Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Bowl Game Predictions

For those of you who followed CornBlight and I this season with our prognostications, you all know that we both generally sucked this season. Schedules didn't permit us to do this for the bowl games, but I'll throw out my predictions on the bigger games remaining on the schedule.

Sun Bowl: Oregon State (-2.5) vs. Pitt
OK, I'll admit it... I'll be rooting hard for the Beavers, as I'm not a fan of Dave Wannstadt (and especially his boss). I'm still not sure how the Beavers lost to Stanford and beat USC. I guess it depends on which Oregon State shows up.
Oregon State 31, Pitt 21

Insight Bowl: Kansas (-9) vs. Minnesota
Gophers fell off the face of the earth in November, losing to putrid Michigoon, awful Wisconsin, and getting blown out 55-0 by Iowa. In contrast, Kansas finished strong by upsetting Missouri in Kansas City. Oh, and the Big 11 is already 0-2 in bowls this season. Make that 0-3. Fortunately for Big 11 fans, this game is on the NFL Network, so nobody's watching.
Kansas 45, Minnesota 21

Chick-Fil-A Bowl: Georgia Tech (-4) vs. LSU
LSU is still reeling from the loss of Bo Pelini, and will be replacing Pelini's replacements with Tennessee's John Chavis. But wait...shouldn't the Tigers be focusing on the Yellow Jackets instead?
Georgia Tech 38, LSU 14

Outback Bowl: Iowa (-4) vs. South Carolina
Iowa had a strong finish to the season by sparing the college football world from another of a Big 11 team in the BCS title game, then shutting out Minnesota. Spurrier's team ended the season reeling in a blowout loss to Florida and then a loss to Clemson. Looks like the Big 11 gets off the schneid in Tampa.
Iowa 31, South Carolina 17

Citrus Bowl: Georgia (-7.5) vs. Michigan State
Spartans best win appears to be a 37-20 victory over Northwestern. Georgia started the season #1, and ended the season losing to Georgia Tech. Not a very compelling matchup at all.
Georgia 35, Michigan State 9

Rose Bowel: USC (-9) vs. Penn State
Recipe for a blowout: Big 11 team in a BCS game. Very talented USC team. In California. Add in endless gratuitous ESPN promotion.
USC 42, Penn State 10

Orange Bowl: Cincinatti (-2.5) vs. Virginia Tech
The price Miami pays for hosting the national championship game? Getting this matchup in the Orange Bowl.
Virginia Tech 24, Cincinatti 20

Cotton Bowl: Texas Tech (-4) vs. Ole Miss
After getting blown out by Oklahoma, the Raiders struggled against Baylor. Ole Miss showed signs of life under Houston Nutt. At first, this looked like a mismatch, but this might be a good matchup.
Texas Tech 42, Ole Miss 35

Sugar Bowl: Alabama (-9.5) vs. Utah
Utah makes their second appearance in a BCS bowl game, but it won't be a home game, and it's against a very good SEC team. It won't be as ugly as Hawai'i last season.
Alabama 31, Utah 17

Fiesta Bowl: Texas (-8) vs. Ohio State
Oh no! Not the Buckeyes again!
Texas 49, Ohio State 13

BCS National Championship: Florida (-3) vs. Oklahoma
Not a lot of commonality in opponents, so this is a tough one to evaluate. Sooners are missing a couple of key pieces, and also need to fear the Heisman jinx. I might change my mind after the other Big XII/SEC bowl games.
Florida 45, Oklahoma 42

Gator Bowl: Clemson (-2.5) vs. Nebraska
OK, which is it. Are ACC defenses that good, or are ACC offenses that bad? Likewise, are Big XII defenses that bad or are Big XII offenses that good. My personal take is that Big XII offenses are for real. Looking at Clemson's schedule, I don't see a lot of great teams on there. Somehow Jeff Sagarin likes them though. To me, it comes down to Nebraska has gotten burned by mobile quarterbacks who exploit the NU secondary. That's not Clemson. Clemson has a couple of great running backs, and some OK receivers. With the way the NU defensive line has played as of late, and if Phillip Dillard is pretty close to back, I think NU can stuff the Clemson backs. On offense, Nebraska just needs to continue their ball-control attack that was so effective the last half of the season. This might be the best defense Nebraska's faced outside of Oklahoma's (who they ended up scoring 28 on anyway).
Nebraska 34, Clemson 21

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sunday Night Dessert: Enough of the Holidays

Hope everybody had a great holiday season, no matter what you choose to celebrate, whether it's Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Festivus.

As we were driving through North Bend on the way to visit some out-of-town relatives, I noticed that the Herbie Husker painting on the local Co-Op was finally gone. (It was a really bad painting, as it made Herbie look a little bit, well, not well...) In it's place was a rather nice portrait of North Bend's own Jake Wesch. Some artistic license took place as it shows Wesch rolling out for a pass in his Husker uniform, which probably hasn't happened in a game situation. But since Wesch was a quarterback in high school, they certainly have the right to salute Wesch any way they choose. The picture looked pretty good, though I only got a five second look at it as we drove through town.

More bad news for people still dreaming of a Chalco ballpark for the Omaha Royals: the Legislature is going to have enough trouble dealing with the revenue shortfalls resulting from the economy to consider any new spending projects. Especially one that's already been rejected twice when times were better. Sarpy County's ability to build a ballpark is going to be determined on "plan B"...but from all indications, we'll have to wait for the Legislature to officially reject the bailout before we hear how Sarpy County really thinks how they'll pay for this stadium.

Tomorrow night, UNO hockey (currently ranked #16 in the country by USCHO/CBS College Sports)begins a huge week of hockey with a game at Yale, followed by #8 Princeton on Tuesday night, then #17 Minnesota State Saturday night. This week might be the biggest games of the season so far.

Larry Asante sounds a businesslike tone for the Huskers:
"Me, personally, I didn’t come out here to have fun. It’s a game. I haven’t been out the past two nights. Me and Armando Murillo, we stayed in," he said. "Basically everybody in the secondary except for a couple of scout guys stayed in and watched film last night. It’s a business trip. We didn’t come out here to have fun."
Love the tone, and hope these guys finish it out. It sure sounds like the Huskers really want to win the Gator Bowl, and that's usually a big key to determining how a bowl game turns out.

Need any more proof that there are too many bowl games? I saw a report on TV this morning that Maryland had sold 16 tickets to Tuesday's Humanitarian Bowl. Well, it turns out that data is a little old (about three weeks old), but the news hadn't gotten much better. Now, Maryland's sales are up to 800. Woo, hoo! Cha, ching, Boise! Especially considering Georgia Tech only sold 250 tickets last year.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Yes, a blatant ripoff of Tom Shatel and his Christmas Wishes....

To Husker fans: A nice Gator Bowl victory, and a good quarterback battle in spring practice.

To Recruitniks: A recruiting class that generates more excitement on the field than on signing day.

Omaha baseball fans: Once the Sarpy County bailout strikes out for the third time in the Legislature, the Royals and MECA finally start negotiating seriously.
(Update: After opening up my morning World-Herald, I see Tom was thinking the exact same thing...)

USA Swimming: A plan to squeeze the 2012 Olympic Swimming Trials into the Qwest Center between the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting and the College World Series.

Doc Sadler: Getting a Big XII-calibre forward or center enrolled at Nebraska.

Mike Kemp: An even stronger second-half of the UNO hockey season, especially with games against Princeton (currently #8 in the country), Miami (currently #2), and Notre Dame (currently #1).

UNO Hockey Fans: Spending February watching the Pairwise rankings, and spending March travelling to Detroit and perhaps Minneapolis.

AJ the HuskerH8r: Recognizing the hypocrisy of "Gabbert living up to the hype".... (Heh heh... seriously... enjoy your retirement!)

The Pelini family: Condolences and prayers.

Josh Freeman: Realization that while you may have NFL talent, you haven't shown it on the field.

Radio stations that flip to "all-Christmas" programming weeks before Thanksgiving: Remembering that today is actually the "First Day of Christmas", and not the last.

To everyone: A most joyous Christmas season and an even better 2009!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday Night Beer: WTF is a MagicJack, WTF is EagleBank, and WTF Are They Bowl Games?

In the holiday hustle and bustle, I did glance at the TV a few times and caught a few minutes of some of the pre-Christmas bowl games. But I've got to admit that Saturday's games are simply proof that college football has way too many bowl games.

Note I said "too many bowl games" and not "too many college football games". There's a big difference. Saturday's games were played college football hotbeds such as Las Vegas and Albuquerque. They were played on a soccer field and a baseball field. The game on the soccer field was named for a local bank with 15 locations across the greater Washington area. The baseball field bowl game was named for a computer gadget that allows you to plug your home phone into a computer so you can make calls without having a local phone line.

Attendance for all of the games on Saturday: 103,306. Even having a home team like South Florida playing less than 25 miles from campus didn't help the attendance in St. Petersburg. (And what was up with the glossy turf at Tropicana Field? Makes the smurf turf in Boise look downright sedate.)

Let's be honest. Fans don't want these games. The teams only play in them to get the extra practices. The payouts don't even pay the expenses for the teams to attend these games. There's got to be a better way to finish out the season. Go ahead and get an eight or sixteen team playoff in place, then match up everybody else in kind of a NIT consolation, but on home fields. Some teams just don't have the following to make a home game viable; that's fine. Send 'em on the road. Let's set up some nice intrasectional matchups across the country. How about Florida State or Miami having to play up in the midwest in late December?

Speaking of attendance: Props to the 14,000+ volleyball fans who still showed up strong on Saturday night for a Husker-less volleyball game. Those numbers go a long way towards making a case for the NCAA to not only make Omaha a regular stop on the NCAA volleyball championship circuit, but also to make Omaha simply a regular stop for all NCAA championships.

And sequeing along the lines of NCAA championships: the MNDaily from the University of Minnesota made the first prognostication of this season's Big Skate, and placed UNO in the regional in Minneapolis along side Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Still absurdly early, but UNO's hot start has gotten the Mavericks into the conversation. They'll need to bring back a couple of wins next week as they go on the road to Princeton, Yale, and Mankato.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Future of Volleyball's Final Four in Omaha is Saturday Night

I missed most of the first two sets of the Nebraska/Penn State semifinal; frankly, it doesn't sound like I missed much. But those final three sets were some of the most exciting volleyball I've seen as Nebraska scraped themselves off the deck to take the volleyball match to a fifth set. One NU save practically was made from where the end zone faceoff circle, if the hockey rink were still in place at the Qwest Center.

With NU falling 15-11 in the final fifth set, the Husker season comes to an end. But that's not the end of volleyball season in Nebraska, as it will be interesting to see what happens on Saturday night for the Penn State/Stanford final. How many Husker fans will drive back to the Qwest Center on Saturday night for the final? That's the question that the NCAA will be interested in finding out. If 14,000 fans show up and the lower bowl looks mostly full, the NCAA should be impressed and consider yet another bid to bring the NCAA volleyball championships back to Omaha.

If the place is half empty... I'm sure the NCAA may think twice about returning to Omaha quickly. Yes, the tickets are sold, but how many of those tickets would have been purchased if Nebraska wasn't a team with a good chance to make it to the Final Four? (Conversely, playing the NCAA volleyball Final Four in Omaha is kind of like playing Miami for a national championship in the Orange Bowl. Not exactly a neutral site.)

Omaha can make a statement that we'll support the NCAA Volleyball Championship (and not just Husker volleyball) as well on Saturday night.

Urban Design Board Wants Changes to Downtown Ballpark

In response to concerns raised by nearby businesses, Omaha's Urban Design board limited their approval of MECA's plans to foundation work for the new downtown ballpark today. What does this mean? Well, construction can begin next month, but only on the underlying infrastructure.

Saddle Creek Records, a local indie music publishing company, developed the "Slowdown" project just west of the new ballpark in part based on the promise of a new downtown ballpark that would bring vitality to that part of downtown. Over the years, the ballpark grew in size to accomodate the College World Series, but with the prospects of the Royals moving to Sarpy County instead (if Sarpy County can ever figure out a way to pay for it) and MECA eliminating the retail elements of the stadium that would bring activity to the area even when the stadium isn't in use, landowners around the stadium hit the panic button this week.

The idea of moving the stadium back to it's original location in Lot D sounds nobel, but that fight was waged last year, and lost. But the push to drive MECA to build something closer to the original vision should be welcomed. I'm not sure I agree that building a stadium a block to the east is a barrier to development; after all, what does that present a barrier to? The other Qwest Center parking lots?

But it does represent a missed opportunity to launch the "North Downtown" area. Part of the reason the NCAA wanted the College World Series downtown was for the proximity of hotels, restaurants, and shopping. It wanted a vibrant area around the stadium where fans, teams, and NCAA officials could walk to any number of attractions. The current MECA plans don't support that vision.

I understand the frustration of the downtown developers. MECA seems to have failed to find a way to make the downtown stadium work for the Royals, and now seems to be failing in the design. It's great that Omaha is keeping the College World Series, but it would seem that it would make far more sense to build the stadium with the amenities that the NCAA wanted in the first place.

Will Omaha's Urban Design Board be able to push MECA to design the stadium to encourage development around the stadium? Do they have enough clout? That's a story worth watching over the next few weeks. The stadium is going to be built; the only question is what will it look like.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sarpy County Looks to Legislature for Bailout for Chalco Stadium

Sarpy County leaders confirmed plans today that they plan to resurrect the bill to use state funding to pay for much of their proposed Chalco baseball stadium. This same plan that has been rejected twice before for development in Sarpy County (specifically, the Cabela's store) and a baseball stadium (in downtown Omaha, designed specifically for the Royals).

Third time's a charm, correct? Well, the devil is in the details, but in this economy with tax revenues likely to shrink, I'm not sure how practical it is to divert state tax money to build a second ballpark in the Omaha metro area. It remains to be seen how this proposal will differ from the previous ones, but I hardly think that simply expanding the reach to allow other areas of the state to utilize these tax incentives is going to work. In fact, that's how the second go-around to use this in downtown Omaha came about. As noted, it failed as well.

Backers of the proposal point to the success Kansas City, Kansas has had with their "STAR" financing proposals. Which is true; the "Village West" area has blossomed as a result of this. But there is a huge difference between what Kansas City did and what Sarpy County is doing.

Huge difference, but it only takes six letters: N. A. S. C. A. R.

Yes, they built a ballpark out there as well, not to mention a regional Cabelas. But the big driver is the Kansas Speedway, which draws tens of thousands of people to this area from across the midwest. That's the driver for all this development. That justifies everything.

That's not happening in Sarpy County. There's absolutely nothing in the works to attract tourists from outside the Omaha metro area.

And that's why I'm waiting to hear what Sarpy County's "Plan B" is, because that is the most likely way they will be able to get their stadium built. Certainly "Plan B" got Cabela's built in La Vista. "Plan B" got a downtown stadium built as well. (A bigger stadium, in fact, that actually will attract tourists from across the country, I might add.)

If I'm a legislator who is likely going to need to be making difficult budget decisions, I'm not sure I'd react too positively to a third go-round with this measure with the knowledge that this proposal turned out to be unnecessary the previous two times.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Honors for Mavs & Huskers

At last night's Husker football awards banquet, Joe Ganz was named team MVP, with Nate Swift named offensive MVP (I guess that's to spread the awards around), and Ndamakong Suh defensive MVP. Ganz, Swift, Zach Potter, and Ty Steinkuhler were also named season captains as well.

Meanwhile over at UNO, defenseman Eddie del Grosso was named CCHA defenseman of the week for the third time this season, with Jerad Kaufman taking goalie of the week honors for his big performance on Saturday night.

MavRick pointed out the following disjointed story about Saturday night's Laker/Mavs game. The reporter seemed to confuse the Huskers and Mavs, and got most everything wrong...even the Lakers next game. Either the Lakers are going into the time machine to finish out a 2nd century game against Yale, or the intrepid reporter is going to miss the Lakers games in the Badger Showdown. Yikes...I hope that's not the work of a graduate of the LSSU school of English and Communication.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Night Dessert: Gill to Ames?

Now comes the aftershocks from Auburn's hiring of 5-19 Gene Chizik. Namely, who will Jamie Pollard hire this time. Two years ago, Chizik looked like a home run hire, but never topped the Mendoza line in Ames. The Des Moines Register throws out a few candidates: Turner Gill, Brady Hoke of Ball State, Ed Warriner (Kansas offensive coordinator), Bill Cubit of Western Michigan, and Shawn Watson.

While I think Buffalo is a better job than Auburn, I'm not sure Iowa State is exactly where I'd like Gill to end up. The situation is better than Auburn, and the scars that Chizik left certainly call for a coach like Gill. But I've got to admit, I don't relish the thought of seeing Turner Gill on the other sideline every season. I guess I liked the idea of Gill taking over a program like Syracuse, though it sounds like Gill turned down the final set of interviews for the Orange. (Perhaps he thought he was the leading candidate for the Auburn job...)

While I think that Oklahoma and Florida are the top two teams in the country, I'm not convinced that Sam Bradford deserved the Heisman. Sure, he put up fine numbers, but deep down, from what I saw, Colt McCoy had a bigger role in his team's success than Bradford. Bradford simply had a lot of help from his offensive line and wasn't forced to create like McCoy had to at times. If I had a vote, I would have voted McCoy #1, Tebow #2, and Bradford #3. (Of course, they don't give us bloggers many votes. I think it's prejudice against people sitting in their parents basement wearing just their underpants...)

The World-Herald flew a reporter out to New York to try and interview Bill Callahan, and pretty much came up empty handed. Did get some quotes from some Jet players, including Brett Favre, who had nothing but nice things to say about Callahan. For as poor of a head coach Callahan turned out to be, the evidence seems to indicate he's a great offensive line coach. His obsession to detail, which turned out to be a liability when he micromanaged Nebraska and Oakland, seems to allow him to flourish now that he can concentrate on his offensive linemen. Bottom line is that Tom Osborne's decision appears to be a win-win for everybody; Callahan got a job that better fits him, and Nebraska upgraded it's coaching staff in the process.

The World-Herald also looks at the disappointment of some developers towards the downtown ballpark, and lost possibilities. I have mixed feelings about this; I see the point of the north downtown people, but the fact remains that this stadium has to serve it's master first. And that master is the NCAA. The College World Series brings in enough revenue to justify the stadium, even if it's only used two or three weeks a year. Anything more is simply frosting on the cake. That doesn't mean that we shouldn't hope and insist that the stadium be used more than just the CWS, but rather that our disappointment should be put into perspective.

The idea of independent league baseball might help mitigate some of those concerns, but let's be honest, baseball fans are going to cringe at the idea of replacing AAA baseball with an independent league team. MECA already has a bad track record with forcing a team to play in competition with an existing team, so at least initially, it's a fairly safe bet that somebody will be playing baseball downtown on a regular basis.

Maybe it'll be the Royals after all. I remain unconvinced that Sarpy County can afford to build a stadium, no matter how much the Sarpy County board covets the idea. (Interesting side note: Sugarland, Texas is now looking at the American Association as well. Wouldn't it be ironic if Omaha vs. Sugarland is the first professional baseball game downtown?)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Kaufmann Sizzles in Sweep of Lakers

UNO goalie Jerad Kaufmann seemed to be a man possessed tonight as he stopped 47 shots as the Mavericks defeated Lake Superior State 3-2 to complete a sweep on the road. #19 UNO heads into the Christmas break at 11-4-3 on the season, good enough for third place in the CCHA.

Some hockey fans hate the idea of rotating goalies, considering it like akin to quarterback in football. But right now, how do you bench either Kaufmann or Jeremie Dupont, who had a shutout last Friday night against Alaska. Both goalies are playing outstanding this season; neither has done anything to warrant being benched in favor of the other one.

UNO returns to action on December 29th with a game at #8 Princeton, followed by a game at Yale the next night, then at #14 Minnesota State on January 3rd. Those three games might be the keys to establishing UNO's credentials towards the end of the season. Premature to worry about those games? Perhaps. But if UNO is going to make some noise this season, these next three games can set the tone for the second half.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Gill to Auburn: War Eagle ... or Run Far Away

The talk of Turner Gill heading to Auburn to replace Tommy Tuberville continues to increase, though Auburn is talking to a lot of people right now. Steve Sipple of the Journal-Star thinks it might be a great move for Gill.

I'm not so sure. It sure looks like a heck of a promotion; SEC conference team at a school that has the resources to compete. But underneath that facade lays a swirling storm of micromanagement that has been chewing up and spitting out head coaches for three decades.

It all ties back to a Auburn alumnus and bank executive who also is a member of Auburn's Board of Trustees for 25 years. The name is Bobby Lowder, and according to ESPN, his fingerprints are all over the firings of Auburn football coaches ever since. The Chattanooga Times-FreePress calls him the "Emperor of Auburn" (unofficially, of course). And now after changing his mind on coaches almost as often as George Steinbrenner, he's taken a shining to Turner Gill.

To be sure, if Gill were to become head coach at Auburn, he and his family would be set for life. But at what price? Auburn's run-ins with the NCAA are legendary. I'll be quite honest; I'm not sure this is a situation that Gill can control, even though his name would be on the football program.

I really want the best for Turner Gill, but I really question whether Gill can tame that Tiger, or if the Tigers will devour Gill, much like they've devoured everybody and everything else in the past.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Week 15 Power Poll: Three Teams/Two Spots

I really don't know how controversial things will be once the BCS standings come out; I think it depends just on how close things are. I don't accept that Florida is a lock for the BCS title game, as while the Harris Poll will likely have the Gators #1 this afternoon, the computers had Florida 6th last week. Now, the computers will move the Gators up at least one spot with Alabama's loss, but will that be enough to jump them over Texas Tech and Utah? Remember, Florida's home loss to Ole Miss is still the worst loss of all the team.

There are three viable candidates for the BCS title game in my opinion, with only two spots. Personally, I'd be happier with an Oklahoma-Texas rematch personally, but that's not necessarily the best matchup.
  1. Florida (Tim Tebow did it nearly single-handedly...)
  2. (really 1a; it's hard to choose between Florida and the Sooners) Oklahoma (Sam Bradford essentially did it single handedly, due to his hand injury, not to mention DeMarco Murray's injury.)
  3. Texas (Odd man out in my poll.)
  4. Alabama
  5. USC
  6. Utah
  7. Texas Tech
  8. Penn State
  9. Boise State
  10. TCU
Big XII Standings
  1. Oklahoma (I know you needed to make the case with the BCS, but you didn't need to leave Sam Bradford in the game to RUTS, Bob...)
  2. Texas
  3. Texas Tech
  4. Oklahoma State
  5. Missouri
  6. Nebraska
  7. Kansas
  8. Baylor
  9. Colorado
  10. Texas A&M
  11. Kansas State
  12. Iowa State

Friday, December 05, 2008

Friday Night Beer: In Awe of Turner Gill

Tonight, I only managed to catch a few minutes of Buffalo's 42-24 victory over previously undefeated Ball State in the MAC Championship game. ESPN prefered to point to Ball State's four fumbles as the story of the game, but for Husker fans, it was all about the head coach of the Bulls.

In just three years, Turner Gill took a team from ten wins in seven years to 8-5 and MAC champions in his third season. Think about that for a second. ESPN noted that Gill had to take the league standings with him on the recruiting trail to prove to players that the Bulls were actually in division 1-A.

MAC champions, knocking off a top-15 team? Are you kidding me?

If you weren't in awe of Turner Gill already, all you need to do is catch Gill's postgame interview with ESPN. Nearly speechless and in tears, he deflected all of the credit to his team, praising "them" for what "they" had accomplished. Truly a class act. The ESPN broadcast closed with a poignant scene of Gill huggling Buffalo athletic director Warde Manuel; both men in awe of what had just occured.

Way to go, Turner Gill.

Also noteworthy was tonight's UNO 1-0 shootout victory over #20 Alaska tonight, with great goaltending by both UNO's Jeremie Dupont and Alaska's Chad Johnson. It stayed 0-0 through regulation, overtime, and the first four rounds of the shootout before UNO finally scored in the 5th and 6th rounds. Dupont's final save in the 6th round gave the Mavs the victory.
(I'm pleasantly surprised all three local TV stations stayed to cover the end of this game. Props to our local media!)

No word if Alaska's governor was wearing her UNO jersey tonight back in Wasilla.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Chalco Baseball: Done Deal or Boondoggle?

Today's announcement that the Omaha Royals have agreed to negotiate exclusively with Sarpy County over the next four months isn't exactly a surprise, as it's become clear in recent weeks that Sarpy County fully intended to pursue the Royals.

But it's not a "done deal" as some people are reporting.

Namely, I'll believe this deal is happening once I learn of a reasonable financing plan. I've been skeptical of the ability of Sarpy County to pull this off, and this latest announcement doesn't answer those questions. In fact, today's announcement was intentionally vague, merely stating that the deal is dependent on a "mutually agreeable financing plan."

Whatever the heck that is.

The Sarpy County estimates show the total cost of the ballpark would top $40 million, and that doesn't include land acquisition costs. The Royals are offering to make a "substantial" contribution, though what "substantial" means isn't clear. But how will Sarpy County pay for it? Stadium revenues will help, to be sure. But it'll likely take more than that. Property taxes? A request to the state legislature for funds? That's very likely unless somebody steps forward with a sizable donation, much like Omaha's corporate titans donated millions for the new downtown stadium. With a big enough donation, anything is possible and in fact, very feasible.

Counting on property or state tax revenue? That's a whole other situation, and something I'm still skeptical of.

And thus, my skepticism continues.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

World-Herald Joins in the Texas Whine

Whether it's the old 1997 Husker/Weasel debate or this year's debate between Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech, you can always count on the sports media taking an opinion and refusing to even consider contrary opinions.

Yes, I said Texas Tech. I may not be allowed into the press box, but the Big XII web site shows all three teams tied with 7-1 conference records and 11-1 overall records. But if you read the paper and listen to the radio, you'd swear that Texas Tech somehow lost another game somewhere along the way.

Here's Tom Shatel:
The Big 12 should follow the Southeastern Conference (touchy subject, sorry) and have a three-way tiebreaker that says if all three are ranked, the third highest team is thrown out. And if the top two are within five spots of each other, you use head-to-head results as the tiebreaker.
OK, so the BCS formula is OK to use to eliminate Texas Tech...but not Texas. Shatel doesn't say why, but it leads you to his desired result. Texas. Nevermind the inconsistency.

Even more inconsistent is the suggestion that if the teams are within five spots of each other, head to head trumps the BCS standings. OK. Let's see: #7 Texas Tech, #3 Texas. Hmm... Texas eliminated.

His colleague Lee Barfknect had a slightly better, yet still inconsistent take:
For me, a head-to-head result carries huge weight. Another key factor when it's this close is who had the "best" loss.

Texas Tech is ruled out by getting hammered 65-21 at OU. The Sooners lost by 10 to Texas on a neutral field. Texas lost at Texas Tech, with its wildest home atmosphere in history, 39-33 on a touchdown pass with one second left.

So Texas wins that competition, too. Yet Oklahoma advances.
Barfknect wants to give Texas credit for the "best loss" in losing to Tech. Point Texas. And he downgrades Tech for the "worst loss". But shouldn't you also give credit for the "best win" of the bunch, and that's Oklahoma taking Tech to the woodshed right from the opening kickoff?

You see, head to head is the first tie breaker...and it's 1-1 for all three teams. Everything else is just grasping at straws.

Shatel adds one final comment:
Big 12 games are great. Make them count.
They do count. But it seems that Shatel and Barfknect only want to count the game played in Dallas. They don't want to count the other games on the schedule. From my perspective, when you look at all of the games these teams played, Oklahoma looks a little stronger than Texas overall. Yes, Texas got 'em in Dallas in October in that single game, which is duly noted. But that game wasn't a one-game playoff; you have to consider ALL of the games, not just the Red River Shootout.

In fact, that's really the correct solution to this whole mess. Eight team playoff, and this debate goes away. Florida, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, USC. Heck, bring Utah and Boise State into the mix, and there's no excuses anymore. I know it's not happening anytime soon, especially with ESPN locking up the BCS. But deep down, you know it's the right answer.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Week 14 Power Poll

As far as I'm concerned, the whining from Texas fans is just that: whining. Yes, you beat Oklahoma by ten on a neutral field. But you also lost to Tech. And Oklahoma took Tech behind the woodshed early and often. So how do you break this three-way tie? Head to head is a draw. So you look at who is the stronger team, and Oklahoma is the clear favorite there. Big East champion Cincinnati? Top 15 TCU? Oklahoma State? Texas Tech? All are impressive victories for the Sooners, and that's why I give the Sooners the edge.
  1. Florida (Computers hate 'em, but I think they're the best team in the country.)
  2. Oklahoma (A close second to the Gators...)
  3. Alabama
  4. Texas (Here's the thing...if Florida beats 'Bama this week, there's a distinct possibility that Texas could stay above the Gators. If that happens, you might see the whole OU/UT issue worked out in Miami in January...)
  5. USC
  6. Utah
  7. Texas Tech
  8. Penn State
  9. Boise State
  10. Ball State
Big XII Standings
  1. Oklahoma
  2. Texas
  3. Texas Tech
  4. Oklahoma State
  5. Missouri (Hey, if they somehow pull off the upset in KC, who knows what would happen to the bowl lineup. It could be a repeat of 1998, when K-State fell all the way to the Alamo Bowl since every other bowl had already made up their mind as to who they would take.)
  6. Nebraska
  7. Kansas
  8. Baylor
  9. Colorado
  10. Texas A&M
  11. Kansas State
  12. Iowa State