1) The Oklahoman’s Kyle Fredrickson wrote an interesting piece this week about how Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy and mega booster T. Boone Pickens are on speaking terms for the first time in over three years. The story notes that Pickens gave a little pep talk to the team last week, and is now speaking with Gundy on a fairly regular basis. This is great news for the University, team, and fans. After their run to the Fiesta Bowl in 2011, the Cowboys have come back down to earth a bit. But, I think Mike Gundy has been under appreciated by the Cowboys fan base. Following 2011, the expectations simply got too high. I’m not convinced Oklahoma State can get to a level where they are, year-in, year-out, contenders for the Big 12 Title. But, the program is, by far, the healthiest in it’s history. Let’s not forget that. Also, the healthier the relationship is between T. Boone and Gundy, the better for the program, and the happier Mike Gundy is in Stillwater (see: Tennessee, Arkansas flirtations).
2) Staying in the Sooner State, Ryan Aber wrote an article regarding OU RB Joe Mixon, and how his teammates have forgiven the five-star recruit who was suspended last season for striking a female. I find that ironic, sad, and bizarre on many levels. While I do not in any way condone the racist SAE fraternity chant video that gained worldwide attention a few weeks ago, I wonder whether or not the OU football players will be as forgiving of them? I understand that forgiveness is part of life. But, I have a hard time watching the OU football team take such a hard stance again racial slurs, but speak so highly of someone who, less than a year ago, knocked out a woman. The double standard is striking.
3) The Sooners snagged a big time QB recruit last week in 4-star Austin Kendall of Waxhaw (North Carolina) Cuthbertson. Considering the OU QB situation is in a state of flux (although Baker Mayfield looks to be the leader), and OU didn’t have a QB commit in the 2015 class, it’s a great landing spot for a high level prospect. I’m far from a recruiting expert, but check out his hudl tape here … you’ll like what you see.
4) Another team with a quarterback question mark is the Kansas State Wildcats. There’s a three man race including Joe Hubener, Jesse Ertz and Alex Delton. My money is on Hubener. As a junior, he is the most experienced of the bunch, and has the size, 6’4” 205, similar to his predecessors Jake Waters and Colin Klein. Bill Snyder’s system looks for a QB who can run and take hits. Plus, Hubener is a former walk-on. What’s a Bill Snyder coached team without a walk-on playing a prominent position?!
5) Incase you missed it, the long winded story surrounding former Baylor walk-on RB Silas Nacita came to a conclusion when he was officially ruled ineligible. That turned out to be the right move for the school. Plus, the entire story surrounding Nacita is very suspect. This past week I interviewed close to 10 people in Nacita’s past and there still seem to be plenty of holes in his story. Check it out here.
6) Also of note in Waco: wide receivers KD Cannon and Chris Platt have joined the Baylor track and field team for the rest of the season. Both have ridiculous speed and were standout track stars in high school. I love seeing football players participating in other sports. While running a 100-meter or 200-meter race is a very different kind of speed and training from the quick bursts of football, it’s a chance to meet different and new teammates, broaden horizons, and learn from different people. Kudos to Art Briles for allowing this. Plus, I think it will help in recruiting going forward. When a young man knows he can also play baseball, run track, etc. if he attends Baylor, it may increase their chances to land certain prospects.
7) TCU football held it’s own “Friday Night Lights” this past week for their spring game. Also, TCU unveiled three versions of their new uniforms (home purple, road white, and gray), along with two helmets. Much credit goes to head coach Gary Patterson, who was never a huge fan of spring games due to potential injuries and leaking information. But, Patterson has evolved on this issue, just like he did in reinventing his offense last season to an up-tempo style with new offensive coordinators Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham. The best in any industry know how and when to change and adapt. Patterson is proof of that.
8) Iowa State hosted their spring game on Saturday, and if the Cyclones want to get anywhere close to the .500 team they were a few years ago, it begins on defense. The Cyclones were second to last in the Big 12 in rush defense and dead last in pass defense in 2014. The most intriguing player for the Cyclones in the 2015 season is defense tackle Demond Tucker. Tucker was the JUCO defensive player of the year in 2013 and has 22.5 sacks the past two seasons. If Tucker can live up to expectations, anchor the line, and bring the defense back to respectability, that would be a huge boost for IS, and in turn help offensive coordinator (and genius, if I may add) Mark Mangino.
9) Here is our tweet of the week. Dennis Dodd wrote a good article regarding the Big 12, and how the private schools (Baylor/TCU) have taken over the conference from the powers (Texas/Oklahoma). Terry’s response is spot on … this is all a good thing for the Big 12. But, it would be better of OU/UT were just as good, right now, as Baylor/TCU. Hopefully that day comes soon.
10) Onto hoops … our best wishes to Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg as he undergoes his second, and hopefully his last, open heart surgrey this upcoming Friday. Hoiberg had his NBA career cut short in 2005 because of complications from his first surgery. Hoiberg has a pacemaker, and next week’s surgery will put a mechanical valve in his heart. He will be on blood thinning medication for the rest of his life.
Now, as this relates to Hoiberg potentially going to coach in the NBA … this is another reason I believe Hoiberg stays at Iowa State. The NBA is far more stressful. With bigger dollars, come bigger egos, more drama, decision making and more. Plus, he’ll be traveling for 41 road games per season, flying all over the country. He’s staying in Ames.
11) The Kansas Jayhawks got some good last week with the return of Wayne Selden Jr. for his junior season. The Jayhawks had already lost Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander to the NBA Draft. Selden made a team high 46 three pointers this season and was named to the Big-12 All Tournament team, while being an honorable mention selection in the conference. But, Selden’s last game of the season, he went scoreless in 23 minutes against Wichita State. With Selden returning, it gives the team one of their clear leaders for 2015-16, something Bill Self seemed to lack this season, and desperately needs for next season.
12) In addition, the Jayhawks are awaiting the decision on junior forward Perry Ellis, and whether or not he will enter the Draft. Honestly, I would be shocked if he left Lawrence. At best, Ellis is a second round draft pick. There’s nothing about his game that is spectacular. He’s not the best shooter, not the quickest, or the best dribbler, or the strongest, or the … you get the point. He’s a really good college player. But, he can give himself another year to try and improve his draft stock, and help his coach and his program, which could use his senior leadership next season.
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