Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Big 12 Conference Should Step Up

Conference realignment is again a hot topic with the announcement of Maryland and Rutgers moving to the Big Ten.

I thought this conference realignment stuff was on hold for a time, but the Big Ten move shocked me. Now, the league will expand to 14 members and qualify for the “super” conference tag.

This action obviously has a ripple effect on other conferences and schools. The so called quiet time in collegiate athletics has become the nervous time again. What will happen to the Big East and ACC? Will more conferences raid their schools?

One conference that should take action is the Big 12. The league needs two more teams to return to the magic number of 12. This will enable the league to host a conference football championship again. The Big 12 is currently the only major conference without a championship game.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby stated this past summer that he was comfortable with the 10-team league, but the realignment game has changed again. Unfortunately, the game is either pick your new members or be in danger of having your members picked. The Big 12 needs to use the pick strategy.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Don't Answer Your Cell Phone or the Front Door

The Christmas season is officially upon us and athletic directors at major universities are searching for the perfect Christmas gift—a new football coach.

Well, not every athletic director, but if you are a head coach that had a losing season or seasons, my advice is don’t pick up your cell phone or listen to the knock at your door. Your Christmas gift might be a lump of coal.

The lumps of coal were numerous Sunday and it didn’t matter if you were in the East, Midwest, South or West. The following coaches were fired yesterday: Frank Spaziani at Boston College, Tom O’Brien at NC State, Gene Chizik at Auburn, Danny Hope at Purdue and Jon Embree at Colorado.

You would think the firings would slow down now, but like I said earlier, if I was a losing-record coach, I would lay low like a turkey one week before Thanksgiving.

Chizik had the biggest fall. Two years ago, he was hoisting the silver football as Auburn won the national championship. Embree received the shortest stick. He led Colorado for just two seasons and won four games. O’Brien was never the flashy hire at NC State and his teams won--just not enough. Spaziani was a loyal Boston College guy, but people care more about the New England Patriots than the Eagles. Plus, Spaziani had trouble getting wins. Hope lost hope at Purdue. Hope was the only college coach I have ever seen who wore a whistle around his neck on gameday.

The athletic directors who created these coaching openings Sunday will be selling hope. Unfortunately, none of the openings seem hopeful in terms of great success at the particular schools.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

I was feeling pretty good about the prospects of the BCS National Championship Game and then Saturday came.

Usually I don’t cheer for the favorites unless I have a definite interest in the outcome. But Saturday was different. I was routing for No. 1 Kansas State and No. 2 Oregon because I am sick of watching the Southeastern Conference in the national championship game. Alabama had slipped to No. 4 in the BCS and the only way the Tide had a chance was if two of the top three teams lost.

And surprise, surprise, that’s what happened Saturday.

Baylor destroyed Kansas State and Oregon forgot to bring its high-powered offense in an overtime loss to Stanford.

Unfortunately, Alabama is now No. 2 in the BCS (behind Notre Dame) and headed for the national title game unless there is another upset. Even if Alabama would loss this week against Auburn and lose the SEC championship game, Georgia (another SEC team) is waiting to sneak up into that No. 2 BCS slot.

So here’s this Midwest guy cheering for Alabama and Georgia to loss. We need some variety in college football folks and another SEC team in the championship game defeats that plan.

Will Alabama lose again this season?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pierre Jackson: Big-Time at Baylor University

Baylor point guard Pierre Jackson is simply enjoyable to watch. Well, maybe not if you are the opposing team’s coach or fans.

Jackson is Baylor’s most valuable player and makes the Bears a dangerous team.

The Las Vegas native has already garnered Play-of-the-Year Preseason Honors in the Big 12 Conference. Jackson, a junior college transfer, put together a solid season a year-a go for Baylor. He quarterbacked the team, made key shots, made scoring assists and hit critical free throws. The guy averaged 13.8 points per game last season.

Yesterday, I watched Jackson destroy Boston College in one of those holiday-type tournaments. He was all over the floor and scored 31 points. He shot 10-of-15 field goals including 6-of-10 behind the three-point line. Not bad for a senior who is only 5-10.

One play he made in the Boston College game highlights Jackson’s talent. He tapped the ball away from an opponent but couldn’t directly go to the ball. So, he darted around the player and picked up the ball on the other side. It was like he was tapping the ball to himself. Amazing! Or by the way, this short guy can dunk too.

Keep your on eyes on No. 55. He promises to be involved in most of the Baylor activity on the court.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Sad Situation at Washington State

Washington State coach Mike Leach is no stranger to controversy. And the pass-happy, offensive-minded head man is in trouble again.

Former Washington State wide receiver Marquess Wilson has accused the first-year coach and his staff of abuse. The Pac-12 Conference has instigated a review of the matter.

Leach was fired from his previous job at Texas Tech based on another alleged abuse charge. Former NFL and college running back Craig James’ son claimed Leach had James’ son locked up in an equipment room.

Washington State paid Leach big money to come to Pullman. He’s making about $2 million per year. So far things are not looking good with the investment. Leach has the Cougars off to a terrible 2-8 record and now the abuse charge.

Leach could be innocent of the charge. Maybe Wilson didn’t like the way Leach changed the football program from the previous administration and he just wanted to cause trouble. Maybe Wilson is correct with his charge and Leach should require disciplinary action.

But here’s the case: Leach has a spotty record in player relations and that’s why Washington State has reached this point. If Leach is guilty, his disciplinary action could be a firing.

Will Leach lose his job?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thank-You Texas A&M

Texas A&M defeated mighty Alabama Saturday in Tuscaloosa and essentially ruined the Tide’s defense of their national title.

Oh sure, Alabama Coach Nick Saban was telling the football world after the game that the Tide still had a chance to play in the BCS title game with one loss. Maybe Saban does have a future in politics when his coaching gig is over.

But the best news about the Aggie upset is the Southeastern Conference’s stronghold on the BCS title game appears over. I think the league has furnished the BCS game with at least one representative in the last six title games.

Kansas State and Oregon are No. 1 and No. 2 in the BCS rankings now. Notre Dame, another undefeated team is No. 3. Alabama fell to No. 4 and needs at least two of the top three teams to lose.

Kansas State has the best opportunity to play in the championship game. The Wildcats play at Baylor and host Texas. That’s K-State’s remaining schedule because it plays no Big 12 Conference Championship game. Oregon plays two qualify opponents in Stanford and at Oregon State. The game against the Beavers should be particularly difficult. Independent Notre Dame should beat Wake Forest this Saturday and then have a battle at USC.

So yes, Nick, your team could still play for the championship, but the Tide needs lots of assistance.

The SEC has provided lots of vanilla and chocolate in the title games and its more than time to replace those flavors with some variety.

Thank you-Texas A&M.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Welcome College Basketball 2012-13

It seems only a few months ago Kentucky was marching through March Madness to the men’s title. But March and April had turned into November (Nov. 9 exactly) and the return of college hoops.

Indiana is the No. 1 team in the land. But as they say, the polls haven’t closed yet. I would not count out Kentucky. The Cats may have restocked their shelf, but the quality is top-of-the-line stuff. Remember, it’s all about the journey and the college basketball season is a long one.

Speaking of Kentucky, it opens up against Maryland in one of the few interesting matchups of Day 1. I will keep close watch on Baylor-Lehigh. Lehigh shocked Duke in the NCAA tournament last season. This Patriot League team is nicknamed the Mountain Hawks? What exactly is a Mountain Hawk? One Midwest matchup (where I live) is Ohio State-Marquette. And those Jackrabbits from South Dakota State receive a little national TV love against Alabama. My South Dakota friend turned Michigan resident should enjoy that one.

As always, there will become plenty of storylines as the season progresses. What surprises do you think will happen on Day 1? What team or teams are you following this season?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

This Danny Seeks Real Hope

Purdue football coach Danny Hope is frankly running out of hope. The Boilermaker head man is in danger of losing his job and with a loss at Iowa Saturday, it could happen.

Purdue has lost five straight conference games and is 0-for-The Big Ten Conference. The Boilermakers started the season 3-1. Hope may have helped sealed his fate when he declared in that preseason that Purdue could have a competitive team in the league.

Hope has taken the Boilermakers to a minor bowl game (Little Caesars last season) in his four seasons at the school. But Hope has posted just a 19-27 overall mark and a 10-19 Big Ten record.

The Boilermakers will be underdogs against the struggling Hawkeyes (three straight losses), but if they can upset Iowa, their two remaining games against Illinois and Indiana are also possible wins. A 6-6 record would actually bring Danny Hope some hope.

Hope is definitely what Purdue football needs these days.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day 2012

Note--I take a break today from college sports blogging today to focus on an American privilege.

Elections are similar to sporting events. The final tally determines the winner.

This Election Day is arguably the biggest in the history of the United States. The two presidential candidates provide voters with two distinctive choices. The buildup to this election has been intense.

This is also a special day for me—I turn 56. I was also born on Presidential Election Day in 1956. I heard recently that since the 1800s this is only the sixth or seventh Presidential Election Day to happen on Nov. 6.

So exercise your choice and celebrate my birthday too. BTW, I’m voting for Mitt Romney and I invite you to do the same.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The View from the Iowa State Football Press Box

I attended the Iowa State-Oklahoma game Saturday and sat in the press box.

In my former life, I worked in the sports information office at Iowa State while obtaining my master’s degree. Contrary to popular belief, United States postal stamps didn’t cost five cents in those days.

It was about six years since I attended an Iowa State football game. Gene Chizik was the coach. Cyclone fans haven’t forgot about Chizik who bolted Ames after just two seasons and five victories. But it is a distant memory because Iowa State fans are in love with Iowa native Paul Rhoads as their coach.

Jack Trice Stadium is a happening place. There were over 56,000 folks there Saturday. Unfortunately, the Cyclones couldn’t deliver an upset win over the Sooners. Despite losing two games this season, Oklahoma looked pretty much like Oklahoma. The Sooners have athletes, speed and a stable-full of talented receivers. The Iowa State defensive backs were having trouble covering those receivers. It didn’t help matters that a reserve tailback, Brennan Clay, carved the Cyclones up too.

The Iowa State press box was a quiet place Saturday. Unlike LSU, who removed a person from the press box at Saturday’s Alabama-LSU game, no such thing occurred at Iowa State. Press boxes all over the nation normally have a rule that there is no cheering in the press box. It is usually announced before the game. Apparently, the LSU guy needed a written memo.

But all-in-all, it was great to return to Iowa State football. Despite the loss, it felt good to be home again.