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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.

Randy Galloway – Farewell to a Legend

And the airwaves in North Texas got a little more silent.

No longer will we hear the bombastic Texas twang of one who helped pioneer sports talk in the Chicken Fried Nation with his wimp-free attitude.

Randy Galloway stepped away from the microphone for the last time Monday evening, ending a 28-year radio career at WBAP and ESPN 103.3.

An era is over. No longer will we get to hear criticism of everyone in town who thinks they’re “Football Einsteins.” No more ridicule of the Botox and Implant crowds at either the Boss Hogg Bowl or the ADD. We sadly didn’t even get to hear one more time about how the fans of Zero-U must stop at the dip station to clean up before they arrive to cheer against the Whiny Orange at the Cotton Bowl.

Amazing that when Galloway started on the DFW airwaves, the Rangers were still in Arlington Stadium and had yet to draw two million in attendance. Tom Landry was still patrolling the sidelines and the Cows had a real general manager. The Stars were in Minnesota, the Mavericks wore green and the Southwest Conference was still in existence. Randy Galloway truly has seen it all.

But it appears that Galloway will be leaving the airwaves without the complete respect that he deserves. Oh, no doubt the likes of Chuck Cooperstein, Mac and Jennifer Engel, Matt Moseley, Brian Estridge and many others that got to work with Randy will give him his due.

But sadly, many others – mainly, those most die-hard “P1” supporters of Galloway’s number one competition for years, the hosts of Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket – will blow their party favors and say “good riddance to Grandpa Urine,” even if those hosts on their beloved station secretly do harbor respect for the man while refusing to say so on the air.

That more than anything has helped contribute to my own hesitation toward becoming a full-time listener to The Ticket – the arrogance of certain listeners and the lack of respect they have for the elder statesmen. There might not be a Ticket if not for people like Galloway (and Norm Hitzges, who supposedly gets ridicule from people associated with The Ticket also even though he works for them). Of course, there are other reasons Galloway gets such disdain, likely due to him having the coconuts to say what many don’t want to hear.

It almost certainly is partly to do with Galloway not being afraid to admit what the Dallas Cowboys have become in the last 18 years – a complete joke of a franchise that may never have a chance of reaching the mountaintop ever again. Galloway and Dale Hansen have been the only two still around in North Texas willing to constantly say that, as long as Jerry Jones is running things, the Cows will always be a mess with no real hope of reaching the Super Bowl again. And that’s just not something the millions wearing the rose-colored glasses for their team – the “Cow Sheep,” as he loved to call them – want to hear.

But that is just the type of attitude that made Galloway a legend in this town before the likes of Ben and Skin were even first trying to coddle up to pro athletes. Galloway has never shied away from the unpopular opinion. Never been afraid to call out anyone, be it Tom Hicks or the Jon Daniels that everyone else worships.

How? How could he possibly side with the old world-has-passed-him-by Nolan Ryan over the infallible genius that single-handedly built the Rangers to the World Series? Because he remembers that the Rangers were nothing before Nolan saddled up into town for the first time in 1989? And that maybe it’s easier to find a general manager immersed in those newfangled sabermetrics to pick talent than someone that can convince said talent that pitching in the “blast furnace” of the Ballpark should not be a hindrance?

Yes, there were definitely people who did not like Galloway because he would not follow the crowd. But for someone who could never be a part of that crowd either, it was what earned him my respect.

It’s because of Galloway that I know to not rely too much on stats and “watch the damn games.” And while I still curse at what 105.3 The Fan did to Richie Whitt, Jasmine Sadry and others recently, I am glad to see a legend got to walk away on his terms.

Galloway will continue to spout his opinions in written form, still contributing his columns in the Star-Telegram. I’ll expect to hear people whine about his opinions, yet they will still read them. Just know he had hot sports opinions before “HSOs” were cool.

For now, Happy Trails, Randy Galloway. Tom Hicks was wrong; few had more credibility than you.

Rowdy Time Gamenight: 8/21/13

RANGERS 5 HOUSTON 4

HOUSTON 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 4 8 2
RANGERS 0 0 2 0 1 0 1 0 1 5 7 0

W – Nathan ; L – Lo

FC DALLAS 3 @ CHIVAS USA 1
De La Fuente, 43′ ; Perez, 71′, Ferriera 86′, Nunez, 90′

ROUGHRIDERS 5 @ SAN ANTONIO 6

RIDERS 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 2 5 9 2
SAN ANTONIO 1 1 0 1 3 0 0 0 6 9 1

W – Geer ; L – Tufts

AIRHOGS 2 AMARILLO 0

AMARILLO 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
AIRHOGS 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0

W – Aaron Wilkerson ; L – Jason Mitchell
HR – Andres Rodriguez

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.

DFW sports fans in shock over upset in the Broadcasters Bracket

Is this the biggest upset since Virginia Commonwealth went to the Final Four?
Okay, that might be a stretch.
Still, many in the DFW sports world are in shock and elation or anger upon discovering the first major upset in the Dallas Morning News SportsDayDFW Broadcasters Bracket, as 105.3 The Fan host Gavin Dawson beat KDFW Fox 4 sports anchor Mike Doocy.
Doocy has anchored the sports portion of Channel 4’s evening news for several years, and his TV presence was sure to have given him an advantage. But Dawson’s “G Bag Nation” has become the highest rated evening radio show in the market, spawning a passionate, dedicated group of listeners called the G Bag Soldiers.
Those viewers turned out in full force during Wednesday’s voting. That morning, Doocy started with an 80-20 lead. By the end of the night, Dawson had pulled away with 58 percent of the vote.
The result has invoked passion, particularly from the listeners of The Fan’s rival station, SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket.
“I’m shocked that anyone from the wipe or D Bag Nation would win squat in here,” Shawn Schultz commented on the Broadcasters Bracket page. “and one of them beatin Doocy? That’s a crime in itself.”
“I’m also shocked that some DBag I’ve never heard of who is so spare he hosts a nighttime shift on the worst sports station in America beat the great Doocy,” wrote another commenter identified as KayurPatel.
The Soldiers, however, were just as passionate.
“Fan Fans and the GBag Nation Army united to put the popular local broadcaster and #1 night show host intheMetroplex into the 2nd round,” stated Ryan Magby.
“Gavin going the distance. None of this survive and advance crap.” said Jordan Sellers.
Not that Dawson’s battle will be any easier. His second round matchup is against longtime Dallas Cowboys play by play announcer Brad Sham.
In the meantime, the soldiers appear to be planning to support fellow 105.3 host Shan Sharrif against WFAA Channel 8 sports anchor Dale Hanson. Hanson and Dawson had their own battle last year over Hanson’s repeated criticism over Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and suggesting The Fan refused to criticize him because they were the Cowboys flagship station.

Danica May Be the Best Thing to Happen to NASCAR

Anyone who has been to the racetrack has seen the spectacle of the 43 brightly colored stock cars spinning around.

But at the 55th Daytona 500, even as the traditional blue 48 drove its way to Victory Lane, much of the attention was on the lime green No. 10.

Other women had lined up for Daytona before like Janet Guthrie and Shawna Robinson, but Danica Patrick has created a media blitz like no one else.

There are reasons Danica’s attempt to break the gender barrier in NASCAR is different. She’s got the financial backing from web hosting giant GoDaddy. What’s more, she’s got three-time champ Tony Stewart in her garage. This all proved to be legit when Speedweeks opened with her winning the pole position.

And though Patrick didn’t quite know how to finish at the end and dropped to eighth at the line, staying in the top five for most of the race may have convinced a number of people that yes, maybe Danica can run with the boys.

It’s one race, and Daytona is like no other. It will be the coming weeks to see if Patrick can handle more open racing at the intermediate tracks with no restrictor plates, to say nothing of the banging style of a short track like Bristol.

But Danica at the very least has already given NASCAR something it desperately needed.

Attention.

Attendance and ratings have plummeted at racing events for years now, as it looked like the bubble burst on NASCAR’s popularity. The many empty seats at Texas Motor Speedway last November were painful, especially given how tight the championship race was at the time.

Not even the best possible finish in 2011, which I believe was the first time a driver won the final race to win the championship, could spike interest.

But now NASCAR may have found its carrot for the fans and media. And this time, it’s a more positive one.

The last spike in attention the sport got came from Dale Earnhardt’s tragic 2001 death, drawing the crowds who were fascinated in the the prospect that people could die in this sport. BUt as NASCAR rightfully worked to make their cars safer, the body count never emerged, and those fans filtered out.

Now, the national media is back, this time to focus on someone who can take the game farther rather than someone who tragically left it too soon.

Danica can definitely project a better image than a mangled car. And despite standing under five feet, she definitely has no problem standing out in a crowd.

Which of course, brings up the other topic – the argument of eye candy.

People are going to argue that many are just cheering for a hot little number in a fire suit. I’ll counter that with the several females who became Jeff Gordon fans not just for his rise to dominance on the track.

If Danica doesn’t win, she’ll eventually fade out like Anna Kournikova did in tennis, no matter how many bikinis she appears in.

But win or lose, Danica Patrick has already helped turn the focus back onto NASCAR for at least one year.

And like it or not, there surely be a lot of lime green appearing in the stands of a track near you this season.