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Larry Brown Has Moody Madness Returning to SMU

Published on Yahoo Voices

And mine was published BEFORE Sports Illustrated released its article on SMU!

Larry Brown Can Make Things Change at SMU

Larry Brown is definitely in new territory running the show at Moody Coliseum. After the guy isn’t used to fans being satisfied with simply playing a ranked opponent tough.

“You walk around here and people congratulate you after you get beat, that’s pretty strange” he said of the days after the Mustangs lost to Louisville. “You’re in Lawrence, Kansas or Westwood or Chapel Hill, they have a heart attack after every loss.”

That comes with the experience of playing and coaching at the highest levels. The experience of being the only basketball coach in history with an NCAA and NBA championship. You don’t know the meaning of moral victories.

And that is exactly the type of attitude needed if things are going to turn around on the Hilltop. And after less than two years, it looks like things already are.

With Tuesday’s win over Rutgers, SMU’s team already matched its win total from last year. With 15 wins already and at least 13 games left against the likes of Memphis, UConn and Louisville again, the path is set for SMU to build a good enough record to get into that magical field in March one way or another.

It’s not just the fact that other coaches within the American Athletic Conference are saying SMU looks like a Tournament team this year. Could DFW actually have a program that could be able to aim for the NCAA Tournament every single year?

Well, that’s what Larry Brown’s mission was when he took over this program. Some people who have been jaded by decades of college basketball mediocrity might be hard to convince. But you just know someone like Brown would love to prove them wrong.

Ask him, and he’ll tell you he can look into players’ eyes and see when they know they can win. He saw it in the players at Louisville and Cincinnati when the Mustangs traveled there. And little by little, with each victory, that look is starting to appear in his own players.

This is naturally a different animal that he’s dealing with in Dallas. Whether it was playing at SMU or coaching at UCLA or Kansas, Brown was with a program that was a big dog in the area. Now, it takes something special to get people away from Valley Ranch or the American Airlines Center and show up to the media center at Moody Coliseum.

But when you’ve accomplished almost everything else at so many stops, maybe that’s the one challenge that remains. And it’s the challenge that those college basketball fans that do exist in the Metroplex have hoped someone like Brown would take on – and succeed at.

For years those of us who have followed college basketball in this area have had to hope that one of the multiple programs in North Texas could simply get luck in the conference tournament for an automatic bid, or otherwise be thankful for an NIT, or even a CIT, bid.

Even those of us who have ties to one particular university in the area would be ecstatic to see any one of them send a Metroplex representative in The Dance each year.

TCU could have had something like that in the late 90s under Billy Tubbs. But an NCAA season in 97-98 was overshadowed by a 1-10 football season, so the school put all its efforts to what went on at Amon Cater Stadium, and Tubbs was gone a few years later, clearly seeing the writing on the wall.

Things are different in University Park now. With their major upgrades to Moody and the completion of the Crum Basketball Center, it’s clear SMU is committed to taking its basketball program to another level.

Larry Brown wouldn’t have come here if he didn’t think that was possible. And even though it already looks like things are being fast-tracked compared to what we’ve been used to in this town, he knows there is still a lot more work and improvement to do.

And maybe very soon, he’ll start being congratulated for the Mustangs winning against the likes of Louisville.

Gary Patterson Represents the Good in College Football

Randy Galloway doesn’t call them “The Whiny Orange” for nothing.

Within days of the University of Texas announcing Charlie Strong as its new football coach, the high-dollar boosters began moping that their Brinks trucks of orange money could not lure the likes of Nick Saban, Art Briles or Jon Gruden to Austin, led by Red McCombs going on San Antonio radio and coming off like the ultimate racist hick upset that a black man will lead his team for the first time ever.

I have heard from people with connections to the UT athletic department that essentially, people like McCombs are the reason no high-profile coach will come to UT. Sure, there are boosters like that at every major school, but UT’s base may be the absolute worst at having their claws sink into the department – unless people like Strong and new AD Steve Patterson can wrench them out.

Time for the Orangebloods to come down to earth: Texas is not THAT much better of a job than Alabama, a program that won six national championships before you won your first, And Briles? If you CAN beat them, don’t join them. And Gruden has such a cushy job with MNF that he should never coach again.

None of those coaches were going anywhere. But it’s amazing that one other coach was not in the running – unless it’s already accepted that he’s never going anywhere else. And that is among the reasons why that coach is one even I can salute.

People want me to say something good related to football? Here you go. With accused rapists leading their teams to national championships and programs getting slaps on the wrist for violations worse than what SMU did in the 80s, one shining beacon of hope has been the man running the show over in Fort Worth.

Who would have thought that Gary Patterson would still be the coach at TCU today? When Patterson took over for the departing Dennis Franchione in 2000, many thought that, at best, he could maintain what had been going for three years and then bolt for greener pastures like his predecessor.

Instead, what we have seen is nearly a decade and a half of Patterson running The Little Program That Could, causing fits to the big boys and the national sports pundits who kiss those schools’ butts. And his program is dang proud of it.

He wouldn’t stand for his team being disrespected for playing the “little sisters of the poor,” but he ultimately let his players answer that by beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl and earning the program’s highest raking ever. He wouldn’t let the school’s constant shifting from conference to conference affect his program, which has consistently won from the WAC to Conference USA to the Mountain West.

What’s more, Patterson has proved that his program will be run with integrity. In the Frogs’ first ever Big 12 season, he did not hesitate to suspend his starting quarterback for drug use. Let’s see him do that, even for a greater offense, at UT or, say Florida State, and survive.

That brings us to another group of people that deserve some credit: The TCU boosters. They keep ponying up the cash to keep Patterson at their school, but they don’t meddle. They trust that he’s doing the right thing. And that’s why Patterson should get the time he needs to build the program to the level where it can compete with Texas and Oklahoma consistently. Hey, if Baylor found a way to do it…

He might have gotten more money going somewhere else. But by staying at TCU, he has achieved something more valuable: The status of a legend.

Maybe I’m naive, but it’s starting to look like the attitudes of college coaches may be changing. The practice of breaking contracts to get more money at a “high-level” program may not be happening as often as people think. Why take a few million more for the headaches of unrealistic expectations if you can still get a good salary AND the chance to do something really special where you are?

And if that mindset is beginning to take hold, a lot of credit should go to Gary Patterson, whether he meant to or not, for making it popular.

Why Can’t North Texas Teams Play Each Other Anymore?

Tonight is one of the nights I look forward to after a long off-season.

Tonight, Scott Cross’ UTA Mavericks finally begin their home season, kicking off UTA’s Homecoming celebration against the mighty, hated… Bulldogs of Samford.

Yeah, was this the game that had to get thrown in the last minute to replace the Lean Green chickening out? Not sure, but it’s a disappointing blow.

North Texas was supposed to come to the College Park Center for the first time this season. It was going to be the game that highlighted the non-conference schedule like Oklahoma coming to Arlington was last year. They’re not coming now. Second-year Mean Green coach Tony Benford cited the need for one more home game as the reason for the cancellation; no other game could be dropped to make room for it.

And the fact that the Mavericks have beaten the Green five of seven times since the rivalry was renewed had nothing to do with it, I’m sure.

On the flip side, TCU and SMU continued their series just a few days earlier, with the Mustangs beating the Frogs 69-61, amazingly at the American Airlines Center.

Of course, there was a time when this game meant more than just possibly Metroplex bragging rights – in all sports they took part in together.

There was a time when college sports meant something in Dallas-Fort Worth – maybe not as much at UTA, but definitely on the Fort Worth and University Park campuses. But their inability to be in the same conference since 2000 has wrecked the glory.

There’s little doubt the Southwest Conference’s breakup killed interest in college sports in DFW. It led to supposedly greater things for the campuses in Austin, Lubbuck and (finally) Waco, but the Metroplex’s teams have become afterthoughts as they spent years in conferences loaded with out-of-state opponents no one was interested in.

What is to blame for all this? Many still point to SMU’s football team getting the “death penalty” more than 25 years ago, turning it into an extremely toxic conference for recruits who didn’t want to play in a “dirty conference.” Yeah, because conferences and schools where teams give players illicit benefits is a turn-off – just like the University of Miami and more than half the SEC.

What’s likely more of a factor was the 1984 Supreme Court Ruling “NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma,” which firmly established that schools and conferences were free to negotiate their own television contracts outside the NCAA’s regulation. As a result, schools ever since have been looking for the bigger deal with the big network, or even starting their own network.

And the price paid for that? Conference and matchups the fans loved watching. The SWC breaking up to help form the Big 12 was just the beginning, as the Big East (now The American), SEC and Big Ten have begun poaching off teams left and right to make the next great superconference that will get them a Brinks truck from a network. And the fans have no choice but to settle for “new, great” conference matchups they have no interest in.

How would you like it if Jerry Jones suddenly decided the Cowboys needed to move to the AFC West? Or better yet, move into the Canadian League because they could actually win a championship there? Yeah, I know that’s a ludicrous idea. But so is West Virginia being in the same conference as Texas.

That’s what college fans have had to suffer. It’s not just the Texas-Texas A&M game that’s gone. Kansas no longer has Missouri or Nebraska on their schedules – despite them still being mentioned in their fight song.

And any complaints by the fans are met by condescending replies from administrators in the department saying “forget those old opponents. This is the best thing that’s going to happen to us.”

I know, because this carousel stopped and picked up UTA on the way.

I won’t stop saying I enjoyed playing in the Southland Conference. Being able to travel to the likes of Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston was a joy every year. Now, one year I had to get geared up for Utah State and San Jose State, the next – Troy and Georgia State.

UTA has two D1 opponents from Texas this season – only one in-conference, thanks to the likes of UNT and UTSA choosing Conference USA over trying to establish a true Texas mid-major conference.

People within UTA’s athletic department have kept telling me that this is for the best because they couldn’t hope to advance in such an inferior conference. But why is that a bother when UTA doesn’t play a sport that is dependent on news polls and power rankings to make the postseason? Every sport they play, you get in by winning whatever conference you’re in.

TCU finally got its wish to join the Big 12 with the likes of Texas, Tech and Baylor, but SMU’s teams still struggle to fit old SWC opponents each year into their non-conference schedule. Heck, Texas A&M is now gone away from in-state competition, trying to sell its fans that it’s so much better to be playing the likes of Auburn, Kentucky and Florida and not one single Texas opponent.

Aggies will try to puff out their chests and say they’re glad to be in the SEC. But behind that exterior I’m sure is sorrow that they can’t get hyped for Baylor, Tech or other opponents that have proximity and actual meaning to.

Will eventually we get to what the UIL does, re-aligning all conferences every few years and telling rivalries and long-time matchups to just go to hell to look forward to what’s all shiny and new?

It seems to be the way things are going. Charming stadiums built for rowdy fans are getting torn down for glitzy revenue-building facilities, just like classic movies are getting buried in Netflix’s vaults as they get re-made by wannabe directors.

College sports was built on proximity matchups, rivalries and bragging rights. But all of that, especially in the Metroplex, was long destroyed by school administrators who’s eyeballs were bigger than their stomachs.

My Disappointment in the Media and Where I Want to Take Rowdy Sports

DFWSportatorium - Logo6

I find myself frequently re-watching the ESPN-produced movie “Pony Exce$$” about the SMU scandal of the 80s, and what stood out most to me in that movie was the talk about the huge media war going on between the Dallas Morning News and now-defunct Dallas Times Herald at that time. The intense battle for readership was what drove those reporters to dig up one of the biggest scandals in the history of college sports.

Nowadays, I doubt any newspaper in the area would put much effort into unearthing any athletic wrongdoing at the University Park campus or the three other major colleges in North Texas.

Does the Morning News or Fort Worth Star-Telegram even have a beat writer covering SMU and/or the other local college programs individually? Maybe, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t. There are unfortunately too many sports and teams that get complete ignorance from the local papers, relegated to maybe three inches of copy on page six without even a byline, if that at all.

Back nearly three decades ago, Richie Whitt got his start in the news because the Star-Telegram was so needing a beat writer to cover a fledgling indoor soccer team called the Dallas Sidekicks that they took his GREATLY stretched claim (OK, maybe it was a lie) that he knew that game at face value. Nowadays, I don’t think the S-T even has a beat writer for the Stars.

You could blame the reduction in coverage and reporting on these publications cutting their budget and staff with each year and the supposed dying out of newspapers, which I’d love to just have a discussion one day with Richie or someone similar. But the fact is, the problems exist everywhere, not just with the newspapers.

Sports reporting, at least in this area, has grown grossly complacent. It doesn’t matter if it’s print, TV or radio, the expansion of media has sadly come with contraction of actual coverage.

Admittedly, this is not exclusive to sports journalism, as 24-hour news networks inundate us with constant reporting of just one or two supposedly “big stories” to the point that we’re sick of them.

Still, it’s frustrating that with new sports stations starting up, the internet providing instant information and multiple sports radio stations in one of the biggest media markets, nowadays coverage is exclusively on just the “major league” teams and everything else is completely ignored. And of course, the Cowboys get way more coverage than the other major teams.

When I studied journalism at UTA, one of the staples we were taught was that yes, we must cover the most popular issues in the area at the time, but it was also our job to inform the public of things they might not know about.

The media seems to be just ignoring the latter of those two tasks, and it’s especially true in sports. You can get four pages of Cowboys coverage, including a front page article every day, but you’ll be lucky to find where the Grand Prairie AirHogs story is printed.

The Ticket Ticker and Fan Flash reporters on the radio won’t even devote a few seconds to reporting a RoughRiders score, instead opting for spending half the report summarizing the same story about what happened in Cowboys practice that the talk hosts are just going to go into anyway.

And they always go back to the cheap, lazy excuse that they have to cover what the listeners want to get ratings. No one cares about those sports, so there’s no point in trying.

Why not? At one point in time, the Sidekicks could pack Reunion Arena, which had twice the capacity of the team’s current home in the Allen Event Center. The team was popular enough for star player (now owner/coach) Tatu to draw a six-figure salary. If you take the time to TELL someone about something they might not know is happening, maybe might get interested.

I’m not talking about the Hardline having to devote even a daily segment to soccer or minor league baseball. I’m saying, would it really kill Sean Bass to take five seconds to say FC Dallas is playing tonight?

That’s what I hope to do with Rowdy Time Sports; do whatever I can to inform you all of every possible sporting event as best I can.

It’s not easy, given that I’m one person with extremely limited resources trying to do this while working other jobs. At the moment, the best I can give you in addition to these columns are my “Rowdy Time Gameday” articles, giving you what games are taking place on this particular day and eventually updating them with the scores, in addition to providing you with what news stories I can manage on the individual pages or each team/sport.

I can’t promise this will be perfect; only that I will try my best. It’s thanks to my on-the-job learning of WordPress format that I’m now able to create tables and columns for line scores and the like, which has allowed me to post these articles in hopefully a more professional looking manner. This is in addition to only using one sidebar for ads and the other for scores/summaries to try and make the ads as un-intrusive as possible (compared to the DMN and ST sites, whose ads take up a third of the space).

I want his to be as much of an online newspaper as I can make it, putting the games and scores, even the ones you might not have know of but might draw interest in when seen, up front for you to easily find them rather than bury them under small links off to the side.

Is this going to change the way sports are covered in this area? I can’t make a bold guarantee like that. But someone has to start.

Anyone can be lazy and just focus on the big boys. And maybe that’s what needs to change in a world where Wal-Mart shuts down the neighborhood store, CNN cherry picks its coverage and the Cowboys get all the headlines and talk.

College Baseball Championship Central

WAC TOURNAMENT – UTA/DBU
QuikTrip Park, Grand Prairie

CHAMPIONSHIP – DBU 4, UTSA 11
The Patriots’ quest for another NCAA bid came to an end as the Roadrunners rallied from an early 2-0 deficit to score all their runs in their last four innings at bat, including a four-run eighth to finish it off.

DBU 12, New Mexico St 4
By scoring four runs in the first inning and never looking back after that, the Patriots earned a spot in the WAC title game against San Antonio on Sunday.

DBU 7, Texas State 5
Michael Miller’s three-run homer in the fifth inning drove the Patriots forward to get their fist WAC Tournamnent win.

UTA 2, Texas State 11
The Mavs’ season ends with a 1-2 record in the WAC Tournament after the Bobcats rocked them for 15 hits. Starter Daniel Milliman only lasted two innings, allowing three runs on five hits.

UTA 3, New Mexico St 4
Down 4-0 with four outs to go, the Mavs could not complete a comeback and saw their shot at the WAC title game dashed.

UTA 2 DBU 0
The Mavs made the Patriots look foolish all night, recording 14 strikeouts, 11 of them from Brad Vachon.

BIG 12 TOURNAMENT – TCU
Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, Oklahoma City

TCU 8 Oklahoma State 4
The Horned Frogs were two outs away from going down in their first tournament game but then exploded for six ninth-inning runs, starting with six straight base runners to take the lead. Keaton Jones took one for the team to go up in front, getting hit in the knee with the bases loaded.

TCU 3 West Virginia 10
The Frogs were completely sloppy in the field with nine errors that led to six unearned runs, as WVU scored four in the first two innings and another six in the 6th/7th.

TCU 0 Kansas 4
The Frogs’ season ended as they could get nothing off of Robert Kahana and the Jayhawks, stranding 11 runners on base for the game.

Amazingly, it may be the Horned Frog baseball team to see the most disappointment in the move to the Big 12. At least the basketball team had few expectations and can claim a win over Kansas. But barring a miracle run through this tournament, the Frogs are likely seeing their streak of making the NCAAs come to an end.
The tournament has been delayed by one day in light of the tornadoes that ravaged Oklahoma.