Big 12 rankings, Week Two: Tigers, Bears and Wildcats, oh my

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The Tigers wasted a 14-point lead in the second half but rebounded in the closing minutes to win their third straight Braggin' Rights game.

Missouri, Baylor and Kansas State continue to roll, Kansas suffers a rather sobering loss and Texas A&M continues to tumble. A look at the Week Two rankings with conference play a week away:

1. MISSOURI (12-0) | LAST WEEK: Defeated William and Mary, Illinois | THIS WEEK: Friday at ODU

THE RUB: Of concern is the Tigers’ relapse to the selfish offense of last season maddening for fans. But Frank Haith had to be happy with the way his team responded at crunch time against the rival Illini, avoiding what would have been a meltdown in the second half.

2. BAYLOR (12-0) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Paul Quinn, St. Mary’s, West Virginia | THIS WEEK: Tonight vs. Mississippi State

THE RUB: The Bears survived a push from West Virginia and get their toughest test of the season today against the 15th-ranked Bulldogs.

3. KANSAS STATE (10-1) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Southern Illinois, UTEP, Long Beach State | THIS WEEK: Saturday vs. Howard

THE RUB: Anyone else notice the Wildcats were much more impressive against the 49ers than the archrival Jayhawks were?

4. KANSAS (8-3) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Davidson, defeated USC | THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Howard, Saturday vs. North Dakota

THE RUB: Really, Kansas? Davidson? Seriously? Did Stephon Curry come back for a senior season?

5. TEXAS (9-3) | LAST WEEK: Lost to North Carolina | THIS WEEK: Saturday vs. Rice

THE RUB: Maybe this is the year the Longhorns don’t fall apart at the end of the season … probably not.

6. OKLAHOMA (9-1) | LAST WEEK: Defeated South Carolina State | THIS WEEK: Thursday at Cincinnati, Saturday vs. Northwestern State

THE RUB: With several Cincy players still sidelined in the aftermath of the brawl against Xavier, we won’t learn much about the Sooners this week. We’ll know plenty in early January, as Oklahoma opens Big 12 play at Missouri, vs. Kansas, at Oklahoma State and vs. Kansas State … gulp.

7. IOWA STATE (9-3) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Lipscomb | THIS WEEK: Saturday vs. Mississippi Valley State

THE RUB: Two of the Cyclones’ first three conference games are at home against Texas and Missouri, which gives this team of misfits a chance to build momentum early.

8. TEXAS A&M (8-3) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Rice | THIS WEEK: Thursday vs. Arkansas Tech

THE RUB: The Aggies lost to Rice at home. That says plenty.

9. OKLAHOMA STATE (6-5) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Alabama | THIS WEEK: Tonight at SMU, Saturday vs. Virginia Tech

THE RUB: At the rate the Cowboys are losing point guards, Travis Ford may have to suit up.

10. TEXAS TECH (5-5) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oral Roberts, defeated Cal-State Bakersfield | THIS WEEK: Friday at Southeastern Louisiana

THE RUB: The Red Raiders can always look forward to their bowl game … or not.

How to treat a lady: Tis the season for romance

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It was Niagara Falls when the girlfriend got her last two gifts, one of which was a personalized card I made.

I’ve admitted many times through the years that I’m a hopeless romantic. I think we can drop the hopeless tag now that I’ve managed to convince the most beautiful woman on the planet to fall in love with me. As it turns out, nice guys don’t finish last. In fact, they can kick some serious ass, which is what I’d like to think I did this Christmas …

Before the girlfriend and I dated, we spent quite a bit of time flirting via Facebook. It really was a great game of catch me if you can (never mind that I was too dumb to realize the mouse was trying to reel the oblivious cat in for quite some time).

As written in a previous blog, the courtship accelerated right before Christmas in 2010 when she penned a 12 days of Christmas wish list on Facebook. Pretty sure she knew I was following those posts closely (I commented on several). I wrote every one of them down. Not sure why, though I’d like to think I knew something special was just around the corner.

Several months later, after we’d been dating for a while, I began planning to make our first Christmas one she’d remember forever. What better way to do that than deliver the 12 days of Christmas?

The great thing about her list is that it’s not outlandish. It’s quite reasonable. No cars. No houses. Nothing I can’t afford. It’s also an extremely sweet list, one I’m convinced made me want her that much more.

I began planning months ago, recruiting her sister to help. She was vital in advising me on a handful of the items, most notably the biggest and most important item on the list (or so I thought).

Here’s how the plan came together …

THE RING …

I couldn't wait a month to give her the bling, so she got it the day I purchased it at Pandora's.

Jewelry was one of the 12 items on her list, and the most difficult to find. I looked at hundreds of rings, earrings, necklaces, etc. Finally, I asked her sister for help. She accomplished in about an hour what I’d spent weeks on … sending me a few suggestions to pick from. When I saw the ring pictured above, I knew we had a winner.

I gave her the ring in late November. Why? If I’d started the list 12 days from Christmas, she would have figured it out. That and I couldn’t wait to give it to her.

BARBECUE AND BLUES

There's something hot about a woman who can eat more barbecue than you.

Understand that the girlfriend is a small woman. She’s petite and really doesn’t eat much. But good lord can she put the barbecue away. In fact, she often eats more than I do when we go to our favorite spot … B.B.’s in Kansas City.

We went there several times this year … scratch two items off the list.

TIME WITH HER KIDS

Trick or treating, Dave & Busters, homework ... all part of being a positive male role model.

I say “her” kids because that was on her list. We refer to them as “our” kids nowadays. Anyway, I’ve made a concerted effort to be a father figure, not their dad. Not because it’s on her list, but because they’re great kids.

I’ve taken her oldest son to work to show him what I do and treated her daughter to Dave & Busters. The other part of this gift fell in place perfectly … I spent three hours on the Tuesday before Christmas helping her younger son with his math homework.

A NICE DINNER

The beginning of a pasta dish the girlfriend and kids have come to love.

Honestly, our nice dinners together our evenings alone at home. I love cooking for her. Some of the favorites include non-dairy alfredo, chicken enchiladas and chicken stir fry. And there will be plenty of out-and-about dinners in 2012.

FLOWERS

You know you buy a lot of flowers when your voice is recognized immediately by the florist on the phone.

Might as well have been a gardener as many flowers as she got in 2011. Let’s just say the florist near her workplace recognizes my voice enough that she answers with “I’ll send them this afternoon” before I say a word.

I also snuck off on Christmas Eve and brought home flowers.

DRESS

This ended up being a bit too small. That's a better mistake than getting something too big.

She opened this on the morning of Christmas Eve as we spent our Christmas with the kids. I hesitated to let her open this one, as I suspected she might catch on. Turns out she did catch on. Luckily for me, she didn’t remember everything on the list anyway.

A LITTLE ACTION UNDER THE MISTLETOE

Let's be honest .. if the physical part of a relationship isn't good, forget it. Just saying.

Our parents read this blog, so as Seinfeld once said “I’m little too old for details.” Let’s just say we have a very healthy and passionate love life.

IT’S JUST US

There wasn't much alone time, but our first Christmas included five stops over two days with some fine folks, including her adorable niece.

Just the two of us, enjoying this special time of year together. We shared a great moment on Christmas Eve once the kids went to bed (explained momentarily), then had four stops on Christmas Day, hand-in-hand. I cannot imagine a better Christmas.

NEW YEAR’S EVE

The year started with a bang (the beginning of the relationship) ... and the latter part of 2011 included dressing up in our best duds. Perfect way to break in 2012.

Yet to come, but we’ll be together. The perfect way to say good-bye to a wonderful year that began with the beginning of a great love story.

BIRTHDAY

Her birthday gift was also a gift to myself 🙂

Like many people who have a birthday around Christmas, the girlfriend has often received a gift(s) that counted as a Christmas and birthday present. Seriously, that would suck. For her birthday, I saved one last gift … something from Victoria’s Secret.

A HEARTFELT CARD

A personalized Christmas card, which rounded out the 12 days of Christmas.

The least expensive item on the gift, and the one that produced a waterfall of tears. It’s very personal and will remain so, but it’s three pages full of my words and images from our first year together. When she read it 45 minutes before the official beginning of Christmas, I knew I’d hit a home run …

TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME

A woman who loves the Royals: Cha-freaking-ching!

Within the card was a certificate for a 13-game pass for the Royals 2012 season … one of our many shared passions.

It hasn’t been a year since we started “this.” There are times when it feels like we’ve been together forever. The first year has gone by so fast. It’s been so rewarding. I’m sitting here thinking “how in the hell do I top this next year?”

Impossible? Maybe. But I did manage to woo the hottest woman on the planet. Don’t bet against me.

Big 12 basketball rankings, first edition

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Without Laurence Bowers, most pegged Missouri as a bubble team. Nobody thought the Tigers would look as good as they have in the first two months of the season, but they’re two games away from entering Big 12 play undefeated. Because of the impressive start, Missouri opens the rankings on top:

Faith in Haith: How can you not have it when Missouri has rolled to an 11-0 start?

1. MISSOURI 11-0 | LAST WEEK: Defeated Kennesaw State, William and Mary | NEXT: Vs. Illinois

THE RUB: Even without injured forward Laurence Bowers, the Tigers have been dominant all season, winning every game by double digits, including Notre Dame (29 points), California (39) and Villanova (10).

Perry Jones and the Bears are off to a fast start ... against a schedule that'd make Bill Snyder proud.

2. BAYLOR 9-0 | LAST WEEK: Defeated Bethune-Cookman, BYU | NEXT: Vs. Paul Quinn

THE RUB: Paul Quinn? I guess the Bears ran out of directional schools to play on one of the weakest schedules by a power conference team in college basketball.

The absence of Tyshawn Taylor might actually bring Bill Self's blood pressure down several hundred points.

3. KANSAS 7-2 | LAST WEEK: Did not play | NEXT: Vs. Davidson

THE RUB: The bad news … the Jayhawks may struggle without 14th-senior Tyshawn Taylor (they may not without his nine turnovers a game). The good news … they’re grammar just got a lot better. Point plankn.

OMG ... we beat Alabama!

4. KANSAS STATE 7-1 | LAST WEEK: Defeated North Florida, Alabama | NEXT: At Southern Illinois

THE RUB: The Wildcats’ slug-it-out, beat-the-crap-out-of-you defensive style can be tough to watch, but it’s also effective; they have two of the conference’s best wins (at Virginia Tech, vs. Alabama).

Shhhh ... J'Covan Brown and the Longhorns are about to see their winning streak end at North Carolina this week.

5. TEXAS 9-2 | LAST WEEK: Defeated Nicholls, Temple | NEXT: At North Carolina

THE RUB: The good: Seven straight wins. The bad: The Longhorns play at North Carolina this week. The ugly: Losses to Oregon State and North Carolina State.

The Aggies didn't put up much of a fight against Florida during Saturday's rout.

6. TEXAS A&M 8-2 | LAST WEEK: Lost to Florida | NEXT: Vs. Rice

THE RUB: Much like the school’s football team, the Aggies, who many picked to challenge for a Big 12 title, are overrated. Saturday’s blowout loss at Florida was ugly.

Lon Kruger has already led the Sooners to more than half the number of wins they had last season.

7. OKLAHOMA 8-1 | LAST WEEK: Defeated Houston | NEXT: Vs. South Carolina State

THE RUB: The Sooners won all of 14 games last season. First-year coach Lon Kruger has already won eight games in his first six weeks.

If ISU continues to play the way it has in key games, there will be plenty of seats available at Hilton Coliseum this year.

8. IOWA STATE 8-3 | LAST WEEK: Defeated Central Michigan | NEXT: Vs. Lipscomb

THE RUB: The Cyclones are the Misfit Island of college basketball with a roster full of transfers. They don’t have a signature win and have lost both of their games against legitimate competition (Michigan, Northern Iowa).

It may be a long season for Oklahoma State as LeBryan Nash and the Cowboys struggle through growing pains.

9. OKLAHOMA STATE 6-4 | LAST WEEK: Lost to New Mexico | NEXT: at Alabama

THE RUB: The young Cowboys have struggled thus far, and it doesn’t get any easier with a road game against Alabama this week.

What do I do with this bunch?

10. TEXAS TECH 5-4 | LAST WEEK: Defeated Grambling State | NEXT: At Oral Roberts

THE RUB: Expect Billy Gillispie to turn the Red Raiders around, but it won’t happen this season. This team is as bad as any LMFAO song.

I’m into fitness, take 14: Damn the scale

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After a 3.5-mile run, shirt drenched. If you look closely, you'll notice there isn't much flab left on the arms ... about damn time!

Talk about bad blog etiquette … this is my first post in about two weeks. It’s my first fitness blog in nearly a month. Not good considering you’re supposed to write three or four times a week to maintain a following.

So, here’s an update on my progress. The bad news is I haven’t lost any weight. The good news is I haven’t gained any weight. The great news is that there has been progress.

THE RESULTS

They haven’t been on the scale. In fact, there was a day when the scale registered 220 pounds. You talk about alarming … my low (at least in the past decade) was 213 pounds about a month ago. Fortunately, it went back down to 213 within a week (probably because I punished myself at the gym).

So where are the results, if I haven’t lost an ounce? For starters, I bought a pair of 36 jeans a few weeks ago. Not only bought, but actually put on and fit into. I haven’t worn a size 36 jean since 2001. Ten long years.

To celebrate this event, I ate a block of cheese. Actually, I went through our closet and pulled out all the “fat clothes.” Lots of size 44 or bigger jeans, and lots of XXL and XXXL shirts. They are now being worn by the needy.

More than enough to clothe the needy. A basket full of my "fat clothes" now being worn by folks who need them.

EXERCISE

The new routine is about two months old now. I’ve settled into it nicely. Muscles I didn’t know existed are popping up. There’s more definition. It’s evident in the mirror and through the eyes of my ever-supportive girlfriend, who has to reassure me at least once I week that “you’re putting on muscle, not fat.”

One of the best things about the fitness makeover is the way my body has responded. A year or two ago, I couldn’t imagine running more than a mile without stopping. Now, I run up to four miles without a problem, and at much faster pace.

In November, my goal was to burn 400 calories on the treadmill. Last week, I was burning more than 600 on the treadmill. Throw in another 300 lifting weights, and you’re talking 900 calories vaporized daily through working out.

Another “accomplishment” came Saturday. I’ve been eyeing a hill near our apartment for months, hoping one day to run the quarter-mile, steep-as-a-mountain (OK, it’s probably a steady 40-degree climb) without a break.

Three miles into my run Saturday, I decided to push myself. Consider that hill my bitch.

INJURIES

They’re part of working out, at least minor injuries. Though I have two friends who have suffered severe injuries. There’s Manon the runner, whose broken ankle has inspired me to never run in snow or ice. And there’s Nick the triathlete, who has been hospitalized twice due to biking accidents (might want to try something different, Nick).

I suffered my most recent injury last week. Half asleep still while working out at 6:30 a.m. (more on that in a bit), I dropped a 60-pound barbell on my left pinkie finger. I’m probably lucky it’s not broken, though it did swell up to the thickness of a hot dog and looked like it’d been tie-dyed for a few days.

The running shows mom got me last Christmas served me quite well ... more than 600 miles, in fact. Unfortunately, that's twice as many miles as you're supposed to put on a pair of shoes.

The other injury has been ongoing. I have plantar fasciitis in my left foot. It’s a sometimes-painful condition: the inflammation of the thick tissue on the bottom of the foot. It makes the first couple of minutes of a run pure hell.

The best treatment is probably rest. At this point, that’s just not an option. So I’ll keep pushing through it. A new pair of running shows will also offer some relief.

EARLY TO RISE … TOO LATE TO QUIT

So why am I working out so early? Necessity. I didn’t have time to take a lunch during work last week, so I was up at 5 a.m. to hit the gym. The early wake-up almost caught up to me Thursday when I tried to talk myself out of the treadmill after 45 minutes of weights.

I finally relented, jumped on the treadmill … and set personal bests for distance ran, mph averaged and calories burnt.

As I left, I ran into the center’s fitness/nutritionist specialist, who set up my current routine. She said, “you’re doing and looking great! Keep it up!” As I’ve written before, those compliments keep me going.

The next challenge? A new routine after the holidays, as recommended by the specialist. Bring it on. Like Donkey Kong.

How to treat a lady: A ring without the strings

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I get this excited around Christmastime, too.

I’m not quite Clark Griswold. I’m not going to staple 100,000 Christmas lights to our roof, nor do I plan to (or have the income for) putting a pool in the backyard. But, damn, do I love Christmas.

Christmas fever is something I inherited from the old man. We didn’t have much money growing up. I know there were times, especially when my brother and I were little boys, that $10 was a BIG deal. One of my favorite stories is my father’s angst when my mother spent $5 on a calendar at the grocery store … they had $20 in the bank. You do the math.

Despite being poor, we never went without on Christmas. In fact, dad and mom always found a way, usually by working monthlong craft shows at malls during the holidays, to essentially spoil us on the big day.

There were brand new bikes, remote control cars and Lite-Bright, among other things, in 1981; a massive Army train set in 1983; the GI Joe F16 jet and Royals jacket in 1984; Nintendo in 1988; and many others through the years.

Most of the folks who know us would likely say Webb men are a little, um, thrifty. My brother definitely is. We’re talking you-better-leave-50-cents-on-the-counter-if-you-eat-a-Snickers chintzy.

Yes, I’ve been known to be cheap. But that’s not the case when I’m buying for somebody I love, and definitely not on Christmas. With that in mind, I’m excited about this year. In large part because I have the girlfriend to “spoil.”

Three-fifths of my family: Myself, the girlfriend and her daughter after decorating our tree.

She reads this blog, so I’m not going to break down what I bought or plan to buy over the next few weeks. But, there is one item, one awesome gift, that I couldn’t resist giving her a month early.

The girlfriend and I have been steadfast in our belief that we don’t have to get married to express our love. In fact, her face would crinkle up if I joked about it. (I’ve noticed that her face doesn’t crinkle up when I joke about it these days, but that’s another blog for another day.)

I’d known for months that she was getting some bling for Christmas. I approached her sister for help in May. We brainstormed off and on, and I finally decided on a ring that says “I love you” instead of “I own you.”

I looked everywhere for the right ring. Turns out, not every kiss begins with Kay. And I’d rather go to Jared for a meatball sandwich than a rock. I never did find the perfect ring … her sister did.

When she emailed me a photo of the ring, I knew that was it. Unique, with three small diamonds, 14K. And, to top it off, it’s called the “Kerry” ring. Her youngest sister’s name? Kerry.

The bling without the strings.

I bought the ring on Nov. 21, much like I bought most of my gifts (a personal record by roughly 33 days). Once the shopping was done, I went to the Sprint Center to watch Missouri and Cal in the CBE Classic.

Throughout the game, I gave myself a pep talk: “You can wait a month to give her that ring. You can do it. Man up.”

I waited all of a few hours. Arriving at home at midnight to find her cooking rolls for Thanksgiving, I realized we were alone, with a fire going. I couldn’t wait.

She opened the Pandora’s bag, then the box … tears welled in her eyes, followed by the beautiful smile that makes me melt. I explained that she should thank her sister because “we’ve been working on this for a while.”

That’s when the tears flowed. As she explained, the sentiment of including her sister meant just as much as the ring, which she loved. I hadn’t even thought about that. Maybe I’m just a natural at knowing how to treat a lady. Or maybe I’m just one lucky son of a gun. Of course, I’ve known that for months now.

Big 12 rankings, Week 14: Cowboy Up

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Oklahoma State throttled Oklahoma, but was it enough to sway the voters and computers?

Oklahoma State ended years of frustration against Oklahoma in Bedlam, demolishing its rival in a statement game that may vault the Cowboys into the national championship tilt. Even Nick Saban agrees … in 2003, the then-LSU coach said no team that didn’t win its conference should play for a national title. His Alabama team didn’t even win its division this season and may play for it all.

1. OKLAHOMA STATE (11-1, 8-1) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma 44-10 | NEXT: Bowl

THE RUB: We heard you loud and clear, Cowboys. Now, tell us again how in the world you lost to Iowa State?

2. OKLAHOMA (9-3, 6-3) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oklahoma State 44-10 | NEXT: Bowl

THE RUB: Isn’t it about time we drop that “Big Game Bob” garbage? He seems to be taking a lot of beatings lately in games that matter.

3. KANSAS STATE (10-2, 7-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Iowa State 30-23 | NEXT: Bowl

THE RUB: Ho hum, another week, another close win. Why do I have the Wildcats below Oklahoma, you ask? Because they lost by six touchdowns to OU on their home field. Nonetheless, great season.

4. BAYLOR (9-3, 6-3) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas 48-24 | NEXT: Bowl

THE RUB: Memo to Kansas City GM Scott Pioli: You might want to draft Robert Griffin III. The Bears beat Oklahoma and Texas this season. Not long ago, that seemed impossible.

5. MISSOURI (7-5, 5-4) | NEXT: Bowl

THE RUB: The Big 12 has worked the Tigers over in three of the last four bowls. Now that Mizzou is going to the SEC, will the conference do it again?

6. TEXAS (7-5, 4-5) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Baylor 48-24 | NEXT: Bowl

THE RUB: How does a school with the recruiting base Texas has not have a decent quarterback?

7. TEXAS A&M (6-6, 4-5) | NEXT: Bowl

THE RUB: New conference, and now a new coach. Mike Sherman looked in over his head from the beginning.

8. IOWA STATE (6-6, 3-6) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas State 30-23 | NEXT: Bowl

THE RUB: The Cyclones had their chances Saturday and nearly ended up with wins over two of the top three teams in the league.

9. TEXAS TECH (5-7, 2-7) | LAST WEEK: Season over

THE RUB: How much longer before Sonny Dykes takes over for Tommy Tuberville?

10. KANSAS (2-10, 0-9) | LAST WEEK: Season over

THE RUB: The Jayhawks are running out of coaching options. I expect a call any day.

Who Kansas should hire to replace Turner Gill

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You'd be smiling, too, if you made $2 million per win and got $6 million to take the next three years off.

Mike Leach to Kansas. Everybody outside of Lawrence knew that was a pipedream. Almost as ridiculous as that Jim Harbaugh-to-Kansas storyline from 2009, when the Jayhawks ran the only decent football coach in school history out of town.

Other big names are being thrown out there, none more preposterous than Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly. I’m not making that one up, though it is from a message board. With that, as well as the stupefying expectations Kansas fans have for their next coach, in mind, here are a few suggestions for the Jayhawks next football coach:

MOLLY MCGRATH (WILDCATS)

Who better to coach the sport of kings, better than diamond rings …

HAYDEN FOX (COACH)

The man won at Minnesota State with Luther and Dobber as assistant coaches.

ED GENNERO

Despite playing iron-man football and having Sinbad on the defensive line, he tied Kansas 3-3 for Texas State’s first non-loss.

Tennessee's Pat Summitt has 1,000 career wins, 500 times more than Kansas did this season.

PAT SUMMITT

Winningest coach in NCAA basketball history. Never mind that she isn’t a football coach.

DARTH VADER

And you thought Mark Mangino was tough on his players.

Bad, Kansas football is.

YODA

He schooled Darth Vader. And he was about 800 years old. It might take that long to rebuild in Lawrence.

If KU is looking for a coach to distract the officials, this is their guy.

BOBBY “THE BRAIN” HEENAN

Who better to lead your team than the guy who managed Andre The Giant, among others?

Great coach. Question is, does he get the boosters he had at UCLA (or the ones who support Kansas basketball).

JOHN WOODEN

Arguably the greatest coach of all-time. One issue: He isn’t alive.

He started as a basketball coach ... perfect fit at Kansas.

VINCE LOMBARDI

Arguably the greatest football coach of all time. But: See John Wooden.

PHIL WESTON AND MIKE “JUICE BOX” DITKA

The former won a rec soccer league title, the latter a Super Bowl.

MICKEY GOLDMILL

“You’re gonna eat lightning and crap thunder …”

Even he might struggle to resurrect this program.

JESUS

I hear he’s good with reclamation projects.