Monday, May 24, 2010

Kansas City sports my opinion.

You'd think that in a small market like Kansas City you'd feel blessed if you were something of  a sports junkie, to have not one but two radio stations committed to sports 24 hours a day, and actually I do.  We have some dogs and after sunset you're pretty much consigned to national guys, but it's not bad for a metropolitan area of just a bit over 2 million people.    For around 12-13 hours a day we have at least one option for local sports news and let me tell you, that's pretty good when you have teams as unsuccessful as the Chiefs and Royals that you'd normally count on as an anchor topic.
We've got the little station in town, 810 WHB, which is run by a ku guy (Chad Boeger, who actually stole the station from his uncle.  typical beak) and makes no bones about having hosts that are loyal to their schools, yet they are able to make it work.  We also have the Entercom entry in town.  They are the local shills for the university of kansas, and make very few bones about supporting them, although frankly, it is probably their best chance to build something of an audience.
KCSP is 610 in KC and when they went all sports they fully intended to run the 810 guys out of business.  After all, they had corporate bucks behind them and had stolen the popular Jim Rome show away from WHB.  All this turned out well for Boeger and his largely mediocre on air talent and they still have by-in-large average talent which 610 has always be able to under-perform.  The classic for them is the new guy they brought in to host their day shoe, "Bullet" Bob Fescoe.  Fescoe worked at 810 a few years ago where he started "The Border Patrol" with Steven St. John.  It was a show that had a lot of promise but frankly was held back by Fescoe's lack of presence.  He spent a few years in St Louis where he failed miserably in 3 separate gigs before his final termination where he was hired back to 610 because, I assume, he was willing to work cheaply.
His former show, still The Border Patrol has flourished in his absence, as Nick Bukaty has joined in as the kansas fan to act as the foil to St John's unabashed allegiance to Missouri.  St John should never be mistaken for a sports expert, but he's pretty damn funny, which is what you're looking for in a morning drive host.  Bukaty may have one of the worst radio voices I've ever heard, but he's entertaining and doesn't take himself or the rivalry too seriously.  Putting Fescoe up against them would have made sense had the show sputtered after he originally left, but that wasn't anywhere near the case.  The show really never hit any sort of a stride until Fescoe left.  Hell, even the ku fans that I know and associate with believe that Fescoe is an untalented boob and they're embarrassed to share fanship with him.  I'm enjoying Nate and Steven driving the final stake through his black heart.
After the morning show, 610 decided to play it safe and went with the syndicated Jim Rome show while 810 has gone with Soren Petro.  I've thought Petro was nothing more than Howard Stern with a (slightly) better haircut.  He's abrasive, opinionated and tends to resort to petty personal attacks when confronted with an opinion that doesn't mirror his own.  In other words, he's Rome without the listenship and ratings.  He's also responsible for the unquestioned worst hour of radio every Friday when he wheels out a perpetually drunken sidekick named Pete Enich who joins him for scintillating programming known as "Stump the Chumps".   I have no idea what Enich's credentials for co-hosting a sports show might be, even if it's just for an hour a week, but I do know he's been telling Kansas City listeners for 15 years that we're privileged to have a guy as sharp as Petro to listen to.  Well, that would explain how he started at a 75 watt KC station, go to Vegas, get fired, stumble around the country and finally wind up back in KC when 810 discovered having Tim Grunhard and Bill Maas host a mid morning show and telling old football stories was even duller than it sounds.  However, as abrasive as Petro is, at least he brings some local perspective to his hyperbole.
So we go to the afternoon shows where 610 has brought in Nick Wright to try and combat Kevin Keitzman, Danny Klinkscale, Todd Leabo in "Between the Lines".  I'll confess right here that I've never much cared for Wrights work and thus, I've never listened to his show.  For all the bitching I hear about Keitzman, I think he's fairly decent.  He's a huge K State fan so he has the little brother complex working against him and he's lately become infatuated with appearing relevant.  That being said, I've listened to a bit of Kevin Slaten in St Louis and I'll take Keitz every day of the week.
So here we are with at least 18 hours of local programming in a medium sized city with 2 losing professional franchises and college programs that have been less than universally successful.  I think that we should be happy with what we have going for us.  I don't see anyone as being wildly talented and we're probably never going to get an actual story broke here.  Unless of course one of KK's wild speculations finally proves to work out the way he said in which time he will proclaim himself the ultimate Kansas City insider and find a way to work that to his and the stations advantage.  Not holding my breath there.  Actually, who I'd like to see get her own show would be the eye candy from 38 the Spot, Holly Starr.  She seems as knowledgable as any of the guys, and she definitely has attributes that none of them ever will.  Of course, that would just be wasted on radio.  But if she was never seen, didn't know a thing about sports and had a shrill grating voice, she'd still be better than Fescoe.  Have a good week folks!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Post spring around the Big XII. Part 5, Nebraska

So we've talked about the 4 teams that figure to be fighting it out for 3rd place in the weak Big XII north this season.  Now we're going to talk about the team that was at the absolute top during old Big 8 days as far as football goes.  Yes, they proceeded to drop off after the merger, mainly due to scholarship limits and their inability to take prop 48 kids anymore.  Some boobs named Steve Pederson and Bill Callahan also played their part but football has always been the straw that stirs the drink in Lincoln and that has never changed, and probably never will.
In an effort to return to their glory days, corn nation sent former athletic director packing along with Callahan and brought in former head coach, former house representative, former savior and emeritus for life Tom Osbourne to bring back their lost sparkle and really, their only reason to keep breathing.   Dr. Tom, making sure he didn't repeat Pederson's miscue when he hired Cally as his 5th choice kept things close to the vest before hiring LSU and former hick defensive coordinator Bo Pelini.  He allowed Bo to hire his brother and give him the title of defensive coordinator but pretty much brought in his old cronies to act as the remainder of his coaching staff.  At the time I thought it was possibly a recipe for disaster but I underestimated Dr. Tom and Bo for that matter as they have struggled to score but have built one of the best defenses in the country out of the players that Cally and company were unable to do anything with.
Nebraska will do whatever it takes to return to what they consider to be their birthright, among the elite of college football.  They'll be happy to do it whether it tanks the rest of the athletic department or not.  I mean really, in their opinion who cares about college basketball anyway?  It's just a way to kill time until spring practice begins.  Their fans have been trolling national message boards for months proclaiming they are back and that at long last, order is being restored.  Nebraska fans are something of an odd lot, but I have to admit they've come up with some of the greatest, (or corniest, if you prefer) photoshop work to promote their team.  They are indeed rabid, if somewhat weird fans who'll show up 85,000 strong to watch their spring game and they aren't afraid to take out a 2nd mortgage on the combine if they think the huskers could use some new equipment for their weight room.
I think most people believe that it's going to come down to Nebraska and Missouri fighting it out for the north crown this year and they're probably right.  Both have dumped a huge amount of dollars into facilities and both were in the top 25 in recruiting last year compared to the rest of the division who were in the 60's.  Both are also going to have to deal with the speculation that they'll be moving on to the Big Ten within a couple of years so I expect neither to be welcomed warmly when they go on the road.  They've chosen to do things differently as Mizzou has concentrated on offensive playmakers who can win a track meet while Nebraska wants to grind it out and win games 17-13.  Last year it worked out for Nebraska, but 4 of the last 7 have gone to Missouri.  Frankly, at this time it could all come down to the head coach and his ability to deal with adversity.  So what could go wrong when you've got Bo Pelini roaming the sidelines?
Have a great weekend folks.  I'm not going to talk about Missouri's prospects for the season yet, so I think that next week we may just try to condense some of the Big Ten expansion talk.  Of course, I'm still wanting to get into my photo tribute to Jennifer Love Hewitt so I may do that instead.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Post spring around the Big XII. Part 4, kansas

So I'm halfway through the 6 teams that make up the north division of the Big XII (for now) conference.  I've discussed a program with a glorious past and no apparent future, Colorado; a team with an abysmal past but a glimmer of hope, Iowa State, and a contender for the worst college team of all time except for a 15 year period, that hopes to re capture lightning in a bottle via their local legend Bill Snyder, Kansas State.
So today, let me spend a few moments talking about the team that all Missouri fans love to hate, the kansas jayhawks.  As I've written before, there are few if any rivalries that carry the hatred of Missouri/kansas.  It's a birthright for both of us.  If you doubt that, visit a Missouri message board such as Tigerboard and spend a few minutes reading.  This isn't some feud born of a prank that occurred in 1940.  This is a full blown war that began in 1854 and has resulted in multiple atrocities from both sides that continue today.
Last year lew perkins and company hit on a genius marketing strategy with their "History awaits" campaign to pump their season ticket sales.  They'd just gone to consecutive bowl games for the first time in their long and storied history, returned the most experienced quarterback and receivers in the division and were only 2 years removed from their thrilling Orange Bowl triumph over Virginia Tech.  As an aside, did you notice that Fed Ex discontinued their sponsorship of the Orange Bowl last week?  Apparently the matchups weren't quite providing them with the audience they'd been hoping for the last few years.  But anyway, this was their best opportunity to win the division in the 15 year history of the conference.  The prognosticators were kind if not entirely confident and the fan base could hardly keep from jumping for joy at the possibilities.  So, naturally, after a promising, if uninspiring 5-0 start, they promptly went on a 7 game bender to finish 6th in college footballs softest division this side of Prairie View's conference opponents.  The carnage wasn't restricted to the field however as their head coach was terminated for "abusive behavior" of players.  Of course some of these charges were several years old, confirming that old saying, "winning cures everything".
So now they will begin the 2010 season with new head coach Turner Gill from Buffalo.  I've always had some grudging respect for Gill, and I understand his motive with some of the changes he's attempting to make, such as no more names on the backs of uniforms, and no swearing.  I don't think they're going to bear the fruit he's hoping, but it's his team now and he can do whatever he wants.  Well, as long as it's ok with lew.  I'd like to be able to wish him well, but I mean come on, it's kansas!  And frankly, I'm just not certain you can expect great things from a guy that just came off a 5-7 season in the MAC.  It was however an opportunity for him to move up and gain some BCS experience.  It's a high risk/high reward position, and after he couldn't get the guy that was the best man in his wedding to hire him once the Nebraska gig opened up, it was I guess in his opinion, time to take a chance.   
So now we have a new head coach in larry and a new group of players that while I don't know much about them, I'm sure I'll learn to hate.  I am kind of hopeful for the kid that appears to be their next quarterback, Kale Pick.  Anyone willing to take a guess what his nickname will be once he throws his first interception?  But he's going to have to go some to beat the legend that was Todd Reesing.
So I have to say, I really have no idea what to expect this year from the beaks.  They have a new coach that is attempting to install discipline and a no I in team concept to a group of kids who placed trying not to get punked by the basketball team at the top of their to do list every day.  There is also the little matter of an FBI investigation into the athletic department and 4 resignations among former staffers.  If I have one piece of advice to offer you TG, it's don't hold on to your paychecks for too long.  I'd get those babies cashed ASAP.  But hey, lew assured you it was no big deal, right?  Next time I'll talk a bit about the prohibitive favorite for the north crown this fall and the complete antithesis of Turner Gill, the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Bo Pelini.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Post spring around the Big XII North. Part 3. K State

We've talked about a couple of teams in the north already.  2 perennial door mats.  Colorado only recently has been of that status, but shows no sign of returning to respectability any time soon.  Iowa State has been terrible historically but now show signs of life.  Today I'd like to opine on a team that was once one of the absolute worst in college football; one of our neighbors to the west, the Kansas State Wildcats.
Pick most any time frame, pre Bill Snyder and you can present a solid argument that they were not one of but the worst.  As evidence I present a 28 game losing streak, one, that's right, one, bowl appearance during a 90 year period and having a punter in their ring of honor.  They were 299-510 in their history in 1989 for goodness sakes!
However, in 1989 they took a chance on a relatively unknown offensive coordinator with the Iowa Hawkeyes and brought Bill Snyder to become the head coach.  Snyder was a tireless worker and a master of scheduling and over the next decade brought them not only to respectability, but got them a #1 ranking and within 10 minutes or so of an appearance in the national championship game.  He was also the beneficiary of such assistants as Bob and Mike Stoops, Mark Mangino and Jim Leavitt.  He retired in 2005 to ride off into the sunset....sort of as he continued to have an office as a special consultant.  He apparently was largely responsible for the absolute train wreck of the hire that was Ron Prince.
So after the failed experiment with 'scary smart" ended, who should come back to save the day?  Why old Mr Burns himself.  To be fair, there was a marked improvement record wise fot the Cats last season as they went 6-6 and missed a bowl due to the fact that they'd played 2 Division 1AA members in getting to those 6 wins.  Foiled by his own scheduling strategy.  Gotta love that one.
So now we move on to 2010.  K State loses their best running back, receiver, kick returner and a number of starters from what was a respectable if not spectacular defense.  They received little help in recruiting although they have managed to pick up the Brown brothers from Wichita after they decided to transfer from their previous colleges.  That will provide them with no relief this season those as they'll both be forced to sit out the season.  While I'll never underestimate what Snyder accomplished during his 1st tour of duty, I think it may be even more difficult this time around due to stricter academic standards and an even greater disparity in athletic budgets.  They is also a lot more energy on the basketball side of things now as Frank Martin is proving to be a much better head coach than I originally expected.  However, one thing K State will always have is one of the weirdest mascots in college athletics this side of the Wisconsin Badger.  And when watching and cheering on K State, don't forget to bring your power towel.
Not sure how quickly I'll get to something else since I stupidly agreed to work a graveyard shift this week.  But whenever I make it back we'll talk about everybodies favorite team to hate.  The kansas jayhawks.  Have a great week folks.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Post spring around the Big XII north. Part 2-Iowa State

Last time I talked about a coach on a very hot seat, Dan Hawkins and his Colorado Buffaloes.  A guy that doesn't have anything to worry about this year is 2nd year head coach Paul Rhodes of the Iowa State Cyclones.  Last year the 'Clones surprised pretty much everyone as they went from 2-10 and 0-8 in conference under then head coach Gene Chizik to 7-6, including an Insight bowl win over Minnesota.  While they only went 3-5 in the Big XII, they did have the distinction of winning in Lincoln, Neb in a 9-7 slug fest that sent college football back about 30 years.  3 yards and a cloud of dust this bitches!  They also gave Missouri all they wanted before falling 34-24 against my Tigers in Columbia in a game that was too close for comfort until the 4th quarter.  They did however receive the dubious honor of being the only conference win for the kansas jayhawks.
This year the Cyclones attempt to build on that success in the weak Big XII north.  They lost a large portion of the defense from a year ago, as well as their leading receiver.  They do however return their leading rusher and have an experienced offensive line.  Doing his best Bo Pelini impression, conventional wisdom says that ISU will try to control the time of possession with the running game to take heat off the defense.  However, they do have the most experienced quarterback in the division with senior Austen Arnaud.  He's a guy that may not have the best arm but can dink and dunk and occasionally unload an unsuspected bomb.  
While I believe that Rhodes is a pretty good coach, there are plenty of questions about his recruiting as he brought in the 10th rated class in the Big XII. (60th nationally)  Yes, it's great when you can coach players up, but it's nice when you don't have to coach them up quite that far.  Fortunately for he and the Cyclones, the division includes Colorado, KSU and ku which didn't exactly tear things up either.  Regardless of what talent he has or brought in, they should be able to compete with all of them for 3rd place, well at least Kay State and the beaks.  I feel really solid about picking the Buffs for the cellar. 
So I've talked about 2 of the 6 north teams.  Don't take too much out of the order I'm doing them in though.  If I had to pick right now, I think I'd put the 'Clones in 3rd this year.  This is pretty much based on the level of animosity between their school and my favorite team.  I've always enjoyed the Iowa State fans and have some really good memories of meeting up with some of them at Kelly's during the old Big 8 basketball tournament.
Next time I expect to talk about Kansas State a bit, where former and current head coach Bill Snyder has been up to his old tricks.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Post spring around the Big XII North. Part 1-Colorado

Well, spring football is over and done so I thought I'd take a look at how it progressed and what we might have to look forward to this fall.  We'll start up with a trip to Boulder and take a look at everyone's favorite whipping boys, the Colorado Buffaloes and coach Dan Hawkins.  The Buffs finished last year at 3-9, (2-6 in conference) and probably would have to call their 34-30 win over north rival kansas the highlight of the year.  Considering the beaks went on to lose the next 6 games after that might take a bit of the luster off, but you have to find bright spots wherever you can.  About their next biggest accomplishment was scoring on Missouri for the first time in 3 years.  I'd say that this was a make or break season for coach Dan, but hell, that's what I said last year.  Considering the state of their athletic department they may well be stuck with him until his contract expires and it costs them nothing to buy him out.  Hard to believe this is the same program that regularly competed for Big XII titles and won a national championship not that long ago. 
The good news for Colorado is that they return most of last years team.  The downside of that is they really fucking sucked last year and the odds are they will just become more experienced at losing this season.  And it's not like bringing in the 12th ranked recruiting class in the conference, (66th overall) means you've landed some immediate help.  I mean seriously, I could sit and break down positions, likely improvement by receivers and quarterbacks, linemen getting bigger and stronger, new schemes, but we'd all know I was full of shit and just trying to put lipstick on a pig.  The bottom line is they stunk last year, they stunk the year before that and they may well be worse this season.   They've never been known to draw big crowds and the best reasons for attending a game in Boulder are the view of the mountains and I hear it's a good place to score weed.
So trying to keep a straight face while I type this, the future is very murky for Dan and the Boys this fall.  With a non conference schedule of Colorado State, Hawaii, Cal and Georgia plus their 8 conference games, I think that if things really break well for them they could win 3 games.  Now this assumes that their quarterback, Dan's son Cody suffers a season ending injury early in game 1 and someone comes to Boulder and the team develops a mass case of dysentery.   Without that, well they could be looking at going 0 fer this fall.  But, it isn't hopeless.  They do still have kansas on their schedule.
I don't know that any Buff fans have ever read my blog, but if you do, I feel for you.  I know it has to be tough when you start the year hoping that your football and basketball teams can somehow manage to get to 10 wins....combined, but hey, you'll always have the 5th down game, a beautiful stadium and the possibility that the Pac 10 decides to take you as a new whipping boy.  In the meantime, here's something for you to pass time with this fall as you tailgate.  No really sharp edges to hurt yourself, but try to remember to actually go into the stadium at some point.