Right Wing-nuts Say the Darndest Things

The conversation batted politics back and forth like ping-pong matches at a Chinese tournament.

Ping: I just don’t understand how anyone could have voted for Sam Brownback. Pong: I just don’t understand how anyone could have voted for Sam Brownback.

But there he is, once again elected governor of Kansas. Despite lies, despite Draconian budget cuts, despite following the Koch brothers line, he’s in office again. What is it with these Kansans who can’t see how he’s hurting the middle class? Well, they got him for another four years. Good luck!

Not only do many of these right wing-nuts cut budgets to make government look dysfunctional but they also spew words that make you wonder where they come up with such wild and crazy opinions.

The U.S. House of Representatives already is full of bizarre purveyors who spout invectives and support unproven theories and charges. Now they are being augmented with a fresh batch of fear mongers and conspiracy theorists.

Take Glenn Grothman, just elected to the House from Wisconsin. He’s a fervent believer there’s a gay agenda in the public school system. Guess what his speeches will focus on during House sessions.

And Iowa, my gosh. What’s with this state! A terrific senator, Democrat Tom Harkin, announced his retirement and a Republican woman who burst on the scene with her pronouncement that she castrated hogs is succeeding him. Joni Ernst will join the now senior senator, Chuck Grassley, who seldom ad libs and sticks stringently to his written conservative message.

In Ernst’s victory speech, she screamed that she’s going to make them squeal in D.C. Yikes. Is she going to castrate male senators? Wow! As one pundit noted, she makes Sarah Palin look smart. However, instead of seeking publicity, as Palin is wont to do, Ernst dodged the press late in the campaign like a shy celebrity on a toot. She skated in the last stages of the campaign, knowing she was in the lead and not wanting to stir up a debate by saying something of substance to a reporter.

The House already has an Iowa Republican representative with strange ideas. Steve King reflects a staunchly conservative area of western Iowa. How even those folks can stomach his statements is beyond me.

You may recall when he commented on Republican Todd Aiken’s quote about how the female body had the ability to prevent pregnancy in cases of incest or statutory rape — an observation that helped Democrat Claire McCaskill win the Missouri U.S. Senate seat. King told an Iowa reporter he had never heard of a child getting pregnant from statutory rape or incest. Iowa, hmm, never getting pregnant. Wow!

In defending his statement, he said, “Well I just haven’t heard of that being a circumstance that’s been brought to me in any personal way, and I’d be open to discussion about that subject matter.”

Then there was this: “My wife lives here with me, and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, she’s at far greater risk being a civilian in Washington, D.C. than an average civilian in Iraq.”

In a debate over immigration, King ridiculed the Dream Act, first saying, “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.”

Again, he had to defend his statement:  “This is real. We have people that are mules, that are drug mules, that are hauling drugs across the border and you can tell by their physical characteristics what they’ve been doing for months, going through the desert with 75 pounds of drugs on their back. And if those who advocate for the Dream Act, if they choose to characterize this about valedictorians, I gave them a different image that we need to be thinking about, because we just simply can’t be passing legislation looking only at one component of what would be millions of people.”

Whew!

Keep your ears tuned to Jody Hice, newly elected representative from Georgia. He’s a Tea Party right wing-nut with plenty of verbiage — as a preacher, a talk show host and a gun-toter. He asserted that Muslim-Americans were not protected by the First Amendment because Islam was not a true religion. He says women should enter politics only if it is within the authority of her husband. On second thought, close your ears to this guy.

Impeaching President Obama has filled the minds of the right wing-nut crowd. Mark Walker, from North Carolina, will add to the push. He said he would vote to impeach Obama. He’s a rough and ready guy to get the House rockin’ and rollin’. He has proposed that “we go laser or blitz” Mexico in order to teach residents there a lesson about immigrants crossing the southern border.

Republicans are now boasting that Hillary Clinton no longer has the power to become President because her husband failed to produce winners in his Arkansas stump speeches. Bill did go to Arkansas and spoke glowingly of Senator Mark Pryor, among others. But Pryor was a lock to lose because he found too many ways to slight the progressives and disenfranchised in the state. So Republican Tom Cotton won the seat. His jousting included mean campaign ads where his handlers inserted ISIS-produced terrorism films. Fear, baby, fear. Yep, he mentioned that ISIS and Mexican drug cartels would be teaming up and crossing the border to attack the United States.

Former Navy SEAL Ryan Zinke of Montana handily won a seat in Congress, despite expressing a number of controversial views throughout his campaign. Perhaps the most stunning of these was calling former Secretary of State Clinton “the anti-Christ.”

What an X-rated show they will put on with conspiracy stars like King and Texans Louie Gohmert and Senator Ted Cruz, the absentee leader of the House wing-nuts.

Mixing a Little Levity With Serious Stuff

The Congressional Republicans slash and burn on the budget when addressing aid for children, infrastructure, education and the needy. Yet they have spent more than $17 million in just investigating the attack on Benghazi. Their politically-motivated ad hoc assault on the State Department take up time and money when so many other issues flounder in the halls of legislation.

Just last Friday, another detailed investigation into the September 11, 2012, attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, refuted claims that there was a cover-up or that officials didn’t do all they could at the time to save the four Americans killed that night.

The findings came from the declassified two-year investigation of the House Intelligence Committee, which conducted an exhaustive probe into the incident, including claims that the White House cooked up phony talking points for then-UN Ambassador Susan Rice.

The report did find that the State Department was unable to protect the facility in eastern Libya where Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed, but also contradicts many of the charges leveled at the Obama administration in the days and years following the attacks.

The truth is that House Republicans have wasted tens of millions of dollars on Obamacare, Benghazi and IRS investigations. They refuse to pass any legislation of substance, so this is their way of looking busy.

They’re still trying to create problems with the Benghazi Select Committee, led by Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican-South Carolina. They have held one hearing focusing on the issue of securing diplomatic facilities.

——

Les Leopold, who wrote How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour, said recently in Huffington Post that Americans were virtually blind to the growing gap between CEO pay and the pay of the average worker.

In 1965, for every dollar earned by the average worker, CEOs earned $20. By 2012, that gap mushroomed 354 to one.

But, when asked in the survey, he said, Americans believe it was just 30 to 1. When asked what the ideal pay gap should be, Americans answered about 7 to 1.

——

Ole, a furniture dealer in Marshall, Minnesota, decided to expand the line of furniture in his store, so he decided to go to Paris to see what he could find.

After getting there, he visited with some manufacturers and selected a line that he thought would sell well back home.

To celebrate the new acquisition, he decided to visit a small bistro and have a glass of wine.  As he sat enjoying his wine, he noticed that the small place was quite crowded, and that the other chair at his table  was the only vacant seat in the house. Before long, a beautiful young Parisian girl came to his table and asked him something in French, which he couldn’t understand. So he motioned to the vacant chair and invited her to sit down. He tried to speak to her in English, but she did not understand.

After a couple of minutes of trying to communicate with her, he took a napkin and drew a picture of a wine glass and showed it to her. She nodded, so he ordered a glass of wine for her.

After sitting together at the table for a while, he took another napkin, and drew a picture of a plate with food on it, and she nodded. They left the bistro and found a quiet cafe that featured a small group playing romantic music. They ordered dinner. He took another napkin and drew a picture of a couple dancing.

They got up to dance. They danced until the cafe closed and the band was packing up.

Back at their table, the young lady took a napkin and drew a picture of a four-poster bed.

To this day, Ole has no idea how she figured out he was in the furniture business.

——

Even when Senate Democrats played footsie with the fossil fuel industry, they remained targets. Senator Mark Udall of Colorado promoted the export of natural gas and moved anti-fracking measures off the ballot, but his moves didn’t help in his election.

Senators Mark Begich of Alaska and Kay Hagan of North Carolina voted to force construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, and won’t be returning to Washington. Apparently, the Koch Brothers do not believe in taking political prisoners.

——

A blonde woman and her neighbor were talking and the neighbor said: “Close your curtains the next time you and your husband are having sex. The whole street was watching and laughing at you yesterday.”

To which the blond replied: “Well the joke’s on all of you because I wasn’t even at home yesterday.” …

A friend of another blonde told her: “Christmas is on a Friday this year.”

She responded, “Let’s hope it’s not the 13th.” …

Another blonde was in the bathroom and her husband shouted: “Did you find the shampoo?”

She answered, “Yes, but I’m not sure what to do. It’s for dry hair, and I’ve just wet mine.” …

And this closer. An Italian tourist asked a blonde: “Why do Scuba divers always fall backwards off their boats?”

To which she said, “If they fell forward, they’d still be in the boat.”

——

 

Progressive columnist Robert Reich said recently in a column that the richest Americans held more of the nation’s wealth than they had in almost a century. What do they spend it on? As you might expect, personal jets, giant yachts, works of art, and luxury penthouses.

And also on politics, Reich pointed out. In fact, their political spending has been growing faster than their spending on anything else. It’s been growing even faster than their wealth.

According to research by Emmanuel Saez of the University of California at Berkeley and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics, the richest one-hundredth of one percent of Americans now hold more than 11 percent of the nation’s total wealth. That’s a higher share than the top .01 percent held in 1929, before the Great Crash.

“We’re talking about 16,000 people, each worth at least $110 million,” Reich wrote. “One way to get your mind around this is to compare their wealth to that of the average family. In 1978, the typical wealth holder in the top .01 percent was 220 times richer than the average American. By 2012, he or she was 1,120 times richer.”

It’s hard to spend this kind of money. The uber rich, he said, are lining up for the new Aerion AS2 private jet, priced at $100 million, that seats 11 and includes a deluxe dining room and shower facilities, and will be able to cross the Atlantic in just four hours.

And for duplexes high in the air — the one atop Manhattan’s newest needle tower, the 90-story One57, just went for $90 million, he noted.

“Why should we care?” he asked. “Because this explosion of wealth at the top has been accompanied by an erosion of the wealth of the middle class and the poor.”

Now KU Basketball Takes Dip

Now Kansas has trouble with its basketball team. Football has been a real problem and after the 44-7 pounding Saturday at Oklahoma, it took another hit. The game this coming Saturday at Kansas State is a chance to save any real positive about the program.

Oh Kansas State has a problem, too, with basketball. After a 5-11 record on the road last season, the Wildcats started off this one with a terrible performance, losing 69-60 Friday at Long Beach.

If just losing isn’t enough, the KU football team was on the receiving end of Samaje Perine’s record-breaking performance; he set a major college mark by rushing for 427 yards. He also scored five touchdowns.

A week after Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon set the record by rushing for 408 yards against Nebraska, Perine broke the 7-day-old mark on his 34th and final carry, a 42-yard run with 12:16 left in the fourth quarter.

In a game that started 90 minutes late because of lightning, Perine shattered the school rushing record of 294 yards set by Greg Pruitt in 1971. OU Coach Bob Stoops said there was no way the Sooners were going to pull Perine once they became aware that he was closing in on records.

The Sooners held Kansas to 103 yards to win their second straight.

Misery index: The Jayhawks (3-8, 1-7 in the Big 12) lost their 29th straight road game and 32nd in a row outside of Lawrence. The Jayhawks had hoped to build on last week’s gutty 34-30 loss to then-No. 5 TCU, but the Jayhawks failed to produce any points on offense.

Kansas’ lone touchdown came when Cassius Sendish returned a fumble 63 yards for a touchdown. The Jayhawks haven’t beaten Oklahoma since 1997 and haven’t won in Norman since 1996.

And KU was going against a banged up Sooner team. The passing personnel is really hurting with quarterback Trevor Knight out with a neck injury, top receiver Sterling Shepard hampered by a groin problem — he left after a punt return in the first quarter — and tight end Blake Bell missing with a strained knee.

KU quarterback Michael Cummings connected on just 8 of 22 pass attempts for 84 yards.

After the game, interim KU Coach Clint Bowen said the obvious: It’s a step backwards.

Now for another giant step back — well, for me, a step forward. After bragging about laying the wood on Kentucky against Kansas last Tuesday in Indianapolis, I received an incredulous look. Why not, I shot back. I got the spread at 5½ — it closed at 7. My rationale: too much emphasis was placed on the lackluster way Kentucky beat Buffalo 71-52, plus a look at KU’s roster shows talent not close to what the Wildcats can put on the floor.

It appears the Jayhawks also have the same problem as last season: really strong play at point guard.

Whatever, KU took a 72-40 loss, the widest margin in coach Bill Self’s tenure in Lawrence.

Hey, KU isn’t chopped liver but Kentucky is French pâté. Kentucky has four players on its roster as tall or taller than KU’s tallest player. The Jayhawks tried to pressure and five minutes into the game, they had three steals. But size and depth took over.

After the game, Self opened a water bottle in front of reporters and said, “I was hoping that was vodka – but no, it’s just water.”

The Jayhawks were ready early, he said, but Kentucky turned it up for 40 minutes. “We never once ever did anything that resembled a team offensively at all, the entire game. I hope they were the primary reason. But I thought they were great. You get long athletes that like to guard, and they can cover up for mistakes as well as anybody I’ve ever seen. They were really, really impressive.”

He called it a beatdown, saying sarcastically, “No matter how bad we shot in the first half, we proved that we could actually shoot it a helluva worse the second. So anybody who said, ‘There’s no way in hell they’re going to shoot 24 percent,’ they were right. We shot 13.”

KU is at home tonight against Rider in the opening round of the Orlando Classic.

Sophomore guards Frank Mason II and Wayne Selden Jr. lead the team in scoring at 9.5 points a game. Others starters are junior forwards Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor. Ellis, KU’s leading returning scorer from last season at 13.5 points and rebounder at 6.7 boards, is scoring 8.5 points a game in his first two outings. Traylor leads KU with 8.5 boards a game. Kelly Oubre Jr. started the Kentucky game, replacing Brannen Greene. Two touted freshmen, forward Cliff Alexander and guard Devonté Graham have seen considerable action.

The game tonight won’t provide much information on just how the season will roll out, but later games in the Classic may be more telling.

Kansas State basketball was sure telling. Awful.  The 49ers (2-2) never trailed and held the Wildcats (2-1) to 33 percent shooting. The Cats wanted to pound the ball into Thomas Gipson but they shot quickly and errantly from the outside. Gipson did manage to lead them in scoring with 13 points with Nino Williams, seeing his first action of the season after missing the first two games because of an injury, adding 12.

Negatives? Let me count the ways. The Wildcats shot 3-for-21 from 3-point range, the starting guards were 4 of 29 from the field, point guard Javon Thomas had only one assist and three turnovers while fouling out, Nigel Johnson came off the bench and went 0 for 5 shooting, the Cats missed its first eight field goal attempts and 10 of its first 11 before Tre Harris and Wesley Iwundu made 3-pointers, the offense was helter-skelter.

Marcus Foster received a lot of positive publicity during the off-season. Did it go to his head? After all, he was just 1 of 13 from the field Friday. Coach Bruce Weber didn’t even start him to open the second half.

Was it too much to expect a transfer from home games to the road? The Cats scored 98 points against Southern Utah and 83 against UMKC. Maybe it speaks to the caliber of competition, huh.

Williams told reporters after the game, “We had a lot of open shots and we missed them. We just struggled getting Thomas the ball inside and Marcus couldn’t find a rhythm. I don’t think anyone could find a rhythm.”

K-State is scheduled to play Purdue this afternoon in Maui.

Chiefs Fall Into Trap While Cats Escape Mountaineers

You surely paid attention when every tout worth his handicapping sheet and every pundit worth his golden throat said the Chiefs would have a difficult time at Oakland simply because of the psychological tricks sports can play or teams.

This was a sandwich game on the schedule, one between Seattle and Denver, two respected NFL teams. The Raiders had no respect; after all, they had lost 16 straight going into Thursday night’s game. But they were at home and they were ready. They also sucked it up for a final game-winning drive. Yep, that’s right, game-winning.

The Chiefs fell out of a first-place tie by losing 24-20 on a rainy night in Oakland.

Hey, maybe this is easy to figure out. A big plus for a team to beat the Chiefs is to be bad. Yeah, just like Tennessee. You remember that one, right. The Chiefs lost the season opener to the now 2-8 Titans.

KC ran out of juice about the same time as my remote batteries went low from all the switching back and forth between the two games. Oh, right. There was another game of interest to area fans on TV Thursday night — Kansas State at West Virginia. If anyone mentions one more time that Kansas State is a team that doesn’t beat itself, I will direct that person to a replay of this game. However, despite one yard rushing, 10 penalties for 102 yards, 2 turnovers and the inability to make short yardage for either first downs on TDs, the Wildcats somehow were able to tie for the Big 12 Conference lead by beating sloppy West Virginia 26-20.

Oh but those Chiefs. They came out with an uninspired look and allowed the Raiders to take a 14-0 lead before they could muster even a field goal. Then the Raiders pushed the margin to 17-3 late in the third quarter. The Raider offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage until the Chiefs woke up.

KC battled back to take the lead with three scores in less than 8 minutes, including a pair of touchdown passes from Alex Smith. A go-ahead field goal at 9:03 of the fourth quarter looked safe because the Raiders appeared to be falling into their losing habits. But you had to wonder about just getting the 3 when 6 seemed so attainable. The Chiefs had three plays inside the Raider 12 but failed to get the TD when Smith’s third-down pass was incomplete in the end zone.

Things happen when you don’t execute. Oakland took advantage, going on an 80-yard, 17-play drive to take a 24-20 lead at 1:42 in the fourth quarter. The march took so long John Philip Sousa could have composed at least five more songs in the time frame.

Rookie Derek Carr climaxed the drive by throwing a 9-yard touchdown pass to James Jones as the Raiders secured their first victory since beating Houston in November 2013.

In the impressive 7½-minute drive, Carr twice had to sneak for first downs. He also threw an 8-yard pass to Mychal Rivera on third-and-6 and capitalized on a pass interference penalty against Ron Parker on another third down.

A statistical highlight came early in the game when Latavius Murray run for 112 yards on just four carries — an injury forced him out.

Smith wound up with 234 yards passing on 20-of-36 attempts. Jamaal Charles again was a workhouse, rushing for 80 yards on 19 carries and catching 4 passes for 42 yards.

The Chiefs dropped to 7-4 and will take on first-place Denver November 30 at home.

Ah yes, Kansas State. Well, Jake Waters threw for a career-high 400 yards and a touchdown and Tyler Lockett  returned a punt for a score and caught 10 passes for 196 yards. And the defense held heralded Mountaineer receiver Kevin Smith to 7 catches for just 63 yards. He’s considered one of the top three receivers in college football but the Cats didn’t allow him to break free on a long play. Would you say Lockett made a statement here!

Kansas State (8-2, 6-1 Big 12) got the victory after a blowout loss at TCU to move into a first-place tie with the idle Horned Frogs. Baylor can make it a three-way tie Saturday when it hosts Oklahoma State.

The Mountaineers (6-5, 4-4) have lost three straight after winning four in a row.

Sloppy, you say. Well, for example, West Virginia committed four turnovers, with two of them inside the K-State 30.

Look, it wasn’t a pretty game. Maybe the 27-degree weather had something to do with it.

Let me chop my way through the mess, chronologically — and you might want to pay attention to the Cat boo-boos, too.

  • After Waters connected on a 7-yard touchdown pass to DeMarcus Robinson on the Cats’ opening drive, the Mountaineers took over and drove to the Wildcat 2 in 10 plays with the help of a pass interference call on Morgan Burns. But the Mountaineers fumbled and Dylan Schellenberg recovered at the 4.
  • With second and goal at the West Virginia 6, the Cats mishandled an option play, losing 13 yards. They had to settle for a field goal at 12:53 of the second quarter. They led 10-0.
  • Again a pass interference call — this one on Jonathon Truman — kept a Mountaineer drive alive but they had to settle for a 47-yard field goal by Josh Lambert at 8:10 of the second quarter.
  • Lockett, proving he can make a mistake, did so, fumbling the ensuing kickoff. But wouldn’t you know it, the Mountaineers blew another opportunity as Lambert missed a 40-yard field goal try.
  • Lockett, proving he can overcome a mistake, scored on a 43-yard punt return with only 1:12 left in the half as the Cats led 17-3. West Virginia Coach Dana Holgorsen would say later that he was pleased to know Lockett would graduate and not have to face him again. He also said the punt was supposed to go right so the Mountaineers could cover but it went right and Lockett had a clear path.
  • The Mountaineers quickly moved down the field but Randall Evans foiled this drive with an interception at the 3 and returned it 21 yards. End of half.
  • An interception stopped the Mountaineers on their first drive of the third quarter. Dante Barnett set up the Cats at the West Virginia 27. Time to really pad the lead, huh. Well, maybe a little. The Cats couldn’t take full advantage and Matthew McCrane nailed a 44-yard field goal. Nice, huh, 20-3. But you knew this game was going too crazy for anyone to get comfortable.
  • The Mountaineers lost their starting quarterback, Clint Trickett, to what was described as a concussion. Enter Skylar Howard. And following this wild script, he deftly directed an 8-play, 79-yard touchdown drive as the Mountaineers cut the lead to 20-10 at 6:24 of the third quarter.
  • The Cats were forced to punt on their turn but Vernon Davis fumbled and the Cats set up at the West Virginia 16. Now you score the big TD, huh. Nope. The Cats were second and goal from the one but had to go with another field goal try. Good. At 2:13, a 23-10 lead. Now, two touchdowns and two extra points could win it, you know.
  • On the Mountaineers drive early in the fourth quarter, the Cats were called for another pass interference — Lockett even had two offensive pass interference penalties. Evans’ infraction on fourth and 5 kept the Mountaineers going. But they didn’t go all the way, turning it over on downs at the K-State 26.
  • Once again the Cats drove near the West Virginia goal — first down at the 2. My, my. Then McCrane’s 22-yard field goal attempt went awry. This miss at 9:26.
  • West Virginia, for a change, took advantage with Mario Alford taking a short pass from Howard and turning it into a 53-yard touchdown.. It was 23-17 with 7:23 to go.
  • The Cats managed another field goal, this one from 32 yards at 2:52 — McCrane’s fourth.
  • West Virginia hurried and hurried but Ryan Mueller sacked Howard at the K-State 18 and after a short pass to the 8, Halgorson went to the strategy board. He opted for a field goal to set up an on-sides kick to set up a possible touchdown. With only 53 seconds left, the Cats covered the kick and ran out the clock.

The end of a weird game.

 

 

A Time to Share, a Time to Bet

If you’re a KC Chiefs and a Kansas State fan, you must do a TV time share tonight.

Just another one of those difficult scheduling choices where both will be on television — the Chiefs at 7:30 p.m. from Oakland and the Wildcats at 6 p.m. from West Virginia.

Will it be a Thursday to remember? Well, get out your wallets, money clips and purses if you believe you have the right answers.

If you want to bet the Chiefs, you will have to give 7 points on the road. That ain’t good when you consider they are in a sandwich game — Seattle last week and Denver next week. The Chiefs are 9-1 against the spread and riding high with a five-game win streak. They’re also fighting for first place, tied with Denver at 7-3 in the AFC West and in charge of their own destiny. Win out and they grab the division all alone.

And here they are against the lowly Raiders, the hapless Raiders, the 0-10 Raiders. Oh, it’s easy to get extra confident in games like this. So what do you do? Well, even with Tennessee on my mind, I’m going to lay the 7 for a measly $11.

So what about the Cats?

After a 41-20 whuppin’ a week ago last Saturday at TCU, the Cats are still in the hunt for the Big 12 title. But the defense needs to regroup against a team that, like TCU, has plenty of speed. As Bleacher Report put it: The showdown is a classic strength vs. strength encounter with plenty at stake for both sides.

Coach Bill Snyder may have an offensive wrinkle for the Mountaineers to ponder. The Cats have used quarterback Jake Waters as both a passer and a runner; because of an injured shoulder, Waters hasn’t been as effective on the run. So, Snyder used running back Charles Jones in the wildcat formation, but he hasn’t been as effective because he can’t pass. Enter quarterback Joe Hubener who has shown he can run and pass.

Obviously, the Cats need more than a wrinkle against the tough-at-home Mountaineers, a 2-point favorite. I like the Cats as a road dog here. But just a little. The lack of speed on defense showed up against TCU and that bothers me. Bet $11.

Kansas came oh so close to pulling an upset over TCU last Saturday in Lawrence with good passing and good catching. Can the Jayhawks keep that up? The KU defense must face OU’s athleticism, which, frankly, isn’t what it used to be and not as good as TCU. But the Sooners have freshman running back Samaje Perine and he’s a load.

The Sooners also are banged up and it’s doubtful they can cover the 28½ points. However, that is the early line and you may not get that good a deal. Check and see before you bet this one. At 28½, I’ll take KU for $22.

In two other Big 12 games, Oklahoma State is at Baylor and Texas Tech at Iowa State. The Cowboy line play — on both sides of the ball — has been below par and against the Bears, that could mean disaster. The Bears are giving 27 but that isn’t enough. Still a lot of points so go lightly, say $11. Iowa State is hurting mentally and physically. Can the Cyclones get well against an inconsistent Texas Tech? Yeah, they can. Give the 1½ for $11.

College $22 Bets. Wisconsin-9½ at Iowa, Notre Dame -3½ vs. Louisville.

College $11 Bets. *Northern Illinois -3½ at Ohio, Mizzou +3½ at Tennessee, Ball State -17 vs. Eastern Michigan, Michigan State -22 vs. Rutgers, Mississippi State -29½ vs. Vanderbilt, Pittsburgh -7½ vs. Syracuse, Penn State -6½ at Illinois, Arkansas +3 vs. Ole Miss, UCLA -3 vs. USC, Hawaii -10 vs. UNLV.

As for the other NFL games, well, there’s this vignette.

A man who just cried after looking at his 2009 stock portfolio during the Great Repression saw Tom Cruise walking down the street soon after his divorce from Nicole Kidman. The man couldn’t help himself and shouted: “You think you lost your ass.”

I know how the man with the losing portfolio feels. Whew, it sure wasn’t fun in looking over my NFL picks. A few bad beats and a few bad assumptions. The NFL ripped me a new one, with  the New England-Indy game really skewing my handicapping.

But intrepid soul that I am, I move on.

There’s a lack of a real marquee NFL game this week. But I sure like Chicago. Yes, I’ve read all about the analysis with Tampa playing in cold weather. Well, guess what, the temperature is forecast to be in the high 40s. So you still like Chicago? For me, the stock went down from what I first thought. Why? Not as cold. And the Bears are 1-3 as home favorites while the Bucs are 4-2 as road dogs. Still, I will lay the 6 points for $33.

NFL $33 Bets. Green Bay -9½ at Minnesota, Denver -7 vs. Miami, San Francisco -8½ vs. Washington, Dallas -3½ at New York Giants.

NFL $22 Bets. New England -7 vs. Detroit, Indy -13½ vs. Jacksonville, Cincy +2 at Houston, San Diego -5½ vs. St. Louis, Baltimore +4 at New Orleans.

NFL $11 Bets. Atlanta -3 vs. Cleveland, Philadelphia -10½ vs. Tennessee, New York Jets +4½ at Buffalo, Arizona +6½ at Seattle.

The Stats

Big 12. Last week, -$2. To date, +$128.

National College. Last week, -$7. To date, -$23.

All Colleges. Last week, -$9. To date, +$105.

NFL. Last week, -$114. To date $-114.

NFL Picks. Last week, 4-10-0. To date, 83-76-1.

Grand Total Bets. Last week, -$123. To date, -$9.

Feeling Jilted in a Mizzou Love Affair

My love affair with the University of Missouri ended like many such relationships do when one side feels jilted.

I loved the university and cherished my bachelor of journalism degree. Well, the words are no longer kind and my remarks won’t relate to sweetness and loving coos or the praises and bliss of an idyllic setting.

After high school and junior college, I found that I wasn’t the brilliant kid I thought I was in going up against some of the brightest students from all over the country in classes at Walter Williams Hall. At the time, Mizzou was the undergraduate school for journalism.

But I learned. Did I! Sometimes with a bitter after-taste. Newton Townsend, a professor for feature writing, called me in one day after I had written a story based on a family and the quality of their house. I had grown up in apartments and knew little about houses but I tried. Disaster. And Townsend ripped me, saying that I should give up trying to be a journalist. I left his presence depressed and also wondering why he didn’t show me how to develop the story instead of just railing at me. I learned that journalism was about many subjects, even ones you needed to research in great detail.

Thank god for professor Bill Bickley. He saved me. He taught me the tenets of journalism. When I was there he was in charge of the copy desk. I took his messages to heart. Years later I felt vindicated about the Townsend incident. You see, he had come to Missouri from the Topeka State Journal. I became an editor at the State Journal. Take that Newt.

But now the journalism school isn’t what it used to be. Not to me, anyway.

I think the school lost contact with its students, for one thing. And it is going in the wrong direction in its pursuit of journalistic excellence, for another. The school is taking funds from the Donald Reynolds Foundation. Anyone worth his ink-stained countenance knows about the Donrey newspapers. For years, they printed news on the cheap. Reynolds made a fortune — a big money pool came from the Donrey billboards that dominated the sides of highways and byways. Most Donrey newsroom personnel made little in wages and many suffered through oppressive times.

Mizzou sold out to this journalistic glutton.

MU’s alumni magazine, Mizzou, ran a fluff piece on the late Reynolds in the 2015 winter issue. It’s amazing what $103 million in donations can do. Nothing in the story about how the chain’s newspapers paid low salaries and generally counted the newsroom beans with magpie greed.

Oh, but that can’t be the only reason for my displeasure. Of course not.

My negatives began to build in the Barbara Uehling regime. Under her leadership in the early 1980s, Mizzou barely escaped the loss of accreditation in the advertising sequence at the school of journalism and in one phase at the school of engineering.

She also became involved in the hiring of a new football coach. Warren Powers was fired and the search committee searched and searched and searched because Uehling insisted on following narrow criteria that limited a quick decision when one was really needed. Good coaching prospects, like Bobby Ross, began falling to the wayside until MU was left with Woody Widenhofer. That didn’t go over well. He wound up 12-31-1.

Anyway, Uehling left, drew two DUI charges while chancellor at California-Santa Barbara and wound up as an operator of condos in the San Francisco area.

And I stopped giving to the Jefferson Fund. I never have had much money but I felt so indebted to the university for my education. The school had failed me in a couple of job searches and I simply didn’t like the direction of the school.

Then came the treatment of Norm Stewart, who had given his life, his career, to the university, from player to coach.

But money talked and Stewart suffered slights. Surely, you recall how school officials named the new basketball arena after a billionaire’s daughter. Well, Paige Sports Arena is no more. Mizzou removed the name of the then  22-year-old Wal-Mart heiress a week after she was accused by a classmate of cheating her way through USC. Reports surfaced that Elizabeth Paige Laurie paid $25,000 to have the student write a thesis for her. Imagine, $25,000.

After the charge, Laurie’s parents then agreed to allow the school to rename the $75 million arena, which was built with the help of a $25 million donation from Bill and Nancy Laurie.

Many Tiger fans pushed to name the arena after Stewart.

That move came months after the billionaire Lauries angered Mizzou fans, students and alumni by announcing their plan to name the arena after their daughter. Finally, school officials allowed the the floor at the arena to carry Stewart’s name.

Reports persist that Laurie strongly urged Athletic Director Mike Alden to stay away from Kim Anderson after Stewart left the university. Anderson, an assistant under Stewart, went elsewhere and wound up winning a Division II national championship with Central Missouri State. After that, pressure mounted for him to become the new coach at MU, succeeding Frank Haith, who resigned after last season to take the coaching job at Tulsa.

Anderson was ecstatic when he was hired as MU coach in April. By coincidence, obviously, Mizzou, in the very same issue as the one with the Reynolds story, featured an Anderson profile — never touching on why he was overlooked in the earlier coaching changes.

Reports persist that Alden dances to the Laurie tune in many policy decisions.

The tenure of Quin Snyder — head basketball coach from 1999 to 2006 — created ill-will over various incidents. First of all, school officials passed over Bill Self to take Snyder. That was another error in judgment.

During Snyder’s stay, the Ricky Clemons ordeal erupted and the result was a messy error in interpersonal relations. The depositions in Clemons’ assault case against Jessica Bunge had hit the media, and Snyder and assistant Lane Odom were publicly accused of giving the Tiger basketball player improper gifts and cash.

In the Boone County Jail, Clemons called the home of Ed Stewart, MU’s assistant athletic director. His wife, Amy, answered. She said guests, including the MU president’s wife, were coming over for dinner. The occasion? Amy Stewart told Clemons: “We’re celebrating. Celebrating your little ass because it’s all out.”

In another phone conversation, she said, “You’re going to take them down. You know that, right. You’re taking them down.”

Clemons’ taped phone conversations from jail, obtained by the Columbia Tribune through an open-records request, portrayed an athletic department and university bitterly divided over the former MU point guard.

In the recordings, Amy Stewart related a story, which she attributed to her husband, about the atmosphere at the athletic department at the time: “Ed come home, every time he come home, he be like, ‘Them crackers shaking. They going crazy. They don’t know what to do. They shaking. They can’t talk to Ricky. They’re like some crackheads running around there.'”

Snyder, who resigned under pressure, is now coach of the Utah Jazz.

In looking at the entire university picture, a big gripe of mine is when officials decided to abandon the Big 12 and move to the SEC. Missouri joined the league in July 2012.

The move ended annual athletic contests with Kansas, a rivalry with roots in the Civil War. The teams first met on the football field in 1891, the sport’s oldest traditional matchup west of the Mississippi River. Their college basketball battles also began in the 19th century.

The Big 12’s uncertain future drove the move, said Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton. Yeah, and they were jealous of Texas. All sorts of weak excuses. Deaton ramrodded the move to the SEC.

St. Louis alumni, always powerful because of its size, helped drive the decision.

Missouri is not an SEC school. The Tigers belong with the likes of KU, Kansas State, Iowa State, et al.

With apologies to FDR and with an understanding of hyperbole, 2012 will be a year that lives in infamy.

I haven’t excused the university for its poor decisions, from the handling of assaults to coaching issues to leaving the Big 12. And I won’t. But I am pleased that Anderson is now the MU basketball coach.

Democrats Need to Pick Correct Issues to Support

Not long ago after a round of golf — just before the big chill hit — we were sitting around the table at the 19th hole and one of my conservative friends on the Kansas side sarcastically said, “Those liberals down at the Star took a real beating in the election.”

The Star editorial board had done a terrific job of pointing out the many distortions and outright lies of the Governor Sam Brownback campaign. Unfortunately, the Star lacks the power that it used to have when circulation covered a much wider area in Kansas. Get past Lawrence and the Star subscriptions fall dramatically.

Anyway, I fired back at my friend, “Yeah, good luck with another four years of that jackass — and the rest of his cronies who won. We’ll just see how well it works out.”

My friend answered, “All I can say is that for the first time that I can remember, I got a refund on my income tax.”

So there you are. He received a return on his income tax. That, friends, is what the Republicans stand for. My friend is well off and his response is about his wallet.

I quickly countered that his refund is good for him but what about education, what about infrastructure, what about social issues? He smiled and pulled out his money clip.

Well, a week after the election, the story came out: Kansas will face a $279 million budget shortfall by July, far worse than state officials had thought before a new revenue forecast that will force Brownback and legislators to consider spending cuts.

The state will also be required to close an even bigger additional gap — $436 million — during the following 12 months, according to the new forecast.

Additional problems could put the shortfall at $1 billion in two years.

Have a nice tax refund.

During the governor’s race, Democratic challenger Paul Davis argued the tax cuts championed by Brownback were wrecking the state’s finances. Senate Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, a Topeka Democrat, predicted the state would have to cut spending on schools and social services and divert money from highway projects.

If the shortfall story had come out before the election, would it have made any difference in the outcome?

It’s one of the many political questions undertaken by several of us retired journalists who meet weekly for libations, snacks, good cheer and lively discussions. While partaking of a golden nectar, one in our weekly gathering began chastising Obamacare. He said his advantage insurance had gone up $45. I told him that he was talking about a private insurance company and that it had raised the costs, not Obamacare. I told him that he should check around to compare policies. Well, he did, and he’s finding out that another advantage plan is charging a little more for co-pays, but holding to its no-premium policy.

I tried to explain that Obamacare would keep increased costs at a decreasing rate and that the private insurance companies would reflect that. If not for Obamacare, the costs would increase at an increasing rate.

Cursing Obamacare is one of the ploys used by Republicans to cloud the issues.

There’s another kind of cloud, a dark one, in how the Democrats support conservative causes. For the first time in the six-year fight over the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, both houses of Congress are holding a vote on the proposed project, giving each side in a Louisiana Senate election a chance to boost its candidate.

The two lawmakers locked in the runoff contest, Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican Representative Bill Cassidy, extracted assurances from House and Senate leaders that votes would be held to bypass Obama’s authority and authorize construction of the pipeline.

Environmentalist allies of the President are solidly against the project.

This is but another misplaced Democratic effort. Progressives are firmly against it and will push Obama to veto the pipeline bill.

The Keystone cause is politics in all its impunity. And here are some Democrats falling in line with the right wing-nuts to push an unworthy issue damages the party. Backers are still claiming that the pipeline will produce 42,000 jobs. Really! What a crock. Once the pipeline, which, by the way, would carry toxic tar sands crude, could be built, only a control room crew and a few trouble-shooters would be needed. Maybe 50 workers in all. We’re squishing in oil. Gas prices are falling. Yet a priority is the pipeline. Go figure.

Democrats need to get off the conservative bandwagon and push for more core issues. And that includes Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill. She abandons progressive thought far too frequently to suit me. Yeah, good luck in your bid for the governor’s seat when you dump on your base.

Progressives are backing Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren to have more say-so in the party. She wrote in a recent op-ed piece: “Before leaders in Congress and the president get caught up in proving they can pass some new laws, everyone should take a skeptical look at whom those new laws will serve. At this very minute, lobbyists and lawyers are lining up by the thousands to push for new laws — laws that will help their rich and powerful clients get richer and more powerful. Hoping to catch a wave of deal-making, these lobbyists and lawyers — and their well-heeled clients — are looking for the chance to rig the game just a little more.”

She’s right on the money and this is the way the Democrats should fight.

She continued, “Yes, we need action. But action must be focused in the right place: on ending tax laws riddled with loopholes that favor giant corporations, on breaking up the financial institutions that continue to threaten our economy, and on giving people struggling with high-interest student loans the same chance to refinance their debt that every Wall Street corporation enjoys. There’s no shortage of work that Congress can do, but the agenda shouldn’t be drawn up by a bunch of corporate lobbyists and lawyers.”

That, friends, is the path to gain back the offices that were lost in the mid-term elections.

Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, posted a blog that said Democrats need not search for a soul, but, rather, their backbone after the losses. He noted that Democrats had core values that were very much in sync with most Americans.

“This year, too many Democratic candidates lost sight of those core principles — opting instead to clip their progressive wings in deference to a conventional wisdom that says bold ideas aren’t politically practical,” he said.

The conservatives are in control of both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court. Can they lead? They can destroy, but can they lead?

All this pipeline effort when infrastructure legislation lies moribund in the House — a real jobs deal.

The Democrats need to push projects that will help their base. In 2016, the Senate can be blue again because 24 Republicans are up for re-election, several in states that President Obama won in 2012. The Democrats will have to campaign for only 11 incumbents.

Chiefs, KU Spoilers But Chiefs Also Win

The KC Chiefs and Kansas Jayhawks played in mighty fast company over the weekend — the Chiefs showing the door to the defending Super Bowl champions Seattle Seahawks and KU allowing poll star TCU to stay too long and get comfortable.

The Chiefs got 159 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Jamaal Charles, whose smile is growing wider by the victory. But it certainly wasn’t all about Charles as the defense came up with two huge stops in a 3½-minute span in the fourth quarter to help produce a 24-20 win and run their record to 7-3. A crowd announced at 76,463 sat through sub-freezing temperatures Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium to watch the Chiefs play well enough to gain a tie for first place in the AFC West Division with Denver, which lost 22-7 at St. Louis.

KU may have damaged TCU’s chances of remaining in the top four of the Playoff Poll with a gutty performance before losing 34-30 as an intimate gathering of 10,000 looked on in dreary weather Saturday at Lawrence. Michael Cummings threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns as the Jayhawks’ record fell to 3-7 overall and 1-6 in the Big 12 Conference. The Jayhawks were trying for their first regular-season win over a top-5 team since beating Colorado in 1995.

For the Chiefs, well, Charles was in charge. Everyone who can correctly spell Chiefs, “i” before “e,”  knows they don’t have receivers who can get separation and make plays. The Seahawks do know so they put 8-9 defenders in the box designed to thwart Charles.

Seattle has a good running back, too — Marshawn Lynch, who ran for 124 yards. He must have loved the weather with the wind-chill factor in the low teens because he sat on the bench during halftime and didn’t go into the dressing room with the rest of the team. Was he upset? Don’t know. He didn’t talk to reporters after the game.

“He thought it would be better for him to stay out,” said Seattle Coach Pete Carroll, not elaborating to reporters on why Lynch would think that was advantageous.

Reporters speculated that his back was tightening up in the cold, so he thought it might help to keep the bench heaters blowing during the intermission.

Borderline weird then and strange later with Lynch involved. The Seahawks were in position to win the game in the fourth quarter – twice – but couldn’t convert on fourth-and-goal from the 2 and fourth-and-1 from the KC 36.

Kansas City had gone up 24-20 early in the fourth quarter on Knile Davis’ 4-yard run. The Seahawks took the kickoff and in nine plays had the ball third-and-4 at KC’s 4. Lynch then gained 2 to the 2. Instead of going with hard-charging Lynch on fourth down, the Seahawks opted for a fade route to Doug Baldwin in the end zone. Not even close. The Chiefs held.

But they couldn’t keep the ball for long and had to punt. Seattle had good field position at the KC 45. Then, with third-and-8, quarterback Russell Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse on a short pass play and the officials marked the ball for first down. No way. Coach Andy Reid didn’t have to go to his play sheet to make this call. He threw the red flag for review. Geez, Kearse went down a yard short of where the ball was marked originally.

Undaunted, the Seahawks went for it again. The Chiefs stuffed Lynch for no gain. Foiled again. With 4 minutes to go in the game. Ah, the Chiefs would take this one, their fifth straight victory.

A couple of mistakes sure had Chiefs fans wondering and the Seahawks capitalizing.

With 3:16 left in the third quarter and KC leading 17-13, Charles fumbled — yes, the heroic Charles. A Wilson-to-Tony Moeaki 1-yard pass capped a five-play, 44-yard drive and helped give the Seahawks a 20-17 lead. Yes, of course, you recognize the name, Moeaki. He was cut by the Chiefs last season. Now with Seattle, he seemed to thoroughly enjoy the score, spiking the ball ferociously near the Arrowhead stands.

Ah, but the best was to come, right, Chiefs fans!

Wait, just a couple more negatives to discuss. Late in the first half, Travis Kelce fumbled near midfield. The Seahawks took over with 1:09 left, enough time to convert a field goal and trim the lead to 14-13.

An illegal use of the hands penalty on cornerback Ron Parker kept a Seattle drive alive early in the second quarter — KC had held on third-and-12 at its 36 before the flag landed. Five plays later, Wilson hit Baldwin for a 7-yard TD pass and the Seahawks tied the game 7-7. Wilson’s scrambles nettled the Chiefs during the 16-play drive.

A lot of this victory was about Charles and some good offensive line play. But give the defense a lot of credit. Parker overcame his earlier mistakes with 11 tackles. Linebacker Tamba Hali had 7 tackles and a sack while Dontari Poe had 3 tackles and a sack.

On the Chiefs’ first drive, they went 86 yards in 15 plays to score. A good start and a good finish.

The Seahawks outgained the Chiefs 372 yards to 298. Plus the Chiefs had two turnovers to none for the Seahawks. But the final score was Chiefs, 24-20.

They will play again Thursday night at Oakland.

The underwhelming performance by TCU could be costly, possibly enough to lose its playoff committee’s top four spot.

“We’re not too worried about it,” quarterback Trevone Boykin told reporters after the game. “It’s not up to us. It’s up to the committee. If we do, I’m thankful for it. If we don’t, I’m still thankful because as of right now, we’re still a 9-1 football team trying to win a Big 12 championship.”

It was a win, one that put them alone in first place with a 6-1 record while Kansas State and Baylor are 5-1. But it was a win by only four points against a three-win team. Even on the road and in 32-degree weather, it might not make the best impression on the same committee that was impressed by the Horned Frogs’ dominating victory against Kansas State last week.

The Horned Frogs trailed through 2½ quarters and Coach Gary Patterson told reporters, “You start thinking, ‘Uuuh, it may not be our day.’ But we fought back and found a way.”

Boykin, who threw for 330 yards and became TCU’s all-time leader for passing yards in a single season, led touchdown drives the first two times the Frogs had the ball in the second half, and Cameron Echols-Luper returned a punt 69 yards for a touchdown that gave them the lead for the first time since it was 7-0.

For KU, Jimmay Mundine had 137 yards receiving and a touchdown, and Nigel King had 128 yards and a score. They headed into the locker room with a 13-10 lead and then pushed the lead to 20-10 with an 82-yard drive to start the second half.

The Jayhawks will travel to Oklahoma Saturday before closing out the season the following Saturday at Kansas State.

 

Big 12 Basketball Season Upon Us

Yes, the college basketball season is here. Tonight. Yeah, tonight. Kansas will open at home against UC-Santa Barbara while Kansas State will be at home vs. Southern Utah.

KU no doubt will be KU and battle for the Big 12 Conference title. Kansas state is receiving little attention for first-place competition.

That means the conference will be good again. Well, maybe, possibly not as good as last year when the league ranked first in the RPI and put seven teams into the NCAA Tournament.

It appears Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa State will battle KU for the title.

The Jayhawks have won every Big 12 Conference championship. So you can be sure this season’s players don’t want to be the first to lose out. Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid went in the top three of the NBA draft and that means Coach Bill Self just went out and grabbed some more five-star do-everything players. However, a couple of veterans, Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden, should be the leaders. New faces are Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre, both McDonald’s All-Americans, and Devonte Graham, who looks like a point guard who can lead the Jayhawks — something they needed last year at that position.

Kansas State is a much deeper team, but that won’t change Marcus Foster’s role in leading the Wildcats. And it may not produce that many more victories. Foster kinda was a no-name at the beginning of last season but he was a shooter and that helped propel him to All-Big 12 status. Justin Edwards, a transfer from Maine, is athletic and expected to take on some of the outside shooting load. The Cats need Javon Thomas’ point guard ability to blossom and improve over last season. Also eligible is 6-11 Stephen Hurt, the Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year at Lipscomb, and Brandon Bolden, former Georgetown forward. Coach Bruce Weber has more options with personnel. Nino Williams and Wesley Iwundu won’t have to pound inside with the big boys all night. Thomas Gipson should have help inside.

Iowa State has an All-American and Big 12 Player of the Year candidate in Georges Niang. Forward Dustin Hogue is back after starting every game last season. UNLV transfer Bryce Dejean-Jones has the potential to star in the backcourt with point guard Monte Morris, a sophomore ready to build on an efficient and impressive campaign highlighted by breaking the NCAA assist-to-turnover ratio.  Yeah, you’re right — another roster heavy with transfers. In mid-December, Coach Fred Hoisberg will have Jameel McKay, a 6-9 two-time junior college All-American, eligible and ready to play. Several Big 12 observers believe Dejean-Jones will be league newcomer of the year.

Myles Turner, a 6-10 consensus five-star prospect, has competition for a starting spot for Texas. That signals a team that is deep with talent. Point guard Isaiah Taylor and frontcourt stars Jonathan Holmes and Cameron Ridley should carry most of the load, however. Javan Felix adds a deep threat, Demarcus Holland is a lockdown perimeter defender and Prince Ibeh and Connor Lammert should see plenty of action down low.

A breakout year from Buddy Hield helped spark a high-octane Oklahoma offense last season. Coach Lon Kruger led the Sooners back to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year. Sophomore Jordan Woodard took over at point guard last season and averaged 4.6 assists per game — the most among Big 12 freshman. Kruger is looking for better back-court defense and help for Ryan Spangler, who led the Big 12 with 9.3 rebounds a game.

Juwan Staten is a really talented guard but can he carry West Virginia all by his lonesome? With Eron Harris and Terry Henderson gone, he’s the main man. Staten is getting a lot of attention as the league’s pick for player of the year. Coach Bob Huggins needs Devin Williams to continue his solid rebounding and redshirt Elijah Macon and transfer Jonathan Holton to fill needed spots.

Could this finally be a down year for Baylor? The Bears have been in the hunt for some time with lots of talent brought in by Coach Scott Drew. Senior point guard Kenny Chery, one of the stars from the late season run that ended in the school’s fourth Sweet 16 appearance, needs to stay on track. Rico Gathers, a 6-8, 270-pounder, has a lot of promise.

Travis Ford could be in trouble as Oklahoma State coach. Marcus Smart stayed last season and that helped the Cowboys to a respectable record. It just seems the Cowboy faithful are losing patience with Ford. Le’Bryan Nash has played so many roles for the Cowboys in his career, but there is no question that this can be his team. Former LSU star Anthony Hickey brings quickness and all-conference level defense to the backcourt — a nice compliment to the sharp-shooting Phil Forte. Senior forward Michael Cobbins returns after suffering an Achilles tear that ended his season after just 13 games. The new players must come through for the Cowboys to prosper.

Big 12 basketball has been difficult for TCU. Last season, the Horned Frogs went 0-18. Coach Trent Johnson hopes he has some game-changers with players becoming eligible and healthy. Senior guard Kyan Johnson carried much of the offense last season, averaging 17 points ar game. Trey Zeigler joins him in the backcourt after two years at Central Michigan and a year at Pitt. Down low you’ll find UTEP transfer Chris Washburn and Devonta Abron and Amric Fields returning from injury.

Think about this: Texas Tech’s 6-12 record in conference play marked the most league victories for the program since 2008. Unfortunately for Coach Tubby Smith, year 2 will be defined by his ability to turn an inexperienced roster into the same type of team that knocked off Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in conference play a year ago. Guard Devaungntah Williams and 6-9 forward Justin Jamison, teammates at Missouri West Plains Junior College, join an established back court of Robert Turner and Toddrick Gotcher while the Red Raiders wait on Aaron Ross to return from a knee injury.

OU Fans Disgruntled — and the Chiefs Favored vs. Defending Super Bowl Champs!

Oklahomans love their college football. They bet lots of money on their beloved Sooners. And they’re not happy. You surely have heard the old joke about the two top sports in the state: football is first and spring football second. With the added concern of cash on the line, they pay considerable attention to the events of OU football.

There’s no NFL or major league baseball, unless you include Baja Oklahoma with the Dallas Cowboys and Texas Rangers. Oklahoma City does have an NBA team. And Oklahoma State will battle for attention. But the general focus is on Sooner football. When the Sooners don’t get it right, the fans respond testily.

And they’re responding. OU is 3-3 in the Big 12 and 6-3 overall. That ain’t good enough for Sooner folks. Not even close.

The boos could not be ignored last Saturday. Disgruntled fans were fed up with the ease of Baylor’s 48-14 victory — on OU’s home field, for goodness sakes.

Bob Stoops heard the boos. His brother and defensive coordinator Mike Stoops heard the boos. A nationally televised audience heard the boos. Ever since brother Mike joined the Sooners after being fired at Arizona, the Sooner chemistry has mixed explosively on and off the field. Is he the problem? Brent Venables obviously wasn’t in the mix; he was the defensive coordinator when Mike showed up. Now he’s the coordinator at Clemson.

The Sooners are banged up but whatever the problems, the OU faithful are upset.

The 34-point loss was the worst at Memorial Stadium during the Stoops’ 16-year era. The Sooners had never gone more than two years without a Big 12 title under Stoops. That streak has been snapped.

You may have heard rumors that Michigan is interested in hiring Stoops to replace Brady Hoke. Stoops is a Youngstown, Ohio, guy and knows the territory. But would he leave the football environs of OU? He has a multi-million-dollar contract and a huge house. Maybe it won’t be his decision, huh.

Errrr, ahhhh, the natives are restless.

There’s more than betting in college football. There is zaniness, too.

Utah  was on its way Saturday to a 14-0 lead against touted Oregon when wide receiver Kaelin Clay caught a deep pass from quarterback Travis Wilson and appeared to run it into the end zone for a 79-yard touchdown. But as the home crowd went wild, perceptive Oregon players realized that Clay had, unbelievably, dropped the ball at the one-yard line — rather than waiting until he had actually crossed the goal line. The ball lay on the ground for several seconds, until Oregon linebacker Joe Walker picked it up and ran it back for a 100-yard touchdown, leading to a tie game and sending the crowd into shock. Oregon went on to win 51-27.

Auburn put on its show of dumb and dumber. By fumbling the ball away not once but twice in the final 3 minutes, the heavily favored Tigers lost 41-38 Saturday at home to Texas A&M. The first drop came 2 yards away from a go-ahead touchdown on a read-option exchange between Nick Marshall and Cameron Artis-Payne. It appeared Artis-Payne had the TD in sight but, inexplicably, Marshall pulled the ball out, causing a fumble with the Aggies recovering. The second dumbo was a butt fumble by center Reese Dismukes; Marshall was adjusting the play call 28 yards away from a winning score. Dismukes tried to center it with Marshall looking away. Turnover. Loss. Forget the playoffs.

I don’t know which is making me more irritable, the Academy TV ad focusing on the SEC and the Dallas Cowboys or the ESPN promos about the SEC’s prowess. You would think that the Academy marketing department would understand this is Big 12 and Chiefs territory. ESPN promotion is understandable, in some respects, because they are so full of the SEC.

But what about this SEC football dominance? Well, a friend of mine, Jim Murray, played for Mizzou — recruited out of St. Agnes (now Bishop Miege) by Don Faurot and coached by Frank Broyles and Dan Devine. He’s Tiger black and gold through and through. But he isn’t buying into all this SEC hype.

In fact, he says Mizzou and Georgia probably would finish tied for sixth in the Big 12 this season.

He notes that the SEC network claims that the SEC is the best conference in the country because its best teams play against the very best. He debunks that with: “Yeah! Ole Miss plays Presbyterian and Mississippi State  hosts Tennessee-Martin. Other cream puffs to oppose the mighty SEC include Chattanooga, Charleston Southern, South Alabama, Lamar, Sam Houston State, Alcorn State, Austin Peay, Idaho, Samford, Nichols State, South Dakota State, West Carolina, etc. And you can’t forget Stephen F. Austin.”

Now, with all that, are you ready to bet?

Oh my, the Chiefs favored at home against Seattle! Yes, everyone who bets knows the Chiefs are 8-1 against the spread. That’s phenomenal. But a 1½-point favorite over the defending Super Bowl champs. That’s a reach. The Seahawks have lost 3 games and haven’t played with high octane emotion, but a road dog to the Chiefs! Me thinks KC will come down to Earth after winning its fourth straight game last Sunday. The four victories came against four teams with a combined 14-22 record. Take the 1½ for $22.

There’s a really intriguing NFL game Sunday, New England at Indianapolis. Two terrific quarterbacks with Indy’s Andrew Luck and the Pats’ Tom Brady. The Colts are 3-1 as home favorites while the Pats haven’t been a road dog this season. I really like the Colts and will lay the 2½ for $33.

NFL $33 Bet. San Diego -10 vs. Oakland.

NFL $22 Bets. Green Bay -6 vs. Philadelphia, New Orleans -6½ vs. Cincy, Pittsburgh -5 at Tennessee.

NFL $11 Bets. Atlanta +2½ at Carolina, Washington -7 vs. Tampa, St. Louis +9½ vs. Denver, New Giants +4½ vs. San Francisco.

NFL Picks. Buffalo +5½ at Miami, Cleveland -3 vs. Houston, Minnesota +3 at Chicago, Arizona -1½ vs. Detroit.

Before wagering the Arizona-Detroit game, you should know that quarterback Carson Palmer is gone for the season after tearing his left ACL in the Cardinals’ victory over St. Louis.

How ’bout them Jayhawks! They won a Big 12 Conference game last Saturday, whipping Iowa State. So, what do you think Kansas’ chances are at home against TCU? Can they stand up to TCU’s athleticism? Well, the odds makers sure don’t. They tabbed KU a 28-point underdog. A lot of points. But not enough. The Frogs may suffer a letdown after the emotional win over K-State but they have enough to handle KU. Again, a lot of points so I won’t leap on the Frogs but will go with $11.

Big 12 $22 Bet. Texas -2 at Oklahoma State.

Big 12 $11 Bet. Oklahoma -17 at Texas Tech.

College $22 Bets. South Florida -11½ at SMU, Arkansas -2½ vs. LSU, Auburn +2½ at Georgia, Florida State -2 at Miami, Missouri +5½ at Texas A&M.

College $11 Bets. Minnesota +12 vs. Ohio State, Nebraska +6 at Wisconsin, Clemson -3 at Georgia Tech, Utah +7½ at Stanford, Alabama -7 vs. Mississippi State.

The Stats

Big 12. Last week, +$38. To date, +$130.

National College. Last week, +$7. To date, -$16.

All Colleges. Last week, +$45. To date, +$114.

NFL. Last week, +$4. To date $0.

NFL Picks. Last week, 10-3-0. To date, 79-66-1.

Grand Total Bets. Last week, +$49. To date, +$114.