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June 2009

Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 23 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference.

Tuesday, June 30

Links for the last day of June

That’s one of the problems. In this day and age, it’s hard to know who “the media” is.

Dennis Dodd, senior writer and college football expert for CBSSports.com, breaks down the Big 12 Conference football races for the upcoming season.

David Fox of Rivals.com writes that Oklahoma sophomore guard Willie Warren has a chance to become the 13th sophomore since the 1999-2000 season to become a consensus All-American.

The San Antonio Express News details the discussions the Alamo Bowl is having concerning another conference to partner with the Big 12 Conference representative.

Xavier and C.J. Henry, the two newest additions to the Kansas basketball roster, have been raised to be top-notch athletes.

The Norman (Okla.) Transcript has an interesting story about freshman track & field sensation Michael Claye.

Sunday, June 28

Lotsa links for a Sunday's reading

Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News writes that Big 12 football is poised to surpass the Southeastern Conference for college football supremacy.

Nebraska running back Ray Helu Jr. is receiving a lot of preseason attention and hype but he prefers to remain humble and focused on continuing to improve.

Despite a controversy involving secret payments in the athletic department, Kansas State fans are convinced that Bill Snyder's return as football coach will make everything right.

Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune continues his must-read Big 12 Summer Countdown by ranking the conference's 12 best offensive and defensive linemen.

Point guard Mike Dixon, who will be a freshman at Missouri this season, was named the MVP of a summer all-star game.

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins is optimistic about his team and believes the Buffs can make a run at the Big 12 championship.

Kansas senior-to-be Danielle McCray achieved a life-long dream when she was selected to the USA Basketball World University Games.

Thursday, June 25

College World Series wrap up
* Game Three of the College World Series between LSU and Texas set a CWS ratings record. The telecast on ESPN Wednesday finished with a 2.35 rating. Prior to this year, an ESPN teleacast had only reached the 2.0 level once. Tuesday's Game Two had a 2.0 rating, preceding the record number recorded for Game Three.

* Losing the final game Wednesday night could not cloud the optimism around the Texas baseball program.

"I honestly believe this is the beginning of a new era for Texas baseball," Longhorns coach Augie Garrido said after his team's 11-4 loss to LSU Wednesday night.

His opinion is based on the fact that this year's team had a young and talented pitching staff. Next season, Taylor Jungmann will be a sophomore while Chance Ruffin and Cole Green will be juniors. Garrido believes that he has a core of talent that will keep the Longhorns in the running for Omaha return trips.

"This team's going to come back next year and win it," Austin Wood said after Wednesday night's game.

* Wood transformed himself into a workhouse with extensive summer workouts a year ago. He chose to stay in Austin instead of playing summer baseball.

Freshmen Taylor Jungmann and Austin Dicharry and sophomore Cole Green are planning to follow Wood's path. They've decided to stay in Austin to work with trainer Lance Sewell.

One Longhorn who is playing summer baseball is redshirt freshman pitcher Sam Stafford who has had some impressive outings thus far in a California league.

* Garrido pointed out that the first Cal State-Fullerton team he brought to Omaha went two and out. His first Texas team to reach the CWS went two out. This year's Texas team had no players who had participated in the 2005 national championship run but came within a victory of winning the school's seventh national championship.

"Pretty cool," Garrido said.

* Near the end of Texas' 10-minute post-game media interviews, Garrido was asked "how long he planned to do this." He answered: "You mean this press conference?"

The 70-year-old coaching veteran figures to face the question of his longevity during every season he continues to coach.

"For me this is a lifestyle, it's not a job," Garrido said Wedneday night. "As long as I'm healthy and feel the way I do about the players and continue to be effective, I'll keep coaching. It's not chronological, it's about health and attitude. You're gonna get older ... but you can stay immature forever."

* Texas has the most College World Series appearances (33), the most victories (82) and is tied with LSU for the second-most championships (six). Texas has finished runnerup in Omaha six times, more than any other school.

Wednesday, June 24

Wednesday's CWS weather update
Game Three of the College World Series in Omaha might have to deal with rain for the second consecutive night. However, the National Weather Service says the afternoon thunderstorm that passed through about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday should be south of the city by the 6 p.m. first pitch. The NWS also says there's a chance for more storms around 9 p.m.

As of 3:30 p.m., the radar on Weather.com didn't show any thunderstorms north of Omaha. The storms the last two days have been moving north to south.

Wednesday's storm was three hours earlier than Tuesday's weather event. The NWS said that a microburst - the collapse of a thunderstorm, this one between 42,000 and 50,000 feet high - sent torrential rain and winds estimated at 60 mph through Omaha at about 5 p.m. Tuesday's Game Two started one hour and 34 minutes late.

Expect the unexpected
Your Humble Correspondent has been covering college sports (way too) long enough to understand that the outcome of The Big Game is unpredictable. YHC has seen Oklahoma upset Florida State to win a national championship and covered Boise State's improbable Fiesta Bowl victory over the Sooners.

Whether it's an NCAA Tournament game, a Final Four, a national championship bowl game, YHC has been surprised by outcomes but never stunned with surprised. In basketball and football, YHC believes he usually has a "feel" for what might happen, whether it's expected on an upset.

Your Humble Correspondent, though, is new to this college baseball business. Game Three of the College World Series Wednedsay night will be YHC's third game of covering the CWS. All he knows for sure is that either Texas or LSU will win to become the 2009 national champion. How that happens is rocket science to a correspondent who majored in bottle rocket science.

Will it rain? Will Texas keep hitting home runs? Will LSU's scary lineup start stringing hits together? Does LSU starter Anthony Ranaudo have his filthy/nasty stuff? Is Cole Green again prove he's the best Big Game starter on the UT staff? Will the outcome come down to a final inning ... at bat ... pitch?

What Your Humble Correspondent has learned is that college baseball is more unpredictable than either college football or college basketball. The outcome of Wednesday night's Game Three won't be considered an upset. What is unpredictable is how that outcome is decided.

Tuesday, June 23

Worth the read
While we wait for the field to be prepared for Game Two of the College World Series, here's a nice story on Texas senior pitcher Keith Shinaberry. He's one of the team's most respected leaders and has signed up to participate in Teach for America once he finishes his career at Texas.

Weather update
When the second wave of rain hit about 5:50 p.m., the wind picked up considerably. The metal tube that's used to roll up the tarp had been left in short left-center field but the wind started moving the object toward the first-base line. A member of the grounds crew ran out to try and stop its progress but when he arrived, it was rolling fast enough that it almost knocked him down. He retreated and eventually the rain pushed the tube to the wall in foul territory along the right-field line.

Whither the weather
Your Humble Correspondent, reporting from the Nation's Heartland. Omaha has been experiencing a heat wave - the heat index was at 119 degrees at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

As an amateur (is there a designation lower than "amateur"?) meteorologist, YHC is not surprised that a late afternoon thunderstorm blew threw and will delay the start of Game Two of the College World Series. When you mix temperatures near 100 with humidity that raises the heat index near 120, you've got the ingredients for a Midwestern cloud burst.

The good news is that these types of storms tend to leave as quickly as they arrive. The rain started about 5 p.m. CT (the grounds crew was ready and covered the infield with the tarp). After 30 mph winds and driving rain for about 15 minutes, the rain started letting up around 5:40 p.m. But then 10 minutes later, more driving rain hit.

The first pitch will be delayed but it appears that Game Two will be played.

Links from the CWS
A variety of opinion columns on LSU's 7-6, 11-inning victory over Texas in Game One of the College World Series.

Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman writes that Texas has made a habit out of doing it the hard way and now the Longhorns face their toughest test yet.

Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald considers Game One to be a classic in the annals of the College World Series.

ESPN.com's Mark Schablach on LSU's Mikie Mahtook, who drove home the winning run in the top of the 11th.

Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com writes that LSU withstood the heat - literally and figuratively - to win Game One.

Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com points out that LSU became the team that made the dramatic and important plays.

Wednesday, June 17

Bob Frederick's public memorial service draws 2,000
Family members of the late Dr. Bob Frederick were worried about how many people would attend Frederick's public memorial service Wednesday afternoon at the University of Kansas' 2,000-seat Lied Center.

The place was packed. The turn out is another indication of Frederick's impact and reach in the world of college sports. Frederick, who was KU's athletic director for 14 years and a ficture in the Lawrence community, died Friday at the age of 69 after suffering injuries in a cycling accident the previous day.

The Rev. Peter Luckey, pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church where Frederick had served in many layman roles, delivered a eulogy calling Frederick “a true Mensch.”

“A life so well-lived we are still in shock, still stunned this life has been taken from us,” the Rev. Luckey said. “There are no answers, at least none that would satisfy us. There’s no celestial ref that keeps it all fair. ... (He aspired to live) a life that matters."

Kansas volleyball player Katie Martincich, named a Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year for 2007-08, spoke on behalf of Jayhawks student-athletes. She was enrolled in a couple of the sports management classes Frederick taught in the School of Education.

"He genuinely cared about his students," she said.  "His knowledge and experience taught us more than any text book could."

Frederick was Kansas' athletic director from 1987-2001 (only the legendary Forrest "Phog" Allen had a longer tenure - 19 years - as the school's sports boss). In 1988, he hired little-known North Carolina assistant Roy Williams as the school's basketball coach.

Williams, who coached the Jayhawks from 1988-89 through 2002-03 and has won two national championships at North Carolina, was among those in attendance. Others included Kansas football coach Mark Mangino, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, North Carolina and former Kansas basketball coach Roy Williams, Pete Derzis of ESPN Regional, NCAA executive vice president Tom Jernstedt, Bowl Championship Series Administrator Bill Hancock, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings (a former Kansas assistant), Missouri Senior Associate Athletic Director Sarah Reesman, Former Kansas State athletic director Max Urick, former Kansas football coach Terry Allen, former Kansas City Chiefs general manager Carl Peterson, former Kansas chancellor Gene Budig.

Backing another man's opinion
John Bridges of the Austin American-Statesman posted the following comments on the newspaper's blog. After watching Tuesday night's College World Series game between Texas and Arizona State, Your Humble Correspondent would like to add that he agrees with Mr. Bridges. Totally.

"There was some compelling college baseball on TV last night. Too bad ESPN missed it.

"Oh, sure, the World Wide Leader televised the Texas vs. Arizona State game and did a nice job of supplying all of the pertinent moving pictures (and even thoughtfully saved our innocent ears by muting the sound when the Arizona State coach dropped an F-bomb from the dugout).

"At least the ASU coach’s commentary was spot on. We can’t say so much for the ESPN crew in the booth. Sean McDonough, Orel Hershiser and Steve Phillips sure sounded as if they would’ve rather been anywhere but Omaha.

"All three have great baseball credentials, of course, but their specialty is the wrong kind of baseball. They’re major-league guys, and none seemed particularly interested in the great college game unfolding before him. They preferred to talk about the pro game — that is, when they were talking about baseball at all. They spent a full half inning talking about their favorite sports movies — dugout reporter Erin Andrews chose “Miracle” — and devoted a large chunk of their telecast to the signability of No. 1 draft choice Stephen Strasburg. Nevermind that Strasburg wasn’t pitching last night — or that his San Diego State team didn’t make it to Omaha.

"(We’ll give Andrews a pass — not to be confused with making a pass at her. Just as she does for college football and basketball, she does a fine enough job of bringing in interesting bits of info. And last night, she got the scoop of the game when she got to overhear Augie Garrido’s pep talk for the ages. And unlike the others, Andrews seems to enjoy being there.)

"Phillips himself summed it up best when he said the reason to watch the College World Series is to see the major-leaguers of the future. No, Steve, that’s why you watch the College World Series. The rest of us tune in to see great sports drama like last night."

Monday, June 15

Texas A&M's Chinemelu Elonu stays in NBA Draft
Texas A&M's Chinemelu Elonu will forgo his senior year to remain in the NBA Draft. Elonu earned honorable mention All-Big 12 honors after averaging 9.8 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds and 53 blocked shots. He set a school record by making 66.5 percent from the field and was named the Big 12's most improved player.

“We wish Chinemelu the best in his career,” Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. “He graduated in May and just felt like he was ready to move on with his life."

Aggies Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis have withdrawn their names from the NBA Draft and will return to College Station for their senior seasons.

"It was a good process for Sloan and Davis and they learned a lot," Turgeon said. "They are ready to come back, lead the team and have great senior years.”

Links for a Monday
On June 19, 1989, Barry Switzer announced his resignation as Oklahoma's coach. Twenty years later, the Tulsa World looks back and updates the main characters.

Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune continues his Summer Countdown series with a ranking of the top 12 coordinators - he calls them Clipboard Kings - in the Big 12.

Iowa State has been paying closer attention to social networking sites on the internet after three freshmen football players posted expletive-filled videos on Facebook because they were upset with coach Gene Chizik's move to Auburn.

Texas A&M's men's track championship was clinched by the Aggies' 4X400 relay team, a foursome that willed itself to glory.

After a just more than a year on the job, Texas A&M president Elsa Murano announced her resignation Sunday, a day before the A&M System's Board of Regents was to meet on College Station to discuss her job performance. The board of regents announced Monday that Dr. R. Bowen Loftin would serve as A&M's interim president during the search process.

Sunday, June 14

Baseball tension
Your Humble Correspondent grew up loving baseball. As the (too many) years have passed, watching baseball that matters - basically, any time the words "world series" are involved - has turned YHC into a Nervous Nellie.

The last month of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship, the NCAA regionals, Texas winning the super regional and now Sunday night in the College World Series has reminded YHC how baseball can make the heart race and the nerves tingle.

The last two innings of the Southern Miss-Texas game Sunday night was hold your breath on each pitch. Each time the ball left the pitcher's hand, that one second before the result - ball, strike, hit, foul - seemed like one minute.

Texas went to the eighth with a two-run lead only to see Southern Miss scratch out three runs. A pinch-hit double started the rally but then the Golden Eagles scored a run on a wild pitch, a bases loaded walk and a throwing error on a throw home from third (the rare catcher's interference also figured in the inning).

So then the Longhorns scored twice in the bottom of the eighth with both runs being forced home on bases-loaded walks. And then the Golden Eagles answered with the tying run on a bloop single with two outs in the top of the ninth.

So then, and then, Texas won it in the bottom of the ninth with the ultimate small ball rally - a hit batter and three walks. Brandon Loy walked on four pitches with two outs to force in the winning run in a 7-6 victory. No doubt the fans of both teams were agonizing more than YHC but those last two innings were of the teeth pulling, nail-biting variety.

Texas will face Arizona State at 6 p.m. Tuesday while Southern Miss will play North Carolina in an elimination game. At the minimum, the Longhorns have two more games in Omaha. And YHC has two more games of high anxiety.

Saturday, June 13

James returns for senior season at Texas
Damion James has decided to withdraw his name from the NBA Draft and will return to the Longhorns for his senior season. James took part in NBA individual workouts to assess his draft possibilities.

“This process has been a great learning experience," the 6-7 forward said in a statement. "I’ve been able to get a much better understanding of how the NBA works and what they are looking for from me. That will definitely help when I go through this process again next year.

"I’m excited to come back to Austin and be around my Texas basketball family, because I’m really looking forward to this coming season.

"I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough to my family, my coaches, my teammates and those closest to me for their support and honesty through this process. I know they truly want what is best for me, and that means so much.”

James' return means that the Longhorns' roster for 2008-09 will be a talented mixture of veterans and newcomers. Texas figures to be ranked in hte preseason top five.

Friday, June 12

Remembering Dr. Bob Frederick
He was a good guy.

That's how I'll remember Dr. Bob Frederick. The former Kansas athletic director, who is best known for taking a chance and hiring Roy Williams to coach the Jayhawks, died Friday night at the age of 69. Frederick sustained head injuries Thursday in a bicycling accident near the KU campus.

Williams, whose life and career was forever altered when he became Frederick's coaching choice in 1989, told the Associated Press, "As fine a man as could possibly be, that was Bob Frederick ... He was the most ethical, the most moral person I've ever known."

During my years with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, I got to know Bob Frederick as the Kansas athletic director and as a chair of the NCAA Men's Basketball Committee. No matter the issue or topic of discussion, his demeanor was always thoughtful, measured and considerate. When there was an "issues" story about college sports, Bob was always on my call list. Just because he had "'Dr." before his first name didn't mean that he considered himself superior or above helping a confused reporter understand a complex issue.

Some administrators are always "on guard" when talking with a reporter. That was not the case with Bob. He always made me feel like we were having a conversation - it was never an adversarial "source vs. reporter" confrontation.

Early in the Big 12's history when the member schools were still unsure about the union, there were always stories about defections. One time, just before Christmas, I received a call at home from the sports desk. There was a story that Colorado was leaving to join the Pacific-10 Conference. I had to write about it.

After making several calls to answering machines, my last chance was Bob Frederick, whose home phone number was in the collegiate directory. I called, he answered and took time away from a holiday party to answer my questions. And at no time did I get the feeling that he was miffed about being bothered at home.

I saw Bob a few times after he retired as athletic director. Since 2001 he taught in KU's Department of Health, Sport and Exercise Science in the School of Education, and for two years served as department chair. Once I called him for a story about the basketball committee's weekend selecting the NCAA Tournament bracket. Each encounter, he treated me like we had just talked the day before.

That might not seem like a big deal but in 35 years in newspapering, there were few who made me feel like I was not just some pain-in-the-butt journalist.

Bob Frederick? He was a good guy. He's gone too soon. May he rest in peace.

Former Kansas athletic director Bob Frederick dies
From the Associtated Press: Bob Frederick, an accomplished college athletic administrator who took lots of heat for hiring an obscure assistant named Roy Williams, died Friday night.

The 69-year-old Frederick sustained head injuries in a bicyling accident on Thursday near the University of Kansas campus, where he lived.

He died at University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan.

In 1989, as athletic director at Kansas, he passed up dozens of experienced basketball coaches and took a chance on Williams, who was the No. 2 assistant at North Carolina.

Frederick's family issued a statement thanking all their family and friends for their support.

Bob Frederick seriously hurt in bike accident
From the Kansas City Star: Former Kansas athletics director Bob Frederick was listed in critical condition after being transported to a Kansas City, Kan., hospital on Thursday evening. Frederick was injured in a bicycle accident in Lawrence, according to numerous reports.

Frederick, 69, was reportedly riding near the intersection of Sixth Street and Kasold Drive. According to witnesses, Frederick’s bike struck a pothole and he was thrown head-first over the handlebars. Frederick, who police said was wearing a helmet, suffered a head injury and was flown to University of Kansas hospital.

Frederick served as athletics director at Kansas from 1987 to 2001. He is currently an instructor in the Health, Sport and Exercise Science department at KU.

Linkage
A great read from Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls, who writes about the thrill and memories of making his 18th trip to cover the College World Series.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops discussess the enrollment of freshman defensive lineman Jason Chaisson, who pled guilty to four gross misdemeanors in a Clark County Nev. Court in connection with an incident in which a former girlfriend was the victim.

Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune writes that a grass-roots campaign started by two members of Oklahoma's athletics training program is trying to increase awareness of sickle cell trait and the risks it carries for athletes.

Austin Meek of the Topeka Capital-Journal writes that Kansas State's suspension of two senior athletics department administrators only produces more questions about the mess inherited by new athletic director John Currie.

Former Baylor women's basketball coach Sonja Hogg will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame Saturday in Knoxville, Tenn.

According to Colorado Springs Gazette columnist David Ramsey, it's time for Air Force and Colorado to resume playing an football series. The series ended after the 1974 game in Boulder when anti-war sentiments fueled ugly confrontations in the stands.

Mike DeArmond of the Kansas City Star writes that Missouri athletic director Mike Alden, whose job was in jeopardy three years ago, is enjoying the across-the-board successes of the school's teams.

Thursday, June 11

Two Kansas State administrators on leave

Kansas State placed two senior members of its athletic athletic department on administrative leave Wednesday. Deputy athletic director Jim Epps, who has been with the school for 30 years, and Bob Cavello, associate A.D. for business operations, are both on leave. New athletic director John Currie, who officially took over on Monday, said in a statement that, "This decision is not based upon any concerns about misconduct on the part of either individual." Epps has denied knowledge of a ontroversial and allegedly secret agreement to funnel $3.2 million to fired football coach Ron Prince, which the school has challenged in court.

Former UT swim coach Richard Quick dies
Richard Quick, a legendary women's swimming coach who won five consecutive NCAA titles from 1984-88 at the University of Texas, died Wednesday night in Austin at age 66. He was diagnosed in December with inoperable brain cancer. Quick left Texas for Stanford in 1989 and he won seven NCAA titles there. Quick was the men's and women's coach at Auburn and he won one NCAA title there.

Nebraska names new gymnastics coach
Chuck Chmelka, a 22-year assistant with the Nebraska men’s gymnastics program, was named Wednesday to replace Francis Allen, who will retire after 40 years as the Cornhuskers' head coach. “Following Francis won’t be easy,” Chmelka said. “What a legend. He has helped me with so many different things.” Chmelka, a gymnast under Allen from 1978 to 1981, will be assisted by former teammate and four-year assistant Jim Hartung. “Neither Chuck nor I have been on a losing team, and I have an Olympic gold medal,” Hartung said. “Those are my expectations. We’re not used to losing.”

Wednesday, June 10

Osborne to stay indefinitely as Nebraska athletic director
Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman and NU Athletic Director Tom Osborne have mutually agreed to extend Osborne's appointment as athletic director indefinitely. Originally, the agreement stated that Osborne would serve as athletic director until June, 2010. Perlman and Osborne now have agreed that they will review the position on an annual basis.

"Tom originally agreed to come in temporarily and get the department moving in the right direction. He clearly accomplished that," Perlman said. "I believe he now feels comfortable serving on an ongoing basis, and I certainly feel comfortable having him do so."

Perlman and Osborne also agreed that when a successor is to be chosen, it will be done through an open search process with a committee representing the athletic department, the university, and the external community.

"While I think an open process is required, Tom's advice and counsel will play an important role in the ultimate selection, as will the views of our head coaches," Perlman said. "It's appropriate to indicate now, publicly, that an open process will be adopted in light of the speculation that there may already be a designated successor.

"I am delighted that Tom has agreed to stay in harness for an indefinite period," Perlman said. "The department faces some real challenges and opportunities as we move forward, and Tom brings a breadth of experience that can serve the university well."

Osborne said: "I want to thank Chancellor Perlman for the opportunity to serve as athletic director for a period of time that we both feel comfortable with. I enjoy working with student-athletes, coaches, and other athletic department personnel and hope that together we can serve the people of Nebraska and the university well."

Tuesday, June 9

Texas A&M's Bronson Burgoon qualifies for U.S. Open
Nine days after making the shot that helped Texas A&M win the NCAA Men's Golf Championship, Bronson Burgoon gets a shot at playing in the U.S. Open. The Aggie senior shot four-under-par (69-69-138) on Monday at Northwood Country Club in Dallas to earn one of two qualifying spots and will play in the U.S. Open June 18-21 at Bethpage State Park in Farmingdale, N.Y.

Monday, June 8

Texas heads to College World Series
Faced with the pressure of an elimination game, Texas responded the way a No. 1 seed should react. The Longhorns methodically pitched and hit their way to a 5-2 victory over TCU Monday night in the super regional.

The victory gives the Longhorns their 33rd trip to the College World Series that starts Saturday in Omaha, Neb.

Freshman Taylor Jungman threw 95 pitches in six innings, allowing just two hits. The last two innings he worked, the Longhorns' defense helped him out with double plays.

Austin Wood, the hero of Texas' record-setting 25-inning victory in the Austin Regional, allowed five hits in 2.1 innings pitched. Chance Ruffin, who pitched a complete game victory in the opener, came on to record the last two outs.

Texas grabbed the momentum in the first inning. Lead-off hitter Michael Torres lined the first pitch he saw for a single. Travis Tucker bunted him to second and Brandon Belt - who struck out three times in Sunday's game - tripled off the center field wall. Belt scored on a ground out and then Kevin Keyes crushed a home run to left field to give UT a 3-0 lead.

In the fourth, Keyes led off with a double and was a third with two outs. Cameron Rupp doubled to left and Connor Rowe, the ninth-place hitter in the Longhorns' lineup, singled to center to score Rupp and give Texas a 5-0 lead.

Texas became the eighth and final team to make this year's College World Series field. The Longhorns join Arkansas, LSU, Cal State-Fullerton, North Carolina, Virginia, Southern Miss and Arizona State that have reached the CWS.

Texas will face Southern Miss in the CWS opener. The other teams in the UT's bracket are Arizona State and North Carolina.

In the other four-team bracket, Arkansas will face Cal State-Fullerton while Virginia will face LSU.

WNBA rosters feature nine former Big 12 players
Nine former Big 12 players are on WNBA opening-day rosters including rookies Courtney Paris (Sacramento Monarchs, from Oklahoma) and Shalee Lehning (Atlanta Dream, from Kansas State). The other former Big 12 players playing at the pro level: Jia Perkins, Texas Tech (Chicago Sky); Plenette Pierson, Texas Tech (Detroit Shock); Tamecka Dixon, Kansas (Indiana Fever); Tiffany Jackson, Texas (New York Liberty); Nicole Ohlde, Kansas State (Phoenix Mercury); Sophia Young, Baylor (San Antonio Silver Stars); Nakia Sanford, Kansas (Washington Mystics).

NFL Draft favored Texas-bred players
Here's why so many schools - including those from the Big 12 - like to recruit in the state of Texas. According to USA Football, there were more players from Texas high schools (37) than any other state selected in the 2009 NFL Draft. California was second with 32 of its former high school players drafted, followed by Florida with 19. Seven first-round selections were New Jersey high school products while Texas had six first-rounders, including the first two picks:  Matthew Stafford and Jason Smith.

Lots of links
Texas A&M's men's and women's track teams head to the NCAA Championships Wednesday and each are ranked second nationally.

Columnist Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman continues his must-read effort of ranking this season's Big 12 football games in must-seed order.

After 40 successful seasons, Nebraska gymnastics coach Francis Allen has announced he's retiring.

Colorado hoped to break ground on a basketball and volleyball practice facility at the Coors Events Center but the timeline has been pushed back.

A 13-year project to renovate Oklahoma State's football stadium will be completed in a few weeks. The Tulsa World reviews the improvements in words and pictures.

And while the football stadium's renovation is complete, construction on the school's athletic village is on hold because of stock market money lost during the economic crisis.

Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune continues his Summer Countdown series by ranking the Big 12's top 12 pass receivers.

Fans from schools who try to influence prospective student-athletes on social networking sites could be committing NCAA recruiting violations. Kansas is trying to eductate fans by posting the dos and don'ts on the school's Facebook page.

Kansas State basketball coach Frank Martin is excited about his incoming recruiting class because it will join a veteran roster.

Thursday, June 4

Hall of Fame requests 25-inning "souvenirs"
For a game that set an NCAA record for length, it hasn't taken long for the Texas-Boston College Austin Regional marathon to become famous. Famous as in hall of fame.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., has asked for Texas pitcher Austin Wood’s baseball cap and Longhorns second baseman Travis Tucker’s Louisville Slugger bat. Tucker drove in the winning run in the top of the 25th inning in UT's 3-2 victory. Wood made Tucker's heroics possible by pitching a career-high 13 innings, throwing 169 pitches, striking out 14 and not allowing a hit for the first 12 1/3 innings

When Longhorns equipment manager Vinny Alcazar texted Tucker on Monday informing him of the request, the senior second baseman from Killeen figured he was being played.

“I was really shocked and speechless. That’s a big honor,” Tucker told the Austin American Statesman. “I told them they could have my glove, too.”

The Hall of Fame also requested the umpire’s scorecard.

Two Big 12 players finalists for baseball awards
Kansas State junior pitcher A.J. Morris and Oklahoma catcher J.T. Wise are finalists for college baseball individual awards.

Morris is one of five finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the top player in collegiate baseball by USA Baseball.  Morris, the Big 12's Pitcher of the Year, is Kansas State's single-season record holder for victories (14), strikeouts (100), innings pitched (116.1) and games started (16). His 2.09 ERA was the seventh lowest in school history.

Dustin Ackley (North Carolina), Mike Leake (Arizona State), Kent Matthes (Alabama) and Stephen Strasburg (San Diego State) are the other Golden Spikes finalists.

Wise, Big 12 Player of the Year, is one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award given annually to college baseball's top catcher. Wise hit .375 with 17 home runs and 62 RBIs.

George Mason's Chris Henderson and Tony Sanchez of Boston College are the other two finalists for the award given out by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission.

Click and read
J.T. Higgins, coach of Texas A&M's national championship golf team, is finding that he's now a popular guy in College Station.

Missouri is picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 North by Phil Steele, whose college football preview magazine is regarded as comprehensive and prescient. The Tigers' coaching staff respectfully disagree with the prediction.

Texas Tech's Omo Osaghae, one of the nation’s top high hurdlers, was disqualifed for a false start during the NCAA regional track meet and won't be competing in the NCAA outdoor track and field championships.

Two stories by Clay Horning in the Norman (Okla.) Transcript that reflect on the University of Oklahoma's 2008-09 season an individual and team perspective.

The Tulsa World provides the details on the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, that will be home to the Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship game and the BYU-Oklahoma game, the first regular-season game in the new facility.

Missouri signee Sheldon Richardson, one of the nation's top high school football recruits, didn't qualify academically and will be headed to a junior-college instead of Columbia. In recruiting Richardson, the Tigers' coaching staff had a plan in place for Richardson in case he failed to make the necessary test score.

Wednesday, June 3

Big 12 announces Oklahoma duo as Sportspersons of the Year
Oklahoma student-athletes Ashley Paris and Blake Griffin were named Wednesday as the 2008-09 Big 12 Sportspersons of the Year. Paris was a senior on the women’s basketball team while Griffin completed his sophomore year on the men’s basketball squad. Oklahoma's women's team reached the Final Four while the men's team reached the regional final.

The Sportspersons of the Year Award was started in 2000-01 to annually recognize student-athletes who displayed an extraordinary degree of sportsmanship and/or community service during the academic year. Paris and Griffin were selected by a media panel. Both are nominated for the NCAA Sportsmanship Award.

Big 12 Sportspersons of the Year
Female
2001   Kim Woodlee, Kansas State; basketball
2002   Natalie Ritchie, Texas Tech; basketball
2003   Laura Pilakowski, Nebraska; volleyball
2004   Jessika Stratton, Baylor; basketball
2005   Richelle Simpson, Nebraska; gymnastics
2006   Jodie Heinicka, Missouri; gymnastics
2007   Amanda Costner, Kansas; golf
2008   Katie Martincich, Kansas; volleyball
2009   Ashley Paris, Oklahoma; basketball

Male
2001   Dan Alexander, Nebraska; football
2002   Cael Sanderson, Iowa State; wrestling
2003   Jeff Leise, Nebraska; baseball
2004   Mark Clayton and Lynn McGruder, Oklahoma; football
2005   Ahmard Hall, Texas; football
2006   Parker Dalton, Texas A&M; baseball
2007   Carl Pendleton, Oklahoma; football
2008   Mamadou Diene, Baylor; basketball
2009   Blake Griffin, Oklahoma; basketball

Monday, June 1

Texas will host super regional, faces TCU
Texas, the top seed in the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship, was selected as one of the eight super regional hosts announced Monday night.

The Longhorns (44-13-1) will face a familiar foe in Austin, former Southwest Conference foe TCU. The Horned Frogs (39-16) won the Fort Worth Regional with a 3-0 record.

Game One of the super regional in Austin will be at 5 p.m. Saturday on ESPNU. Game Two will be at 2 p.m. Sunday and will be televised by ESPN. The third game in the double elimination format, if necessary, will be at either noon or 6 p.m. Monday. If at at noon, the game will be carried by ESPN. If at 6 p.m., the game will air on ESPN2.

Texas will be trying to return to the College World Series for the first time since 2005 when the Longhorns won the national championship.

Rice sends Kansas State home a victory short
Kansas State had been playing baseball for 109 years and had never participated in the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship until this year. The Wildcats won their first two games in the Houston Regional but came up short of advancing to the super regional.

Rice, the No. 1 seed playing its home park, defeated Kansas State 13-4 Monday night to advance to the baseball tournamen's sweet 16. The Owls followed up their 8-0 victory Sunday night that forced the deciding game.

The game was tied 2-2 heading into the home half of the fourth inning. Rice scored six runs with the biggest blow a three-run homer by catcher Diego Seastrunk. That made it 8-2 and the Owls - who pounded out 20 hits against six Kansas State pitchers - added two more runs in the fifth.

Clemson ends Oklahoma State's season
Oklahoma State, an at-large selection whose inclusion in the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship drew lots of criticism, came within three innings of advancing to the super regional.

The Cowboys were in control most of the game but let a four-run lead slip away Monday night as Clemson, playing on its home field as the No. 1 seed, rallied for a 6-5 victory.

Oklahoma State scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 5-1 lead. Cowboys starter Tyler Lyons got the first two outs before a throwing error put a runner at first. Designated hitter Chris Epps followed with a two-run homer just over the left-field walk to make it 5-3. A double and a run-scoring single made it 5-4.

In the bottom of the eighth, Lyons walked the leadoff hitter but retired the next two hitters. A double to left center put runners at second and third. With reliever Randy McCurry pitching, Kyle Parker, the number eight hitter in the Clemson lineup, singled to right to drive home both runs and making it 6-5.

The Cowboys got a one-out single from Neil Medchill, who then advanced to second on a ground out. After Tom Belza was intentionally walked, DH Mark Ginther, who had homered early in the game, struck out on three pitches.

Congratulations to the Capel family
Oklahoma basketball coach Jeff Capel’s wife, Kanika, gave birth to the couple’s second daughter last Tuesday, welcoming Sydney Gabrealle Capel. The baby went home Thursday. "Both mom and baby are doing great,” Capel said in an e-mail to the Oklahoman. The Capels now have two daughters, Sydney and 2-year-old Cameron.

Here's a taste of 2009 football
Nothing like a tasty appetizer to prepare the palate for a great meal. Three months before toe meets leather to start the 2009 season, the Big 12 announced part of its telecast schedule for games that will air on ABC, ESPN, FSN and VERSUS.

Fourteen contests have currently been chosen by ABC and ESPN, nine of those as part of the Big 12’s television package along with five non-conference road games. The Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship will be aired by ABC in prime time for the ninth time as it makes its debut in Cowboys Stadium. FSN has announced four of its initial selections and one game that will be televised by VERSUS. ABC and FSN will select additional games throughout the season. The majority of the televised games will be announced on a 12-day notice. ABC has rights to exercise a six-day option three times during the season.

Some highlights:

* The Texas-Oklahoma game Oct. 17 will air at 11 a.m. on a national ABC telecast.

* Oklahoma State, expected to be a pre-season top 10 team, will open its season against Georgia in a game telecast by ABC on Sept. 5.

* The BYU-Oklahoma on the same day will be televised by ESPN. The game will be played in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the site of this year's Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship (airing at 7 p.m. Dec. 5 on ABC).

* Texas Tech at Texas on Sept. 19 will be an ABC prime-time telecast at 7 p.m.

* Big 12 teams will appear on ESPN's Thursday night telecasts three times - Colorado at West Virginia on Oct. 1; Nebraska at Missouri on Oct. 8; and Colorado at Oklahoma State on Nov. 19.

Big 12 Early Portion Football Telecast Schedule
(all times listed as Central)

Saturday, September 5
Georgia at Oklahoma State, 2:30 p.m., ABC
Missouri vs. Illinois (St. Louis), 2:40 p.m., ESPN
BYU vs. Oklahoma (Arlington, Texas), 6 p.m., ESPN

Sunday, September 6
Colorado State at Colorado, 6 p.m., FSN

Friday, September 11
Colorado at Toledo, 8 p.m., ESPN

Saturday, September 12
Iowa at Iowa State, 11 a.m., FSN
Houston at Oklahoma State, 2:30 p.m., FSN

Saturday, September 19
Duke at Kansas, 11 a.m., VERSUS
Tulsa at Oklahoma, 2:30 p.m., FSN
Texas Tech at Texas, 7 p.m., ABC

Friday, September 25
Missouri at Nevada, ESPN, 8 p.m.

Saturday, September 26
Texas Tech at Houston, 8:15 p.m., ESPN2

Thursday, October 1
Colorado at West Virginia, 6:30 p.m., ESPN

Thursday, October 8                                        
Nebraska at Missouri, 8 p.m., ESPN

Saturday, October 17               
Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas), 11 a.m., ABC

Thursday, November 19
Colorado at Oklahoma State, 6:30 p.m., ESPN
 
Thursday, November 26
Texas at Texas A&M, 7 p.m., ESPN

Friday, November 27
Nebraska at Colorado, 2:30 p.m., ABC

Saturday, December 5
Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship (Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas), 7 p.m., ABC

Early part of football TV schedule to be announced
The calendar says it's the first day of June but that means that football is just three months away. And the Big 12 has the early part of its college football television schedule nailed down.

At 10 a.m. on big12sports.com, the Conference will reveal the first portion of its 2009 football television schedule with games to air on ABC, ESPN, FSN and VERSUS.

The Big 12 has announced the first portion of its 2009 football television schedule with games to air on ABC, ESPN, FSN and VERSUS. FSN has announced four of its initial selections and one game that will be televised by VERSUS.

In less than an hour, check the web site for the official announcement. Find out which games will be telecast on Sept. 5, the "opening day" of the 2009 season and What time will Oklahoma vs. Texas kick off.

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