Mizzou fans should blame themselves for bowl snubs

1 12 2010
Missouri Tigers

Missouri Tigers

Even the head coach (Gary Pinkle) said so.

 

Missouri Tigers fans have no one to blame but themselves for Mizzou getting another bowl game snub. I admit, it was a bit of the AT&T Cotton Bowl rubbing salt in Mizzou’s wounds by selecting Texas A&M before the Big 12 Championship was even played and the hierarchy of the Big 12 Conference was established. Regardless, the Cotton Bowl chose a 9-3 school over Mizzou who finished 10-2.

The one and only thing Mizzou fans need to keep in perspective is that the ONLY thing the bowl committees are interested in is making money. Period. Therefore two criteria apply, only two. (1) Which teams (available) would provide the best game in order to attract the biggest television audience (for sponsorships, of course). And, (2) which teams (available) will bring the most fans to the games (to buy tickets, merchandise, stadium food and spend money in the community).

The Missouri Tigers have undoubtedly achieved the first point frequently, but it is the second point where Mizzou has failed – and that has nothing to do with the football team, and everything to do with the fans.

Mizzou fans only need to look to their neighbors to the North (Iowa) for a perfect example. Iowa has traditionally been selected over other Big 10 programs for better bowl games solely based on the extraordinary reputation Iowa Hawkeyes nationwide have for flocking to bowl games. Iowa can not only guarantee selling out its entire allotment of tickets, it can guarantee that the crowd will be predominantly Black and Gold. At the Orange Bowl in January, Iowa fans traveled twice as far as the Georgia Tech crowd, and easily dominated the attendance numbers inside (then) Landshark Stadium in Miami. The crowd was near 70% Iowa fans, and sometimes seemed greater out tailgating in the parking lots.

Can Mizzou guarantee that? No. The Missouri Tigers may perform well on the field, but the fans do not provide the support required to make them an attractive bowl invite. But Texas A&M, with the help of being a local team, has a rabid fan base that travels well and represents the school ferociously for major games (i.e. the Nebraska game Nov. 20).

Gary Pinkle, Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin and Blaine Gabbert have built a solid football program in Columbia that is well-respected on the football field. But Joe Tigerfan needs to step up his game in order for Missouri to get the respect it needs with the bowl committees. Plain and simple, bowl games want fans in the stands with money it their hands – not sitting on a couch in Columbia watching on ESPN.

Don’t be afraid to travel outside the state of Missouri for a football game. It can really be a fun experience. I promise you’ll like it if you try it.

Stay frosty. Mr Pressbox Out!!

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First Quarter Grades: Big 10 and Big 12

22 09 2010

After Week 3 of the 2010 college football season, most teams have played three games, so it comes logically to deliver the first quarter grades – the Midterms, if you will. Here is a quick look at the grades:

Big 10

TEAM            [Grade]      NOTES

Ohio St  (3-0)          [A]      Looked good, just as expected.

Wisconsin (3-0)    [B+]   Had a close win vs Arizona St to remain undefeated

Michigan St (3-0) [B+]    Needed trick play vs Notre Dame to stay 3-0

Northwestern (3-0) [B]   Haven’t played any real competition yet.

Iowa (2-1)                   [B]    Tough loss to ranked team. Solid start.

Penn St (2-1)              [B]    3 non-competitive games to start the season

Michigan (3-0)         [B]    Close games to UMass & Notre Dame aren’t real impressive

Illinois (2-1)              [B]    Loss to Mizzou exposed weaknesses for Illini

Indiana (2-0)            [B-]     Only 2 games vs Towson & W. Kentucky

Purdue (2-1)             [B-]     Lost to a diminished Notre Dame team

Minnesota (1-2)      [C-]     Losing to SDSU alone almost earned them a “D”

Big 10 MVP: Denard Robinson (Mich) / John Clay (Wisc)

Big 10 Heisman: Terrell Pryor (OSU) / John Clay (Wisc)

Big 12

TEAM            [Grade]      NOTES

Nebraska  (3-0)          [A]      Destroyed Washington & Jake Locker’s draft status.

Oklahoma (3-0)         [A]      Quality opponents to start season, Air Force & FSU

Texas (3-0)                 [A-]    Undefeated but not the same Texas team

Kansas St (3-0)         [A-]     Billy Snyder & Daniel Thomas are driving this train

Oklahoma St (3-0)  [A-]      Solid A if not for close game vs Troy

Texas A&M (3-0)     [A-]      Did their job in 1st Qtr, but nothing impressive

Missouri (3-0)           [B+]    Close games against average competition

Texas Tech (2-1)      [B+]    Could easily be 3-0, played Texas tough

Baylor (2-1)               [B]        Only loss was to TCU

Colorado (2-1)         [B]         Won the games they should have won, lost to Cal

Iowa St (1-2)            [C+]      Toughest start of any team (vs Iowa & K St)

Kansas (1-2)            [C}          Jekyll & Hyde; lost to NDSU but beat Ga Tech

Big 12 MVP: Brandon Weedan (OSU) / Jerrod Johnson (TAMU)

Big 12 Heisman: Daniel Thomas (KSU) / Landry Jones (OU)





Kansas City might be too good to have NBA, NHL franchise

23 03 2010

Kansas City is the ultimate leverage piece for any sports franchise negotiation. When Nashville and Pittsburgh were entangled in fierce battles with their city and state governments attempting to renew leases or build new arenas, Kansas City was the pawn used to achieve their goals.

Ownership groups never really intended to relocate their franchises to Kansas City, they just teased the sports fans and civic governments threatening to move to Kansas City if their demands were not met. The results; both Pittsburgh and Nashville hockey franchises brokered new deals and new venues out of the negotiations.

And Kansas City was left feeling insecure and dumbfounded. Again.

So why is Kansas City not a realistic option for these teams, but worthy of serving as a bargaining chip? The demand for an NBA or NHL franchise is significant enough to serve as a serious threat. But not enough to seal the deal. Why?

Kansas City is virtually in the center of the circle of the closest hockey teams: Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars. Sports fans have clamored for the return of NHL hockey to Kansas City since the KC Scouts (now known as the New Jersey Devils) left in the late 1970s. Since then, several lesser professional leagues have attempted to land teams in Kansas City, with limited success. Currently, the Missouri Mavericks (of the Central Hockey League) call Kansas City home.

The numerous failed attempts at hockey franchises does not help the city’s bids for attracting a major hockey franchise, but the desire and capabilities are there. And the Sprint Center is in serious need of a permanent resident. The multi-million dollar facility has been good leverage for professional teams, but has yet to take any permanent takers.

The Sprint Center would also serve as the perfect home for an NBA franchise, there is one major problem, Kansas is the home to one of the meccas of basketball, the University of Kansas. Kansas City doesn’t need professional basketball. Fans follow the Jayhawks, once coached by the father of basketball James Naismith, the Kansas State Wildcats (currently in the Sweet 16) and the Missouri Tigers. All three schools were in the NCAA tournament and won their opening round games.

The NBA has not been in Kansas City since the Cincinnati Royals made a three-year layover on their way West, eventually landing in Sacramento in 1975. The Kings changed their name from the Royals to the Kings because Kansas City already had a team called the Royals. Preseason exhibition games do not count.

People love their basketball in Kansas City, but there is only so much hoops love to go around. Regardless of the team – because no serious basketball franchises would consider relocating to Kansas City – it would never rank higher than second on the basketball depth chart (behind the Jayhawks). So there really is no incentive to move to Kansas City. The risk would be too great.

And since neither league is seriously considering expansion anytime soon because both leagues are debatably over-extended with too many teams, the likelihood of an NBA or NHL franchise moving to Kansas City are pretty much Zero.

And with the recent (lack of) success of both the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, complete with nearly empty stadiums, there is not a lot the city can hang its hat on to promote itself as a prime candidate for another major sports franchise.

Mr Pressbox Out!!

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Big Ten expansion (part 1)

16 02 2010

Ever since Penn State joined the Big 10 in 1990, creating an obscure conference with 11 teams, adding a 12th team was as obvious as night following the day. It was coming, everyone knew it, the only two questions left were “Who?” and “When?”.

Over the next few days, I will dissect the contenders and the pretenders, the fantasy and the reality, as well as tell you who the Big 10 will ultimately choose and who they won’t. Most importantly, I’ll tell you why.

The Big 10 obviously needs a 12th team to divide into two divisions (most logically the East and the West) in order to facilitate a conference championship game. This will put the Big 10 up with the SEC and Big 12 and the dominant conferences having a conference champion determined on the field and not in a press room somewhere. I will cover who is the best fit and how the divisions should be stacked.

First, let’s take care of the business of discarding the obvious names being thrown around that will NOT find themselves relocating to the conference headquarters in Chicago.

BYE BYE BIG 12

The sexy name to throw around when the discussion of Big 10 expansion comes around is TEXAS. But the Longhorns seriously consider joining the Big 10 shortly after Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News or ESPN the magazine hire me as a columnist. Don’t hold your breath, sports fans. Texas is coming off a National Championship game and does not want to be another big fish in the pond. The Big 10 pond has Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State as its hallmark programs. Texas will not join the Big 10 to be “just another team.” They are the top dog in the Big 12. And when Oklahoma has a down year, no team (especially in the Big 12 North) can hold a Gatorade bottle next to Texas. Texas doesn’t need the added revenue of the Big 10 Network, and the Big 10 doesn’t need Texas to help boost its credibility or competition. It doesn’t make sense for either side, especially just for the sake of adding a 12th team.

There will be a Texas team in the mix for the 12th spot, but it won’t be the Longhorns.

Next is MISSOURI. Many have made the suggestion that its location in Missouri makes it a logical contender. But there is just not enough smoke to even look to see if there’s fire. Mizzou in in Columbia, Mo. That would put in in one of, if not the smallest, markets in the Big 10 (with Lansing, Iowa City and Madison). And Mizzou just does not have any sex appeal. The fan base is not substantial enough, there are no obvious rivals in the Big 10 and the level of competition and talent at Mizzou is too suspect for serious consideration.

Yes, Illinois and Mizzou have tried to create a rivalry with the game in St Louis the past few seasons, but that was about as exciting as House debate on C-SPAN. Yawn. I have yet to see ESPN College Game Day fighting off the competition to get into St Louis for the week of the big Illinois vs Mizzou game.

Mizzou would only consider joining the Big 10 for their own monetary and exposure needs. Their revenue would increase both from being in the Big 10 and on the BTN. Not enough up-side for the Big 10 to make the move to take the Tigers from Columbia.

And then there’s IOWA STATE. Iowa versus Iowa State is the biggest sporting event in the state of Iowa. It’s for bragging rights and the key to recruiting classes within Iowa. But that’s not enough to put Iowa State in the mix for the coveted 12th seat at the Big 10 table. ISU’s fan base, local audience, and tradition is not going to WOW any Big 10 members. Yes it makes for good, exciting football in the non-conference season for both schools, but Iowa State gains nothing by moving conferences. They will only gain the exposure of getting beat up by superior Big 10 competition on a weekly basis on BTN. The Big 10 gains nothing in return. No excitement. No media market boost. No recruiting advantage. Nothing. Sorry Ames, but we will have to take a pass. Where is Paula Abdul when you need her to let someone down easy?

Basically any Big 12 team is out of the running. For the Big 12 to lose a team to the Big 10 would also require the Big 12 to look for a replacement to fill that slot. They don’t want to have to change their name again to the Big 11. See, the Big 10 will always be the Big 10 solely based on history and tradition. And trust me, if the Big 12 has started looking for potential replacement options, it is doing a tremendous job of keeping it quiet.

Coming up in the next installment …

Which teams have an outside shot at being considered for the 12th Big 10 spot, but will not make the first cut?

Mr Pressbox Out!!

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