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Fourteen and out

Going to bed at a decent hour has led me to wake up at a not so decent hour.

It’s 0330, and I’ve been up for more than an hour. The one good thing it did was allow me to take my contact lenses out and get some drops in my irritated right eye. I fell asleep in my lenses, and now I wish I hadn’t.

When I went to bed last evening, I saw Kansas was losing to Oklahoma in men’s basketball. The first thing I did was check the score when I woke up.

Oklahoma 81, Kansas 68.

The streak is over.

For the first time since 2003-04, Bill Self’s first season in Lawrence, the Jayhawks will not win at least a share of the Big 12 Conference’s men’s basketball championship. Kansas is 11-6 in conference games, meaning it cannot catch either Kansas State nor Texas Tech, both of which are 13-4.

The regular season ends Saturday. The Wildcats host Oklahoma, and the Red Raiders face Iowa State in Ames. If both win or both lose, they tie for the championship. Of course, if one wins and the other loses, the winner is outright champion.

Kansas holds the national Division I record for most consecutive conference championships. The old record of 13 was set by UCLA from 1967-79 in what is now the Pacific-12. When the Bruins began the streak, it was known was the Athletic Association of Western Universities (AAWU), a loose confederation of former members of the Pacific Coast Conference, which had been forced to disband after hundreds of NCAA rules violations by its members. The league officially became the Pac-8 in 1968, then the Pac-10 in the fall of 1978 when Arizona and Arizona State joined from the WAC.

I’m not a Jayhawk fan. Far from it. But finishing first or tied for first in a major conference, one often rated as the best in the country, is quite remarkable, especially when taking a look at another college basketball blue blood.

Kentucky has been a superpower since the game began. Yet the Wildcats have never won 14 consecutive SEC championships, even though there were many years during Adolph Rupp’s reign in Lexington (1931-72) no other team in the SEC could compete on a national level. For many years, many SEC schools did not have a full-time basketball coach; either that person coached another sport, or he had to teach classes in addition to coaching. It wasn’t until after Kentucky lost in the 1966 NCAA championship game to Texas Western (now Texas-El Paso) in the famous game where Rupp’s all-white squad lost to a Miner team which started five black players that the rest of the SEC truly got serious about basketball. Sure, Tennessee and Vanderbilt had a good team every now and then, and Mississippi State will be forever remembered for defying the state’s governor to play a desegregated Loyola team in 1963, but basketball in the SEC for too long was the Wildcats and nobody else.

That hasn’t been the case with Kansas in the Big 12. Oklahoma State, where Self played from 1981-85, regained its position as an elite program under Eddie Sutton, even though it has now fallen on hard times. Oklahoma has had great players and great teams, even if few noticed due to the Sooners’ football dominance. Texas has been a consistent big winner. So has Iowa State. Kansas State isn’t where it was under Jack Hartman in the 1970s, but it’s come back a long way from the abyss which was Jim Woolridge’s coaching tenure. West Viriginia’s program has fallen this year, but Bob Huggins has brought the Mountaineers their second golden age, the first being Jerry West’s days in Morgantown.

Kansas will go to the NCAA tournament. That’s all that matters. It won’t add #15 to the billboards across the state proclaiming its conference championship streak, but does it matter that much? Nah.

A bit of everything on a February Saturday

I realized something yesterday when I was in Buffalo Wild Wings, something I had forgotten in my post on the opening of the college baseball season.

February 16 is a date which lives in LSU baseball infamy.

It was February 16, 2003 when LSU was swept in a doubleheader at home by….Kansas.

Yes, the same Kansas which is in Lawrence. The same Kansas which is considered a basketball blue-blood. The same Kansas which has a horrible football team right now.

The Jayhawks came to Baton Rouge for a three-game weekend series on the second weekend of the 2003 season. LSU was 4-0 and feeling pretty good about itself, but that good feeling was dampened by a 10-inning loss to Kansas in the series opener.

The second game of the series was rained out, so a doubleheader was scheduled for Sunday.

It was one of the most miserable days I have ever experienced at a sporting event.

It was cold, damp and windy. The old Alex Box Stadium did not have an enclosed press box, and the wind whistled through the “press area” like nobody’s business.

The twinbill started at 9:30 a.m., because the Jayhawks had to make their connecting flight from Baton Rouge to Dallas, and then to Kansas City. No new inning could start after 4 p.m. Yet for some reason, both games were scheduled as nine-inning contests, contrary to the policies of the Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences, which require seven-inning games during conference season when doubleheaders are necessary on Sunday.

That provision is why LSU and Kentucky asked the SEC to play a doubleheader Friday last year in Lexington when rain was forecast for Saturday. Paul Maineri and his Kentucky counterpart, Nick Migione, did not want to play two seven-inning games Sunday. The SEC said okay, and it all worked out.

Kansas ended up winning both games. The second game ended after seven innings due to the curfew. The Jayhawks became the first team to sweep a three-game series in Baton Rouge in three years, the first to sweep a doubleheader from LSU since 1991, and the first to sweep LSU in a doubleheader in Baton Rouge since 1988.

In 2010, Kansas returned to Baton Rouge and won two of three. However, the Bayou Bengals exacted revenge with a sweep in 2016.

Last night, LSU trailed Notre Dame 6-0 going into the bottom of the fifth. However, two home runs, a grand slam by Bryce Jordan and a three-run shot by Josh Smith, lifted the Bayou Bengals to a 7-6 victory.

I texted Bill that I hope every game is not like this. If not, cardiologists might have their hands full in Baton Rouge this baseball season.


Dawn’s going away soiree at Buffalo Wild Wings last night was fantastic. Had a great turnout, with Jeremy Smith, a former manager at two Buffalo Wild Wings in the area, Zona Rosa and Overland Park north, was there, as were Robb, Victoria, Mike Decker (LOWPOP) and Schylar Reed (SLYCKS). Kevin couldn’t make it because his mother underwent surgery in St. Joseph Thursday. Luckily she pulled through.

Dawn leaves next Saturday. Hopefully we do not lose contact like so many I’ve lost contact with over the years. The five I mentioned in the blog post of December 20 still hurt. So do a lot of my old chums from Arabi Park Middle, even though we communicate on Facebook. The only one I have seen since I left in 1989 is Toni LaRocca, and that was in 2000, when she was working at a Hooter’s in Metairie. She rocked the orange shorts.

Brenda LeBlanc is the one I’m really distressed over, at least among those I knew in Louisiana. She always got back to me in the past whenever I e-mailed her. Now, I haven’t heard from her in almost two years. If I go to Baton Rouge next month, I hope and pray I see her. Maybe I need to light a candle in a church or say the rosary.

I worry about Liz drifting away. She has trouble getting back to me. I don’t want to blame her, but it would be nice to hear from her more often.

Lisa is busy with a new home now and with Liam growing up. Hopefully she and Jeff will be adding to the family soon. Losing her would be tough, too.

I would be devastated if Peggy or Caitlyn exited my life for good. Those are the two I really couldn’t afford to lose.

Actually, it would be worse if I didn’t have Dr. Custer taking care of my health for the most part, Dr. Jones taking care of my vision, and Crista trying to keep me on the right path. All three could choose to be full-time mothers, and while it would hurt, I wouldn’t blame them. I think it’s easier for Dr. Custer since she has boys; the other two have girls, and the mother-daughter bond is usually very strong, as I’ve seen with Peggy and Caitlyn, Chelsea and Courtney.

Yes, I have male friends. Robb, Bill and Dan Borne would be the ones I would cry over losing. I’m not as close to Michael and Herb, but I would be upset if they cut me off, too.

Maybe I hold on to things too long. Then again, my memory can be a good thing.


I have never understood why restaurant customers in Kansas City order barbecue flavored wings.

Kansas City is home to some of the best barbecue in the world, according to many. I am not a big barbecue fan, but I have had some good stuff from Arthur Bryant’s, Gates and Jack Stack.

If there are so many good and authentic barbecue joints in Kansas City, then why the heck are people going to Buffalo Wild Wings and ordering honey barbecue? I’m dumbfounded. But it’s their decision.


Many states are holding their high school wrestling state championship tournaments this weekend. Missouri’s is at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Nebraska’s is at the Century Link Center in Omaha (across the street from TD Ameritrade Park, home of the College World Series), and Louisiana’s is at the Century Link Center in Bossier City, across the Red River from Shreveport in the northwest corner of the state.

Don’t get me started on the debate on where to hold Louisiana’s state tournament. When I lived there, it was at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, at the northwest edge of Jefferson Parish. Most schools in Louisiana which wrestle are south of US Highway 190, but apparently Shreveport and Bossier City offered inducements to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to move the tournament north.

Brother Martin, my alma mater, is on its way to the state championship of Division I. There are three divisions for wrestling in Louisiana, one fewer than Kansas and Missouri.

My problem with Louisiana’s tournament is it is compressed into two days. Worse, in Division I, many wrestlers will have to win five bouts to claim a state championship. To ask them to do so in about 36 hours is too much.

Missouri and Nebraska hold three-day tournaments. Why can’t Louisiana?

Kansas’ state tournaments are at three sites next Friday and Saturday. Three sites is two too many.


So far, so good on my Lenten promise of not swearing. I just have to keep it up until the end of March, then hopefully continue after that.

College basketball starts anew

It isn’t an official holiday in Lawrence, Kansas, but I’m certain many, many, many people are finding excuses to skip work or classes at the University of Kansas.

The Jayhawks begin the college basketball season tonight when they host Tennessee State.

Yahoo. (Sarcasm)

I really don’t care much about college basketball. I will watch if there’s nothing else on, or I’m in a location where it’s on all the televisions and I have no choice but to watch–unless I want to blindfold myself. Otherwise, no thank you.

I don’t know why I fill out a bracket during the NCAA tournament. I guess it’s just to do something fun. I really don’t give a darn who wins.

LSU has been awful at men’s basketball for the better part of the last 20+ years, save for a trip to the Final Four in 2006 and scattered NCAA tournament appearances.

I don’t expect one of those scattered appearances to occur in 2018.

LSU is picked 14th–DEAD LAST–in the Southeastern Conference. By contrast, Missouri, which finished tied for last in the SEC with LSU last year and lost to the Bayou Bengals AT HOME, is ranked in the preseason polls and is expected to make the NCAA tournament, thanks to new coach Cuonzo Martin and a stellar recruiting class, led by Michael Porter Jr., widely regarded as the nation’s top prep player of 2016-17.

The. Bayou Bengals have a new coach, Will Wade, who came from VCU, where he conintued the Rams’ run of success began by Shaka Smart, now at Texas. Wade has brought needed enthusaism and discipline to a program lacking both under Johnny Jones, but Wade has a tougher task ahead of him than what Dale Brown did when he came to LSU in 1972.

I hope Wade succeeds. I want my alma mater to do well, like most graduates want to see their schools thrive. But i can’t see it happening this year or next. LSU must be patient with Wade. It has to give Wade at least four years to get this thing on the right track. I’m not saying beat Kentucky every time. The top half of the SEC year in and year out would be a major improvement.

Kentucky is the favorite in the SEC. As it should be. Until someone can consistently knock off the Wildcats, the title will remain in Lexington. John Calipari has adapted so well to the “one-and-done” phenomenon. You may hate the guy, but nobody can deny he can fuse together a whole new group, get them to play cohesively, send them off to the NBA, where most will be high draft picks, then start all over again.

When I frequented Ivar’s, the sports bar near the LSU campus where I spent hundreds (maybe thousands) of days, one of the first things I noticed was a bumper sticker behind the bar. It read:

Kentucky Pervert–a man who enjoys sex more than basketball.

Very tue. It’s not just that way with the Big Blue, but at Louisville, Western Kentucky, Morehead State, Eastern Kentucky and Northern Kentucky, too. Basketball, horse racing and bourbon are all Kentucky traditions, traditions which should be cherished. It makes the Bluegrass State one unique place.

Kansas will win the Big 12. Again. For the 14th consecutive season. Arizona will win the Pac-12. Duke the ACC. Wichita State should roll in its new conference, the American Athletic Conference, but how much of an upgrade from the Missouri Valley is it really? The Big Ten should be interesting, but look for Tom Izzo’s Michigan State Spartans to come through.

Wichita State fans have been begging and pleading to play Kansas (and Kansas State) in the regular season. Bill Self refuses to bite. Cuold a Shockers-Jayhawks match take place in San Antonio at the Final Four? Maybe.

Let the games begin. Just don’t expect me to be watching too much.

K-State vs. KU: let’s toast a rotten rivalry!

Sorry for going Howard Hughes yet again. I’ve got to stop that. It’s a terrible habit.

Tomorrow is the latest renewal of one of major college football’s least important rivalries.

That’s right, it’s Kansas State vs. Kansas, live from Lawrence.

This is the 30th anniversary of the Toilet Bowl, when 0-8 K-State and 1-7 KU played to a 17-17 tie in Manhattan. The game was part of an 0-29-1 stretch for the Wildcats which dated back to their 1986 win vs. the Jayhawks, which resulted in rioting in Manhattan’s Aggieville entertainment/alcoholism district for the second time in three years.

As long as the Wildcats play a halfway decent game, they should win by at least 25 points. The Jayhawks haven’t scored in three weeks, and last week, they gained 21 yards against TCU, and all of those came when the Horned Frogs were deep into their third and fourth string. The 21 yards is an all-time low by a Big 12 team since the conference formed in 1996. For a conference known for high-powered offense, that’s beyond pitiful. KU should just have asked Shawnee Mission East, the best high school team in Kansas, to take its place in Fort Worth. I’m sure the Lancers would have done better than 21 yards.

Then again, K-State hasn’t won in a long time, either. The Wildcats have lost their last three and are 3-4. If they lose to KU, then (a) they aren’t going to a bowl game and (b) 78-year old Bill Snyder should retire. Not at the end of the season, but before the bus leaves to return to Manhattan. Problem is, Snyder has NO LIFE outside football and he probably would go insane without the game. Why else did he come back in 2009 after sitting out for three years?

I can see Snyder going the way of Jim Pittman, the TCU coach who dropped dead one Saturday afternoon in 1971 on the sideline in Waco after suffering a massive heart attack. Pittman led Tulane to the 1970 Liberty Bowl and a No. 17 ranking in the final Associated Press poll, although he never beat LSU, no sin considering the Bayou Bengals were a powerhouse under Charles McClendon. Of course, Pittman was handicapped by the myopic decision Tulane made to leave the Southeastern Conference prior to Pittman’s first season with the Green Wave.

FYI–TCU defeated Baylor 34-27 despite the shocking death of their coach.

College football media loves to harp on Nick Saban for being a robot who does nothing but football. But I can’t see Saban coaching into his late 70s. He has stated consistently he wants to spend quality time with Terry, his children and grandchildren without the pressure of football. Snyder has never said that. In fact, Bill wants his eldest child, Sean, to be his successor, something a lot of people in Manhattan don’t like, because Sean has never been a coordinator, let alone a head coach.

Snyder has owned the Jayhawks since coming to K-State in 1989. After losing to KU in 1989 and 1990, Snyder is 21-2 vs. the team from Lawrence, and has won all eight meetings since returning to the sideline in 2009. The Jayhawks have won only four times since 1991: 1992, when KU went 7-5 and won the Aloha Bowl under Glen Mason; 2004, when Snyder’s former assistant, Mark Mangino, led the Jayhawks to a 31-28 overtime decision in Lawrence; and 2007 and 2008, when K-State was being led into the abyss by Ron Prince, who may be the worst coach to patrol the Wildcat sideline, at least since 1967, when Vince Gibson was hired.

Gibson, Ellis Rainsberger, Jim Dickey and Stan Parrish, the four coaches prior to Snyder at K-State, would have done far better than 17-20 in three seasons had they had Prince’s talent. Conversely, Prince would have lost every game by at least 20 points had he had the talent level Dickey and Parrish were forced to work with.

The only good thing I can say about Prince is at least he tried to upgrade K-State’s usually pathetic non-conference schedule, playing a home-and-home with Louisville and going to Auburn. Snyder tried to buy his way out of the return trip by Auburn to Manhattan when he was re-hired, but Auburn jacked up the buyout so high K-State couldn’t afford it. Remember, Snyder is the same man who bought his way out of a game with TULANE when he was hired in 1989. The Wildcats played at Vanderbilt this year, will host the Commodores in the near future, and also play Mississippi State home-and-home. It’s an improvement.

Kansas’ program is about as bad as K-State was when Snyder was hired. Snyder has bitched about that comparison, saying he took over much worse in Manhattan. He claimed KU had periods of success, while the Wildcats had none, prior to his arrival. Yes, the Jayhawks won the Big Eight in 1968 with John Riggins and Bobby Douglass, but after that, KU did next to nothing until the fluke of 2007, when fat fuck Mangino got a break with a horrible schedule.

Right now, Kansas is easily the worst team in a power five conference (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC). It’s not close, although Illinois is trying its best to get there, and Oregon State seems hellbent on reclaiming that status, a status it took from K-State when Snyder started winning and somehow relinquished in the Dennis Erickson/Mike Riley years.

David Beaty is a good man, but he is in over his head trying to lead the Jayhawks. He’s like Sisyphus. No matter how hard he tries to roll the boulder up the (Campanille) Hill, it inevitably is going to come back at him faster. Give Beaty credit for taking a job probably very few others wanted, but he’s going to end up like Charlie Weis, Turner Gill, Terry Allen and Bob Valesente–all of whom were fired with miserable records.

Mike Gottfried was on his way to a similar fate, but he got a lifeline when he was hired by Pitt in 1986.

Don Fambrough had TWO bites of the apple, and while he had a modicum of success with David Jaynes in 1973, he flamed out and was fired in ’74. He came back in ’79, but had one decent year (1981) before relapsing in ’82, when he was fired again, this time for good.

Bud Moore had one big moment with Nolan Cromwell when KU ended Oklahoma’s 37-game unbeaten streak (28-game winning streak; there was a tie vs. USC early in 1973) in 1975 (at Norman, no less),  but no way he was going to consistently get the better of the Sooners, Nebraska or even Missouri and Oklahoma State. By 1978, the Jayhawks were 1-10, and Moore was done, too.

Pepper Rodgers, the coach of the Riggins-Douglass team of ’68, saw KU go 1-9 without Douglass in ’69, then bailed for UCLA two years later.

Glen Mason led the Jayhawks to 10-2 in ’95 (with losses of 41-7 to K-State and 41-3 to Nebraska). He originally took the Georgia job after the ’95 season, but changed his mind, stayed one more year in Lawrence, then finally left for Minnesota.

Mark Mangino? Well fat fuck fucked himself good.

I don’t care who wins. I am not a fan of Snyder’s, given his penchant for scheduling cupcakes and loading up on JUCO players seeking a quick fix. I have hated KU since they employed Mangino, whose manners are one step below feral pigs.

Since there can be no tie, I hope KU wins a sloppy game. I don’t want to see K-State anywhere near a bowl. Of course, a KU wins means both goalposts at Memorial Stadium are coming down. That would be FIVE STRAIGHT YEARS at least one goalpost has gone down.

That’s right, even though KU went 0-12 in 2015, the goalpost at the south end of the stadium still was torn down that year. It occurred a few hours after the Royals won Game 5 of the World Series in New York, giving Kansas City its first championship since 1985. The same did not occur at Mizzou, simply because there are more Cardinal fans than Royal fans on that campus (Columbia is halfway between Kansas City and St. Louis).

Then again, K-State fans have torn down the goalposts in Lawrence before, so the goalposts may not be safe even if the Jayhawks lose.

If you don’t live in Kansas and watch tomorrow, shame on you. There’s a hell of a lot better things you can be doing with a Saturday afternoon. I live in Kansas and I know I won’t be watching. Then again, I just might, just for the masochistic value.

LSU is off this week, preparing for its so-called rivalry game with Alabama. To me, it’s not a rivalry. I’ll explain why in an upcoming post.

Another Friday far away from home

For the second straight Friday, I’m in Kansas City. I didn’t expect to be here this morning, but as I was driving home the previous Sunday, the low oil pressure light in my car came on and off several times. It never stayed on for long, but it was a little disconcerting. 

Ergo, here I am, sitting at Morse-McCarthy Chevrolet. Oh well. I have nothing better to do today. 

I did get in a little time at Buffalo Wild Wings yesterday–six hours to be exact. I managed to avoid eating too much–only fried mushrooms and fried pickles, but simply because I was hungry and hadn’t eaten for much of the afternoon. 

I watched much of the Kansas-TCU basketball game at Buffalo Wild Wings. The Jayhawks led by as many as 15 points in the first half, but the Horned Frogs made a big comeback to take a 43-42 halftime lead. The second half was nip and tuck throughout, but when Kansas took an 80-76 lead with just over a minute to go, I figured it was over for TCU. 

Instead, the Frogs hung tough, and with less than three seconds left, the Jayhawks committed a stupid foul on a 3-pointer from the right corner. The TCU player sank all three free throws, and Kansas was headed back to Lawrence with an 85-82 loss. 

It is only the second time in 21 Big 12 tournaments the Jayhawks have gone one-and-done. Kansas has NEVER been forced to play in the first round, which means it has finished in the top four every year the Big 12 has been in existence. Of course, the Jayhawks have won or shared 13 consecutive Big 12 regular season titles, tying UCLA from 1967-79 for the longest streak in NCAA Division I. 

Kansas almost certainly will be the #1 seed in the Midwest regional for the NCAA tournament, but the Jayhawks are not infallible. Not much depth, and rebounding is a sore spot.

The Midwest regional semifinals and final are at Sprint Center. Jayhawk fans are praying for two games and then at least one more in Glendale, Arizona, but first, Kansas will have to survive two games, most likely in Tulsa. 

There will certainly be some cheap tickets outside Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City today from Jayhawk fans who have no desire to stick around and watch TCU-Iowa State and Kansas State-West Virginia in today’s semifinals. 

Big 12 executives and Sprint Center can’t admit to a rooting interest, but they have to be hoping Iowa State and Kansas State win today. Cycolne fans turn out in droves for this tournament, and of course, it’s an easy drive from Manhattan to Kansas City. 

By contrast, if it’s TCU and West Virginia, Sprint Center might be half empty tomorrow at 5 when the championship game tips off. 

TCU is the smallest school in the Big 12, and the Horned Frogs don’t move the needle much as far as basketball is concerned in Dallas/Fort Worth, not with the Mavericks and SMU. Besides, TCU has enjoyed far, far more success in football and baseball than it ever has in men’s basketball. Sounds like another school which wears purple and goes by an abbreviation…I think it’s in Baton Rouge. 

TCU should have been in the Big 12 in the first place. The reason why the Horned Frogs weren’t in the original Big 12 is lying in a grave in the Texas State Cemetary in Austin. 


When talks between the Big 8 and Southwest Conferences were taking place in 1993 and 1994, Richards was the Governor of Texas. She demanded her alma mater, Baylor, be included in the Big 12, or else there would be no Big 12. Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech capitulated. 

If Richards had not had her way, TCU would have been in the original Big 12, not Baylor. And i don’t think the Bears would be in the Big 12 today, not with the scandal that school has gone through. I’m surprised the Big 12 stuck by Baylor after the murder of men’s basketball player Patrick Denehey by teammate Carlton Dotson and the massive cover-up by then-coach Dave Bliss, who was given a 10-year show-cause penalty by the NCAA for his egregious violations. Bliss got off easy. He should have been banned for life by the NCAA and sent to prison for what he did. 

Now, if the sexual assault allegations against Baylor football players are true, then the Bears should be kicked out of the Big 12. Art Briles has gone down the same road as Bliss, and although it isn’t murder, it may be worse, since these women have to live with the trauma of these violent acts. 

West Virginia has a rich history, but it’s a very, very long drive from the heart of Appalachia to Kansas City, or anywhere else in the Big 12. The Mountaineers wanted to be in the ACC, but the conference felt its academic profile was nowhere near what it was looking for. I believe West Virignia’s status as an economic backwater (at least among the elite) and the state’s heavy reliance on the coal industry, one which has been deemed evil by the left wing in the United States, made several ACC members, especially the private schools, North Carolina and Virginia, want to turn away. Yet why would the ACC say no to West Virginia when Morgantown is an hour away from Pittsburgh, which is in the ACC? 

West Virginia had no shot of getting into the SEC, even though it isn’t all that far from Lexington and Knoxville, and some would argue if the SEC took Missouri, why not West Virginia?  But the SEC would have had to find a 16th team if it took the Mountaineers, and that would have been difficult, if not impossible, unless Kentucky somehow found religion and would sponsor Louisville for inclusion. 

The Big Ten? If the ACC said no, then the Big Ten was going to say HELL NO. Some in the Big Ten still want to expel Nebraska after it was kicked out of the Assoiciation of American Universities shortly after the Cornhuskers were accepted into the Big Ten, but it’s too late. So the Big 12 was all that was left for the Mountaineers. 

West Virginia is a beautiful place. I drove through the state many years ago on Interstate 77, and I found it breathtaking. I don’t care what the environmental nut jobs say about coal, it can help the United States gain energy independence. I know I wouldn’t want to be a coal miner. If I thought my dad’s job at Air Products and Chemicals was dangerous, it was a picnic compared to what coal miners endure. Look at all the miners who have died in accidents in West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. 

I left my iPad in my car last night when I got back to the hotel. I thought about going to get it, but I was tired and I figured it would distract me. So I left it. 

Trying to figure out the car right now. Supposed to snow tomorrow in Kansas City. Sunday looks good to get back home. My mother is cooking lasagna for lunch. Can’t miss it. 

Jayhawks rocking

It’s getting loud at Buffalo Wild Wings. Kansas now leads West Virgina 48-39, forcing Bob Huggins to call a timeout. Looks like the Jayhawks will not only win the Big 12 tournament, but wrap up the #1 overall seed. KU would be in the Midwest regional if that happened, with the first and second round games likely in Des Moines. 

LSU was beyond putrid today. It was excruciating to watch. It must have been much worse to have been in Nashville. I’m sure Jim Hawthorne, who is retiring as LSU’s play-by-play announcer as soon as the basketball season concludes, wishes he were somewhere else today. 

In case you don’t know, Texas A&M beat the pee out of LSU, 71-38. The Aggies are having one of their best basketball seasons ever, and if they can knock off Kentucky tomorrow in the tournament final, it will get that much better. 

How can you not average a point a minute with a 30-second shot clock? That is unfathomable. I could have understood before the shot clock, but in 2016? I thought I had watched the last of those pitiful LSU performances many years ago, but I’m wrong. 

John Brady had two horrible teams at the beginning of his LSU tenure (1997-98 and 1998-99), but could they have been that bad? Dale Brown’s next-to-last team gave up 86 points to Kentucky in the first half in 1996, but (a) LSU scored 42 in the half and finished with 97 (the Wildcats scored 129), and (b) that was one of the most loaded teams in the history of a program with loaded teams. 

March Madness will proceed without LSU. Not that I’m not used to it by now. Hard to believe the Bayou Bengals went to 10 consecutive NCAA tournaments from 1984 through 1993. Since 1994, they will have missed the NCAA tournament 16 times out of 23. Yeesh. 

I’m not staying nearly as late at Buffalo Wild Wings tonight. I am driving home in the morning, and also, the stupid time change is tonight, so it will feel like 8 am when it’s really 9 am. And I want to be home for noon to eat. 

Top-notch Thursday

I am off to a flying start in my latest excursion to Kansas City.

I took a page out of the NASCAR playbook yesterday on the drive over, running my gas tank almost to completely empty. I had less than half a tank when I left Russell, so I knew I would have to stop for gas somewhere. I passed Salina and Abilene, figuring I still had Junction City.

When I looked at my gauge at Chapman, which is between Abilene and Junction City, it showed I had about 100 kilometers (60 miles) of gas left. If the calculations were accurate, I would be able to make it to the gas station at Maple Hill, approximately 15 miles west of the I-470 exit in Topeka, where I get off I-70 to head to the Kansas Turnpike.

I was sweating it out for the last 30 miles. I knew I was very low. I just hoped I could get to that gas station with a drop or two to spare so I didn’t have the embarrassment of having to contact AAA or hit the OnStar button on my rear view mirror and tell them I foolishly thought I could make it to a gas station and drive 45 miles with the “Low Fuel” warning on my dashboard.

I made it. Barely. Another 4-5 miles, and I would have been out.

I arrived in Kansas City at 12:15 and went straight to Buffalo Wild Wings, knowing it would get crowded by 1:30, the scheduled tipoff for the Kansas State-Kansas basketball game in the Big 12 Conference tournament, which is being played in downtown Kansas City at the Sprint Center.

There was seating available throughout the game, which KU won easily 85-63. Actually, it was more crowded for the final game yesterday, Iowa State-Oklahoma. A lot of Cyclone fans in the building. But they’ll be heading north on I-35 following a 79-76 Sooner victory.

I had a lot of fun playing trivia for nine hours yesterday. Robb and Dawn came by in the late afternoon. I thought they might not show up, but they did. They’re supposed to be coming tomorrow. I also saw Tori Weber’s parents, which was also very nice.

More of the same today. Trivia and basketball. My good life.

Pigskinless Monday

Nobody who attended tonight’s Oklahoma-Kansas men’s basketball game in Lawrence cannot say they didn’t get their money’s worth.

Actually, KU should have emptied Allen Fieldhouse at the end of regulation and then charged everyone to get in to watch overtime.

Make that overtimes.

In one of the longest games in the 60-year history of the building named for Phog Allen, the Jayhawks outlasted the Sooners 109-106.Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield did all he could to carry his team, scoring 46 points, but he was outdone by a more balanced Kansas unit, led by the 27 points and 13 rebounds from senior Perry Ellis, who helped Wichita Heights win 62 consecutive games during his high school days before moving up the Kansas Turnpike.

This was not a battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2, as had been advertised since Saturday evening, following Kansas’ victory over Baylor and Oklahoma’s decision over Iowa State.

Rather, it was No. 1 vs. No. 1.

When the new polls were issued earlier this morning, Kansas had ascended to the top of the Associated Press survey, but Oklahoma held the top spot in the coaches’ poll. The Big 12 rivals held the No. 2 spots in the other polls, with Maryland, Virginia and Michigan State rounding out the top five.

It was a  great game, but it’s only January 4. Each team still has 16 games in Big 12 play to navigate, plus the Jayhawks have a home game Jan. 30 against Kentucky. A lot will change between now and Selection Sunday March 13.

Had Oklahoma won, it would not have been the most surprising sports story of the day.

That came from the city which the NCAA calls home.

Chuck Pagano will be coaching the Indianapolis Colts in 2016, something most pro football experts would not have seen coming as recently as Sunday morning.

The smart money had Pagano leaving after the expiration of his original four-year contract at the end of the 2015 season. The relationship between he and Colts general manager Ryan Grigson was nothing short of pure hatred, and most figured either Pagano would be let go, or owner Jim Irsay would not only let Pagano go, but also fire Grigson, who has made some absolutely pitiful personnel decisions during his tenure in Indianapolis, save for drafting Andrew Luck No. 1 overall in 2012, which anyone with half a brain could have done.

Pagano and Grigson will both return to the Colts following an 8-8 campaign in 2015, one in which Luck missed the final nine games with numerous injuries. Indianapolis started five different quarterbacks in 2015, something which hadn’t been done since the Frank Kush-Rod Dowhower days of the 1980s.

Tom Coughlin will not be back with the Giants. He resigned earlier today following 12 seasons, leading the team to victories in Super Bowl XLII and XLVI. Coughlin, who was an assistant under Bill Parcells on the Giants’ Super Bowl XXV winning team, was known throughout the league as a real hard-ass who believed in extremely strict discipline and levied draconian fines for the slightest deviations when he was in Jacksonville and his first few years with the Giants.

Since 2007, Coughlin mellowed considerably, and the results were mostly positive until 2013, when the Giants suffered the first of three consecutive losing seasons. It’s the first for the club since seven straight sub-.500 years between 1973 and 1980, when the Giants were coached by Alex Webster, Bill Arnsparger, John McVay and Ray Perkins.

Late last night, the 49ers fired Jim Tomsula after a 5-11 season. Tomsula joins the likes of Monte Clark and Ken Meyer, who coached San Francisco for one season each in 1976 and 1977, respectively. At least Clark, Meyer and Tomsula lasted a full season; Pete McCulley and Fred O’Connor split the disastrous 2-14 campaign of 1978. At least Eddie DeBartolo Jr. got it right in 1979 by hiring Bill Walsh.

To nobody’s surprise, coach Mike Pettine and GM Ray Farmer were fired by Cleveland. Tennessee and Miami also are moving on from their interim coaches, Mike Mularkey and Dan Campbell.

Tonight was the first Monday without football since August 31. After Alabama and Clemson decide the college football national championship next Monday, we’ll have to get used to Mondays without football for quite a long time.



The Little Apple feels rotten

Saturday was a very bad day to be a supporter of Kansas State. Very bad.

The Wildcats pulled off the trifecta–the wrong way.

The women’s basketball team lost 87-73 to TCU, which serves K-State right, since coach Jeff Mittie dressed his team in black uniforms. Last I checked, black is not an official K-State color. PURPLE is K-State’s only official color, although idiots like Bob Huggins, Frank Martin, Bruce Weber, Brad Hill and now Mittie have taken liberty with the Wildcats’ palette and introduced black. ICK. If Bill Snyder ever brings out the Wildcats with something black, he will immediately be transported to the nearest psychiatric hospital. It isn’t happening.

The men’s basketball team led for much of its game vs. West Virginia, but the Mountaineers got out of Manhattan with an 87-83 double overtime victory. Given K-State’s pillow soft non-conference schedule, these are the type of games the Wildcats have to win in Big 12 play if they are to qualify for the NCAA tournament. There’s no way the Wildcats can hope ot beat Kansas, Oklahoma and Iowa State. They are clearly better than Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and TCU. It’s the games with Baylor, West Virginia and Texas which will tell the tale for Weber’s team.

The Wildcat football team couldn’t keep up with Arkansas, and lost the Liberty Bowl 45-23. The Wildcats got as close as 24-20 early in the third quarter, but the Razorbacks weren’t about to blow this one, given what had happened in September in stunning home losses to Toledo and Texas Tech. K-State frankly didn’t deserve to be in a bowl game, and it showed. The Wildcats finished the year 6-7, and the rumors are flying that Snyder will retire. He reportedly is very upset he has to take his team to Stanford to open the 2016 season. Snyder hates playing big-name opponents in non-conference games, and Stanford, which crushed Iowa in the Rose Bowl, certainly qualifies. At least the Wildcats have nine months to figure out how to stop Christian McCaffrey.

As bad as K-State’s three losses were, Kansas heaped more misery on the purple by routing Baylor 102-74 at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks will rise to No. 1 tomorrow when the new polls are released, and they will test that ranking immediately when Oklahoma, which defeated Iowa State 87-83 at Norman, comes to Lawrence at 8 p.m. tomorrow for Big Monday on ESPN.

The Big 12’s football fortunes improved significantly after dark.

TCU fell behind Oregon 31-0 at halftime, but even without quarterback Trevon Boykin (suspended) and receiver Josh Doctson (wrist), the Horned Frogs rallied and pulled it out 47-41 in triple overtime, tying the biggest comeback in bowl history. The Frogs tied Texas Tech in 2006, which trailed Minnesota by 31 but won 47-44 in overtime. That game cost Golden Gophers coach Glen Mason his job.

West Virginia picked up another one for the Big 12 by edging Arizona State 43-42 in the Cactus Bowl, played at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Mountaineer quarterback Skylar Howard threw for 532 yards and five touchdowns.

The losses by the Ducks and Sun Devils mean the SEC will finish with the best bowl winning percentage this season. The SEC is 8-2 with the Alabama-Clemson national championship game still to come. The lone setbacks for the SEC were Texas A&M (vs. Louisville) and Florida (vs. Michigan).

The NFL’s final week of regular season games will kick off in 10 minutes.


Sunflower Showdown Sunday

1:40–Arrival at Bufaflo Wild Wings. Many tables are filled, but many are not. Two gentlemen at one end of the bar, but nobody else. Most of the crowd from watching the Michigan State-Virginia game has left. The San Diego State-Duke game is up now. A few fans, but nowhere near what it will be by 4:15 when the Jayhawks and Shockers tip off. 

1:45–My first round of Buzztime trivia begins. The last round of the short form seven question game for the day. At 2, it goes to the 15 question Countdown, the general knowledge game which is Buzztime’s signature. 

The friendly Sekou is tending bar this afternoon. Greeted me warmly and filled up my glass with Diet Pepsi right away.  Because I’m a regular, I don’t have to use the standard Buffalo Wild Wings glasses. I’m allowed to use my own drinkware. 

For a few months last year, it was a giant 52-ounce mug from 7-11, which we don’t have in western Kansas. By the end of the year, I felt a bit gauche about drinking out of a container that big, so I switched to a 24 ounce Tervis glass. It was LSU first,  and now I usually alternate between  the Arizona Cardinals and Milwaukee Bucks. I also have one for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but someone said she didn’t like Canada. Understood. 

First question fo the day: THe United States attacked Baghdad after learning of a plot to assassintate whom? The answer: George H.W. Bush, who was in his last days as President before making way for Bill Clinton. 

Second question: Which city burned in 64 A.D.? Of coruse it was Rome, which burned while Nero fiddled. 

It’s kind of warm at my bar seat. Glad I wore shorts. 

2 p.m.–First round of Countdown commences. Duke up 6-0 on San Diego State afte four minutes at the first television timeout. 

2:05 p.m.–Duke’s lead grows to 15-4. San Diego State calls timeout with 13:29 still to go in the first half. 

2:15 p.m.–A rash of music questions has allowed me to rack up points and take a 2,200-point lead over one of my trivia nemeses, RONDO. RONDO always sits alone at the bar and drinks Guinness Stout. He never orders food. RONDO only comes in on weekends, leaving me to wipe up during the week. 

2:22 p.m.–FOOTS is the winner. 14,181 to 11.985 for RONDO. RONDO’s score would win just about every game of Countdown at this Buffalo Wild Wings…but not this one. 

Another high score for the March Countdown board. I own nine of the 10. The tenth was done on March 2, before I started coming this month. 

2:25 p.m.–Went out to the patio for a second. It’s such a gorgeous day. Too bad Missouri still allows smoking on outdoor patios, or I might sit outside. 

Missouri will never adopt an indoor smoking ban, unless somehow a rash of left-wing legislators are elected, and that’s not likely, given the rural areas have nearly as much, if not more, strength than the large metro areas of Kansas City and St. Louis. 

Thankfully, Kansas City has adopted its own indoor smoking ban, or I might be stuck in Kansas all the time. The Sunflower State has banned smoking indoors in restaurants and bars which are not private clubs since 2009, the only good thing to come out of the eight years of the otherwise disastrous administrations of Kathleen $ebeliu$ and Mark Parkin$on. 

2:45 p.m.–My lead in Countdown Game 2 vs. RONDO is 2,253 points with five questions left. I’m in good shape.

San Diego State is not in good shape. The Aztecs trail Duke 37-24 at halftime. The Blue Devils are on their way to the South region semifinals in Houston Friday. 

It’s now 90 minutes to tip in Omaha between Kansas and Wichita State. Bob Davis and the Kansas radio crew have started their pregame show. 

The pressure in tournament games is usually on the higher seeded team. Not in this case.

I believe Wichita State has all the pressure. To the Shockers, beating KU would be armageddon, the end-all, be-all for their program. WSU constantly gripes about the Jayhawks avoiding them, but then again, why should KU play the Shockers? It would be a lose-lose for the Jayhawks. If they win, so what, it’s expected. If they lose, it would be the king of the mighty Big 12 losing to little brother from the Missouri Valley, a school whose overall athletic budget is less than half of KU’s budget for men’s basketball alone. Even when WSU had football, no major conference even remotely considered the Shockers for membership. 

4:10 p.m.–I took a round of trivia off after RONDO beat me, although his score was not high enough to get him on the top 10 list this month. I went back to it after he left just before 4. 

CBS is live from Omaha. Marv Albert, Len elmore and Chris Webber are setting the scene. We are only minutes away from tipoff. Surprisingly, there are open tables and open seats at the bar. No waiting. 

4:18 p.m.–No score after 69 seconds of play. WSU breakst he ice on two Darius Carter free throws. 

4:19 p.m.–Blocking foul against he Shockers’ Russell. Frank Mason III to the line, where he makes one of two. 

4:20 p.m.–Mason drains a three. KU 4-2. 

4:23 p.m.–First TV timeout. KU 8, WSU 5. 

4:30 p.m.–Tori just walked in. Loves my shirt. KU up 10-7 with 12:50 left in 1st half. 

4:36 p.m.–Tied at 12. Ron Baker misses 3 that would have given WSU the lead. Foul on the rebound against the Shockers. 

4:39 p.m.–Frank Mason III drains a trey to put KU up 171-2 with 9:35 left in 1st half. 

4:52 p.m.–Liz loves my shirt so much she wants to take a picture with me. Lovely. KU starting to assert itself, going up 24-16 with 5:08 to go in the first half. 

4:59 p.m.–Ron Baker drains a 25-footer, narrowing the gap to 24-23 with 2:59 left in the first half. TV timeout. 

5:06 p.m.–The Shockers just took a 29-26 lead on a Fred VanVleet three. KU had better get it together. 

5:09 p.m.–Halftime in Omaha with the Shockers up 29-26. Never dreamed that would happen. However, there’s still 20 minutes left. 

5:38 p.m.–The Jayhawk choke machine is in full effect. Shockers lead 37-30 a little more than three minutes into the second half, prompting Bill Self to call timeout. 

Bucknell. Bradley. Northern Iowa. Stanford. All have KO’d Self-coached KU teams on the first weekend of the tourney. Could Wichita State be joining the list? Looks like it unless the Jayhawks snap out of it. 

5:42 p.m.–Awfully quiet in here. Shockers up 41-30. If the Jayhawks lose, Buffalo Wild Wings outlets all across KC will have a totally dead week. No way Wichita State will draw that kind of interest 190 miles away. 

5:58 p.m.–KU is getting embarrassed. WSU leads 54-43 with 10:50 to go. The Shockers have led by as many as 14. The Jayhawks need to go on a run. NOW. 

6:08 p.m. –KU still trails 61-51 with 6:45 to go. Meanwhile, three of my trivia pals, Jane, Mark and John have arrived. Haven’t seen them in a couple of months. 

6:32 p.m.–The Jayhawks are officially an embarrassment. It’s bad enough to lose to Wichita State. It’s beyond bad to lose by 16 POINTS. Terrible KU. Just terrible. 

The 78-62 victory sends the Shockers into a Sweet 16 matchup Thursday at Cleveland vs. ACC champion Notre Dame. 

8:05 p.m.–I’ve seen so many posts on Facebook and Twitter about CBS showing Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. And the round of boos he received from fans at Omaha. Mosts posts are anti-Brownback. 

I’m still playing trivia. Aside from the one game I lost to Rondo, I’ve been kicking a ton of rear ends.