Sunday, July 3, 2011

Well, it's time to move on.

It's over, like the ending of a long term marriage. You knew it was done. You were both ready for it to be done. There are exciting new possibilities for both parties yet you feel a little bit sad, or at least nostalgic. I'll be moving my blog to my regular website. I enjoyed blogger, but maintaining both is just keeping me a little too busy. I'll be leaving an address to get to it here in a few days. Just not enough Tiger news to talk about, but this week I hope to add some thoughts on how the summer is going around the new Big XII. To find my blog, please visit it's new address. While you're there, stop by my current events page or one of my stores. Hope to see you guys down the road.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Around the Big XII, part 10. Missouri.

You might think that I'm predicting Missouri to win the conference by being the last team I talk about.  That's not really correct.  I just like to save my favorite for last.  But on the other hand, the Tigers are one of really 6 teams that could win this conference if a few things went right for them.  As a matter of fact, had Blaine Gabbert and Aldon Smith returned, Mizzou could well have been the co-favorite along with Oklahoma.  However, with the emergence of Brad Madison last year and with kids like Kony Ealy, Michael Sam, Marcus Malbrough and Brayden Burnett waiting in the wings, defensive end looks like it should continue to be a strength.  And yes, it would have been nice to return Blaine's experience, but I'm not at all convinced that James Franklin may well be a better fit for the spread offense.  It seems that it appeared that way to Blaine's younger brother, Tyler who transferred out last month despite being 2nd on the depth chart following a red shirt freshman season, and who was ranked at the top until the final week of spring practice.
The Tigers return 9 starters, including 4 linemen from an offense that took a small step back last year.  The deep ball was absent compared to previous seasons, which could be the QB's or the receivers fault.  What they really lacked was a Jeremy Maclin/Danario Alexander type receiver that was a danger to take any catch to the house at any time.  All 3 starters return, as well as last years freshman class that was considered one of the best groups in the nation the year they were recruited.  You can put TJ Moe in as a starter in ink pen but I think Wes Kemp and Jerrell Jackson are going to have to work hard to keep their spots away from guys like Bud Sasser, Jimmie Hunt, Marcus Lucas, Gahn McGaffie and a host of others.  The top 4 rushers return with an experienced line in front of them and we've read reports that those line splits were shrinking and the Tigers were showing signs of adding more of a power running game to their offense.
Defensively the Tigers return 7 starts but a shitload of talent that saw action last year.  The key here, in my opinion will be the return of a healthy Dominique Hamilton to the nose tackle position.  The Tigers were incredibly difficult to run on when he and Terrell Resonno manned the tackle positions, and not quite as good following his injury against Oklahoma.  Adding a year to guys like Lucas Vincent and Marvin Foster  can only help and Jimmy Burge is a solid back up.  Gerrand Johnson will probably red shirt but there's plenty of talent there also.  The linebacking crew should be solid and although Mizzou lost 3 starters in the defensive backfield, Kip Edwards saw a lot of action as nickel cornerback and the coaches are raving about sophomore E.J. Gaines.  Trey Hobson, Robert Steeples and Tristen Holt will be providing pressure for starting roles also.  Lots of competition for the starting safety position opposite Kenji Jackson also.
As with everyone else, the new Big XII schedule is going to be brutal for all concerned.  Toss in a Friday night game in Tempe against Arizona State there are probably 7 games the Tigers could legitimately lose even if they played well.  The conference opener against Oklahoma will probably label contender or pretender for Mizzou.  Win, or at least play well and we'll be looking at 9 or 10 wins.  Get blown out and there's a chance, albeit a small one that the season could unravel.  But what Gary Pinkel has built in Columbia is truly remarkable and I'm going to predict a 9-3 season and a nice bowl game.  Tiger nation now begins to view 8 wins as the floor.  It's going to be tougher to sustain the type of success they've enjoyed the last 4 years, but I believe we have the players and coaching staff to do just that.  Not sure what we'll talk about next time but I'll think of something.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Around the Big XII, part 9. Oklahoma

Well, this is when we discuss the 800 lb gorilla portion of the outlooks for 2011.  Once again the Oklahoma Sooners look to be the favorite to win the conference and one of the prohibitive favorites to appear in the national championship game next January.  Last year the Sooners went 12-2, beating hick nation in the final conference championship game, at least for now in the Big XII, and a 48-20 win over an overmatched 8-5 Connecticut team in the Fiesta Bowl that adds more fuel to the fire over automatic berths in the BCS series.   But the 2 losses the Sooners suffered in weeks 7 and 9 at Columbia and College Station derailed their early season # 1 ranking and kept them from any consideration for a spot in the title game.  Both Mizzou and the Aggies of A&M beat OU because they were tougher up front and wanted it more in the 4th quarter.  This was the secret of both OU and Texas.  Yep, they had generally better skill players, but where they overwhelmed teams was on the offensive and defensive lines.  With the new round robin schedule the jury is still out on whether OU and Coach Stoops have the horses to dominate up front like they did just a few years ago.
On offense, Landry Jones returns as the trigger man on the Oklahoma offense.  Last season Jones completed over 65% of his passes for over 4,700 yards and 38 touchdowns, but what I remember from him was the 4th quarter in CoMO when he was held to 0 completions in the 4th quarter as the Tigers pulled away from OU.  Ok, what I remember even more was the look of disbelief in the arrogant OU fans as we walked out of the stadium.  Pure Gold!!!   The Sooners also return such offensive stars as running back Jonathan Miller and wide receiver Kenny Stills and most of a young offensive line that need to play better this year if the Sooners are to reach their goals.  So far, this just can't be considered a given.  Oklahoma really lacked some defensive fire power last year but returns some solid starters like Austin Box at middle linebacker and Javon Harris at free safety.  But when you look at the front 7 they appear to be a bit undersized with 284 pound Stacy McGee at defensive tackle, 238 pound defensive end Ronnell Lewis and 199 pound outside linebacker Tony Jefferson.  Talented or not, these guys need to have spent a lot of time with their strength and conditioning coach before the season starts or they're going to loose battles simply by size differential in this conference.  Speed is great but you have to have some muscle to go with it up front.
Oklahoma has no cake walk this year as they travel to Tallahassee to face Florida State in week 2, followed by their conference opener as they host my Missouri Tigers in a game that will go a long way toward determining the pecking order in the conference.  The road will be tough as they travel to Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Baylor.  Only a trip to lawrence to face the beaks offers significant relief.  There is also a date at the Fairgrounds of Dallas when they meet what should be an improved Texas team that has no problem getting up for the Red River Shootout.In addition to the Tigers OU plays host to Texas Tech and A&M.  Neither of those figures to be cake walks although Iowa State should be. In the new Big XII it's going to be almost impossible to finish the season unbeaten, especially when a team has as many questions as the Sooners do right now in my opinion.  I think OU is going to be very good, but I believe they're going to stumble at least twice and possibly as many as 3 times this year.  In addition, don't be surprised if they stumble at home to either the Tigers or the Aggies.
Next time we'll take our final outlook for the coming season as I talk about my guys, the Missouri Tigers.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Around the Big XII, part 8. Texas A&M

On October 16th of last year I had officially written Texas A&M off as well as their head coach, Mike Sherman.  The Aggies, after starting 3-0 had just lost their 3rd game in a row, a 30-9 dismantling by my Missouri Tigers in College Station.  If you know much about football in the state of Texas, then you know they have very little patience when it comes to losing.  Especially when you're the Longwhorns little brother.  It seemed inevitable that Sherman would be fired following the season if not before.  But then something unexpected happened as A&M went on a 6 game winning streak, including victories over Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas and Nebraska.  They wound up 9-3 on the season and 6-2 in conference, finishing up in the 5 way tie at the top.  The move that enabled them to make this turnaround was when they replaced the pre-season favorite of 1st team Big XII QB Jerrod Johnson with Ryan Tannehill.
But one thing you can count on is that what happened last year doesn't really matter this year.  A&M is absolutely loaded, losing 1 starter from their offense and 3 from the defense.  Their fan base is going to be expecting a BCS appearance and league championship and anything less will be considered a failure.  And if you're familiar with their fan base, then you know they lean to the weird side, from the habit of squeezing their own testicles and from there, it just gets worse.
Once again the non conference schedule starts out easy enough with home games against SMU and Idaho, before Oklahoma State comes to town, and then a contest against Arkansas at Jerry World.  If they manage to lose only one of those, they have a good chance to match last years record.  A trip to Norman will certainly be a huge challenge, but otherwise they trip to Texas Tech, Kansas State and Iowa State.  At home, contests against Baylor and kansas should be wins, but Mizzou comes to town on October 29th which should make their already weird fan base even weirder.  They also close the season at home against cross state big brother Texas.  I'm predicting a final record of 8-4 for A&M and 6-3 in conference.  In the new Big XII that will be more than respectable, but I imagine the Sherman hot seat will be warming up again.

Next time we'll talk about the big dogs in the conference, the Oklahoma Sooners.  If you'd like to look at some new Tiger gear, please stop by my store or if you'd just like to catch up on the latest news, stop by current events for Tigers, NCAA and professional sports news as well as odd shit of the day.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Around the Big XII, part 7. Texas

Everyone knows one.  He's the richest guy on the block, in the company or even in your own family.  He drives a car that was built in Germany, wears a diamond pinkie ring and Armani suits.  It wouldn't be a problem at all, except the guy is nothing but a monumental prick and always reminds you just how well off he is and how your life pales in comparison.  That, in a nutshell is Texas fan.  The richest program in the NCAA, Big XII titles galore, and an athletic director that not only can go out and hire any coach for any sport that he desires but had the balls and the power to play both Larry Scott and Jim Delaney, commissioners of the Pac 10 and Big Ten respectively last year when they thought they were going to break up the Big XII and become the new power brokers in college athletics.  What they got for their efforts was Utah, Colorado and Nebraska.  Tough to be considered much of a mover and shaker when you're hanging out with Orrin Hatch and Larry the cable guy. 
But all that power and all that success was what made last year so enjoyable watching Texas stumble to a 5-7 record and 2-6 in conference play.  Particularly when they went on a 4 game skid, including losses to Iowa State, Baylor and Kansas State after beating the hicks in Lincoln.  Well, things like that just don't happen to Texas without someone getting whacked.  In this case it was both coordinators and both line coaches.  After all, it had to be the coaching right?  After all, Texas doesn't recruit players, they select them.  Of course, this was the same staff that had the whorns in the national championship game just a year earlier.  The important thing is that Mack Brown keeps making his 5 million dollar plus annual salary and nothing like standing up for men that he'd hired and trusted.  The simple fact was, Texas discovered they were mortal and sometimes shit just happens to mortals.
At first glance, it looks like Texas will find out a lot about themselves early as their non conference schedule features home games against Rice and BYU before traveling to Los Angeles to face UCLA.  I'm not that sold on either the Bruins or Cougars being all that tough and Rice perennially blows so we really may not know much about them until October 8th when they meet Oklahoma in the annual Red River Shootout, which for some reason is still being played at the Cotton Bowl.  I'm predicting that to be their first loss of the season, but I think it's going to be followed by at least 3 others.  Oklahoma State travels to Austin the following week and that's an extremely losable game for them.  Road trips to Texas A&M, Baylor and Missouri are going to be really tough also.  Texas will be back in a bowl game this year, and probably contending for conference and national titles again soon, as long as the impatience of their fans and athletic director cause them to make a series of rash decisions.  It's the only problem I can see with having a lot of money.  You always think you can just buy your way out of any problems.
Next time we'll talk about the little brother of Texas, the A&M Aggies.           

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Around the Big XII, part 6. kansas

I'm not going to lie.  I've been looking forward to this.  There are very few constants in live, but along with death and taxes, Missouri fans detest kansas and ku fans revel in misfortune that happens to Missouri.  I'm cool with that.  Basketball is king in larry, and they absolutely have a program to be envied, and they have no problem reminding you of that.  In other sports, football included, it's a different story, as was pointed out in this opinion piece that appeared in  The beaks were 3-9 last year and 1-7 in conference play.  Among those losses was the season opener at home where they were dropped 6-3 to FCS North Dakota, who finished a respectable 9-5 but lost to such teams as Northern Iowa, Western Illinois and Missouri State.  Only a huge comeback against Colorado prevented the beaks from an 0-8 conference record and the memories of 2007 are further and further in the rear view mirror.
Last year the crimson and blue replaced Mark Mangino with a former Cornhusker quarterback, head coach and aspiring deity, Turner Gill.  Gill had been passed over by his former coach director  and best friend, Tom Osbourne when he was in charge of replacing the train wreck that was Bill Callahan.  While he wasn't quite good enough to make the cut at the university he played for, former beak athletic director Lew Perkins decided to drop a 5 year, 10 million dollar contract complete with no buy out clause to obtain his services.  For Tiger fans, it was a blessing and an absolute joy to watch.  The beaks have little idea which quarterback will be on the field for them this fall, but the smart money's on Jordan Webb, a St Louis product that snapped up his only D1 offer and moved west to kansas.  A freshman, also from Missouri is Darrian Miller, who enrolled early and now sits # 2 on the depth chart at running back.  He at one time held offers from Iowa and Minnesota but rumors said both of those were retracted, leaving him no where to head but larry.
In 2007 the beaks rode a schedule that didn't include Texas, Oklahoma or Texas A&M from the Big XII south to a 11-1 record, and a chance to be ranked # 1 in the country when they met Missouri in the first Border showdown football game played in Kansas City.   Despite losing that night, the beaks were able to parley that into an Orange Bowl appearance against Virginia Tech, another over rated BCS program.  This year the squawks open with 2 cupcakes at home in McNeese State and Northern Illinois before taking their act on the road against Georgia Tech, who will have something to prove after being one of the beaks 3 wins last year.   I'm calling for ku to go 2-1 in their non conference schedule, but the over-under for conference wins is 1.  In my opinion, the only win they should be expecting, or at least hoping for is against Iowa State, and for ku, it's unfortunate that it's being played in Ames.  But somewhere I think they'll win a conference game, and regardless of who it's against it will be something of an upset.
Next time we'll talk about someone else that had a disappointing season last year, but who's hopes should be considerably brighter, the Texas Longhorns.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Around the Big XII, Part 5. Oklahoma State

Okie State cutie
Last time I talked about a team that suffers from the inferiority complex of playing 2nd fiddle in their own state, the Kansas State Wildcats.  For this discussion multiply that by about 10 and you might begin to have an understanding of what it's like to be Oklahoma State.  They've had some fabulous football seasons lately and been in a position to claim some Big XII titles, but cross state rival Oklahoma always seems to muck it up for them.  Despite that success and more in basketball as well as wrestling, baseball and other minor sports, the Cowboys are more known for T. Boone Pickens spending habits and Mike Gundy's meltdown when he announced to the world that "I'm 40, I'm a man".  And to make it even more K State similar, they can't even call themselves the rival of their in state competitor.
another receiver torches the beaks
Offensively it's entirely possible that the Cowboys could be even better than their sometime eye popping numbers from last season.  They do lose star running back Kendall Hunter, and his 1548 rushing yards aren't going to be easy to replace, but freshman Joseph Randle put up over 400 yards in a backup role and who knows if they miss a beat.  But the main thing is the Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon connection will continue for one more year.   Last season Weeden threw for almost 4,300 yards and 34 touchdowns and Blackmon was the recipient of 1782 of those yards while collecting 20 touchdown passes.  Okie State put up 575 points last year and while it's hard to comprehend them being better, it's just not out of the realm of possible.  Defensively it's going to be a different story however as the Cowboys lose 6 starters and 5 of their front 7 from a somewhat pedestrian bunch once conference play started.  It looks like it will be another year of play station ball games in Stillwater.
Boone Pickens Stadium
Schedule wise, the Cowboys should have little problems making another bowl game this year.  They open at home against Louisiana Lafayette and Arizona before traveling to Tulsa.  The home schedule includes laughers against kansas and Kansas State but a tougher contest against Baylor before closing their season against Bedlam rival Oklahoma.  Their final road game of the year is against hapless Iowa State, but they also make road trips to College Station, Austin and CoMO.  The critical stretch for Okie Lite will be in mid October when they travel to Texas and Missouri on back to back weeks.  Right now, I'm picking them to start the season 3-0 and then go before going 6-3 in conference to finish 9-3.  That's going to be good enough to catch them a trip to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl.
I've kind of been saving my next preview because I think it's going to be a lot of fun to write.  We'll travel back up north to take a look at the Tigers most hated rival, the kansas jayhawks.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Around the Big XII, Part 4. Kansas State

Head man Bill Snyder
Never has a fan base or a school had a bigger inferiority complex than Kansas State.  And that even includes my team and fellow fans, the Missouri Tigers.  K State was horrible for so many years, say about 100 or so, that when he arrived in 1989, they'd been pretty much beaten to a pulp.  However, he quickly began a turnaround that led to a Big XII title, several north division titles and a semi domination of the Nebraska Cornhuskers for a few seasons.  During the last of his time there they began to fall off, due to higher standards in the Big XII as far as who you could accept.  He rode off at the end of the 2005 season and the Ron Prince era began.  When "Scary Smart" flamed out 3 years later, Snyder rode back in on his mule and attempted another resuscitation that so far has been only moderately successful.
Arthur Brown
Gone will be Daniel Thomas, the Wildcats All Big XII running back who will likely be replaced by transfer Bryce Brown who left Tennessee to join his brother Arthur, a linebacker who transferred from the University of Miami after being buried on the Hurricane depth chart, but won the defensive player of spring football earlier this year.  Quarterback Carson Coffman is gone and should be replaced by Collin Klein, a junior to be who is an amazing rusher but has yet to show any sign of being a capable passer.  He did put on a nice show in the spring game, but that was also against the K State defense who stopped almost no one last year.  Both starting offensive tackles return, but the interior of the line will have to be rebuilt.  6 starters on defense, mostly unknowns will return, which might or might not be good considering they gave up numbers like 47 points to Baylor, 36 to Colorado and 41 to mighty North Texas.  If K State is to have a winning season and a 2nd consecutive bowl trip, the defense must improve.
Willie the Wildcat
The schedule opens easily enough with home games against Eastern Kentucky and Kent State before a trip to Miami of Ohio.  During the conference season the Cats will travel to Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.  The only easy trip for them will be to cross state rival kansas who the Cats beat 59-7 last season.  Home games against Oklahoma, Missouri, Baylor and Texas A&M will be no walk in the park   They'll also meet Iowa State on December 3rd in Arrowhead in the 3rd edition of Farmageddon.  I expect the Wildcats to open 2-0 with a decent opportunity to make it 3-0 facing a Hurricane team that will still be breaking in a new coaching staff.  To reach a bowl game however, they'll have to pull an upset or two to go with what should be wins against the beaks and Cyclones.  I will never discount a Bill Snyder coached team, but he still has to prove he can win without using partial qualifiers.  My gut feeling is the year ends with a record of 5-7 and questions about whether Snyder can summon up the energy to once again bring Wildcats to the upper half of the conference.
That's all for this week.  Next time we'll take a look at another school that plays 2nd fiddle in their own state, the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Around the Big XII. Part 2, Texas Tech

We've talked about a couple of the less successful programs in the conference so far, with Baylor and Iowa State.  Today, I'd like to take a look at a team that while not being a power, does sport the longest bowl streak in the conference with 11 straight appearances.  In his first season as head coach, Tommy Tuberville started slow, but closed out with 3 straight wins, admittedly over inferior competition Weber State, Houston and Northwestern to close out with an 8-5 record, so the jury may well still be out on him.  The Red Raiders biggest win of the year had to be the 24-17 win over Missouri when inexplicably, MU offensive coordinator David Yost went away from the run after the Tigers opened up with a 14-0 lead.  Tuberville is never going to be mistaken for former coach Mike Leach but he's a damn fine coach and for the sake of the conference, I hope Tech is able to keep him.
The big question for Tech this year is who replaces Taylor Potts at quarterback.  Despite his reputation as a defensive guru the Red Raiders still ranked 7th nationally last season in passing.  The early favorite would probably be Seth Doege, a 22 year old junior that only had 4 passing attempts last season.   They return 3 offensive linemen but also have questions at running back.  Defensively, they return only 5 starters so it's going to be  tough to repeat last years record.  However, I expect Tech's defense to still be stout.
Tech's non conference schedule remains weak this year, opening with Texas State and a trip to New Mexico before returning home to play a rebuilding Nevada squad.  The confernce schedule is another matter however with trips to Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri and Baylor.  Their only break there is an early trip to lawrence to face a kansas team that may well be the worst in the conference.  Kansas State and Iowa State are home games that should be very winnable but Texas A&M and Oklahoma State will be rough contests.  If I'm guessing right now, and I am, I expect Tech to open 3-0 before going either 4-5 or 5-4 in conference.  A big swing game for them will be the finale at Waco in late November.  Either way, I expect this to make an even dozen consecutive bowl games for the Red Raiders.
Next time we'll talk about the Baylor Bears.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Around the Big XII. Part 3, Baylor

Last entry I was talking about Iowa State, a team that had a young coach that had broken a bowl drought in '09 only to fall back last season, and not a lot of hope for this year.  Today I'd like to talk about the Baylor Bears, a team with a not nearly as young coach that broke a 15 year absence with an appearance in the Texas Bowl.  The two schools share a lot in common in that they're both hard to recruit to and don't spend the money on athletics like their competition.  However, Baylor is still in Texas and that's going to give them a big leg up with the Texas kids, which is a main component of Big XII football.  Their future looks a little brighter right now.  Last year the Bears stood at 7-2 with a win over Texas before falling flat to end the year with 4 straight losses, including aa 38-14 trouncing to Missouri's favorite whipping boy, Illinois.
Head coach Art Briles is a native Texan who moved from the job at Houston to Baylor in 2008 and began the slow process of trying to make a small, private college competitive with the like of Texas, Oklahoma and the other south powers.  Probably nothing he accomplished that first year was bigger than recruiting a kid named Robert Griffin.  Griffin was a highly rated, highly sought 4 star recruit who chose the Bears over a host of better known schools.  He's turned out to be Coach Briles version of what Brad Smith was for Gary Pinkel.  A star on a team full of somewhat average players that gave them some credibility.  Frankly, I'm kind of surprised he returned this year, but it's good for Baylor as well as the rest of the Big XII.  Recruiting has since picked up and I expect them to remain competitive as long as they can hang on to Briles.
Their schedule this season is still very respectable as it will be with all conference teams with the new round robin format.  In addition to the conference games, the Bears open with a biggie, TCU at home before settling down with games against Stephen F. Austin and Rice.  Road trips to Oklahoma State and Texas A&M will certainly be tough, but they also travel to kansas and Kansas State which won't be nearly as daunting.   Their home schedule is very tough with Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech and Missouri coming to Waco.  The only breather there is an Oct. 8th match up with Iowa State.  It's not going to be easy for the Bears to make a second straight bowl game without a little help and an upset or two.  Right now, I'd pick them to go 2-1 in the non conference schedule, and hope for a 4-5 conference record.  The final 2 games of the season, at home against UT and Texas Tech will be critical.  They, in my opinion will have to at least win one of those games.  But regardless, the Bears are going to be fun  to watch and for some reason, those lily white cheerleaders of theirs have always been among my favorites.
Next time, we'll talk about another north team, the Kansas State Wildcats and head coach Bill Snyder.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Around the Big XII part 1. Iowa State

Up in Ames, it's hard to build a contending team and even tougher to retain one.  Last year the Cyclones fell to 5-7, 3-5 in the conference after going 7-6 including an Insight Bowl win in 2009.  If you've followed this blog a little, then you know I'm a huge fan of Paul Rhodes.  He's a good man in a tough job.  Not only does he have to compete with the University of Iowa in his own home state, but the Big XII where a facilities arms race has been in force for the last decade.  It's not just competing with OU and UT anymore.  The facilities at A&M, Missouri, Tech and even kansas are leaving ISU far behind.  I think Rhodes is an excellent coach and I'm afraid the Cyclones aren't going to be able to keep him for much longer.
Making things worse for the clones is that after 10 years former quarterback Austen Arnaud finally graduated.  It appears that the early favorite to pick up the nod this year would be Jerome Tiller, who filled in last year after Arnaud was injured.  He completed 39 of 82 passes for 363 yards and a touchdown and a quarterback rating of 88.8.  That just isn't going to get it done in the Big XII.  Toss in losing their leading rusher, a starting wide receiver, tight end and 3 offensive linemen and you better be hoping for a stifling defense.  Things look a little better on that side of the ball as only 4 starters depart from last years team that was remarkably average.
And if all this wasn't bad enough, taking a look at ISU's schedule, we all knew the round robin format was going to make the conference tougher, but their 3 non cons feature Northern Iowa, Iowa and UConn.  I don't see any fattening up at the beginning of the season there.  Throw in road trips to Baylor, Mizzou, OU, Tech and K State with home games against Texas, A&M, Okie State and the beaks and it's really tough finding 3 wins here.   Of course things can change and injuries happen once the season starts, but right now I see the Cyclones going 2-10 and 1-8 in conference.  If that happens, you may see Rhodes looking around for another job before his name begins cooling off too much.
We'll move to what used to be the south division whipping boy next time and see what's going on at Baylor.  Have a great week and please stop by my website and catch up on some current events. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rumors and more random thoughts

The first day of the draft went well for 2 former Tigers as Aldon Smith was selected by San Francisco with the 7th selection and Blaine Gabbert went 3 picks later to the Jacksonville Jaguars.  That makes 5 first round picks in the last 3 years for Mizzou and should end the myth that the Tigers and Coach Gary Pinkel can't get players drafted.  Throw in some later round pickups like William Moore and free agents such as Chase Daniel and we're getting a nice representation from the black and gold.  Will it help recruiting?  I really don't see how it can't help to.  All kids want to go to the next level and think that the only thing that would stop them would be poor coaching.  That just shouldn't be a problem anymore, and next years draft should just continue the process as I believe we'll see another 4 or 5 players drafted.
As spring camp ended, there were some questions about the post spring depth chart.  A lot of fans are disappointed that we didn't see more movement from the kids of the 2010 class that included such highly regarded recruits as Lucas Vincent, Nick Demien and the wide receivers.  To me, it just shows that we had some fairly decent athletes to begin with and kids that used to come in and start as freshmen are now having to earn their way to a starting position.  Another possibility is also keeping the younger kids hungry.  I'm still going to be really surprised if we aren't hearing a lot of Hunt, Sasser and Lucas this fall.  James Franklin sits at the top for the starting QB job this fall, but that battle is far from over.  If I was going to make a prediction concerning quarterback, it would be to possibly look for Ashton Glaser to seek a transfer if he's buried 3rd on the depth chart.  The kid can play, but it just doesn't look like he's ever going to do it in CoMO.
Something happened this week that was just funny, I don't care who you are.   The new pride of the Big Ten, hick nation was booted out of the AAU this week.  Apparently, after 102 years of membership, the association of 63 top research universities finally realized what a collection of dumb fucks lived in Lincoln.  The Big Ten can no longer say that all their members belong to the AAU and I imagine some academia types aren't really happy with Jim Delaney today.   I know it probably seems petty to be getting enjoyment out of this, but I do.  I'm just that way.
Lots of news from around the new lean Big XII following spring football.  We'll start talking about that later this week.  First stop, Ames, Iowa and the Cyclones. 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rumors and more random thoughts....

Maty Mauk
If you don't follow football recruiting, then the name Maty Mauk won't mean a darned thing to you.  However, if you're a recruiting junkie it gets your palms just a little sweaty.  For those of you that aren't held hostage to this addiction, I'll tell you a little something about Mauk.  He's a 6'2", 185 pound quarterback from Ohio who's thrown for about 13,500 yards and 151 touchdowns in his first 3 years of high school.  He's one of the top 2 or 3 quarterbacks in the country, has offers from such programs as Michigan and Notre Dame, and there's a fair chance he's going to be giving his commitment to come to CoMO in 2012.  The Tigers have landed some pretty highly ranked recruits in Missouri, including guys like Blaine Gabbert, Sheldon Richardson and Jeremy Maclin, and recently starting picking up some 4 star kids out of Texas like Tristan Holt and recent verbal, Jonathan Williams.  But Mauk would be an anomoly.  He's from Kenyon freaking Ohio, not the normal Tiger recruiting ground.  Getting Mauk would signify that the Tigers are prepared to go head to head with anyone anywhere in the country for recruits.  The places Gary Pinkel has taken this program since his arrival is truly remarkable, even if there seems to be a head scratching loss every season.
Sheldon Richardson
And speaking of quarterbacks, we will, for the first time since August 31st when Brad Smith tore up defending Big Ten champion Illinois 33-20 in the first of 6 consecutive ass kickings Pinkel's Tigers have administered to the whining Illini.  You'd have to say that although James Franklin ended the spring period strong, that it's still way to early to call him the starter this fall.  Tyler Gabbert, and junior to be Ashton Glaser both showed signs this spring that they were more than capable of leading the Tiger offense.  While all 3 struggled at times, there's one thing you need to remember, and I'm dead serious about this.  The offense won't face many defenses as strong as the one they practice against.  If Sheldon Richardson indeed makes it on campus in June to add to a defensive tackle rotation that already includes guys like a hopefully healthy Dominique Hamilton, Terrel Resonno, Lucas Vincent and Marvin Foster to go along with the defensive ends, you are going to be a handful for offensive coordinators.  It's the kind of Missouri football I grew up watching and frankly, I can't wait.
Chris Freeman
I'm also hearing the Tigers will be committing more to rushing the football this year.  4 experienced tailbacks are returning and 4 seniors on the offensive line which was one of the best in the conference last year.  And what's even more amazing is the depth behind the starters.  Next year we'll be breaking in 4 new starters but will be picking them from kids named Gatti, Freeman, Demien, Meiners, Morse and Britt.  The Tigers are red shirting kids that would have come in as starters 5 years ago.   I'll be looking at more reports soon and trying to figure out what to look for this fall.  Until then, at least there's softball and baseball to talk about.  But now, I'm getting out of town for a few days much needed vacation.  Talk to you soon.  I'll try to keep up my scoreboard and some fun news stories and current events on my website.  I hope you'll stop by.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Random thoughts....

The Missouri Tigers softball team pushed their record to 37-5 following a sweep of the double header against SLU on Wednesday night.  The Tigers, currently ranked 8th in the nation have now won 10 games in a row as they took down St Louis U. 5-1 and 7-4.  Kristin Nottelmann threw a complete game in the nightcap to move her record to 13-1 giving up 1 run and 6 hits, but also issuing 6 walks.  That would be troubling if it weren't for the fact that she's going to continue to be the number 2 pitcher behind Chelsea Thomas.  The Tigers head to Lincoln this weekend to battle Lady Hick Nation in a conference match up, one of the last meetings between the 2 schools as members of the Big XII as Big Red Fan will soon be driving their combines to such locations as Ann Arbor, Columbus and Happy Valley.  Adios hayseeds.
Speaking of Nebraska, former Husker Alex Gordon appears to finally be fulfilling the promise that Royals fans dreamed of when he was picked 2nd overall in the 2005 MLB draft.  AG is currently hitting .351 with 27 hits in 77 plate appearances and 14 RBI's and a home run.  It appears that moving Gordon from 3rd base to left field helped his concentration at the plate as well as the extra time he put in last winter working with Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer.  Whatever has changed this year, it's been a welcome sight for the Royals.  Yes, they have a lot of high profile rookies sitting in the minors, but Gordon, along with DH Billy Butler are a couple of hold overs that have plenty of upside and hopefully add some stability as guys like Hosmer, Moustakas and Montgomery make their way to the show. 
And continuing with baseball, MLB is taking over the day to day operations of the Los Angeles Dodgers from owner Frank McCourt, currently in financial trouble due to his divorce from hell from soon to be ex-wife Jamie.  Not content with the problems with his ex, it appears that McCourt will sue MLB in an effort to regain control of his team.  McCourt recently took a 30 million dollar loan from Fox to cover expenses into the next month and also may be having to answer some questions from the IRS about unpaid taxes on 145 million dollars they allegedly took from the team.  The attack on the San Francisco fan opening weekend, that left Bryan Stow in a medically induced coma also brings security measures into question.  This isn't exactly unprecedented as MLB took over the Montreal Expos from Jeffrey Loria until buyers could be found that moved the team to Washington.  However, the Dodgers are one of MLB's crown jewels.  It's probably going to get a lot messier before it ends and is an excellent argument for the marital pre-nup.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring game weekend. First one I've missed in years.

I love the spring football game.  I hated missing it this year but sometimes when we grow up things happen, and we have to do things that we don't love because we do things we just have to do.  By this time of year I'm pretty much in full withdrawal from football.  Basketball is ok, but the end of the season dramatics, courtesy of former coach what's his name, and it really wore me out.  I'm going to trust Mike Alden that we've picked the right guy, and I'm going to trust Frank Haith because it appears that he's made at least 2 home run hires for his new staff.  Baseball has started out great for us Royals fans, but it's a marathon, not a sprint.  I've seen enough quick starts that were followed by mid season collapses that I have no intention of investing too much passion right now. But we've got some history going with the football team now as they've won 48 games over the past 5 season.  So excuse me if I get excited reading practice reports and scrimmage statistics.
Maybe the biggest news of the day happened off the field as the Tigers obtained a verbal from Texas running back Jonathan Williams.  Williams rushed for over 2000 yards and 19 touchdowns as a junior and is ranked as the 33rd best player in Texas and the 3rd best running back in the nation.  It marks the 2nd year in a row that the Tigers have snagged a recruit rated inside the Texas top 50, (Last year both James Franklin and Tristan Holt were members of this club) and shows that Mizzou is a serious contender for the top Texas talent.  Jonathan is the kind of kid that starts a domino effect with other kids and does show why, during the feeding frenzy of conference realignment last summer, he really preferred that Missouri remain in the Big XII where he and his staff had spent years developing relationships.  It also shows that hick nation is now going to have to work a little harder if they intend to keep mining Texas for recruits.  Williams is exactly the kind of back they're looking for in Lincoln.
As far as the quarterback battle goes, James Franklin will now officially enter the summer months as # 1 at the position.  James had a good day, going 13 of 21 for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns to go with a 139.7 quarterback rating.  Tyler Gabbert however was 8 of 22 for 48 yards and a rating of 45.6.  This isn't going to end until sometime next August at the earliest, but I fully expect the competition to make both of them better.  For complete stats, Dave Matter has an excellent breakdown in his blog. So now we'll be reaching for football news, but it's going to be out there and I'll try to find as much of it as I can.  Stop by and see my current event section on my web page.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More random thoughts

Generally we don't have a lot of Missouri athletics information coming out at this time of year, simply because things are winding down.  We're getting a nice run out of the softball team however so we've had that going for us.  And basketball have given us news, both good and bad since Mike Anderson flirting with Arkansas became evident to even those of us that were supporting him.  It's good if you write a Missouri-centric blog like I do, or if you write for a legitimate site like Dave Matter, Mike DeArmond or Vahe Gregorian, but frankly, I think a lot of our fan base needs a chance to chill.  I'm a member of 2 pay sites that are devoted to Missouri athletics and it used to be that you'd see posters less inclined to find fault with the athletic department than the free sites.  But now it seems that we're getting as many or more pissing matches on PowerMizzou as we do on Tigerboard.  I admit it's worn me down and I try to be selective of who I'm reading.
One thing most all Missouri fans can agree on is the new television deal announced with Fox Sports this week is going to play very nicely for the conference.   The new 13 year agreement will pump around 90 million dollars into the league per year and guarantees that a minimum of 40 Big XII football games, plus olympic events will be broadcast, giving the league a ton more exposure.  With the ABC/ESPN deal entering stages of renegotiation the conference could well be the largest money maker of the 6 BCS conferences at least until someone else negotiates a new deal.  It appears that with Nebraska and Colorado leaving the conference, revenue will increase for the remaining members, and adds a sense of stability to a league that many, including myself left for dead after the realignment talks last summer.
Frank Haith has announced 3 hirings for his staff at Missouri this week, and Tiger fan seems to be encouraged for a change.  Tim Fuller comes to CoMO from Louisville and has the reputation as a top notch recruiter.  He's been a long time friend of Coach Haith and has ties with the AAU circuit as well as Nike.  Lord knows with all the scholarships becoming available in the next 13 months, that we can use an aggressive lead recruiter.  Joining him on the bench will be Ernie Nestor, formerly the director of basketball operations at Penn State, who achieved a remarkable turnaround this year, qualifying for the NCAA tournament after going 11-20 the year before.  He's considered to be a good x's and o's guy and a nice compliment to all the youth on the bench.   Tordor Pandov also joins as the new strength and conditioning coach and comes to Mizzou with Haith from Miami.  2 more names will surface as there is still room for a 3rd assistant as well as a director of basketball operations.  I'm still holding out hope that we might bring in a guy with some St Louis ties.  The complete inability of mike anderson to recruit on the east side of the state was a huge disappointment to me.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

So far, it's been a beautiful spring

I'm not really talking about the weather, although that's picked up nicely also.  But Kansas City in the spring isn't usually something you look forward to if you're a sports fan.  It's almost the middle of April, about the time when you can realistically count the Royals out of the pennant race.  But when the boys in blue won 9-5 over the Detroit Tigers Sunday it moved the Royals record to 6-3.  I know there's only about 153 games to go, and more than likely the team will begin to swoon sooner than later, but if you don't mind, I'm going to enjoy this for a bit and do a little day dreaming about baseball in October.  After all, it's only been 26 years.
Outside of Kyle Davies, the starting pitching hasn't been terrible.  Hochevar went 7 pretty solid innings today following 6 innings by Bruce Chen yesterday.  The bullpen has been solid all season and the hitting has been timely.  Wilson Betemit let the charge yesterday, going 4 for 4 with a walk.  Cabrera, Francoeur and Escobar added 2 hits each and Luke Hochevar went 7 innings, giving up 4 runs and no walks.  He did give up 3 homers but otherwise it was a good effort.  The Royals have Monday off before starting a series in the Twin Cities against the slow starting Minnesota Twins.  Royals fans are dying for something to get excited about and right now the team is giving them reason to cheer.  Now if we'll just fill up the ball park for them.
Another reason to smile, especially if your a Missouri fan is the performance of the Tigers softball team.  The lady Tigers moved to 32-5 with a sweep of the Texa A&M Aggies Sunday by a score of 3-0.  Chelsae Thomas moved to 17-3 for the season with a complete game, allowing 4 hits while giving up 1 walk and striking out 9.  Rhea Taylor came out of her slump with 2 hits.  The Tigers are now 7-1 in conference and are a legitimate threat for a long run in post season play.  Yep, if you're living in Western Missouri, it's a good spring indeed.  If you'd like to read about these and other stories in depth, by some great journalists stop by my web site and hop over to current events, and let me know what you think.