Mistakes Cost Cats as “SEC, SEC” Chant Continues On

My gosh, all those mistakes. You hate to go negative but for the life of me I don’t understand how Kansas State could make so many errors in a big-time football game. But the Wildcats did and they suffered in many ways, mainly a loss.

Before a full house of mostly purple Thursday night in Manhattan, the Cats dropped a 20-14 decision to the hyped Auburn Tigers. The nationally televised game offered the nation a look at an SEC-Big 12 matchup and once again the Big 12 team lost on the field and in the war of words. You gotta win to stop the “SEC, SEC” chant.

All that buildup of the Auburn offense. Well, the Cat defense played hard, really hard, yielding just 20 points, but 359 yards running and passing. However, when the offense makes as many mistakes as K-State’s did, the pressure builds for the defense to make stops. And the Cats couldn’t stop the Tigers all the time.

Quarterback Jake Waters needed a big game for the Cats. He didn’t have it — losing two fumbles and throwing two interceptions. Jack Cantele missed three field goals, one a chip shot.

Take a look at the first quarter for the Cats:

  • The opening kickoff went out of bounds, giving Auburn field position at its 35.
  • Waters lost a fumble at the Cat 21 that set up an Auburn field goal.
  • Tyler Lockett, the guy who always makes the plays, didn’t, allowing a pass in the end zone to skip away and Auburn’s Jonathon Jones grabbed the deflection to stop the drive.
  • Cantele missed on his first field goal try, this one from 41 yards out.

And yet the Cats trailed just 3-0.

Look, this shouldn’t be a sob sister story. But when you watch the game on TV from the comfort of your home and you keep seeing play after play go up in smoke, it’s a little difficult to hold in your angst.

Bear with me. Check out these items:

  • After K-State went up 7-3 in the second quarter, Auburn came right back on a nine-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis 40-yard TD pass play — as the K-State defender fell down.
  • Cantele missed a chance for the Cats to tie as the half ended when his 42-yard field goal attempt wasn’t even close.
  • After Cantele missed a 22-yarder at 5:54 of the third quarter, Auburn drove 80 yards in 15 plays to take a 17-7 lead.
  • Trovon Reed intercepted Waters early in the fourth quarter and that set up another scoring drive. On the first play Louis fumbled and it appeared cornerback Darrell Evans had the ball all wrapped up. He didn’t and the Tigers continued on offense, winding up with a field goal for a 20-7 lead.

You just can’t have those things happen and expect to win a game, especially against the caliber of a team like Auburn.

A flaw, perhaps, in the defense was the soft secondary on third down  plays — the Tigers converted 10 of 18.

Waters was trying to do everything — the Cats were having trouble running the ball. They rushed only 30 times for 40 yards, a 1.3 per carry average. Waters wound up with 24 of 40 passes for 245 yards. He was minus-7 rushing. The Tigers scouted his tendencies very well, obviously.

Lockett was okay but the Tigers double-teamed him on almost every offensive play. The defenders went on a search-and-destroy mission — they were all over Lockett, who ended with 45 yards on just 6 catches.  Curry Sexton took advantage of all the attention paid Lockett and caught 11 balls for 121 yards.

“Tyler deserves so much attention,” Sexton said in post-game quotes. “Other guys are going to have to step up. They put two guys on him most of the night. Having him out there helps the rest of us, but at the same time you have to make plays. We did not make enough tonight.”

Lockett noted, “It hurts a lot. We left a lot out there on the field. One of the plays that I remember the most is that I dropped a touchdown that turned into an interception. We missed field goals and fumbled the ball. We just made a lot of mistakes.”

Lockett showed his mettle as a special teams performer, returning 3 punts for a 23.7 average and a kickoff for 23 yards.

How was touted Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall? Okay. He had 231 yards passing and 45 yards rushing. But this day belonged to the Auburn defense. Big, strong, fast. They can force mistakes. Yet, if Waters had been just a little more precise, oh well, what if, forget it.

K-State Coach Bill Snyder said the Cats didn’t throw the ball effectively, noting the Tigers put a ton of people up in the box. “It put you in a position where you really had to throw the ball,” he said.

He certainly was fully aware of the mistakes, saying, “We beat ourselves, for sure. They will probably say they did not play their best game, but that is just credit to the way we played defensively. Offensively, we just could not finish in the red zone and that is what we are usually best at. To leave that many points on the field is just frustrating.”

Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn said in the post-game, “They were everything that we thought they would be. I am very proud of our defense. Forcing some turnovers in the red zone I thought that was huge. I told them after the game that this was a game that will help us in the future. We faced some major adversity tonight and our guys responded well.”

The win was the Tigers’ first on the road against a nonconference opponent since Virginia in 1997, and the first over a ranked nonconference foe on the road since Florida State in 1984. Auburn was the highest-ranked team to play in Manhattan since second-ranked Penn State in 1969.Auburn running back Cameron Artis-Payne said, “A win is a win. You come on the road into hostile territory, and they are a top 20 team, and they have a legendary coach. So we knew what it was going to be. We knew they were going to be prepared. We knew it was going to be a dog fight, and they did not disappoint.”

Auburn has developed a winning program. What happened late makes that point. K-State had cut the lead to 20-14  with 3:49 to go. The Tigers had to hold on to the ball, right? Sure. Hmmm. With third and 9 at their 37, would they run the clock to give K-State little time? Nah. Marshall stepped back, spotted receiver D’haquille Williams behind the secondary and hit him for a 39-yard gain. They then ran out the clock. What would have happened if the pass fell incomplete? The clock would have stopped and the Tigers would have had to punt to Lockett. Maybe it wasn’t such a gamble. Whatever, they made the play and it was a winner.

Will Expectations Meet Anticipation?

Like the lilting voice of Carly Simon singing Anticipation with the sound of the word drawn out, Kansas State fans have been crooning the merits of this game for some time. When it is all over, wonder if the expectations will be off-key?

After a pair of big home wins, No. 5 Auburn looks at No. 20 Kansas State as its first major test of the season Thursday night in Manhattan. In looking at the poll right now, Auburn could face seven ranked teams in the next 10 games.

Much bally-hooed Nick Marshall of Auburn and improving Jake Waters of K-State offer a study in quarterbacks. Marshall is the runner and Waters the passer. However, Waters leads the Big 12 in rushing as the Wildcats are utilizing his abilities to read defenses in a hurry. Marshall is improving on his passing game.

Marshall wound up at Auburn after playing at Garden City, Kansas, Community College. Last season, he averaged 234 yards total offense per game — 1,976 passing and 1,068 rushing for the season.

The K-State defense will be tested to contain Auburn’s speed. However, Auburn respects K-State’s defense and expects strong resistance. Rhett Lashlee, Auburn’s offensive coordinator, said in Bleacher Report that K-State’s defense didn’t do a lot but what it did it did really well. “They’re very gap-sound,” he said. “They’re rarely going to give you something cheap. They’re going to make you earn everything in the run and the pass game.”

K-State Coach Bill Snyder countered that Auburn’s offense was so fast with big and physical receivers and running backs. They are quick and change direction extremely well, Snyder said, adding that the offensive line is physical and tough to defend. “You’re not playing just Nick Marshall, you got to defend the gamut of offensive football,” Snyder said.

So many things to consider in this game. Is it a SEC vs. Big 12 showcase? Can the Cats run the ball effectively? Will Auburn’s speed kill? Will K-State be in awe or determined? Can Auburn handle the pressure of leaving the Deep South?

The key just may be how the Cat defense handles the pressure on the corners. Marshall can do a lot of damage and the Tigers have a stable of running backs.

So, how will you bet this? The line opened Auburn -6½ and has climbed to -9. That’s pretty good movement. Auburn beat Arkansas in its home opener 45-21, giving 17 points as a home favorite. The Tigers followed that with a 59-13 victory as a 34-point home favorite. K-State beat Stephen F. Austin 55-16 in its home opener then escaped at Iowa State 32-28 as a 12-point road favorite.

The Tigers are 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS over their last four road games. They’re off to a 2-0 SU and ATS start to the 2014 season. Here’s a stat you need to know: They are 13-0 against the spread in the last 13 games. Odds Shark ranks Auburn at No. 6 in its power rating with K-State at No. 33. Using various scoring formulas, Odds Shark noted, the score is forecast at 46-34, Auburn.

Hey, you knew I would do this. I’m taking the home dog for $22. Snyder has had time to prepare, they’re at home and you can recall what happened to touted USC in Manhattan.

Kansas is home to Central Michigan Saturday as a 3½-point favorite. The Jayhawks just can’t lose to the Chippewas, can they! Whew. The Chippewas — don’t you just love saying that — beat Tennessee-Chattanooga 20-10 and Purdue 38-17 but lost 40-3 last week to Syracuse. Okay, put an arrow through my heart — I’m laying the points for $11.

Oklahoma at West Virginia is the only other Big 12 game this week. The Mountaineers have been scoring and the two teams had a wild one the last time they met in Morgantown, OU pulling it out 50-49. Can they top a hundred this week. Eh, probably not. Take OU for $22 and lay the 7½.

  • National College $22 Bets. Missouri -13½ vs. Indiana, Minnesota -8½ vs. San Jose, Arkansas -13½ vs. Northern Illinois.
  • National College $11 Bets. Pittsburgh -4½ vs. Iowa, Georgia -41 vs. Troy, Wisconsin -27 vs. Bowling Green, Duke -17 vs. Tulane, Colorado -7½ vs. Hawaii, Alabama -14½ vs. Florida, Oregon -24 at Washington State, Utah State +2½ at Arkansas State.

So, will the KC Chiefs show up in Miami with energy like they showed in Denver or struggle as they did in the opener against Tennessee? They have lots of injuries, including a high ankle sprain for Jamaal Charles. The offense needs to gear up, especially in the red zone and there’s no reason it can’t against Miami’s defense, which is giving up 24.5 points a game.

A victory over New England in Week 1 had Miami Dolphins fans confident in the team’s performance, but a loss to the Buffalo Bills now make them wonder. Handicappers expect Miami to bounce back against the Chiefs. I’m passing on Miami -4. I think the Chiefs will cover but lose outright.

Well, well, Denver at Seattle. Did the two teams play so poorly last week because they were thinking about this one? Possibly. The Bronco offense is not meshing and the Seahawk defense isn’t mashing. The Bronco offense suffered in last season’s Super Bowl against Seattle and there’s a good chance it won’t get going against Seattle. I’ll take the Seahawks for $11 and lay the 5.

I was just horrible last week but I think I got some bad beats, too — like Indy losing a 14-point lead and then falling by 3. Tennessee proved its offense isn’t quite like it showed against the Chiefs, losing to Dallas 26-10. The Titans will travel to Cincy and I don’t think they will cover the 7. Take the touted Bengals for $22. Arizona and San Francisco will play to determine possibly the best of the West. The 49ers didn’t show much last week in the loss to Chicago and I don’t think they will cover the 3 so take the points for $11.

  • NFL $33 Bets. Dallas -1 at St. Louis, Baltimore -1½ at Cleveland, Indy -7½ at Jacksonville.
  • NFL $11 Bets. Houston -2 at NY Giants, Pittsburgh +3 at Carolina.
  • NFL Picks But No Bets. Atlanta -6½ vs. Tampa, Buffalo -2 vs. San Diego, Philadelphia -7 vs. Washington, Detroit -1½ vs. Green Bay, New Orleans -10½ vs. Minnesota, New England -14 vs. Oakland, NY Jets -2½ vs. Chicago.

The Stats

  • Big 12. Last week, -$36. To date, -$31.
  • National College. Last week, -$37. To date, -$7.
  • All Colleges. Last week, -$73. To date, -$38.
  • Last week, -$103.
  • NFL Picks. Last week, 6-10-0. To date, 14-17-1.
  • Grand Total Bets. Last week, -$176. To date, -$181.

Enhancing Station in Life Becoming a Bridge Too Far

I’m not an economist and I haven’t just spent a night at the Holiday Inn Express. But I can tell you how folks felt in the 1950s and how their outlook on life is in the 2010s.

After the 1960s, the economy for the middle class began leveling out and since Ronald Reagan became president in 1980 the chances to increase your station in life have been going downhill faster than an Olympian schussing a ski slope.

My mom and dad were products of the Depression and they toiled mightily to escape the shackles of poverty. Finally, in the 1940s, they could put food on the table. In the Depression, that wasn’t always so. I recall a story my dad told about how he, Mom and my aunt and uncle were sitting around the table and one of them said, “I saw at the grocery store where we can get a whole slab of lunch ham for a quarter.” That sounded great. Then came the question: “Anybody got a quarter?”

After World War II, manufacturers began retooling their plants to handle peace-time needs and the economy flourished. Jobs opened. Developments provided two-bedroom housing. Life had a future.

Oh, of course, that $50,000 home was out of range for most of those I grew up with, especially on $4,000-a-year salaries. But it didn’t seem unattainable. Young people believed they could get that $15,000 to $20,000 a year job with hard work and/or getting an education. The disparity in incomes didn’t seem so foreboding.

The big boys made a lot of money. They did fine. Old money earned in the Robber Baron days existed for the ultra-wealthy. But there weren’t scores of the ultra rich fast-tracking the cost of living.

Today, so many millionaires. Those making $50,000 a year see reaching the affluent level of, say, $250,000 annually as a formidable task, one rarely reached from lower strata.

I looked up figures on the internet that showed how so many made it in the 1940s and 1950s and even into the 1960s with a marginal tax rate of 90 percent. Production expanded and all the boats began to rise in the tide.

Entrepreneurs knew how to make money. They reinvested the profits so they didn’t have to pay the high tax rate. And they still made plenty of money. They played golf on Wednesday and Saturday afternoons, took nice  vacations and sent their children to good schools.

The unions pushed for better wages and all benefitted.

Today the top marginal tax rate is 35 percent but with the many loopholes and tax write-offs some corporations don’t pay any taxes. Additionally, the top capital gains tax rate was 25 percent in the 1950s and 1960s, 35 percent in the 1970s; today it is 15 percent. The real GDP growth rate averaged 4.2 percent and real per capita GDP increased annually by 2.4 percent in the 1950s. In the 2000s, the average real GDP growth rate was 1.7 percent and real per capita GDP increased annually by less than 1 percent.

All those figures mean little to those out of work or facing struggles just to make a living.

Blacks, of course, would just as soon not go back to the subjugation of the ’40s and ’50s. Life has improved for many of them but a tax policy that allows the rich to get richer and the poor get poorer certainly isn’t a panacea for anyone of any color.

Chye-Ching Huang, writing in 2012, said many policymakers cited as fact that cuts in the top income and capital gains tax rates would spur much greater economic growth and that increases in those tax rates significantly hurt growth. A Congressional Research Service report suggests, however, that such easy assumptions are highly problematic.

The report found no statistically significant correlation, all the way back to 1945, between the top capital gains or top marginal income tax rates and: (1) economic growth (in real per capita GDP); (2) private saving; (3) investment; or (4) growth in labor productivity.

CRS did, however, find a correlation between reductions in these tax rates and greater income inequality

All the evidence should dispel the silver bullet theory of capital gains taxes. Cutting capital gains taxes will not turbocharge the economy.

Larry Beinhart, writing on AlterNet, said high taxes created an incentive to reinvest profits into long-term growth. With high taxes, the only way to retain the bulk of the wealth created by a business is by reinvesting it in the business — in plants, equipment, staff, research and development, new products and all the rest.

Low taxes create an incentive for profit taking, he said. It is easy to confuse profitability with wealth creation; they are not the same.

Selling subprime mortgages, trading in derivatives, packaging mortgage-backed securities and flipping condos were all very profitable but did not create wealth. The theory is that if the rich can keep their money, they will invest in businesses that create jobs, more businesses, more tax revenue and greater “wealth” for the nation, Beinhart said.

“Once tax cutting began, the culture of business changed,” he said. “It was no longer enough for a business to be a reasonably good business, making steady, reliable profits. Indeed, that became a very bad condition for a business to be in. It made it a target for takeovers by people who were willing to milk them of their profits.”

He listed ways you could get more profit out of a business:

  • Cutting the workforce — possibly sacrificing long-term productivity
  • Cutting salaries — who cares if the employees are unhappy? The balance sheet improves.
  • Selling off assets — who cares what happens in 10 years? We can take the money now.
  • Outsourcing — which sends the “wealth” somewhere else.

A whole host of devices were developed to do all of the above: junk bonds, leveraged buyouts, hostile takeovers, greenmail and the like, Beinhart reasoned. All that helped produce the current one-percent level of wealth.

All that is reasonable logic using facts and figures. Whatever. I contend that I don’t need those figures to know that the future for my grandkids now does not look as bright as what my chances for success became.

You can’t look at a $40,000 a year job as a means to make the reach the next station up in life. Not if you’re supporting a family of four, for sure. The disparity in income creates a bridge too far. The type of economy we’re in now benefits millionaires whose goals are simply to pile up millions more. It is not about retooling, reinvesting. It is about just how much money can I make.

No Excuses, KC Big on Sports

No small market apologies or pretext from Kathy Nelson. Keep those fans coming. The president and CEO of the greater Kansas City Sports Commission spoke Monday at the 40 Years Ago Column Club at Brios and she gave a dynamic, enthusiastic projection of sports activities.

The public relations arms of the Chiefs and Royals too often mention that they are competing in a small sports market. Maybe this a cynical response, but they may have an ulterior motive in promoting the population differences with Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City. Look at their salary outlays and you can see paltry figures.

Maybe it isn’t fair to compare Nelson’s upbeat look at venues, attendance, volunteers and participation with the pro sports teams.

But she pours out the good stuff. For example, she noted that more than 55 million people were within a day’s drive of Kansas City. She mainly provides support for college sports and she pointed out that 67 Division I and 75 Division II schools were within that day’s drive benchmark.

While the KC Chamber of Commerce and other groups gripe about hotel accommodations in the city, Nelson said the make-up was perfect for the events she helped promote.

She stays away from most any criticism of the sports situation in KC. Everything is up to date. They can call on 3,000 volunteers to help, the Sprint Center and other venues offer terrific facilities and deep-pocketed sponsors help defray the costs of the non-profit commission.

“When you go after the big events as we do, it can be a huge cost to us and we could get into trouble if we didn’t get the great support,” she said.

However, a big sports weekend could generate $30 million for the area’s economy.

And plenty of events are coming this way. She said the commission made 43 bids for various NCAA championships through 2020, including divisions I, II and III. They have 14 commits for the next four years.

She’s especially happy about the way they were able to obtain the Division II National Football Championship game. Florence, Alabama, had hosted the game from 1986 to 1913. Sporting Park at the Legends will host this season’s game.

She acknowledged that cold weather could be present for the activities but believes the Kansas City area can provide so much more for all the schools and fans to enjoy. She knew Sporting was a soccer field and found to her delight that officials there had thought ahead — goal posts positioning is already set and the locker rooms can be divided for ample football team space.

When asked about the lack of hoopla and entertainment near the Arrowhead and Kauffman stadium complex, she said she didn’t deal all that much with them. She did defend them, noting that the Power & Light District was just 15 minutes away. She acknowledged that it wasn’t the same as at Wrigley Field or in St. Louis or even Boston where fun and games continue way past the end of on-the-field action.

She also came down on both sides of the Kemper Arena issue — renovate or tear down and rebuild. She took an ambivalent wait-and-see attitude.

Nelson assumed the reins at the commission in 2011, heading up a staff of 13 to continue the work started by President Kevin Gray, who died of cancer earlier that year. She tried to beg off the appointment, citing lack of experience, but she said the commission backed her. Her background is in electronic media and on weekends works as a producer or statistician at NFL games.

The commission is a privately funded, nonprofit membership organization. It was launched in 1966 with the support of civic leaders: Ewing Kauffman, Earl Smith, Dutton Brookfield, Ray Evans, John McDermott, Ernie Mehl, Alex George and Bill Deramus. Mehl served as its first chairman.

The founding goals of the Sports Commission included increasing Chiefs season ticket sales; helping to bring a professional baseball team back to Kansas City; and rallying the public/private sector for the construction of a sports complex.  In 1968, the Kansas City Sports Commission was instrumental in securing an expansion franchise, the Kansas City Royals Baseball Club, to come to Kansas City, as well as assisting with efforts to pass bond funding to build the Truman Sports Complex.

In 1989, with a revised mission, an Executive Committee was formed along with 15 Charter Member Corporations.  Promotional themes of “promoting Kansas City through sports” and “Sport KC” were adopted.  As executive director, Gray became the first paid staff member.

The Sports Commission landed at its current 5,000 square-foot headquarters at 1308 Pennsylvania Avenue in the fall of 2000.  The historic home was renovated into office space.

This isn’t necessarily a plug, but it was interesting to know that various levels of membership exist. The least expensive is Level 1 for $55. And there are benefits, according to the commission website.

  • Name recognized on the KCSC Website.
  • Annual subscription to The SportsPage member newsletter and other organizational correspondence.
  • Advanced notice of Kansas City Sports Host Committee volunteer opportunities.
  • Advanced opportunity to purchase tickets to KC Sports Commission and select events.
  • Opportunity to attend KC Sports Commission member only events.
  • Opportunity to purchase a discounted ticket to the Sports Commission Annual Sports Awards Banquet. (2015)
  • Buy one general admission UMKC ticket, get one freeto any men’s or women’s regular season home athletic contest.
  • Buy one general admission MIAA ticket, get one freeto any session of the 2015 MIAA Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championship at Municipal Auditorium.
  • Buy one general admission ticket, get one freeto any session of the 2015 NAIA Men’s Division I Basketball Championship at Municipal Auditorium.
  • Buy one Negro Leagues Baseball Museum general admission ticket, get one free.

Nelson’s energetic presentation appears to be contagious with all the activity heading Kansas City’s way.

Questions and Answers From Sports Weekend

Yes, you may ask the question: Where was this effort in the opener? Sure, ask another: Does Dwayne Bowe mean that much to the offense? Gosh, a third one: Are you still a little peeved that Ryan Succop was let go for financial reasons?

All good questions because the KC Chiefs had a terrific effort despite losing Sunday in Denver, 24-17.

They looked so inept in the 26-10 loss to Tennessee — a game in which Bowe sat out because of a suspension for drug use. He had only 3 catches for 40 yards Sunday, but, well, what can you say. The offense, even without the injured Jamaal Charles, played better.

Cairo Santos was 1 of 2 in field goal tries and had a difficult time with distance on kickoffs, even in mile-high Denver.

Yes, the Chiefs still lost but with all the adversity you gotta give a little credit here to those who played. And to Coach Andy Reid for getting them ready to play.

But maybe, just maybe, this is not as solid a Denver team as expected. Peyton Manning appears frustrated — even chewing out one of his receivers on the way to the bench — and the Broncos had a difficult time beating Indy 31-24 in the opener.

For the Chiefs, the what-if questions will bother everyone all week.

——

Geez, Kansas’ football team is really, really bad. No wonder the school’s fans await basketball. … You would think that with just 30 players in the Fedex Playoffs, the TV folks could run the scores of everyone without much of a problem. Well, it must be because viewers seldom got a peek at them. … Quarterback Josh Freeman is still in Tampa working out and hoping a team gives him a call. … Way too much ballyhoo on Manager Ned Yost’s revamped batting lineup. … What’s with the Big 10 in football? … Big victory for Iowa State over Iowa. … Did any of your friends watch the World Cup basketball finals? Well, the U.S. did win. … Texas Tech’s defense may not stop anyone. … Were Seattle and Denver looking forward to their meeting next Sunday? Neither played particularly well in Week 2, Seattle losing to San Diego 30-21. … Do you feel a little sheepish by jumping all over Denver and laying the 13 points? I do. Beware of those who speak of absolute locks when betting sports.

——

Each time speculation appears on how long Bill Snyder will stay as Kansas State football coach, I suspect collusion. Opposing coaches can use that in recruiting — you know, you can’t go there because you don’t know who the coach will be.

Unfortunately, conspiracy theories will be with us forever. The fact is, his status is a point of interest.

What would be best is for Bill to have his personal choice come in for a year and then take over the program.

You talk to many of those close to the program and they will tell you it won’t be Bill’s son, Sean. Good guy, good coach but they don’t see him as head coach material.

Reports persist that Snyder is unhappy that Athletic Director John Currie continues to say that the search — when the time comes — will be national in scope. Snyder reportedly vowed to stay on, waiting out Currie who might take another job.

——

Last week, the question was being put to Kansas Coach Charlie Weis: The players were saying after the Southeast Missouri State game that the lead went away because they lost focus on the sidelines; were you are of that?

Weis shot back: “The players should just shut up. That’s what the players should do. They should be happy they won the game. They don’t need to comment on focus. They don’t need to comment on the crowd. They should comment on their play. That’s what they should comment on, because I’m never big on people making excuses.”

Uh, it appears he was a little unhappy after several of the players talked about losing focus in the 34-28 victory.

KU linebacker Ben Heeney told reporters after the game, “We came out in the second half with no juice. Half the stadium’s empty like it always is. Fans leaving at halftime. There’s no juice in the stadium and I think that’s part of it.”

Since Mark Mangino left the program after the 2009 season, average game attendance has slipped from 45,000 to 39,000. In the second half, the stands looked like empty seats.

——

Cameron Coffman, the much traveled college quarterback who played at Raymore-Peculiar High, was having a blast last week as his Wyoming teammates practiced for the Oregon game. that’s what he told his dad, Paul.

Coffman had to sit out this season due to eligibility rules so during practice he took the role of Duck qb Marcus Mariota, who’s athletic and quick while directing a fast-paced offense.

Apparently, the Cowboy defense didn’t learn well enough as the Ducks romped 48-14.

——

Sports Illustrated has named Kansas State’s Marcus Foster as one of the top 20 returning guards in college basketball.

The magazine also tabbed Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet, both of Wichita State, for the list.

Another Big 12 guard selected was Juwan Staten of West Virginia.

The Kentucky twins, Andrew and Aaron, topped the list.

SI said of Foster, the 6-2 sophomore: In the last 12 games of his freshman season, he averaged 19.2 points a game. That included a 34-point effort against then No. 15 Texas, 20 points against No. 7 Kansas and 29 vs. Baylor. He drained seven treys in that Baylor loss. The Wildcats won just five of those 12 games. Therein lies the challenge for Foster in 2014-15: Ensuring that his individual excellence also elevates the rest of the team. He averaged 15.5 points overall and 16.6 in conference play, but he can be more effective distributing the basketball (just 84 assists against 73 turnovers). He’ll have some help with second-leading scorer Thomas Gipson back, but after that, only forward Wesley Iwundu averaged more than 20 minutes a game last season. So Foster can become an elite All-Big 12 performer, and possibly more, if he manages to create both for himself and others.

——

Baltimore inside linebacker Arthur Brown hasn’t played in the two regular season games and trade rumors are rampant. However, the 2013 second-round draft pick and former Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year from Kansas State apparently will stick with the team while he works to build up weight and strength.

He’s third on the depth chart while he has bulked up to 232 pounds — 7 more than in his rookie season.

Brownback Machine Ruthless In Its Methods

I don’t live in Kansas so I can’t vote there in the general election. Darn. I would like to get a bunch of fake IDs from names on tombstones and vote as often as I could. My kids live in Kansas and they will vote against the Republican Party candidates.

Governor Sam Brownback is making Tom Pendergast and Boss Tweed look like pikers. Tweed had Nat Nast as a pest and I’m happy with the Star’s Lee Judge vs. the ruthless Wham Bam Sam. For that matter, the Star has done a good job in keeping after the thug mentality of the Brownback governorship. Kansans should take the information and go to the polls with eagerness to rid the state of his bully pulpit.

His campaign has more money than Solomon’s cache and his handlers are using it to spread countless lies about the state of the state of Kansas.

Residents need to get out the vote to oust this one-percenter pusher with the let ‘em eat cake platform.

He has been a political weasel for a long time. If Kansas is going to get back on its feet again, they need to get someone to fill the governor’s shoes who can walk the high road.

All that Koch money fed into the Brownback philosophy is turning Kansas into a ruthless political cabal.

If you want education to crumble, vote for Brownback. If you want the rich to get richer and the poor poorer, vote for Brownback. If you want an administration full of greed, a thirst for power and cronyism, vote for Brownback.

For the life of me, I can’t see how anyone with common sense, good will and progressive intentions could even think about voting for this man.

He has gored. He has flip-flopped. He has lied. He has manipulated.

I hear from right wing-nuts that he’s really a nice guy, a good guy. Their criteria need an adjustment period. He can’t be a good guy and treat the disenfranchised with such disrespect.

Oh, Kansas State, what have you wrought. The governor and both senators, Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran, are Republicans with K-State degrees.

Brownback and Roberts are up for re-election in November. Please vote them out.

I’m looking at all these ads put out by Brownback and I cringe at how he obfuscates and misstates. Oh, he has plenty of money to flood the media with propaganda.

The Brownback machine bowls over obstruction like a bulldozer on steroids. Take a look at how Secretary of State Kris Kobach butted into the Senate race. Chad Taylor wanted off the ballot; he was through. Now, he must ask the state’s Supreme Court to overturn Kobach’s ruling that he cannot withdraw from the race.

Taylor’s move could boost the chances of independent candidate Greg Orman in defeating incumbent Republican Senator Pat Roberts. Taylor alleges in the petition that politics motivated Kobach’s decision to keep him on the ballot. Taylor said Kobach, a Republican, is an honorary member of the Roberts campaign.

Does it seem strange to you that a candidate can’t even withdraw from a race?

Nothing new when watching Kobach operate. He’s running up legal bills like an 8-time divorcee. He criss-crosses the country devising plans to kill immigration reform, close Planned Parenthood establishments and promote voter suppression tactics. He’s a state office holder who’s acting as if he had carte blanche to travel the country at the public’s expense.

A “birther” who instills right-wing ideology, he complements an administration fraught with despotic notions. Yeah, he’s the guy who thought it was good idea to get President Obama’s birth certificate before considering a challenge to putting him on the ballot in 2012.

Well, as far as the Taylor denial, Kobach is going to have a hard time explaining what appears to be a nakedly partisan move. Here he is inserting his party motives into the simple procedure of a man trying to get out of a race.

Brownback is stacking government with his cronies, from regulatory bodies to the state Supreme Court. His satrap methods will be difficult for residents to stamp out.

His political career blossomed in 1995 when he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He became senator in 1996, serving until 2011. He ran for President in 2008, but withdrew before the primaries began. He was elected Governor and took office in January 2011.

As governor, he pushed then signed into law one of the largest income tax cuts in Kansas’ history, turned down a $31.5 million grant to set up an insurance exchange as part of the federal health care reform law and has signed a pro-life bill that blocked tax breaks for abortion providers, banned sex-selection abortions and declared that life begins at fertilization.

A native of Garnett, he was raised in a farming family in Parker. While at K-State, he was elected student body president. He received his J.D. from the University of Kansas in 1982.

He’s married to Mary Brownback; her father led the way for the Stauffer Communications chain to flounder before being sold in 1995.

He has changed religions like women at the Kentucky Derby change hats. He told Rolling Stone that he had moved from mainline Protestantism to evangelicalism before his 2002 conversion to Catholicism. He was raised a Methodist. He joined nondenominational evangelical Topeka Bible Church and still regularly attends despite his switch to the Catholic church. In the Senate, he was a cosponsor of the Constitution Restoration Act, which would have limited the power of federal courts to rule on church/state issues.

On April 1, 2010, news stories emerged that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington had urged an investigation into a possible violation of the Senate’s gifts rule by Republican senators lodging in a townhome owned by C Street Center Inc, in turn owned by a Christian-advocacy group, The Fellowship. According to the report, Brownback, three additional senators and four U.S. representatives were staying in the townhome. Reports said they each paid $950 a month — well under the rate of similar lodging in the neighborhood, which regularly ran from $4,400 to $7,500. Nothing ever came of the charges.

The tax cut promoted by Brownback became law in May 2012. The act shifted the tax burden from wealthy Kansans to low- and moderate-income workers, with the top income tax rate dropping by 25 percent. Under Brownback, Kansas also lowered the sales tax and eliminated a tax on small businesses. The tax cuts contributed to Moody’s downgrading of the state’s bond rating in 2014. Ditto to S&P Ratings’ credit downgrade from AA+ to AA in August 2014.

The tax cuts promised to support job growth. The state has fallen far short of projected tax collections and the future bodes ill tidings.

A recent Brownback ad said a vote for Taylor was a vote for Obama liberalism. Well, a vote for Brownback, using that kind of logic, would be a vote for multi-billionaire Koch Brothers right wing-nut ideology.

For sure, a vote for Brownback is a vote for Kansas to bleed profusely.

It’s Why They Call It Gambling

The vagaries of sports betting are many. I said last week that I was concerned about the hook in the Denver-Indy game and by golly the darn half-point cost me.

Denver was a 7½-point favorite and looked like it, running up a 24-0 lead with less than 2 minutes to go in the half. Paranoia filled my brain when the Colts drove 80 yards in eight plays to cut the lead to 24-7.

Eh, why worry because Petyon Manning had been moving the ball and the Broncos would get the ball into the end zone some more.

Then midway in the third quarter, the Colts kicked a field goal and my heart fluttered — 24-10 and another TD with PAT would make the margin — ah, yes — 7. Drats and other bad words.

Hey, hey, the Broncos went ahead 31-10 with 13:25 to go. How could I lose!

Ha! The Colts came right back to score, then were successful on an on-side kick and, well, you know the rest. The hook, the beastly hook! I went from $30 winner to $33 loser. That’s a nifty turn-around, friends.

Now, what do you do with the 13 points the Broncos are giving the KC Chiefs? Oh yeah, the Chiefs were horrible and here they are going out to Denver. A lock for Denver, huh. Did you notice the team Denver will face the next week. Yeah, Seattle. You do recall, don’t you, the last time those two met. Do you think the Broncos will have their minds on the Seahawks?

And receiver Dwayne Bowe will return to the Chiefs after serving out a one-game suspension for drug use. Could he be that much of a game changer? Don’t think so.

Will it matter what the Broncos are thinking about as bad as the Chiefs are! Nope. Lay the points and take the Broncos for $33.

• NFL $22 bets. Cincy -5 vs. Atlanta, Seattle -5½ at San Diego, San Francisco -7 vs. Chicago, Indy -3 vs. Philadelphia.
• NFL $11 bets. Baltimore -3 vs. Pittsburgh, Detroit +3 at Carolina, New England -3 at Minnesota, New Orleans -6 at Cleveland, Tampa -5 vs. St. Louis, Green Bay -8 vs. NY Jets
• NFL Picks, No Bets. Buffalo -1 vs. Miami, Washington -6 vs. Jacksonville, Tennessee -4 vs. Dallas, Arizona +2 at NY Giants, Oakland -3 Houston.

Yes, Kansas is playing Duke … in football. It is not a basketball game. No jokes, no har-hars, no puns. KU will travel to Durham, North Carolina, to play the Blue Devils on Saturday. Before KU folks start busting their Big 12 buttons, let it be known that Duke is a much-improved product. Not great, but improved.

Duke is forecast to finish fifth in the Coastal Division of the ACC, going 4-4 in the league and 8-4 overall.

In 2008, David Cutcliffe took over an absolutely hopeless program; Duke had gone 10-82 in the previous eight years. In some years, they finished with five or six wins by winning close games and in some they didn’t and finished 3-9.

In 2012, Duke took advantage of a back-loaded schedule, beat bad teams and eked past North Carolina at home to clinch bowl eligibility for the first time since 1994. The Devils lost the last four games of the regular season by an average of 26 points and fell to Cincinnati in an exciting Belk Bowl.

In 2013, Duke was good. Aside from an early home performance against Georgia Tech, the Blue Devils played like a top-40 team, wearing defenses out with efficient offense and steady execution and preventing big plays well enough to force opponents to employ patience to score.

So, how will this season go? The Devils opened with a 34-17 victory over Troy. Keep in mind that the chore will be difficult to maintain the wins because Cutcliffe lost his offensive coordinator, two of his three running backs, two starters on the offensive line, two solid defensive ends and an excellent cornerback. But he’s got his quarterback, his top three receiving targets, and everybody else from a steady secondary.

The game opened at KU +20 and has been bet down to 15½. I sorta liked KU with the 20 but at 15½, yikes. Oh well, I’ll take the points for $11.

A big Big 12 inter-conference game will say a lot just how much trouble the Texas Longhorns are in — and whether they can bounce back from adversity. BYU whupped them 41-7. And this week it’s another western school, UCLA. The Bruins have received a lot of hype for this season but beat Virginia just 28-20 and Memphis only 42-35. The Longhorns are suffering from more than quarterback injuries — there are problems everywhere. Take UCLA -7½ for $33.

What do you think about the OU-Tennessee game? Is it about SEC vs. Big 12 or are the Sooners just wanting to put another notch on the gun? Don’t care. What concerns me is OU laying 20½. One poll had the Vols rated fifth in the East Division, going 3-5 and 6-6. Yeah, go with OU for $11.

Baylor will play Friday night in Buffalo. Hey, it’s a helluva lot more fun in Buffalo than Waco, Texas. This game opened at Baylor -27 and has ballooned to 33½. Oh what the heck, lay the points — meekly — for $11.

Will Iowa State overcome another tough loss and tenaciously face in-state rival Iowa? Yeah, the Cyclones will. Of interest is that the game opened at Iowa State +15½ and is down to -10. I’ll jump on the bandwagon for $11. Here’s an old Southwest Conference matchup, Arkansas at Texas Tech. The Hogs need to root or they’ll die. Lay the 2 with Tech for $11. Whew, West Virginia at Maryland getting 3½. I don’t know. I’ll pass. Oklahoma State is home to Texas-San Antonio and laying 16 points. Before you get all aflutter about the Cowboys, know that Texas-SA lost just 26-23 at Arizona and beat Houston 27-7. I’ll pass again.

The TCU-Minnesota game in Fort Worth could be a dandy. The Horned Frogs had a down performance last season and you expect a bounce-back. However, the Gophers are better than folks give credit and Jerry Kill, from Cheney, Kansas, is a really good coach. Gary Patterson, of course, is from Larned and played at K-State. This is another game where the betting really moved the line, TCU -8 to -14. Is TCU that much better? The Big 10 floundered last weekend, so I really wonder. Am I indecisive? Well, yes and no. Take the Gophers for $11.

On the national college scene, the SEC is showcasing a big one, Georgia at South Carolina. The Gamecocks have too many problems so I’ll give the 2½ for $33.

• College $22 Bets. Louisville -6.5 vs. Virginia, Northern Illinois +9½ at UNLV.
• College $11 Bets. North Texas -3½ vs. La Tech, Ohio State -32 vs. Kent State, BYU -18½ vs. Houston, Nebraska -10 at Fresno.

The Stats
• Big 12. Last week, -$14. To date, +$5.
• National College. Last week, +$48. To date, +$30.
• All Colleges. Last week, +$34. To date, +$35.
• NFL. Last week, -$40.
• NFL Picks. Last week, 8-7-1.
• Grand Total Bets. Last week, -$6. To date, -$5.

A Little Right On and a Little Far Out

Here are some questions of an historical nature. Have some fun with them.

1. David Cameron is:
a. A former teammate of soccer great David Beckham on the Manchester Union.
b. The first lead singer for The Animals.
c. Prime minister of Great Britain.
d. President Obama’s chief of staff.

2. Who gave the United State the Statue of Liberty?

3. Who receives credit for “inventing” Caesar’s Salad?
a. Julius Caesar.
b. Guy Fieri.
c. Toots Shor.
d. Caesar Cesare Cardini.

4. What is the significance of the Liberty Bell and why is it cracked?

5. Syngman Rhee was:
a. The first president of South Korea.
b. The leading money winner on the first Far East Golf Tour.
c. Long-time owner of a tae kwon do martial arts chain in Kansas City.
d. President and CEO of Kia.

6. What is Seward’s Folly?
a. After the Folly’s burlesque closed at 12th and Central, Frank Seward opened his establishment at 13th and Main.
b. The purchase of the Alaska.
c. After a night on the town, Alan Seward tried to tell his wife that a friend handed him a Viagara while he sweet-talked the gal at the bar.
d. Sam Seward tried to swim across the Missouri River near Omaha after losing a thousand dollars at Harrah’s blackjack table in Council Bluffs.

7. Who or what was a Boss Tweed?
a. A weevil inadvertently imported on a shipment of wool from Australia in the 19th century.
b. A corrupt political boss in New York City.
c. A corrupt steel company owner in Pittsburgh.
d. A background singer for Bruce Springsteen.

8. Josephine Cochrane was:
a. The social mistress of Wolf Bayou, Arkansas.
b. Author of the romantic novel, “The Irish Smile.”
c. The lead dancer last weekend during the Irish Festival staged at the Crown Center.
d. Inventor of the first practical dishwasher.

Answers:

1. c. Prime Minister of Great Britain.

2. La Liberté éclairant le monde is a neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in the middle of New York Harbor. The statue, designed by Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886, was a gift to the United States from the people of France. The statue is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and atabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. The statue is an icon of freedom and of the United States: a welcoming signal to immigrants arriving from abroad.

3.d. According to Caesar’s daughter, Rosa, on July 4, 1924, the salad was created on a busy weekend at Caesar’s Restaurant in Tijuana. The Cardini’s lived in San Diego but operated a restaurant in Tijuana to circumvent Prohibition. Caesar was short of supplies and didn’t want to disappoint the customers so he concocted this salad with what was on hand. To add a flair to this he prepared it at the table. The salad soon became a hit and people came to the restaurant just to get the salad. In particular, the Hollywood set loved Caesars. The story is debatable but it’s the one I picked for a new manuscript I’m working on.

4. The bell was commissioned from the London firm of Lester and Pack in 1752, and was cast with the lettering — part of Leviticus 25:10 — Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof. It originally cracked when first rung after arrival in Philadelphia, and was twice recast by local workmen. In the early years, the Liberty Bell was used to summon lawmakers to legislative sessions and to alert citizens to public meetings and proclamations. The bell became famous after an 1847 short story claimed that an aged bell-ringer rang it on July 4, 1776, upon hearing of the Second Continental Congress’ vote for independence. Despite the fact that the bell did not ring for independence on that July 4, the tale was widely accepted as fact. Beginning in 1885, the City of Philadelphia, which owns the bell, allowed it to go to various expositions and patriotic gatherings. The bell attracted huge crowds wherever it went; additional cracking occurred and pieces were chipped away by souvenir hunters. The last such journey occurred in 1915, after which the city refused further requests.

5. a. Rhee became president in 1948 after strong-arming his way into politics.

6. b. U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward signed a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska for $7 million. Despite the bargain price of roughly two cents an acre, the Alaskan purchase was ridiculed in Congress and in the press as “Seward’s Folly,” “Seward’s Icebox,” and President Andrew Johnson’s “Polar Bear Garden.”

7. b. An American politician most notable for being the boss of Tammany Hall, the Democratic political machine that played a major role in 19th century New York. At the height of his influence, Tweed was the third-largest landowner in New York City, a director of the Erie Railroad, the Tenth National bank and the New-York Printing Company, as well as proprietor of the Metropolitan Hotel. Tweed was convicted for stealing up to $45 million from New York City taxpayers through political corruption. Some later put the figure as high as $200 million. Thomas Nast, a caricaturist and editorial cartoonist was the scourge of Boss Tweed. Among his notable works were the creation of the modern version of Santa Claus and the political symbol of the elephant for the Republican Party. Many remember him only as the one who helped destroy the corrupt Tweed Ring.

8. d. Cochrane made the first practical mechanical dishwasher in 1886, in Shelbyville, Illinois. A washing machine device was patented in 1850 by Joel Houghton, but never became marketable. Cochrane was a rich woman who hosted frequent dinner parties. She did not do any of the dishes herself because she had servants to do that for her, but she wanted a machine that could do the job faster without chipping any dishes. No one had invented such a machine so she built one herself. First she measured the dishes. Then she built wire compartments, each specially designed to fit either plates, cups, or saucers. The compartments were placed inside a wheel that lay flat inside a copper boiler. A motor turned the wheel while hot soapy water squirted up from the bottom of the boiler and rained down on the dishes. Her friends were very impressed and had her make dishwashing machines for them, calling them the “Cochrane Dishwasher.”

Beheadings Get Our Attention While Outrage Over Children Killed by Guns Has Short Life Span

The beheadings of Americans by ISIS leave an indelible mark in the minds of civilized people. It’s repulsive, revolting and we want revenge for those who are so evil that they will resort to such tactics for a perceived cause.

The neo-cons lead the parade to put boots on the ground and annihilate these ruthless thugs. Yeah, yeah, yeah, come the cheerleading responses.

No question that the murders instill nationalism among so many. As it should. But do we need to curb this feeling of revenge? These are two people. Do we risk so many lives to inflict a vindictive assault?

Some have even noted that we must behead those who perpetrated the ghastly deeds. If so, do we not become them?

Of course, we show sympathy to the families who lost their loved ones. Indeed.

But I wonder why there isn’t outrage and fist-pumping at the lost lives of so many children who die of bullet wounds in the homes and on the streets of America? How about living conditions in various parts of the country? How about low wages?

Of course, images of a beheading become a graphic reminder of just how evil some people can be. We don’t seem to gasp at pictures of those suffering in poverty. We need to protest and, yes, retaliate against, the sins of many. The images of those in the throes of poverty evoke pity but not vindictiveness. Ghastly beheadings get our attention.

People are standing up against tyranny of affluent subjugation. But they need a push, a shove to do more and to do more with aggressiveness.

Ferguson, Missouri residents are beginning to understand they must become active in the political process to get a fair shake in their town.

Americans need to fight with fervor to keep the country strong.

But why do we become fighting mad with a beheading in a foreign land and we allow so many children to die of gunshot wounds with only a short-running story as these young people become nothing more than sanitized statistics. We can do something about slaughters in the school buildings, random drive-by shootings, accidental discharges in the home. Sure we can. But we need resolve.

Where is the outrage?

More than 7,000 children are hospitalized or killed due to gun violence every year, according to a new study published in the medical journal, Pediatrics. An additional 3,000 children die from gun injuries before making it to the hospital, bringing the total number of injured or killed adolescents to 10,000 each year.

The new study, led by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine, highlights the toll gun violence has on child mortality rates in the country. Doctors surveyed the most recently released data from 2009 that tracked pediatric hospital stays.

Clare Kim, writing for MSNBC, quoted Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research: “This study reinforces what we know from the mortality data. We have an extraordinary health burden in our youth associated with firearms injuries.”

In the 2009 Kids’ Inpatient Database, 7,391 children under the age of 20 had been hospitalized for injuries from firearms and the majority of those gunshot injuries — 4,559 — resulted from intentional firearm assaults. Reports showed that 2,149 of those injured were accidents, and 270 were suicide attempts. Of the children who were hospitalized, 453 – 6 percent – died from their injuries.

Kim quoted the study’s lead author, Dr. John Leventhal, a pediatrics professor at the Yale School of Medicine: “That’s more than 7,000 children injured badly enough to be hospitalized. All are unnecessary hospitalizations because preventing gun violence is something that can actually be done.”

Levanthal pointed out that parents should keep their guns locked in a safe hiding place and keep them separate from the ammunition to decrease the high number of accidental injuries, especially for smaller children.

Webster also suggested to NBC News that the government should make it illegal for individuals under 21 to own a firearm, referring to research that shows a peak in homicides between young adults age 18 and 20. “While you have to be 21 to purchase a handgun from a dealer, if you’re an 18-year-old you can go to a private seller and legally purchase a handgun in 38 out of 50 states,” Webster said.

Webster also compared the U.S.’ standing with other high income nations and pointed out that the mortality rate from firearms in the U.S. is nearly 10 times higher than the rates in other wealthy nations. “This is a very unique and abnormal problem that such a wealthy nation should have such high mortality and morbidity in youth related to firearms,” he said, according to Kim’s story.

After the devastating tragedy at Sandy Hook in December 2012, the gun policy debate intensified, coinciding with the rising number of children killed by guns in the U.S. every year. However, even that story abated. Kim wrote that in the first 14 school days of 2014, there were at least seven school shootings.

Kim reported that the American Academy of Pediatrics wrote in 2012 that “firearm-related deaths continue as 1 of the top 3 causes of death in American youth.”

“America’s pediatricians remain undeterred and united in our desire to see significant policy change to address this public health crisis,” the AAP wrote on the one-year anniversary of Newtown, pushing for tighter background checks, an assault weapons ban, and federal research on gun violence prevention, Kim’s story showed.

So, where and when do we start to fix the violent death situation at home? Yes, be outraged at the beheadings. For sure. But should we not put this act of terror into perspective — or at least include in the mix — of what is happening right in our own backyard.

Do the political ramifications of the international scene outweigh what occurs here at home? Are the beheadings magnified because of our propensity to see wounds for our country’s image? Do neo-cons drum-beat the murders to a frenzy and we over-react to them? Sure.

But think about the comparison. More than 10,000 American children are causalities of guns each year. Has the National Rifle Association desensitized these shootings so much that they have become run of the mill, with little or at least temporary outrage?

Some are ready to go to war over two beheadings. What is our response to 10,000 children as victims of gun shots?

Football Weekend a Little Wacky and a Lot Wanting

The Sunday KC Star ran a front-page headline, KC Fans Have a Terrific Dilemma, and it was wrong, wrong, wrong. First, the definition of dilemma: a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones.

The Royals and Chiefs were playing at basically the same time and both were on television. For true Royals and Chiefs fans, it shouldn’t be a dilemma to switch back and forth or even make a choice on either team; it should be a delight.

Any grammarian worth his Webster’s dictionary shouldn’t accept the definition that dilemma is simply a quandary.

The point became moot; there was only one choice. If you stuck with the Chiefs throughout their 26-10 flogging by Tennessee Sunday at Arrowhead you are either a dedicated fan who needs to get a life or a masochist in search of more pain. If you went with the Royals — and you love pitching — you enjoyed your day. The consistently run-shy Royals beat the New York Yankees 2-0 and remained a strong contender to make the American League Playoffs.

In college action Saturday, Kansas State escaped Ames, Iowa, with a 32-28 victory over the Cyclones while Kansas jumped to a big lead early and held off Southeast Missouri State 34-28 in Lawrence.

As for the Chiefs … just horrible. The exclamation point comes with this: Ryan Succop kicks four field goals for the Titans! Oh, you remember him, don’t you. The Chiefs released Succop just before the regular season opened; he was entering the fourth year of his six-year, $14.48 million contract that included $4 million guaranteed. He had a base salary of $1.95 million coming this season, so the Chiefs elected to go with the cheaper option in undrafted rookie Cairo Santos, whose six-figure salary will allow the team to save $1.6 million in salary cap.

Did you like that savings when Santos, after hitting the right post and sneaking in a field goal early on, hit the left upright on his next try early in the second quarter with KC leading 3-0! After the miss, the Chiefs went downhill very fast.

More bad news. It appears the Chiefs have lost linebacker Derrick Johnson for the season with an Achilles injury.

A buddy of mine texted me at the half: How about that $45 million quarterback! I sent one back: How about that cheap-ass franchise!

The KC brass knew of the shortcomings and they did nothing, really nothing to help improve the situation. Alex Smith had a horrible day but so did his receivers, who still can’t get separation. So did the offensive line, the one that can’t make consistently good blocks.

The Titans focused on KC’s offensive cog, running back Jamaal Charles. And the ploy worked. Charles had only 19 yards rushing and was ineffective as a receiver.

This was total failure.

Titan quarterback Jake Locker draws few raves but Sunday he threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns.

For the Chiefs, ugh.

Would it be fair to call the Iowa State game a typical Bill Snyder early-season effort. The Cats jump out to lead on an easy drive; the Cats get into red zone but kick two field goals; the Cats allow Cyclones to get back into game and then lose lead; the Cats, somehow, find the right answers to score a come-from-behind victory. Does that look like the re-run script to you?

Quarterback Jake Waters certainly had the numbers — 239 yards passing and 138 rushing for a 377 total. Yes, yes, he was clutch on several occasions. The Cats appear to need other receivers to become more aggressive in the patterns and going for the ball.

Look, criticize all you want but the bottom line is that the Cats won and can look to the big game against Auburn a week from Thursday in Manhattan.

Darn, I wish I knew what the situation was with defensive lineman Terrell Clinkscales and linebacker D’Vonta Derricott, the two community college transfers. They were celebrated recruits and they’re not even on the depth chart. I said before the season that they would be the difference in K-State making a run for the Big 12 title and even the national playoffs.

Is the Cat defense good enough with those in place now? Did the players perform with enough overall get-after-them tenacity?

Not in the second quarter, for sure, but you can credit the defense for a very big role in the comeback. Cornerback Randall Evans made a big-time turn-around play, ripping the ball away from Jarvis West for an interception with 9:15 left. The Wildcats went 54 yards in 74 seconds, making it 28-26 on a 4-yard TD run by Charles Jones. By the way, he looks like a heckuva runner. He carried the ball just 13 times but picked up 75 yards.

You have to be impressed that receiver Tyler Lockett, on a day when he was not at his best physically, still managed 136 yards on six receptions.

You also should open your eyes wide and nod that the Cats were clutch in the closing moments of the first half. They trailed 28-13 after Iowa State scored with 1:34 left in the second quarter. They drove 84 yards with Waters going over from the one for the TD and the Cats were behind just 28-20.

That made the second-half situation not seem so insurmountable. Once again, the Cats had the answers as Waters scored on an 8-yard run with 1:30 left in the game to push the Cats to victory.

By the way, Iowa State hasn’t scored a point in the second half this season. The Cyclones jumped off to a 14-0 lead in the opener against North Dakota State before losing 34-14. They led in this one, too, but the Cats defense shut them down after intermission.

As for KU, Montell Cozart, the former Bishop Miege standout, threw three touchdown passes, two to Nick Harwell. The Jayhawks had built a 24-0 first-quarter lead only to see the game evolve into a wild finish.

After the big lead, the Jayhawks managed just 13 yards of offense in the second quarter.

De’Andrew Mann ran for 121 yards and freshman Corey Avery 91.

The performance does not bode well for the Jayhawks, who will take on Duke next Saturday in Durham, North Carolina.

Coach Charlie Weis, on the hot seat this season, said on the KU website: “Once we got to the second quarter, I wouldn’t say we didn’t make plays the rest of the day, but once we got into the second quarter, they didn’t seem to have the same juice with what was there. We were still playing hard, there just were too many plays that weren’t made on both sides of the ball. I was a little disappointed by that.”

Yeah, disappointed.