First off … my apologies for a slow week on the site. I had some personal things to take care of that had me pretty tied up mid-week, and many of our writers were engrossed with end of the semester Finals. We will be back on track this week as we get closer to conference hoops action! Podcasts, interviews, more op-eds in the works ASAP. Anyway, here we go with our 12 thoughts …
1) Some in the Big 12 are starting to wise up … Oklahoma State AD Mike Holder is this year’s chairman of the Big 12 athletic directors, and said last week his message to colleagues was clear in the wake of being left out of the CFB Playoff : schedule better. Holder has fought with his own head coach, Mike Gundy, over this in recent seasons. Gundy is a proponent of easy non-conference schedules, while Holder is the one who has scheduled Florida State and Mississippi State, as openers the past two seasons. If the Big 12 ends up unable to get a Conference Championship game (waver via NCAA), then the non-conference scheduling becomes that much more important.
2) Speaking of this … have you seen the non-conference slate for the Big 12 next season? It’s absolutely embarrassing.
Three Big 12 teams – Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Kansas State – don’t play any Power 5 Conference opponents. As for the rest of the conference? Not much better. There are only 8 Big 12 games against other Power 5 Conferences (down from 10 this season), and two of them are courtesy of Texas (Notre Dame, California). The rest include Oklahoma @ Tennessee, Kansas @ Rutgers, TCU @ Minnesota, Texas Tech @ Arkansas, Iowa State vs. Iowa, and West Virginia vs. Maryland. For a conference that wants to be, and rightfully so, should be, considered one of the two best football conferences in America, they need to get on the field in September and prove it.
3) As we mention the Big 12 as one of the best football conferences in the country … how about this … when you combine football and basketball, and average out the two money making college sports, is it possible the Big 12 is the strongest conference in the country? Feel free to call me a homer, or someone just carrying the Big 12’s water, but I think that argument can easily be made. In football, the Big 12 is, at worst, the third best conference. In basketball, the Big 12 is, at worst, right now, the second best Conference in the country, with 8 of 10 teams receiving votes in the AP Poll last week. While the SEC is great in football, they have one basketball team worth a damn (Kentucky). The Pac-12 is also top 3 in football, and has strong hoops at the top (Arizona), but the bottom half leaves more than something to be desired. The ACC has very good hoops, but one elite football program, and the Big 10 mostly sucks at everything. So there ya go…
4) Now let’s get more into the strength of Big 12 basketball. With the Sooners loss Saturday night to Washington, that snapped the Big 12’s 28 game winning streak. It was the first loss for the Conference since December 6th. Sure, there are plenty of fluff games in there, but nonetheless, it’s an impressive stat that shows the strength of the Conference from top to bottom.
5) The previously aforementioned Sooners loss was a tough one to #16 Washington (69-67) on Saturday night. But, with OU with the ball, down a point on the final possession, Jordan Woodard faded away for a long two-point jumper and missed. Woodard took a low percentage shot, and wasn’t exactly the “hot hand”. He was 3 of 9 shooting on the day. Meantime, the ball never touched the hands of Isaiah Cousins (8/11 fg, 17 points), or Buddy Hield (5/13, 17 points) on the possession. I didn’t understand that. It’s unfortunate because it would’ve been a good win for the Sooners, a top-25 victory over a ranked team on a neutral court.
6) Staying with the Sooners … they picked up a huge commitment from linebacker Rick DeBerry out of Mechanicsville, VA. DeBerry is the 10th ranked LB in the nation, and a 6’2’’, 230, brings size, combined with athleticism and toughness, the Sooners haven’t had at the position in recent seasons. He’s the highest rated linebacker to attend OU since 2009 (Ronnell Lewis/Tom Wort). OU beat out Alabama, Texas A&M, Michigan State, and several others for his services. While fans are, rightfully so, fed up with linebackers coach Tim Kish, he recruited DeBerry, and is unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon.
7) Meantime, I hate to bring up such a sore subject… but Bob Stoops finally addressed re-kicking the ball during Bedlam in last week’s presser. He admitted that special teams coach Jay Boulware did not want to re-kick in the finals seconds, up 7 points. Stoops said he wanted to re-kick, with the idea of maybe pinning Oklahoma State deeper in their own territory, and running more time off the clock. This capped off a brutal season for Stoops, because the reasoning still makes no sense. I was always taught to weigh the risk/reward before making any decision, and the risk Stoops was taking far outweighed the reward … and that’s exactly what happened. Here’s the moment for you Oklahoma State fans to relive…. props to my old pal Dave Hunziker for the call on Learfield Sports.
8) Staying in Stillwater … Did you see the news from Oklahoma State wide receiver Jhajuan Seales? He spoke last week, two months after being arrested and jailed on a complaint of public intoxication. Incase you don’t know the back story, Seales fell asleep at the wheel of a Ford Focus positioned in the drive-through lane of a Whataburger. The cops said there was a strong odor of alcohol. Seales said, “I had to step up and make an apology to the team. I let them know that it wouldn’t happen again.” Correct, he will make sure he completes his order, gets home with a sober driver, tanks his half a dozen double meat whataburgers … and then passes out. Seales just had the sequence a bit off. He’s only a sophomore … he’ll learn.
9) Well this was probably the worst kept secret in the Big 12 … after decommitting from Texas Tech, five-star quarterback Jarrett Stidham committed to Baylor. The Stephenville H.S. QB (where Baylor’s Art Briles used to coach), was down to Baylor or Oregon, and chose the Bears. Great get for Briles, since Stidham will likely compete with Seth Russell to start next season. And it’s not as big a loss for Texas Tech as one might’ve thought a few weeks ago. I think Patrick Mahomes can be the real deal in Lubbock. Maybe it’s just the Mets fan in me rooting for Mahomes (his dad, Pat Mahomes pitched for the Mets in 1999-2000.)
10) Here is our tweet of the week. Spot on. The Aggies “little brother” complexion seems to be never ending…
11) The more I read from Kansas head coach David Beaty, the more I begin to like him. After a big week recruiting, landing eight mid-year JUCO transfers, Beaty deferred all the praise to assistants Reggie Mitchell along with former interim head coach Clint Bowen. Lot of respect for Beaty so far, and I’m still excited to see what he can do with that program.
12) We are just over a week away until the first of 7 Big 12 bowl games (OU – Clemson 12/29). Our picks against the spread will be released later this week, thinking Saturday. I frankly can’t get into any of these Bowl games that kick off before Christmas. Things start to get better on Friday, albeit incrementally (NC State v. UCF / Rutgers v. North Carolina).