Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Did Anyone Watch the College World Series?

Another college World Series is history. I must admit that the only reason I knew that was because I saw the headline on the Internet. Does anyone care that the series is over?

I watched glimpses of the World Series in the past, but not this year. I remember the finals on CBS. Now, ESPN has the finals on a weeknight telecast. CBS televised on the weekend.

I am not a ratings expert, but I think the series would receive more attention on the weekends when more people don't work. Even if they are off during the week, nights are busy.

College baseball is the only major sport I don't prefer over the professional brand. I would much rather watch a college football game over a pro one and the same for basketball.

College baseball just lacks it for me. Maybe it's because I enjoy pro baseball so much. Maybe the college game should go to a true World Series: the best four of seven. Maybe they should get rid of those phony, tinny-sounding bats and go back to good 'ole American wood.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Iowa State Must Improve

Iowa State was always one of the little guys in the old Big 12 Conference.

The Cyclones did make some noise nationally in basketball under coach Larry Eustacy. Iowa made an Elite Eight appearance during the 1999-2000 season and returned to the NCAA Tournament the follow year but couldn't advance.

The football team had some decent seasons under coach Dan McCarney. The Cyclones went to five minor bowl games and captured a first-place tie for the north division title. Paul Rhoads, in his first season last year, led the Cyclones to another minor bowl win.

So it's not to say that the Cyclones haven't had their moments in the Big 12, but nothing to have other conference members stand up and take notice. People across the nation don't talk much about Iowa State athletics either.

Iowa State needs to become more competitive in the new Big 12. Iowa State fans are generally patient and content fans. Throw them a bone occasionally and they are happy.

I hope Iowa State takes the additional money (supposedly) it receives and improves the product. The Cyclones need to make consistent trips to the NCAA Tournament and play in a bowl game virtually every year. It's not enough anymore to reflect the trying attitude. The Cyclones need to beat Kansas consistently in basketball again and upset Texas and/or Oklahoma occasionally in football. They need the nation to talk about this school on a regular basis.

This might become a tall order, but Iowa State needs to show its worth to the new Big 12 Conference.

Monday, June 28, 2010

What is the NCAA so Quiet on Conference Realignment?

Do you ever wonder why we didn't hear comments from the NCAA regarding conference alignment?

The NCAA, one of the most powerful bodies in all of sports, was so quiet you could hear that pin drop. The strange no response was frankly strange. With the potential to greatly change the college landscape on realignment, you would have thought the NCAA would have at least pitched its agenda.

It's even more strange when you consider that the formation of super conferences might force a football playoff. The NCAA doesn't want a playoff or it would have instituted one a long time ago. Instead, the NCAA wants to cater to the BCS and all those little bowl game men running around with bright colored blazers.

Inside the NCAA offices, you would think that officials are breathing better these days. Despite some conference movement, the status quo is still in place. Fans still want a playoff and they still won't get one.

So if you are a playoff proponent, you better keep cheering for the super conference setup. Otherwise, you better determine your favorite colored blazer.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Did I Miss Something?

I performed a double take last night when I was reading sports news at the bottom of one of the sports TV networks. It said that Oklahoma and Texas A&M had been invited to the SEC. I thought that was really strange. Are they going to open up this whole realignment thing again? So I looked for it again to make sure my eyes and mind weren't deceiving me. Sure enough, same result.

So I thought maybe it would be on my sports homepage. It wasn't. That seemed strange.

So when I finally Internet searched the situation, I found articles. It turns out this was all about teams during the realignment craze. Not the present. Apparently, Oklahoma had options. Well, good for them. Move on, let it rest. You are a member of the Big 12--minus two now. Enjoy it. Be happy.

Everybody wants to be wanted. Oklahoma declared its courtship. Funny that Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Baylor didn't discuss why nobody wanted them. Negative news does sell, but probably not in this case.

As I stated before in this blog, can we just have a serious break from this realignment talk? Please? Pretty please?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Big 12 North Teams Must Step Up

Now that Big 12 Conference alignment is over for the foreseeable future, there is no time like the present for the remaining North Division members to get more competitive. Yes, they will have Nebraska and Colorado to play against at least one more year, but after that, no more divisions.

Basketball should not be a problem as Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri have fielded decent to outstanding teams in the recent past. But football is a different story. The north teams better do more than just show up in the coming years.

Talk up north in the old Big 12 seemed to center on whether your school played Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M etc. in a particular season. The reasoning was if you didn't play those schools, you had a chance for a successful season and possibly a high-tier bowl game. If you did oppose those teams, expectations were lowered to take that into consideration.

Nebraska was about the other north team making noise against its southern brethren. Oh sure, Kansas and Missouri had a 1-2 year run but that was it. But with the Big 12 scaled down to ten teams, it appears each school will place nine league games each year. Thus, no ducking teams.

I appreciate Iowa State coach Phil Rhoads sentiments. He said he welcomed playing the consistent tougher competition and that recruits liked it too. I would think players and coach would enjoy measuring themselves against the best. Again, there is nothing wrong with beating a weak opponent 35-0, but wouldn't a team enjoy it more to play Oklahoma a 21-17 game?

So memo to the north teams: start playing like champions and don't become afraid of the Goliaths in the new Big 12 Conference.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Can we Please Take a Rest?

Hopefully Utah accepting a bid from the Pac-10 will end this expansion talk for a while. That moves the number to four schools who are taking up residency in other leagues. Nebraska went to the Big 10, Colorado went to the Pac-10 and Boise State went to the Mountain West. The summer needs to quiet down on this expansion movement and for that matter, the talk.

Summer for college football is usually a slow season. But not these year. I figure there were about 444 rumors going around where schools might end up. The biggest news didn't happen. The Texas schools and Oklahoma didn't dump the Big 12. On another note, Missouri didn't get an invitation to the Big 10. It sounds like Missouri wanted it a lot more than the Big 10 wanted to give it. So, memo to Missouri: suck it up boys and win consistently in the Big 12. Go ahead, take your frustration out on the field or court.

Now, can we please get back to reading football preseason magazines and talking fall match ups? Can we just get back to some familiarity and not worry about these so called super conferences?

But on further review, please don't wake me up until that kicker approaches the ball for the first time this fall.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Lower Tier Big 12 Schools were Desperate

Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State and Baylor acted like the former orphan who was about to get kicked out of its old home. They basically threw themselves at the mercy of Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma when it appeared the Big 12 was history

How else can you explain why these schools offered to give up their penalty money (the money Nebraska and Colorado owes the conference for leaving) to the "elite" Big 12 member schools. And shame, shame on Texas, Texas A%M and Oklahoma if they accept the money. They don't really need the money and there is already a huge divide between the top tier schools and the lower tier schools. The lower tier schools need the money to be competitive in the league.

There are conflicting reports about the relationships within the new Big 12--minus two Conference. Some say the conference is more unified than ever, while others say the "haves" don't really like the "have nots" and the have nots feel the same about the haves. If the truth be told, it is probably similar to a human family. There will be spats on occasion regardless.

But apparently this marriage will last until 2016 or until Texas and Notre Dame join together to create the Super Two Conference. Okay, the last part was a joke.

It's time for the lower tier schools to rise up and play nose-to-nose with the top tier brethren. Winning changes things. Respect occurs. Just ask David's brothers in the Bible after little David destroyed the giant.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Izzo Made a Good Choice

Michigan State's Tom Izzo is a very good college basketball coach. His record and accomplishments speak for themselves. He is a college coach through-and-though.

So maybe that was part of his thinking when he turned down an opportunity to coach the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers. Plus, the chance that the Cavs may not have their best player with them next season.

It is well documented that most college coaches landing a pro job end up losing it. Sure, the money sounds good (Izzo reportedly would have earned $6 million), but Izzo isn't exacting earning pennies at Michigan State. He could have double his present salary, but really what's the big difference between $3 and $6 million. It's not like he wants to buy a country or something. His wants and needs are well supplied.

The larger salary could be a ego thing anyway, and Izzo doesn't appear like that type of guy.

He knows he has a great gig at Michigan State. He is always going to land outstanding players who will work hard for him and the team. If LaBron doesn't resign with Cleveland, that team will definite fall in the NBA pro rankings. Plus, pro players might not buy-in to Izzo's rah, rah, college philosophy.

Izzo is an institution in Michigan. People love the guy. Why spoil a great thing? He will probably earn a statue outside the Breslin Center (Michigan State's basketball facility) when he retires.

Coach basketball needs guys like Izzo who produce quality, clean programs. You are right where you belong, coach. Congratulations on making a good choice.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What Did We Learn From This?

I have worked in the media and appreciate the media. But in this Internet society, the Big 12 Conference story again reminds us that a story isn't really news unless it becomes news.

Several media outlets declared the Big 12 dead. The Pac-10 would swoop up six total members and kill the conference. Colorado was the first official prize and the next five would be a matter of days

Well, obviously the sure thing wasn't the sure thing. Texas decided to stay in the Big 12 and the other Texas and Oklahoma schools followed. Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Iowa State and Baylor didn't want to go anywhere and these schools received their wish. Even with only 10 schools, the Big 12 is still alive.

The media was partly correct. Texas held the biggest poker chip and the conference survival did hinge on the Longhorns. The Longhorns turned down the Pac-10 marriage proposal and life in the mid section of the country is again all well.

The other big winner in this Big 12 love feast is commissioner Dan Beebe. He worked feverishly to save the league and save his job. He accomplished both.

It will be interested to see how this reworked 10-member conference functions. But for most people in Big 12 country they are jusy happy it is still functioning.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Divorce is Final

Change in life is often hard, but Nebraska created its own change when the Cornhuskers accepted the offer of membership in the Big Ten Conference.

You can read and analyze this for days. But the simple truth is Nebraska has divorced itself from Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Oklahoma. These were true brethren back from the 1928 days when these schools formed the Big Six Conference. Later Colorado and Oklahoma State would join and it became the Big 8 Conference. When the Texas schools apparently joined in 1994 (to form the Big 12), all was not well. So it might be easier to blame that merger than to cry over losing your real brethren

Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne said that he would still like to schedule some of these old schools after the Huskers join the Big Ten. But really, where is the room on the non conference schedule. Nebraska will still need to play those sure victory games with smaller schools like Troy and Middle Tennessee State.

Nebraska will move on and do just fine. The Big Ten is rock solid. But Nebraska's other brethren (minus Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) might not do so well.

Change will be forced up those schools without their consent. That will become really hard.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Good for the NCAA

News that the NCAA came down hard on the University of Southern California's Athletic Department was good news. If the Trojans cheated, they should be penalized.

Right or wrong,the NCAA has often been criticized for looking the other way when one of its big-boy programs broke the rules. Now, the big boys across the country know the NCAA has some teeth in these cheating matters.

So USC is banned from two straight bowl games and will lose 30 scholarships. That should cripple the program for a while. The Trojans won't lose any television appearances however. Keeping them off TV would have further distanced them from the college football world. So that was a break for USC.

The NCAA will also strip victories and championships away. I could never really understand why this is a punishment. Really, who cares. Most people will remember the victories and championships still belonging to USC anyway. I think the penalties should further hinder the present and future.

It will be interesting to see how this affects USC football AND basketball. The basketball team was also cited. If it doesn't cause more losses than victories, then maybe the NCAA didn't do enough.

But at the very least, USC knows it must keep a tighter reign on its athletic program. In due time, the Trojans will want to return to their big boy status.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tradition-Rich Kansas Hoops in Trouble?

Rumors that report the apparent demise of the Big 12 Conference are making some members schools AND teams quite nervous. One of those teams is the Kansas Jayhawks men's basketball team.

If Kansas is left without a Big 12 Conference home, the basketball squad will suffer the most. In the past, the Jayhawks have regularly competed for national championships and possess a long, storied basketball history. Think such figures as Dr. James Naismith, Wilt Chamberlain and Danny Manning. Kansas has been receiving top-notch, nation-wide talent. But the pipeline might stop if the Jayhawks fall to a lesser conference or outside of the proposed power leagues. Instead of competing with the likes of North Carolina, Duke, Michigan State, Ohio State etc., Kansas might fall to the likes of Colorado State, Air Force, New Mexico etc.

People truly don't know what's going on behind close doors and maybe the politicians will even get involved if widespread change does occur.

But in the end, it would be a shame for Kansas basketball to downsize. The college basketball world needs a Midwestern presence. It needs Kansas basketball.

What do you think of the proposed Kansas basketball plight?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Plight of Four Big 12 Schools

According to reports, Big 12 Conference members Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor haven't been invited to other conference's expansion parties. It can be extremely hurtful when you must stay home and not attend the party.

Baylor is making the most appeal of the group. The Bears want to go wherever the other Texas Big 12 schools are going. They are playing the "We are from Texas card and we believe all the Texas schools should remain together." Baylor hopes this brotherhood call will bring success. Frankly, I doubt it. The Bears real hope lies in getting buddy-buddy with the University of Texas because the Longhorn possess the most influence in the Big 12 Conference. But if Texas only cares for itself, Baylor remains in the same shape as Iowa State and the two Kansas schools.

Baylor provided a nice little run in the NCAA basketball tourney this past spring, but when you think of particular Big 12 members, the Bears are always near the bottom of the conference. Same with Iowa State and Kansas State. Kansas can boast about its basketball. One side note: it's surprising that the Jayhawks aren't receiving apparent love in the conference expansion sweepstakes.

But at the end of the day, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State membership rests on what the University of Texas does. If the Longhorns stay with the Big 12, the four schools can remain at home. If Texas bolts the conference, the real scramble begins.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Big 12 Makes News Again

According to reports, the PAC-10 Conference wants to raid the Big 12 Conference too.

In the past few weeks, talk has centered on Nebraska and Missouri possibly joining the Big Ten. If this report is true, the PAC-10 is looking at Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado. This would create the first ever Super Conference. That would leave most of the Big 12 North (Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State) as orphans. Baylor would be the lone Big 12 South school left.

It's no secret that most of the power in the present Big 12 resides in the South particularly in Austin, Texas. If just Texas would leave the conference, it would still be in trouble.

The PAC-10's difficulty is its time zone and location. It's 2-3 hours earlier than the Central or Eastern Time zones. This means that many folks in those locales are in bed when the conference plays night games. In the past, coverage of those contests were minimal, but maybe with the Internet that has improved.

With the exception of Colorado, the Big 12 schools are a great distance from other PAC-10 schools particularly those on the coast. Would fans of the present Big 12 Conference travel or follow their teams as much?

It would definitely be a wise move if the PAC-10 could lure the six Big 12 schools. But would it be such a great thing for the Big 12 schools to make the move?

Funny, but we never hear anything about the Big 12 expanding its conference. Apparently, it isn't out there picking the cherries, but its own tree seems plenty ripe.

What do you think about this latest twist on possible conference movement?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Do Your Own Term Papers College Kids

I goggled the term college sports topics today to see what was happening in the college sports world. Well, the first entry caught my eye, but in a negative way.

It was a service offering sports custom term papers. So I clicked on the link to examine this seedy prospect. Sure enough, you type in the topic, title, etc. and presto you have your description and price.

I guess these papers don't come with a disclaimer such as "This is cheating and that could get you in a whole peck of trouble even dismissal from the university."

Yes, I have seen these term paper mills before. I just wasn't ready to find it No. 1 on Goggle with my sports search. This is very sad.

Back in the day, the term was "You earn a degree." Now, people involved in this term paper mill should advertise "We will sell you a degree no work required. Just give us plenty of cash."

College is a time to learn life skills. Students who buy papers are developing cheating life skills. Post that one on a resume and hope for positive results.

As a freelance writer, I will not write term papers and become part of this cheating process. It is just not right.

College is hard. It does involve blood, some sweat, some tears. It does make you question your sanity at times. But at least if you do your own work, you have a sense of accomplishment whether it's great work or not so great work.

So students, please do your own term papers. You might even sleep better at night.