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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 24 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.   

 

June 2011

Wednesday, June 29

 

More clickable links
New Texas A&M men's basketball coach Billy Kennedy credits his high school coach - who is now his stepfather - with influencing his career choice. And ESPN.com's Eamon Brennan weighs in on Kennedy's preferred style of play.

Former Oklahoma State coach Sean Sutton has been hired by his brother Scott to be an assistant coach at Oral Roberts.

And Dave Sittler of the Tulsa World writes how Scott Sutton has just completed the biggest assist of his career by helping his brother get back into coaching.

Marquise Goodwin of Texas won the long jump title at the USA outdoor national championships over the weekend which means he can compete in the world championships in Korea - which is the same weekend as UT's opening game against Rice.

Kansas' Thomas Robinson displayed his skills and talent at the Amar'e Stoudamire Skills Academy in Chicago.

Monday, June 27

Links to start your week
Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman writes the cooperative spirit in the Big 12 Conference is at an all-time high and it can be traced to the departure of one school.

Mike Jones of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that Texas coach Rick Barnes, in 14 seasons as coach of the Longhorns, has become a victim of his own success.

Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune, in his Big 12 Summer Countdown Series, ranks the top defensive coaches.

The past year shows that Texas A&M continues to move toward its goal of building champions.

Athletic director Mike Holder has been instrumental in giving Oklahoma State the facilities it needs to compete on a national level.

Kansas State is planning a $60 million renovation of Bill Snyder Family Stadium that athletic director John Currie considers crucial.

Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman reviews the Big 12 Conference 2010-11 season and sees brighter days ahead.

Tuesday, June 21

Linkage
Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman writes that despite a winless visit to Omaha, the Texas baseball team overachieved this year.

Kansas State freshman guard Angel Rodriguez has a role model in J.J. Barea of the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.

Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune, in his Big 12 Summer Countdown Series, ranks the top offensive coaches.

Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman ranks the nonconference football schedules for the Big 12 teams.

Jeff Borzello, who covers college basketball recruiting for CBSSports.com writes about the unusual pipeline that has developed between Iowa State and New York City.

Monday, June 20

Texas A&M Falls To Defending National Champs
Both Big 12 Conference teams in the College World Series are in similar positions after losses that came in similar fashions.

Texas, which faces an elimination game Monday, lost its opener despite taking a 3-0 lead. Texas A&M jumped to a 4-0 lead on South Carolina Sunday night but wound up losing 5-4 when the Gamecocks scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

The Aggies took advantage of an error and two-out, three-run triple from Brandon Wood to score four times in the top of the first. With ace Ross Stripling on the mound, things looked promising for A&M. However, an error by the Aggies helped the defending national champions score four runs in their half of the first.

Texas A&M had been averaging nearly eight runs over its last 11 games but was stifled over the last eight innings. The Aggies finished with just four hits and struck out 10 times.

Stripling recovered from his shaky start and was outstanding through the eighth inning. A&M reliever Kyle Martin allowed a leadoff double in the bottom of the ninth and South Carolina loaded the bases with no outs. The Aggies brought in an extra infielder but the strategy didn't work when South Carolina second baseman Scott Wingo completed a four-for-four night with a game-winning single off the wall in right field.

The Aggies will face Cal at 1 p.m. Tuesday in an elimination game.

"This isn't the first time we've lost a game," Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said. "I mean, we've lost 21 on the year and our guys have been very, very resilient. I think what we've been through for the last month has really helped our team, helped us grow and helped us get closer together."

If Childress and his players can take any solace from the loss it's the knowledge that South Carolina lost its CWS opener last year and then won six consecutive games to claim the championship. It can be done.

Sunday, June 19

Texas Loses CWS Opener
Joe Garagiola wrote a book called "Baseball Is a Funny Game" that dealt mostly with the stories he had encountered during his baseball and broadcasting days.

Texas coach Augie Garrido might not say that baseball is a funny game but he acknowledges the mysteries, twists and turns that a team can encounter ... especially in the postseason.

In the Longhorns' first game in the College World Series Saturday night they took advantage of two Florida errors to take a 3-0 lead in the top of the third. With junior Taylor Jungmann on the mound, that looked like enough to assure UT of a crucial opening victory.

Jungmann, after all, won three games in Omaha as a freshman in 2009. This season, he had 13 victories and a 0.95 ERA. Even facing a lineup as powerful as Florida's, giving Jungmann an early 3-0 lead is tantamount to giving Texas a victory.

It didn't exactly work out that way. Jungmann couldn't find the strike zone and the Gators tagged him for five runs (four earned) in 4.1 innings as Florida rallied for an 8-4 victory.

"I think probably in the third inning I got out of rhythm," Jungmann said. "Once I got out of rhythm, I made some bad pitches. I walked more guys (four) than I usually do.  And, I mean, they took advantage of it."

In three NCAA starts, Jungmann has allowed 12 earned runs in 18.1 innings (7.85 ERA). Texas has lost all three of those games. The Longhorns will face their sixth elimination game of the postseason when they meet North Carolina at 1 p.m. Monday in a loser-goes-home game.

If there's one thing that Texas fans believed headed into the NCAA tournament was that with Jungmann on the mound, the Longhorns would win the game.

"You can't ever assume anything in baseball," UT shortstop Brandon Loy said.

That's why baseball is a funny game. Funny as in unpredictable, not funny as in anyone in Burnt Orange feels like laughing. 

Thursday, June 16

Condolences and RIP
Kevin Gray, who worked closely with the Big 12 Conference as president of the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission for the last 22 years, died Wednesday after a battle with metastatic cancer. He was 51.

Click and read
Texas A&M pitcher Ross Stripling credits coach Rob Childress with teaching him an off-speed pitch that has helped Stripling compile an impressive 14-2 record.

Texas is back in the College World Series thanks to the key contributions from five freshmen.

The PGA Tour has a new promotional video out that is, well, different. "Golf Boys" features former Oklahoma State golfers Hunter Mahan and Rickie Fowler. Just click and watch.

Tuesday, June 14

Hot links for a Tuesday
A trip to Omaha for the College World Series is a fitting ending to one of the greatest athletic seasons in Texas A&M history, writes Robert Cessna of the Bryan-College Station Eagle.

An outstanding pitching performance by Michael Wacha and a six-run first inning helped Texas A&M defeat Florida State 11-2 to earn the Aggies' first trip to the College World Series since 1999.

It's called a dog pile and it's how college baseball teams like to celebrate important victories. Here's a first-person view of a dog pile, thanks to a Flip cam (which, apparently, survived the experience.

Mike Green, Iowa State sports information director for men's basketball, has collected every Sports Illustrated - and for you youngsters, the magazine started publishing in 1954 - that's 57 years times 52 issues per year. Here's the video.

In his Big 12 Summer Countdown series, Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune assesses the offensive line talent in the Big 12.

The Year Of The Aggie
Your Humble Correspondent doubts the Chinese calendar will ever have a designation honoring Texas A&M. Come to think of it, the Aggies are doing just fine when it comes to having themselves a season in the sun.

Monday night in Tallahassee, Texas A&M clinched a trip to the College World Series with a convincing 11-2 victory over Florida State on the Seminoles' home field. The Aggies are making their first trip to Omaha since 1999 and will join its rival.

Texas and A&M were Big 12 Conference co-champions and give the league two teams in the CWS for the first time since 2005. (By the way, that's the last time the Big 12 produced a national champion - the Longhorns.)

The color of 2010-11 has been maroon. The Aggies, in addition to sharing the baseball crown, have won Big 12 titles in football (share of South Division), women's golf, soccer, indoor track and field (women), outdoor track and field (men's and women's), men's tennis and equestrian.

In the last nine weeks, Texas A&M has brought home national titles in women's basketball, men's and women's outdoor track and field plus a doubles title in men's tennis.

Coach Rob Childress' baseball team has been outstanding over the last five weeks, winning 16 of its last 20. And they've been succeeding with pressure performances. The Aggies won their second consecutive Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship by overcoming a 7-0 deficit and winning on a walk-off home run. They advance to Omaha with had-to-have-it, win-or-go-home victories in the College Station and Tallahassee Regionals.

When word came down during the Big 12 Championship that No. 1 starter John Stilson was sidelined with a torn labrum, Texas A&M could have let that adversity become an excuse. Instead it has further steeled the Aggies' resolve. Case in point: Texas A&M was the only team to go on the road and win a Super Regional.

Considering there's a strain of championship fever rampant in College Station, the other seven teams in Omaha had best take Texas A&M seriously.

CWS brackets set
With co-champions Texas and Texas A&M making the eight-team field, the Big 12 Conference has two teams in the College World Series for the first time since 2005. Nebraska, Baylor and Texas made it that year with the Longhorns leaving Omaha with the national championship.

Texas, a No. 7 national seed, is in the same four-team pool with No. 3 seed North Carolina, No. 6 seed Vanderbilt and No. 2 seed Florida. Texas A&M's pool includes top-seeded Virginia, fourth-seeded South Carolina and California.

The Longhorns will face Florida at 6 p.m. Saturday. The Aggies will meet South Carolina at 6 p.m. Sunday. The Gamecocks are defending national champions and eliminated Oklahoma at last year's CWS.

The two four-team pools play a double-elimination format until one team from each pool remains. Those two teams will determine the national champion by  playing a two-out-of-three series that will start on June 27. With Texas and Texas A&M in opposite pools, the only time the long-time rivals would meet is if both reach the championship series.

Texas is making its 34th trip to the CWS, the most in NCAA history. Texas A&M is making its fifth trip to Omaha and its first since 1999. This year the CWS is making its debut at the new TD Ameritrade Park.

Monday, June 13

ESPN.com Writer Likes "New" Big 12
Eamonn Brennan, one of ESPN.com's college basketball writers, weighs in on the benefits of a 10-team Big 12 Conference:

The new-look Big 12 will only boost the rivalries between top teams like Kansas and Texas. In the process, it will ensure that any regular-season Big 12 champion is one that survived the same balanced schedule as the rest of the league. Throw in the fact that most Big 12 teams seem intent on keeping their nonconference challenges alive, at least for the forseeable future, and the costs to the teams involved -- creating a minefield of potential momentum-crushing losses in both league and non-league play -- should be outweighed by the RPI benefits the league will receive by the end of the season.

When other leagues made their football-minded expansion moves last summer, they got bigger. Many of them -- the Big Ten (Nebraska), the Pac-12 (Utah, Colorado), the Big East (TCU) -- also got worse. The Big 12 went in the opposite direction, both in volume and quality. The result should be interesting from January on.


Plus, we get to see Texas play Kansas twice. No matter where your allegiances are, this is an extremely promising development.

Links To Start Your Week
Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune with a solid "the year after" Q and A with Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe.

Jason King of Yahoo!Sports.com writes that new Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy has the luxury of taking over a program that doesn't need rebuilding.

Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News writes about the advantages and challenges for men's basketball in the "new and improved" Big 12 Conference.

After a heart-breaking loss ended the season, Baylor's baseball team is still in the grieving process.

The hot-button issue in college athletics is increasing the amount of money that scholarships are worth - "the cost of attendance" - for student-athletes.

There will be 75 Big 12 Conference football games in 2011. Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman bravely ranks them from No. 1 through No. 75.

Texas is headed to Omaha (again) for (another) College World Series because it has a great pitching staff. So says Cedric Golden of the Austin American-Statesman.

History Lesson In College Station
So, why did Your Humble Correspondent invest nine hours, drive 365 miles to College Station on a sizzlin' summer Sunday? Because history must be chronicled and celebrated.

A little after 6 p.m. Sunday, a bus rolled up to Reed Arena carrying the A&M men's and women's track teams. Saturday the Aggies completed an unprecedented triple double three peat - championships in both genders for three consecutive years. (Getting back from Des Moines proved the toughest part - bus ride to Omaha, flight to DFW, connect to a flight to Austin, bus ride to College Station.)

YHC was there when Texas A&M won the women's national championship in Indianapolis. Winning when unexpected - outside of the A&M locker room, few expected the Aggies to win the title - brings a unique thrill. (Dallas Mavericks fans are experiencing that "holy - - - -" moment. To quote the late, great Jack Buck, "I can't believe ... what I just saw.")

What Texas A&M accomplished in track and field was not expected but perhaps predictable. Winning consecutive titles and having the talent to be ranked near the top of the sport all season stamped the Aggies as favorites to win two titles again. But ask the Miami Heat about the gravitas of championship expectations.

Performing your best at the right time is a prerequisite for champions. In the world of the perspiring arts, it's called "clutch." In track and field, being clutch is a tenth of a second here, a quarter of an inch there.

YHC watched Oklahoma sprinter Mookie Salaam race to the second-fastest time in the world in winning the 200 meters at the Big 12 Championship. (YHC didn't actually see it; Salaam moved too fast for YHC's old eyes.) However, Salaam didn't win the NCAA 200 meters. In the finals, his muscle twitches were infinitesimally slower than his competitors. It happens.

In women's basketball, Texas A&M's two victories at the Final Four defined sealing the deal. Sydney Colson's passes and Tyra White's game-changing scores gave the Aggies the championship. The A&M track teams had to close it out in similar fashion.

While most observers consider track and field to be an individual sport, the final event is the 4x400 relay - a four-person team carrying a baton four laps around the track. Texas A&M needed victories in both events to claim the team titles. And in both events, the Aggies took care of business.

Jessica Beard set an NCAA record with her time of 49.1 running the anchor leg for the women. Tabarie Henry anchored the men's team to a victory that clinched the men's title when Florida could do no better than a sixth-place finish.

Sounds simple, right? Just take care of business. Run faster than the other guy, the other girl. Take your medal, hoist your trophy.

But it's like this: No school had ever won three consecutive championships in both men's and women's track and field. Texas A&M is the first. If the Aggies had not won both titles, then it would have started all over again next year. Winning this year was imperative for a double three peat. Winning those relays was the difference between history and just another track meet.

Near the end of one of YHC's favorite movies, the character played by Tom Hanks says, "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard... is what makes it great."

If you're a cinema nerd, you know that's from "A League Of Their Own." Kind of like Texas A&M right now.

Thursday, June 9

NCAA approves Missouri exhibition game for Joplin tornado relief
Missouri Southern State University and the University of Missouri, in conjunction with the Joplin tornado relief campaign, will participate in the One State, One Spirit Classic Presented by Leggett & Platt. The game will be played on Sunday Oct. 30 at Missouri Southern' s Leggett & Platt Athletic Center in Joplin, Mo.

Proceeds from the game will be donated by Missouri Southern to support the rebuilding efforts in Joplin which was struck by a massive tornado on May 22. The game will observe a moment of silence at 5:41 p.m., the time that the tornado touched down in the southwest Missouri town.

Missouri, which will play its first game under new coach Frank Haith, already had scheduled the two exhibition games allowed under NCAA rules but the school obtained a waiver from the NCAA to allow the game at Missouri Southern.

Story links worth the click
A great story from Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune on the Missouri football team's relief efforts in tornado-ravaged Joplin.

Two years after his famous (infamous?) relief appearance helped Texas reach the College World Series, Austin Wood has no regrets.

Kansas State guard Will Spradling, who will likely be a key player for the Wildcats this season, gained valuable experience on a trip to Europe.

Kreklow leaving Missouri baskeball program
Ricky Kreklow, a sophomore guard who last season as a freshman averaged 9.8 minutes and 2.1 points per game, plans to transfer from Missouri. New coach Frank Haith said on Thursday's Big 12 coaches summer conference call that he met with Kreklow Wednesday and that the Columbia native wanted a change.

"He's a Columbia kid, was a great player here at Rock Bridge High school but he told me he wanted to spread his wings and get away from home," Haith said. "He'll have a great career wherever he goes. We certainly hate to see Ricky leave our program, but we understand the decision."

Kreklow's father Wayne and mother Susan coach Missouri's volleyball team.

If Kreklow follows through with his decision to leave, his departure would leave Missouri with four scholarships available for next season. Haith said Thursday that the recruiting process is ongoing.

"We're still looking and still recruiting," he said. "We'll have some guys on campus. Amazing how it's still going on through the spring and summer. I think we will add a couple more pieces that we could add."

Tuesday, June 7

Linked up
New Oklahoma basketball coach Lon Kruger has a track record of turning around programs.

Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune continues his Big 12 Summer Countdown by assessing the players and coaches who have the biggest shoes to fill.

Anyone who watched Baylor's season-ending 9-8 regional defeat to California Monday night would agree with Bears coach Steve Smith's assessment: "A very, very painful loss."

Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman writes that Texas is peaking at the right time as the Longhorns head into a Super Regional matchup with Arizona State.

In light of Jim Tressel's resignation at Ohio State, Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman writes out Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops dealt with a similar situation in a far different manner.

Sunday, June 5

Taking the good with the bad

Saturday was a difficult day for the state of Oklahoma. But for Baylor, it was the exact opposite. Here's how it broke down:

* Oklahoma's baseball team, which reached the College World Series last season and started the season 16-0, was eliminated with two losses in the Fort Worth Regional. The Sooners lost to Dallas Baptist 3-2 in 10 innings Friday and 7-0 to Oral Roberts Saturday. Oklahoma had six hits and six errors in its final game. OU went 0-2 in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2002.

* Oklahoma State was eliminated from the Nashville Regional with a 3-2 loss to fourth-seeded Belmont - the first NCAA tournament victory for that school. The Cowboys (35-25) lost 12 of their last 16 games. Oklahoma State was making its 38th NCAA appearance and it was only the second time it was eliminated in two games.

* Playing at Karsten Creek, its home course, Oklahoma State's top-ranked men's golf team hoped to win the national championship. But the Cowboys were eliminated in Saturday's semifinal by Augusta State. The defending national champions, Augusta State defeated Oklahoma State in match play for the second consecutive year - last season that result came in the championship match.

* Oklahoma's softball team suffered a similar fate and was eliminated by Missouri 4-1 Saturday afternoon at the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. The Sooners committed four errors to help the Tigers mount their attack against sophomore pitcher Keilani Ricketts. Oklahoma, however, was considerably short handed. Second-team all-American catcher Jessica Shults was sidelined during the NCAA tournament with pan ulcerative colitis. Backup catcher Katie Norris couldn't play against Missouri because of a sprained elbow so third baseman Dani Dobbs volunteered to catch and Ali Vanderveer had to take over at third base.

* Reaching the Women's College World Series for the first time since 1998, Oklahoma State joined Oklahoma in OKC for the first time. The Cowgirls, though, went 0-2 in the WCWS and were eliminated Saturday by California, 6-2. Oklahoma State finished 42-20 and reached the NCAAs for the third consecutive season. "It's great for our program. It's great for Oklahoma State. It's a tribute to our seniors," OSU coach Rich Wieligman said. "What they've gone through and how they've brought us along, I can't say enough about what they've done for this program. I'm very proud of them."

* Baylor's softball team lived to play another day at the WCWS. The Lady Bears will face top-seeded Arizona State Sunday afternoon after outlasting Missouri in an elimination game that ended early Sunday morning. Baylor's Holly Holl hit a two-out, two-strike home run in the bottom of the 13th to end a classic pitcher's duel. The 1-0 victory left Baylor as the only one of four Big 12 schools still playing in OKC. The Lady Bears' Whitney Canion allowed two hits while the Tigers' Chelsea Thomas was valiant in defeat, striking out 19. "She knows that tonight wasn't her fault," Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said. "We didn't hit. She pitched brilliant. One of the best pitching performances I've ever seen. Everybody saw it."

* Baylor's baseball team moved within one victory of reaching the Super Regionals with a 3-2 triumph Saturday over top-seeded Rice on the Owls' home field. The Bears' Josh Turley threw the first complete game of his career, allowing seven hits and striking out seven. The Bears (31-26) move on to the Houston Regional championship round, where they'll face the winner of the Rice-Cal game at 6 p.m. today. If Baylor wins, it would move on to the Super Regionals for the first time since 2005, while a loss would send the Bears into a final game at 6 p.m. Monday.

Links for Sunday reading
Third-seeded Kent State handed Texas ace Taylor Jungmann his first loss at home and put the Longhorns into the loser's bracket of the Austin Regional.

Texas A&M's bats have come alive in the postseason as the Aggies have moved into great position to win the College Station Regional.

Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star writes that after its annual spring meetings, the Big 12 Conference is following the motto that less is more.

Steve Walentik, who covers Missouri's basketball team for the Columbia Daily Tribune, ranks his top 12 returning players in Big 12 basketball for the 2011-12 season.

Jessica Shults, Oklahoma's second-team All-American, is being treated for pan ulcerative colitis.

Dave Matter of the Columbia Daily Tribune kicks off his excellent off-season look at Big 12 Conference football by breaking down the top 10 nonconference games involving league teams.

Brent Zwenerman of the San Antonio Express-News writes about the Big 12's decision not to change its name.

Coach Bob Stoops is struggling to deal with the deaths that have impacted the Oklahoma football program.

Kansas defensive coordinator Carl Torbush resigned this week. He has been diagnosed with low-grade prostate cancer.

 

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