Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Stay or Go, Miami Dolphin Free Agents

With the NFL's free agency period about to start it's time to go through the Miami Dolphins free agents and decide who should stay and who should go.

Safety, Yeremiah Bell – Last season Bell registered 13 solo tackles and 8 assist along with 3 sacks for a loss of 53 yards which ties a Dolphin record. Bell also had a forced fumble, an interception and a fumble recovery. He had 4 passes defended.

Stay or Go? The Dolphins are deep at safety with seven on the roster led by veterans Lance Schulters and Tebucky Jones. It makes sense to keep Bell around because he is young and still has a huge upside. However, it doesn’t make sense to spend cap money on a guy you really don’t need. Go.

Receiver, David Boston – Last season Boston had 80 receiving yards on four receptions before suffering a season ending injury.

Stay or Go? Boston is a physical specimen and could be a serious threat if healthy. The problem is he hasn’t been healthy! He missed the entire 04 season and most of the 05 season. Go.

Center, Alonzo Ephraim – Ephriam started at right guard the final three games of the season and saw reserve action in the 10 games prior to that.

Stay or Go? Miami has struggled with their o-line for a while and Ephraim is young with experience. Stay.

Receiver, Bryan Gilmore – Gilmore had 5 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown last season.

Stay or Go? Again it becomes a issue of necessity. The Dolphins have 9 receivers on the roster and this is a position they can afford to let some players leave. Go.

Linebacker, Jason Glenn – Glenn recorded no stats for the Dolphins last season.

Stay or Go? There is no need in spending money on a guy who doesn’t contribute in any way. Go.

Tight End, Will Heller – Last season Heller had one catch for one yard and one touchdown.

Stay or Go? Two words Randy McMichael. Go.

Offensive Tackle, Stockar McDougle – McDougle started twice and made six other appearances last season.

Stay or Go? The Dolphins are thin at offensive tackle and should address the issue through the draft but McDougle would be worth keeping around. Stay.

Center, Seth McKinney – Mckinney started the first 13 games of the season before being injured. He was the only member of the offensive line to start all 16 games during the 04 season.

Stay or Go? McKinney will become the anchor of the Dolphins line. Stay.

Running Back, Travis Minor – Minor ran for 17 yards on 5 carries last season.

Stay or Go? Having Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown in the backfield limited the need for Minor last season. It looks like the Dolphins won’t have Williams in 06 but the bad news for Minor is that Sammy Morris is a free agent as well and Miami won’t keep both of them. Go.

Running Back, Sammy Morris – Morris had 58 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries last season.

Stay or Go? With the potential loss of Williams Morris will be good to keep around as a third down back and a back up to Ronnie Brown. Stay.

Quarterback, Sage Rosenfels – Rosenfels completed 34 of 61 passes for 462 yards and 4 touchdowns along with 3 interceptions for a 81.4 passer rating. He was never sacked.

Stay or Go? The Dolphins are in desperate need for a solid QB and I’m not for sure that Rosenfels isn’t the best QB on the roster. He has been the locker room favorite for a few seasons and his coming off the bench to lead the Dolphins to a few com from behind victories helped boost that status. Stay.

Receiver, Cliff Russell – Russell was a reserve player who was inactive for part of the season and recorded no stats.

Stay or Go? Russell was signed when Boston went down for the season and wasn’t able get on the field. Go.

Defensive Tackle, Josh Shaw – Who?

Stay or Go? Go

Corner Back, Kiwaukee Thomas – Thomas recorded 6 solo tackles last season.

Stay or Go? Thomas played as a reserve in nine games last season and was inactive for six games. It’s hard to see a guy who wasn’t on the active roster all season getting resigned. Go.

Sooners Fall to Wichita State

The Sooners got off to a quick start on Tuesday with a solo home run by Chuckie Caufield to lead off the game. But after the Sooners would only score one more time as the Shockers got the bats going in the third inning in route to a 12-2 win over Oklahoma.

The OU bullpen, consisting of Nate Hammons, John Brownell, Will Savage and Nich Conaway, combined to allow nine earned runs.

"Despite the loss, there were a couple positives to today's game," said OU head coach Sunny Golloway. "One thing was that today it allowed our hitters to get into a rhythm because they saw live pitching in a mid-week game for the first time this season. In addition, we also had a opportunity to roll out a fourth starter which we have not bee able to do this year. I thought Ryan Mottern had good stuff today but he didn't have command of the strike zone.”


Rank Team Record
1 Duke (2) 27-1
2 Memphis (3) 24-2
3 Connecticut 25-2
4 Villanova 22-3
5 Gonzaga 24-3
6 George Washington 24-1
7 Texas 24-4
8 Ohio State 21-4
9 Pittsburgh 20-5
10 Tennessee 20-5
11 Illinois 23-5
12 UCLA 22-6
13 Boston College 22-6
14 North Carolina 19-6
15 Florida 22-6
16 Washington 22-5
17 West Virginia 19-8
18 LSU 20-7
19 Georgetown 19-7
20 Oklahoma 19-6
21 Kansas 20-7
22 N.C. State 21-7
23 Iowa 20-8
24 Michigan State 19-9
25 Nevada 22-5
How I voted

Monday, February 27, 2006

That’s Why They Call It Bedlam!

On senior night at Oklahoma it was OU’s three seniors who let the Sooners to victory in one of the wildest finishes in Bedlam history.

After trailing the Cowboys 57-48 senior Guard Terrell Everett capped an 11-2 Oklahoma run with a three pointer to tie the game 59-59.

Byron Eaton hit a 26 foot three point bomb at the shot clock expired to give OSU a 64-61 lead with 34 seconds left.

Senior forward Taj Gray would pull Oklahoma within one point on a quick lay-up to make the score 64-63.

OSU’s JamesOn Curry missed the front end of a 1 and 1 with 14 seconds left in the game and Oklahoma’s Mike Neal would find senior forward Kevin Bookout wide open for a two handed jam that put OU up 65-64 and would send Bookout to the free throw line for a chance at a three point play with 8.8 seconds left.

Bookout missed the free throw and Neal would foul OSU guard Jamaal Brown sending him to the charity stripe for a 1 and 1. Brown made both free throws with 4.7 seconds left giving the Cowboys a 66-65 lead and the Sooners put the ball in the hands of their third senior, guard Terrell Everett.

Driving down the floor Everett was fouled by Eaton (pictured up top) on a blocking call forty feet from the basket. OSU coach Sean Sutton initially made the traveling motion with his hands and then flopped to the floor when he realized the call was against Eaton.

The Eaton foul put Everett at the free throw line with the game on the line. The senior guard made them both with sixth tenths of a second left putting the Lloyd Noble crowd in a frenzy and giving Oklahoma their fourth consecutive one point victory 67-66.

I was at the game and was confused by the final call because it came well after the whistle was blown. It took what seemed an eternity for the ref to make the blocking motion, but it was the right call.

Watching the highlights on SportsCenter Eaton was clearly out of position and even began falling backward before there was any contact, and it was unnecessary. The percentages of Everett making a forty foot shot are a lot slimmer than him making two free throws.

Besides winning the “Big Monday” Bedlam match-up the Sooners also;
• Achieved their second regular season sweep of the Cowboys under Kelvin Sampson (they did it in 1999).
• Got to 20 wins for the ninth consecutive season.
• Got to an 11-4 league record, marking the eighth time in 10 Big 12 seasons that they reached 11 victories.
• Had a final 14-1 home record this season. OU improved to 28-2 over the last two seasons at Lloyd Noble Center.
• Have 11 victories in their last 13 games.

My Player of the Game
To win a game like this you have to have a player come out of nowhere and make a serious contribution. That player was Nate Carter (who looks like he has four arms).

Nate Carter

12 points
2 rebounds
2 steals

Davin Joseph's Post-Combine Diary

Former OU tackle Davin Joseph checked in again with SportingNews.com reporting on his weekend performance.

Here are a few excerpts from his draft diary.

On trying to sleep the night before his workout.
After I finished eating, I got ready for bed and I was hoping to be asleep by 10:30 p.m. But I started thinking about the next morning and I actually got nervous. I was trying to picture everything in my mind and I guess I got myself so worked up I just could not fall asleep. I knew Saturday was the day I had dreamed about for so long, but for whatever reason I could not find a way to fall asleep so I could literally dream about it.

I tossed and turned for about an hour and a half. My roommate, Mike Bell, couldn't sleep either, so we ordered a movie.

On his performance.
I think the 40 must be the most hyped-up drill in all of sports, but I still recognize its importance. Once I stepped up to the line, all I could think about was how everyone says this one drill can make or break a player. I had all these thoughts running through my head and I was starting to get nervous again. But then I just let it go and ran as hard as I could. The first time I think I ran a 5.15, I'm really not sure, but the second time the electronic clock had me down at 5.09.

I am definitely pleased with my 40 time because I met the goal I had set for myself. In fact, I reached every goal I had set prior to the Combine. I had a broad jump of 9 feet 3 inches and a vertical of 32 inches.

How he feels about his draft status.
Now that the whole Combine experience is over, I think I accomplished my goal of proving that I was the most athletic guard out there. It also can't hurt that my agent is pleased. He somehow knew my Combine results before I could even call and tell him. Right now he thinks I put myself in a position to be drafted late in the first round, and that is an incredible feeling.

You can read Davin’s full draft diary here.

Sooners Going for Bedlam Sweep

It’s Senior Night at OU as Kevin Bookout, Terrell Everett and Taj Gray will take the floor for the last time. To make it even better it’s Bedlam!

Just a few weeks ago (Feb. 8) the Sooners won in Stillwater for the first time since 2000 when they beat the Cowboys 73-65. In that game Terrell Everett scored 23 points (the third most of his career) and added five rebounds and five assists while Kevin Bookout registered 13 points, Michael Neal had 12 and Taylor Griffin posted 10.

Despite playing better as of late (the Cowboys have won 2 out of their last 3) OSU will still have the match-up problems they had three weeks ago in Stillwater. OSU seemed to have no answer for Kevin Bookout and Taj Gray. They were able to limit one but not both. Terrell Everett was unstoppable and Michael Neal is the zone killer.

Neal is averaging 17.2 points over the last 11 games on 50-for-95 (.526) 3-point shooting. Usually OU’s sixth man, Neal has started the last four games in place of injured Austin Johnson and is averaging 22.0 points and 5.8 treys over those four games.

Scouting the Cowboys
F 4 Mario Boggan (6-7, 240, Jr., 14.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 0.9 apg)
C 40 Kenny Cooper (6-10, 260, Fr., 2.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 0.3 apg)
G 00 Byron Eaton (5-11, 215, Fr., 7.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 3.2 apg)
G 10 Jamaal Brown (5-10, 200, Jr., 5.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 1.1 apg)
G 24 JamesOn Curry (6-3, 190, So., 13.8 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 4.1 apg)

Oklahoma State has won two of its last three games to improve to 15-13 on the season and 5-9 in the Big 12. The Cowboys knocked off then-No. 6 Texas on Feb. 19, 81-60, followed with a 68-52 loss at Iowa State and then beat Texas Tech on Saturday, 74-63. OSU, which leads the Big 12 with its .483 field field goal percentage and its .744 free throw figure, is 10-5 at home this year and 3-6 on the road. Its three road victories came at Pepperdine, Baylor and Kansas State.

Junior forward Mario Boggan leads the Cowboys with his 14.0 and 5.8 scoring and rebounding averages. He is shooting .575 from the field to rank second in the conference and owns a .807 free throw mark to rank third. Sophomore guard JamesOn Curry averages 13.8 points and 4.1 assists per outing, and has made a team-high 54 treys (shooting .378 from behind the arc). Torre Johnson, a junior forward, supplies 10.7 points and 4.4 boards a game while shooting .559 from the field. David Monds is another junior forward who averages 8.2 points and 5.2 rebounds a game. He is shooting .523 from the floor. Freshman point guard Byron Eaton, who has started 24 of 28 games, averages 7.4 points, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals.

It will be an emotional night for the Sooners and I like them to win going away 77-62.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Sooners go 2-1 at Service Acadamies Classic

The Sooners went 2-1 in the Service Acadamies Classic this weekend. After losing the first game 2-1 to Memphis on Friday OU bounced back to beat Indiana State 6-3 on Saturday and nationally ranked Notre Dame 4-3 on Sunday.

The Sooners are 2-1 against ranked teams this season with wins over Long Beach State and Notre Dame and a loss to Rice.

In the win over the Irish the Sooners rallied from behind and took the lead for good in the seventh inning off a Kody Kaiser (pictured) double to right center that scored Joseph Hughes and Kevin Smith.

“We got another outstanding pitching performance from our starter today,” said OU head coach Sunny Golloway, who is 21-9 at the Sooners’ helm. “P.J. (Sandoval) put together another quality start and he has been great for us in three straight weeks. His performance allowed us to get into a flow against a good team like Notre Dame.”

The Sooners are 9-3 on the season and will host Wichita State on Tuesday.

Big 12 Baseball Standings
Texas A&M 0-0-0 10-1-0
Oklahoma State 0-0-0 5-1-0
Baylor 0-0-0 6-2-0
Kansas State 0-0-0 3-1-0
Oklahoma 0-0-0 9-3-0
Texas Tech 0-0-0 9-3-0
Kansas 0-0-0 10-4-0
Nebraska 0-0-0 5-2-0
Texas 0-0-0 9-6-0
Missouri 0-0-0 5-4-0

My CBBA Vote

Gone from my ballot this week are Iowa and Michigan and new are LSU and North Carolina. I also shook up the top 10 by moving Texas, Washington and George Washington in.

()= Where I placed them last week.
1. Memphis (1)
2. Duke (2)
3. Connecticut (4)
4. Gonzaga (5)
5. Villanova (3)
6. Ohio State (10)
7. Texas (11)
8. Washington (12)
9. George Washington (16)
10. Boston College (6)
11. Tennessee (7)
12. Pittsburgh (8)
13. Kansas (13)
14. Florida (9)
15. LSU (NR)
16. UCLA (20)
17. North Carolina (NR)
18. Oklahoma (22)
19. George Mason (17)
20. West Virginia (18)
21. Illinois (19)
22. Georgetown (25)
23. Colorado (23)
24. N.C. State (14)
25. Michigan State (15)
The official CBBA poll will be released tomorrow.

Close Encounter for the Third Time

OU won their third straight game Saturday by one point which I guess is better than losing their third straight. The 71-70 win over Kansas State (same score they beat Texas Tech by on Monday night) put the Sooners at 19-6 for the season and 10-4 in conference.

"We're playing good enough to win, and that's a great attribute to have," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "Our kids know how to win games."

Taj Gray was the man of the day scoring 23 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1:15 to play and Terrell Everett added a double-double with 12 points and 10 assists.

After Gray hit a turnaround jumper from to give Oklahoma a 71-70 lead with 1:15 left Kansas State still had a few chances to win the game.

Kevin Bookout blocked David Hoskins' shot in the lane to give the Sooners the ball back in the final minute. Then Terrell Everett let the clock run down before pushing into the lane and missing a difficult left-hander with about 20 seconds left. That set up the Wildcats for the final possession.

Akeem Wright took the inbounds pass with 10.6 seconds left and dribbled upcourt before passing to David Hoskins in the lane. Hoskins' turnaround shot fell into Dramane Diarra's hands, but he was unable to score against Bookout as the buzzer sounded.

"That's nuts," said Bookout. "I don't think I've ever played in three games back-to-back-to-back where it's been one point like this. I don't know. It's weird."

Michael Neal joined Gray and Everett in double figure scoring with 15 points but shot only 3-9 from beyond the three point line. Saturdays win was OU’s 8th in a row against the Wildcats. It also locks up a top four finish for the Sooners and guarantees a first round bye in the conference tournament.

My Player of the Game

Taj Gray
23 points
4 rebounds
3 blocks
1 steal

Big 12 Men's Basketball Standings
Texas 12-2 24-4
Kansas 11-3 20-7
Oklahoma 10-4 19-6
Colorado 8-6 18-7
Texas A&M 8-6 18-7
Nebraska 7-7 17-10
Texas Tech 6-8 14-14
Kansas State 5-9 14-11
Iowa State 5-9 15-12
Oklahoma State 5-9 15-13
Missouri 4-10 11-14
Baylor 3-11 3-11

Hook'em Up at the IHOP

Imagine stepping out of college and into a multibillion dollar per year industry where you will be taking home millions yourself. That is what Texas safety Michael Huff and dozens of other first round draft picks are looking at in just a little more than a month from now.

Of course these guys do work for the money they are earning. Not only does playing division I football require an athlete to be in top shape it also requires them to maintain their physical ability and improve on it during the off-season. Then when then their college career is over the have to step it up a notch to prepare for the NFL draft combine.

Huff has been working out at Athletes' Performance in Phoenix, AZ. Here is an excerpt from his weekly draft diary on his workouts.

"After several weeks of working out in Arizona in preparation for the draft, my strength and conditioning regimen doesn't seem to be changing much. I've been working really hard, though. The trainers here at Athletes' Performance in Phoenix have been focusing on my strength and fast-twitch muscles.

This week I did get the chance to work on some hydraulic air weights. They were like nothing I had ever seen, like something out of this world. They basically look like a normal bench press, but without the plates on each side. I do know they give the exact same burn as the normal bench."

Of course at this point it’s all about improving your draft position and increasing your income. There is no doubt Huff will be raking in the dough after he is selected in the first round on April 29.

So what does Huff plan to invest his money in? Instead of being all about the Benjamin’s it’s all about the pancakes.

"Since the draft is quickly approaching, I've been thinking about what I'll buy with my first professional paycheck. A lot of people are probably expecting me to say that I'd buy a big house, and that's partly true. But it's not what you think. The first house I buy will be the one with the blue roof on it that says "IHOP." It has been a dream of mine to own my own International House of Pancakes, and someday I will. Just last week I ate there five or six times, and about every time I got the same thing, pancakes and shrimp. It's a cool feeling to know that someday I'll get to eat at my IHOP whenever I want."
You can read Huff's full draft diary at SportingNews.com

Friday, February 24, 2006

Auto Club 500 Notes

Andi checks in this week with her picks for the Auto Club 500 and gives us an update on her fantasy league.

Here are my picks for this week... primary picks are #38 Elliot Sadler, #5 Kyle Busch. My back up picks are #24 Crybaby Gordon, #99 Carl Edwards, and #9 Kasey Kahne. I am currently tied in 10th place with 77 points in the fantasy cup. Nevermind that there are only like 14 people in it... or maybe 12. Anyway...

Meanwhile the driver I decided to follow this season, Jamie McMurray is ranked 36 in the Nextel Cup standings after crashing with 4 laps left in the Daytona 500 last week.

McMurray finished 25 in the qualifying for the Auto Club 500 with an average speed of 183.090 mph.

Feel free to leave your picks and predictions for Sunday's race.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Sooners Looking for Post Season Honors

With the basketball season winding down and March madness just days away it’s time to start thinking about post season awards. There are four Oklahoma men’s basketball players who are candidates for post season accolades. Here they are along with the awards they should be considered for.

Jr. Michael Neal
All-Big 12 Candidate
Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Candidate

• Ranks second in the nation in 3-point field goals in conference games (4.4).
• Has made 26 treys over the last four games, representing the most by a Sooner over a four-game span in school history.
• Averaging 24.3 points and 6.7 3-pointers over the last three contests (had 26 points and seven treys at Colorado Feb. 15, a career-high 29 points and a career-high eight triples Feb. 18 against Iowa State and 18 points and five more treys Feb. 20 at Texas Tech).
• Owns a Big 12-best .523 field goal percentage in conference play. No guard has ever led the Big 12 in field goal percentage in league games for an entire conference season.

Sr. Terrell Everett
All-Big 12 Candidate

• Ranks third in the nation in assists with 6.7 per game.
• Averaging 10.3 assists over the last four games.
• Averages 14.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7.1 assists and 1.8 steals in Big 12 games.
• Has led Oklahoma in assists in 21 of 24 games.
• Has scored in double figures in 10 of the team's 11 conference games.
• Registered 25 points, seven rebounds and eight assists in win over No. 4 Texas on Jan. 28.

All-Big 12 Candidate

• Leads Sooners in scoring (14.0 ppg) rebounding (8.1 rpg), blocked shots (1.4 bpg) and field goal percentage (.566).
• Ranks third in Big 12 in rebounding and third in field goal percentage.
• A first-team NABC all-district selection.
• Has five double-doubles on the season.
• Has shot .500 or better from the field in 19 of 24 games this year.

Sr. Kevin Bookout
All-Big 12 Candidate

• Averaging 11.3 points and 7.1 rebounds a game while shooting .563 from the field.
• Has played with a broken bone in his left wrist (sustained Jan. 21).
• Ranks sixth in Big 12 in rebounding and fifth in conference games (7.0 rpg).
• Has shot .500 or better from the field in 18 games this season.

You can read more about the OU candidates along with all their credentials at Sooner Sports.com.

Bedlam Basketball Contest is Back

The My Opinion on Sports Bedlam contest is back! Pick the score of Monday night’s OU/OSU game and win your choice of an OU or OSU watch. It’s that simple! Here are the official rules.

• All picks have to be made before 8:00 pm CST Monday.
• All picks must be posted here and e-mailed to dolphinfan73132@yahoo.com (so I will be able to contact you if you win.)
• All picks must include a tie-breaker.
• Tie-Breaker is the total combined turnovers.

The winner is the one who correctly picks the winning score. In case more than one person has the winning score then tiebreaker will decide the winner. Good Luck!

You can view the watches by clicking on the Oklahoma Watches banner on the upper right corner of the page. The watch I am giving away is the agent series.

Go ahead and leave your pick and don’t forget the tie breaker.

Davin Joseph on the Scouting Combine

Former Oklahoma guard Davin Joseph has agreed to keep an online journal for the Sporting News as he goes through this weekend’s NFL scouting combine. Here are a few quotes from Joseph’s latest entry.

A little about his first day
Before taking more physical tests, we had another meeting where we were told what was expected of us this weekend and how to conduct ourselves in interviews. This is all old stuff to me by now, but in a situation like the Combine, it is easy to get irritable and lose your temper. I think the best way to control that is to have fun with the interviews and the poking and prodding of tests. Yes, it gets annoying at times, but it will happen only once, so you have to go in with a positive mind-set.

What teams are interested in him
Finally, I interviewed with team representatives from about 8 to 10:30 pm. I interviewed with a lot of teams at the Senior Bowl, but last night I talked to the Raiders, Bucs, Seahawks, Packers, Jets, Titans, Panthers and Steelers. Hopefully I didn't miss any, but I know I have more interviews today. They were all asking similar questions about your outlook on life, family history, goals and so on. You have to make sure you are consistent with your answers, though, because the NFL is like a big fraternity and they definitely share information.

What’s Next?
Today I will be taking the bench press test and I hope to get in at least 25 reps of 225 pounds. Then I am sure there will be more team interviews.

I can't wait for the offensive line workouts Saturday morning. It's time to show what I got. I know everyone hypes the 40, so I want to make sure I don't run slower than 5.1 seconds. I just have to be ready to flip that switch and go full speed.

You can read Davin's full journal entry at the Sporting News.com.

Check Out My Renter!

My renter this week is the Mystickal Incense blog. Stephanie is renting both of my blogs this week and I really wanted to say thanks for the B.E. credits.

Mystickal Incense is the weblog of the website Mystickal Incense & More. It not only features occasional site news and product announcements, but a look into the personal life of the owner, Stephanie Davies. Stephanie hand-makes all of the incense, candles, bath & body products, and other items sold at Mystickal Incense. For this purpose, this is both a personal and business blog. Welcome!

Ckeck out Mystical Incense by clicking on the thumbnail at the upper right on the page.

The Sporting News Knows!

I have been touting the crowd here in OKC in regards to New Orleans/OKC Hornets basketball and now it looks like the Sporting News is on to the NBA’s surprise as well. Here is an excerpt from TSN’s article on the Hornets.

Paul and West have made the biggest difference for the Hornets, but the team's home-court advantage in Oklahoma City also has the league buzzing. In New Orleans, the Hornets finished last in attendance last season, which was just their third in the Big Easy. In Oklahoma City, they sold 10,000 season tickets in no time. The fans not only have turned out, they have shown up with a zeal that makes the atmosphere at Ford Center feel like a jam-packed college gym.

"This team fighting for the playoffs in this place? It's going to be bonkers," a Western Conference scout says. "That's what everyone is saying across the NBA. They think Oklahoma City is nuts. The fans are great."

Sooners Drop One Spot In RPI Rankings.

After losing to Colorado last week the Sooners only dropped one spot in the latest RPI rankings and are only five spots behind Texas for the highest ranked Big 12 team.

Here are the teams ranked 1 – 64. For the complete RPI listings click here.

1 1 Duke Atlantic Coast 25-1
2 2 Villanova Big East 21-2
3 4 Connecticut Big East 23-2
4 3 Tennessee Southeastern 19-4
5 5 Memphis Conference USA 24-2
6 6 Pittsburgh Big East 20-4
7 8 Ohio St. Big Ten 19-4
8 10 Michigan St. Big Ten 19-7
9 12 Gonzaga West Coast 23-3
10 9 Iowa Big Ten 20-7
11 7 Texas Big 12 22-4
12 13 Illinois Big Ten 22-4
13 16 Wisconsin Big Ten 18-7
14 11 UCLA Pacific-10 20-6
15 14 Oklahoma Big 12 18-6
16 15 LSU Southeastern 18-7
17 20 Arizona Pacific-10 16-10
18 22 North Carolina St. Atlantic Coast 21-5
19 23 North Carolina Atlantic Coast 17-6
20 27 George Mason Colonial 21-5
21 35 Marquette Big East 18-8
22 18 Florida Southeastern 22-4
23 17 UNI Missouri Valley 22-6
24 21 Wichita St. Missouri Valley 21-7
25 25 Missouri St. Missouri Valley 18-7
26 32 Cincinnati Big East 18-9
27 28 Syracuse Big East 19-8
28 31 Nevada Western Athletic 21-5
29 26 Georgetown Big East 17-7
30 29 Creighton Missouri Valley 18-7
31 30 Michigan Big Ten 17-7
32 19 West Virginia Big East 18-8
33 36 George Washington Atlantic 10 22-1
34 33 Boston College Atlantic Coast 21-5
35 39 Washington Pacific-10 20-5
36 24 Southern Ill. Missouri Valley 18-9
37 43 Alabama Southeastern 15-9
38 45 UNC Wilmington Colonial 20-7
39 40 Bucknell Patriot 21-4
40 44 Kentucky Southeastern 17-9
41 38 Kansas Big 12 19-6
42 48 Western Ky. Sun Belt 20-5
43 34 Seton Hall Big East 16-8
44 37 Indiana Big Ten 13-10
45 42 Maryland Atlantic Coast 16-9
46 49 Colorado Big 12 17-6
47 55 Hofstra Colonial 20-5
48 47 St. Joseph's Atlantic 10 11-12
49 46 Air Force Mountain West 21-5
50 56 Utah St. Western Athletic 18-6
51 63 Bradley Missouri Valley 16-9
52 51 Old Dominion Colonial 19-8
53 50 UAB Conference USA 19-5
54 41 Wis.-Milwaukee Horizon 18-8
55 59 Houston Conference USA 18-6
56 66 Arkansas Southeastern 17-8
57 60 Brigham Young Mountain West 16-7
58 52 South Carolina Southeastern 14-11
59 58 Vanderbilt Southeastern 14-9
60 67 Florida St. Atlantic Coast 16-7
61 73 Minnesota Big Ten 13-10
62 57 Temple Atlantic 10 14-10
63 62 San Diego St. Mountain West 18-7
64 81 Louisiana Tech Western Athletic 17-10

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Gary Nelson, NASCAR vice-president of research and development, announced he is leaving the sanctioning organization to form his own company. "It has been a lifelong dream of mine to have my own company that specializes in safety, performance and other technology-driven aspects of motorsports," said Nelson. "I've been thinking about it for a long time and now is a good time to do it. 'Nelson & Associates’ will be open for business right away and I’m delighted that NASCAR will be my first client.” With NASCAR as a client, Nelson will continue his efforts on the Car of Tomorrow and other safety initiatives for the racing industry. “Gary has been a great contributor to NASCAR’s success,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton, “beginning as a crew member, then as a championship crew chief and, most recently, as a leader in NASCAR’s commitment to safety. “This is something he has always wanted to do and it will be a great opportunity for Gary to take advantage of his racing knowledge and make it available to the entire motorsports industry. We look forward to continuing our relationship with Gary in this new role,” Helton said. Nelson will use his quarter-century of experience in NASCAR racing and make it available to other forms of racing.

Hall of Fame Racing has an engine lease program with Joe Gibbs Racing, and the unapproved carburetor came with the engine supplied to Hall of Fame Racing. "Joe Gibbs Racing provides all of the engines and carburetors for Hall of Fame Racing," said Gibbs. "We are responsible for any issues having arisen from the unapproved carburetor that was taken by NASCAR in Daytona. It is never our intention to put any unapproved parts on any of our race cars or those of our partners. We will join Hall of Fame Racing in appealing the severity of the penalty."

#48 and #96 Penalties Announced:
NASCAR announced that four penalties have been issued to two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams, as a result of rule violations this past weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

Chad Knaus, crew chief for the #48 Chevrolet driven by Jimmie Johnson, has been fined $25,000 and suspended from all NASCAR events until March 22, 2006 [thru Atlanta race]. Knaus has also been placed on probation until Dec. 31, 2006. The penalties come because of an unapproved template modification to the rear window area, violating Sections 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 20-3.12.1 (A) (unapproved template modification.) of the 2006 NASCAR Rule book. The violation was discovered during Feb. 12 post-qualifying inspection for the Daytona 500. On Feb. 13, NASCAR ejected Knaus from further participation in Daytona 500 activities as a result of the violation.[No Point Penalties]

Three penalties were assessed to the #96 Chevrolet team, due to the use of an unapproved carburetor, a violation of Section 12-4-A (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4-Q (car, car parts, components and/or equipment that do not conform to NASCAR rules) of the 2006 NASCAR Rule Book. Crew chief Philippe Lopez was fined $25,000; driver Terry Labonte was penalized with the loss of 25 driver championship points; and car owner William Saunders was penalized 25 owner championship points. This rule violation was also discovered during post-qualifying inspection for the Daytona 500.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New #1 in CBBA Poll

Rank Team Record
1 Villanova (2) 21-2
2 Duke (1) 25-1
3 Memphis (2) 24-2
4 Connecticut 23-2
5 Gonzaga 22-3
6 Texas 22-4
7 George Washington 22-1
8 Pittsburgh 20-4
9 Florida 22-4
10 Tennessee 19-4
11 Ohio State 19-4
12 Illinois 22-4
13 Boston College 21-5
14 West Virginia 18-7
15 UCLA 20-6
16 Michigan State 19-7
17 Iowa 20-7
18 North Carolina State 21-5
19 Washington 20-5
20 Kansas 19-6
21 Oklahoma 17-6
22 Georgetown 17-7
23 LSU 18-7
24 George Mason 21-5
25 North Carolina 17-6

Others receiving votes:
Nevada 10, Wisconsin 4, Colorado 3, Northern Iowa 2, Michigan 2

Here is how I voted.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sooners "Tip" toe to a Sweep of the Red Raiders

Oklahoma narrowly missed another double digit collapse on Monday night and Texas Tech narrowly missed upsetting nationally a nationally ranked team.

Jarrius Jackson's 3-pointer with 1:30 left wiped out a 10-point deficit and brought the Red Raiders into a tie at 68.

After Texas Tech took a 46-44 lead on a four-point play by Jackson. The Sooners went on a 16-4 run that included three straight 3-pointers from the same spot by Big 12 rookie of the week Michael Neal and another by David Godbold to go up 60-50 with about 8 minutes remaining. OU would only score one more field goal for the game and Tech would answer with a 13-6 run to pull within 66-63 on a three-point play by Zeno with 3:42 left and then Jackson hit his three pointer with just one second left on the shot clock to tie the game and set up the game ending drama.

Texas Tech’s Martin Zeno made two free throws with 1:08 left to give Tech a 70-68 lead. Then David Godbold of Oklahoma was fouled going for the rebound of his missed 3-pointer and made the second of two free throws with 55 seconds to play.

Darryl Dora of Texas Tech missed a short jumper on the following possession and Oklahoma grabbed the rebound and called a timeout with 23 seconds left. Terrell Everett dribbled down the clock before driving for a jumper in the lane that bounced off the rim before Bookout, who finished with 12 points, tipped it in on the rebound.

"Amazing thing is he tipped it in with his left hand, and it's broken," Sooners coach Kelvin Sampson said.

Four Sooners scored in double figures including Neal who had a team high 18 points. Fellow guard Terrell Everett (pictured right) had 10 points and the hero for the night Kevin Bookout finished with 12. Taj Gray, who was the second leading scorer on the team, finished with a double-double, 13 points – 13 rebounds.

The Sooners are home Saturday against Kansas State. OU will play their next two games at home before traveling to Texas to end the regular season on March 5th. Oklahoma is setting comfortably in third place in the big 12 and could still mathematically move up in the standings, especially since first place Texas and second place Kansas still have to face each other. It should be an exciting final two weeks of the regular season. Tip off for the Kanas State game is at 3:00 p.m.

My Player of the game:

Taj Gray
6-13, 13 Pts
13 Rebs, 1 Assists

Michael Neal Named Big 12 Rookie of the Week

Oklahoma junior guard Michael Neal was named the Phillips 66 Big 12 Rookie of the Week today after averaginng 27.5 points in two games versus Colorado and Iowa State. It marked the second time this season that Neal claimed the honor.

Neal, a 6-3, 191-pounder from Mesquite, Texas, was 7-for-14 from 3-point range and scored a then-career-high 26 points in an 83-74 loss at Colorado last Wednesday. He missed his first 3-point attempt of the game before making his next six tries from long range, tying a school record for consecutive 3-point makes in a contest.

OU and Tulsa Agree on a Three Game Series

OU and Tulsa have verbally agreed to a three-game football series. OU will play in Tulsa in 2007 and Tulsa will come to Norman in 2009 and 2011.

While the contract has not yet been officially announced both schools have reached a verbal agreement and an official announcement will follow shortly.

Sooners go for Texas Tech Sweep on Big Monday

OU plays Texas Tech tonight on ESPN’s Big Monday. This is a game that the Sooners must win. They have a little distance between them and Colorado for third place and technically still have Kansas and Texas within reach. OSU proved on Sunday that anything is possible so the Sooners need to play perfect football from here out and see what happens.

In their first meeting with the Red Raiders the Sooners jumped out to a 16-2 before holding off a Texas Tech rally to post a 60-48 win in Norman. Michael Neal scored a team-high 15 points in 21 minutes off the bench for OU by hitting four 3-pointers in the game’s final four minutes. Oklahoma led 32-12 at halftime but saw Tech draw to within two, 40-38, behind Jarrius Jackson, who finished with 15 points. The Sooners used a 20-10 run to end the game. OU outrebounded the Red Raiders 38-23 and held an 18-6 advantage on the offensive glass. Both teams committed 21 turnovers. Terrell Everett had 11 points and eight assists for the Sooners while Austin Johnson scored 10 points. Taj Gray (11) and Kevin Bookout (10) both registered double-digit rebounds for the first time of the year. Tech’s 12 first-half points were the fewest by an OU conference opponent in a half under 12th-year head coach Kelvin Sampson.

F 32 Jon Plefka (6-8, 245, Jr., 6.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.7 apg)
F 44 Darryl Dora (6-9, 250, Jr., 7.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 3.1 apg)
G 3 Martin Zeno (6-5, 202, So., 14.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 3.0 apg)
G 20 Alan Voskuil (6-3, 170, Fr., 2.8 ppg, 1.5 rpg, 0.8 apg)
G 22 Jarrius Jackson (6-1, 185, Jr., 19.8 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.0 apg)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

My CBBA Vote

This was a tough week to vote! 11 of my top 25 teams went 1-1 for the week and 3 teams went 0-2. The problem is that I’m at a loss as to where to place the teams that went 1-1 and none of the teams that wen’t 0-2 are close to dropping out (Georgetown was close).

There is also the issue of a new number one. I put Memphis at number 1, but I really think you could take the top four and make a solid case for any of them.

Feel free to leave your thoughts!

()= Where I placed them last week.
1. Memphis (2)
2. Duke (3)
3. Villanova (5)
4. Connecticut (1)
5. Gonzaga (4)
6. Boston College (9)
7. Tennessee (7)
8. Pittsburgh (8)
9. Florida (10)
10. Ohio State (12)
11. Texas (6)
12. Washington (16)
13. Kansas (20)
14. N.C. State (17)
15. Michigan State (13)
16. George Washington (19)
17. George Mason (25)
18. West Virginia (11)
19. Illinois (22)
20. UCLA (14)
21. Iowa (21)
22. Oklahoma (15)
23. Colorado (23)
24. Michigan (24)
25. Georgetown (18)
The official CBBA poll will be released tomorrow.

Sooners Go 2-1 in Coca-Cola Classic

OU started the weekend by losing to the host team, Rice, 8-2 but followed that up by beating Lamar and nationally ranked Long Beach State.

The Sooners 11-4 victory over Lamar was a revenge game pending from Oklahoma’s loss to them earlier this month in the UTPA tournament.

Newcomer Joseph Hughes made his first career start (in center field) for the Sooners and led the offense with a 3-for-5 performance at the plate, including four RBI and a run scored. Hughes is the third Sooner this season to record a four-RBI game (Ryan Mottern and Chuckie Caufield).

The 2-1 victory Sunday over Long Beach State was the Sooners first ever against the 19th ranked team. The Sooners are 1-2 lifetime against LBSU after falling in the 1997 South Regional and 1989 West Regional.

“This is a big win because it’s early in the season and Long Beach State is a top 25 program,” said OU head coach Sunny Golloway, who is 7-2 in his first full season at OU and 19-8 at the Sooners’ helm. “Long Beach swept USC early in the season and beat Rice yesterday, so they had set themselves up to move up in next week’s poll.”

Big 12 Baseball Standings
Baylor 0-0-0 4-0-0
Texas A&M 0-0-0 6-0-0
Oklahoma 0-0-0 7-2-0
Nebraska 0-0-0 3-1-0
Missouri 0-0-0 4-2-0
Oklahoma State 0-0-0 2-1-0
Kansas 0-0-0 7-4-0
Texas Tech 0-0-0 5-3-0
Kansas State 0-0-0 1-1-0
Texas 0-0-0 5-5-0

Ricky Williams Reportedly Fails Drug Test

from yahoo sports

Miami Dolphins running back Ricky Williams apparently is in trouble with the NFL again.

The Miami Herald reported on its web site Sunday night that Williams faces at least a one-year suspension from the NFL after testing positive for drug use a fourth time under the league's substance abuse policy.

According to the report, two sources confirmed a report by WSVN-TV that Williams had failed the test, although neither would say the substance he used. Williams had tested positive in the past for marijuana use.

Williams missed the first four games of the 2005 season and was fined for the second and third violations of the substance abuse program. Those positive tests reportedly occurred in December 2003 and in the 2004 offseason.

While I am surprised at this I am certainly not shocked! I said at the beginning of the season that the Dolphins should have traded Ricky to get whatever they could out of him. Now, not only does it seem that his playing days in Miami are done his career should be up in smoke as well.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Oh Lucky Day!

On the one year anniversary of Drew Lavender’s last second miracle shot in Manhattan the Sooners pulled victory from the Jaws of defeat once again.

The Iowa State Cyclones led Oklahoma 79-72 with 1:12 left and 81-75 after Curtis Stinson hit two free throws with 53.2 seconds left. But he missed 3-of-4 from the line in the final 41.4 seconds, paving the way for OU’s miracle comeback.

Stinson made one of two free throws with 20.8 seconds left to put Iowa State up 82-80. On the ensuing play, Oklahoma's Terrell Everett was well short on a contested 14-foot jumper. But the loose basketball found its way to Michael Neal, who shot from behind the arc while being fouled by Iowa State's John Neal.

Michael Neal, who scored 17 points in the final 7:02, swished all three free throws to give the Sooners the lead 83-82 which would be the final score.

"Today there was a miracle in Norman," Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said. "Today was a great win. Hopefully it will propel us down the stretch. Iowa State deserved to win.”

It’s good to see Oklahoma on the other end of a last second meltdown after losing last second heartbreakers to Nebraska, Missouri and Kansas by a combined four points after leading late in each game. From a confidence standpoint this was a huge win because it was the Sooners on the winning end of a nail biter.

Michael Neal scored a career-high 29 points including eight 3-pointers -- another personal best -- in 12 attempts.

Iowa State’s backcourt of Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock combined for 46 points and 16 rebounds. I said in my game preview that this guard tandem could be dangerous and Coach Sampson seems to agree with me. "We had no answer for Blalock and Stinson," Sampson said. "Iowa State has the two best guards on a single team in the Big 12."

Stinson drove the length of the court in the final seconds but missed an 8-foot underhanded scoop while being guarded by David Godbold. In typical Wayne Morgan fashion there was an excuse for the miss, "I wasn't on the court. From where I sat I thought maybe we should have a chance to shoot free throws. The referees didn't see that."

Oklahoma’s Terrell Everett recorded his first double-double of the season with 18 points and 11 assists. The Sooners shot 53.8 percent from the field, including 13-of-23 (56.5 percent) from 3-point range. Michael Neal has made 42 of his last 74 3-point attempts, 56.8 percent. He is once again my player of the game and should be the Big 12 player of the week.

Taj Gray was the only other player to join Neal and Everett in double digit scoring for the Sooners. Gray had 13 points and 8 rebounds.

My Player of the Game

Michael Neal
29 points
3 rebounds
2 assists
3 steals

Sooner Women Win Big 12

Winning the Big 12 Conference was a big deal for No. 9 Oklahoma, even if its celebration was somewhat subdued.

The Sooners clinched their first regular-season league title in four years, beating No. 21 Texas A&M 73-54 Saturday night for their 11th straight victory.

Courtney Paris had 15 points and 14 rebounds for Oklahoma (23-4, 13-0), seeking to become the first Big 12 women's team to go undefeated in conference play. The Sooners' remaining schedule includes road games at Kansas State and Texas Tech sandwiched around a home game against Nebraska.

Oklahoma Claims Outright Big 12 Title

Andi's Take on the Daytona 500

My Opinion on Sports reader, Andi, has volunteered her takes on the upcoming NASCAR season and will give us weekly updates on who she thinks will win that week’s race as well as how she is doing in her fantasy league.

Here are Andi’s thoughts on the Daytona 500 tomorrow:

I love NASCAR!! And, the Great American Race is this weekend... DAYTONA 500!! and just this past October on our trip to FLorida, I spent the day at the track!! Daytona 500 is the "superbowl" of NASCAR except that it is the first race and not the last. Then there are road races (boring) about 4 times. The season runs from February to November, so with that said... "Gentlemen.... START YOUR ENGINES"...

I get two primary picks and three back up picks. Obviously I get more points for my primary picks and I get bonus points based on where the primaries qualify. For the 500 I have #20 (Stewart) and #88 (Jarrett) picked as primary because they are my favorites and I thought I should start off with them. My back up drivers are #17 (Kenseth), #8 (Junior) and #24 (Gordon). Yes, I think Jeffy Lube is a cry baby, but the dude can race on tracks like this one and this is about points!!

My overall pick to win the NEXTEL CUP CHAMPIONSHIP is #20 Tony Stewart. If he wins it, I get 100 bonus points at the end of the season.

I’ve decided that my driver this year will be Jamie McMurray driver of the #26 Crown Royal Ford. He is from Joplin, MO and I have a good friend who knows the McMurray family. That mutual connection is enough for me to become a fan.

Who is your driver and why?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Sooners Host Cyclones

After losing at Colorado Wednesday night the Sooners return home to play the Iowa State Cyclones. I’m not really sure at this point what to say or what to think. Iowa State has a 14-10, (4-7 in the Big 12) record and their guard play could be very dangerous. OU has won five of six games against Iowa State in Norman under head coach Kelvin Sampson. The game is going to be televised by ABC with Ron Franklin (play-by-play) and Fran Fraschilla (analyst) announcing

After their loss at Colorado on Wednesday, the Sooners fell into a third-place Big 12 tie with the Buffaloes. OU has the advantage of better scheduling the rest of the way and if they take care of business shouldn’t be in danger of losing a first round bye in the conference tournament. Before the Colorado game Oklahoma had won seven of their last eight games.

One good thing that happened in Boulder was Michael Neal going off for a career high 26 points. The Sooners will need him to continue on that pace and have Kevin Bookout and Taj Gray take advantage of the youth that Iowa State has on the inside.

Another area where the Sooners need to improve Saturday is on the boards. That’s had to say for the best rebounding team in the country but OU was out boarded by Colorado 41-32 Wednesday night. Second chance points will be huge.

Scouting the Cyclones
F 0 Shawn Taggart (6-10, 225, Fr., 5.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 0.3 apg)
F 13 Rahshon Clark (6-6, 190, So., 13.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.4 apg)
C 33 Jiri Hubalek (6-11, 205, So., 8.1 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.6 apg)
G 1 Curtis Stinson (6-3, 215, Jr., 19.5 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 5.5 apg)
G 11 Will Blalock (6-0, 205, Jr., 14.9 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 6.2 apg)

Iowa State has had troubles of their own recently. They are currently on a three game losing streak and have lost four out of their last five. The Cyclones, coming off a 73-63 home defeat to Nebraska on Wednesday in which they were outrebounded 45-28, are tied with Kansas State for eighth place in the Big 12.

ISU leads the league in steals (10.1 spg) and turnover margin (+6.1), ranks second in free throw percentage, third in scoring (77.5 ppg) and fourth in field goal percentage (.458). However, the Cyclones rank last in scoring defense (73.8 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (.462). You know Michael Neal and Terrell Everett are loving that!

All-Big 12 candidate Curtis Stinson ranks second in the league in scoring with his 19.5 points a game and is tied for the conference lead in steals (2.7 spg). He also averages 5.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists a contest. Stinson needs nine more steals to become the third player in Big 12 history to accumulate 1,500 points, 400 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals in a career. Junior point guard Will Blalock supplies 14.9 points, 3.0 rebounds, 6.2 assists and 2.2 steals a game. His assists average ranks second in the league behind OU’s Terrell Everett (6.5). Blalock scored 23 points on 10-for-20 shooting Wednesday. Sophomore forward Rahshon Clark averages 13.4 points, a team-high 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals a game while shooting .504 from the floor. Sophomore center Jiri Hubalek, from Prague, Czech Republic, contributes 8.1 points and 3.7 boards per contest.

OU needs this game and I say they win it 77-65.

Taj Gray Picks Up NABC Honor
Oklahoma senior forward Taj Gray was named to the five-man National Association of Basketball Coaches First-Team All-District 12 squad Friday. It marks the second year in a row the 6-9, 238-pounder from Wichita, Kan., has earned the honor.

Gray, who has started all 22 games for the 16-6 Sooners (7-4 Big 12), leads OU in scoring (14.1 ppg), rebounding (7.9 rpg) and blocked shots (1.4 bpg). He is shooting .571 from the field to rank third in the Big 12 and has shot .500 or better in 18 of his 22 outings. The Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year has scored 22 points on three occasions this year and netted a career-high 31 (21 in the second half) against West Virginia on Dec. 22. He has grabbed at least 10 rebounds on six occasions, a season-high 14 twice.

New Guidelines for NIT

All regular-season conference champions not in the NCAA tournament field will be guaranteed a berth in the National Invitation Tournament, and teams no longer have to have .500 records to be selected for the NIT's 40-team field.

The changes were announced Thursday, less than a month before the NIT selection committee meets to select the field for the first time since the tournament was purchased by the NCAA.

The committee is comprised of former Division I coaches, including Naismith Memorial Hall of Famers Dean Smith and Chairman C.M. Newton. The other members are Don DeVoe, Reggie Minton, Jack Powers and Carroll Williams.

In the past, a team had to win at least half its games to be chosen for the NIT.
The regular-season champions of the 31 Division I conferences not in the NCAA's field of 65 will be invited.

"The committee was unanimous in its view on this matter," Newton said. "It formalizes what postseason basketball should be -- a reward for success throughout the regular season."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Sutton's Trouble No Laughing Matter

I’ve made fun of Eddie Sutton thousands of times over the past few years while watching the Oklahoma State Cowboys play basketball. When trying to figure out how he could have possibly seen a play differently than the fans and refs I’ve piped, “He must be drunk!” as he is arguing with the refs. When he bowed his head in his hands I quickly noted that he looked hung-over. Being an avid Sooner fan I never passed up the opportunity to crack jokes at the man who faithfully sat on the bench for the orange and black.

Today Eddie Sutton will be officially charged by the Payne County Sheriff’s office in his DUI case stemming from his auto accident last Friday night. Suddenly I find myself feeling bad for the man I used to love to make fun of.

As the details of Sutton’s auto accident unfold and the mystery of what Coach Sutton actually consumed before getting behind the wheel solved, there are questions that need answered.

What was he thinking? It’s not like he coaches at one of the states smaller universities. Eddie Sutton is a legend in the state of Oklahoma. He is an icon everywhere including Norman. Everyone knew that Sutton’s time was limited in Stillwater but after leaving Fayetteville Arkansas and Lexington Kentucky under scrutiny this was his chance to go out a hero.

Eddie Sutton is a class act and the people of Oklahoma will always love him but this mistake is inexcusable. I don’t mean to belittle his back pain or ailments but poor judgment came into play here and it hurt more than Sutton and the lady he creamed with his Dodge.

Who bought the bottle for Eddie? OSU fans are fighting mad over this and everyone loves Eddie too much to take it out on him! However, in a town the size of Stillwater a man of Eddie Sutton’s stature and past doesn’t walk into a liquor store and buy a pint. If the Cowboys find the perpetrator they are likely to string him up from an oak tree and have Pistol Pete give him 39 lashes.

What was Eddie Sutton allowed to drive? Forget the fact that the man was in so much back pain he had trouble standing up straight. Witnesses actually saw him stumble and fall in the parking lot of Gallagher Iba Arena before he drove off. THEY SAW HIM STUMBLE AND FALL!!! Why did they not intervene there? Did they just stand around looking at the “drunk guy” and laugh at him? It would have been too easy to stop this accident before it even happened.

Why do Oklahoma State fans take Eddie Sutton’s troubles as a personal attack? I was driving with a buddy of mine Friday night when we heard the news of the auto accident on the radio. I immediately said to my friend, who is an OSU fan, “Man, you know he was driving drunk.”

He took it in stride knowing that I was joking and our conversation quickly went to hoping that Eddie was okay. The truth is that many people have speculated (more seriously than me) that something was wrong with Eddie and he was possibly impaired before the truth of the situation came out on Monday and Wednesday nights. There were just as many insults hurled out by loyal Pokes fans as there were speculations. How dare anyone suggest that this man had fallen off the wagon? What a horrible group of cold hearted, insensitive bunch of (fill in the blank) you guys are.

Why are some Sooner fans reveling in this man’s nightmare? Is it because you hate him so much? Is it because you can now take a new hurtful dig at the Cowboys? Newsflash this didn’t happen to a coach in Texas it happened in our state, the Sooner state. Eddie Sutton has done more for OSU and the state of Oklahoma than any other coach in school history. After personally calling every family of the victims of the tragic Oklahoma State plane crash in January of 2001 Coach Sutton earned tremendous amounts of respect and became an Ambassador of the state.

I never made it a habit to cheer for Coach Sutton but my heart goes out to him in this. I love to see my Sooners give the Cowboys a pounding but I don’t love seeing anyone’s life fall apart.

Finally, why are so few people not seeing the miracle in all of this? No one was seriously hurt in an accident that could have killed people and a coach’s dark secret was revealed. How was that a miracle you ask?

What is better, a wreck where no one is injured or a coach who is loved by the university students and fan base drinking his life away? The latter definitely could have happened to Sutton if the wreck didn’t happen to bring this all into light. As a result of the wreck Coach Sutton has acknowledged he has an alcohol problem and is checking himself into the Betty Ford Clinic.

Now Cowboys fans have a new reason to cheer for their coach. They’ll root him on as he recovers from his addiction and regains his health and surprising enough there will be plenty of Sooner fans, not laughing, but cheering for Sutton right alongside them.