Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The light at the end of the tunnel

And no, it's not a train coming this time.  We're now about a week away from my favorite time of the year.  It's almost football season.  Pretty soon we'll be reading endless articles about the new offensive strategy at Texas Tech now that they are without the pirate; why Nebraska will have a better defense even though they lost the best tackle in college football, and if Blaine Gabbert will be able to function without the security blanket known as Danario Alexander.   And I, for one am going to love every minute of it.  It's time for for uninformed fans such as myself to begin looking at depth charts, schedules and injury reports to make baseless predictions on how the season will play out.  In other words, I'm getting back into my element.
Today I'm going to talk about the southern division of the Big XII which is in it's final year of division play and offer a few useless predictions based on schedule and returning players.  Since I usually go from last to first, let's start out in Waco with the perennial last place team, the Baylor Bears.
The Bears will return quarterback Robert Griffin to the team as well as the purest cheerleaders in the conference.  I expected them to end their bowl drought last season but the injury to Griffin changed that.  The non con schedule should provide them with 3 wins, minus a Sept. 18th trip to TCU.  The challenge is finding 3 more wins during the conference season.  Home games against kansas, K State and Oklahoma State give them a reasonable chance and with a road trip to Colorado, I believe this is the year they earn their first bowl bid since 1994.
Oklahoma State had a great 2 year run, but now faces a major rebuilding job and now Mike Gundy gets a chance to prove he really is a man.  Their schedule is about as soft as it gets with the big name in the non con being Washington State which has won a whopping 3 games over the last few seasons.  They also get kansas, Kansas State and Baylor at home so they definitely have a punchers chance at making a bowl game.
In Lubbock, the Red Raiders enter the post Mike Leach era.  They return a lot of experience on the offensive side of the ball, where new coach Tommy Tuberville will have to find a way to utilize their talents in a manner he's really not used to.  Tommy is more of a defensive specialist and the Red Raiders don't return a lot of talent there.  I think Tuberville was a really good hire and the schedule breaks nicely for them.  I expect the Red Raiders to make a bowl game, but they aren't going to be world beaters this year.
At College Station, the Aggies of Texas A&M enter the season with high expectations and I'm really not sure why.  They went 6-7 last year and now, with an experienced quarterback their fans expect them to challenge for a division title since Texas and OU both lost a lot from last year.  Sorry Aggies, but I just don't see it.  The schedule is not terrible, but imo Mike Sherman has never shown himself to be a dominant coach.  I think the Aggies have a good chance at a bowl game, but it will be a disappointing season to a fan base that is 2nd only to Nebraska when it comes to overestimating their talent.
So let's get into the only 2 teams that really matter.  The University of Texas played in the national championship game last year, falling to Alabama.  They could argue, (with good reason) that the game could have ended differently had they not lost Colt McCoy early.  I personally watched them literally dismantle my Tigers in Columbia and they were nothing short of a machine.  They lost a lot of talent, but hell, it's Texas.  They always have talent.  I expect the division to come down to the Red River shootout, just like always.  The horns will make a nice bowl game but the season will fall a bit short of their expectations.  The fans will bitch, yada, yada, yada.  I hate Texas.
But if you think I hate Texas, believe me, I struggle writing about the cocksuckers from Norman.  "Big Game" Bob Stoops and the Sooners had something of a non OU season last year, and all world quarterback Sam Bradford will soon be making St. Louis Rams fans wishing they had drafted someone else with their first round draft choice but they are loaded again this year.  I see people picking them to go undefeated.  I'm not that sold on them, but I believe they return to the double digit win type of season they are used to this year, and a return to the NC game certainly isn't out of the question.
So, my early prediction for the south finish goes like this.  I expect OU to return to what they consider to be their rightful place as south champions.  I think the Longhorns will finish 2nd and both teams will make very good bowl games.  However, I think neither will make the national championship game as someone from the ACC or Big East will sneak into the championship game against whoever wins the SEC.  After that you could probably draw straws, but the final 4, in my opinion will probably be Texas Tech, A&M, Baylor and Okie Lite.  All 6 teams may make bowl games and once again we'll hear about how the north does nothing more than drag the conference down.       
If you're familiar with the term SSDD, then you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Next week we'll take a look at the north, or the "have nots" if you prefer.   Stay cool folks.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Dog days

It's mid to late July and summer is in full force.  This is the worst time of the year for me personally.  I'm primarily a football guy and there just anything going on with football for another couple of weeks.  The Royals have given us a couple of weeks of excitement but it appears that's going by the wayside also.  Actually, if you're a Missouri fan, about the biggest thing going on right now is whether basketball recruit Tony Mitchell will be approved by the NCAA clearing house and make it to Columbia for classes this fall.  There's been precious little news coming on the football front other than the stories coming from the Missouri recruiting sites, which have been like an oasis in the desert.  Oh, we've had a couple of things going on, such as college football realignment that ended like a fart in a hurricane and the ongoing ku ticket scandal and FBI investigation, which will probably last another 18 months at least.  But other than these it's been dry as hell.
But there is hope.  Football practice starts in about 2 weeks, and pretty soon we'll be discussing such things as can Blaine Gabbert improve on an excellent sophomore season when he threw for over 3,500 yards.  Also will be whether corn nation can continue their defensive dominance without the most dominant defensive tackle in the last 10 years and if Turner Gill's no profanity rule will carry on to the kansas fans.  What would the spirit of fair play and competition be without 30,000 drunken kansas buffoons urging their team to "rip his fucking head off" whenever the beaks kick off, which could happen an average of 3 times each and every game?
So bear with me a little longer.  Pretty soon I'll be gearing up and breaking down what I think/hope will happen this season and making wild assed predictions every week as it pertains to Big XII scores.  I'm far too old to be wishing my life away, so I'm going to enjoy the high temperatures as best I can.  And after all, it's not like summer doesn't have some things going for it.
In the next week or so, I'm going to take a look at what will be the last year of division play in the conference and offer my best guess on records and where the teams will finish.  Until then, stay cool and have a fabulous week.

Friday, July 2, 2010

My final, and I do mean final thoughts on expansion for now. The losers.

We're now withing 9 weeks of the beginning of football season.  We got a nice reprieve with all this conference expansion talk but I think that's dead for the foreseeable future.  However, the last time I talked about the winners in all this, so today lets take a look at some of the losers.
1. Missouri.
No one had their reputation more battered than the Tigers in my opinion.  We were portrayed as the cheap hooker who was willing to do anything in our effort to join the Big Ten.  Mike Alden took a hit in this when I don't believe he did anything other than keep his mouth shut and soldier on.  It was apparent that Coach Pinkel preferred to remain viable in the state of Texas for recruiting purposes so I imagine it was a mixed blessing for the AD.  Unfortunately for Mike he's going to be the point man for athletics, even when something like this occurred that really was over his job description.  The onus now falls on him as well as Mike Anderson and Gary Pinkel.  This thing is just taking a breather for now so it is imperative that Missouri continue to win, and win big.  And while Missouri would have to listen if the Big Ten were to call again, I don't think a little flirtation with the SEC would be a bad thing.  Just keep it behind the scenes and for the love of God, tell Jay Nixon to keep his mouth shut this time. 
2. Texas A&M & Oklahoma.
Now how were these guys losers you may ask.  Yes, they will receive more money for the new television deal that is still nothing more than a promise from Fox Sports.  But A&M apparently was negotiating a possible move to the SEC without Texas, (and possibly bringing along Mizzou as a partner) but for whatever reason, it died that fateful Monday morning.  Whether it was Texas politics, less enthusiasm from the SEC once they determined that landscape changing was in the process of happening, or just the realization that they'd be splitting up 100 years of Texas tradition, they caved and are firmly back in the fold.  And Oklahoma?  They have football tradition that can compare with anyone, from Bud Wilkerson to Barry Switzer to Big game Bob Stoops.  Congratulations guys, you've now earned the wing man label forever.
3. Big Ten and Pac 10.
Ok, imagine you're Jim Delaney.  On Tuesday you heard Deloss Dodds state that Missouri didn't matter and the Big XII could function as long as long as Nebraska remains in the conference.  So within 72 hours who is holding a press conference but the University of Nebraska announcing they will be joining the Big Ten.  So it's Friday and to celebrate you decide to go out for a few drinks with that cute little intern from Wisconsin.  Next thing you know you wake up Monday morning in a Motel 6 in downtown Lincoln in bed with Larry the Cable Guy.  You just added about 4 to 5 million dollars a year in subscription fees to the Big Ten network and now have to hope that the huskers add a lot of advertising revenue or you just cost the other 11 members of your conference quite a bit of $$$$.
And if you think that Delaney was the guy that was going for the home run and wound up with a seeing eye single, how about Larry Scott and the Pac 10?  He was going to help change the face of football and add 4 teams from the south division of the Big XII.  So what did he get?  That's right, Colorado and Utah.  That's pretty much like the guy attempting to bunt a runner over to 2nd base and wind up having the ball bounce up, hit him in the nose and turning into a double play when the runner is caught off at first base.   There are plenty of folks that were fitted for clown suits here and right now Larry has the reddest nose.
So now we can forget about conference expansion for a while.  I really don't know what I'm going to talk about other than this time it's probably going to actually be football related.  Unless of course something new breaks in lawrence and lew perkins is led out of his office in handcuffs.  It's been a nice diversion, but now it's time to get the eye black together and get ready for the season.  Have a great week folks.