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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 th 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. 

May 2010

Saturday, May 29

Hot links for a Saturday morning
The Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship game at 1 p.m. Sunday on FSN matches familiar foes - Baylor and Texas A&M.

New Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle, in this Q and A with the Boulder Daily Camera, says the Buffs can't take anything for granted as they attempt to move up in the Big 12 standings.

Chip Brown of Rivals.com reports that the Big 12 and Pacific-10 conferences are "inching closer" to a joint television agreement.

Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman writes that OU's women's basketball team found hope and faith alive during a trip to earthquake-raved Haiti.

The Norman Transcript reports that former Oklahoma basketball player Keith "Tiny" Gallon has not cooperated during an NCAA investigation of the Sooners' basketball program.

Thursday, May 27

Four from Big 12 schools into College Football Hall of Fame
Three players players and a coach from Big 12 schools are among 14 inductees to the College Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2010 - Nebraska linebacker Barry Alvarez, Texas A&M defensive lineman Ray Childress, Colorado linebacker Alfred Williams and former Texas A&M coach Gene Stallings. The list of inductees were announced this week.

Alvarez, who lettered as a linebacker at Nebraska from 1965 to 1967, will be inducted as a coach, along with Gene Stallings.

Alvarez had a record of 118-73-4 (.615) at Wisconsin from 1990 to 2005, becoming the winningest coach in school history. He also had the highest bowl winning percentage of all-time at Wisconin (8-3, .727), while coaching three Big Ten and Rose Bowl champions.

Childress was a dominating presence on the defensive line for the Aggies in the 1980s. He was a two-time All-American and two-time All-Southwest Conference. In his last two seasons, Childress totaled 25 sacks and 241 tackles.

Williams was a two-time All-American and played on the Buffs' 1990 national championship team. He also won the Butkus Award, which is presented to college football's best linebacker. Williams' 35 sacks are the best in school history.

Stallings played at Texas A&M and was one of the "Junction Boys" under coach Paul "Bear"Bryant. Stallings coached at Texas A&M from 1965-71 and led te Aggies to the 1967 Southwest Conference title and a Cotton Bowl victory over Alabama and Bryant. In 1992, Stallings coached Alabama to the 1992 national championship.

Another attendance record for Big 12 women's basketball
The Big 12 Conference set an NCAA women's basketball attendance record for the second consecutive year. The league's 12 teams drew 1,091,289 and led the nation in attendance for the 11th straight season. It's the fifth time the Conference have reached the one-million mark.

Last season, the Big 12 set the record with 1,073,069. The Big 12's 2009-10 average of 5,247 per game fell just short of its own national record of 5,381 set in 2003-04. The Big 12 is the only conference to reach the one-million attendance mark.

Ten Big 12 schools were ranked in the Top 50 for average home attendance with five listed in the Top 10 and eight in the Top 25. Iowa State led the Big 12 contingent for the second consecutive year in third (9,316) followed by 6. Oklahoma (7,681), 7. Nebraska (7,390), 8. Baylor (7,209) and 10. Texas Tech (6,837). TTU has been among the Top 10 teams nationally in home attendance all 14 years since the inception of the league.

Nebraska led the nation in the largest improvement in attendance average from the previous season with an additional 4,719 fans per game in 2009-10.

Baylor (248,238), Oklahoma (245,432) and Iowa State (233,645) were among six teams nationally (Connecticut, Tennessee, Notre Dame) to draw more than 200,000 in cumulative attendance for all games - home, road and neutral.

KU coach Bill Self impressed with recruit
Kansas coach Bill Self isn't messing around regarding the hype of incoming freshman point guard Josh Shelby, a one-time Tennessee commit. "He's the most talented player I've ever recruited, definitely the highest-rated kid,'' Self said. "He's going to be a terrific player. He's my kind of player. I know that.''

Self is convinced that the addition of Selby takes the Jayhawks to another level. Kansas was losing the heart-and-soul of its top-rated team in point Sherron Collins as well as freshman wing Xavier Henry and junior big man Cole Aldrich. But the return of Marcus Morris up front and now the addition of Selby at the point (as well as plenty more than competent role players) makes KU a threat in the Big 12 yet again.

"Josh is athletic, fast, can score, and he's ornery,'' Self said. "We just have to harness that energy. But he'll be terrific.''

Self said Morris is as talented a returning player as any in the Big 12. He said Morris and Selby will be two lottery-like picks on the squad. "I like our team; we'll be more athletic this year, but we won't have the anchor inside like Cole,'' Self said. "We needed a personality and a presence. [Selby] is that. If he's able to come in here and adjust quickly, he'll have as much impact as any player we've had as a freshman since I've been here.''

Opinions from Mke DeCourcy of The Sporting News
Mike DeCourcy, the erudite college basketball writer for The Sporting News, weighs in on the news about involving alleged mismanagement of tickets in the Kansas athletic department.

1. How big of a black eye is the Kansas ticket scandal on that program, and college basketball as a whole?

DeCourcy: I honestly don't see it as an issue for either. It's a crisis for the Kansas athletic department to allow this level of alleged fraud to contaminate its offices with no one catching on for nearly a decade. Not only was money apparently lost that could have been put to important uses, the misdirection of those tickets was an affront to every Kansas fan interested in attending a game but unable to secure admission.

To the extent that other programs might have the same issues, it's a crisis for them, too.

But in what way does that stain the sport of college basketball? If a department store clerk is dipping into the register, does that somehow corrupt the people manufacturing dishwashers?

2. Should schools cut ties with the influential Pump brothers after a Yahoo! Sports report alleged they were behind the Kansas scandal?

DeCourcy: It will be interesting to monitor the level of attendance this summer at the Pumps' annual Collegiate Business Conference. The Pumps have played host to some of college sports' most influential administrators and some of college basketball's most successful coaches.

Will anybody want to come now?

In the Los Angeles Times, the Pumps, through attorney David Cornwell, declared their innocence. Cornwell questioned the credibility of the source who mentioned the Pumps, David Freeman of Lawrence, Kan., who is facing 18 months in prison on a bribery charge that is unrelated to this case. It's a logical strategy for a lawyer to follow, but it might not be worth a lot in PR terms.

The Pumps' operations have been questioned many times by the media and they have fiercely defended their business as being above reproach. This is the first time, though, anyone has gone beyond the "raised-eyebrow" approach and procured an on-the-record source alleging the Pumps' involvement in a circumstance that, at best, would be described as scandalous.

Linkage
* The scheduling alliance for television that would partner the Big 12 with the Pacific-10 conferences is gaining momentum.

* Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas is a Nebraska fan. He was in Lincoln this week and said he hoped to return for the Texas game on Oct. 16. He joked that he's "going to be the timekeeper."

* Interesting story by Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com how the exodus from the Rust Belt states is effecting college football recruiting for schools located in that segment of the country.

Tuesday, May 25

Basketball items
For you hoops junkies who are jonesin' for some college basketball talk in the middle of May, here are links to a couple of interesting items.

* ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas is on a campaign to return college basketball to a more manly mind set. In this offering on ESPN.com, Bilas discusses how the NCAA Tournament would be structured to accommodate the 68-team format. Bilas was against expanding the field, as was Your Humble Correspondent, and he's plain spoken in response to a story about how teams that find themselves annually as a low seed would be stigmatized.

* One of the best moves the NCAA has made in recent years is conducting mock bracket seminars involving coaches and the media. These exercises allow for more clarity as to how the Division I Men's Basketball Committee (which includes Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe) goes about selecting, seeding and bracketing the field. Two weeks ago in Indianapolis, the NCAA staged a mock bracket exercise for the executive board meeting of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Monday, May 24

NCAA helps Texas A&M ease some of the pain
Kevin Sherrington of the Dallas Morning News had a great Sunday column about the death of Texas A&M basketball recruit Tobi Oyedeji and the impact it had on Aggies' basketball coach Mark Turgeon.

In a sad and tragic turn of events, Oyedeji died in a car accident on the morning of May 16. He was just a few minutes from safely returning home from a school after party following prom night at Houston Bellaire High School. He was also six days from his 18th birthday.

Turgeon and the Aggies' basketball program were devastated over the loss of a wonderful young man who also just happened to be a 6-9, 220-pound power forward who figured to have an immediate impact on the floor next season.

In such unthinkable circumstances, human nature is to reach out and comfort those in need. Turgeon knew that Oyedeji's parents were overwhelmed with grief - Tobi was their only son. However, this is the middle of the spring recruiting period and NCAA rules about such things can be heartless when considered in the black-and-white context of the rule book.

In this situation, though, the NCAA granted Texas A&M's waiver requests that allowed Turgeon to attend a charity basketball game last Wednesday featuring seniors (recruitable student-athletes) from Bellaire and Houston Yates High School. The NCAA also allowed Turgeon and his players to attend Saturday's funeral at A&M's expense and allowed the school to "provide financial support to assist the family with funeral and medical expenses at this difficult period of time."

There are no bright spots in the death of a teenager with such a promising future. Turgeon, his players, Texas A&M and the NCAA, though, combined to do all they could to make the unthinkable slightly easier to comprehend.

Prayers and condolences
Tragedy struck Big 12 basketball for the second time last week. Darius Johnson, 15, the younger brother of former Texas center Dexter Pittman, was shot was shot in the head and killed in a dispute in his garage Thursday night in Houston. Pittman, who was at the NBA Draft combine in Chicago, returned home to Houston Friday morning after being told of the shooting late Thursday.

Pittman had been working hard and was in great shape in order to prove himself worthy of being drafted. According to Longhorns assistant coach Rodney Terry, Pittman had been trying to get his brother Darius "on track. He had really worked hard to keep him out of trouble. So did his mom. He did everything he could. It's just so sad."

Oklahoma, Missouri advance to softball Super Regionals
Oklahoma and Texas, the two teams who played in the title game of the Big 12 Softball Championship, are the two Conference teams still alive in the NCAA Division I Women's Softball Championship. The Sooners, who defeated the Tigers for the Big 12 crown on May 16, went 3-0 to win the College Park Regional. Missouri also went 3-0 to win the Columbia Regional.

Both teams will compete in best-of-three Super Regionals starting Friday. Oklahoma (43-10), the No. 14 national seed, will travel to Seattle to face No. 3 national seed and defending national champion Washington (45-6). Missouri (46-11), the No. 9 national seed, earned the right to host a Super Regional for the first time in school history. Oregon (33-19), which knocked off No. 8 seed Georgia Tech, will travel to Columbia.

The Sooners traveled 1,150 miles to play in last week's regional. This week's journey from Norman to Seattle is 1,540 miles. That's well over 5,000 miles of travelling.

Oklahoma faced Washington on Feb. 26 in the Cathedral City Classic and the Huskies won, 7-4.

The Tigers' journey to their third consecutive Super Regional didn't involve travel but it was just as challenging. In mid-March, Missouri lost sophomore pitching ace Chelsea Thomas to a stress fracture in her right (pitching) wrist. Missouri has overcome that setback thanks to a potent lineup that produced more runs than any Big 12 team.

Baseball news and notes
With the Big 12 regular season complete and the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship schedule set, here are some highlights from the final weekend.

* Regular-season champion Texas set a record for most victories in Big 12 play with 24. Since Iowa State dropped baseball after the 2001 season, Big 12 teams play a 27-game schedule. The previous record for victories (23) was set by teams playing a 30-game schedule.

* The Longhorns' winning percentage of .889 far surpassed the previous best winning percentage set by Texas A&M in 1999 (.793). Texas also finished eight games ahead of second-place Oklahoma. The previous largest games-behind margin between first and second place had been in 2002 when Texas finished three games ahead of second-place Nebraska.

* Texas hit five home runs Sunday in its 20-11 victory over Missouri. The Longhorns have parked 71 over the fence this season, a single-season school record. The 2007 team hit 69.

* Oklahoma goes into the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship as the No. 2 seed and one of the hottest teams in the field. The Sooners swept the series at Kansas thanks to late-inning heroics of catcher Tyler Ogle. He won Saturday's game with a two-out, three-run double that provided the margin in an 8-7 victory. With Sunday's game tied at 6-6 in the top of the ninth, Ogle launched a three-run homer as OU won, 9-6. Two innings earlier, Cameron Seitzer's three-run homer capped a four-run frame that erased the Jayhawks' 5-2 lead.

* Over its last four games (one win, three losses) Kansas has allowed 19 ninth-inning runs while scoring zero runs in the ninth.

* Nebraska might be sitting at home during the Big 12 Championship for the second consecutive season but the Huskers have to feel good about how they ended the season. Nebraska swept Texas Tech, the No. 5 seed in the Big 12 tournament, to finish 27-27 overall and 10-17 in the Big 12. The sweep, coupled with Baylor's sweep of Oklahoma State, enabled the Huskers to finish in ninth place ahead of the Cowboys. Nebraska won eight of its last 11.

* Texas A&M seniors Clayton Ehlert and Joe Patterson closed out their Olsen Field careers in grand fashion. Ehlert limited Kansas State - the Big 12's best offense - to eight hits and two runs in 7.1 innings. Patterson drove in the Aggies' runs with homers in the first and eighth innings. Texas A&M took the series after dropping Friday night's opener. "I'm really proud of the way we finished the regular season, but we leave tomorrow on a business trip," A&M coach Rob Childress said of the upcoming Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. "We're going up there to win a championship, and come home with a trophy and a ring. Anything less will be disappointing."

* Craig Fritsch tied his career high with 10 strikeouts and made the longest start of his career to help Baylor to a 4-1 victory Sunday that completed a sweep of visiting Oklahoma State. Fritsch worked 6.2 innings before being relieved by Joey Hainsfurther.

* After participating in the first 12 Big 12 Championships, Oklahoma State will sit out its second consecutive conference postseason tournament. The Cowboys were swept by Baylor and finished 8-19 and in 10th place in the Big 12.

Golf history
* Texas Tech was playing on Texas A&M's home course but that didn't deter the Red Raiders from making history. Texas Tech won its first NCAA Regional title in men's golf Saturday, finishing with an 851 three-day team score to edge the defending national champion Aggies by one stroke. With the victory, Texas Tech qualified for the NCAA Championships along with A&M and Baylor, which gained the last spot in a playoff. Oklahoma State and Texas also earned invitations to the NCAA Championships.

* Caroline Hedwall's farewell competition as an Oklahoma State golfer was memorable. The sophomore, who is from Loddekopinge, Sweden, shot a final-round 68 Friday and became the first Cowgirl golfer to win medalist honors at the NCAA Championship. Hedwall plans to play an amateur schedule this summer and then will try to qualify for the LPGA Tour. A two-time Big 12 player of the year, Hedwall was under par all four days and finished with a 12-under total of 276. On Sunday, Hedwall was named the PING/NGCA Division I Player of the Year by the National Golf Coaches Association.

Sunday, May 23

Softball regional updates
Five Big 12 teams are still alive in the Division I NCAA Women's Softball Championship.

Oklahoma and Missouri are undefeated and need just one more victory to advance to the Super Regional.

The Sooners will face Fordham at 11 a.m. Sunday in the College Park Regional. Oklahoma defeated Fordham 1-0 Saturday to advance to the championship game undefeated. The Tigers defeated Illinois 3-1 and will face the Illini again at 1 p.m. Sunday in the Columbia Regional.

Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Nebraska battled through the loser's bracket to advance to championship games Sunday.

The Aggies, after losing their opener 5-0 Friday to Louisiana-Lafayette, beat McNeese State 2-0 and host LSU 1-0 Saturday in the Baton Rouge Regional. Texas A&M will face a rematch with Louisiana-Lafayette at 1 p.m. Sunday and will need to win two games to advance.

Texas Tech knocked off UC Davis 1-0 and Stanford 6-3 on Saturday. The Red Raiders will face Hawaii at 3 p.m. Sunday and will need to win twice to advance to the Super Regional.

Nebraska beat North Dakota State, 5-1, Saturday night in the Seattle Regional. The game was interrupted for three hours by rain. The Huskers will face North Carolina at 2 p.m. Sunday. That game was postponed by rain. The winner of the Nebraska-North Carolina game will face No. 3 national seed and defending national champion Washington, the host team.

Oklahoma State's season ended with a 5-2 loss to Hofstra Saturday night in the Tucson Regional. The Cowgirls finished with a 44-16 record.

Saturday, May 22

Saturday link ups
Baylor clinches the final spot in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship and eliminates Oklahoma State from postseason play with a four-run ninth inning rally capped by Brooks Pinckard's two-run single with two outs.

An evening of frustration turned into elation as Missouri scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to win their NCAA softball tournament opener in the Columbia Regional Friday.

Mike Jones of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that Texas' off-season workouts with former NBA players will be a key to the basketball team's 2010-11 seasons.

Kansas State's comeback victory in extra innings at Texas A&M Friday night left Aggies coach Rob Childress and some of his players angry.

For the second week in a row, a big sixth inning by the opposition (Oklahoma this time) helps derail Kansas.

Texas' softball season ends with two one-run losses Friday in the NCAA Tournament Austin Regional.

John Rohde of the Oklahoman writes about the discussions and debate about the Big 12 women's basketball championship being held in a different city than the men's tournament. The paper is also conducting an on-line fans poll about that topic.

Colorado coach Dan Hawkins claims the Buffs are close to returning to "the national stage" in college football.

Friday, May 21

Baseball notes and news
* This is the final weekend of play before the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship starts next week in Oklahoma City. Texas, with a 21-3 record, is the regular-season champion and will be the No. 1 seed. The Longhorns will try to set the Big 12 record for victories when they play at Missouri starting Friday. Nebraska is the only one of 10 teams that can't qualify for the Big 12 Championship.

* From second place through ninth place, the Big 12 standings are a jumbled mess. Between second-place Kansas State (13-10 conference record) and seventh-place Missouri (10-13), there are three games worth of separation. The Tigers have almost assured themselves of one of eight spots in next week's Big 12 Championship. Ninth-place Oklahoma State is at eighth-place Baylor for a three-game series starting Friday that will determine the final berth at Oklahoma City.

* To grab the eighth and final spot in the Big 12 Championship, Oklahoma State must sweep Baylor while the Bears need just one victory to qualify for a trip to OKC. The Cowboys, who have lost five of their last six Big 12 games, hope to avoid missing the Big 12 Championship for the second consecutive season. Last year, despite not playing in the Big 12 tournament, Oklahoma State still earned an at-large NCAA bid. With a 29-23 record heading into the weekend, it's unlikely they can repeat that trick this season unless they earn a Big 12 tourney bid.

* Oklahoma, a half game behind second-place Kansas State in the Big 12 standings, is closing with a rush. The Sooners have won 13 of their last 17 and have won their last four series in conference play. Included in the recent hot streak are nonconference victories over ranked teams TCU and Arkansas.

* Kansas State, which made the NCAA Tournament for the first time last season, heads into the weekend trying to make more history. The Wildcats could finish in second place which would be their highest Big 12 finish ever. Kansas State, though, closes out conference play at Texas A&M and College Station has been a tough trip for the Wildcats. They haven't won there since 2004 and they have a 3-18-1 record on the Aggies' home field.

* Texas A&M has won six in a row, the best current streak in the Big 12. The Aggies swept Oklahoma State in Stillwater last weekend, allowing just four runs. Friday night starter Barret Loux is 9-2 with a 2.05 ERA, which is second only to Cole Green of Texas. Opposing batters are hitting just .188 against Loux; that's the best among Big 12 starters.

The last time Texas played at Missouri, something happened that still doesn't make sense. For those not familiar with recent history, the Longhorns allowed 31 - that's right, 31 - runs in the series opener. UT jumped to an 8-0 lead before the Tigers ravaged the Horns for 26 hits, seven home runs in a 31-12 victory. Mizzou followed that up with a 13-2 victory in Game Two - 44 runs in two games.

* Six teams from the Big 12 were ranked in the top 50 in this week's NCAA RPI report, including Texas (6), Oklahoma (25), Texas A&M (31), Kansas State (41), Baylor (49) and Texas Tech (50). Kansas (54), Nebraska (73), Missouri (81) and Oklahoma State (88) are also featured among the top 100. The RPI is released on Tuesday afternoons each week.

Monday, May 16

The Good Life
Cade Davis, who is one of the few experienced players left on Oklahoma's men's basketball roster, figures to be a starter and a main offensive weapon when he's a senior next season. Mr. Davis is living the good life - Oklahoma native, playing major-college basketball and in the company of an attractive young woman.  According to OU basketball sports information director Mike Houck, Davis' girlfriend is Morgan Woolard - Miss Oklahoma and the runner-up Sunday in the 2010 Miss USA pageant.

Sunday, May 16

Prayers and condolences
Michael "Tobi" Oyedeji, a Houston Bellaire High School player who had signed a national letter of intent with Texas A&M's basketball team, died Sunday following injuries suffered in a car accident Saturday night.

"The world has lost a great kid today," Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon told television station KBTX. "Tobi epitomized the term student-athlete. He was a very good student. He worked hard in the classrooms and on the basketball court and he was a terrific basketball player. This is difficult to understand and today is a very sad day. My heart aches for his mom and dad. Tobi was an only child and I would like everyone to pray for Tobi's parents."

According to the Houston Chronicle, Oyedeji attended Bellaire's prom and a school-sponsored after-party at Dave & Busters. At 5:53 a.m. Sunday he sent his father Michael a text that read, "Dad, I'm on my way home."

"I don't know why this happened," Michael Oyedeji told the Chronicle.

Tobi Oyedeji was involved in an accident around 6:15 a.m. Sunday morning. He apparently lost control of his car and it traveled over the median and struck another car before hitting an SUV head-on. The female driver of the SUV was pronounced dead at the scene.

Earlier this month, Oyedeji was named player of the game for the American team in the High School Academic All-American game in Azusa, Calif., after scoring 19 points with seven rebounds and five blocked shots. Players who participated in the game had to have a GPA higher than 3.0, high SAT or ACT scores and be heavily involved in extracurricular activities.

The Most Valuable Player of District 20-5A, Oyedeji, 6-9 and 215 pounds, was one of the top high school basketball players in the Houston area and ESPNU listed Oyedeji as the 19th best power forward in the nation. This past season, he averaged just under 16 points and eight rebounds a game and was also a prolific shot-blocker.

Oyedeji would have turned 18 Friday.

Friday, May 14

Tracking track and field stories
Here are links to some interesting stories as the Big 12 Track and Field Championships get started Friday at Missouri.

* A year ago, Kansas State freshman Sara Stoakes was single-handedly leading her Class 1A high school team to the Iowa state championship. The middle-distance runner is continuing to make news for the Wildcats.

* Missouri's Nick Adcock, one of the top decathletes in the country, hopes to make up for the disappointment he suffered at last year's Big 12 outdoor meet.

* Texas A&M men's and women's coach Pat Henry has his teams in position to defend their NCAA titles.

* Lehann Fourie, Nebraska's outstanding performer in the 110-meter hurdles, will be a key factor for the Huskers as they try to defend their men's track title.

* Texas sophomore Angele Cooper figures to be busy as she will be running 400 meters in three different events for the Longhorns.

* Oklahoma's men's and women's teams are ranked in the top 10 and they're determined to be successful in Columbia this weekend.

* Texas Tech is intent on ending Texas A&M's reign at the top in women's track.

* Baylor's men's and women's teams are healthy and peaking headed into the conference meet.

Thursday, May 13

Dan Beebe answers expansion questions
Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe was a guest with Kevin Kietzman on WHB/810 in Kansas City on Wednesday, May 12. For about 30 minutes, Beebe answered a number of questions about the current hot topic in college sports - conference expansion and realignment.

Beebe said that when the conference holds its spring meetings in Kansas City in three weeks he plans to be frank in talking with league members.

"We need to come to terms with and we need to have a frank conversation in Kansas City," Beebe said. "We need to talk about where we're going and who's on the plane when it takes off. I will be very direct and talk about that with our membership. We've got a lot of good things in store for us if we stick together. It would be a shame, given that all boats have risen with this tide created by the Big 12, that they think they can have a better future somewhere else. ... I truly believe that."

Beebe also discussed the expansion/realignment issue is occupying his time, advancing and positioning the Big 12, the issue of revenue sharing, the talks with the Pacific-10 Conference regarding a media/television partnership and the future of Kansas City as a championship host should Missouri leave the Big 12.

Listen to the full interview with commissioner Beebe here.

Wednesday, May 12

News and notes
*
With the deadline passed for college players to enter the NBA Draft, media outlets are announcing their (early) pre-season top 25 rankings. Here are three - Andy Katz of ESPN.com, RushTheCourt.com and Luke Winn of SI.com (who ranked his top 16 in his "Power Rankings").

* Texas coach Mack Brown and Alabama coach Nick Saban were in Los Angeles recently taping a promo spot for ESPN's College GameDay show. The coaches, whose teams squared off in last season's national championship game, were filmed playing the children's game Hungry Hungry Hippos (Your Humble Correspondent can't wait to see how that becomes relevant to the Longhorns, the Crimson Tide and college football). Hopefully, none of Brown's Hippos were sidelined with an injury just minutes into the filming.

* Darren Rovell of CNBC.com reports that more parents are naming their baby boys after a former Texas quarterback: "In 2006, the year McCoy was a redshirt freshman starter at Texas, Colt -- which is of Old English origin meaning young male horse -- was the 909th most popular baby name in the United States, up 37 spots from the year before. And thanks in part to a huge season and a trip to the National Championship Game, where McCoy was hurt and his team lost to Alabama, the name Colt finished 2009 as the 370th most popular baby name in America in 2009.

Voters approve new downtown arena in Lincoln
Voters approved a proposal that will fund a new arena for the University of Nebraska men's and women's basketball teams. A $344 million downtown Lincoln revitalization project was approved Tuesday during Nebraska's primary election. The 16,000-seat facility should be ready for the 2013-14 basketball season.

Athletic administrators have said it's been particularly difficult for the men's program to keep up with the rest of the Big 12. Nebraska's basketball teams have played at the on-campus Devaney Sports Center since 1976.

"I look at this vote as a much more significant matter than something that will just benefit our basketball programs," Nebraska men's coach Doc Sadler said Tuesday. "Yes, it will benefit the University of Nebraska, but it will also benefit the city of Lincoln and the people who enjoy other activities besides basketball. Plus, it will put people to work, so they can get everything built."

Nebraska women's basketball coach Connie Yori said she hopes a new Haymarket Arena will change the complexion of downtown Lincoln just as dramatically as the Qwest Center changed downtown Omaha.

"We think it's going to make our downtown more progressive and provide a great venue to spend an evening - not just for young people, but for everyone," Yori said. "It will completely change the landscape of downtown Lincoln and bring not just a better basketball experience to fans, but all kinds of other entertainment that we haven't had here in a long time."

Tuesday, May 11

Sherri Coale on Oklahoma tornadoes
Big 12 women's basketball coaches are meeting Tuesday in the league office in Irving, Texas. Oklahoma basketball coach Sherri Coale was in the DFW area Monday night but her family was in Norman and was duck and covering while a series of tornadoes roared across Oklahoma. Coale said one of the twisters struck about a mile from her home.

4 Big 12 teams in FoxSports.com's preseason Top 25
Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com has selected his men's basketball preseason Top 25 and he has four Big 12 schools in his top 17 - No. 5 Kansas State, No. 9 Missouri, No. 11 Kansas and No. 17 Baylor. Goodman placed Texas on his "20 more to watch" list.
Here's what Goodman wrote about each Big 12 school that made his top 25:

5. Kansas State
Record: 29-8 (Elite Eight).
Lose: Denis Clemente, Luis Colon, Chris Merriewether.
Key Returnees: Jacob Pullen, Curtis Kelly, Jamar Samuels, Dominique Sutton, Rodney McGruder, Wally Judge, Jordan Henriquez-Roberts.
Newcomers: Freddy Asprilla, Shane Southwell, Will Spradling.
The Wildcats will certainly take a hit with the departure of floor leader Clemente, but Pullen will likely return to the point guard spot and he'll have some experienced frontcourt guys around him with Kelly and Samuels. Senior wing Sutton is also back, and now sophomores McGruder and Judge both have a year under their belts. But the difference-maker could be Asprilla, the FIU transfer who will give Frank Martin the low-post presence K-State lacked this year.

9. Missouri
Record: 23-11 (second round of the NCAA tournament).
Lose: J.T. Tiller, Zaire Taylor, Keith Ramsey, Miguel Paul, Tyler Stone.
Key Returnees: Kim English, Marcus Denmon, Laurence Bowers, Justin Safford, Michael Dixon.
Newcomers: Phil Pressey, Tony Mitchell, Ricardo Ratliffe, Matt Pressey, Kadeem Green, Ricky Kreklow.
Mike Anderson's system is proven, and now he'll add a big-time class, including the Pressey brothers, Mitchell and Ratliffe. Phil Pressey is the ideal floor leader for the up-tempo style, and Mitchell can be a star in Columbia. The Tigers lose Tiller and Taylor - a pair of underrated stars who really got after it defensively - but still have guys like English, Denmon and Bowers who have proven themselves.

11. Kansas
Record: 33-3 (lost in second round of NCAA tournament).
Lose: Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry.
Key Returnees: Tyshawn Taylor, Brady Morningstar, Marcus and Markieff Morris, Tyrel Reed, Thomas Robinson, Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson.
Newcomers: Josh Selby, Royce Woolridge.
Collins graduated, Aldrich is leaving a year early for the NBA and Henry departs after just one season in Lawrence. But Bill Self still has solid guards in Taylor, Morningstar, Reed and sophomore Elijah Johnson - and he also added highly touted freshman point guard Josh Selby. The Morris twins are both back, and Withey and Robinson should both receive expanded roles.

17. Baylor
Record: 28-8 (Elite Eight).
Lose: Tweety Carter, Ekpe Udoh, Josh Lomers, Givon Crump.
Key Returnees: LaceDarius Dunn, Anthony Jones, Quincy Acy, A.J. Walton, Nolan Dennis.
Newcomers: Perry Jones, Stargell Love, Bakari Turner.
Scott Drew loses three starters - seniors Carter and Lomers - as well as Udoh, who had a terrific season in Waco after transferring from Michigan. The good news is Dunn is back and Jones will arrive on campus. The key could be the progress of guys like Acy, Jones, Walton and Dennis.

Monday, May 10

Two "music" videos worth watching
Kansas coach Bill Self graduated from Oklahoma State in 1985 so he missed the golden days (?) of the Disco Era (otherwise known as the place where music went to die). But to promote "Basketball Boogie," a special event in Kansas City in June, the Jayhawks coach got dressed up and then got down with his bad self for this commercial. (Your Humble Correspondent had a leisure suit like that once. Once.)

And here's Oklahoma basketball teammates Beau Gerber and Cade Davis performed Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" during the OU athletic departments talent show. Gerber dressed up and sang the Bret Michaels' part while Davis was channeling Slash as he played acoustic guitar.

Former Texas Tech pitcher throws perfect game
Dallas Braden, who spent one season at Texas Tech, pitched the 19th perfect game in major-league history Sunday. Braden gained notoriety earlier this season when he reacted angrily when New York's Alex Rodriguez walking across the mound on April 22.

Pitching a perfect game, though, brings Braden a different kind of fame. The lefty threw 109 pitches (77 for strikes) in his 53rd major-league start as the A's beat Tampa, 4-0.

He struck out six in the 109-pitch performance, throwing 77 strikes in his 53rd career start and first complete game.

Kudos to Oklahoma State coach Frank Anderson
This is a must read, but keep the tissues ready. The mother of a youngster who died of cancer last summer wrote a letter to the editor that appeared in the Oklahoman. It expressed her thanks to Oklahoma State baseball coach Frank Anderson and his players for the support they had given her son.

Friday, May 7

Scott Stricklin named Mississippi State athletic director
So what? Who is Scott Stricklin and why does it matter that he was named Friday as Mississippi State's new athletic director.

Here's why: Stricklin has connections to the Big 12. He replaces Greg Byrne, who takes over as Arizona State's athletic director. Byrne is the son of former Nebraska and current Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne. Stricklin and Greg Byrne have been friends for some time and Stricklin moved from Kentucky to Mississippi State - his alma mater - in 2008 when Byrne became AD in Starkville.

From 1999 to 2003, Stricklin was Baylor's sports information director. He played a key role in dealing with the media and serving on the crisis response team in the summer of 2003 when Baylor was dealing with the murder of basketball player Patrick Dennehy and the resulting scandal that engulfed the basketball program.

Vince Young helping Nashville flood victims
Tennessee Titans and former Texas quarterback Vince Young is partnering with Reebok to raise money to help victims of the devastating floods in Nashville. Here's the link to Young's foundation website with more information about the "10 For '10" project.

Thursday, May 6

OU's Capel to coach USA Men's U18 National Team
Oklahoma men's basketball coach Jeff Capel has been named coach of the 2010 USA Men's U18 National Team. This will be his first head coaching assignment for USA Basketball. Capele was an assistant coach for the gold-medal-winning 2005 USA World University Games Team.

"It's a tremendous honor, first and foremost," Capel said. "Anytime you can be associated with representing your country is an honor. I took so much pride in working with and for Jay Wright when we won the gold medal at the World University Games. Jay was our head coach and I was one of the assistants. That was an incredible experience for me. To now have an opportunity to be a head coach and have the opportunity to coach these talented young guys, just to be a part of the USA Basketball family is a big-time honor for me."

Paul Hewitt of Georgia Tech and Reggie Witherspoon of the University at Buffalo will serve as Capel's assistant coaches.

The 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship will feature eight national teams from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean, and only athletes born on or after Jan. 1, 1992, are eligible. Teams in addition to the United States that will participate in the 2010 U18 tournament include: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and U.S. Virgin Islands.

Preliminary round play will be held June 26-28, semifinals will be contested June 29 and the gold and bronze medal games, as well as the fifth/sixth place and seventh/eighth place games, will be conducted June 30.

The USA opens preliminary play against the U.S. Virgin Islands June 26, followed by Mexico June 27 and Argentina June 28. All of the USA's preliminary round games are scheduled to tip-off at 7 p.m. CDT.

USA Basketball plans call for selection of the 12-member USA U18 Team to be made during team training that will be held June 14-25 in San Antonio.

Big 12 well represented on CWS Legends Team
The 2010 College World Series in June will be the last one held at Omaha's Rosenblatt Stadium. As part of the tribute to the event's connection to the facility, the NCAA will honor a CWS Legends Team during the CWS Opening Ceremonies on June 18.

Six players and one coach from Big 12 schools are members of the Legends Team that was announced Thursday: Robin Ventura and Pete Incaviglia from Oklahoma State, Spike Owen, Burt Hooton, Huston Street and Brooks Kieschnick from Texas along with current Longhorns coach Augie Garrido.

Is Avery Bradley making a mistake?
The numbers don't add up.  There aren't enough slots in the two rounds of the June NBA Draft to accommodate the numbers of college underclassmen across the nation who have made themselves eligible for the NBA Draft.  Apparently, the threat of an NBA labor dispute and lock out in 2011 has caused a panic that has created the mass exodus.

When the final early entry list becomes official early next week, there likely will be nine Big 12 Conference players on it.  Your Humble Correspondent says that only one could be making a mistake by going pro.

Avery Bradley spent his freshman season at Texas flashing his potential.  He showed an above-average mid-range game, but was an inconsistent 3-point shooter.  Bradley's forte coming into college was defense; for the Longhorns he was a good but not great defender.

According to reports, Bradley has hired an agent and will remain in for the NBA Draft.  Pro scouts project the 6-2 Bradley as a point guard, despite the fact that he saw little action at that position while playing for a UT team that was desperate for steady point guard play.

When Texas point guard Daniel Gibson left for the NBA after his sophomore season, YHC thought Gibson was leaving college too early.  Though he was a second-round pick, Gibson has had four solid seasons as a 3-point shooting threat and reserve guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

YHC hopes that he is wrong about Bradley, just like he was wrong about Gibson.  Still, YHC believes that Bradley's NBA success, like that of many players across the nation on the early-entry list, would have been enhanced by at least one more season playing college ball.

News and notes
* The NCAA has granted Nebraska senior wrestler Jordan Burroughs a medical hardship. He'll be able to compete for one more season for the Huskers in 2010-11. Burroughs' 44-match winning streak ended Dec. 19 when he suffered a knee injury on Dec. 19. "We're all relieved to know that the NCAA felt that Jordan was worthy of another year," Nebraska wrestling coach Mark Manning said. "It's a good thing for student-athletes to be able to fulfill all four years of eligibility, especially in cases like Jordan's."

* The Big 12 has five teams in the top 17 in this week's RPI by the NCAA: Texas is No. 8 followed by Missouri 10, Oklahoma 11, Oklahoma State 16 and Texas A&M 17. The Pacific-10 Conference also has five teams ranked in the top 17.

* When the coaching carousel starts spinning after the season, the resulting hires can have a domino effect. Missouri dismissed women's coach Cindy Stein and then hired Robin Pingeton from Illinois State. To replace Pingeton, Illinois State hired Tennessee assistant coach Stephanie Glance. Mickie DeMoss, who had been the top recruiter and assistant coach at Texas under Gail Goestenkors at Texas, is returning to Tennessee to replace Glance on coach Pat Summitt's staff. DeMoss was on Summitt's staff for 18 years.

* Rowing is not a sport sponsored by the Big 12 but Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas - have rowing teams. Starting in 2013, the NCAA will award automatic qualifying spots in its rowing championships to conference champions. The four Big 12 schools along with Tennessee and Alabama from the Southeastern Conference plus Tulsa, SMU and Central Florida are coming together under the Conference USA banner to form a rowing conference.

Monday, May 3

Texas Tech baseball quietly on the rise
Texas Tech is one of two teams to beat top-ranked Texas in Big 12 Conference play this season and the Red Raiders are the only league team to score in double digits against a Longhorns' pitching staff that leads the nation in ERA.

The 12-5 victory over Texas on March 26 in Lubbock came in the series opener. Ironically, Texas Tech has righted itself and moved into third place in the Big 12 standings following a curious formula. The Red Raiders have won their last five league series and in the last four they've lost Game One then came back to take the next two.

Sunday in Lubbock the Red Raiders took the rubber game of the three-game series with Missouri in spectacular fashion. Texas Tech, which in Big 12 games leads the conference in batting average and home runs, outslugged the Tigers, 16-15. Michael Reed hit two three-run homers and had six RBI.

But the story of the game happened in the final innings. The Red Raiders' bullpen was empty by eighth inning. With no outs and the tying run on base, coach Dan Spencer called on starting catcher Jeremy Mayo. He removed his gear, took the mound for the first time since high school and produced a double play grounder and a fly out.

"(Spencer) went out there to the mound to change and said he might throw me in there," Mayo said. "I said, 'Alright, whatever for the team.' Whatever we can do to get a win."

In the ninth inning Mayo was within one strike of picking up a save when Missouri rallied to tie the game. Texas Tech went to its last pitcher, lefty Brett Breuning, who had pitched 3.1 innings, got the final out as Mayo returned to catcher.

Texas Tech loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth but Bruening was due up. Spencer, knowing the game would end in a tie because of Big 12 travel and timing rules, was able to pinch hit for his last pitcher. Stephen Hagen's single scored the winning run and boosted the Red Raiders' overall record to 26-22 and their Big 12 record to 12-9.

The Red Raiders will take a break for finals and will return to action on May 14 when the host Baylor.

"I think it's huge going into the break so we can concentrate on finals, everyone can pass their classes and that's important because we have to have them at the end of the season," Tech's Taylor Ashby told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "We have to lock it down, pass our classes, and going into it with momentum I think will help us a lot."

Kansas football coach Turner Gill goes fast
New Kansas football coach Turner Gill is doing a number of meet-and-greets to help pump up interest in the Jayhawks' football program. That quest took him to Kansas Speedway Saturday where he and his oldest daughter Jordan took two laps around the track in a two-seat Indy Racing League car driven by Davey Hamilton.

"It's unlike anything I've ever done," Gill told the Lawrence Journal-World. "The speed, the force, it was thrilling. "I like the Indy-car look, and it has a different sound, too. I like that buzzing, like a honey bee."

A Texas winning streak of numbers and notes
Top-ranked Texas swept a gritty Baylor team over the weekend to run its Big 12 winning streak to a record 17 games. The Longhorns' 20-game winning streak is the school's longest since 1988 (the 1977 team started the season 34-0). UT went undefeated in the month of April and took control of the Big 12 race. Here are some numbers and notes that help put Texas' accomplishments in perspective.

* The record for most Big 12 victories in a season is 23 (accomplished three times). Texas is 19-2 in Big 12 play.

* The Longhorns have a seven-game lead over second-place Kansas State (10-7 in league play). In 2002, Texas won the Big 12 regular-season title by three games; that's the largest gap ever in the final conference standings. Texas plays at Kansas State this weekend. UT's magic number to clinch the regular-season title is one.

* The best winning percentage in Big 12 history is .793 by Texas A&M in 1999. The Aggies won the regular-season title with a 23-6 record.

* Texas' 17-game winning streak equals the total number of victories the Longhorns had in Big 12 play last season.

* The previous record for a Big 12 winning streak was 16 by Texas A&M in 2008. The Aggies finished 19-8 in the conference standings that season.

* The Texas pitching staff has a 2.17 ERA. The Big 12 record for lowest ERA for a season is 2.66 by Texas in 2004. The Longhorns finished 19-7 in league play in '04.

* During the 20-game win streak, the pitching staff is holding opponents to a .190 batting average and owns a 1.47 ERA.

* Texas has given up 315 hits in 410 innings pitched. The other nine pitching staffs in the Big 12 have all allowed more hits than innings pitched.

Columnists' corner
Tom Shatel of the Omaha World-Herald asks and answers 11 questions why Nebraska is a good fit in the Big Ten Conference.

Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman writes that Texas' 20-game winning streak has people talking about this Longhorns' baseball team being one of the best ever.

Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World writes that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe is keeping a close watch on conference expansion possibilities and how it could impact the Big 12.

Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman says that the question(s) asked of former Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant by Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland were way out of line and that players should start standing up to the NFL's bullying.

Hot links for a Monday
While Baylor's women's tennis team took the Big 12 Championship with a 4-0 victory over Texas, securing the program's fifth consecutive title wasn't easy.

For the big athletic programs like Texas, the recession hasn't been an issue when it comes to increasing revenue.

Linda Lappe, Colorado's new women's basketball coach, brings perspective of being a former CU player to her job.

Oklahoma basketball coach Jeff Capel reflects on the ups and downs (mostly downs) of the past season.

 

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