Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of my readers. It is a blessed time of year when we celebrate Jesus coming as a baby. This is the true meaning of Christmas.

Thank you for reading my blog and even commenting on my posts. I am blessed to have readers here in the United States and across the seas.

I plan to take a break for the holidays but will return with words and comments about the wonderful world of college athletics.



Thursday, December 22, 2011

My Christmas List--College Style

With my apologies to the song, “All I want for Christmas,” I present my top 10 wishes college style in no particular order.

•I want LSU and Alabama to play a 3-0 game in the BCS football title game. That baseball score would cause another great outcry about teams playing twice in a season including for the national championship.

•Baylor’s Robert Griffin III to return to school for another season. That seems highly unlikely so I hope he gets drafted by a team that will display his many talents.

•That the University of Louisiana-Lafayette receives more television time. How can you not fall in love with its nickname—the Ragin’ Cajuns?

•That the so called expects will quit picking on the Independence Bowl. I have been to Shreveport, Louisiana. It isn’t that bad. There are worst places.

•Please tone down the hype on the Rose Bowl game. It isn’t that special anymore even though people still call it the “Granddaddy” of the bowls. I think Granddaddy passed away a few years back.

•That the Big Ten Conference will truly change the football divisions named “Leaders” and “Legends.” Sorry, but it still sounds strange.

•That people will really believe Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz when he says he will remain the Hawkeye coach after another series of rumors. Why would a guy that has big time control of his program and makes $3.8 million per year really think about departing for another job?

Smaller schools complaining about the lack of love compared to the larger ones. Show it on the football field or basketball court and then get back to me.

•Teams like North Carolina, Kentucky, Syracuse or other traditional basketball powers not making the NCAA Final Four basketball. We need a couple new teams in that party to make it interesting.

•More Dick Vitale. The guy is a showman and has a great gig. He is good entertainment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The NCAA Slaps Ohio State

The NCAA placed a big ‘ole lump of coal in Ohio State’s Christmas stocking Tuesday.

The Buckeyes were placed on probation through the 2014-2015 academic year. Ohio State will lose three football scholarships per year and also will not play in a 2012 bowl game.

Depending upon who you listen to either Ohio State was punished too severely or the Buckeyes were fortune the infractions weren’t worse.

The laughable version was Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith. He said that Ohio State was disappointed with severity of the NCAA decision but was not going to appeal it. Frankly, Smith should be thankful he still has his job. Another thankful person regarding job security should be President Gordon Gee. I’m quite surprised these guys continue in their jobs.

Ohio State did the crime and it should do the time. Many were wondering if the NCAA would come down hard on one of its treasured athletic programs and I think the NCAA made a statement. How strong a statement will probably be determined in the future.

Will the sanctions hurt Ohio State? Losing one bowl game should have minimal consequences. Losing three scholarships per season should hurt a bit, but it basically means Ohio State will not be able to stockpile players as much as it did in the past.

I’m glad the NCAA came down on Ohio State. Cheating should not be tolerated. Hopefully the NCAA will continue to punish wrongdoers. It’s the right way to clean up college athletics.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Paul Rhoads and Iowa State Extend Marriage

I have often written in this space that football coach Paul Rhoads and Iowa State are a good match. Last week, those parties made their commitment to each other in a long-term way when Rhoads was given a 10-year, $20-million contract.

Rhoads has been a miracle worker of sorts at the Ames, Iowa school. He has led them to two bowl appearances in three years. His first team made a bowl, won the bowl and finished 7-6.

After a hiccup last season, Iowa State entered this year with a tough schedule and low fan expectations. A bowl game was a major stretch so it seemed. But Rhoads’ boys bought into his salesmanship and the Cyclones overachieved. Their signature win against then ranked No. 2 Oklahoma State shocked the college football world.

So this 6-6 team is better than its record. A win against Rutgers in the bowl game will give Iowa State two winning seasons in three years under Rhoads.

That may not excite the masses, but Iowa State isn’t exactly a football powerhouse. However, Rhoads is making people across the country notice the program. His postgame locker room speeches have excited players and fans alike. The speeches even were posted on YouTube.

Rhoads has become a hot coaching prospect and other schools may come calling eventually. But Rhoads grew up just down the road from the Iowa State football stadium. He understands Iowa State football. He is home.

Iowa State is happy. Rhoads is happy. The two parties are in love hopefully for at least 10 more years.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Baylor is Basketball This Season

It says something when your men’s basketball team is 9-0 and it isn’t even the best squad at your university.

The Baylor men’s team is indeed 9-0, but Baylor’s women’s team is 11-0 and ranked No. 1 in the country.

The Lady Bears knocked off No. 2 UCONN last night 66-61 in Waco. Brittney Griner, the Lady Bear’s 6-8 post player, tallied 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds while blocking nine shots. Another stellar performance for a stellar player.

You think Griner could hold her own against some college men players? I say, no doubt.

Griner and her teammates are grabbing some serious ink in Waco and around the country. The Lady Bears played in front of a sold out crowd last night. The Baylor’s men team cannot even claim a sell out yet this season.

The Baylor men’s team is somewhat quietly putting together a solid season. The Bears beat BYU in Utah last Saturday coming back from a 13-point first-half deficit. The win may improve Baylor’s No. 6 and No. 7 national rankings.

But the Baylor men’s team has a long way to go to top the women’s squad. The Lady Bears are on top of the world literally and figuratively these days.

Friday, December 16, 2011

It Starts Tomorrow

If you are a college football bowl fan, the wait is almost over. The bowl season officially begins Saturday with three games.

Other than the Army-Navy game last week, we have been without major college football for about two weeks. It was definitely enough time to recharge the batteries and prepare for the postseason.

This bowl season might seem longer than the regular season, but what do you expect when some 30 games are played? Actually, some of the lesser bowls might be more interesting than the bigger ones.

Some random thoughts on the bowl weekend.

The University of Louisiana-Lafayette rarely appears on television but the school will do the bright lights Saturday night at the New Orleans Bowl.

Interestingly, in this period of mediocre bowl records, the worst record of the six bowl teams playing this weekend is 7-5 Utah State.

I’m just wondering if the gift bags for the Idaho Potato Bowl include 10 pounds of Idaho’s best “spuds.”

New Mexico must either be a proud state or it has difficulty coming up with names. The New Mexico Bowl is straight and to the point.

Last year, I questioned Wyoming’s school colors. The Cowboys return to an early bowl game again, but I will play nice. I have no comment on brown, yellow and white.

Oh by the way, go Cowboys!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

I'm Back

Sorry about the lack of posts lately. I had been dealing with a nasty since infection and pounding headache, but thankfully I seem on the mend now.

There was quite a bite of college football news this last week. I will mention just three.

Congratulations to Baylor’s Robert Griffin III (RG3) for winning the Heisman Trophy. What an outstanding young man representing Baylor and the college football world. When we get down about all the negative aspects and problems in college football, we need to remember the good stuff such as positive roles models like RG3.

Why did Charlie Weiss become the coach at Kansas? I can see the Jayhawk’s point. Kansas went for name recognition and putting people in the seats. But Weiss left a high profile offensive coordinator job at Florida for Lawrence, Kansas. Is it a promotion? Does Charlie really want to become a head coach again (see Notre Dame) that badly? I think Weiss fits better in the NFL than the NCAA.

Todd Graham left Pittsburgh after only one season for Arizona State. He has also left Rice after one season besides coaching at Tulsa. This guy has a history of short stints and if I was Arizona State I would keep my list of potential replacements stuck on the telephone. But Graham has been stimulating the economy with moving vans and real estate transactions.

Readers: Anything strike your fancy in the last week or so of the college changes?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Strange Geography

The Big East Conference announced this week that it is expanding. I’m fine with the league wanting to try to survive in this weird conference realignment business.

For my international readers, the Big East is largely an East Coast conference centered in highly populated areas. The league is best known for its basketball members such as UCONN, Syracuse and Georgetown.

What the conference isn’t known until now is its far reaching national scope. Believe it or not, San Diego State is one of the new members. San Diego State is about as far west in the United States as you can travel. It’s on the West Coast. My geography tells me the West Coast is long way from the East Coast. Folks, you must jump three time zones to get from Point A to Point B.

I find it hard to understand how San Diego State thinks this will benefit its school. Think about the travel costs. Think about the travel time. Think about the additional class time the student athletes will miss.

San Diego State isn’t going to the Big East of old. It’s not a glamour league anymore. It’s been stripped and it’s like I said earlier in survival mode. But the Mountain West (where San Diego State’s membership resides) is shaky too and I guess the West Coast folks believe regardless of the distance, the Big East provides more stability.

I just hope San Diego State has a monster map because it will need one.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

This is Shameful

Shame on UCLA. Shame on the NCAA. Shame on the Hunger Bowl.

The UCLA Bruins are going to a bowl game with a record of 6-7. This is not a misprint. The Bruins were rewarded with a trip for a losing record.

I know it seems like here are 100 bowls these days. Actually, I think there are only 30-some. But the real question is has college football sunk this low inviting losers to the party? I was upset a few years ago when teams with 6-6 marks began receiving bowl invitations. Like many things in life, I eventually became use to it, but inviting teams with losing records won’t grow on me.

Folks this isn’t grade school or junior high. We don’t give college football team’s participation medals. Teams need to earn bowl games. Teams that don’t have .500 records or better need to stay home and try again next year.

UCLA applied for a waiver from the NCAA because of its record. The NCAA granted the request. UCLA should have never requested the waiver and the NCAA should not have granted it. End of discussion and end of story.

Come to think about however this situation does have one plus. It’s just one less bowl game I will be tempted to watch.

I hear my sock drawer calling me.

Monday, December 5, 2011

No Thanks BCS

The BCS (Bowl Championship Series) is flawed. The BCS is flawed. How else can you explain LSU-Alabama for the national championship?

This game should never happen. Maybe the outcries will force a system change. Please, please no more conference members playing each other in the national championship game. Bowls try to escape matching up teams that have played in the regular season, why not use the same philosophy in the title game?

LSU and Alabama played a boring first game—all field goals. Why do you expect anything different in the sequel? Is anybody really going to watch this game other than the LSU and Alabama fans?

You should also feel sorry for LSU. Why should a team have to defeat an opponent twice in one season for the title?

The polls and computers say Alabama is the second best team. Well, the Tide isn’t even technically the best team in the SEC. That honor belongs to Georgia that lost to LSU in the SEC championship game.

College football is an entertainment business. I cannot imagine even advertisers embracing this national championship game.

Please, please and please, change the system otherwise will have more teams like Oklahoma State receive a lump of coal in its Christmas socking.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Congratulations Mike Leach

It was only a matter of time before Mike Leach would return to the college coaching ranks. And I say congratulations.

Leach was named head football coach at Washington State this week. He had been away from the coach sidelines for a couple years after getting fired at Texas Tech. He led the Red Raiders to a bowl game every season he was there (I believe 10), but fell out of favor with the administration over an incident with the son of ESPN commentator Craig James. Leach was accused of ordering James’ son locked up in equipment shed.

But I ‘m glad Leach can leave that behind now and concentrate on coaching football. Hopefully, the guy will put Washington State on the football map.

Leach is a sportswriter’s dream. He is a quote machine. He’s smart. He’s entertaining. He coaches entertaining offensive football. It’s tough to not enjoy covering Leach’s teams.

The coach will fit in nicely with the pass-happy Pac-12 teams. He loves to spread the field and put up wild offense numbers Leach loves those 55-47 games. Isn’t the objective of football scoring the most points?

I believe Leach will win at Washington State. He might even throw in a quote of two from Winston Churchill for good measure.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Baylor's Perry Jones Returns

Last season, Baylor big man Perry Jones III was one of the best high school basketball players to come out of the state of Texas. He became Baylor’s most celebrated recruit.

Jones, known as PJ3 in Texas, entered the season with high expectations. Some projected him as the No. 1 overall pick in the National Basketball Association’s draft if Jones left school after his freshman season.

Well, Jones didn’t dominate the college basketball world. He had some freshman growing pains. He showed people he was human. PJ3 couldn’t control the middle of the lane every game, but the freshman did scored 13.9 points per contest.

Jones’ season was also controversial. The NCAA slapped a six-game suspension on him before the Oklahoma Big 12 Conference tournament game for benefits received prior to his Baylor enrollment. Baylor lost that game and was not invited to a postseason tournament.

Many questioned whether Jones would fulfill the rest of his suspension and instead jump to the NBA. Baylor fans were happy when Jones announced he would return for his sophomore season and fulfill the remaining five-game suspension.

By all accounts, Jones is a qualify person. He showed some real maturity when he took his medicine and didn’t bolt to the NBA.

PJ3 opened his season against Prairie View A&M Tuesday night and displayed why he is such a special talents. Granted Prairie View isn’t exactly the LA Lakers, but the sophomore did torch the visitors for 27 points on 10-14 field goals and 7-9 free throws.

You think the guy has a little more incentive this season sitting out the first five games? I sense he is going to really take it out on opponents and is posed for a banner season.

Others predict a stellar season too. For example, the Big 12 named Jones as its Preseason Player of the Year.

With all that Jones has encountered in his one plus years in college, it’s not difficult cheering for this rising star.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Alabama's Nick Sabin Sounds Like a Politician

I will give Alabama football coach Nick Sabin “E” for effort with his speech the other day promoting his team for the BCS National Championship.

He sounded like a good ‘ole politician with his words. Believe me folks here in Iowa can spot a politician and his/her speech a mile away. We have had our share of political talk in the last several months and it will heat up in a hurry as the Iowa caucus approaches.

Sabin apparently decided to walk the campaign trial by reminded college football voters that the two best teams should play for the national championship. It sounds like ‘ole Nick is feeling some heat about a possible LSU-Alabama rematch in the BCS Championship Game. The two schools played during the regular season in the ‘field goal’ bowl. All the points were made via field goals. Frankly, the game was really dull.

There appears some strong sentiment that folks don’t want this rematch to happen. As I stated in an earlier blog, I fall in that category. Sabin’s team didn’t make the SEC title game this weekend, so maybe he wanted to remind people that Alabama is the second best team in the country. Strange but accordingly to the SEC championship game, the Tide isn’t even the second best team in the league.

Actually, I am still pulling for Oklahoma State to be that No. 2 team. The Cowboys need to beat Oklahoma this week to become part of the discussion.

But I don’t blame Sabin for his speech. That’s what politicians do. Sabin is only playing the part. We’ll have to wait for the election results.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

No Surprise: Urban Meyer Returns to Coaching

Urban Meyer missed his view from a college football sideline. Ohio State had an opening and a need for a stable, proven hire. The Urban Meyer-Ohio State marriage became official Monday.

Walking away from Florida after the 2010 season, many questioned how long Meyer would remain an unemployment football coach. Despite some health issues, Meyer was only in his 40s.

Meyer says his health is good now and wanted to get back into the coaching profession. He was a color commentator for ESPN during the 2011 season.

Meyer took the job before the NCAA announced sanctions on Ohio State. Both parties must be comfortable in facing the potential penalties.

Meyer is obviously going to make lots of money. The pressure will be tremendous, however. Ohio State always has high expectations. The expectations will become even higher now. People want to forget all the problems of the coach Jim Tressel era. Remember this is Ohio State. The Buckeyes expect to win and win big regardless of sanctions.

But you have to wonder if Meyer made the right decision. Will his health go sour again under the pressure of being a type of savior? In the past, he encountered heart issues. This job will put that condition to an extreme test.

Monday, November 28, 2011

College Football's Other Season

The end of the college football regular season is fast approaching. Many teams have completed their regular seasons. Others will next week followed by a bowl game. So it’s time for college football’s other season to begin—the season of coach firings.

The housing industry is in difficult shape but it will receive a little boost in the next several weeks because of the coaching movement. Some fans wanted to put real estate signs in their coach’s lawns in support of their firing. Some fans’ wishes have been granted.

It’s never a good thing when a coach is rumored for the pink slip and comes out with a statement such as “We are making good progress despite the record. We just need more time to turn this thing around. I haven’t heard anything specific about my status.”

Well, several coaches have indeed heard about their status. The house needs to go up for sale.

Kansas coach Turner Gill probably earns this year’s lack of longevity award. Gill was fired over the weekend after just two years as the Jayhawk’s head man.

Over at Illinois, Ron Zook helped his team to a 6-0 start. Then the Illini preceded to loss six straight and Zook was done. I’m surprised he lasted this long. It seems the former Florida was frequently on the hot seat over his tenure at Illinois.

Mississippi’s Houston Nutt resigned during the season. That was one of those wording deals. A common occurrence. The athletic director says something like ‘Either you resign, or we will fire you.”

Those are only three firing examples. There are obviously others. And more to come.

It’s college football’s other season. Just like other seasons, there are both winners and losers. Fans, coaches and real estate agents all agree.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

This Pains Me

The Alabama-Auburn game, known as the Iron Bowl, usually doesn’t garner much of my attention. But this year, I have a little more interest because of a negative reason.

Alabama sits at No. 2 in the BCS. If the Tide wins today, they will capture a national champion game spot. It’s their last regular season game. Then if LSU beats Georgia in next week’s SEC title game, we will have an all-SEC national championship game. This I do not want.

But this requires me to cheer for Auburn and coach Gene Chizik. Ever since Chizik left Iowa State in a controversial move, it has been hard to cheer for the guy. I guess human nature and hurt feelings have something to do with it. This might be a good day to bury the feelings and turn the page.

Auburn, the defending national championship, is ranked No. 24 and is today’s host. The Tigers aren’t chopped liver but not as potent as last season’s squad. Hopefully, the rivalry and the opportunity to play spoiler will inspire Auburn.

If Auburn cannot provide the upset, I might have to rearrange my sock drawer the night of the national championship game.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Iowa and Nebraska Begin New Rivalry

Iowa and Nebraska are neighbors in the heartland of America. The two schools have played each other in football on occasion as members of different conferences. But today the rivalry takes on a different meaning. For the first time, the two will play as Big Ten Conference brethren.

There is excitement in these parts for the day after Thanksgiving game but not a major build-up. Both teams are having respectable seasons but not stellar ones. This explains the quiet nature and lack of hype nationally.

But the series has a chance to grow. The plan is to have this game as the final regular season contest. It replaces the Colorado game for Nebraska and the Minnesota game for Iowa. The Huskers and Hawkeyes played those opponents in the last game for a number of years.

But change truly happens. Today starts a new tradition. And hopefully in the next few years, the game will become a huge rivalry filled with significance.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my United States readers. We have much to be thankful for in this country despite our challenges. God has truly blessed us. Enjoy the day.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Rich Rodriquez Back in Coaching

It didn’t take long for Rich Rodriquez to leave the TV booth and return to coaching.

Rodriquez left CBS College Sports to try to resurrect the Arizona Wildcats. His official appointment was announced this week.

When I first heard the news, I thought another Rodriquez was moving to Arizona—Alex. But then I thought why would A-Rod leave the New York Yankees to go to the Arizona Diamondbacks?

The other Rodriquez is trying to repair his coaching reputation. First, Rich-Rod as he is called, suffered a nasty divorce with West Virginia as he departed his alma mater to go to Michigan. I think Rich-Rod looked at Michigan as his dream job. It was a dream alright—a bad one. Many of the Michigan fans just plain disliked the guy. He also ran into trouble with the NCAA and couldn’t win enough games to satisfy the Michigan faithful. All these factors led to his firing

His spread offense should do fine in the offensive-happy Pac-12. His defenses were generous at Michigan, but defense doesn’t seem to be a problem in the Pac-12. The key is to just literally outscore the other opponent like say, 60-52. Plus, Rodriquez should be in a much lower-key job than the bright lights at Michigan. Despite what the league says, the Pac-12 still suffers from an exposure problem. The time zone factor is the major culprit. Lots of the games start too late for Midwest and East Coast viewers.

So, it will be interesting to see how Rich-Rod plays out in the Southwest. He’s at a basketball school but he no doubt was hired to elevate the importance of the football program. Hopefully, Rich-Rod has learned from his mistakes and will do well in Tucson.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Griffin Lentsch Shoots, Scores, Scores and Scores

Grinnell College is a small liberal arts school in east central Iowa. Its men’s basketball team is a scoring machine. If Grinnell doesn’t put up at least 100 points against its opponent, it’s a bad night for this Division III school.

Well, Grinnell scored 145 points last Saturday, but the amazing stat is Griffin Lentsch tallied 89 of them. Lentsch earned the third best single game scoring total ever across all divisions.

Skeptics can say this guy plays Division III and isn’t going against the likes of Duke, North Carolina or Kentucky. But I don’t care what division it is: grade school, junior high AAU, junior college, Division I or III, 89 is a boat load of points.

I imagine Lentsch’s hand and shoulder were a bit sore after the game. However, he would probably gladly take residence in the training room again for a similar performance.

But now Lentsch has some pressure. He scored that many points in an early season game. What is he going to do for an on core? He has almost all of the season left. And how will he keep that monstrous scoring average?

Monday, November 21, 2011

The BCS is a Mess

I am crying out to a non-SEC (Southeastern Conference) team today. Please, please, somebody move into the No. 2 BCS spot before the national champion game.

The SEC now has a stronghold on the BCS standings with LSU, Alabama and Arkansas in the top three spots. Do we really want a LSU-Alabama rematch? I say no, no and no. I mean how many field goal games can we take?

Upset weekend caused the major shakeup in the standings. Oklahoma State, Oregon, Clemson and Oklahoma all lost games. The Cowboys fell two spots in the BCS rankings to No. 4.

The SEC has owned the national championship in recent years. On this late November day, the conference is sitting in good shape. The SEC has been sticking out their chest boasting and that needs to stop. We need more upsets in the remaining games. The SEC needs some competition in the championship game.

Remember when it seemed like the New York Yankees were going to the World Series every year? Well, the SEC is going to the football World Series every year. The trouble is this year the league doesn’t want to invite anyone else to the party.

We need a choice in the title game. Please, please, somebody help us.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Iowa State Wins Shocker Over Oklahoma State

Iowa State proved Friday night that a big underdog can rise up and bite an undefeated team.

No. 2 Oklahoma State discovered the Cyclones had plenty of bite all night. Final result: a six-point Iowa State victory.

The Cowboys were a 27-point favorite entertaining the game and headed for a possible national championship affair against LSU. When Oklahoma State left the field Friday night, it opened up the national title chase for other one-loss contenders.

Iowa State had never beaten a top six rated team before. It has been woeful against top-rated teams actually. But the Cyclones refused to lose.

Most upsets occur with the underdog jumps out in the lead and hangs out sometimes to the bitter end. Iowa State didn’t follow the script. The Cyclones were down 24-7 in the second half. They stormed back to forge a 24-24 tie. It looked bleak for Iowa State with about a one minute left. Normally reliable Oklahoma State kicker Quinn Sharp came into the game for a 30 something field goal. He proceeded to hook the try and it was no good.

That break was all Iowa State needed. Although it took two overtimes, the Cyclones were the dominated team in the extra periods.

Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads helped guide another miracle. Now at 6-4, the Cyclones are bowl eligible for the second time in three seasons under Rhoads.

And although it was windy weather, the Cyclones didn’t need it for the win. Instead, they created their own storm.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Missouri's Gary Pinkel Case a Sad Reminder

Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel was arrested this week on a drunken driving charge. The Tigers’ head man will serve a one-game suspension and have his salary frozen.

Apparently, Pinkel has been a man of high standards in more than a decade as Missouri’s coach but slipped up big time on this occasion. It’s sad because leaders are called to a higher standard and yes leaders are human beings too.

The rub in this case is the offense involved alcohol. Coaches are always preaching to their players about the dangers of this beverage. Players who are caught in unfavorable circumstances with alcohol are usually punished greatly. But can Pinkel continue to talk about the dangers of alcohol and still have creditability with his players on the subject? Or maybe Pinkel can have a larger influence on the subject because he has gone down that bad path.

Hopefully, Pinkel has learned from his experience and can become a better leader of his football team. His jury of 18-22-year-olds will be watching their coach closely.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Watch Out for the Wind Oklahoma State Cowboys

Iowa State host No. 2 Oklahoma State Friday night and the Cyclones are hoping for bad weather. It’s about their only chance for an equalizer.

Sounds like it could be windy, but no snow or rain in the forecast. Maybe Iowa State should install some large fans to enhance the nature wind. You imagine they could sneak them in behind the stands?

On paper, this football game is a mismatch. The Cowboys, fresh off a blowout win at Texas Tech, are 27 to 27 ½ favorites. Their high-powered offense is difficult to contain and impossible to stop.

Some might wonder if this is a trap game for Oklahoma State with Oklahoma coming up in early December. I don’t see it. If the Cowboys were playing the Sooners next week, then might be it would be a problem. But with a two-week layoff between the Iowa State and Oklahoma games, it’s highly unlikely.

Besides the weather, Iowa State’s chances in this one involve ball-control. The Cyclones must keep the Cowboys’ offense on the sidelines as much as possible and keep from making mistakes. With its offense, Oklahoma State doesn’t need a “short” field too.

Now, about working on that wind…

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Duke's Mike Krzyzewski Record Will Remain

Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski became the No. 1 coach in college wins last night when the Blue Devils defeated Michigan State. “Coach K” now has 903 wins, one better than his mentor Bobby Knight.

Coach K will add a bunch of victories to that total before he retires. But I seriously doubt that anyone will break his record. Records are meant to be broken as the saying goes, but this one is officially now off limits.

There aren’t enough coaches in the business that will last as long as the Coach K's, Bobby Knights and Adolph Rupps. With the massive salaries head coaches make in these times, what is the real incentive to attempt to break the record? Coaches now can put in a limited number of years, take their money and retire to the golf course. Plus, why put yourself through the rigors of college basketball for 30 years? The shelf life of college coaches is just different in this era.

That’s why Coach K's record is so remarkable. The guy has won a huge amount of games in a long period of time. It’s definite history and real cause for celebration.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

College Basketball Junkie

OIf you are a college basketball junkie, these 24 hours are for you. ESPN’s Tip-Off Marathon is in full swing.

I count 10 games today on the ESPN networks starting at 5 a.m. in the central time zone. Of course there were games before during the late-night and early morning hours. For example, Northern Iowa played in California and had a 1 a.m. Iowa starting time. Whew. Was the postgame meal dinner or breakfast?

I am looking forward to the Baylor-San Diego State game at 1 p.m. central. Baylor has restocked its roster and it will be interesting to see how the new messes with the old.

Most people will look to the night action. Duke and Michigan State is one game, while Florida-Ohio State is another. The last major draw is Kentucky-Kansas. I wonder while these teams aren’t playing a 2 o’clock in the morning. I know why and so do you. It’s all about television sets and ratings.

Usually it takes me a while to warm up to the college basketball season. I’m coming off the baseball season and football is still in high gear. But if it is ESPN’s desire to tempt me, the network is doing a good job.

Enjoy the basketball junkies.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Stanford's Andrew Luck Runs Out of Luck

I was cheering for Stanford Saturday night against Oregon. The Stanford boys are easy to embrace: Andrew Luck, true student-athletes and an outstanding academic institution.

But, you knew heading into the game, the Cardinal faced a difficult test. Stanford had recently survived against Southern Cal in a wild overtime game and frankly it looked vulnerable. Plus, Oregon is a fast and athletic team.

All these factors made it feel that Stanford’s undefeated season would come to an end. The hutch was correct. Match, set, Oregon 53-30.

The game was never close unless you count 0-0. Stanford quarterback Luck is indeed a great talent. But the poor guy needs help. Too many mistakes, took many dropped passes and out-of-sync overall play doomed the Cardinal.

Stanford’s national championship hopes are basically gone. It has fallen to ninth place in the BCS. It’s difficult to leapfrog a number of teams this time of year. The Cardinal need a football miracle and I don’t think it will happen.

But regardless, Stanford will remain an interesting team to watch. Luck is the reason Stanford has won nine games so far this season. With some other luck, they could have been 10-0.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Basketball on Ship III

Friday night’s college basketball game between North Carolina and Michigan State on the navy carrier ship was a great night for America. It was a fitting occasion to celebrate Veteran’s Day with many servicemen and servicewomen in attendance.

Our country has gone through a lot in recent years, but it was great to step aside from the problems and celebrate America and the men and women’s service for this great nation. It reminded me of July 4th in the middle of November.

It was one of the few times I have ever watched a basketball game and concluded that there were no losers. Yes, the Tar Heels did defeat the Spartans on the scoreboard, but both teams were winners on this night. I imagine Michigan State was disappointed in the loss, but what an experience for all the players and staff involved.

Sounds like this might become an annual event playing a college basketball game on Veteran’s Day. I think that would be awesome.

We never have too many opportunities to celebrate this great nation and the sacrifices of our military personnel. Playing college basketball on Veteran’s Day is a fitting tribute.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Basketball on a Ship II

Last April, I wrote a blog about North Carolina and Michigan State playing basketball on a carrier ship. Tonight, the game becomes a reality.

I think it’s a unique and great way to honor veterans on Veteran’s Day.

These are two historic programs and a great way to kick off the college basketball season. Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson will be in attendance. The two starred at North Carolina and Michigan State respectively.

Of course, we Iowans will pay close attention to North Carolina sophomore Harrison Barnes. The Iowa native had a productive first season for the Tar Heels and is posed for a banner second-year campaign. It will be interesting to see how far he can elevate his game.

The college sports world really needs this contest at this time. With the fallout at Penn State, it’s great that this game will steal some coverage from that ugly mess. For a while anyway, we can focus on the true spirit of competition and receive North Carolina against Michigan State too. It will be a special night.

I want to say thank-you to all the veterans on Veteran’s Day. We are honored and certainly blessed by your service. My dad served in Germany in World War II. I remember him on this day too.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Penn State's Joe Paterno Had to Go

They can riot all they want to in State College, Pennsylvania, but the Penn State Board of Trustees made the right call in firing football coach Joe Paterno.

Paterno thought he could prolong his fate early on Wednesday when he volunteered to resign at the end of the season. I wondered how that act would work. The Penn State Board of Trustees took care of it late Wednesday night.

Or by the way, Penn State also fired its president—Graham Spanier.

Paterno is obviously the biggest figure to fall in this mess. He now realizes he should have taken greater measures when informed of the alleged sexual child exploitation involving former Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky.

Paterno was larger-than-life at Penn State. He no longer receives the title. His rule has ended. The mighty do fall and Paterno went crashing down.

People wonder about Paterno’s legacy. Will this scandal scar it? I don’t know, but at the moment memory is short-term. The stones will continue to be thrown at Paterno for a while. Will he recover? Time will tell.

Meanwhile, the house cleaning at Penn State has only begun. It started with the big boys and will trickle down. People might not recognize the place when it’s over.

We have no model for a situation like Penn State. It’s a sad, sad situation that we will have its own model now.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Sickening Mess at Penn State

This mess at Penn State becomes more disguising each day. Where this merry-go-round will stop nobody knows.

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky allegedly was involved in child exploitation. Some are charging Penn State officials including legendary football coach Joe Paterno with cover-up.

Now there is an Associated Press report that Paterno will resign at the end of the season. I still think it might that be that long. How can Paterno continue to coach under this massive cloud? JoePa will face major scrutiny for his remaining days at Penn State.

Some say, JoePa is the fall guy for the university. I don’t know how much responsibility should be his in this terrible case, but he is the CEO of the program. That in itself requires leadership and responsibility.

Nobody at Penn State is showing any leadership. Until someone comes out and explains this tragedy and takes responsibility, all we have is conjecture, hurt, anger and a story that won’t go away.

Penn State is an institution of higher education. Right now if I was grading the school, it would receive a big fat “F.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Can Joe Paterno Survive?

Happy Valley, Pennsylvania is far from a happy place.

In the last 96 hours or so, the news about the alleged child exploitation by former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has soiled the once proud institution. It seems there is plenty of shared blame attached to the situation. Take your pick from the school’s president to the former athletic director and business manager. Even legendary football coach Joe Paterno is in the firing line.

Paterno’s knowledge of the situation appears cloudy. I imagine we will learn more as the facts continue to become available. But I cannot see JoePa surviving this situation. Paterno is under fire for his association with Sandusky and not doing more than simply reporting what he knew (about Sandusky’s conduct) to the athletic director.

Will JoePa resign this week? I doubt it. The guy is a fighter. Many have called for his resignation for a number of years and the ‘ole guy is still coaching. But will the pressure get to him enough where he will quit following the season?

The charges against Sandusky are obviously extremely serious. The sad thing is there are many dominos falling besides Sandusky. JoePa could be one of those particular dominos.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The College Football Diet

If you are trying to wean yourself from watching too much college football on TV Saturday, this is a great weekend to accomplish the feat.

Other than the huge LSU-Alabama game Saturday night, the offerings are really slim.
You might want to flip over to Kansas State-Oklahoma State (also in primetime) on occasion. The explosive Cowboys are receiving serious national attention and can score points in a hurry. Kansas State was an item until it was thumped by Oklahoma in Manhattan. The Wildcats don’t seem to pose much of a threat playing Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

The laugher game in primetime is Notre Dame-Wake Forest. That’s the other regional game on ABC besides Oklahoma State-Kansas State. I say laugher game because are you serious: Notre Dame-Wake Forest in primetime? Who exactly will watch that game? Who really cares?

So all-in-all, it’s a good day to wash the car, rake some leaves and clean out the garage or basement. You will have plenty of time before LSU-Alabama starts.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Talking LSU and Alabama

nationIf you are a college football fan, you know folks have been looking forward to the LSU-Alabama contest for a few weeks.

LSU is No. 1 in the BCS standings while Alabama comes in at No. 2. The Tide has the home field advantage.

I look at this as an elimination game for the national championship. The loser would have to hope some other undefeated teams lose in the remaining weeks in order for a one-loss grouping. Then maybe the computers would look favorably on a one-loss SEC team.

Some believe a one-loss SEC team should be a national championship contender against undefeated teams. I don’t believe that way. A loss is a loss whether it comes in the SEC, ACC, Big Ten or Big 12.

Anyway, the stakes are high in this one. The winner should be the favorite for the national championship. Both schools have played that role in recent years and seceded in it.

Do you think the loser should get another shot at the national championship?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Giving College Athletes More Money

The debate over whether to provide college athletes with more money than their scholarships will never end. I don’t say that in a negative tone but because it is such a hot button issue.

The issue is in the news again because last week the NCAA made a recommendation that would allow conferences to provide $2000 more to scholarship athletes. I’m somewhat confused on what constitutes the $2000 in value, but I take it the amount wouldn’t be all cash.

Full-ride scholarships presently don’t cover all the expenses/fees the student-athlete occurs. This would help offset those costs. The real costs would come to the particularly university or college. Each school would need to fund student-athletes equally. For example, the softball player couldn’t receive less than the football player or the volleyball player couldn’t receive less than the basketball player.

My concern isn’t equality between sport teams but between conferences. The BCS (or big) schools would probably have no difficulty with the additional expenses. They would just make bigger pitches to the alumni and other supporters of the athletic program. But the small schools in small conferences already struggle to keep pace with the big boys in terms of financial resources. This would place the smaller schools at a greater disadvantage. The big boys already have the pick of the crop in recruiting and this measure would probably continue to provide that deep advantage. Student-athletes considering a school will look hard at the financial package like others pondering a job offer.

So although this recommendation looks good on the outside, it has sticky potential on the inside.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Oklahoma State Cowboys in a Good Spot

Sometimes near the top of mountain is almost as good as being on top.

Oklahoma State is that football team. The Cowboys sit No. 3 in the BCS (Bowl Championship Series). LSU and Alabama are No. 1 and No. 2 respectively but play each other this week. So with a victory over Kansas State Saturday, you figure the Cowboys will move into the No. 2 slot. And No. 2 at the end of the season puts a team in the national championship game.

The Cowboys have a favorable schedule the rest of the season with the exception of playing Oklahoma the last game. The Sooners will play the role of a spoiler after their shocking loss to Texas Tech on Oct. 22. Oklahoma might just take out all its frustrations on Oklahoma State.

But if the Cowboys remain undefeated throughout the season, they will benefit from no Big 12 Conference championship game. These league championship games are great for the conference money chest, but traps for teams hoping for a national championship slot.

So right now, Oklahoma State’s view near the mountain top looks good. But in this wacky world of college football, one quick misstep lands you quickly down that mountain.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Strange Saturday for Iowa's Big Two Football Teams

Talk about getting blindsided with the results of the Iowa and Iowa State games. Wow.

On paper, the Hawkeyes should have owned Minnesota. Then, they played the game. The result was the Gophers doubled their victory total to two. Iowa choked a lead in the fourth quarter and lost 22-21. The Hawkeyes couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. Minnesota, if truth was told, probably couldn’t believe it. It made the Gophers season.

Now, Iowa must regroup before facing the Michigans---Michigan and Michigan State. Those games now will scare any rabid Hawkeye fan.

Iowa State played Texas Tech last Saturday. The Red Raiders were coming off a stunning upset of Oklahoma the week before. I thought Texas Tech might be a little flat and the Cyclones could give the Red Raiders a competitive game. But it turns out Texas Tech was REALLY flat.

Iowa State mirrored a struggling team entering the game. The Cyclone had lost four straight and looked real bad during the streak.

Well, Iowa State found itself a quarterback. Redshirt freshman Jared Barnett started his first game and ran the show brilliantly. Iowa State pounded Texas Tech 41-7.

I figured Tech would win in a fairly close game. The only time the Red Raiders were in the game was at 0-0. Good figure.

The old saying came true in Iowa last Saturday: “On any given Saturday, any team can beat someone else.” That is one factor that makes college football a great game.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Watch Some College Football Saturday

There is a number of interesting college football matchups tomorrow (Saturday).

Stanford is the No. 1 team on upset alert this week. The Cardinal has visions of playing for a possible national championship, but this week’s game at Southern California (USC) should test Stanford’s resolve. The probation-ridden Trojans are in the unusual spoiler role and would like to put a blemish on this Andrew Luck team.

Is Kansas State for real? We will find out this week when the undefeated Wildcats host Oklahoma. It’s a bad time to play the Sooners after Texas Tech upset Oklahoma last Saturday. If the Sooners still want to cling to small hopes of a national championship, they cannot lose any more games.

Undefeated Oklahoma State hopes to continue its push for a national championship when the Cowboys host Baylor. The Bears can score points but probably cannot stop the Cowboy offense. This game could end up 73-55.

Has Michigan State come down from its miracle win over Wisconsin? The Spartans travel to Nebraska tomorrow and it should be a tight one. Both are one-loss teams but the Spartans are undefeated in Big Ten Conference play.

Wisconsin hopes to avoid another loss this week. The Badgers travel to Ohio State Saturday. The road was a pitfall in East Lansing last Saturday, but one-loss Wisconsin needs to rebound if it wants to compete for a conference championship game.

What games are you watching this weekend? What team do you think should be on upset alert?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Basic Journalism Practice

We learned yesterday West Virginia joining the Big 12 conference is a possibility not a reality.

Okay, I learned my lesson…maybe. Yesterday, I remembered what I heard in journalism school a long time ago. You need to report the facts. But ladies and gentlemen in this Internet age that is difficult. Everybody uses the term “source” on the Internet, but few actually know who the source is. News is like the microwave oven: we cannot wait. This is no time to use the slow cooker.

Well, that attitude definitely got in the way with the West Virginia story. It turned out there was no story. Can anyone say “Egg on the face” including mine?

Apparently, people outside the Big 12 and West Virginia cried foul. Louisville may be competing with the Mountaineers for the Big 12 spot. But who really knows?

Two things I do know. The Big 12 is one very strange acting conference and secondly, I need to get the facts straight before my fingers attack the keyboard.

Oh one last thing: stay tuned for more from the Big 12 soap opera.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hello West Virginia

Apparently, West Virginia is taking the advice to “Go West young man” literally. The Mountaineers are posed to accept an offer from the Big 12 Conference.

The Big 12 continues to receive some good news after the conference almost landed in the garbage dump. TCU and West Virginia ACTUALLY want to be in the league.

But the Big 12 will no longer be a regional conference. For my foreign readers, West Virginia is on the East Coast many, many and many miles away from the other Big 12 members. The Big 12 has forever been a Midwest and Texas-based conference. But as they say, “Times are changing.”

The Mountaineers will bring competitiveness to its new league. They provide nationally ranked teams in football and men’s basketball. The football coach and men’s basketball coach both have spent time in the conference.

So I would say the Big 12 is fortunate to have West Virginia join the group.

The frequent flyer miles will jump up now, but the conference better not complain. It’s a whole lot better offering the welcome mat then getting the parting gifts package ready.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What is it with the Big 12 Conference?

Only in the Big 12 Conference do you have teams wanting to leave and then delay the process. Other conferences have teams actually leave in a relatively short time and life goes on. But then there is the Big 12.

The process drags on and on. First it was Texas A&M and now it’s Missouri’s turn. What are the Tigers thinking anyway?

They had the perfect opportunity yesterday at a Big 12 Conference meeting. All Missouri had to say is “Fellas we are leaving the conference. Thanks for your time.” But no, Missouri remained silent. It even voted on a potential Big 12 TV network. Wow.

Missouri claims there is a lengthy process to leave the Big 12 and join the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers say they want to be deliberate. Go ahead boys, step out on the water and make your move. The Big 12 knows you want a divorce. So go sign the papers.

Someone should write a book or teach a class on conference realignment. They have a perfect example on what not to do. It’s called the Big 12 Conference.

Monday, October 24, 2011

St. Louis Cardinals' John Jay is Former Miami Star

Last week, I was already to blog on John Jay and Ryan Braun playing on the same college baseball team at the University of Miami. Then my computer became very sick. It spent time in the computer hospital and I didn’t get it back until late Friday.

So needless-to-say, I am playing catch-up including my blogs.

Because I follow the Cardinals closely, I knew Jay was a Miami alum. I didn’t know Braun, the Milwaukee Brewers’ star, played there too and at the same time as Jay.

College baseball continues to supply players to the big leagues. Miami is one of the better college programs in the country.

Jay has had an interesting year with St. Louis. He began as the Cardinals’ fourth outfielder, but when they traded Coby Rasmus near deadline, Jay became the starting centerfielder. He played a solid defensive game and hit in the .290 range.

Jay continues to play solid defense in the postseason. His hitting in the World Series has been a struggle. He is barely battling .100 and generally fails to make solid contact.

The Cardinals need Jay to breakout of his slump in this series. He is one of the table setters and he enables the run producer’s better opportunities when on base. Let’s hope he warms up. He has the talent; he just needs to deliver it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Iowa State Cyclones Hit the Skids

The Iowa State football team has played only six games this season, but the contrast is frightening.

Iowa State surprisingly won its first three games despite committing numerous turnovers. Northern Iowa, Iowa and UCONN couldn’t take full advantage of the errors.

The Cyclones have continued the mistakes against Texas, Baylor and Missouri and the final result has not been pretty. Iowa State has suffered three blowout losses.

So the Cyclones are at 3-3. Sadly, they should be favored in only one remaining game. Kansas comes to Ames on Nov. 5 but other than that, the schedule looks bleak. Even more so, if Iowa State keeps turning the ball over, the scores could remain real ugly.

Playing giveaway and playing the likes of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State, does not bode well for the Cyclones.

Coach Paul Rhoads has fashioned an upset the last two seasons: Nebraska in 2009 and Texas in 2010, so the magic is still possible. But as the coaches say, Iowa State will need to play a near perfect football game for that to happen. Perfection has definitely been a foreign word to this team so far this season.

Iowa State needs to reverse the negative trend quickly or this season will become disaster just as quickly.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Watching College Football

Another full list of college football today (Saturday). I read that there are still 13 unbeaten teams heading into today’s action. This might take time to slice that number.

Don’t know why, but I think the TV games are a little weak for Oct. 15. I plan on looking in on Baylor-Texas A&M. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III is one of the most exciting players in the game this season. He is electric.

I am also planning to watch a little Oklahoma State-Texas action. Not too many people outside of the Texas family would mind if the Longhorns receive a major whipping.

Iowa-Northwestern also holds some interest. The Wildcats have been a major pain in Iowa’s side in recent years. It seems Iowa loses its focus when its plays Northwestern. Focus shouldn’t be a problem this season because the Hawkeyes badly need a victory.

I don’t understand ABC’s fascination with Ohio State this year. The Buckeyes aren’t that good. Maybe Ohio State is the football counterpart of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. Maybe ABC is really airing the game because of ranked Illinois.

Enjoy the games whatever ones you watch.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Trying to Teach My Mother

I was thinking about my mother this morning. She died in 2007 and lived a full life. She wanted to know what was going on with current events and she wasn’t afraid to tackle new things.

One thing she wanted to learn was football. The woman enjoyed college basketball and following teams like Iowa State and Iowa, but when it came to the game of football, she didn’t have a clue.

On several occasions, I tried to patiently teach her football. Football is an extremely complicated game. It’s challenging to understand blocking schemes and offensive and defensive play-calling. But even the simpler football aspects can create difficulty.

I think she finally understood the scoring system: six points for a touch down and three for a field goal etc. But the aspect she could never master is the down-and-distance factor. You get four downs to make 10 yards which is really basic. Except for football games are not played in tiny, little neat packages. You have penalties, you have loss of yardage and even loss of down. That creates all kinds of problems for the down-and-distance factor. And as I discovered, this problem can greatly hinder the explanation process.

I think my mother finally made peace about not understanding football. I made peace with it too as I quit trying to explain the game.

But as I think about it, learning football is a whole lot like cooking. Whether its football or cooking, the down-and-distance could come back to bite you. And if I had to follow one of my mom’s recipes and make some food, I shudder to think how the food would turn out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Are You Ready for College Basketball?

Ready or not, the college basketball season is upon us. Teams are conducting media days this week and then on Friday practice official begins. Many schools take advantage of the first day of practice and hold Midnight Madness events.

I have always considered basketball a cold weather sport. I still don’t understand how people in places like California, Texas or Florida can truly watch basketball while they decide what color shorts and tee-shirts to wear to the arena. We folks here in the Midwest usually wear a heavy winter coat and look forward to escaping into the warm basketball cave.

But it might even take us Midwesterners a while to get into the basketball spirit this season. At least here in Iowa, the fall weather has been wonderful.

I have read a little on the upcoming season but not much. Here in Iowa, I think people will be watching Iowa State closely. Coach Fred Hoiberg had a bunch of quality transfers sit out last season and it will be interesting to see how they perform in actual competition. Royce White, the Minnesota transfer, is the head of that class. With some good breaks, the Cyclones could become the best team in Iowa this year.

Northern Iowa, or UNI as it is called here, should be competitive again. The Panthers have been the best Division I team in the state for the past few years.

Iowa should be improved under second-year coach Fran McCaffery. The Hawks have some experience and talent returning from a team that didn’t even post a .500 record last season.

What college team are you following this season?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Why Wouldn't the Missouri Tigers Leave?

The Missouri Tigers are the No. 1 soap opera college team in America these days. Please, let me explain.

Missouri has wandering eyes as it ponders what to do with its athletic future. These wandering eyes began last year when the Tigers really wanted an invitation to join the Big Ten Conference. An invitation that obviously never developed.

So after that snub, the Tigers appeared content to remain in the Big 12. Their president was even trying to hold the leaky-boat league together.

But then developed rumors Missouri had new eyes for the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Well, the Tiger’s President resigned from his Big 12 leadership role and the Missouri curators gave him permission to seek conference membership somewhere else.

Now, apparently Missouri is weighing whether its wants to remain in the Big 12 or jump to the SEC. The SEC hasn’t publicly said it will offer Missouri a spot in its conference, but many believe it will eventually come.

My question is why is it taking Missouri so long to determine its fate? Is there more interest from the Missouri side rather than the SEC side? Does the SEC want to invite someone other than Missouri? Could Missouri end up without a conference if the SEC thing doesn’t come through?

Missouri’s wandering eyes does not bode well for the marriage of the Tigers and the Big 12. It doesn’t appear that Missouri wants the Big 12 Conference and is only waiting for someone else to take them.

Missouri hopes it isn’t a lengthy wait.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wrong About Penn State and Iowa

It was pretty ugly in Happy Valley Saturday. I mean, who tuned in to watch a 13-3 ballgame? I certainly wasn’t predicting a low score game if you recall my Friday blog.

But the game was frankly boring. Both teams combined for three field goals and one touchdown. Penn State had a total of two field goals to Iowa’s one for a 6-3 halftime lead. The Lions tallied the lone touchdown in the second half.

This was Big Ten Conference football from many years ago. Bo and Woody would have probably enjoyed it. The spread offense has actually appeared in the conference but not on this day. Oh for those 34-27 games.

But I’m sure Joe Paterno didn’t complain. He was 1-8 against Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz before Saturday’s game. At JoePa’s age, a win is a win.

What happened to Iowa’s offense? The Hawkeyes had been scoring plenty of points. But their Saturday performance was dismal.

Penn State is probably not as bad as I thought. Iowa’s young team definitely took a couple steps backward.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Iowa's Kirk Ferentz Mastery Over Penn State's Joe Paterno

Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz is a Pennsylvania nature. You think the guy wants to win a little more when he faces Penn State and Joe Paterno? Ferentz will never come out and say that publicly, but I bet Ferentz has a little extra fire against Paterno.

One thing we know for sure is Ferentz has had JoePa’s number in the series. Iowa is 8-1 against Penn State. The two battle again in Happy Valley Saturday on ABC.

Although Iowa has dominated the results in the games, Iowa-Penn State is usually an entertaining affair. Both coaches are generally old school and favor strong defense and vanilla offense. However, Iowa is featuring some contemporary offense lately and running the no-hurdle. Penn State’s wrinkle this season is a two quarterback system in Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden.

This game should be a close one with a good number of points put up on the scoreboard. I assure you it won’t finish like the game a few years back when the Hawkeyes beat the Lions 6-4.

I imagine JoePa would enjoy silencing the critics about his record against Iowa. He wants to show the Pennsylvania guy that winning football doesn’t almost always happen on the Iowa sideline.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

TCU Horned Frogs Receive Offer

Apparently, the Big 12 Conference welcome mat has been extended to TCU.

The Forth Worth, Texas school is meeting today (Thursday) to consider an opportunity to join the league. If the Horned Frogs accept, they will leave the Big East Conference without ever playing a game in it. Earlier, TCU decided to leave the Mountain West Conference for the Big East.

Well, the Big 12 would welcome the Horned Frogs with open arms, what about the commitment they made to the Big East? TCU is trying to mold young men and women, but what type of message would its actions send? Aren’t the Horned Frogs telling their students and everyone else that it is okay to break contacts at a moments notice even though the marriage hasn’t even started?

Welcome to the present landscape of college athletics. Commitments are loose and based upon what’s good for a particular school.

TCU’s move would make sense geographically and also financially, but what about its word to the Big East?

Meanwhile, the Big 12 is still waiting to hear Missouri’s status. Do the Tigers really have any offer from the SEC or is it wishful thinking?

Things are never simple in the Big 12 whether it’s TCU, Missouri or Texas.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More Trouble With the Ohio State Buckeyes

Shame, shame on Ohio State. When will this mess ever end?

The NCAA suspended three Buckeye football players this week for accepting payments regarding summer work. It seems the players received more money than the actual amount of hours worked. Hmm. I bet it wasn’t $2 or $3 dollars more either.

I have lost track of the number of football players at Ohio State with off the field issues. Could the water boy or the cheerleaders be next?

What is Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith doing in all this besides carefully crafting media spin? And where is Ohio State President Gordon Gee? His silence is deafening. And how about the NCAA? It suspends the players for one whole game (this week against Nebraska). Big deal.

Both Ohio State and the NCAA have work to do in cleaning up this football nightmare. It’s gone too long and too far.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Missouri Tigers Make Noise Off the Field

Missouri represents the Big 12 Conference well with their athletic endeavors. The Tigers have also been competitive in the two major sports: football and men’s basketball.

But today (Tuesday) we might learn if Missouri will indeed take their sports and moved to the Southeast Conference. A meeting is taking place to possibly grant Missouri permission to go to the SEC.

While I don’t admit to know all the nuts-and-bolts of that decision, I do know losing Missouri to the SEC would be a blow to the Big 12. The Tigers have been a long-time member of a group of schools in the middle section of the country. They have been rivals with Kansas forever.

I wonder if Missouri is seeking the SEC or is the SEC seeking Missouri. Have the Tigers reached their limit with the instability of the Big 12 Conference? Are they tired of Texas’ muscle? Do they worry about the future of the Big 12?

Yes, the SEC might offer Missouri more security on the short term. But will its athletic teams become sucked up in the process. Can the Tigers compete in football? Can they become an elite program in basketball?

Missouri knows the athletic landscape in the Big 12. There is risk-and-reward in moving to the SEC. The Tiger need to determine whether there is more risk or more reward.

It’s an interesting dilemma.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Texas Longhorns Provide Whipping

Iowa State was hoping for big things Saturday night. The big boys (Texas) were coming to town with the game on national television. Iowa State could make a statement and show the nation it belonged.

It all looked good on paper, but unfortunately for Iowa State the Cyclones had to play the game. And once the Cyclones teed it up against the Longhorns, it wasn’t pretty.

Iowa State turned the football over frequently and made costly penalties. When you play a ranked team like Texas that is a deadly combination.

The Longhorns accepted the gifts and simply punished the Cyclones 37-14.

Sure, Texas came into the contest with plenty of motivation after an Iowa State upset win in Texas last season. But in the end, the Longhorns didn’t need that motivation. It was that lopsided.

Iowa State (3-1) needs to go back to the basics. The Cyclones must take care of the ball and cleanup stupid penalties.

If they don’t, it could become ugly again this week in Waco, Texas. Iowa State will oppose an angry Baylor team. The Bears suffered their first defeat at Kansas State last week, 36-35, in an upset.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Texas Comes Calling

This is not a misprint. The Texas Longhorns will look for payback Saturday night when they face Iowa State in Ames.

The Cyclones shocked Texas 28-21 last season in Austin. It was Iowa State’s first victory in the series and you know it received plenty of attention from Texas in the preparation for the 2011 affair.

The Longhorns are 3-0 and ranked No. 17. Iowa State is also 3-0 and has received votes in national polls but remain unranked. It should be an electric atmosphere with some 55,000 people in attendance.

Texas is trying to revive its program after a disastrous 5-7 mark in 2010. Iowa State, picked near the bottom of the Big 12 Conference in the preseason, wants to gain a signature win in the league opener.

I would like to see the Cyclones hang another defeat on Texas. This one will be difficult because of the above mentioned payback factor. Emotion is such a part of football and you figure the Longhorns have it on their side this year.

But if Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz can put together another strong performance, the Cyclones have a chance. Jantz is a dangerous runner and passer and impressed people in Iowa’s State first three wins.

So look for a hard-hitting game. Texas wants to prove that last year was a fluke, while Iowa State wants to prove it is no fluke this season.

It should be exciting.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Nebraska-Wisconsin Football Tickets

In case you have been caught in a college football vacuum the last two weeks, there is a huge football game Saturday in Madison, Wisconsin. The Nebraska Cornhuskers will play their first Big Ten Conference football game ever that night against the Wisconsin Badgers.

Nebraska is ranked No. 8 in the country and Wisconsin is No. 7. This game needs no build up.

Don’t have tickets for the sold-out, historical affair. You might consider staying home and watching it on ABC.

Just for fun, I have been tracking ticket prices on Stub Hub. A couple weeks ago, I found a few in the $1000-1500 range. Today, I could find only one four digit price at $1200.

But before you go out and celebrate the price drop, consider the overall range is still pricy. The cheapest ticket I could find is $199, but it’s in the upper deck. Translation to the non-buying ticket public: bring plenty of hankies because it’s in the nose-bleed section. Also, consider bringing an oxygen tank for breathing purposes.

If you want to sit closer to the field and actually see the game, be ready to surrender $400-500 per ticket. And simple math says a pair of tickets will cost you the price of a nice, new TV where you could watch several games after Saturday.

I know, I know. It’s the thrill of being there. But to pay prices for this game, you will need to experience a big-time thrill about the size of the states of Nebraska and Wisconsin combined.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Texas A&M Moves Forward

The Southeast Conference officially welcomed Texas A&M to its league over the weekend. The Aggies will compete in the SEC beginning next season.

Although some Big 12 Conference members were threatening to sue A&M for leaving their group, one knew this thing would eventually become settled. The football marriage had ended and the Aggies already claimed another lover.

But A&M now must survive its final year in the Big 12. The Aggies are officially the most marked team in the league. Few teams will have difficulty becoming inspired for their game with the Aggies. For a reference point, see Nebraska and Colorado (two other departed members) last year.

I will miss the Aggies in the Big 12. They compete well in the two sports (football and men’s basketball) people closely follow. And even if A&M won’t admit it, I’m sure they will miss the rivalries in the conference especially with the Texas schools.

But things in college sports are in a flux and it is going to become hard to hang on to the good ‘ole days. A&M believes it will move up in the college sports world. The real question begs whether the Aggies will meet the great challenge or wished they stayed with the status quo.

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Old School Comes to Iowa

The University of Louisiana-Monroe will play the Iowa Hawkeyes for the first time ever on the football field Saturday in Iowa City.

The Warhawks will collect a nice paycheck (over $1 million) and hopefully provide stout competition for Iowa. Louisiana-Monroe, 1-2, has already fallen at Florida State and TCU, so this will be its third high level opponent in the young season.

This game will have a special place in my heart because I was a graduate assistant in Monroe way back in 1980-81. The school was called Northeast Louisiana University and the nickname was the Indians. How things have changed.

ULM is a member of the Sun Belt Conference and has a student population of about 10,000. The school is located in a city area of approximately 100,000 (Monroe-West Monroe). It’s the largest area in northeast Louisiana and about 100 miles east of Shreveport.

I give you the ULM report because often fans in the Midwest have never heard of this smaller Division I institution.

The Warhawks feature a rarity in college football—a left-handed quarterback in Kolton Browning. ULM has solid but young returning starters.

This should be an entertaining game with plenty of offense. ULM hopes the third time is the charm in playing the big boys this season.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Big 12 Conference Soap Opera

What a 24-hours in the Big 12 Conference.

Yesterday, it was all doom and gloom for the league. Rumors had Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech all going to the Pac-12 Conference.

Oklahoma was apparently making demands of the Big 12 while waiting the word from the Pac-12. The Sooners said the Big 12 needed major reforms including firing its commissioner before they would ever choose to stay in the league.

Well, the Pac-12 discarded all the realignment talk for at least a few hours in this unstable environment when it said “Thanks, but no thanks” to the four Big 12 schools.

We are now left with only gloom and some serious egg on Oklahoma’s face.

The Big 12 is still in major trouble because there are now two schools wanting to play by its own rules. In recent days, Oklahoma’s behavior has shown the “me first” attitude. Texas has always been the league’s kingpin.

Where this struggle ends up, nobody knows, but you must feel sorry for schools like Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State and Kansas. Without real recourse, these conference members have been wondering if they would be forced to scramble for some other affiliation. If I were those schools, I would still keep the eyes open in the back of the head.

Texas needs to quit acting like a spoiled child. It can no longer eat four deserts and leave the other family members with crumbs. Oklahoma needs to patch up their grievances with Texas and become a good family member. The Sooners must look out for other conference members and promote their benefit as well.

I know this novel concept of sharing seems outdated in this world, but it’s the only way the Big 12 will even have a chance to survive.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Listen to Texas' Mack Brown

Texas football coach Mack Brown said yesterday he wants to remain in the Big 12 Conference. He also said Texas wants to stay in the league.

If those statements are true, then the next step is simple. Texas needs to come out publicly and declare it will definitely stay in the Big 12.

Texas could place a huge roadblock on this realignment chaos with that simple statement. But can Texas be trusted? The Longhorns seem to enjoy flirting with suitors just like other schools.

Would Texas find happiness in the Pac-12 or ACC? How about as an independent? The Longhorns are viewed as a Big 12 bully. They have basically taken advantage of flavored status in the old Southwest Conference and the Big 12. In a way, you cannot blame them. But if you (Texas) drive away the competition, what do you have left? A king without subjects is not a kingdom.

I doubt whether the Pac-12 or the ACC is viewing Texas as the ultimate gold piece. If the Longhorns want to join one of those leagues, they will actually find themselves in a sharing position. They will no longer be the top dog in a conference.

I sense Texas is a lonely institution in these changeable times. The Longhorns want to become loved. The problem for Texas, if it joins another conference, is someone else will make the rules. And following is a whole different story than having followers.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Wacky World of College Football

The Iowa-Pittsburgh football game Saturday was a prime example of the improbable.

Surprisingly, the Panthers racked up a 24-3 lead. More surprisingly, the Hawkeyes stormed back in the fourth quarter and stunned Pittsburgh with a 31-27 setback.

It was the largest deficient Iowa has overcome in school history.

Iowa likes to pride itself with old school football. Establish the run and mix in the pass. Well, the Hawks signature running game was pretty much non-existent for the second straight week. Instead, it was the hurry-up offense and a flood of completed passes that proved the difference.

Watching the game Saturday, I reasoned Iowa wasn’t a very good football team. The Hawks simply proved sometimes it is “better to be lucky than good.”

It appeared for the longest time Iowa was heading toward a 1-2 record. The reversal of those numbers made a shocked Hawk fan base down right happy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

North Carolina's Roy Williams Left at the Altar

It isn’t often that North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams finishes second in anything. But this week it happened.

Williams was trying to land another top-notch Iowa high school player in Sioux City East’s Adam Woodbury. The 7-foot center was drawing interest from many suitors. Williams has had plenty of success in ‘stealing’ stellar Iowa players from the likes of Iowa State and Iowa. I figure o’Roy has plenty of possibilities on the east coast and doesn’t need to venture into little Iowa.

Well, Woodbury announced this week he will play basketball for coach Fran McCaffery at Iowa. Reportedly, Williams was in Woodbury’s home earlier this week. The sales pitch wasn’t enough.

Williams and North Carolina will be fine. The rich will land somebody else. Hopefully, this is the beginning of locked doors at the Iowa borders for out-of-state coaches who want to randomly come in and take the best Iowa high school basketball players.

Now, it’s time for Iowa State to land an elite Iowa player that spurns the big boys. That would also convince players that Iowa is a destination place not a departure place.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Must-See College Football This Weekend

If you can only watch one football game this weekend, don’t miss Oklahoma-Florida State.

Congratulations to these two programs for the guts to schedule a game between two top rating programs. In this age of let’s schedule guaranteed wins for the non conference season, it’s refreshing. The big risk of this game is the loser will fade from the national title picture.

The No. 1 Sooners travel to a hostile place to oppose a tough fifth-ranked team. Jimbo Fisher has replaced Florida State legend Bobby Bowden in fine style. The Seminoles have left the mediocrity of the late Bowden years and have returned to the national stage. Florida State is again Florida State.

Oklahoma has plenty of weapons to survive the Seminoles including quarterback Landry Jones.

The Sooners have big news off the field. They are the latest team to become dissatisfied with the Big 12 Conference and apparently are flirting with the Pac-12. And I thought we could receive a break from this realignment talk once the season started.

But thankful the football talk will return to the field Saturday. This matchup is definitely worth the hype.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

College Football Uniforms

I don’t consider myself the fashion police but what are some of those teams in college football thinking?

Tuning briefly into the Notre Dame-Michigan game last Saturday night, the team’s uniforms caught me attention. Was this some sort of throwback attire or was it a tribute to 9-11? Both teams uniforms looked similar and frankly, gaudy. Okay, it wasn’t like putting plaid and stripes together, but it was far from classy. You had Notre Dame greener than St. Patrick’s Day, while you couldn’t miss Michigan’s large print. I guess it was a sight-challenged person’s dream.

And what’s up at the University of Maryland? Those black, red and white uniforms look like something out of a sci-fi movie. Are they supposed to make the opponents dizzy? Those things are just plain scary looking. As they say, “Don’t adjust your TV set at home.”

I have mentioned Phil Knight’s Oregon uniforms before in this space. Knight and Nike will do what they want to with the Ducks’ apparel. But are these other teams trying to keep with the Jones or do they just do it to have people like me make a big deal over it?
I don’t want college uniforms to go the direction of plain vanilla Penn State, but I think we could still have some class in uniform selection.

What do you think?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Steele Jantz

Steele Jantz was the most talked about person in the state of Iowa over the weekend.

If the Iowa State quarterback continues to perform like he did against Iowa Saturday, Jantz can probably run for mayor of Ames too.

The California junior college transfer completed 25 of 37 passes for 279 yards and he threw for four touchdowns. He added 42 yards rushing on 16 carries. Jantz was the main reason the Cyclones defeated the Hawkeyes 44-41 in three overtimes.

Iowa struggles against multi-gifted quarterbacks and Hawkeye coach Kirk Ferentz admitted Iowa “had no answer” for Jantz. Iowa was running after Jantz most of the afternoon and the junior made plays—sometimes out of nothing.

Jantz’s success somewhat overshadowed a game that was a heavyweight fight especially in overtime. Both teams traded touchdowns in the first two overtimes, but Iowa settled for a field goal in the third one. Iowa State didn’t settle. James White’s running touchdown from about eight yards triggered the Cyclone celebration.

Iowa fans are probably still scratching their heads over their team’s conservative playing calling. Tied with about one minute left in the game and two timeouts, the Hawkeyes chose to run the clock out rather than try for a score. Then in the third overtime, they elected to attempt the field goal instead of trying for a first down with only one yard to go.

But back to Jantz. The guy is simply magical. Two weeks in a row (the first against Northern Iowa) he directs came-from-behind victories. The guy can play quarterback. He makes you think Iowa State has a chance in every game it plays.

Jantz is made of steele and Iowa State supports a 2-0 record to prove it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Big Game in Iowa Saturday

It’s time for the annual Iowa State-Iowa football game Saturday. This contest provides the opportunity to show the world that Iowa is more than cornfields and wide open spaces. Yes, we do have institutions of higher learning that play competitive football.

Like most sports rivalries, this affair divides husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts and cousins. During Iowa State-Iowa week, you rarely find anyone (sports fan or not) in the state that doesn’t have a favorite in the game. Both teams feature gold as part of their color scheme, but you bleed cardinal for Iowa State or black for Iowa.

Generally, there is so much hype during Iowa State-Iowa week that I cannot wait for the actual game. But this year the talk is somewhat subdued. I think the Labor Day holiday was one factor. The other cause is the uncertainty of the Big 12 Conference where Iowa State calls home. Fans are concerned the conference might die and Iowa State will then need a new home.

Hopefully, the game will be competitive. As an Iowa State fan, I believe the Cyclones will require a much better effort than their one-point escape against Northern Iowa last week. The Hawkeyes had no problems with Tennessee Tech so their touchdown favorite status (even at Iowa State) is certainly fair.

I am also hoping Fox Sports will focus its attention on the game and leave the pictures of cornfields for another day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Big 12 Conference Soap Opera Never Ends

I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears over the Labor Day weekend when I learned Oklahoma is exploring departure from the Big 12 Conference.

But in retrospect, why was I really surprised? The conference is in a terrible mess and its days are obviously numbered.

At last count, we had Nebraska and Colorado taking up residence in the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences respectively. Texas A&M wants to bolt and desires a membership offer from the Southeastern Conference. And now Oklahoma says it has received numerous interest from other conferences. Plus, there is no truth to the rumors that Kansas State, Iowa State and Baylor will leave and form the Big 3 Conference (for my foreign readers this is my poor attempt of making a joke).

Simply, many members (or former members) of the Big 12 exhibit the strong characteristics of the Me-First Generation. Whatever happened to one-for-all and all-for-one? You cannot have a successful partnership if some schools are always looking for a better deal. The Big 12 acts like one big dysfunctional family. The emotions of anger and sadness are both in play here.

Trust is gone in the conference. Everyone is looking over their shoulder. Teams either want something to happen or waiting for the worst to happen and you cannot run a league with those attitudes.

The Big 12 is a poster child for greed in college athletics.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Russell Wilson Proves Anew He is a Winner

I must admit it was pretty hard seeing Russell Wilson in the motion “W” helmet last night representing the Wisconsin football team.

I followed the guy for three years at North Carolina State. But as they stay, “Life goes on.”

Wilson is an impact player and I knew he would perform extremely well at Wisconsin. He gave Badger fans a taste last night. Wilson threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another (46 yards) in Wisconsin’s destruction of UNLV. Wilson went 10-for-13 passing and totaled 62 yards on two carries. It was a typical Wilson performance really.

The laughable part was reading Internet message boards later. Some people think Wilson needs to prove his ability against a proven team. They weren’t impressed with Wilson against an outmanned opponent.

Believe me folks Wilson will perform against the big boys. He’s a former All-ACC quarterback and won’t become fazed facing the likes of Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan State or Penn State.

Badger fans were giddy over the summer when they learned Wilson was coming to their team. Last night, the rest of the teams on Wisconsin’s schedule realized why they weren’t so giddy.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Does Anyone Like the Big 12 Conference?

It’s difficult to avoid conference realignment talk here in America’s Heartland. The daily news has centered on Texas A&M.

Apparently, the Aggies have signed their divorce papers and will leave the Big 12 Conference.

What’s wrong with the Big 12? Last year, Nebraska and Colorado departs: this year A&M. Who could be next? Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma?

No matter what spin the conference leaders put on it, the Big 12 is in trouble. Remember the apple tree in your neighbor’s yard when you were a child? It seemed everybody stopped there to pick the fruit. Seems like the Big 12 Conference right now.

If you took a poll of the real problem in the league, many would say the Texas Longhorns. And those not saying it publicly might be thinking it privately.

But Texas is Texas and the Longhorns will always be the big fish in the Big 12 or in another league or as an independent. It’s similar to saying that Donald Trump will always have lots of money.

Texas is and isn’t the problem. But the way things are going, the Big 12 better be careful or most of the fruit will be gone from the tree.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ready for College Football?

Last week, I went to St. Louis to watch the Cardinals. Now that Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and the rest of the Redbirds are all but out of the race, it’s time to concentrate on college football.

We have an interesting matchup in the Iowa this week when Northern Iowa travels to Iowa State Saturday. Granted, this game won’t receive national press, but here in the corn state Northern Iowa might pull off an upset.

The Panthers are ranked No. 7 in the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision). They return nine defensive starters and eight offensive starters from the 2010 squad. Northern Iowa also returns 10 of its top 11 tacklers.

The Panthers return an electric quarterback in Tirrell Rennie. The senior can cause difficult with both his feet and arm.

Another plus for Northern Iowa is recent success against Iowa State. The Panthers have defeated the Cyclones three times since 1992 including the 2007 season. Northern Iowa will not come to Ames in fear.

Iowa State returns 11 starts off a team that finished one game shy of bowl eligibility last season. The buzz in fall camp centered on the quarterback position. Junior college player Steele Jantz beat out two others for the job.

The Cyclones faced arch rival Iowa in week No. 2, but they better become focused on the first game or the Missouri Valley Conference preseason pick may pick off Iowa State.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cheering Your Favorite Team

I am looking for a little interaction today. Why do you cheer for particular college teams?

Personally, I need a connection to faithfully cheer for a school. Or sure, I can pick a team during a national contest (usually the underdog), but there isn’t a real investment there. Plus, it’s a one-shot deal and nothing long term.

My local team is the Iowa State Cyclones. I attended school and worked in athletics there. My connections are deep. Enough said. Now, I wish the Cyclones would string some victories together in football and basketball.

I also cheer for the University of Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. I also attended school and worked in athletics there. It’s a little more difficult to follow ULM due to the distance and lack of national exposure. But the Warhawks are coming to Iowa this fall to play the Hawks, so I can root for them then.

One team that will probably drop from my list is North Carolina State. I have a dear friend who was in athletics there. He retired last year, so there went the connection. The investment was there for a long time and thus the divorce is difficult.

I also follow two specific basketball teams but don’t cheer for the schools in general. With connections at Baylor and Virginia, I keep a close eye on the Bears and Cavaliers.

Sometimes it’s a judgment call tracking the teams. If they play at similar times on the same dates that presents a problem. I only have two eyes and ears and one television.

So who do you follow and for what reasons?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ready for College Football

The regular season cannot start soon enough for this college football fan. The reason is plain and simple: I’m tried of discussing all the challenges in the college football world and I want to focus on some actual games.

It seems like three years since Auburn was crowned 2010 champions. There has been so much negative off field stuff going on that puts a black mark on the game.

The following are only a few examples of the mess in college football.

Auburn’s association with quarterback Cam Newton doesn’t go away. Auburn claims it did nothing wrong with Newton’s recruitment. If this is true, how come people are still talking about whether Newton will lose his Heisman Trophy and/or Auburn will have to give back its national championship trophy?

Jim Tressel lost his coaching job at Ohio State for withholding information about the now famous tattoo incident. Tressel said that he didn’t have the information and then admitted later that he did. The NCAA is still not finished with Ohio State over this incident.

Recruiting services have been cited for having questionable dealings with some schools. Did these services created an unfair advantage for the involved universities?

Texas A&M’s flirting with the Southeastern Conference has been well documented here. The final chapter hasn’t been obviously written, but you get the sense the hard feelings with its present league (the Big 12) will continue regardless of what happens.

Do you now know why I am ready for some real football?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Texas A&M Soap Opera

Seriously, isn’t this Texas A&M ordeal just like a soap opera?

Rumors were wild over the weekend the Aggies were indeed leaving the Big 12 Conference for the Southeastern (SEC) Conference. But as it turns out, there was a major problem. Like a guy calling up a gal for a date, the SEC said no thanks to Texas A&M.

Some believe the SEC may invite the Aggies in the future, but for now the SEC is staying with its 12 members.

This is shaping up to become a major public relations problem for Texas A&M. The Aggies obviously want out of the Big 12 and the SEC won’t welcome them with a lovely flowers and a huge paycheck.

Texas A&M must now heal some burned bridges with its Big 12 brethren. I seriously doubt if it can repair the trust issue however. And maybe the Aggies don’t really care. They may choose to bide their time until a potential SEC offer comes.

Meanwhile, the Big 12’s future is in doubt. It’s a mess. As one sports commentator said, the difference between the Big 12 schools and the Big Ten schools is that the Big 12 teams are only looking out for themselves. Ohio State and Michigan in the Big Ten are looking out for the bottom teams like Indiana and Minnesota (equal revenue), whereas teams such as Texas and Texas A&M want to become the center of its universe.

In its current state, the Big 12 may become a true feeder league for other conferences. If that happens, you can turn out the lights on the league.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Unrest in the Big 12 Conference Again

So much for the happy family vibes the remaining Big 12 Conference members portrayed after Colorado and Nebraska left.

Word out of Texas this week is that Texas A&M is unhappy and exploring membership with the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The story gained steam when A&M graduate and Texas Governor Rick Perry mentioned it in a press conference.

Apparently, the Aggies aren’t pleased with Texas, its new network and the Longhorns desire to televise high school football games. The Big 12 Conference recently told Texas it cannot do the high school games at least for a year while the conference waits direction from the NCAA.

I’m sure there are numerous league teams upset with Texas but most are refraining from stating public opinions. Reportedly, Nebraska didn’t appreciate the Longhorns attitude and that was one reason the Huskers fled to the Big Ten Conference.

But Texas will always be Texas and dominate the money and exposure in the Big 12. Whether you like them or not, the league needs the Longhorns.

But does the conference need the Aggies? Probably not. The Big 12 could probably snatch a team from some other conference. The Aggies, on the other hand, need the Big 12. A&M has close natural rivals now (Texas, Texas Tech and Baylor) and if it flees to the SEC, the Aggies will lose that and become a stepchild in the SEC.

But it might become a moot point anyway. The SEC might not be interested in the Aggies. They really don’t carry much star power nationally and the SEC might deem the league is better off with the current arrangement.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Go Joe Go

Legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno has always been a feisty character. You don’t coach football at age 84 without some feistiness.

So does it surprise anyone that Paterno wants to return to the field today (Wednesday) after suffering an injury last Sunday at practice? Joe Pa was struck by a player and ended up in the hospital with an apparent hairline fracture in the pelvis.

Paterno could have taken it easy and allowed his injury full healing. Instead, he wants to return to practice quickly and run sessions via a golf cart. This is a senior citizen who will not be playing cards and shuffle board anytime soon.

Joe Pa reminds me of that bunny in the television commercial that refuses to give up. I say go for it, Joe. Why sit around and become old?

Paterno says he wants to coach until he is 90. That may be an ambitious goal but I wouldn’t want to tell the feisty guy he couldn’t do it.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Coach Speak

One of college coaches (and all coaches really) biggest jobs is playing the public relations role. It just goes with the job.

The college football season is less than a month away. Training camps have begun. Coaches are trying to tell their fans what the fans want to hear. Whether your team is projected to finish 10-2 or 2-10, have five-star players or one-star athletes, coaches are selling hope. But usually fans are perceptive about their particular team despite the coach’s comments.

There has been plenty of talk about Russell Wilson playing quarterback at the University of Wisconsin this fall. Wilson as I have noted before transferred from North Carolina State. Wilson was a three-year starter for the Wolfpack plus an all-ACC performer.

The Badgers held their media day Sunday in Madison. Coach Brent Bielema maintained again that Wilson must earn the starting job. That’s all fine and good, but it’s classic coach-speak. Every Badger fan from La Crosse to Milwaukee and beyond knows Wisconsin didn’t bring Wilson in to play second or third string Folks, it is the worst kept secret in the state of Wisconsin. Bielema is trying to motivate Wilson (Wilson is highly motivated on his own) and keep the morale high among the other quarterbacks. Barring injury, it will only become a matter of time before Wilson is officially named the starting quarterback.

Once that occurs, Bielema will focus on some other coach speak. It’s as normal as leaves changing colors in the fall.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Auburn Tigers Won't Repeat

As the saying goes, you can take this to the bank: Auburn will not win another national championship this season.

It’s an easy pick. The Tigers must replace 16 starters from their national championship team including stars in quarterback Cam Newton and defensive tackle Nick Farley. Auburn might not even be too competitive in the always tough Southeastern Conference (SEC).

The Tigers will feature mostly inexperienced, but highly talented players. One of the ‘veterans’ returning is sophomore running back Michael Dyer. Dyer rushed for 1,093 yards last season and figures to receive plenty of carries this year.

Can coach Gene Chizik keep this team focused after last season’s success? Every opponent will treat Auburn different this year. It’s a ‘circle’ game for Auburn’s foes.
The Tigers are a marked team. If they don’t respond well, Auburn could take some real lumps.

The SEC has won the last five national championships, but Auburn will not make it six. Its bitter rival down the road, Alabama, has a much better chance to keep the title in the state.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Money in America

Despite what you have heard or read out of Washington, DC, money is available in America.

Apparently, a good number of Division I college football teams have plenty of green. For example, have you checked out the paychecks some lower Division I teams will receive this season from road games against higher Division I schools? This isn’t anything new, but in this economy it should raise some eyebrows

My old school, the University of Louisiana-Monroe, is one example. Out of four non conference games, the Warhawks will play “money” games against Florida State and back-to-back games against TCU and Iowa. Monroe will receive 1.3 million from Florida State and 1 million from Iowa. Although I couldn’t find a figure for the TCU contest, I doubt if the amount is less than $750,000. This is serious money.

The Warhawks have one of the smallest budgets in Division I. Obviously, it helps pay the bills. The chances of defeating any of these teams are slim (although they did shock Alabama a few years ago), but if Monroe can get out of town reasonably healthy, the pros definitely outweigh the cons of the arrangement.

The big schools often complain they have difficulty scheduling so they must sweeten the check to lure the smaller schools. Louisiana-Monroe and other smaller schools have definitely taken the bait.

At least in one phase of the economy, supply-and-demand is working quite well. Maybe Washington should take a look,