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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. 

ANN RICHARDS.

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. 

Goalposts stay upright

The goalposts at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence are intact.

TCU rallied to defeat Kansas 24-23. The Jayhawks missed three field goals in the fourth quater, although to be fair, the last one of those was from 54 yards, which is difficult for a pro kicker to make, much less a college kicker. 

The Horned Frogs are 5-0 vs. the Jayhawks since joining the Big 12, but the last three of those wins have come by a combined 11 points. What is it about Kansas which gives TCU fits? Maybe Gary Patterson needs a few tips from his mentor, Bill Snyder, whose K-State teams always seem to beat Kansas by wide margins. 

Florida continues to look mighty stupid for calling off its game with LSU.

The Notre Dame-North Carolina State game in Raleigh was played as Matthew was paralleling the coasts of South and North Carolina. The field at Carter-Finley Stadium was flooded, and wind gusts at close to hurricane force were  felt throughout the stadium at times. The Wolfpack won 10-3, dropping the Fighting Irish to 2-4.

The game in Raleigh won’t be the only one today played in horrendous conditions. 

NC State’s Golden Triangle rivals, North Carolina and Duke, are home as well, vs. Virginia Tech and Army, respectively. Those games will also be negatively impacted. Wake Forest hosts Syracuse, too, and although Winston-Salem is farther west than Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, it won’t be much better. 

Currently in Gainesville, it’s sunny and 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit). A little too warm for football for my taste, but in Florida, it’s as good as it’s going to get for October 8. Yet Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is deathly silent. Crickets are chirping. 

Nice work, Jeremy Foley. You suckered SEC commissioner Greg Sankey into postponing the game at the behest of your football coach, Jim McElwain, who was deathly afraid of facing LSU without a few starters. 

If Sankey forces LSU and Florida to play Nov. 19, the SEC should reimburse LSU $6 million–$1.5 million to buy out South Alabama, $3.5 million in lost ticket revenue, and another $1 million for expenses to travel to Gainesville. 

Even the money won’t help LSU on the field. if the game is rescheduled to Nov. 19, LSU will have to play three consecutive road games vs. Arkansas, Florida and Texas A&M, which all come after a home game vs. Alabama. Nice job, SEC. 

LSU fans don’t need much of a reason, if any, to hate Florida. Foley gave even the most mild-mannered Bayou Bengals fan a reason to loathe the Gators. 

Les Miles was dead on. It is high time the SEC eliminate permanent cross-division opponents. It is time the LSU-Florida series take a scheduled break. I’m sure the Bayou Bengals would not complain if Florida was replaced with Kentucky and/or Vanderbilt every so often, or the Gators would feel the same way if LSU was traded out for Auburn and/or Mississippi State. 

At least Missouri has an open date today, too, so it doesn’t have a disadvantage when traveling to Gainesville next week. The Tigers need all the help they can get after last week’s meltdown in Baton Rouge. 

Hurricane Matthew has also affected the MLB playoffs, Game 2 of the NL Dvision series between the Dodgers and Nationals in Washington was rained out. The game is now set for 1 p.m. Eastern tomorrow, and then the teams must fly to Los Angeles for Game 3 Monday. If the teams were flying commerical, yikes. But they fly on spacious chartered planes, so it isn’t nearly as bad. 

Endangered goalposts 

If you read my most recent post, I noted Kansas Jayhawk fans would attack the goalposts in Lawrence if their team could defeat TCU. 

It might happen. 

With seven minutes left, Kansas leads the Horned Frogs 23-21.  There’s still a long way to go, but how in the hell are the Jayhawks, easily the worst team in a Power 5 conference, leading? 

If TCU loses, Gary Patterson has to be on the hot seat. It’s one thing losing to Arkansas in double overtime and to Oklahoma. It’s something totally different to lose to the Kansas Jayhawks. This would be especially embarrassing for Patterson, given he was an assistant to Bill Snyder at Kansas State. Snyder has lost to KU only once (2004) since 1992. 

Kansas coach David Beatty begged students not to rush the field after the Jayhawks beat pathetic Rhode Island in the season opener. I hope he reacts just as angrily if it happens today.

Fans have no place on a football field, basketball court or any other playing surface. A ticket gives you the right to watch the game, but you also have the responsibility to act like a civilized human being. And part of that is not invading the playing surface and endangering the lives of players, coaches and officials, especially the players and coaches of the opposing team. 

There’s only one person in Lawrence who can prevent fans from invading the field. His name: BILL SELF. If Self were to get on the PA and try to stop it, he might succeed. 

Notice I said might. Too many morons would take the opportunity to make jackasses of themselves. 

I would also venture to bet a goalpost will either end up in a lake or somewhere on Massachusetts Street. Jayhawk fans are like that. 

STAY OFF THE FIELD! 

Missed big time

Ole Miss might as well had not left Oxford. Their performance today in the Peach Bowl is beyond putrid.

I don’t like the Rebels, period. I dislike Ole Miss more than any other SEC school. I get tired of Ole Mss thinking they are more refined and more cultured than the ‘rednecks’ which populate Auburn, Gainesville, Fayetteville, and especially Starkville. Rebel fans think because they eat on tablecloths during tailgate parties, they are more civilized than their peers at LSU. Because their students wear coat and tie or dresses to games, they’re more sophisticated than Missouri.

I’ve been to Oxford enough times to know that if Ole Miss weren’t there, it would be just another small Mississippi town with a few gas stations, a few restaurants, and not much else. Other than having Ole Miss there, Oxford isn’t much except for a bigger town on a four-lane highway from I-55 in Batesville to Tupelo, the birthplace of Elvis and the largest city northeast Mississippi.

One thing about Ole Miss that galls me is the total control Greeks have over that campus. If you are not a member of a fraternity or sorority, you have absolutely no chance to getting elected to a position in the student government, which means the Greeks have almost unlimited access to the faculty at Ole Miss. I would not be surprised if Greeks often get grading breaks not afforded to non-Greeks.

Problem is, if you don’t have a family member who was in a fraternity or sorority, or your family does not have money, good luck trying to get in. People like me would have less than zero chance.

Sadly, the Greeks run student life at Alabama as well, although it isn’t reported, simply because there’s too much other news coming out of Tuscaloosa (read: Nick Saban’s football dynasty). The Greeks have run Alabama since the days Bear Bryant and George Wallace were students, and that’s over 80 years ago.

Ole Miss, which beat Alabama in October but stumbled later with losses to LSU, Auburn and Arkansas, is getting destroyed by TCU in the Peach Bowl, the first of the six ‘access bowls’ now under the control of the College Football Playoff committee. The Horned Frogs, who finished No. 5 in the CFP rankings released Dec. 7–one spot shy of qualifying for the playoff–have steamrolled the Rebels throughout and lead 42-3 in the fourth quarter. TCU is aiming for its second 12-win season in its last five, pretty remarkable considering the Horned Frogs were among the doormats of the old Southwest Conference for the last 35 years of that conference, from 1960, the year Bob Lilly graduated and went on to his Hall of Fame career with the Cowboys, through 1995, the last year of the conference.

TCU originally was going to be accepted into the Big 12 when it formed to give the new league a foothold in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but Ann Richards, then the governor of Texas and a big mouthpiece for Baylor, threatened to torpedo the Big 12 if the Bears were not taken in. Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech were eagerly accepted by the rest of the Big Eight; it just came down to Baylor and TCU. SMU was not an option due to the lack of a baseball team; Rice is too small; and Houston has a history of numerous NCAA rules violations.

The Horned Frogs are coached by Gary Patterson, who grew up in Rozel, Kansas, a tiny dot on the map between Larned and Jetmore. Patterson has led TCU to unprecedented heights, heights not seen since the glory days of the 1950s under Abe Martin.

Ole MIss has played in a couple of Cotton Bowls and a couple of Gator Bowls in January over the past 25 years, but today’s Peach Bowl can truly be called the Rebels’ first bona fide major bowl game since Archie Manning propelled Ole Miss past Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl of January 1, 1970. That year, there were only four games on New Year’s Day, and if you played in the Cotton, Sugar, Rose or Orange, you must have had a pretty good season.

Ole Miss went 7-3 in 1969, but they caught a huge break when 9-1 LSU turned down the Sugar Bowl. The Bayou Bengals were hoping for a Cotton Bowl berth against top-ranked Texas, but the Cotton instead snatched up Notre Dame when the Fighting Irish ended their 45-year prohibition on playing in bowl games. LSU was offered a spot in the Bluebonnet Bowl vs. Colorado, but said no, meaning it sat home at 9-1.

Sadly, too many 6-6 and 7-5 teams are playing bowl games hardly anyone cares about. The attendance reflects that. I’m sorry, but no way 6-6 Miami and 6-6 South Carolina should have been in a bowl. Same for 6-6 Arkansas and 6-6 Texas. I think eight wins should be the bare minimum.