Cutback In KC Star Issues Forecast, But …

One of my old newspaper buddies clings to the notion that the Kansas City Star will follow the New Orleans Times-Picayune and publish just three days a week.

I’ve asked and Star management have denied that prediction.

However, in looking at the Monday and Tuesday newspapers, well, they made Twiggy look fat. The opinion pages became an opinion page. Letters to the editor became one highlighted effort.

How can the Star maintain subscribers with such a tight news hole when they couple that negative with all the rest, including poor customer relations, inconsistent circulation procedures, dwindling experienced staff and questionable pursuit of stories?

Maybe management is saving newsprint so they can increase space for the Monday stories of the Chiefs and the NFL. Well, you got another idea?

Here’s the saga of the Times-Picayune. In May 2012, the paper bosses announced they would cut back its publishing schedule to three days a week and lay off staff. The paper reported that a new company would be formed, the NOLA Media Group, which would include the paper and the web site. The newspaper would be home delivered and available in stores on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays only. The web site, meanwhile, would increase its online news-gathering efforts.

Newhouse Newspapers, part of Advance Publications, operates the Times-Picayune. Three Newhouse papers in Alabama — Birmingham News, Huntsville Times and Mobile Press-Register — similarly restructured. They would become part of the newly formed Alabama Media Group and would print only three days a week.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Newark Star-Ledger and Portland Oregonian are among other newspapers owned by Newhouse.

The moves announced for the New Orleans and Alabama newspapers were pitched as needed adjustments to the way news is delivered and consumed by the public. Nola.com ran an article that quoted Ricky Mathews, the president of NOLA Media group: “Our best path to success lies in a digitally focused organization that combines the award-winning journalism of The Times-Picayune and the strength of NOLA.com.”

When the decision to stop daily circulation at the Times-Picayune, 50 local businesses wrote an open to the Newhouse family to sell the paper instead of cutting it back. The businesses noted that the newspaper was profitable in its 7-day format. Obviously, not profitable enough, huh.

The limited publication of the paper made New Orleans the largest American city not to have a daily newspaper. However, the Baton Rouge Advocate began publishing a New Orleans edition each day to fill the perceived gap.

Half of the Times-Picayune newsroom staff were notified they would lose their jobs. In September 2012, the paper began publishing its broadsheet paper on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Along with the change, the paper began publishing a special tabloid-sized edition following Sunday and Monday New Orleans Saints football games.

Aha, Chiefs fans.

All that changed again in April of last year when the paper’s publisher announced plans to print a tabloid version, Times-Picayune Street, on Mondays, Tuesday and Thursdays. The first edition came in June.

The Advocate continues to publish its New Orleans edition.

I continue to stand by my sense, my opinion, my belief, my impression that a newspaper can thrive in these days of electronic suffocation. During numerous conversations, I hear someone mention a particular incident and the only place the story originated was the newspaper. It happens over and over again.

Of course, newspaper publishers must continue to produce a readable edition. Cutting staff, cutting news hole and cutting credibility won’t get the job done.

While focusing on the plight of gathering news, Steve Paul, the Star’s editorial page editor, touched on the nay-saying against newspapers. He wrote, “It’s fashionable to declare the death of ‘newspapers.’ And, by ‘newspapers’ I mean those media operations that bring news of the world and your community to your doorstep and/or to the device screen of your choosing.”

I disagree, in part. I’m pleased he put the “newspapers” in quotes because reading an internet story simply isn’t the same. Sorry.

He went on to say: “Sure, it is difficult to be an optimist in this atmosphere of technological upheaval and consumer fragmentation. When we can find large amounts of micro-sliced, unfiltered information on the Internet, what really does journalism offer? And what does it mean to be a journalist anyway?

“‘Newspapers’ don’t often tell their own stories of how and why we do what we do. We just assume that those who read our pages or our online postings value the institution and what it offers — or at least put up with it enough to take away something of interest, even if it’s just something to complain to us about.”

He’s right. Newspaper folks do a horrible job of communicating in their roles as communicators. You ask about a certain business decision made by newspaper management and you may get a no comment. Stuff like that happens all the time with newspapers. You ask who was laid off and you get a no comment. You try to pin them down and they say what all businesses say: “We’re a private concern and we reserve the right to keep it that way.”

Oh so many problems with the newspaper.

But do you really think the Star will reduce its daily output? Geez, I hope not.

Awhile back, I was in Boston for a week and religiously read the Globe. I recall I used to think of it as a newspaper with lots of space and huge photos. Now the space is less and the photos smaller but the product is solid. The paper has numerous good features, like a full roundup of national news on page 2 and a full roundup of world news on page 3. They cover news. They cover it in a timely fashion. And they certainly didn’t squeeze the news hole all that much on the bad advertising days, like Monday and Tuesday.
Readers still read on those days, huh.

The Globe’s circulation is 215,700 daily and 363,000 on Sundays. The Star is 200,000 and 310,500. The Star has enough circulation to keep the news hole higher than what it has shone on Mondays and Tuesdays. After all, its editors say the paper is profitable. Probably in a big way.

Three times a week publishing, huh. Nope, not for the near future, anyway.

Football Coming On Strong

Four questions you might ask while ordering your second gin and tonic: Will the Royals keep the Chiefs second in the media pecking order; will the Chiefs offense score a touchdown in the pre-season; will Kansas State knock off Auburn; and can Kansas fans wait until basketball to find something to cheer?

Another round, please.

If the Chiefs continue to play like they did Sunday night at Carolina, the diminishing news hole in the Monday issues of the Kansas City Star may not find mega-coverage space to describe their inadequacies. If the Royals continue to find clutch hitting, solid defense and remarkable pitching, they will dominate September and October.

So what is it with the Chiefs? Yeah, yeah, it’s early. We get it. We already know they don’t have receivers who can get separation on defenders. We already know they have a slow and weak secondary. We are beginning to find out the offensive line needs resuscitation.

The preseason is for observing things that can transfer into the regular season. And if the early play of left tackle Eric Fisher is any indication, the regular season is in for a lot of trouble. In the 28-16 loss to Carolina, Fisher had, well, a miserable time, a wretched time, a dismal time. In the 41-39 victory over Cincy in the opening game, Fisher allowed a sack and generally was ineffective. Against the Panthers, well, he was simply outclassed and manhandled.

If he had been a lion tamer against the Panthers, he would have been mauled. Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith had little time to throw as the Panthers ran by, slammed by, pushed by Fisher.

Chiefs observers say he does a good job in run-blocking — he’s more assertive and when he gets his hands on a defender he has more success. Maybe he’s struggling after undergoing off-season shoulder injury. Then put him to bed, not in the line.

A lot needs to heal for the Chiefs to live a healthy life in the NFL.

The offense didn’t have running back Jamaal Charles against the Panthers. He had a foot injury. Sounds reasonable for a running back who puts a lot of effort into his daily workouts. What? It isn’t a football injury? Nope, he rolled his foot on a curb carrying a box from the dorms in St. Joseph. The injury apparently is minor but Coach Andy Reid wasn’t sure of Charles’ practice status.

Kansas City will play Minnesota Saturday at Arrowhead and former Chief Matt Cassel will start for the Vikings. This will be his third straight pre-season start and apparently has an edge in his battle with rookie Teddy Bridgewater. However, media covering Minnesota say the fight is too close to call.

Smith hasn’t led the Chiefs to a TD in the two pre-season games. Reid said after the Panther game that Smith and Terry Bray would see more playing time against Minnesota while Chase Daniel and Aaron Murray might not see as much. Reid said it was part of his plan in alternating quarterbacks.

Pre-season is about to wrap up in the Big 12 with openers scheduled for a week from Saturday.

Sports Illustrated forecasts that Oklahoma will be in the football Final Four, along with Florida State, Alabama and Ohio State. The magazine ranked Kansas State No. 21.

If the Wildcats can beat Auburn September 18 in Manhattan, that could set up a lot of options, including a big matchup with OU a month later in Norman. Yes, of course, the Cats must get by Stephen F. Austin August 30 in Manhattan and Iowa State September 6 at Ames.

Brian Hamilton wrote in SI on an opposing coach’s take of K-State:

“They’ll be formidable because they’re well-coached. The line tightens or widens splits based on how they run or where they run. Our defense tried to study film and figure it out, and we still couldn’t stop them. (Quarterback) Jake Waters has to prove that he can stand in the pocket and covert a third-down pass when everyone in the ballpark knows he’s going to throw it. You have to decide whether to let (receiver Tyler Lockett) get the ball or if you’re going to find a way to bracket him.

“Their defense was very sound. You look at them on film and say, ‘They don’t do a lot.’ But, boy, they tackle, and they blitz at the right time. Ryan Mueller, the end, is the hardest-playing guy I’ve seen on film in a long time. His motor is on Red Bull. In the secondary they’re a big zone team, so they need to be formidable up front but they only have four of their front seven coming back.”

SI also has a power rating on offense, defense and special teams. I don’t know how they figure it the percentages but the Cats rate 86 percent on offense, 85 percent on defense and 88 percent on special teams.

OU, on the other hand, goes 87 percent, 88 percent and 85 percent. The other Big 12 team ranked by SI is Baylor, at No. 10. The Bears power rankings run 93 percent, 82 percent and 81 percent.

SI writer Ben Glickman used OU’s 45-31 victory last season over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl as a launch as to why the Sooners will be in the Final Four. He likened quarterback Trevor Knight’s knack to improvisation as Johnny Manziel-ish. Glickman pointed to wide receiver Sterling Shepard as the top playmaker.

The writer did pick on OU’s rushing defense, noting that Baylor and Texas each ran for 255 yards in routs of the Sooners last season. So is it good news that they have nine starters returning? However, they have four really good ones in junior end Charles Tapper and linebackers Dominique Alexander, Geneo Grissom and Eric Striker.

Don’t worry KU fans. You will have plenty of pub when basketball rolls around. KU is a basketball school, right? Yes sir.

If football Coach Charlie Weis remains after this season, well, that means one of two things — he has blackmail material on the athletic director and the school president or the team will win 7 games. You think?

The News About Shooting Just Keeps on Coming

Like carnival vendors filling balloons with helium, reporters, witnesses and preachers saturate the air with reports out of a St. Louis suburb that waft through turbulence then burst with ear-popping explosiveness.

Protests continue in Ferguson, Missouri, a week after 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police officer in the middle of a city street.

Is the story overplayed? Is it underplayed? It would be easy to say it’s overplayed because every time I turn on cable news or pick up the front page of the Kansas City Star — the newspaper is on the west side of the state and not the east, okay — the story pounds on me like a jack-hammer at a construction area. As for TV, how many times can you repeat the same thing over and over again. As for the Star coverage, you would think the incident happened at the Power & Light District.

Look, it’s an important story. It needs media coverage. But check how much time and space, it takes. Other news is occurring throughout the city, throughout the state, throughout the nation, throughout the world. Why isn’t the Star on the East Side telling the front-page story of those wallowing in poverty? Or maybe the hardships of an heroic black teacher trying to cope with a hungry child in the fourth grade. Or maybe the despair of the out-of-work single mother living in squalor. Or maybe the sadness of a no-name family dealing with a drive-by shooting.

Why doesn’t cable news diversify a little and give the viewer a chance to breathe a little from the suffocation of the shooting incident.

Look, the Star on Sunday did run an informative and timely story on the problems of part-time workers. Please, more, more, more.

Does the shooting and aftermath deserve emblazoned headlines on the front page every day? Or 24/7 on cable news?

Don’t give me the hackneyed rationale about how this is a story of a wronged black person and that it needs airing. Is it getting more than its share? So much is happening in the world of news and this shooting story is so dominant every single day or every single hour.

With all the stories emanating from the scene, the fact that a family has lost an 18-year-old young man seems smothered in ancillary detours. Like the arrest of journalists covering the story. Like did the theft of $49 worth of cigars trigger the shooting. Like did Governor Nixon do enough in the aftermath. Like which witness is hedging the facts.

Any person who has paid attention to these types of stories knows the formula:
• Young man shot.
• Cops deny brutality.
• Tempers escalate the incident.
• Reporters flock to the scene.
• Each emerging fact is blown out of proportion.
• Politicians become involved.
• Riots occur.
• Attention to the incident causes more incidents.
• The police handle the public relations phase in a deplorable manner.
• Tension and tempers escalate.
• The story drags on.
• Facts become shaded.
• Editorials pop up about how all this is senseless and never should have happened.
• Finally, everyone awaits the adjudication.

Those protesting certainly screw up their fight for the cause when they go crazy by looting stores, clashing violently in the streets and generally causing havoc. Then you get the story that the protestors threw rocks at the State High Patrol troopers. How many threw? Was it really protestors? See how the facts can become skewed.

The estimated number of protestors over the weekend reached as high as 200. Is that a large number?

How long will it all last? Stay tuned because we’re in the O.J. Trial Syndrome phase.

The monotony of repeated facts doesn’t detract the conspiracy-hungry flock. They keep their remote ever ready for a new revelation, no matter its lack of significance.

Patience, diligence and inquiry probably will provide more depth and answers at some point. According to an Associated Press story, Police Chief Thomas Jackson said the officer who shot Brown stopped the victim and a companion “because they were walking down the middle of the street blocking traffic.”

Darren Wilson, 28, has been identified as the policeman who did the shooting. He was placed on administrative leave after the shooting.

Now here’s the kind of quote that you get in these types of stories: Chief Jackson said Wilson “never intended for any of this to happen.” Gee, really!

The AP story said documents showed that the policeman encountered Brown and another young man walking down the street. Then what happened? Ah, well, the AP story said the documents contained no description of what happened between Brown and Wilson.

Police said they found evidence of the stolen merchandise — apparently the cigars — on Brown’s body.

The AP reported that Brown’s uncle, Bernard Ewing, said the shooting was unnecessary, even if his nephew was a robbery suspect. A robbery “still doesn’t justify shooting him when he puts his hands up,” he added. “You still don’t shoot him in the face.”

Oh yes, the usual suspects showed up for air time. On Friday night, the AP reported, the Rev. Jesse Jackson linked arms with protesters as they marched to the site where Brown was killed. Jackson bent over in front of a memorial cross and candle and sighed deeply. He urged people to “turn pain into power” and to “fight back, but not self-destruct” through violence.

Also Friday, the Justice Department confirmed in a statement that FBI agents had conducted several interviews with witnesses as part of a civil-rights investigation into Brown’s death. In the days ahead, the agents planned to canvass the neighborhood where the shooting happened, seeking more information, the statement said.

According to the AP story, police have said Brown was shot after an officer encountered him and another man on the street during a routine patrol. They say one of the men pushed the officer into his squad car, then physically assaulted him in the vehicle and struggled with the officer over the officer’s weapon. At least one shot was fired inside the car before the struggle spilled onto the street.

Stay tuned to the Rev. Al Sharpton for more reports on MSNBC. Maybe it will be another Sister Souljah moment. Or maybe he will praise James Brown as an icon — ahem, despite the wonderful music maker’s womanizing and miscreant life.

Maybe we’ll get some other news stories.

Bad News Brownback? Yes, Indeed

Kansas folks may start calling him Bad News Brownback. Wham Bam Sam is not only having a bad news day he’s also having a bad tenure.

Negative stories have rained on the governor like a cloudburst generated by Zeus, or maybe a Democrat disguised as a rain god. From increases in uninsured rates to questions about a campaign loan, from another drop in the bond rates to a budget shortfall, the news has put Brownback on the defensive.

The wire services, the dailies, the electronic media and the internet spread the news.

Kansas, under the insistence of Brownback’s administration, has resisted expansion of its Medicaid program through the Affordable Care Act. The result: It’s the only state in the country to show a significant increase in its uninsured rate this year, according to Gallup poll data.

States that adopted optional parts of the ACA have seen the largest declines in their uninsured rates.

The adult uninsured rate in Kansas rose from 12.5 percent last year to 17.6 percent during the first half of this year, giving the state the seventh-highest rate in the nation, according to data collected as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.

“It’s eye-popping. Kansas really sticks out,” said Dan Witters, research director for the Well-Being Index, an ongoing national poll that surveys people’s health, relationships and finances.

The Gallup poll found that the 10 states with the largest reductions in uninsured rates this year had all expanded their Medicaid programs and had either created their own exchanges or partnered with the federal government on an exchange. Arkansas saw the steepest decline, from 22.5 percent uninsured in 2013 to 12.4 percent this year. Kentucky was second with a decline from 20.4 percent uninsured to 11.9 percent.

Kentucky, by the way, has a fierce U.S. Senate race between Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Democrat challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. McConnell and his cronies have spent much of the Senate’s time blasting ACA. Polls show a close Senate race.

Brownback may have to answer to his negative ACA stance as he takes on Paul Davis, minority leader of the Kansas House, in the governor’s race. Davis has a Docking on the ticket, Jill Docking, former member of the Kansas Board of Regents and a U.S. Senate candidate in 1996. The Docking name stirs Democrats in Kansas and Brownback’s negatives are contributing to Davis taking a lead in the polls.

The uninsured rate in Missouri, which like Kansas did not expand Medicaid or create its own exchange, remained essentially flat, with 15.2 percent uninsured in 2013 and 15.1 percent uninsured this year.

Steve Coen, president and CEO of the Wichita-based Kansas HealthFoundation, which funds health education and promotion programs, said in a statement, “It continues to be disappointing that Kansas has not taken advantage of the opportunity to insure more people. Up to 100,000 low-income Kansans are losing out on much-needed health insurance.” The foundation has been among several charitable health organizations serving Kansas that have supported the expansion of Medicaid in the state.

As for the half-million dollar loan Brownback took from Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, well, he declined to comment on why the money moved in, then out, then back in his campaign fund. According to several news stories, a campaign finance report for 2013 showed Colyer, a plastic surgeon, loaned the campaign the money on December 31, 2013, helping push the governor’s cash on hand to nearly $2 million.
Another filing, released July 28, showed that Brownback’s campaign refunded Colyer his money January 2, two days after he loaned it. The campaign then accepted another half-million from Colyer on July 23, the day before the next filing was due.

Joan Wagnon, chairwoman of the Kansas Democratic Party, called it a blatant attempt to manipulate voters by artificially inflating the campaign coffers.

“Sam Brownback has again tried to fool Kansans with a sham loan from his lieutenant governor that fits right into his continued pattern of deception and political tricks,” Wagnon said in a prepared statement.

Asked about the rationale behind the loan pattern, Brownback told reporters, “No, I can’t explain the thought process. I’m not going to explain the thought process on it.”

Then there was another downgrading of the state’s bond rating. Standard & Poor’s announced it was lowering Kansas’ rating. Moody’s Investors Services downgraded Kansas in May from Aa1, its second-highest rating, to Aa2, its third-highest. A Standard & Poor’s analyst confirmed that the rating agency had, as of August 6, downgraded the state from AA-plus “stable” to AA “negative.”

David Hitchcock, who helped prepare Standard & Poor’s rating revision report, said the downgrade stems from a long-term budget outlook in which revenue and spending aren’t projected to balance.

“We’re just looking in the long run for structural balance between revenues and expenditures,” Hitchcock told reporters.

Brownback, speaking to reporters, said the bond rating agencies didn’t like the overall flow of cutting taxes, but he and legislative leaders were committed to continuing to do so.

“It’s hard to break the addiction to high taxes,” Brownback said in an interview recorded by a 580 WIBW Radio reporter. “It’s hard to do, but we need to do it to create growth.”

Hmmm. Moody’s said it issued its downgrade because Kansas’ economic recovery was sluggish compared with other states and legislators had been turning to temporary nonrecurring revenue sources to balance budgets while spending more than the state was projected to take in taxes.

Davis called the latest downgrade terrible news for Kansas and further evidence that Brownback’s economic revamp had failed.

The Associated Press reported Kansas would face a budget shortfall of $238 million by the end of July 2016. The Legislature’s nonpartisan research staff said a new forecast predicted that the gap would emerge a year sooner than it had anticipated.

The new budget forecast also showed a lower figure for the state’s cash reserves on June 30 than the cash-on-hand figure reported last month by Brownback’s administration — $380 million compared with nearly $435 million. The department made its routine adjustment of the cash figure to account for bills pending but not paid as of that date, the end of the 2014 budget year, the AP story said.

The projections are likely to become part of a contentious public debate about whether personal income tax cuts engineered by Brownback are wrecking the state’s finances.

Brownback’s exceptionalism is creating a poor economic atmosphere for Kansans. All the money he receives from the Koch Brothers will mean nothing if the people continue to see the state slump in so many facets of the economy.

Rushbo’s Bile Remains Offensive

I try not to answer or point to statements made by the likes of loose-lipped Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. Right wing-nut sophists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Matt Drudge, Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter make so many stupid and inflammatory statements that they become irrelevant.

The media responses to their comments only give them an airing, an avenue to spew more conservative bile and venom.

But the latest Limbaugh crap went over the top. He now is a forensic expert with an insight into psychiatry. We understand Limbaugh is a know-it-all, but when he can provide us with the reason that Robin Williams committed suicide, he becomes a know-nothing.

Here’s a lead by the Huffington Post’s Ed Mazza: Rush Limbaugh seems to think he knows why Robin Williams died in an apparent suicide earlier this week — and it’s because unhappiness is an attitude of the political left.

That’s it. That’s the reason. The lefties did it. Oh, is charging President Obama with the cause far behind? Or Hillary Clinton?

Limbaugh et al deal in wispy and vindictive conspiracy theories.

Here’s Limbaugh’s suicide rationale to listeners: “What is the left’s worldview in general? If you had to attach, not a philosophy, but an attitude to a leftist worldview. It’s one of pessimism, and darkness, sadness. They’re never happy, are they?…He had it all, but he had nothing. Made everybody else laugh, but was miserable inside. It fits a certain picture or a certain image that the left has.”

Wait, wait, wait. Hold on. Now Limbaugh says he was misquoted, taken out of context.

Although he may deny this later, but he told listeners Wednesday that he never said Williams killed himself because of his political views, and that his comments were misquoted, purposely taken out of context by the liberal media. He said he was actually criticizing the media’s coverage of Williams’ death, adding, “I don’t presume to know why Robin Williams committed suicide. I didn’t know yesterday, and I don’t know today.”

Even his denial lacks credibility.

He went on to keep the focus that the liberals did it. “They are the ones trying to tell us why,” he continued, criticizing the liberal media. “They are the ones trying to explain it. They are the ones justifying it. They are the ones glorifying it.”

Did he ever mention anyone in particular who glorified the suicide? Nah.

By the way, Media Matters has a tape of what Rushbo said on the air. Word for word, Rushbo. You did it.

It’s a Limbaugh tactic — attack, then pull back when the criticism builds to where his ad revenue may suffer.

Media Matters recalled that Limbaugh did make a serious-minded apology back in 2012. He had described then law student Sandra Fluke as a “slut” and a “prostitute” during a show. Those comments led to a huge advertiser boycott of his program with the repercussions continuing even today. Limbaugh said in his apology then that he didn’t mean a personal attack by launching 44 personal insults at her over three broadcasts.

Mazza’s story included: The leftist attitude is “one of pessimism and darkness, sadness — they’re never happy, are they?” Limbaugh said on Tuesday’s broadcast of his radio show. “They’re always angry about something. No matter what they get they’re always angry.”

Limbaugh cited a Fox News story that said Williams killed himself because he was embarrassed to take TV roles and parts in movie sequels, but had to do it because of financial troubles.

Mazza’s report continued: Limbaugh also read a newspaper report that said Williams felt guilt over surviving the deaths of his friends Christopher Reeve, John Belushi and Andy Kaufman. “He could never get over the guilt that they died and he didn’t,” Limbaugh said. “Well, that is a constant measurement that is made by political leftists when judging the country.”

What do you think of the Rushbo analysis? Yeah, me, too.

Look, I was never been a big fan of Williams’ comedy, but his serious roles were just marvelous, especially “The World According to Garp,” “Dead Poets Society” and “Good Will Hunting.”

He made me nervous during interviews. He seemed so frenetic and the moderator had a difficult time in pinning him down on a particular topic.

You had to wonder about his life in drugs when he was so closely associated with Belushi.

But you don’t need Rushbo’s flawed comments in the spate of so many observations.

While there doesn’t seem to be many studies on political leanings and suicide rates, Mazza wrote, research published last year found that suicide rates tend to be higher in states that vote Republican and have a higher rate of gun ownership. So there, wing-nuts.

Mazza has more. A book published by James Gilligan, “Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others,” says that suicide and violence rates rise during Republican presidencies and fall during Democratic administrations.

The conservatives take the pessimistic approach to most everything. Many of them believe we’re going to hell in a handbasket. Why? Well, one of the reasons, of course, is a breakdown in morality — including a collapse in family values and a declining belief in God. Politically, we’re trading with Communist China, the mainstream media control the government process, there’s declining freedom and we’re turning away from the Constitution. Of course, wing-nuts always think students at public schools are being indoctrinated with wrong-headed liberal viewpoints.

Yep, the leftists did it.

That coming from a man who shines in Double-D — drugs and divorce.

During one of Rushbo’s radio shows, he was commenting on a TV program where he said lesbians were obese substance abusers — er, ah, check out his girth and propensity for popping OxyContins. Two months after his 2009 drug arrest stemming from his addiction to OxyContin, Limbaugh was detained upon returning from a vacation in the Dominican Republic. This time, Limbaugh had a bottle of Viagra, which was not prescribed to him. No charges were filed, and Limbaugh later joked about the incident on his radio show: “I had a great time in the Dominican Republic. Wish I could tell you about it.”

Limbaugh was between marriages 3 and 4 at the time of his detention with the erectile dysfunction medication in his possession after his vacation to one of the world’s hottest sex tourism destinations.

So, do you trust his observations on the circumstances of Williams’ suicide? I hope not.

No matter, it seems, because these wing-nut pundits remain popular. Their spin on news is out of control. It’s beyond me how they can appeal to so many.

Indians Keep Fighting Over Team ID’s

While you may be all torn up about the KC Chiefs facing the season with a shaky secondary and an a questionable offensive line, some folks are more upset with a non-playing issue. Do you like the mascot/nickname, Chiefs?

Hey, it’s the going thing — spend more time with off-the-field topics.

That’s not to minimize the way Indians feel about the names. Many Indians and those with politically correct agendas certainly are sensitive to them.

The concern has been building through the years. It’s understandable. Maybe you should walk in the shoes of those who have a strong feeling against the use of such terms as Redskins and Braves.

As a kid, I never even thought of any injustice. I thought the wide smile of Chief Wahoo, the Cleveland Indians caricature, was, well, funny. But I didn’t see denigration. The teeth did look kinda big, though.

I sometimes had to be the Indian in our Cowboys-Indians epic battles in the dirt-filled lots. I didn’t like that darn old Geronimo. And Sitting Bull? He and Crazy Horse wiped out General Custer and my history books took after them. Only later did I read that ol’ Custer wasn’t the idol I thought he was.

In the old movies, I didn’t pay attention to how many bullets they shot or how come there was no blood from the arrow wounds. I just wasn’t very high on those darn Indians killing my cowboys and troopers.

The concern now isn’t kid stuff.

The battle over mascots of athletic teams reflects a strong cultural concern. The main focus on the mascot issue involves the Washington Redskins. On this one, I agree that the term is over the line. Redskin is pejorative. Let me tell you, Indians certainly don’t like to be called that. Do the Irish like to be called Micks or the Italians Wops or the Jews Hebes? Of course not.

But I saw little to get upset about with the Chiefs — or even Indians, for that matter. But I’m changing.

I heard an Indian on television discuss the issue and he was upset when white people don a head-dress and whoop and holler. He believes the head-dress is more than just symbolic. They were war bonnets, on occasion. But generally Indians consider them objects of spiritual significance.

I’ve come around to seeing the negative of the terms.

In the major leagues, two teams have Indian names, Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians. In the NFL, there are the Washington Redskins and the Kansas City Chiefs. Many colleges with Indian mascots have changed. Ditto for high schools. They gave the issue a long look and made the decision.

Do you agree?

Oh, the chant with a tomahawk chop? That’s irritable and must go. So there.

A friend of mine sent me an email that did raise more issues. He had received an anonymous response to a piece Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune wrote concerning a name change for the Redskins:

Dear Mr. Page:
I always love your articles and I generally agree with them. …
I agree with our Native American population. I am highly insulted by the racially charged name of the Washington Redskins. One might argue that to name a professional football team after Native Americans would exalt them as fine warriors, but nay, nay. We must be careful not to offend, and in the spirit of political correctness and courtesy, we must move forward. Let’s ditch the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians. If your shorts are in a wad because of the reference the name Redskins makes to skin color, then we need to get rid of the Cleveland Browns.
The Carolina Panthers obviously were named to keep the memory of militant Blacks from the 60′s alive. Gone. It’s offensive to us white folk.
The New York Yankees offend the Southern population. Do you see a team named for the Confederacy? No! There is no room for any reference to that tragic war that cost this country so many young men’s lives.
I am also offended by the blatant references to the Catholic religion among our sports team names. Totally inappropriate to have the New Orleans Saints, the Los Angeles Angels or the San Diego Padres.
Then there are the team names that glorify criminals who raped and pillaged. We are talking about the horrible Oakland Raiders, the Minnesota Vikings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Pittsburgh Pirates!
Now, let us address those teams that clearly send the wrong message to our children. The San Diego Chargers promote irresponsible fighting or even spending habits. Wrong message to our children.
The New York Giants and the San Francisco Giants promote obesity, a growing childhood epidemic.
Wrong message to our children.
The Cincinnati Reds promote downers/barbiturates. Wrong message to our children.
The Milwaukee Brewers — well that goes without saying . Wrong message to our children.
So, there you go. We need to support any legislation that comes out to rectify this travesty, because the government will likely become involved with this issue, as they should. Just the kind of thing the do-nothing congress loves.
As a die-hard Oregon State fan, my wife and I, with all of this in mind, it might also make some sense to change the name of the Oregon State women’s athletic teams to something other than the Beavers.

Ah yes, hyperbole. Neat literary gimmick.

This is what happens when you get involved with political correctness.

Oh, the Beavers. That reminds me of the time I was a managing editor in Oklahoma. A big rivalry high school game was Hooker vs. Beaver, two towns in the northwest part of the state. I told my sports editor that I didn’t even want a hint of a double entendre in the story or the headline. Nothing. And get this. The Beaver mascot? The Dusters. No joke. really. The Beaver Dusters.

Mommies and daddies really could raise hell with a reference to that in the story, huh.

So what do you think? It comes down to this: Do the Indians have a point? And is the point valid?

Treading on My Old Stomping Grounds

My old neighborhood is crumbling, literally. It’s been awhile since I traveled through the Northeast District but at the time, well, it just ain’t what it used to be, from structures to culture to ethnicity. They’re trying to maintain some areas and renovate others, but, for the most part, the are is in a down mode. The area produces lots of memories for me.

So it was of great interest when I heard about the building collapse last week at Independence Avenue and Benton Boulevard. At first, I thought it was the old Christian Church where I used to play basketball in the gym. Then I thought it was the old apartments on the southwest corner. Nope, it was the old Benton Theater building on the northeast corner.

The east side of the 113-year-old building gave out but the children and adult overseers at a day care facility there all managed to get out without injury. The building housed the Apostolic Assembly Church.

Firefighters were advised to take precautions for asbestos because of the age of the building. They were told to report to the hospital when they left the scene to go through a decontamination process for asbestos exposure.

Yep, asbestos. That should date the old building, huh!

Oh, the days of the Benton Theater. It was one among several that we used to go to in the days when television was just a gadget. The Benton, the Gladstone, the Belmont, the Vista and the National were all popular theaters, especially on Friday nights. I lived several places in the Northeast area so I had proximity to all of those movie houses.

I grin now thinking about how I used to go to the midnight horror shows at the Benton and then walk home with each tree a monster extending groping arms and each noise a vampire bat ready to attack my neck.

Oh Bela Lugosi used to scare the dickens out of me when he morphed from a lisping count to a screeching vampire ready to suck my blood. Or there was poor, cursed Lon Chaney Jr. changing from a caring human being to a raging, hairy wolfman. And who can forget Boris Karloff stalking the villages as the Frankenstein monster with his grunts sending goose-pimples up and down your spine.

Yeah, you can take all these computerized modern-day movies of horror and stuff ‘em. Give me Lugosi/Chaney/Karloff any time.

A friend of mine sent me an email with the history of the Benton theater. It opened in 1931, seating 492. It had a corner entrance with a free standing box office and the entrance doors directly behind. This was a small neighborhood house with a small lobby but nicely decorated with a three-aisle auditorium. The auditorium had a lot of decorative plastic work and plush red velvet drapes covered the screen.

The Gladstone had to be the most popular theater for the high school crowd. I used to sneak up in the balcony and puff away on a Chesterfield King. Really thought I was cool. Had duck-tails, too. Look at me, look at me. Titter, titter, titter. Great double-features, I thought, except when they became lovey-dovey. We do change, don’t we!

The drug store across the street was a neato hangout after school for those who lived in the area.

The Gladstone was originally called the Gladstone Hall. It was used for live performances and later went to movies. It opened in 1913 and seated 602.

It was an impressive two-story building in red brick. The front along the second story was lined with seven windows topped by curved arches and Corinthian style columns between each. There was a terra-cotta trim all along the roof of the building.

It closed as a theater in the early-1950’s, but the building was still in great shape and housed a business. Then on February 27, 2011, it was destroyed by a fire.

Probably my most favorite neighborhood theater was the Belmont — mainly, I guess, because I lived early on in the same block. As a grade-schooler I got in for 14 cents and always managed to grab a bag of popcorn for a nickel. I had to really save to come up with the 19 cents.

Oh, I do remember the times. Yes I do. The events were impressionable. So much was made on the release of “The Outlaw,” completed in 1941 but kept off the screen by censors until it was released in 1946. Too much Jane Russell. Plus she climbed in bed with a sick cowboy to nurse him back to health — with all their clothes on. A little risqué for the times. I watched the movie a little later on, however, as the Belmont didn’t open until 1948.

I also can tell you of a most embarrassing occurrence after coming out of the Belmont. I saw a crowd hanging around outside and wondered what the heck was going on. A friend of mine poked me with his elbow and said excitedly, “You gotta see this, Bobby.” Well, there was my dad whipping up on this guy. My dad had him against a utility pole and each time the guy started to slide down, my dad uppercut him back up the post. Whew. The fight had started in the nearby beer joint and dad pounded on this guy all the way out to the sidewalk.

Thank goodness there were no guns, to speak of, back in those days. Fists showed the way to King of the Hill.

The Belmont’s facade had a terra cotta with different color stones protruding from the surface. The building had a central entrance with a large triangular-shaped marquee. About half way up the front on each side of the marquee there was a portico to protect the patrons from the rain or snow while in line. The Belmont had a large lobby in a modern deco style with bright carpeting. There were benches and couches that matched the carpeting. Three aisles led into the auditorium which was also decorated in an art deco style. The Belmont outlasted a lot of the neighborhood houses in Kansas city but closed in 1969 and the last I saw housed a church.

The Vista theater was a little out of the way, on Independence just east of Prospect. When I lived in Little Italy, I managed to make it there on occasion. The El Rey Theatre opened in 1925 and was renamed Vista Theatre around 1932. The theater served the neighborhood until closing in 1963. It went into retail use. The building was destroyed by fire on May 12, 2011. A vacant lot is there now.

The National, at Independence and Hardesty, was somewhat of a cut-rate house, showing movies the second time around. If you missed one you wanted to see, you could grab a cheap ticket at the National. I really don’t know what happened to it. Oh, but I do recall the midnight movies that began at 11 o’clock.

You talk about another era. Those old movie theaters tell a tale of history, for sure.

Great TV Fare — Royals and PGA, Too

What a great Sunday for sports television viewing. The Kansas City Royals won their seventh straight by beating San Francisco 7-4 before a crowd of more than 27,000.

Well, I wasn’t there in person but I sure got into watching it on TV.

The timing was good, too, because I was able to see most of the PGA championship that was delayed because of wet weather. Great tournament. Super competitiveness. More twists and turns than Hawaiian natives dancing at a luau.

Rory McElroy rallied with a four-under-par back nine to win by one stroke. He had to battle Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler and Henrik Stenson all the way to end. Nice reward for the winner — $1.8 million in prize money.

When they say that the sun set on the tournament at the Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, they weren’t kidding. McElroy, who wound up 16-under for the tournament, had to fight the darkness and the players. Weirdly, the twosome of Mickelson and Fowler allowed McElroy and Bernd Wiesberger to “play up” on the 18th hole — almost as if they had become a foursome.

Frankly, it allowed them to finish the tournament so they didn’t have to come back in the morning.

Yeah, yeah, you probably are one of those who believe golf is a long walk spoiled.

And you love your baseball. You gotta be likin’ the Royals. Since losing four straight after the All-Star break, they have posted 15-3 record.

Do you recall what happened after the Royals beat Minnesota 6-3 on July 31?

Well, a Royals website, Kings of Kauffman, had this lead: The Royals’ postseason chances took a severe hit Thursday night when first baseman Eric Hosmer reinjured his right hand and could miss three to six weeks.

You no doubt remember the horror stories what would have happen if Billy Butler had to play first base. Worry, worry, worry. You shouldn’t have. The Royals have gone 8-1 since, with Butler playing first and coming through at the plate. In the last 18 games, he has raised his average from .267 to .278. He has hit four homers and driven in 12 in that span. And he has been very good at first, except for a misjudged infield pop-up against Oakland.

All along, the rumblings and rumors have surfaced how Butler moaned and groaned about not being able to play in the field. Being a DH is difficult. Playing both offense and defense allows a player to feel more a part of the team.

Trade Billy, came a cry from some. Look, Butler wants to stay with the Royals. But he wants to play full-time. And with him doing so, they’re winning.

Geez, I’ve jumped on and off the Royals bandwagon so many times I feel like a musician in search of a gig. I’m ready to eat my share of crow. Manager Ned Yost told us the team would bounce back. Okay, okay, I’m eating. They’re playing well. Of course getting a few clutch hits certainly helps — plus a little power. Just think if they had someone who could play right field who had the ability for lots of extra-base hits.

Then there’s Mike Moustakas. He’s still batting under .200. You just can’t expect team consistency with a third baseman hitting that low, no matter his occasional power.

The clutch hitting is helping a pitching staff that is remarkable. The Royals have scored more than 4 runs only four times in the last nine games. James Shields has shaken off a sinking spell and is providing good leadership and victories.

So what are we going to do with these Royals? I have an idea. Put together a package of Hosmer, Moustakas, Dyson and reliever Aaron Crow and work a deal to get some power.

Sure, go ahead and point out that Dyson is batting .286. And the right fielder, Nori Aoki, is starting to get on base more as a lead-off man — Dyson went 3 for 3 and Aoki 2 for 2 in Sunday’s victory. I have slammed Dyson more than tag-teams do one another in a wrestlemania. I can’t help it. You need more power from a center fielder.

So what is going to happen when Hosmer gets well? Do you bench Butler again on defense? Do you really break up this winning combination? Of course, at any moment, the Royals could implode. It is that kind of team. So the questions remain.

After the injury forced Hosmer to the sidelines, he told reporters, “It’s very frustrating. Bad timing. But the positive side is I can still get back for that last month. I’ll be right there with these guys, cheering them on. But the good thing is I’ll be back for the last month and make that last push.”

Yost said after Hosmer went to the DL: “We’ll mix and match, depending,” Will that remain the plan?

Hosmer was drilled on the right hand by a Jon Lester pitch in a 6-0 loss July 20 at Boston. He finished that game but did not start in five of the next six games because the hand was bruised and he had trouble gripping the bat. He did make late-inning appearances on defense, though.

He returned to the starting lineup in each of the three games against the Twins. Until his removal, he was 1-for-10 in the series. When he was hit by Lester, he had a 16-game hitting streak.

After the change, Butler told reporters, “I know I’m not a Gold Glove caliber like he is. I just want to go out there and basically go unnoticed. If nobody notices I’m out there, then basically I feel like I’m doing my job.”

With Butler in the line-up full-time, the Royals are playing solid baseball. Just like Sunday. It rained all around the K, but metaphorically not on the Royals. Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez homered and Danny Duffy pitched well for 6⅔ innings, giving up 4 runs, 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 4.

The Royals handed out 10,000 Gordon bobbleheads for the series finale. Gordon enjoyed the promotion and the results at the plate. In his last 11 games, he’s batting .350 with 3 home runs and 7 RBIs.

The victory moved the Royals to within a half game of first-place Detroit in the AL Central.

Oh, this about the Dyson-Aoki combo. They each stole three bases on Sunday. The seven stolen bases — Alcides Escobar picked up his 24th — were one shy of the Royals’ record. They have 102 steals for the season, tops in the major leagues.

Okay, one question: Can the Royals keep up the winning for the rest of the season?

Optimism? We Need A Voice of Inspiration

How do we reclaim democracy? The big guys are in control and so many have-nots are wallowing in a desert of hopelessness.

Where do they gain strength? Who can provide them with a path to better times?

The country needs someone to instill optimism, to gain faith. President Obama has tried but he too often has been a man who tries to be all things to all people. His words oftentimes must filter through hardened pundits.

Maybe that’s the problem. In trying to be fair we have provided a corridor for too many negative voices.

Well, maybe, maybe not. Am I indecisive, well yes and no.

Apathy seems to chain so many to the couch. Where are those who rise up and fight? When will unions take to the streets and battle their greedy managers? Why do so many in the South take the abuse of materialistic employers? How can those in the North stand by and allow the Koch Brothers syndrome to dominate the political process?

The country needs strong voices to pierce the lethargy.

John F. Kennedy had many detractors but he didn’t have cable news to pound away every hour. Would he have overcome the naysayers and been able to come up with his inspiring words? He gave the country hope in a time we needed spiritual uplifting.

In his inaugural address, he said man held in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.

“We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution,” he said. “Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans — born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

“And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

As a Massachusetts senator in August 1960, he spoke at Hyde Park, N.Y., at a program honoring the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Social Security Act and referred to President Franklin D. Roosevelt:

“Yet we who lived while he governed can, here at Hyde Park, still hear the echoes of those heroic struggles; the struggle to rescue America from poverty and economic collapse, the struggle to build a new America where all could live in dignity, the struggle to secure freedom against the ominous armed advance of tyranny and oppression, and, the last, the most arduous, the unending struggle, the struggle which his wife still steadfastly carries on, the struggle to build a world of free and peaceful nations.”

Inspirational? Of course.

Do you hear those words from a conservative Republican? No way. They are more interested in the bottom line, a way for the rich to get richer.

Maybe we need a traveling troubadour like Woody Guthrie to inspire us to do better.

Guthrie mingled among the downtrodden in the 1930s and 1940s. His message was simple. He took on the establishment. For example, he was tired of the radio playing Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” believing the lyrics were unrealistic and complacent. Seemingly inspired by his experiences during a cross-country trip and his distaste for the song, he wrote, “This Land Is Your Land” in 1940. He protested against class inequality in the fourth and sixth verses:

As I went walking, I saw a sign there,
And on the sign there, It said “no trespassing.” But on the other side, it didn’t say nothing!
That side was made for you and me.
In the squares of the city, In the shadow of a steeple;
By the relief office, I’d seen my people.
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking,
Is this land made for you and me?

In “Pretty Boy Floyd,” Guthrie sang:

Now as through this world I ramble,
I see lots of funny men,
Some rob you with a six gun,
And some with a fountain pen.

Maybe irreverence would instill a fighting spirit, like what Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi once said, “When one hundred million people don’t vote, the nation is not bitterly divided. The nation mostly doesn’t give a shit.”

Maybe the country needs another Martin Luther King. His leadership certainly prodded blacks to have a dream. Three of his statements:

1. The time is always right to do what is right.
2. The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.
3. What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?

Maybe the immigrants of today need another Cesar Chavez. In 1984, he said, “You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.”

Business and politics aren’t strange bedfellows. President Theodore Roosevelt said, “To befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day.” In “Free to Choose,” Rose and Milton Friedman wrote, “The combination of economic and political power in the same hands is a sure recipe for tyranny.”

President Abraham Lincoln carried the country through difficult times. His words of wisdom are many. One of his best offerings: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

And, of course, there’s always Will Rogers, who said, “Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.”

In other words, take a chance, be strong, do something for the good of the country.

My Gosh, It Really Is Football Time

Okay, can you believe it? The Kansas City Chiefs football season will open tonight with Cincinnati the opposition at Arrowhead Stadium.

The NFL publicity machine has done a terrific job of keeping football in the forefront, through the NBA, through the NCAA Final Four, through the baseball seasons. It seems every nuance already has been fully vetted. So, it will be fun to see for ourselves what they look like on the field.

Right, this is a pre-season game. The first-stringers will be in and out before we know it. But with so many new faces, the Chiefs will draw a more intense look.

Most NFL observers believe the Chiefs will be so-so this season. What do you think? Yeah, you probably agree because of the obvious weaknesses.

The secondary may need some sort of miracle infusion to be able to stop a superb passer. The likes of Peyton Manning will shred this group. Then there’s the offensive line. How could the Chiefs allow so many to defect to free agency? The receivers? They get no respect.

After tonight’s game, you may be able to tell about certain rookies, but don’t set anything that happens in stone.

Will you watch the whole game? Eh. I may watch the first half. I think these games are superfluous. Colleges don’t play exhibition games. Why should the NFL? Oh, I know. Because the owners take in a lot of money from TV and the gate.

Hope you enjoy.

——

For Fantasy Football, Sports Illustrated listed NFL players at various positions. Unfortunately, Chiefs fans will have few players to root for during the season.

However, SI did put running back Jamaal Charles on the regional cover — and rated him the No. 1 running back in the NFL.

At quarterback, SI listed Green Bay’s Aaron Rogers No. 1 and Denver’s Peyton Manning No. 2. The Chiefs Alex Smith drew the 26th spot.

Calvin Johnson of Detroit was ranked No. 1 at wide receiver. The Chiefs drew a blank. At tight end, New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham was No. 1. Interestingly, the Chiefs Travis Kelce was 23rd. SI said his size, 6-5 and 260 pounds, made him a potentially lethal weapon for Smith in the red zone.

On defense, the Chiefs took a shot. SI ranked them 13th but said, “Don’t be fooled by Kansas City’s huge fantasy numbers last year; this defense wasn’t as good at it appeared.”

Matt Prater of Denver was rated the No. 1 place kicker and the Chiefs drew a blank in the top 15.

——

Here’s Yahoo’s top five teams — and why — in the NFL forecast:
1. San Francisco. Colin Kaepernick is going to rise to an elite level, and he’s going to lift the 49ers to a championship along the way.
2. Seattle. Still a great roster, bur defending a Super Bowl championship is really hard.
3. Denver. How many AFC champions add six blue-chip players — Ryan Clady, Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward, Aquib Talib and Emmanuel Saunders? The Broncos did.
4. New England. If Rob Gronkowski does stay healthy for 16 games, this team goes from very good to great.
5. New Orleans. Drew Brees MVP 2014.

As for Kansas City — way down the list — Yahoo said, “A huge step back this offseason after such a promising 2013.

——

SI quoted Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder: “Taco Bell is open at midnight. [My wife's kitchen] is not.”

The magazine noted that the 74-year-old coach was explaining why the one meal a day he often eats during the season is fast food.

——

Three of Kansas State’s top junior college recruits still aren’t in camp. Offensive tackle A.J. Allen, defensive lineman Terrell Clinkscales and linebacker D’Vonta Derricott are expected to show this week, according to Coach Snyder.

Allen, a 6-foot-7, 315-pound tackle from Grossmont College in El Cajon, Calif., was rated as the 13th best junior college offensive tackle by ESPN.

Clinkscales earlier had tweeted that he passed his final class and was waiting on his teachers before he could be academically eligible to join the team. The 6-4, 315-pound defensive tackle from Dodge City Community College originally committed to Nebraska, but he changed his mind because of K-State’s willingness to help him complete his juco course work. He played one season at Dodge City after transferring from Grand Rapids Community College. ESPN rated him as the fourth-best junior college defensive tackle.

Derricott had tweeted on July 30 that he owed Garden City Community College $1,700 before he could leave and come to Manhattan. No word how he paid off the debt.

“All four of them, it is my understanding, should be here, should qualify,” Snyder told reporters Wednesday. “They’re finishing up academic issues, and it’s my understanding that they will make it. That remains to be seen. They’re not on campus yet, but the expectation is that they will be here this week.”

——

So everybody seems to be picking how various college football leagues will finish.

So why not? Here’s my picks for the Big 12:
1. Kansas State. I like what Snyder does with a second-year quarterback. and he has a good one in Jake Waters.
2. Oklahoma. The Sooners will be good even if they don’t add wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.
3. Baylor. With so much talent returning on offense, will the Bears really be in third or will they take it all?
4. Oklahoma State. With 28 seniors gone, Oklahoma State will have a hard time replicating its 10-win mark from 2013.
5. Texas. I’m not sold on the Charlie Strong hoopla. The Longhorns still must prove how tough they are on the field.
6. Iowa State. Okay, okay, so you think this is too high. Well, Mark Mangino is the new offensive coordinator and I’m sold on that.
7. TCU. The Horned Frogs are coming off their worst season under Coach Gary Patterson. The poor record won’t happen again.
8. Texas Tech. Don’t buy in to the Red Raiders building a powerhouse under Coach Kliff Kingsbury, in his second year. The 7-0 start last season came with a healthy helping of cupcake teams.
9. West Virginia. I’m still living in the past and wishing that the conference had taken Louisville instead.
10. Kansas. Say good-bye to Charlie Weis.