Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Saturday lunch bunch

Odds 'n' ends on another steamy Saturday across the country:

- Methinks Oklahoma City got quite a steal when Perry Jones III dropped to late in the first round in the NBA Draft.  The Baylor big man would have certainly been a lottery pick in the 2011 draft but saw his draft stock drop dramatically due to a so-so 2011-2012 season coupled with questions about a knee problem once he got poked and prodded by NBA team scouts and coaches.  PJIII will go to the Thunder as a guy who can complement OKC's stud threesome of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden and won't have to be "the guy," a role Jones does not seem to relish.

- After a sizzling start, Sporting KC has thrown a rod.  SKC started 6-1 but now can't seem to put the ball into the back of the net.  Last night, in a loss to Chicago, Kansas City had 27 shots (five on goal) and eight corner kicks but failed to convert on any of the attempts.

- Super Bowl 2013 and regular season ad sales for NFL programming are recording record-high numbers.  CBS has sold 80 percent of the Super Bowl's game inventory with reports that 30-second units are going for an all-time high of $3.8 million.  Among those who plan to advertise are Pepsi, which is returning as title sponsor of the Super Bowl halftime show for the next four years.

- Athlon ranked the top coaches in college football based upon ability to build a program, recruiting, X's and O's, and consistent success.  It's no surprise that the magazine's editors rated Nick Saban, Alabama, as number one.  The rest of the top ten are:  Urban Meyer, Ohio State; Bob Stoops, Oklahoma; Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech; Chris Petersen, Boise State; Chip Kelly, Oregon; Gary Patterson, TCU; Steve Spurrier, South Carolina; Brian Kelly, Notre Dame; and Lane Kiffin, USC.  I think it's too early to throw Brian Kelly and Kiffin into that mix and would suggest that Les Miles of LSU should've been included.

- Kansas basketball has had success recruiting St. Louis but lost a high profile recruiting target two years ago when Bradley Beal announced he was going to Florida.  Beal ended up being the third player chosen in the recent NBA Draft and followed another St. Louisan--David Lee--who also spurned KU and Missouri to play for Billy Donovan.  Lee has gone on to a stellar career in the NBA and I suspect Beal will be a star in "the league" as well.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fun Big 12 football facts

- Last year, Big 12 conference games averaged 65.7 points per game.  In comparison, SEC games had a 45.3 points per game average.

- In 2011, the Big 12 had a 21-3 FBS non-conference record, the best mark of any conference.  The year prior, the league was just 30-17 in FBS non-conference games, the fourth-best among all conferences.

- Guess who's had the best record in the Big 12 over the past three years?  It's Oklahoma State, at 20-5, which is a full three games better than in-state rival Oklahoma.  In the 21 years prior, 1988-2008, the Cowboys were just 54-98 in Big 12 play.

- The Big 12 lost three first round NFL draft picks from the quarterback position.

- Since 2002, the Big 12 has had at least four teams ranked at the end of the season seven times.  The high marks were in 2007, 2008 and 2010 when five teams were ranked.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday morning quarterbacking

It's hard to believe that yesterday was a mid-June sports day given the final round of the U.S. Open golf tournament, game three of the NBA Finals, two matches in the European Championships (soccer), a Royals win over the St. Louis Cardinals, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. breaking a 143 race dry spell with a win in Michigan.

Let's throw it around a bit, shall we?

- There have been U.S. Opens on the west coast before but I can't remember one that ended in prime time on network television.  Yesterday's final round of the U.S. Open concluded around 9:00 p.m. Central.

- It was good to see Junior in the winner's circle yesterday.  The fan favorite has had several failed opportunities to win over the past couple of years, with plenty of questionable luck, but yesterday's win was not in doubt as he led the final 25 laps.  His last win was at this same Michigan track--almost four years ago.

- The Oklahoma City Thunder lost the rebounding battle last night to Miami, 38 boards to 45.  When Miami has won in the Finals, a big reason has been their ability to get second chance points through their offensive rebounding.  LeBron James was particularly effective inside with 14 boards.

- Perhaps the most compelling part of the U.S. Open broadcast was the special documentary, before play was televised, of the 1962 playoff duel between Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.  It was Nicklaus' first major victory and he unseated the popular Palmer at Arnie's "home course"--Oakmont in Pittsburgh, PA.  The special showcased the class of Nicklaus, who was undeterred at the crowd openly rooting for Palmer, and also featured him talking about the photo that he later saw where he had a cigarette in his mouth.  Nicklaus made the vow then to immediately quit smoking and to give back endorsement money to L&M as he did not want to be a negative influence on children watching the sport.

- The Royals are 5-1 since suffering a sweep to Pittsburgh.

- Joe Posnanski tweeted last night that Tiger Woods is a very good golfer but that he never will be "back."  I agree.  Woods will still thrill us with shots like the one at Memorial but his steely resolve is not what it once was and, let's face it, he's not getting any younger.  One has to question whether the various leg ailments have taken a toll.  Will Woods break Nicklaus' record for majors?  I doubt it given that the window of opportunity is rapidly closing. Woods is 34 and needs four more majors to tie Nicklaus and five to win the most ever.  Nicklaus won five majors between age 35 and age 46 to get to his 18.  It's hard for me to imagine Woods playing golf for 12 more years in his quest for the tie or the record.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Prepping for the U.S. Open

The folks at the U.S.G.A. and NBC have to be smiling this week as they consider a U.S. Open which will feature Tiger Woods, fresh off a spectacular win at The Memorial golf tournament, taking on the Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Let's throw out some thoughts as we get ready for the 112th playing of America's national golf championship.

- The first six holes at Olympic will be the hardest opening holes in all of championship golf.  The first hole is a doozy--a 520 yard par 4, converted from a par 5.  Look for players to arrive at seven tee with a scorecard showing one over or two over par...and feeling okay about it.

- Mark Twain once remarked "the coldest winter I ever experienced was a summer in San Francisco."  Look for the "city by the bay" to offer up some interesting climate conditions next weekend.

- Olympic features a par 5 which simply is not reachable in two shots--the 670 yard sixteenth hole.

- The history of the U.S. Open at this course includes many an upset--Jack Fleck over Ben Hogan in 1955, Billy Casper catching Arnold Palmer and winning a playoff in 1966, Tom Watson losing by one stroke to Scott Simpson in 1987, and Lee Janzen coming from five down at the start of the final round to beat Payne Stewart in 1998.

- Only four players have finished under par in the four previous U.S. Opens played at the Olympic Club, even though the course features no water hazards and no out-of-bounds.

- Everyone's fawning over Wood's amazing pitch shot last week at The Memorial (and it was an amazing shot) but let's not forget the shot he hit in the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, just a couple of hours down the road from the Olympic Club.  In the second round of that tournament, Woods gouged a seven-iron from 208 yards, in heavy rough, to within 12 feet on the sixth hole, which set up an eagle.  It was a shot which led NBC's Roger Maltbie to say, on air, "Guys, this isn't a fair fight."

- And the winner is:  I think, in keeping true to form at Olympic, that a relative unknown will win this tournament.  Look for Jason Dufner, Louis Oosthuizen or Nick Watney to win it all on Father's Day.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Hey, where's that guy who wrote "'s hard to predict that we aren't headed to a Heat-Spurs NBA Final."  Oh yeah--that was me!

Crow is eaten on 50% of that statement with the remainder of the fowl to be consumed tonight after the Celtics eliminate Miami in Boston.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Touchdowns, three-pointers and bogeys

Three-pointer:  Congratulations to the Kansas City region given the announcement yesterday that the Big 12 Mens Basketball Tournament will stay at Sprint Center from this season through 2016 with "first right" options in the years beyond.  This is a huge win for K.C.

Bogey:  Master's champion Bubba Watson and his wife, Angie, were tailed and chased by another car after hosting a Christian rock concert in Columbus, OH last night.  The driver of the tailing car eventually gave up and the Watsons were able to safely return to their hotel.  Watson is playing in The Memorial golf tournament this weekend in Dublin, OH.

Touchdown:  Phil Steele publishes the definitive preseason college football magazine, given the overwhelming amount of data used to make his various predictions.  The Steele publication for this season has just been published and Florida State is his preseason pick for a national champion.  Before you scoff, understand that Steele has correctly chosen two preseason national champs in the past five years and makes a compelling case for why FSU is a good choice, including the fact that they have 17 starters back as well as 68 lettermen.

Three-pointer:  It was good to see the Celtics win last night in Boston but it's hard to predict that we aren't headed to a Heat-Spurs NBA Final.  And, speaking of the NBA, congratulations to our buddy, Jamie Gallo, who was announced yesterday as the chief marketer at the league.  Gallo was at TBWA\Chiat\Day, New York.

Bogey:  Switching swing coaches has not been good for Gary Woodland.  The Kansas alum shot a 77-79 at The Memorial and missed the cut.  Woodland was #17 on the PGA Tour money list last year but is #110 thus far in 2012.

Touchdown:  Who will play the toughest college football schedule this season?  Steele says that "honor" goes to Notre Dame followed by Mississippi and Iowa State.  Baylor has the seventh most difficult schedule and Kansas is at 11.  Other notables are TCU, 16; Missouri, 19; and Oklahoma, 20.  Kansas State has the 34th most difficult schedule.