Our first weekly “thoughts” column as we transition into basketball.
1) Has there ever been an easier decision than the one Oklahoma State football (and track) made dismissing Tyreek Hill from their respective teams? Incase you missed it, Hill was accused of assaulting his 8-week pregnant girlfriend. She went to the hospital with bruises and cuts on her neck and face, and had pains on her head and stomach, where she was allegedly hit. Her accounts of what happened are consistent with her injuries. Here is the arrest report if you want more details.
Anyway, Oklahoma State had no choice but to release Hill, a world class track athlete who was continuing to get better at football with each set of game reps. It reminds me of an interview I heard with a former NFL player. I can’t remember who it was or when, but he said something along the lines of “the NFL isn’t filled with the best and athletes players in the country. It is filled with the best players and athletes who stayed out of trouble.” It looks like Hill may fall into the category of players who didn’t make it because of off-field troubles. In the post-Ray Rice NFL, if Hill were eventually a good enough prospect, who would take a chance on him?
Side note: According to the police report, Hill said he was only being arrested for being black and she was white. Huh?? Truly amazing. Thanks, Al Sharpton.
2) Texas Tech found out late on Saturday night that 4-star quarterback Jarrett Stidham had decommited. Stidham was scheduled to enroll early in January and compete for the starting quarterback job in 2015. He is ranked the 4th best QB prospect in the country, and was the best quarterback commit in modern history of Texas Tech football.
This is just another example of how dirty the recruiting game can be in college football. We see decommitments often, but when was the last time a guy who was supposed to enroll early bail on that commitment in the final month? I am shocked. It looks like Baylor and TCU are front runners for Stidham. Baylor coach Art Briles used to coach at Stephenville HS (Texas), where Stidham attends. And it’s possible Stidham has seen the success of the Air Raid at TCU with OC’s Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham, and has interest in heading up to Forth Worth.But, heading to TCU means sitting a year behind Trevone Boykin. Either way, with two months until signing day, a top-5 quarterback prospect is on the market. This will be interesting.
3) I spent this past week watching both Kansas basketball games, against Georgetown and Utah. The Jayhawks won both games over good opponents. But I didn’t come away impressed by KU in either game. Granted, the Jayhawks are the 11th youngest team in the country. But there is no Andrew Wiggins or Joel Embiid on this team. Yes, they deserve credit for winning both games over tough competition. But, in both games they blew big leads, and the interior defense was especially concerning…
4) … this brings me to #4 … Kansas has won 10 straight Big 12 Titles, but with a stacked Conference, that streak is as in jeopardy as it’s been in recent seasons. I think there are a bunch of ‘really good’ Big 12 teams this season, but there isn’t that one guaranteed Final 4 contender. I could see anyone from the group of Kansas, Iowa State, Texas and Oklahoma pulling off a Conference Title. And like last season, the Big 12 could once again get seven teams into the NCAA Tournament.
5) Speaking of Kansas’ game against Georgetown. The Hoyas players wore the “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirts that have gained national attention as NBA players and teams have sported them in recent days with the grand jury decisions in Ferguson, MO and Staten Island, NY.
While players, including Josh Smith and D’Vauntes Smith- Rivera were quoted as saying it was a way to “show our condolences to the family”, and said it wasn’t meant to imply “the cops were wrong”. There is no doubt the t-shirt has an anti-police message in it. Two questions: I wonder of coach John Thompson III made sure his players read the documents and evidence presented to the grand jury in the Michael Brown case before discussing and allowing them to make an educated decision on the t-shirts? Also, maybe the Hoyas can spend the rest of their season heading to a from opponents arenas, and walking in and out of rowdy opponent arenas without a police force?
6) Everything that is wrong with college basketball referees was highlighted late in the first half of Oklahoma’s win over Tulsa. The referees went to the monitor to review a potential flagrant foul on Tulsa guard Marquel Curtis against Sooner forward TaShawn Thomas. Thomas set a screen, Curtis plowed through the screen, and caught Thomas below the belt. After nearly 5 minutes of real time the referees decided to give Curtis a flagrant foul. First off, I didn’t believe a flagrant should have been called, but that isn’t really the point. If it takes that long to look at a replay to determine a flagrant foul, then it probably isn’t one. And in turn, they ruined the pace and flow of the game.
7) So Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight has been cleared to practice and play in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Knight missed the final three regular-season games after suffering a neck injury against Baylor on November 8th. While the initial reaction might be positive from Sooners fans, I’m not convinced it is. I would have liked to have seen Cody Thomas get another three weeks of practice with the first team, and another start, to try and find out what they have in their freshman quarterback. We know what Trevor Knight is: an undersized dual-threat QB, injury-prone, decent wheels, decent arm, and won’t lead a team to the CFB Playoff IMO. I don’t know if Cody Thomas can. Early returns are he isn’t the long term answer. But through his 3 starts, Oklahoma offensive coordinator Josh Heupel hasn’t given him a very long leash. He’s 30/66 on the season for 342 yards, 2 TD’s and 4 INT’s. I would’ve liked to have seen Thomas get the 1st team reps and the start against Clemson, to find out if he has a chance to start and lead in 2015.
8) Can TCU fans relax a little bit about their basketball team being 10-0? Their wins over power 5 conference teams include Washington State (currently the only team under .500 in the Pac 12), and Mississippi State (lost to Tulane), and Ole Miss (lost to Charleston Southern). The Horned Frogs are led by senior guard Kyan Anderson, and with 4 starters back, are certainly improved over last season’s 0-18 record in the Big 12. But, let’s get to Conference play before we start talking about TCU as any kind of an NCAA Tournament team. In a loaded Big 12, with double round robin schedules, it’s entirely possible they finish Big 12 play with 2-4 wins.
9) Oklahoma State’s offense actually looks smoother without 1st-round pick, and now Boston Celtic Marcus Smart. While I was, and remain, a huge fan of Smart’s physical and tough play at point guard, he often tried to do it all by himself last season. He would dribble too much, and would stagnate the offense. With LSU transfer Anthony Hickey running the point, there is more ball movement and gives a better flow to the offense. This was once again on display Saturday in a 73-55 road win over Memphis. Hickey finished with a well rounded stat line: 19 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 5 steals. While the Cowboys also got 19 points from Phil Forte, 20 from Le’Bryan Nash, and 12 from Michael Cobbins.
10) Here is our anti-SEC/pro-Big 12 tweet of the week. Josh is spot on. SEC basketball, outside of Kentucky, is horrendous. The Wildcats could enter the NCAA Tournament undefeated this season.
11) It will be interesting to see how Baylor’s offense is affected, if at all, with the departure of offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, who became Tulsa’s head coach. Montgomery has spent most of his career with Briles, dating back to their days at Stephenville High School (Texas). While Briles, rightfully so, has gotten most of the accolades for the Baylor offense, it’s Montgomery who has been the playcaller.
As for Tulsa, they hit a home run with a guy that defines quarterback guru dating back to his time with Briles at Houston (Kevin Kolb, Case Keenum, Robert Griffin III, Nick Florence, Bryce Petty). And how about the American Athletic Conference’s western division? With Montgomery at Tulsa, former Clemson OC Chad Morris taking the head job at SMU, and Houston likely returning to their Air Raid roots … there will be some exciting football in the AAC!
12) Plan for the picks … with football’s regular season in the books, I’ve decided on how we will release our picks going forward. We will have a rundown of the bowl games, picking each game, as we get closer to kick off. Then, we will also start picks for Big 12 basketball games later this month. I admittedly haven’t watched a ton of hoops this season until this past week or so. I’d like to get a better feel for the teams before losing myself … or anyone else! … money.