There are many things people love about sports. The commitment, the competition and the excitement it brings are just a few that come to mind. Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of sports is tradition. Tradition fuels rivalries and provides for some of the greatest matchups in the history of sports. Yankees-Red Sox, Lakers-Celtics, Packers-Vikings, and North Carolina-Duke are some of the rivalries we have remaining today. Some of the most historic rivalries, though, may never occur again in the modern sports era.
Midwesterners have had to suffer through the recent dismantling of the Big XII as some of the most historic rivalries have died through conference realignment. The departure of Nebraska and Missouri to the Big 10 and SEC, respectively, have ended some of the longest standing rivalries in American sports. Kansas and Nebraska, two of the oldest programs in college football first played in 1892. It was the longest uninterrupted rivalry in collegiate athletics. They played annually from 1906 to 2010, making it the 2nd most played college football series ever, surpassed only by Wisconsin and Minnesota. Kansas also held the 3rd longest series with bitter rival Missouri, first playing in 1891, and every season since the inaugural Border Showdown. The rivalry held roots dating back to the Civil War when the free state Kansas “Jayhawkers” and pro-slavery “Bushwhackers” from Missouri actually fought during the Civil War. The rivalry carried over to the hardwood, providing one of the most entertaining and bitter rivalries in college basketball.
The East Coast has also been rocked by the recent realignment, with the Big East seeing storied programs Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame and Rutgers leaving for presumably greener pastures, with UConn and Louisville appearing primed to leave next. This could mark the end of the excitement of Big East basketball, which has been arguably the best conference for basketball over the past decade. The glory days of the Big East tournament are coming to a close, which is perhaps the saddest part of it all.
Recent events in collegiate athletics are beginning to ruin college athletics. It’s naïve to think that money wouldn’t be the driving force in collegiate athletics, but the sad truth is that is. The lifeblood of collegiate athletics has been these storied rivalries, but the driving force is the strength of the conference’s TV deals and the depths of their pockets. We may never see another 6 overtime thriller between two power-house Big East rivals like we did in the 2009 Big East quarterfinals between UConn and Syracuse. We will likely never see another Border Showdown between Mizzou and Kansas where National Title hopes are on the line, like we did in 2007. And with the future of the ACC uncertain with the departure of Maryland, who knows what will happen to rivalries like UNC-Duke.
It may be difficult for fans in certain parts of the country to understand the plight of fans in the Big XII and Big East alike. Just imagine if Michigan-Ohio State no longer played each other, or if any of the storied SEC rivalries like Auburn-Alabama or Florida-Georgia were no more. Collegiate athletics has started down a slippery slop and it is beginning to seem like fans should be prepared for anything at this point, as tradition and proximity have been thrown completely out the window. And if you, the reader, still do not have a problem with all of this conference shift shenanigans, just ask yourself this one question: would a sensible person put San Diego State in the Big East?
Edited By: Drew Agnello
The clock showed that there were two minutes and twenty-eight seconds left in the game. That’s how long the Kansas defense needed to withstand the Texas Longhorns to pull off an unexpected upset. 40,000 fans came into the homecoming game expecting a Texas blowout win over the struggling Jayhawks. However, fans from both sides got their money’s worth, and got to watch a great game as Kansas almost got their first Big 12 win this season.
The Kansas defense was average until the fourth quarter, when they collapsed. The Jayhawks gave up a total of 342 total yards, of which, 211 were rushing yards. At the same time, Kansas forced two interceptions against a traditionally great passing team. The Texas quarterbacks could not do anything against KU. Throwing only 23 passes combined, David Ash and Case McCoy completed only 13 of the thrown passes. The passing game was not working for the Longhorns, so coach Mack Brown resolved to a multitude of runners. The running game made up for much of the Texas offense Saturday, but it did not rock Kansas. This Kansas defense held Texas to 21 points, a team who averages over 44 points per game. The Jayhawk defense did everything they could to propel Kansas to their first win over a ranked opponent since 2010. Unfortunately for Kansas, this was not the day to end that streak.
The Kansas offense played decently against Texas. Tailback James Sims played well with 28 carries for 176 yards. Along with Sims, running backs Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox ran for a combined 79 yards. With all of the running by Kansas, the passing game was nowhere to be found. After quarterback Dayne Crist was benched a few weeks ago, freshman Michael Cummings has become the new offensive leader. However, the Jayhawks only threw the football nine times. Not only did they throw nine times, but Cummings only completed a total of three passes. As an offense, that is unacceptable. In order to beat a historically successful Texas football team, the opponent’s offense has to be balanced. With Kansas’ offense putting up very lopsided numbers, it was surprising to see Kansas competing. Texas’ defense allows over 229 passing yards per game and Kansas Coach Charlie Weis and his offensive staff failed to take advantage. This proved to hurt the Jayhawks’ chance of winning.
It is obvious that KU football has one major problem to fix. There is a shaky quarterback situation that needs to be resolved. Dayne Crist is not what fans expected, and it is now up to Michael Cummings to take over. This is not what Coach Weis and the fans were expecting. Although there was optimism among Kansas fans, their football team is already out of contention for a bowl game through 8 games.
Fortunately, there were some positives taken from the game. The Jayhawks have a great rushing game with threats from three different running backs. Their rushing tandem can prove to be lethal next week in Waco, Texas, against the Baylor Bears. Another positive from Saturday’s loss was how strong the Jayhawks defense was. The defense is what kept the game alive, until the very end.
There are definitely a few holes to fill for Kansas, but they can do it. The slogan “We Believe” is used in Lawrence regularly now. This clearly isn’t a type of bowl season that was shown in 2007, but Kansas can get back to a BCS bowl game someday. Until then, the Kansas Jayhawks need to come together, put points on the scoreboard, and beat somebody.
The Preseason Big 12 Media Poll was released the this past Thursday. The first two spots in the poll were not much of a surprise. The Oklahoma Sooners were picked first, and the West Virginia Mountaineers were picked behind OU. The most puzzling selection was putting the Kansas State Wildcats sixth. Let that sink in for a moment. A team that returns the second most starters in the league behind Texas Tech, and is coming off of a season in which they won 10 games and finished second in the conference standings, is picked sixth?
It has become very apparent that the media does not respect Kansas State and the job that Bill Snyder has done there. It is also very apparent that the media does not watch very much football. This is a team that has proven that they have what it takes to win close games. This is a team that returns essentially every piece to the puzzle that they had last year.
This is a team that has had 15 players placed on preseason award watch lists, which is a school record. You would think that the media would have learned their lesson last year when the predicted KSU to finish eighth, and they finished second. This is going to do nothing but light another fire under the players and they will come out as motivated as ever. All in all, this is just another example of how no one respects K-State. K-State will once again prove everyone wrong this Fall and finish much higher than sixth in the Big 12.
Now that all of the Big 12 teams have completed their spring practices, it is time to power rank the Big 12 teams heading into next fall.
The Sooners return quarterback Landry Jones, but will look to replace all time leading receiver Ryan Broyles. On defense OU has to replace Travis Lewis, Ronnell Lewis, and Frank Alexander. Although they have to replace a lot of production, OU still gets the nod at the top of the conference because of coaching and great recruiting.
2. Kansas State
K-State returns quarterback Collin Klein and most of their skill players on offense. They will have to replace most of their offensive line however. On defense, All-Big 12 linebacker Arthur Brown returns as well as shutdown cornerback Nigel Malone. Look for Bill Snyder’s Cats to play smart and not turn the ball over much in the fall.
3. West Virginia
Coming of a 70-33 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl, West Virginia has high hopes headed into 2012. They are led by Heisman hopeful QB Geno Smith and wide receiver Tavon Austin. Look for Dana Holgerson’s offense to put up monster numbers in his second season at the helm.
Gary Patterson’s squad plays smart and is very tough on defense. Expect a somewhat rough transition into the Big 12, although quarterback Casey Paschall will keep them in games.
Mack Brown’s squad has probably the best roster in the country, if you don’t include the quarterback position. If they can get that figured out, look for them to move up these rankings quick.
6. Oklahoma State
True Freshman quarterback Wes Lunt won the job in spring ball. That raises many questions about the offense if a kid that has been on campus for 3 months wins the job. OSU has a great coach in Mike Gundy, but it will be tough to replicate the numbers that Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon put up last fall.
7. Iowa State
Iowa State has two of the three best linebackers in the league in AJ Klein and Jake Knott. Their defense will be stout as always, but their offense will be questionable.
How is Baylor going to replace RG3? They have a good secondary returning, but replacing RG3 is critical. That’s the million dollar question that will determine Baylor’s fate in 2012.
9. Texas Tech
Tech returns a lot of players including quarterback Seth Doege, but they didn’t produce much last year. It will be interesting to see what Tommy Tuberville can cook up down in Lubbock this season.
New head coach Charlie Weis takes over the reigns in Lawrence. He brought in former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist to be his starter in 2012 which should ease the transition into his tenure at KU. Don’t expect much from the Jayhawks in 2012, however.
The University of Kansas suffered a major loss today when assistant coach Danny Manning decided to leave KU and become Tulsa’s next head coach. Manning has very deep roots with the Kansas basketball team. He was a player for KU and led them to the 1988 National Championship, and after his basketball playing career, was arguably one of KU’s best assistant coaches. He turned many raw big men into all-American type players. He coached Marcus Morris, Markief Morris, Darrel Arthur, Thomas Robinson, and Wayne Simien all of whom were stars at Kansas.
With Kansas losing Manning, the recruiting may suffer as well. Big men such as Tony Parker, one of the top centers in the 2012 recruiting class, may not go to KU because of Manning’s absence. Also, this will mean that future Kansas big men Perry Ellis, Zack Peters, and Landen Lucas will not have the luxury of one the best coaches in college basketball coaching them the next 4 years. With that being said Manning will forever be remembered as one of five greatest KU players of all time. Thank you foreverything Danny and without you the 1988 basketball team would not have been dubbed “Danny and the Miracles”.
Call me crazy, but I think the Tigers have a shot to win in Waco. With both teams sitting at 17-1 overall and 4-1 in the big 12, a lot is at stake in this highly anticipated match-up.
The Baylor Bears have been playing amazing basketball this season, but if the Jayhawks taught us anything a few days ago, it’s that they’re not unstoppable. Kansas was able to thump the Bears because of two things: great shooting, a high point total, and a hell of a show by Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson. Luckily, the Tigers excel in these areas.
Kansas shot 57% from the floor. Luckily, the Tigers are second in the nation averaging a 50% field goal percentage. Senior guard Kim English’s three-point percentage even eclipses that with an astounding 51.1%. The Tigers depend on their ability to shoot the basketball more than anything else. If English, Denmon, the Pressey brothers, and Mike Dixon are hot, watch out.
It’s not like Kansas played great defense either. The Bears scored 74 points against the Jayhawks, only three under their season average. Quincy Acy and Perry Jones also met their season averages, scoring in double digits and snatching a significant amount of boards off of the glass. The difference was, simply, Kansas outscored them. Missouri has a chance at this kind of win as well. The Tigers are fourth in the nation is points per game with 83, which shows that if the Tigers can keep the Bears at their average scoring rate, they have a legitimate shot at a W.
The last aspect of the game, which is what separates good teams from great ones, was outstanding play by the team leaders. Thomas Robinson was a man among boys with his 27 points and 14 rebounds, completely dominating the paint throughout the course of the game. Tyshawn Taylor, who has been of a bit of a disappointment this season, also gave the Jayhawks a boost. His 28 points and 6 assists broke the spirit of the Bears, and they were never able to recover from the 10-point deficit at half time.
If Missouri wants to win, a few players need to have an outstanding game: Missouri senior forward Ricardo Ratliffe has flown under the radar this season. What most people don’t know is that his 77.4 field goal percentage is the highest in the country. For the Tigers to compete against Baylor’s 6-11 giant Perry Jones, Ratliffe needs to be outstanding in the post. But Jones isn’t Baylor’s only threat. 6-7 forward Quincy Acy is right behind Jones in rebounding and scoring. Because of these dual big-man threats, Missouri might have to run Steve Moore and Ratliffe on the court at the same time. While the Tigers have done this before, it detracts from the run-and-gun offense their guards are best at.
The guards are also crucial. Seniors Kim English and Marcus Denmon must shoot over 50% from behind the arc. If guard Phil Pressey can create opportunities in transition, he can have a lasting impact on the game as well. This matchup should be a thriller. It’s for second place in the conference, a very high ranking in the country, and respect at the national level. For each side to win, the Bears must capitalize on the Tigers weaknesses in the paint, and the Tigers have to shoot the lights out in Waco. This is what Big 12 basketball is all about.
Tonight, the Kansas State Wildcats will welcome the Texas Longhorns into Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats are on a two game losing streak, while Texas is looking uncharacteristically vulnerable. This is a big game for Kansas State. If they win, they are comfortably back into the NCAA tournament conversation. If they lose, they are on the bubble. As for Texas, they are having a bit of a rebuilding year under head coach Rick Barnes. They lost a lot of players to the draft and graduation from last year. This is a statement game for the Longhorns. Win, and they put a good road win over a Top 25 team on their résumé. Lose, and they can basically say goodbye to their NCAA tourney hopes. I expect a physical match up that will come down to who wins the battle of the boards. Here’s how I see it playing out:
Frontcourt: K-State has too many bodies to throw at the Texas front line. Former starter Thomas Gipson is now coming off of the bench and so is freshman Adrian Diaz. Expect starters Jamar Samuels and Jordan Henriquez to out-physical the Texas front-court.
Backcourt: J’Covan Brown is an All-Conference caliber player, expect a good matchup between him and Rodney McGruder. K-State’s Will Spradling has been pretty average over the past couple of games and freshman guard Angel Rodriguez has been a non-factor. McGruder vs. Brown will be the matchup of the night.
Bench: K-State’s depth is one of their strong points and Texas’s bench is pretty average. Expect K-State’s strong front line to eventually wear down the Horns in the second half.
Coaching/Intangibles: K-State and Texas both really need this win. Coaches Frank Martin and Rick Barnes are trying to get their teams through a tough stretch, I’ll give a slight advantage to KSU simply because it’s at the Octagon.
Prediction: K-State played uncharacteristically bad in their weekend loss to Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Texas has been a bit of a disappointment this season. I like K-State to get back to their winning ways with a home win over a team they haven’t seemed to have much trouble with over the past few years.
K-State: 69 Texas: 60