Tag Archives: Bill Snyder

What Is Kansas State Football Coach Bill Snyder About?

Kansas State football player Corey Sutton has been a member of the Kansas State program for two years. Bill Snyder has been at Kansas State for 28 years. To hear Snyder talk about Sutton’s request to transfer, those 28 years in Manhatten, Kansas are all we need to hear.

“I’ve been around here for 28 years, the young man was in our program for less than two years,” Snyder said. “I think our fans know what I’m about. They know what our program is about. I think they trust that.”

The Kansas State fans should know what Snyder is about, but the question is this – Are those fans willing to acknowledge what Snyder is about? I’ll get to that in a minute.

By now you know Sutton’s story. He graduated early from high school; Kansas State assistant coach Andre Coleman promised Sutton he’d start as a freshman; Sutton then essentially rode the bench while burning his redshirt.

That’s Sutton’s version of the story. Snyder says that version is hogwash.

Sutton now wants to transfer and presented Snyder with a list of 35 schools, including FCS schools, that he would like to consider transferring to. Snyder refuses to release Sutton which means the athlete will have to pay his own way at whichever school he transfers to. Sutton will not be eligible for a scholarship next year.

Snyder is being petty, vindictive, and hypocritical in his attitude.

Back to my question –  Are the Kansas State fans willing to acknowledge what Snyder is about?

Snyder is a man who outed Sutton’s apparent failed drug tests.

 

Outing Sutton’s failed drug tests may not have been illegal, but it was underhanded and unnecessary. This was Snyder’s attempt to present Sutton as a delinquent. But what Snyder did was present himself as not only illogical but also as a hypocrite.

Why would Snyder fight to keep a player on the team who failed multiple drug tests and was only allowed to stay on the team due to a change in Kansas State’s rules? It doesn’t make sense.

Snyder has had other players on his team that have had run-ins with the law and, after requesting their release were granted their request. Kaleb Prewett is an example of this. Prewett was arrested for consumption and purchase of liquor by a minor and was suspended for the Liberty Bowl. He eventually was granted his release and is now a member of Missouri’s football team.

And just last year, Snyder accepted California transfer Carlos Strickland. Snyder is all about the handshake and signed piece of paper. Or so he says. It evidently means something when Kansas State signs a player, but not when say California signs a player.

Again, just to reiterate – Are the Kansas State fans willing to acknowledge what Snyder is about?

Are you old enough to remember Ell Roberson and the 2004 Fiesta Bowl? I am.

Roberson found himself in a bit of trouble with the Phoenix police. Did he break the law? Did he break team rules? In Snyder’s gerrymandering mind, who really knew…or cared. Roberson would play in that game against Ohio State and then, being the principled leader he is, Snyder suspended him for the Spring semester. That’s right. Roberson was suspended after the season concluded.

The foundation of Snyder’s recruiting philosophy is his “16 Goals For Success.” As Snyder says, “If their character is in order you move on to the athletic capability.” Character. It’s about character with Snyder.

How did the recruitment of Marcus Raines reconcile with the emphasis that Snyder claims to place on character?

Snyder recruited Raines out of Pasadena City College. A scholarship was offered and accepted. The problem was that Raines was a convicted felon. Raines had been convicted of second-degree murder. Once the conviction was made public, “somebody” at Kansas State forbid him from playing for the Wildcats. The implication being that the “somebody” being referred to was not Snyder. Character? Raines was a convicted felon!

Yes, coach. You have been at Kansas State for 28 years. But your fanbase is not willing to acknowledge what you are about.

 

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

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What the Departure of John Currie Means for Kansas State

The University of Tennessee finally hired its replacement for departing athletic director Dave Hart. And no, the person selected for the role is not Phillip Fulmer. It is former Kansas State athletic director John Currie.

Currie’s perceived rocky relationship with former Wildcat basketball coach Frank Martin and current football coach Bill Snyder has been well documented.

Currie and Martin were found to be at odds with each other while negotiating the contracts for Martin’s assistant coaches. Martin’s boss also valued a clean-cut public relations brand and Martin’s abrasive and often foul-mouthed language didn’t fit into what Currie wanted the Wildcat brand to resemble. Perhaps the final straw for Martin was when Currie took a proactive approach and suspended Jamar Samuels as the NCAA was investigating the player for improper recruiting benefits. Martin would soon decide to leave Kansas State for South Carolina.

The fractured relationship between Currie and Snyder is more trivial. Snyder’s daughter was a highly regarded competitive horse rider. Naturally, Snyder wanted his daughter to attend Kansas State. There was just one problem with that wish, equestrian was on Currie’s chopping block. To the dismay of Snyder, Currie would replace equestrian with women’s soccer. If this indifference to the Snyder family weren’t enough, Currie took over non-conference scheduling. Snyder would no longer have the luxury of playing his slate of cupcakes. Instead, Currie scheduled games against the likes of Auburn and Stanford.

These examples are seen by many Wildcat fans as negatives. But Currie’s treatment of Martin and Snyder should be seen as positives.

Currie had a vision for Kansas State athletics and he remained true to that vision. In the situations that transpired between Currie and Martin, and Currie and Snyder, the athletic director acted not only as the leader of Kansas State athletics but he also acted as the boss.

Acting on what it means to be the boss isn’t always an easy job. That is particularly true when one your employees is a legendary coach such as Snyder. But to his credit, Currie didn’t back down from Snyder and ultimately made decisions which he believed to be in the best interest of the Kansas State athletic department.

Making decisions based on what was best for the athletic department was also what Currie did when dealing with the situation Martin and the basketball program found themselves in with Samuels. It would have been easy for Currie to follow Martin’s recommendation and to allow Samuels to play in that NCAA tournament game. But doing so would have opened the athletics department up to additional NCAA scrutiny.

Kansas State now finds itself at a crossroads. Bill Snyder is 77 and was recently diagnosed with throat cancer. Neither his age or his medical condition are considered harbingers of retirement. Whoever is hired to replace Currie will likely be responsible for hiring Snyder’s replacement. Whenever that day comes.

[Merenbloom: It’s Time for Brent Venables to Replace Bill Snyder at Kansas State]

One of the names being floated as Snyder’s replacement is his son, Sean Snyder. Some writers, like ESPN’s Max Olson, believe that the odds of the son replacing the father have increased now that Currie has accepted the Tennessee job. I would have to agree with Olson based on Currie’s track record of standing up to the head coach and making decisions based on what is best for the athletics department as opposed to what’s best for Snyder’s children.

Martin hasn’t been at Kansas State since 2012, so, at this point, he’s completely out of the equation. However, a decision will need to be made about current men’s basketball coach, Bruce Weber. Weber isn’t loved in Manhattan, Kansas but always seems to do just enough to create job security. That job security could quickly turn into a house of cards with a new athletic director.

As is the case with any person in a position of influence, Currie was both admired and shunned for the job he did while in charge of the Kansas State athletics department. Some of the names that have surfaced as potential replacements for Currie are current Kansas State deputy athletics director Laird Veatch and current Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt. Whoever is hired to replace Currie will eventually be placed in the unique position of hiring Snyder’s successor and possibly a new head basketball coach.

It’s an exciting time to be a Kansas State fan.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

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Bill Snyder has Earned Retirement

Fourteen years ago, I was working as a waiter at the Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse location in Kansas City, Missouri. During my time working at the restaurant, I had the opportunity to serve many high-profile guests. Those guests included athletes, politicians, and business people. Some, but not all, of those influential guests standout in my mind to this day. The imprint that those guests left on my memory was both positive and negative. One of those guests that I waited on was Kansas State football coach, Bill Snyder.

Snyder was dining at the restaurant with his family. It was a large enough group that the logical assumption was that the group was his extended family; wife, kids, grandchildren. Our paths crossing was just a brief, snapshot in time, and I couldn’t tell you what anyone at his table ordered, but what I can tell you is this: Snyder was a soft-spoken gracious man. The type of person that I could imagine being everything one would expect a husband, father and grandfather to be.

As those fourteen years have passed, changes have occurred in both my life and Snyder’s life. I’m no longer a waiter. Ruth’s Chris no longer has a Kansas City location. Snyder has retired and returned to the Kansas State sideline. And we have now learned that the coach has been receiving treatment for throat cancer.

It’s considered sacrilegious to lobby for the retirement of a respected coach. We’re supposed to conform to the old adage of, “he’ll leave when he’s ready.”

I’m lobbying for Snyder’s retirement.

Snyder is 77 years old and has been more successful at Kansas State than any of his predecessors. It’s understandable that his competitive drive keeps him from retiring, but it’s time.

[Merenbloom: It’s Time for Brent Venables to Replace Bill Snyder at Kansas State]

It’s time for Snyder to hand the program that he built over to a young, energetic coach who can build upon what he created in Manhattan. The Big 12 is down on its luck. Besides Oklahoma, there isn’t a team in that conference that makes the rest of college football shake even a little bit. It’s a solid conference, but the right team with the right coach could easily challenge Oklahoma for conference supremacy.

Snyder has seemingly had the ability to impose his will upon the Wildcats. Year after year, he takes a rag-tag bunch of recruits and turns them into a respectable team. Snyder’s teams embody the idea that the sum is greater than its parts. That program respectability in conjunction with a conference that can be considered winnable should be enticing to prospective replacements.

And it’s also time for that gracious, soft spoken man to focus on spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren. The success that Snyder has had in college football has undoubtedly provided a great life for Snyder and his family. That financial stability isn’t going anywhere. But due to our own mortality, including Snyder’s, the time we have to spend enjoying the experiences that life has to offer are on borrowed time.

Snyder needs to take the time to have his morning coffee with his wife. He needs to take the time to have an impromptu lunch with his kids. And he needs to bask in the glow of watching his grandchildren grow up. Snyder can do all of that if he steps away from football. He’s 77. It’s time.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

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It’s Time for Brent Venables to Replace Bill Snyder at Kansas State

Now is the time for Bill Snyder to retire and for Kansas State to hire Brent Venables. When I say it is time for Snyder to retire I mean it is time for him to retire for good. In his first go around at Kansas State, Snyder put together an overall record of 136-69-1. Needless to say, as everyone knows, Snyder is Kansas State football and when he came out of retirement in 2009 he served a purpose, but the time has come for him to step away from the sidelines for good.

Brent Venables played for Snyder and began his coaching career at Kansas State in 1993. He would eventually follow fellow Snyder disciple Bob Stoops to Oklahoma. Out of what seemed to be undying loyalty to Stoops, Venables spent 12 years coaching under Stoops before being pried away by Dabo Swinney. And it is this characteristic of loyalty that is both Venables’ greatest strength and weakness. It is also exactly what Kansas State needs in a true post-Snyder era.

A coach can win in Manhattan, KS. but it is not a place that everyone would be comfortable calling home or a place that a coach would be comfortable pitching on the recruiting trail. Having been born and raised in Salina, KS., Venables not only knows the general area but  he also  knows what can be accomplished in Manhattan. Venables is the coach who can do all of this.

Venables considers coaches who move around a lot to be prostitutes to the profession. Because of this old school attitude, he takes a considerable amount of pride in having coached at just a handful of schools. And even with just three schools on his coaching resume, he considers his current job to be better than the majority of head coaching gigs out there. Notice that he said “majority.” This leaves the door open for him to consider being the head coach at just a few schools while remaining true to his loyalty pledge.

It may be naive of me, but as an outsider, I believe the two schools he would consider head coaching offers from are Oklahoma and Kansas State. Leaving Clemson for either of these schools would still be considered staying true to his loyalist mentality. Oklahoma would be the easier of the two jobs, but Kansas State is truly home to Venables. And of those two schools, Kansas State is the school that needs him the most.

When Stoops finally retires or goes someplace else, Oklahoma should be just fine. If Stoops’ replacement continues the winning tradition that Stoops has established, it won’t be a big deal. It’s Oklahoma. Virtually any coach not named John Blake can win in Norman. So Venables could go to Oklahoma, win and be just another successful Boomer Sooner.

Now if Venables truly goes home, he can not only establish his own legacy but he can also rebuild the legacy of Snyders’ original stint at Kansas State. He can sell the program to recruits based not only on having won there himself as a player and assistant coach but also as being a true Kansan. None of these are things that Snyder’s original successor, Ron Prince, could ever do.

If he did re-establish Kansas State as a conference power, every Kansas State fan from Kansas City to Salina would etch his name next to Snyder’s on whatever Wall of Fame they have. And if, just if, Venables could do what many consider to be the un-thinkable and get Kansas State to a Playoff appearance? If that ever happened, Kansas State fans would find something Venables-centric to replace EMAW with.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom

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AutoZone Liberty Bowl: Bret Bielema and His Very Erotic Holiday

This year’s Liberty Bowl pits Arkansas and Kansas State. It pits Bret Bielema against Bill Snyder. There are so many directions that I could go with this preview so let’s just jump right in.

To listen to Kansas State fans, Bill Snyder is the greatest coach to ever grace the sideline of a football field. Each and every Kansas State game is met with cries of “EMAW!” and the over confident swagger that accompanies rooting for a team with a coach who just can’t be beat.

And yet Snyder guided EMAW Nation to a 6-6 record this year.

This 6-6 record included a 6-game losing streak. But never fear, Snyder sent lots of letters to opposing players and even to the student body of EMAW Nation. Gosh darnit, he’s just so loveable. Or is he?

He may in fact be a wolf in sheep’s clothing who hides behind his grandfatherly demeanor. Yea, he’s guilty of ageism against himself.

Remember last year’s Alamo Bowl? I do. There was a bit of controversy at the end of that game.

Remember, Snyder is the same holier than thou coach who recruited Marcus Raines and seemed to have had his hand forced when rescinding Raines’ scholarship offer.

EMAW Nation just couldn’t believe the disrespect that Mora showed their Messianic coach. Oh the horror. This is who Snyder is as a coach and Bret Bielema would be wise to have his Razorbacks prepared for some end of game shenanigans.

As for Bret Bielema and Arkansas, they’re hoping for a very erotic holiday season.

After Arkansas finished off Texas in last season’s Texas Bowl, Bret felt a tingle go up his leg and he’s hoping for a similar experience in this year’s Alamo Bowl. If Bret does beat Bill Snyder, it will be a short plane ride back to Arkansas. This just means he’ll be hopping on the wife sooner rather than later. Right?

What should we expect out of this season’s Alamo Bowl? A lot of Woo Pig Sooie!

When you’re Kansas State and your best win was either against Louisiana Tech or West Virginia, I just have a difficult time taking you and your 6-6 record seriously. Arkansas finished 7-5 which really isn’t much better but the Razorbacks had some nice wins against Ole Miss and LSU.

I don’t care who you are or what your biases are. Arkansas’ feeble body of work is better than Kansas State’s feeble body of work.

Yes, my bias is an anti-Big 12 one and I have never attempted to hide that bias.

I expect Arkansas to pound Kansas State to the point that we are all pointing at the television as we yell:

Stop! He’s already dead!

By the end of the game, Bret will have had a very erotic experience as he dreams of hopping on the wife. And if Bret behaves and lives up to the high EMAW Nation standards, he can also expect a lovely handwritten journal entry from Snyder.

Prediction:

Arkansas: 31
Kansas State: 13

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SMerenbloom.

Stick to the Basics, Kansas State

Commitment: to common goals and to being successful.

To say that Bill Snyder’s reign as the most celebrated college football coach in Manhattan, Kansas is coming to an end would be ridiculous. Commitment to common goals and being successful is the first goal of sixteen in Snyder’s “16 Goals for Success” that he made the players revisit after a rough loss to Texas Tech. The Kansas State Wildcats currently sit at the same conference play record as one of the worst teams in college football, the Kansas Jayhawks.

Snyder’s tenure at Kansas State isn’t just because of his age or his legacy there at Kansas State University. Snyder’s tenure is because consistently each year, he produces winning teams with little to no established talent and makes them look great doing so.

 

Unselfishness: there is no ‘I’ in TEAM.

There may not be an “I” in TEAM, but there certainly is “TAME” which seems to be what the Kansas State Wildcats seem to be this year. “Tamecats” would be a much better way of describing this team on either side of the ball. The players showing heart week after week would be a sign of comprehension of Snyder’s goals, but sadly they fall short of that as well.

 

Unity: come together as never before.

This means like, win a game? I think that would be pretty #neat at this point. Not only are they winless in conference play but they will not be making a bowl game for the first time since I can remember. I don’t think I’ve ever been more disappointed in a team, and when I said I would be happy for them going 7-5… I would have been. Instead they face going 3-9, a record previously reserved for Iowa State and Kansas teams.

 

Improve: every day as a player, person and student.

Is this happening on a daily basis? Who knows. The only people that can really tell would be the personnel surrounding this team. Instead, we have questions about commitment and dedication to football. At least we aren’t in the news for arrests and sexual assaults? That is really the only upside to this season, so please don’t let us down, Wildcats!

Be Tough: mentally and physically.

This goes without saying, the team cannot win because of the play calling and the issues on coaching staff. The only thing they CAN do is be tougher than the criticism and tougher than the other guys on the other side of the ball. Preparing for someone to be more talented than you is easy when you are in the best shape of your life and truly mentally and physically prepared for the game. And really, this is the only hope at beating a team this year. Not only do we have some of the worst play calling in the history of Kansas State football, there is NO change coming from the staff. To see a team crumble from the inside out is torture for Bill Snyder, but he has to realize where the crumbling pieces are on his coaching staff and remove them in order to preserve all that he has done at this school.

 

Self-Discipline: do it right, don’t accept less.
Would this apply to trying to force our team to pass when clearly there is no sign of this team being able to move the ball downfield in the air? Would this apply to people in the stands being able to see the flaws in this team but the coordinators refusing to make changes that we so desperately need? Where does this goal fit in with the team we’ve seen week after week beat themselves? I clearly have so many questions that will go unanswered, but the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results… so why does the coaching staff of one of the most consistently prominent teams in America feel the need to run the same plays that the opponent has studied all week and expects? The same three plays seem to do nothing but get us knocked around and go a quick three & out, so WHY?! Alright, I’ll stop with the questions there, but self-discipline needs to show up not only in the players but the coaching staff. Do your job. Do it right, don’t accept less.

 

The Kansas State Wildcats/Tamecats host Iowa State in Manhattan, Kansas this year and instead of looking forward to the game like so many others… I will be bracing for impact of Iowa State potentially clobbering the team I love so much. Please Coach, don’t exit this team on a note of defeat and sadness. 2016’s team looks brighter than ever and with the help of firing your stuck in the mud coaches, we can be great again.

Five You Must See: Week Six

The Big 12 and Pac-12 have the bulk of the big games, but the best matchup this weekend is in the Big Ten.  Here are the five games you must see in week six:

Washington at #17 USC, Thursday 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

This game makes the list mostly because it’s a bit of a light weekend and it’s being played on Thursday night.  Don’t be fooled though, Washington is a capable team that could give USC some trouble.  We should learn a lot by seeing how the Trojans play off of their bye week.  Last time out they spanked Arizona State.  We’ll see how they treat the Huskies.

#13 Northwestern at #18 Michigan, Saturday 3:30 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network

This game seems like a battle between the third and fourth teams in a two-horse race.  Even so, it’ll end up as the most impressive win in the Big Ten so far, no matter who gets it.  Northwestern hasn’t beaten Michigan since 2008, but the last three meetings have been close.  It took overtime in 2012, triple OT in 2013, and the Wolverines won by just one point last year.  This will be Michigan’s first game against a good team since Utah.  Tune in to see which defense gets the job done in this low-scoring struggle.

#21 Oklahoma State at West Virginia, Saturday 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN 2

Here we have two evenly matched middle-of-the-road Big 12 teams.  If you enjoy watching shootouts then look no further, this is your game.  Oklahoma State is ranked, but that has more to do with a lack of other teams impressing the pollsters than anything the Cowboys have done.  The most intriguing part is West Virginia’s established pedigree as an upset specialist, especially at home.  If this is your feature presentation, be leery of changing the channel even for just a minute to see what else is going on.  You’re liable to miss some points being scored.

#2 TCU at Kansas State, Saturday 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox

Photo: Ed Zurga / Getty Images North America
Photo: Ed Zurga / Getty Images North America

If any Big 12 team is going to shut down TCU (or Baylor, for that matter) it’s going to be Kansas State.  Bill Snyder’s teams are just about the same every year.  The only real differences are the names on the back of the jerseys.  The Wildcats play defense, dominate special teams, and win games when the score is in the 20s.  TCU has put up 50+ in the first two weeks of Big 12 play.  Needless to say, a high-scoring game favors them.  As a potential playoff team, we’ve got to see how Trevone Boykin and the Horned Frogs deal with such defensive pressure on the road.

#23 Cal at #5 Utah, Saturday 10:00 p.m. ET on ESPN

Both of these teams are much better than we’re used to.  The Bears, who’ve normally been written off by this time of the year, are still undefeated and earning some respect.  The Utes made their intentions quite clear a couple weeks ago at Oregon, ensuring they will not be taken lightly by anyone the rest of the season.  Utah is a well-rounded, experienced team that has a proven winning recipe, something like K-State.  They run the ball with Devontae Booker.  Their ferocious front seven don’t allow you to run.  And they can beat you in just about any type of game you want to play.  It’s good to see Cal quarterback Jared Goff in primetime (sorta) finally.  He’s been impressive thus far.  If the Bears have a chance to win at the end of this game it’ll be because Goff has outperformed everyone else on the field.  We’ll either have a playoff contender solidifying itself, or another crazy upset.  Either way, you should be watching.

The “Better as a Basketball Game” of the Week

Maryland at #1 Ohio State

This is simply a better matchup in basketball.  A meeting on the hardwood is a battle between two teams near (or at) the top of the Big Ten.  This football game should be little more than a formality.  Then again, the Buckeyes haven’t looked at all like the number one team in the nation of late.  The Terps are making their second appearance in the “Better as a Basketball Game,” tying them with Kansas for the lead in a category no one would dare brag about.  Don’t waste your time with this game unless somehow Maryland is up two touchdowns in the fourth.

Tim Bach: Ranking the Power 5

Rank each Power 5 conference (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, SEC) based only on their 2014 performance.) Give the reasoning for your ranking:

  1. Pac-12: This one’s easy. Oregon was a scoring machine with the nation’s best player in Marcus Mariota. Following the Ducks were programs like Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA, all of whom spent considerable time in the Top 25 rankings. Don’t forget about teams like USC and Stanford either who also flitted in and out of the rankings. They had two programs that didn’t win 5 games and most of the other teams had at least 8 wins. Top to bottom, that might be the most impressive conference showing in a while.
  2. SEC: When you look at the records, the SEC actually looks better than the Pac-12 but I think the numbers lie. The SEC has a history of playing cupcake games early in the season to help inflate their records. Then, let’s be honest: a lot of their teams actually weren’t that good. Auburn and Texas A&M were train wrecks for most of the season. LSU and South Carolina were anemic at times. Even the juggernaut that is the Alabama Crimson Tide were not the same. Just look at what Ohio State did to them.
  3. Big Ten: This is where it kind of turns into a logjam for me so I let my homerish take over. I’ll be the first to admit that the Big Ten was not stupendous this year but it wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be. The problem with having a team like the University of Michigan in your conference, which is about as big a name in college football as you can get, is if that program struggles, it’s assumed that everyone is struggling. The Big Ten might not have had the best teams but they did have a lot of the best players. Tevin Coleman of Indiana got less attention than he should have despite being second in the nation in rushing. Tony Lippett of Michigan State was one of the better wide receivers in the country. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the quarterback monstrosity that Ohio State put together with J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, backed by running back Ezekiel Elliott that oh yeah, won the National Championship.
  4. Big 12: In my opinion, the Big 12 was basically a two-team league. TCU and Baylor were just so much better than everyone else in that conference and most of the rest of the nation. Oklahoma had some good moments and Kansas State is usually good for at least 8 wins under Bill Snyder but come on, look at the rest of those teams. Texas Tech hasn’t been good since Mike Leach, Kansas is awful and I usually forget Iowa State has a football team.
  5. ACC: Georgia Tech was a fun story but this conference was all about Florida State. If the Seminoles had stumbled (well, stumbled enough to lose) the entire group would’ve plummeted out of the rankings. Clemson had some firepower and Duke channeled some of it’s basketball team’s magic for 9 wins but most of the rest of this group is a joke.

The BCS era was 1998-2013, what sport is each of the above conferences better known for: baseball, basketball, football, other.

ACC: The knee jerk reaction is to say basketball for sure when you look at the lineup of teams. But if you want to get technical, Syracuse, Pitt and Louisville haven’t been members of the ACC for that long. That pretty much leaves you with Duke and North Carolina. Granted, that’s a lot of basketball royalty and championships but personally I always viewed the ACC as the conference that excelled in the other sports like lacrosse and baseball. Because those two schools are so good, I almost went basketball but I have to say baseball and other for the ACC.

Big 12: Texas and Oklahoma fielded some pretty good baseball teams a few years ago but no one’s going to mistake the Big 12 for anything other than football conference. Texas and Oklahoma are two of the most historic and recognizable programs in football. In the state of Texas, football reigns supreme. There’s been movies and a TV show about it if you don’t believe me. Kansas won a basketball title in 2008 but no, that’s not enough.

Big Ten: The Big Ten is hard to pin down because it actually underwent a metamorphosis around 2008. Pretty much as far back as the dawn of time, the Big Ten was a football school. Pre-historic Bo and Woody were probably lining up cavemen against each other. Sure there were some outliers like Michigan State around the turn of the century but primarily they were a football school.

Then something weird happened.

Michigan State had continued its trend of being good and Illinois made an appearance in the Men’s Basketball Finals but suddenly Ohio State was really good and played in the National Championship. Bo Ryan and Wisconsin emerged into a beast of a program. Michigan plucked John Beilein from West Virginia, found themselves some players and were suddenly a championship contender. Purdue had a core group that could go toe to toe with just about anyone. Oddly enough, this is about the same time the Big Ten had a decline in football. But really, no matter what anyone says, the Big Ten is a conference all about football.

Pac-12: I know there’s some good baseball schools out there but the Pac-12 is better known for its football. USC created a program the likes of which hadn’t been seen in forever under Pete Carroll and produced numerous Heisman Trophy winners. Oregon and Chip Kelly revolutionized the speed game, and Jim Harbaugh and Stanford brought back the old smash mouth style.

But here’s the thing: the Pac-12 has won 5 National Championships and was runner-up 5 times in baseball to the one BSC title that USC won, the only football championship. The Pac-12 probably should be a baseball conference but no one really talks about college baseball. Maybe the perception is different over on the west coast but from where I’m sitting, it sure seems like people never talk about it.

SEC: Football. Wait… I need to elaborate? If not for Florida and Kentucky, I wouldn’t believe that they even fielded other sports teams.

Tim is on Twitter at @Tbach84. Leave a comment below, or e-mail Tim at [email protected].

Fighting Felines: Auburn vs. Kansas State

There will be a huge and very important Big Cat Fight in Manhattan, Kansas on Thursday night. Over 50,000 fans will cram into Bill Snyder Family Stadium to watch the hometown Kansas State Wildcats take on the Auburn Tigers. There will be clawing. There will be scratching. There will be weeping. There will be wailing. There will be gnashing of teeth. The entire football world will be tuned in to ESPN. Big stage. Big game.
Auburn and K-State, as the Wildcats are often called, have only faced off on three occasions in times past.
Podcast: CFB Roundtable #31: Bird LeCroy Says Ole Miss is The Best Tailgating EVER
In 1978 Auburn made the long trip to the “Little Apple”. The Tigers came out on top 45-32. James Brooks set a single game rushing record, in the 101 degree heat, that afternoon. He carried the ball 30 times for 226 yards in leading the Tigers to a victory.
Auburn swept the short home and home series at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 1979. They defeated the other Cats by a 26 to 18 score.
The last time these two teams squared off was in 2007. Auburn also took this contest, 23-13. Thursday’s battle will mark the end of another two game set.
Auburn was established as a 6.5 point favorite initially but that line jumped to 9.5 points in blinding speed. Auburn Fast huh?
K-State coach Bill Snyder will bring a 180-90-1 record into the game. He has been the head man in Manhattan for twenty two seasons but not consecutively. He retired in 2005 only to be coaxed back to the sidelines in 2009 after the program went back into a deep slide. Snyder is a lock to be named to the College Football Hall of Fame. He is one of the best to ever grace the gridiron.
K-State is 2-0 with wins over Stephen F. Austin, 55-16, and Iowa State, 32-28.
On offense the Cats will be led by quarterback Jake Waters. It will be critical for the Tigers to contain him if they are to come away with a win. He can light it up both on the ground and through the air. Waters has hit 69% of his passes for 462 yards in the two games they have played. He is also the team’s leading rusher, toting the rock for 193 yards. The guy is flat out dangerous. He can put the team on his back and carry them.
Waters likes to throw the ball to Tyler Lockett. Lockett has 7 receptions for 142 yards in 2014.
The leading defenders for KSU are former walk-on Ryan Mueller and Jonathan Truman.

Ryan Mueller – Kansas State. Photo: kansascity.com

Mueller is a defensive end. He had 62 tackles, 11.5 sacks and 7 tackles for loss in 2013. Truman, a linebacker, made 89 tackles last year and had 4.5 tackles for loss.
The Wildcats are not loaded with four and five-star talent but, as a team, they are very tough. They are extremely well-coached and they don’t tend to make silly mistakes, mental or physical, that will get them beat.
Gus Malzahn will lead his Tigers into the opponents den with a 23-5 record as a head coach. He was 9-3 during his one season at Arkansas State.
Auburn is also 2-0. They have beaten Arkansas, 45-21, and San Jose State, 59-13.
Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant are the Tigers leading rushers. CAP has 289 yards while Grant has gained 196 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Nick Marshall has found leading receiver Duke Williams 13 times for 214 yards. Sammie Coates will return to the lineup, Thursday, and that will be BIG for the visitors.
Middle linebacker Cassanova McKinzy is Auburn’s leading tackler with 16 stops. Big Montravious Adams is first on the team in tackles for loss with 4.
Now here are some very interesting numbers to consider (with a thanks to Stat Tiger).
Auburn has rushed for over 200 yards for thirteen consecutive games. They have scored at least 30 points in the last 12 contests. Since Snyder returned to K-State in 2009, his record is 5-11 when his defenses surrender 200 or more rushing yards in a game. His record is 2-11 when opponents have a winning percentage of .700. This bodes well for the Tigers.
Auburn also leads the SEC in rushing, churning out an average of 330 yards in the two games they have played. Since 1992 the Tigers are 43-0-1 when they run the ball for at least 250 yards per game; another good sign for the visitors, if they can run the ball well.
There is no doubt that Marshall and Jeremy Johnson will have to roll up some passing yards to give Auburn some balance. With the open date they have had time to get in some valuable reps. This should help Auburn as well.
According to the Associated Press Poll Auburn comes in at number five and Kansas State is ranked number 20.
This is shaping up as a very good football game.
I expect both teams to acquit themselves well. The Wildcats can take a quantum leap in the rankings and in the eyes of college football fans everywhere with a win. Auburn can solidify and, possibly, advance its position with a victory out on the Great Plains in a very tough environment.
K-State should be able to hang close to Auburn for at least a half and maybe three quarters. But, in the end, the Tigers superior talent and depth will prove to be too much for the Wildcats in this battle of fighting felines.

Auburn 41, Kansas State 20

Feature Image: Kansas State University

Big XII Year In Review

There are actually ten teams in the Big XII, and we’re just going to have to get over it.

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To think this conference almost died three years ago would have been a crying shame.  They’ve given us some pretty good football since Larry Scott almost gutted the meat and potatoes of this league to go the Cali-forny Way in a potential 16-team Pacific Coast super-conference, and it’s had very little to do with that school in Austin.  Well, they didn’t need the University of Texas to hold their own on the field, but it took the ridiculousness that is ESPN’s partnership with the school to keep 19 year-old conference glued together for this long.

That’s all in the past, though it doesn’t mean that they’ve been unaffected by conference expansion in Big XII country.  Four of its charter members have sought greener pastures, while only two have been replaced.  Only Colorado, one of Scott’s six targets (the others were Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State) made the jump to the old Pac-10, but Texas A&M and Missouri joined the Southeastern Conference, while Nebraska found a new home in the Big 10…which now has 12 teams.  Again, get over it.

In 2011, Oklahoma State had a clear path to a national championship appearance until a missed field goal on a Friday night in Ames, Iowa knocked them off course.  The next year, with A&M and Mizzu off to the SEC, West Virginia and Texas Christian (TCU) were the new kids on the block.  The new guys found that they actually would have to be in Kansas every now and again, and found themselves towards the basement of their new digs.  Speaking of Kansas, Kansas State to be specific, the school in Manhattan, Kansas had their sights set on a National Championship berth, but a night in Waco, Texas suggested that it was not to be for the Wildcats.

That brings us to 2013, and a new dawn in the Big XII.  Were we really thinking Baylor, two years removed from Robert Griffin III and a year removed from Nick Florence, could win this conference?  Hell, when the chips began to fall, we were actually thinking the final BCS National Championship might actually pit the Baylor Bears in the 16-year series final game, while a traditional favorite like Ohio State would be left out.  That was all in theory and on paper, after all the games were played, the guess-work was easy, if not non-existent.

However, the 2013 story of this conference runs much deeper than getting a team to Pasadena.  You could throw away the chalk.  This particular season could have served as a thesis for, “that’s why they play the games.”

Any Given Saturday

Iowa State, Kansas, West Virginia, and TCU were all denied the opportunity to go bowling, unless they were renting shoes at the local Brunswick house.  None of them won more than two conference games on a nine-game schedule, and even with the benefit of an FCS opponent on each of their schedules, these four schools couldn’t eclipse the four-win mark on the year.  In Iowa State’s case, the FCS opponent wasn’t a given; the Panthers of Northern Iowa defeated the Cyclones in Ames by a count of 28-20.  Even West Virginia trailed William & Mary by 10 at the half, before a second-half comeback.  But, you didn’t want to commit yourself to yard-work when these teams were in action; they had some fight in them, and yes, that even includes the hapless Kansas Jayhawks.

Charlie Weis, the place you start most arguments against hiring off the Bill Belichick Coaching Tree, had only one win in his first season in Lawrence, against South Dakota from the FCS ranks, so naturally Kansas invited another team from South Dakota in 2013, South Dakota State this time.  Weis was able to double his win total from 2012 with a 13-10 win over Louisiana Tech, a team that finished 4-8 in the mighty Conference USA.

Weis had his Any Given Saturday on November 16th, while playing host to West Virginia and NFL running back prospect Charles Sims.  It was a day for Sims to dominate, just not for Charles, who was held to 99 yards, while James Sims ran for 211 yards and 3 touchdowns in a 31-19 win to snap a 27-game Big XII losing streak for Kansas.  The fans stormed the field and tore down goal posts in the lone bright spot for the Jayhawks in Big XII play.  In their other eight conference games, all losses, they were outscored by an average of 39-12.

Iowa State did not start well; there was the aforementioned loss to Northern Iowa, followed by a rivalry loss to another in-state rival, Iowa, before finally getting in the win column at Tulsa in Week 3.   One might make an argument for the Cyclones showing in a 31-30 loss, a game Texas won with a Case McCoy touchdown run and Anthony Fera’s subsequent extra point with 51 seconds left, on October 3rd as Iowa State’s big surprise of the year.  However, a lot of people might have expected Texas to go down on this Thursday night at Jack Trice Stadium, given how low everyone’s opinion of them was at that point; not to mention, I’m not getting into Any Given Thursday in this space.

If you want to polish a turd, go ahead, but that loss was the beginning of an 0-7 conference record; even Kansas had a win with a victory over West Virginia the week before these titans would clash in Ames on November 23rd.  For Kansas, a 34-0 was essentially par for the course; for Iowa State, this was a big win, but not quite their “Any Given Saturday” moment.

With neither team going bowling, with balls weighing less than 14 pounds anyway, Iowa State’s finale in Morgantown was a game played purely for pride.  In what is surely a far cry from the old Backyard Brawl they used to play with Pittsburgh in the Big East, as far as finales go, West Virginia gave the home crowd plenty to be proud about early, and looked to be finishing the season on a good note after a 76-yard Charles Sims touchdown run put them up 31-7 early in the 2nd quarter.

Obviously, we’re still talking about the Cyclones, so you probably know where this is going.  It’s going towards great moments in hook-up history, featuring Grant Rohach and Quenton Bundrage.  On the ensuing drive, Rohach, whose 54-yard 1st quarter touchdown run represented Iowa State’s only points of the day to that point, found Bundrage for a 10-yard scoring strike that narrowed the gap to 31-14 before the half.  After a scoreless third quarter, the teams traded touchdowns early in the game’s final frame.  The Cyclones found themselves down 17 once again when Rohach and Bundrage connected again, this time for 62 yards and the score, making it 38-28 in favor of the Mountaineers.  Then, it was time for Rohach to move on from Bundrage, who finished with 7 grabs for 93 yards to go along with his touchdown receptions.

With a minute left in regulation, Rohach, who finished the day with 331 yards with his arm, hit Justin Coleman to tie the game at 38, prolonging the 2013 season for both of these teams for at least one more possession apiece.  They did nothing but trade field goals for two consecutive overtime periods, but Iowa State wasted no time the third time around.

On the first play of Triple Overtime, Rohach hit Coleman, who had five catches for 91 yards, for the touchdown, then made the required two-point conversion attempt to go up 52-44.  West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett nearly equaled what his Iowa State counterpart did, but Charles Sims was pushed out of bounds at 3 in the “home half” of the third OT.  Despite having four tries, nor Trickett or Sims could find the end zone, and the game ended when Daikiel Shorts was pushed out of bounds at the 3 after a reception.  That was the end of the season for both squads; one elated, the other devastated.

Hold on, if West Virginia stunk so much, and they did finish 4-8, what’s so signature about those wins for Weis and Rhodes?  I guess goes back to late September, when the Mountaineers hosted a man with a gaggle of players well under the age of 40 from Stillwater, Oklahoma.  A win over Mississippi State, UT-San Antonio, and Lamar had earned the Cowboys the #11 spot in the polls, but no poll wanted any part of Dana Holgorsen’s team that was thumped 37-0 by Maryland in Baltimore a week earlier.

Clint Trickett would be West Virginia’s third quarterback in five games, but Trickett was no stranger to the clipboard after transferring from Florida State, where he was EJ Manuel’s understudy.  So, he hadn’t played since mop-up duty in October 2011.  He completed less than 50% of his passes and was intercepted twice versus one touchdown, but it was all about the West Virginia defense slowing down JW Walsh, Oklahoma State’s dynamic quarterback.

Walsh did have three touchdowns in the game, but the visiting team trailed 24-14 at the half, and his scoring strike to Josh Seaton closed the gap to 24-21, but that would conclude the scoring for the Cowboys in their first Big XII contest of the season.  A pair of Josh Lambert field goals, the second coming inside of the two-minute mark made it a two possession game, giving Holgorsen his only signature victory of the season.

Finding a signature win of any sort for TCU, a team that has struggled in their three years away from The Little Sisters of the Poor (the Mountain West Conference), was difficult, if not impossible, in 2013.   Their four victories came against Southeastern Louisiana, Southern Methodist, and the aforementioned dregs of the Big XII; at least West Virginia knocked off a big boy on the national scene, adding value to anyone who took them down.

TCU took the Titans of Appalachia to OT at home, but West Virginia pulled out a 30-27 win on the road.  I think they deserve more credit for giving Baylor all they could handle in a game Baylor had to have to keep themselves alive for a conference championship.  They still lost 41-38.  However, this was not a season without some mitigating circumstances for Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs.  After missing the 2012 season to personal problems, quarterback Casey Pachall was sidelined for five games with a broken arm in 2013, forcing Patterson to play some depth chart musical chairs with athlete Trevone Boykin assuming the duties.

If it’s Brown…

As I’ve mentioned, time starts and stop with what’s going on in Austin, Texas.  I don’t want to take anything away from the heroics of Vince Young, financial statements notwithstanding, or even Colt McCoy, but I don’t know when the expectations for the Longhorns reached the level of some mythical place where Mack Brown isn’t allowed to lose any games, like ever.  So, 5-7 isn’t where you’re supposed to be if you’re Texas; when that happened in 2010, it was the Longhorns’ first losing season since 1997, but they’ve lived in that 8-9 win range ever since.

This season, after poor showings against Ole Miss and BYU, angry mobs carried torches through the streets of Austin demanding Brown’s head on a platter—okay, not really, but they wanted him out.  I suppose that’s fair, but I’m not sure what part of that entitled them to the services of Nick Saban.  I know that all it would take for some people is a two or three Brinks trucks backing up to their front door, but Saban has money.  And right now, he has the University of Alabama football program under his charge; somehow, I believe that’s more priceless than all of the brisket in Texas.

The way things were made out to be after a 3-2 start, it was as if Mack Brown were somehow sabotaging the program.  Nobody gave him a chance in the Red River Shootout at the Cotton Bowl against Big Game Bob and his Sooners, but I guess this is why they play the games.  It was, in fact, Oklahoma that stood no chance at the Texas State Fair’s Main Event.  Aided by a good start that got them out to a 20-3 lead in the second quarter, Texas simply looked like the better team than #12 Oklahoma on this day.

Case McCoy was efficient, despite throwing a 4th quarter pick-six, which brought the Sooners back to within two possessions at 36-20, a score that held up until the final gun.  He did need to do anything special with the way his backs were running the ball; Jonathan Gray and Malcolm Brown each eclipsed the century mark in rushing yards.  While Brown was starting to find answers, questions were being raised up in Norman.  Blake Bell struggled mightily, and the Sooners offense converted just 2-of-13 third downs.

They’d go on to win six straight Big XII games in all, the sixth being 47-40 overtime thriller at West Virginia, before dropping three of their last four games, in what turned out to be Brown’s final season in Austin.  They did this, despite getting a new athletic director in-season and having to avoid the writing on the wall about their head coach’s fate.  Sure, there’s nothing good about a 1-3 finish, but do consider the 3 came at the hands of #10 Oklahoma State, #9 Baylor, and #12 Oregon.  In the end, it was Charlie Strong from Louisville, and not Saban, who was brought in to prove that Texas is indeed too good for 4 and 5 loss seasons.

By the way, Texas finished the regular season in Waco, with a chance to win a conference title.  Art Briles and the Baylor Bears weren’t about to let that happen in the swan song for Floyd Casey Stadium, but after all of the scrutiny, Brown brought home a 7-2 conference record, and had his team in a “win and you’re in” (the Fiesta Bowl) scenario.

Snyder of Manhattan

Every time I’m out in Goodyear, Arizona, the spring home of the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds, I’m teased by the Synder of Hanover building.  And, it’s not that I so much that I have a problem with pretzels as I’m reminded that I’m time zones away from Snyder of Berlin and those delicious barbeque chips that answered many a snack cravings as a child.  Okay, where was I going?  That’s right; it’s Bill Snyder and the 2013 Kansas State Wildcats.

While they’re talking about doing better than Mack Brown at Texas, someday Kansas State is going to have to do something other than Bill Snyder with their football program.  Snyder is 74, and has served as the Wildcats head coach for 22 years, albeit non-consecutive years.  If the next guy doesn’t work out for them, I’m not sure another un-retirement is in the cards, but who’s talking about retirement?

A year removed from a Fiesta Bowl appearance, an occurrence that’s become more regular than it ought to be for the school in the Little Apple, the Wildcats had a rough start out of the gate, losing to an FCS school.  Never you mind the small fact that North Dakota State won the Division I Playoff, the FCS stigma still remains.  After that, they did drop four games, only to the league’s Top 4 teams, but they returned to Arizona and finished on a good note, shellacking Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (can I still just say BW3?) by a score of 31-14.

Off the Kliff

We knew something would have to give in the Big XII, especially if Texas wasn’t as bad as we believed them to be in September.  There just wasn’t enough room at the table for everyone, even with A&M long gone, if Baylor was really going to insist on a spot at the adult table.

In a decision that may very well have been based on the availability of grilled cheese on glazed donuts on Tom + Chee, Tommy Tuberville left Lubbock for the potentially greener pastures of Cincinnati, Ohio.  That left Kliff Kingsbury, who played quarterback at Texas Tech only a few years ago, but was more recently credited with the fast development of Johnny Manziel at A&M, to take over a Red Raiders program that’s fallen a long way since they dismissed Mike Leach.

They got out to a 7-0 start, which earned them a #10 ranking, but a non-conference slate of SMU, Stephen F Austin, and Texas State probably never instilled fear into the hearts of men.  Now, I never like to say a team got “exposed” because they hit a gauntlet in their schedule; Tech had to play the Top 5 teams in the final Big XII standings in consecutive weeks, and they lost them all.

They went to Oklahoma, hosted Oklahoma State and Kansas State, played a neutral site game with Baylor, and then lost 41-16 in Austin.  There’s only score to be read there, but it tells the tale of the entire losing streak; the offense scored no more than 34 points in any game of the losing streak, while the defense allowed no fewer than 38 in any of those games.

They drew Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl, which was an underwhelming draw for the Sun Devils if you ask people who support the Pac-12 runners up, but Texas Tech dismissed all perceptions with a relatively dominating performance.  Davis Webb threw for 403 yards and 4 touchdowns, as the Red Raiders took the Sun Devils behind the woodshed for a good ole fashioned beat down.

What’s a Little Bedlam between Two Thursdays?

We know that Oklahoma State didn’t play much of a non-conference slate.  Hell, that goes ditto for Oklahoma, though the latter went to South Bend and avenged their 2012 loss to the Irish on the God-forsaken Plains.  It was going to come down to conference play, and both took an early loss.  Somehow, some way, West Virginia took down Mike Gundy’s Oklahoma State Cowboys, and we know the story of what happened to Stoops at the Red River Shootout.  That said, each took down a giant, which gave shape to the Big XII title chase, and then un-did that very shape.

Somehow, some way, it was Baylor that became the giant that needed slaying.  On a Thursday night in Waco, Oklahoma showed that they were far from ready for the task.  It was a 41-12 loss that everyone not glued to every snap in the Oregon-Stanford game saw.  I’m not sure that game really set us up for what would go down in Stillwater, when those giants, I mean Bears, would claw their way into T. Boone Pickens Stadium for the Saturday Night Main Event.  What Baylor did, was take all of the goodwill given to them after beating up the team from Norman, and torch it over a couple of hours during a 49-17 loss at Oklahoma State.

When the two met in Stillwater on December 7th, Oklahoma State was playing for the conference title and a bid in the BCS.  A BCS bid was a long shot for the Sooners, but the opportunity to spoil the Cowboys title hopes sat right in front of them.  This was Bedlam, and absent a post-season conference championship game, this would serve as a de facto championship of sorts, and would turn out to be a BCS clinching game for the winner.

The game was tied after the first, second, and third quarter.  It had five lead changes, a punt return, a kicker scoring a touchdown, and it ended with a scoop and score as time ran out, and the Sooners upset the Cowboys in their own house.  They spoiled everything for Oklahoma State, and opened the door for Texas to play Baylor for a Fiesta Bowl berth.  The Cowboys were sent to Arlington to play Big XII expat Missouri in the Cotton Bowl, while the Sooners earned a date with the might Crimson Tide of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

A Friday night loss in the House of Jerry rendered Oklahoma State’s season forgettable to an extent, which isn’t to take anything away from them or Missouri, but it left me to believe they were just a team that upset Baylor, rather than being sold on them actually being the best team in the Big XII.  Oklahoma lost to Texas and Baylor, which left them mathematically ineligible for the conference title in the season finale, but they did enough to be noticed.

It was them, and not 2-loss Oregon from the Pac-12, that filled the final at-large spot in the BCS.  When it comes to believing a team without a conference title as the best, this Alabama team came to mind, weighing the reality of how they lost at Auburn to end their regular season.  No one gave Oklahoma a chance, except for maybe Bob Stoops and his young men.

However, when they took the field in New Orleans on that Thursday night, they showed that they were not only capable, but that Trevor Knight and company might have even been a downright better team that AJ McCarron and the Tide.  The nail in the coffin was similar to the finish at Bedlam, a scoop and score.  Final score: Oklahoma 45 Alabama 31.

Ida Gone To Baylor

So, the story goes like this, as my friend Miko would tell it.  Now, I haven’t seen Miko in a number of years, but this will stay with me forever.  He was an Oklahoma guy, an alumni, and he recalls a cowboy telling the Baylor mascot how it is, with a big ole chew in his mouth, in the thickest of thick cowboy accents, he says, “I’d have gone to Baylor, (spits tobacco juices) if they had a football team.”  Of course, it comes out like this, “Ida gawnta Bay-Ler, they had a Foot Bawl team!”

It was a good time for the Oklahoma program; in the same breath, it was a good time for Ohio State, the early 2000s.  Shortly after that, I’m pretty sure he moved back to Oklahoma shortly after that.  I’ve only heard from him once in the years since.  It was the night of October 22, 2005.  The first text read, “Oh shoot, maybe they do have a football team.”

I looked at the TV, a side TV because Baylor-Oklahoma was supposed to be a throw-away game.  Baylor quarterback Shawn Bell had thrown a 55-yard touchdown pass to bring the Bears within two.  Bell converted on the 2-point conversion with his legs, which tied the game at 27, and we had overtime in Norman.  Baylor kicked a field goal on their first possession of the bonus period, and it took a 39-yard boot from Garret Hartley to keep the game alive.  The Sooner held on in the second OT, and I got a second text from Miko, the last thing he ever said to me.

“Phew”

That was eight years ago.  Guy Moriss is out, Art Briles is in, and thanks to a 45-38 win over the Sooners in 2011, the Bears are no longer 0-for-forever against Oklahoma.  Art Briles has changed the program; Robert Griffin III obviously deserves some credit for changing the culture there.  They won’t accept 2nd-rate facilities or a 2nd-rate program in Waco.  They were contending for the national championship before their trip to Stillwater.

Though they stumbled in Glendale, Arizona on the big stage against an underrated Central Florida team, and it isn’t like they stumbled hard or even to a bad team.  They just lost a game they were favored to win, but I wouldn’t let the Vegas standard affect how I feel about Baylor.  Their biggest win came in retaining Briles, who easily could have and probably should have been the new man in Austin.  I see nothing but more of the same from this program, one that was left out of the fold when the entire conference was being poached, in favor of Colorado.  I know that it was more about the Denver TV market than anything else, but still, Baylor does more for their conference in 2014 and beyond than I ever see happening for the Pac-12 in Boulder.