Big 12 Tourney Update. As mentioned last night, Texas has to thank...[gulp]...Oklahoma for its dramatic 9th inning come from behind win over Missouri; the Sooners' 4-3 win on a two-run double in the final frame kept Texas alive for a spot in the tournament finals. Heading into Saturday's last round robin match up, it is - surprisingly - Oklahoma which is the team controlling its own destiny in Pool 1. The path to the finals for the top half of the bracket, then:
Texas: Defeats OU, A&M defeats Missouri
Missouri: Defeats A&M, Texas defeats OU
Oklahoma: Defeat Texas
Note: In a three-way tie at 2-1 (Texas beats OU, Missouri beats A&M), the highest seed (#4 MU) advances.
Down in the bottom half of the bracket, on Wednesday #6 Baylor defeated #3 Nebraska, while #7 Kansas State took out #2 Oklahoma State. Pool play continues tomorrow with Nebraska-KSU and Baylor-OSU, while both Pools will complete match up play on Saturday. The division winners will meet Sunday for the conference title.
The conference... has changed. Remember when the Big 12 was sort of a plodding, defense-oriented, every-team's-fans-knew-the-name-of-their-fullback type of conference? Not so much any more:
The conference was so pass happy in 2007 that even Baylor's quarterback is near the top of the national leaderboard. And they just hired Art Briles. Elsewhere, Cody Hawkins didn't make either of the above charts, but enters year two in Dad's historically offense/QB-friendly system.
Really, the conference could feature as many as nine spread offenses with passing games to fear, with two unknowns (A&M and Nebraska) and then Iowa State.1
Do not leave the premises. You've been warned. This is the maddening time of year when you start to see previews of Texas written by people who either don't follow the team closely enough or are not named SMQ enough to put together something worth reading. This entry was the latest to hit my inbox via Google News Alert:
Rashad Bobino-While he may lack the size that NFL scouts look for in a middle linebacker, he plays with the heart of a man twice his size. Bobino's attitude and heart make him a very essential part of this years team. While the Horns adapt to their third defense in four years under the guidance of former Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, look for Bobino to lead this young defense back to national prominence.
In other news, keep an eye on Henry Melton during goal line situations. This is the year he leads Texas' red zone offense back to national prominence.
Now say something nice. I was going to rant about the stupidity of hiring former players to offer sports commentary, absent a demonstrated ability to share useful information with the viewer based on their experience in the game. However true, I'm going to be positive and note what a joy it was to listen to Mike Jeff Van Gundy do color for the Detroit-Boston game last night. (I'm a big Pistons fan these days. Don't ask.)
It was absolutely fantastic. Van Gundy would watch exactly what I watched but would have infinitely more insight into what had just transpired. And he explained it! Like, real insights on what was happening. And even better, what wasn't happening. Throughout the game, Van Gundy would talk to viewers like it was him and us on the end of the bench and we were watching our team play out a playoff game. He had praise for great play and no shortage of criticism for mistakes.
So rather than bloviate about how useless John Barry is, let me say that the flip side of that coin - listening to a former player or coach who can communicate unique insights - is a real treat.
1If Gene Chizik doesn't quickly get things going in Ames and they start to slide into Baylor territory, I'd like to see the Cyclones bring back Larry Eustachy. Except as a football coach. Who is encouraged to drink while he coaches. The fans deserve it.