star State,
Because all that flag-waving must have made you mighty thirsty (Mr. Way Too Proud of Texas Guy!)"

In our quest to honor each Big 12 fanbase, today we cross into Lone Star country. A place that flies the flags of all six former sovereigns over her hallowed land (Texas gets around). The home of 22 million rather proud people.

We'll start off on the South Plains, which is actually in the north. Lubbock is home to the hallowed academic halls of Texas Tech University. Academics are so important at Tech that they teach spelling at the football games, too.

I thought third-grade spelling was a prerequisite for college.

Never having been to Lubbock I don't know personally, but I've heard they do a fine job with culinary arts as well. They're so proud of their food, in fact, that they like to share them with other fans at the football games. And by sharing, I mean flinging them very hard throughout the expanse of Jones Stadium.

Mike Leach's Air Raid attack has brought a lot of excitement to Tech on the gridiron. His quarterbacks routinely put up PS2-type numbers, and the scoreboard can barely keep up. Unfortunately, it appears the game is a little too exciting for some fans...

Apparently Tech also has a reputation for having the meanest fans in the conference. I realize there is little to do in beautiful west Texas...

...but videotaping yourselves vandalizing a visiting team's big rig doesn't seem like the brightest way to pass the time.

Alas, I can't hate Tech fans, when this is their weatherman...

***Special addition: Here is a supplement to this week's prior tribute to Oklahoma. Enjoy! (Thanks to The Wizard of Odds)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Catching Up on Wildcat News

I've been so wrapped up in these fanbase tributes the past week or two that I've missed some news from Manhattan. Here are the latest dispatches from the Little Apple...

Michael Beasley led the USA U-19 team to a gold medal at last week's Global Games. Now he's in Serbia, liking everything except the food, apparently. He's managed to find time to talk to the Topeka Capitol-Journal and the KC Star this week, despite traveling with the U-19 team and finishing up an Intro to Leadership summer class. Well, that last item probably wasn't too taxing, but he has been a busy man this summer.

I see some encouraging things from his recent comments. I think the chief concern with Beasley is his attitude and effort. At a minimum, he's saying all the right things...

“I don’t think either one of us (him or Bill Walker) has to be the star. We’ve got to be a team if we want to win.”

Mixed messages on how he's liking Manhattan. At least he didn't come out and say it sucked (did you really think he would?) and he's trying to make the adjustment.

"It’s just slow. It’s not the big city. I’ve got to like it, though. It’s home."

Ok, so Manhattan isn't hopping, and he's too young to get into the bars in Aggieville (let's hope he doesn't try). But he does seem to love Manhattan in a more important respect...

"But I just feel welcomed out there, I feel loved out there. I think every player should go somewhere where they feel loved and they have supportive fans. Whether they have a 50-point game or a three-point game, I just feel like I can be myself."

Talk is cheap, though, and as such it's things like this that have me excited to see Beasley donning the Purple and White.

While we're on the subject of talking, basketball coach Frank Martin hasn't exactly been silent this summer. When he has been speaking, he's been hyping Michael Beasley. First he said Beasley could have a Kevin Durant-like impact on the Big 12, and that he was a better high school player than Durant. Now, let's set this in context. He said this at a Catbacker (read, booster) function in McPherson, Kan. He was rallying the troops and all that stuff. I've heard he didn't even realize the press was in the building. It's whatever to me, he's setting the bar high. I don't really give a damn what the fans of other programs think about that comment, because they don't know how good he'll be, either. Personally, I doubt he'll put up Durant's numbers, but I'll bet he does pretty damn well.

Then, Martin dropped this one in the KC Star today...

"He doesn’t go around telling people he’s good. He’s got a fire burning in his belly,” Martin said. “He’s as good a player as there is in the country.”

Hell, he doesn't need to tell people how good he is. He has Frank Martin for that.

In other news, Bob Huggins made a desperate media-relations plea in the KC Star to sell his $650,000 shack in Manhattan. Huggins has been gone for three months now and hasn't been able to sell his house in a booming housing market. Now granted, not very many of the 14,000 soldiers and families of the Big Red One are able to afford that kind of pad, but surely some roller in Manhattan wants a house out near Colbert Hills.

Look, I don't doubt Huggins enjoyed his time at K-State. He was welcomed like a god, and Manhattan is a small town similar to the one he grew up in. And I can't blame him for wanting to go home. I want to move closer to home, too. But forgive me for not getting all teary eyed about the Huggins "era" at K-State. It is what it is, and touching is not an adjective that describes it.

Jesus, can football season get here any slower? Without games and other activities to write about, I'll have to keep looking for other items to fill the time. On that note, we will soon embark on our dangerous adventure into the Lone Nut...err...Star state to lampoon the southernmost Big 12 schools and their fans. It may take a while, the pictures of goofy A&M fans (I mean, Corp members) could have their own subcategory on Google.