Tom Osborne hasn't coached a football game for the University of Nebraska since January 2nd, 1998 when Nebraska obliterated Tennessee 42-17 to win their third national title in a four year span. I remember it well, i was there. More on that later.
#98 Grant Wistrom - Arguably the greatest defensive player in school history. And a Missouri boy. Wistrom is from tiny Webb City, Missouri. And they were a football factory back in those years. In fact as a Sr. in high school i had a chance to watch him play in a state playoff game. My high school, Rolla High's archrival was Salem H.S. Webb City played at Salem in one of the opening round playoff games and some of my h.s. teammates and I drove down to Salem to watch the future Husker. It was crazy...you had the whole Webb City team out doing stretching and calisthenics being led by a couple coaches and then you had Grant over on the sideline being individually stretched out by a couple different coaches. He dominated that night at both DE and TE. In fact as a Sr. he wasn't even voted 1st team all state DE because he was voted first team all state TE. His Nebraska career speaks for itself. He was just about as good as it got when it came to playing great defense and being a team leader.
|out front of Field Museum|
The marquee display was this tyrannosaurus rex named SUE...
|photo courtesy of my brother|
|Welcome to the Friendly Confines...|
|W flag for the Saturday win!|
|view from RF fence under RF bleachers|
|love that ballpark brat!|
how Texas scored their 9 runs is not. Texas outfielder Josh Hamilton was responsible for 8 of
those runs with four two-run homers! Yep, four long ones for Hamilton in one game. He became
one of only 16 players in the history of baseball to accomplish that feat. He had a six at bat
stretch where he was 6-6 with five homers and a double.
This is my first year playing fantasy baseball and i was lucky enough to nab Hamilton in one of
my leagues so i usually pay attention to Hamilton on a nightly basis once i'm home and relaxing.
After his third homer that night i turned on the game downstairs and called my brother to inform
him of Hamilton's exploits. Before Hamilton even came to the plate to smack that fourth bomb of
the night the two of us were locked in a great conversation about performance enhancing drugs
and their current place in baseball.
Yep, steroids, HGH, PED's of all sorts were the topic of conversation. Just because Josh
Hamilton hit four homers in a game? Yep. Shouldn't Hamilton get the benefit of the doubt? Yep.
Shouldn't baseball get the benefit of the doubt? After all they do have a steroid testing policy in
place that has nabbed it's fair share of violators over the years...to that question my answer would
be "uhh, clearly baseball gets no benefit of the doubt when it comes to steroids, HGH or any
other performance enhancing drug".
The crux of my doubt when it comes to baseball and their policy regarding performance
enhancing drugs starts and ends right now with Human Growth Hormone, or HGH. If you
check out the wikipedia page for Major League Baseball Drug Policy there is a 7 item list of
drugs of abuse, a 30 item list of stimulants and a 47 item list of steroids...the final item listed is
According to a Nov. 23 article from last year by Mike Florio on nbcsports.com right now big leaguers are tested for HGH once, at some point during spring training. MLB can also test when a team has "reasonable cause" to believe a player is using HGH. The same article says HGH testing procedures can detect the substance for only a relatively short time after ingestion.
So basically a guy can train with it all off-season take a short break sometime around spring training and then, once tested, can get back on HGH and continue throughout the season.
So in baseball it's still pretty simple to cheat. Get your hands on some HGH and pass your one test a year that you know is coming sometime right when you get to spring training or sometime during spring training. Other than that you're free to use HGH as you see fit.
Baseball has done itself no favors when it comes to the topic of steroids and performance enhancing drugs. Just consider the hilarity of the congressional hearings that featured Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro, the public forum in which Barry Bonds and his alleged steroid use has played out, to the ongoing joke that is Roger Clemens.
Since the at least the late 1980's baseball has had a performance enhancing drug problem. And from that time till now, for the most part, when you look at the guys who have put up the numbers that make you go "wow" they've used or been alleged to have used performance enhancing drugs: Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Juan Rodriguez, Pudge Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettiite, Manny Ramirez, Jason Giambi, Wally Joyner, just to name a few. Boatloads of other players implicated or mentioned in the Mitchell Report.
And HGH is just now being tested for in baseball and only once a year, a time when the players know it's going to happen. other than that, feel free baseball to slam HGH. Last time i checked baseball players were still making millions of dollars, which mean someone out there is making more than the next guy and someone is looking to get an edge.
As taboo a topic as it still remains in the game, among fans, and in the media I think it's fair to say that as long as loopholes are in the system (Ryan Braun) or just flat out sad testing procedures (HGH), that baseball is going to have a performance enhancing drug problem.
Barry Bonds did ridiculous things in his career. Things that had never been done before. Couple that with all the evidence that is stacked up against him when it comes to alleged usage, it's easy to come to the conclusion that, obviously, Bonds used PED's.
Roger Clemens put up numbers not many pitchers ever did in his career. And despite his child like denials about PED use the evidence is fairly damning. add it all up and it's easy to believe he was an user. I mean he admits that his personal trainer shot up his own wife with HGH so she could look good for a photo shoot.
Jose Canseco was the first player in history to go 40/40.
Alex Rodriguez has been considered one of the greatest players of all time.
Mark McGwire is the modern day Paul Bunyan, except he had a baseball bat instead of an ax. You don't need to say much about McGwire. Probably the most feared home run hitter of all time, outside of Babe Ruth.
Sammy Sosa was so embarrassed and scared to talk about it at the congressional hearings that he said he couldn't talk cause he wasn't very well spoken in the English language. I'm a Cubs fan and i remember Sammy speaking fairly decent English over the years.
Those are just a few.
Basically as a major league baseball player all you have to fear when it comes to using HGH is the possibility of being found out about. A simple leak, a guy pulled over at the wrong time of night with the wrong thing in his car, or an investigation that took a turn in your direction. And the penalty for public outing is severe if you're a "great" player. You are basically black balled from the Hall of Fame. Look at Palmeiro and McGwire. Their numbers are in the tank for the Hall of Fame. We'll see how future cases play out involving Bonds, Clemens and A-Rod.
At least there is some bit of fear and trepidation out there that players have to consider because when it comes to HGH there isn't much to fear when it comes to MLB's policy...a) you only have one test a year b) you know approximately when that test is going to happen c) you can use HGH at all other times without much fear of trouble from MLB.
So decide for yourself what to make of baseball's drug policy and how clean the game is or isn't these days.
Josh Hamilton is awesome.
I've been busy both in and out of the office, and oh yeah, i totally forgot to put up my "in depth" look at this year's NCAA Tournament field. I guess you could say what i've been busy with outside the office is trying to decipher who's gonna win all these games.
I'll just make it simple for you: NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS.
Yep, that's who i'm going with to cut down the nets. I have them matching up with a youthful Kentucky team in the title game and i'm taking experience and 4 all american type players to hoist the trophy.
Sleeper teams: Belmont (ugh...i'm a Georgetown fan), Long Beach State (i have them winning two games in one bracket), and although they're a #5 seed i'm still calling Wichita State a darkhorse as they're from the Valley and would play Indiana in the 2nd round of the tournament.
Final Four: Kentucky vs. Missouri...Ohio State vs. North Carolina
Title game: North Carolina 79 Kentucky 77
Similar to our college football bowl pick 'em KNEB has teamed up with Aaron's along with other area businesses to bring you the $1 million dollar KNEB/Aaron's March Madness Bracket Challenge! IF, and it's a big IF, you can fill out a PERFECT bracket, that's every single game picked correctly, you could win $1 million dollars. Someone will win a flat screen tv from Aaron's in our local part of the contest! Other great prizes will be available thanks to sponsors like Oregon Trail Plumbing, Heating and Cooling, Arby's, High Plains Budweiser, Valley Bank, Monument Smiles, Vista Beam, and Box Butte General Hospital. Fairly simple process to get involved just head right back here to KNEB.com after the brackets are released on Sunday night and get signed up to make your picks. Some of us here at KNEB will be making our picks and you'll be able to see how you stack up with some of our "resident" experts.
As of today (Thursday the 8th) there are 15 teams already locked in to the dance with automatic bids! More automatic bids to come over the weekend with the selection committee doing the dirty work and selecting the remaining at large teams.
There is plenty of great basketball action to come over the next four and half days throughout some of the best conferences in the country, providing you with a great opportunity to check out many of the teams that will be vying to cut down the nets in New Orleans in early April. Then Sunday evening tune into KNEB AM 960 for the NCAA Selection Show to find out who's dancing and where they'll be slotted into the bracket.
Settle in and enjoy! And be sure to get involved in our KNEB / Aaron's $1 Million Bracket Challenge.
I'll be back sometime between Sunday evening and Wednesday night with a look at the tournament. I might even provide my Final Four predictions.
By now you can tell that when it comes to my blog page it's gonna be about sports. I had an enjoyable evening at WNCC last night watching the Scottsbluff Bearcats knock off Sidney for the class B6 district title. Congratulations to Tony Siske and his crew for claiming the title and earning that automatic bid to the state tournament. Also earning a bid to the state tournament were the Gering Bulldogs. Yeah, Gering didn't play the way they would have liked in the district tournament but hey, a berth in the state tournament is a berth in the state tournament. Consistency was the key for the 'Dogs this season. That consistency had them playing good basketball throughout winning most nights there was a game on the schedule. There are no asterisks here and Gering played well enough to earn that berth, a well deserved notch in head coach Randy Plummer's belt. So best of luck to both Scottsbluff and Gering at the state basketball tournament.
Well with 12 days to go till Super Bowl 46 there is sure to be a little bit of a lag in the amount of sports you might be following or watching. My question is this, why? College basketball is in full throat right now and with March Madness and your local bracket pools right around the corner there is no better time to study up on your college hoops than right now!
Now clearly football reigns supreme here in Nebraska. No argument there. But college hoops has long been a passion of mine. Some of my early basketball "heroes" were guys like Danny Manning from Kansas and my all time favorite college player, Georgetown's Patrick Ewing. And about this time of year is when college basketball is rounding into high gear.
Before the season started it looked like there was North Carolina and then everyone else. Lots has changed since the preseason...let's take a look:
Sitting atop the polls right now is Kentucky. John Calipari deals with losing kids to the NBA early as well as anyone does and he does it by recruiting more kids that will play one, maybe two years of ball. So while his Wildcat teams are always going to be young, they're always going to be talented. This years edition is no different led by freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis. Kentucky is so athletic and explosive on the offensive end of the floor that they'll be in the mix for a final four berth come march. They could almost guarantee a spot in the final four if they sell out on the defensive end of the court.
As for North Carolina they're dealing with ragged play and one key injury. Shooting guard Dexter Strickland is out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL. Strickland was the teams top perimeter defender and his loss is significant, especially on team that's not known for it's defense. THAT SAID, this Carolina team still has Roy Williams, Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall. On a neutral court with the bright lights shining don't bet against this group of 'Heels. Expect them to right the ship and get on a roll come late Feb. and into March.
As for the rest of the Country:
National Title Contenders:
Kentucky - see above
North Carolina - see above
Kansas - don't get it twisted folks, the kings of the big 12 are and will always be the Jayhawks. Baylor visited Phog Allen Fieldhouse a couple monday's back and got spanked! KU has the best big man in the country in Thomas Robinson...He's a beast both scoring and rebounding. Add to Robinson the mercurial Tyshawn Taylor and the Jayhawks have the type of tandem that can carry a team deep into the tournament. Remember "Danny and the Miracles" back in 1988 for KU? Robinson is the type of guy who can carry a team on his shoulders for six games...KU was an afterthought nationally to start the season, but as always Bill Self has his team playing at very high level.
Syracuse - the 'Cuse is a tricky team to figure out. They started the season 20-0 before losing at Notre Dame and battling back for a road win at Cincy last night. Currently 21-1. Jim Boeheim traditionall schedules very soft in the non conference and they never play true road games outside the Big East so you have to take that into consideration when looking at them. But they are difficult to play as they employ their vaunted 2-3 zone. Right now they are without starting C Fab Melo (academics...not sure of when he'll return) but they have a standout veteran backcourt in Scoop Jardine and Brandon Triche. Competent guard play and leadership are key during the big dance.
Ohio State - As of right now the Buckeyes might be the squad best equipped to run the table in March. They are fueled by a starting five that has all the tools, starting with big man Jared Sullinger. The sophomore post man can score, rebound, block shots, and defend. When he's healthy (missed a few games this season with back ailments) and on the floor Ohio State is tough to beat. They also have a true point guard in Aaron Craft, a legitimate deep threat in William Buford and 'tweener down low in DeShaun Thomas who can is super athletic. The Big Ten has lots of depth this season so the Buckeyes will be tested and seasoned come tourney time. They've disappointed a bit the last couple years come March, something they hope to avoid this time around.
That's 5 teams right there that have all the ingredients to win a national championship! Of course anything can happen come March Madness. Uconn was a middling team last year in the Big East, then got hot in the Big East tourney and rolled on through the national tournament to claim the title. And who had Butler pegged for another appearance in the national title game? not me, and not you either. So let's just say the teams listed above are the "Big Boys" that have the best chance to succeed in this year's tournament.
I'll check back in as March Madness approaches with some sleeper picks, pretenders, etc...
I save the pros for the playoffs and tend to enjoy the college game much more on a night to night basis. It's pretty simple really...the names on the front of the jersey matter more than the names on the back, you have so many great coaches, so many great venues and all passion and pageantry that go along with college sports.
One thing we all learned from the finish of the Air Force / Toledo game is that you can't trust a holder and a kicker to properly execute an option play for a two point conversion! Had the holder been able to execute a simple pitch the kicker (who would have had to successfully catch the pitch) would have walked into the end zone to give Air Force a one point lead with about a minute to play in regulation. But the holder fumbled the ball into the end zone and the ball rolled out of bounds, thus sending my bowl record in the Aaron's Bowl Pick 'Em Contest to 7-5 (thanks to Texas for that 7th win). I'm 8-4 in another pick em contest and in the all important one on one contest with my 9 yr old son i'm two games up on him. He wanted to put ten dollars on the line for entire bowl season and i quickly said no, but countered with this: Whoever wins our one on one contest gets to say they know more about college football for the next year! Sure hope my picks come through for me on that one...not sure i'd be able to live with that hanging over my head for an entire year!
Couple games today...
Champs Sports Bowl: Florida State vs. Notre Dame
location: Orlando, Florida
time: 3:30 MT
This is an intriguing one, namely because of how high profile the programs are and that they're playing a few days before January 2nd, when each team was hoping to be bowling. Location in this one gives the edge to Florida State, in terms of preparation time i give a slight edge to Notre Dame. Lot more to focus on in Tallahassee in December than there is in South Bend. As for how this thing shapes up on the field? Well i gotta believe the team speed of FSU will show up in the end and they'll make a few more big plays, probably on special teams. Brian Kelly is a great offensive coach and he likes to call plays to do damage which means taking risks at times...and with a couple young QB's up against a super fast, aggressive defense, that could mean some mistakes.
Close game in the 20's...give me FSU
Side Note: This game is being played at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, the same location for the upcoming Nebraska / South Carolina game. The games will be played just 4 days apart so it'll be interesting to see what type of field conditions exist for the Husker game on Monday morning. IF it were a sloppy track come kickoff for Huskers / Gamecocks i gotta believe that would slow down the speed from South Carolina just a little bit. We'll see how things look Monday morning in Orlando.
Valero Alamo Bowl: Washington vs. Baylor
location: San Antonio, Texas
time: 7 pm MT
The story line in this one is obvious: How will Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III play in what could be his final collegiate game. Over the course of the trophy winners teams have not fared all that well in bowl games. However, each of the last two winners, Cam Newton and Mark Ingram, both rolled to National Titles after winning the coveted hardware. Location edge goes to Baylor in this one, the game is in San Antonio. Also Baylor, that's right Baylor, is trying for a 10 win season. RG3's last (probably) college game, what's sure to be a raucous Baylor crowd, along with a possibility of a 10 win season would seem to be too much for a young, improving Washington team to overcome. But that said Washington can run the football with Chris Polk and if they can create a few turnovers they might be able to steal one out from underneath the Bears. Look for a lot of points in this one...indoors, fast track.
Gotta ride with Griffin and Baylor, despite what is usually a bowl hex on Heisman Trophy winners. Bears too much ammunition at the Alamo!
So thanks to TCU waking in time to knock off Louisiana Tech last night 31-24 i'm able to still hold out hope for my bowl selection season. Through 5 games I'm 2-3. Definitely one to watch tonight...
MAACO Bowl Las Vegas: Boise State vs. Arizona State
location: Las Vegas, Nevada
time: 6 p.m. MT
Why watch this one? Easy. Kellen Moore. The Boise St. Sr. QB is on the verge of his 50th career win. I'll say this without much reservation...Kellen Moore is one of the best college QB's of my lifetime and probably of all time. If there is one signature player in this "Boise" era it's clearly Kellen Moore. He already holds the all time wins record for college QB's with 49 (Colt McCoy was the previous leader at 45) and could make it an even 50 with a win tonight over Arizona State.
Boise has become my favorite team to watch play the last few years, mainly because of the respect i have for head coach Chris Peterson and his ability to field a team that can compete with and beat anybody in the country, anytime! Heck last year my son and I were looking for a football game in the region to get to...somewhere within driving distance; Lincoln, Laramie, Ft. Collins, Colorado Springs. After looking at the schedule it was a no brainer. After an early morning football game for my son here in town off we went to Laramie one afternoon to check out the Cowboys and Boise State. It was awesome and they didn't disappoint. Kellen Moore was throwing passes all over the field and we got what we wanted to see...Boise score a ton and kill Wyoming.
So if you like teams that do it the right way and find a way to compete with the big boys year in and year out then tune in tonight to watch Boise St and Kellen Moore. It'll be your final chance to see one of the all time greats in college toss it around the lot. I'm expecting a big performance from Moore. I'm sure Chris Peterson has a nice game plan in for his outgoing Senior to shine with tonight.
Boise by at least 14.
As of this writing my bowl record stands at 1-1. Hopefully FIU was able to deliver me a win against Marshall. One game coming up for Wednesday night...
San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl
location: San Diego, California
time: 6 p.m. MT
This could be a good one. Both teams come in riding 7 game winning streaks. But will TCU be motivated to play good football? They routinely start the season as one of two, maybe three teams that can crash the BCS party and play in one of the major bowls despite not playing in an automatic qualifying conference. Add to it that La Tech is playing in a bowl game for the first time in 3 years and the excitement level could be quite different from one sideline to another.
I think TCU will show up ready to play. The main reason being head coach Gary Patterson. He's done a tremendous job with this program and with a young quarterback i'm sure he'll find a way to get his team to buy into the "this game builds towards next year" mantra. That young QB is sophomore Casey Pachall. On the season he's completed nearly 68% of his passes, with 24 TD's and only 6 INT's. He'll be a big time pro prospect within the next year, especially when you consider the success that former TCU QB Andy Dalton is having as a rookie with Cincinnati. Patterson is a defensive minded head coach and while that unit hasn't been quite up to standards this season, i'm sure Patterson will have them flying around come game time.
As for La. Tech they're 8-4, after starting the season 1-4. Three of those four losses came against bowl teams (Miss. St, Houston, and So. Miss.) and they all came early in the season. I don't know a whole lot about their personnel but i can't imagine they'll be able to sustain offense throughout 4 quarters against an ultra athletic defense like TCU. Also watch out for special teams. TCU is consistently among the nations leaders when it comes to the kicking game, especially the return game. Wouldn't surprise me if a blocked punt or punt/kick return broke this one open in favor of the Horned Frogs.
TCU by a couple touchdowns
Ok, so i didn't get off to the type of start i was hoping for, that's for sure. Was locked in on that Temple/Wyoming matchup as the Owls had just too much team speed and legit defense for the 'Pokes to deal with...the Ohio/Utah St. match-up was a clear pick em and i picked the wrong team...and congrats out to Louisiana Lafayette for picking up a big bowl win over SDSU. So i'm 1-2 heading into this week's games...
One game coming up Tuesday (12/20/11)...
Beef O'Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl
location: St. Petersburg, Florida
time: 6 p.m. MT
Really don't have a whole lot for you on this one...the location factor in this bowl game would give an edge to Florida International, so without a lot of knowledge on either of these teams (i didn't watch either team play a game this season...and i watch a TON of college football) i think i'll take the team playing in their home state and go with the FIU Panthers by 10 pts.
Well it's that time of year again! No, not the holidays, but college football's bowl season! The number has now reached 35. Get involved in our Aaron's KNEB bowl pick 'em contest by clicking on the Aaron's College Bowl Contest link on the front page of the website. It should be fun as you can compete against friends locally, friends and family across the world, and also some of your favorite KNEB personalities. My entry will "knebpkking" so be on the lookout for that entry to be somewhere near the top of the standings (i mean if i think that way it'll surely happen...right?)
I'll be updating my blog with game previews, maybe some selections, and why i took a certain team over another, etc.
We got three bowl games to check out this weekend, and boy are they some biggies! let's get started...
New Mexico Bowl:
location: uhh....Albuquerque, New Mexico, University of New Mexico
date: Saturday 12/17
Well this one should draw lots of local attention as the 8-4 Wyoming Cowboys take on the 8-4 Temple Owls. One thing to keep in mind when picking bowl games is "who wants to be there" and location. The location would favor Wyoming in this one as they play at this stadium every other year in Mountain West Conference Play while Temple will head from the east coast. Temple is a basketball school so i'm sure anytime they can reach a bowl game that's a big deal and they'll take the game seriously while the same can be said of Wyoming. Temple has won three straight averaging over 33 pts a game while Wyoming has won 5 of their last 7 this season. So both teams come in playing fairly good football.
Why Watch: Well clearly some of you might be alum of Wyoming or have a tie to the university so that's an obvious reason for some. If you're looking for a football reason to watch well this could be a very competitive game with two teams that will never be the face of the sport trying to gain whatever bit of ground they can in trying to build and maintain a solid program.
Selection: Just not sure how much of the Tebow aura reaches up I-25 and across I-80 to Laramie so i'm taking the Owls 27-20. Also think they have better athletes and more team speed.
Idaho Potato Bowl
location: Boise, Idaho on the blue turf at Boise State University
date: Saturday 12/17
time: 3:30 p.m.
The 9-4 Ohio Bobcats take on the 7-5 Utah St. Aggies as Frank Solich looks for his first bowl win as head coach at Ohio. He's 0-3 including a 27 point loss last season against Troy. I watched Utah State in their opener against Auburn down on the Alabama plains and they were mere minutes away from shocking the world and knocking off the defending champions but couldn't close the deal and lost in the final seconds. Utah St. did post 63 against Wyoming earlier this year. The location of this game clearly favors Utah St.
why watch: natural draw to this game is former Nebraska head coach Frank Solich who's in his 7th year as head coach with an overall mark of 49-40. Maybe the biggest draw to watch this game is the blue turf at Boise.
selection: I'll roll with Utah St in this one. If you can hang with Auburn on the road surely you can beat Ohio on a neutral field.
New Orleans Bowl
location: uhh...New Orleans, Louisiana
date: Saturday 12/17
time: 7 p.m.
8-4 Louisiana Lafayette clearly has the proximity factor in their favor against 8-4 San Diego St. That might be about all they have going in their favor. the Aztecs clearly have the talent edge in this one. Lafayette did hang 34 on Okl. St in their season opener and another one of their four losses came against Arizona. San Diego St's losses this year: Boise St, Michigan, TCU, and...head scratcher: Wyoming at home...hmmm....
why watch: Aside from it's a football game on a Saturday night? ok i found a reason...SDSU running back Ronnie Hillman is one of the nations leading rushers with almost 17 hundred yards rushing on the season including a 99 yd td run, and he's just a sophomore.
selection: I got SDSU by 10.
So that's round one of my bowl roundup! Enjoy the weekend's games and i'll have more next week including games featuring TCU and Boise State.
It's been said many times in sports that to have a rivalry you have to have two competitive teams consistently fighting it out with each other to reach a common goal, whether it's a division title, a spot in the playoffs or a championship...something! It's also been said many times that the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs make up one of the best rivalries in all of sports. That maybe true but for the most part it's nothing more than a "hammer & nail" rivalry. The St. Louis Cardinals just won their 11th World Series in Franchise History while the Cubs haven't won a Fall Classic since 1908!
This 2011 World Series was gut wrenching as a life long Chicago Cubs fan, watching that miracle comeback pulled off by the Cardinals in game 6 to set up their coronation the following night, knocking off the Texas Rangers in seven games to capture the crown. You see Cubs fans have to find reasons to stay happy when it comes to baseball, and of those things is hoping the Cardinals fail. At the end of the season it was "man, i sure hope St. Louis misses out on the playoffs". That didn't work. So next it was "it's gonna be great watching LaRussa and the Cardinals get smoked by the Phillies in the first round". Uhh, try again. No problem, how bout this one "there will be nothing better than watching St. Louis fall short of the Series by losing to, of all teams, the Brewers". That joke was on Cubs fans as well. Our last ditch hope came in the form of the free swinging Rangers and, well, you know how that story ended.
Now Cubs fans turn to the much anticipated arrival of Theo Epstein! Epstein arrives as the new President of Baseball Operations after serving as the General Manager for the Boston Red Sox for the last nine years, two of which ended with the Red Sox being crowned champions of the baseball world. He's just 37 years old with lots of ambition and another two word phrase that means a lot in baseball, a "track record". In his nine seasons at the helm in Boston the Red Sox averaged 93 wins a season including World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. Epstein created this culture of winning despite having to compete against the New York Yankees every year. He helped end the "Curse of the Bambino" in '04 as the Sox came back from the abyss, down 3-0 to N.Y. in the ALCS, to win four straight and make the Series then sweep the Cardinals to claim their first title in 86 years. Epstein now faces an even bigger challenge, make the perennial lovable losers into annual contenders.
Only time will tell if the young stud President of Baseball Operations can succeed in getting the job done but rest assured he'll have all resources necessary available to get the job done. Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has a boat load of cash (He spent 845 million to buy the Cubs and Wrigley Field) and he is demonstrating his desire to make the Cubs a winner this offseason. Call it the "Fall Classic for Cubs Fans". The minute the Red Sox season came to an end Ricketts targeted Epstein as the man he wanted to lead the Cubs and after a long drawn out spat with Sox, he got his man. To the tune of 5 years and upwards of 20 million dollars. But it's more than Epstein. Ricketts has signed off on Epstein bringing in some old buddies from Boston. Jed Hoyer will leave his post as San Diego G.M. to take the same position with the Cubs. Hoyer, along with John McCleod, who will join the Cubs organization as well, both worked under Epstein in his earlier years in Boston. Ricketts willingness to spend big on the front office is the first step in the right direction that Cubs fans are looking for. Epstein has made it clear that they will build this organization from the bottom up, building through the draft and trying to spend Ricketts big money wisely on free agents.
So the Cubs have an owner "who gets it" and an owner who wants to put a winner on the field consistently. They also have a target to shoot for right there in their own division. When Epstein was in Boston he had the Yankees to measure up to and he did just that. Now on the North side of Chicago he can look south on a map or north in the standings to find his new barometer, the 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
I'm committed to the phrase "In Theo We Trust". I have to be.
H.G. Bissenger's 1990 book titled "Friday Night Lights: a Town, a Team, and a Dream"
chronicled the 1988 Permian High School Panthers from Odessa, Texas. Some of you might be
more familiar with the made for big screen movie "Friday Night Lights" which was based of the
Bissenger book starring Billy Bob Thornton, Garrett Hedlund, and Tim McGraw. First the book
and then the movie helped create the national phenomenon known as "Texas high school
football". Along with opening a nation's eyes to how important h.s. football was in the state of
Texas it also was a microcosm for h.s. football across the country.
So i got my hands on the book "Friday Night Lights: a Town, a Team, and a Dream" in 1990
as an 8th grader while growing up in Rolla, Missouri. The Cottrell's are a sports crazy family and
my mom figured buying me sports books was a good way to ensure i was reading as a youth.
Also at this time of my childhood my dad was helping the Rolla High School coaching staff
serving as team doctor on the sidelines on Friday nights. So whether it was a home game on
Friday night or a road trip to places like Poplar Bluff, Sedalia, Waynesville, Lebanon, Eureka,
or one of the Springfield, Missouri schools it was fun being on the sideline on game night with my
dad and the Rolla High School football team. I remember the road trips a little more than the
home games because it gave me a chance to just hang out with my dad and talk sports, or
life or whatever the topic became.
Fast forward to the fall of 1992 when i was starting at safety for the Rolla High Bulldogs and
"Friday Night Lights" took on a whole new meaning. We were a senior class driven football team
that finished with a record of 7-4 with a first round playoff exit against Republic High School down
in the Ozark hills.
My junior season took place without much fanfare...we were an underachieving bunch that
finished up with a record of 3-7.
So off a disappointing 3-7 season as a junior the tide started to turn in the summer off season
during our weight training program. With a talented and deep sophomore class entering the
fold our coaching staff made the decision to go to a two platoon system, allowing us to have
22 different starters for offense and defense. With a tremendous senior class, a few juniors that
helped out and a sophomore class on the come the 1994 Rolla Bulldogs would set the town on fire.
It all started on a hot, steamy night in Springfield, Missouri as we took on the highly touted
Parkview Vikings, a team loaded with offensive talent with speed to kill. The dad's of
Parkview players had grown beards over the late summer months leading up to the season and
had vowed not shave until the team lost a game. There might have been some longer lines
than usual the next morning at Wal Mart with guys lining up for razors and shaving cream. We
pulled off the upset with what would become our staple all season long...stifling defense that
allowed basically nothing and a nothing fancy type approach on offense, line it up and run it
down your throat with the occasional big pass play in the passing game. It was the first of
what would be 12 straight before a season ending loss in the state semi-finals at home
against eventual Missouri class 4A state champion Excelsior Springs from the Kansas City
That senior season ended with the team 12-1, still the best season in Rolla High School history,
with a personal highlight being selected as a 2nd team all state defensive back in the 2nd highest
class of football in the state of Missouri. One of the players selected to the first team as a DB
that folks out here might recognize was Cookie Belcher, who went on to have a stellar college
career as a guard on the Nebraska basketball team. That senior season took on a life of its own
for everyone, not just the players and coaches. I can remember my mom and dad along with
grandparents and other players parents, teachers, people from around town traveling in packs to
our road games and on Friday nights when we were at home the grills were fired up in full force
with the hot dogs and brats smelling up the parking lot hours before kickoff. To this day at
family get togethers the topic of conversation will eventually turn to "those good old days" and
the 1994 Rolla High School Bulldog football team.
Now to the present day in the fall of 2011 here in the Scottsbluff / Gering area it's a blast to
cover high school football on Friday nights in western Nebraska. Whether I'm at Bearcat
stadium with Johnny Selzer covering a Scottsbluff game or crosstown with Steve Flower
watching the Gering Bulldogs it's hard not to think back to my time under the lights and all
the lifelong memories that playing high school football created for me.
Football might be king in Texas but rest assured whether it's in the middle of Missouri or in
western Nebraska if you've ever played under those "Friday Night Lights" you know the feeling
and you can still picture it all today...balloons on the cars, girls wearing the players jerseys in
the hallways on fridays, teachers slapping you on the back wishing you good luck, the grills
fired up cooking the burgers and the brats, the fresh cut grass, painted yard lines, and the buzz
around town and the butterflies filling your stomach!
So if you haven't gotten out to a game recently grab the kids, the grand kids or just grab a
sweatshirt and head out to your local area high school football game on a Friday night and
remember what it was like to be 16-18 year old again!
Well first things first, this is great! My own blog where i can talk about whatever i want, whenever i want. My name is Chris Cottrell and I'm going on two years now employed here at KNEB. My official title is Production Manager and I also host the McDonald's Dollar Menu Drive Home weekday afternoons on KNEB FM from 4:30 to 6 o'clock. Thanks to Sports Director Rob Barney i also have an opportunity to work in the sports department doing high school football on Friday nights during the fall and some high school basketball in the winter months.
When asked what the name of my blog was going to be i pondered for a few moments and settled on Off Air ...On Point. Simple enough right? I'm an on-air personality and I'm hoping our KNEB listeners will find my blog worth reading once I'm off the air. As for the On Point part of the blog title you can expect most of my blog entries to be about sports, and when it comes to sports i usually feel most of my opinions are right on point.
All in all i hope to keep my blog updated regularly with fresh content and opinions.
It's great to be part of the KNEB team on a daily basis. We have a great staff to work with/for and the future is bright!
I hope everyone enjoys the look of our new website and I'm excited to be a "contributing blogger"!
Check back soon for my next update