BIg 12 rankings, Week 11: An epic clash for the conference title

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kansas celebrates like its 1999, even though beating missouri isn't a big deal anymore.

1. kansas (24-5, 14-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas A&M, Missouri | THIS WEEK: Monday at Oklahoma State, Saturday vs. Texas

THE RUB: Eight straight titles. Don’t see that ending until the Big 12-2-1-1+1+1 folds in three years.

2. MISSOURI (25-4, 12-4) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas State, kansas | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Iowa State, Saturday at Texas Tech

THE RUB: Missouri lost the Big 12 with losses at Oklahoma State and vs. Kansas State. Saturday’s epic showdown did nothing other than confirm to me that the Tigers are the best team in the conference, which I think we’ll see in a few weeks. Until then, ku is the Big 12 champion and has to be ranked No. 1.

3. IOWA STATE (21-8, 11-5) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas Tech, Kansas State | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Missouri, Saturday vs. Baylor

THE RUB: Saturday’s win at Kansas State was one of the best in the conference this season.

4. BAYLOR (24-5, 11-5) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas, Oklahoma | THIS WEEK: Monday vs. Texas Tech, Saturday at Iowa State

THE RUB: Still think there’s something missing with this team. They should have throttled Oklahoma on their home court.

5. KANSAS STATE (19-9, 8-8) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Missouri, lost to Iowa State | THIS WEEK: Tuesday at Texas A&M, Saturday vs. Oklahoma State

THE RUB: Great win at Missouri, terrible loss at home to Iowa State. No Big 12 team is more inconsistent.

6. TEXAS (18-11, 8-8) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Baylor, defeated Texas Tech | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Oklahoma, Saturday at Kansas

THE RUB: Looks like the Longhorns might need to spring an upset in the Big 12 tourney to get into the NCAAs.

7. OKLAHOMA STATE (14-15, 7-9) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oklahoma, defeated Texas A&M | THIS WEEK: Monday vs. Kansas, Saturday at Kansas State

THE RUB: Very good at home, atrocious on the road.

8. OKLAHOMA (14-14, 4-12) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma State, lost to Baylor | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Texas, Saturday vs. Texas A&M

THE RUB: Oklahoma has one win in the last three-plus weeks.

9. TEXAS A&M (13-15, 4-12) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas, Oklahoma State | THIS WEEK: Tuesday vs. Kansas State, Saturday at Oklahoma

THE RUB: The Aggies aren’t exactly going into the SEC with a bang, in basketball or football.

10. TEXAS TECH (8-20, 1-15) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Iowa State, Texas | THIS WEEK: Monday at Baylor, Saturday vs. Missouri

THE RUB: Better, but still terrible.

Missouri vs. Kansas: I’ll miss it

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“It’s who you are.”

Those words have been running through my head this week. They are Shana’s words, said after Missouri’s loss to Kansas State and my surly mood for a day.

Truer words have never been spoken. For more than 20 years now, I’ve been a Tiger living around the enemy. Days without trash talk from Kansas fans don’t exist. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

THE BACKGROUND

In the mid-1980s, I was on a road trip with my dad. We drove through Columbia, Mo., past Memorial Stadium and Faurot Field. I asked, “Dad, who plays there?” “Missouri, son, but they’re not any good anymore.”

I didn’t care how good or bad they were. I was 9-year-old blown away by the stadium. From that moment on, I’ve bled black and gold.

Basketball was the sport back then, thanks to Norm Stewart. I remember listening to Big Eight wars against “jackass” (Norm’s words, not mine) Billy Tubbs and the Sooners, and, of course, Danny Manning and the Jayhawks.

My loyalty remained intact in 1989 when we moved to Burlingame, Kan., located between Lawrence, Kan., and Manhattan, Kan. Not exactly comfortable territory for a Missouri guy.

I wore a Missouri shirt during the first week of school and heard plenty about it. I didn’t back down. I’ve never understood the belief that somebody should change teams based on geography. Being a good fan means you stick with your team.

GROWING UP

The next several years simply intensified the rivalry. My eighth-grade year, 1989-90, was a good one. The football team beat the Jayhawks (then again, who didn’t?), and the Tigers knocked off No. 1 Kansas teams in basketball twice, including an epic game in Lawrence I’ll never forget listening to on the radio.

High school, however, was a struggle. The Jayhawks won six straight. I distinctly remember tearing up the day after Kansas knocked off Anthony Peeler’s last team in overtime. Jayhawks fans were and are merciless. I wouldn’t have that any other way, either.

The reprieve was my senior year, which included two Missouri wins, an undefeated conference season, an Elite Eight run and a call from Stewart, who I’d phoned to interview for an English project.

For those of you who think Norm was a jerk, think about that. He called a high school senior, in Kansas no less, immediately after Missouri’s season ended, to help him with an English paper.

If I'm covering a game or working, objectivity is the name of the game. At home? Not so much

OBJECTIVELY SPEAKING

Even when I worked at Kansas newspapers, folks new I was Missouri fan. At least those I worked with. Hell, at my first few jobs, even the readers knew it. The more I think about that, the more absurd it seems – writing columns about Missouri in the likes of Independence and Emporia.

I’d like to think that changed when I had a column at the Topeka Capital-Journal. My goal then was to be as objective as possible. The emails I got about being a Kansas fan were great news to me as a journalist (not so much to me as a fan).

I’m sure some bias slipped. A co-worker pointed out in 2007, “You picked Missouri to win the North this year? There’s a shocker.” Missouri proceeded to win the North and was one game from playing for a national title.

The co-worker was a rabid Kansas fan. There’s a shocker.

MEMORIES

Lee Coward’s ice-cold jumpers to stun Kansas at the buzzer, Peeler’s 43-point explosion in a loss at Allen Fieldhouse in 1992, Booker’s one-man gang performance at AFH in 1994, the 1997 Columbia Classic, Aaron Miles’ oblong 3-pointer that somehow found the bottom of the net in 2003, David Padgett’s sloppy heave in 2004, Thomas Gardner’s 40-point game in 2006 (Quin Snyder’s last win as a college coach), Zaire Taylor’s buzzer-beater in 2009 and Marcus Denmon’s legendary finish this year.

Oh, the memories. So many of them on both sides.

Unfortunately, the memories are all we have. These teams probably won’t play for a long time, if they do again. Missouri is leaving for the SEC, and Kansas is taking its ball and going home.

Hopefully at some point Bill Self will man up and play Missouri. It's his call. He does run the athletics department.

THE BREAKUP

I get why you’re mad, Kansas. You feel like Missouri deserted the conference. Why would you help out somebody who bailed on you? Why do anything that’s good for the Tigers (how about because it’s also good for Kansas?)?

That line of thinking is ridiculous. Would Kansas have left the Big 12 if it had the chance? Would it have bolted if the ACC came calling? Or the SEC? Absolutely. To say otherwise is denial.

Another myth is that Kansas fans don’t care about Missouri. “We beat you all the time anyway. We don’t need you. We’re Kansas.” Baloney. Every Kansas fan I know lives to beat Missouri. It makes your day. You get to belittle folks like me at work, in the grocery store or from your register at Burger King.

You’re going to miss talking trash on your archrival. You’ll miss those annual beatdowns in Allen Fieldhouse. You’ll miss asking where we are in the Big 12 standings (basketball anyway. You don’t win in anything else).

I’m not going to lie. I won’t miss hearing about losing to Kansas. But I will miss the games. I’ll miss the feeling I had on Feb. 4, when Denmon ripped your heart out minutes after Conner Teahen had the audacity to taunt a guy who’s five times the player he is.

SO LONG

I can’t say it’s always been fun. I’ve been so mad I wouldn’t talk to my family. I’ve broken remotes. I’ve yelled and cussed. Hell, I even cried when I was a kid.

But it’s been wildly entertaining. We’ll keep the light on for you if your administration decides to put on its big boy pants. Until then, in the words of Augustus McCrae (6:30 mark in above video) in “Lonesome Dove”: I god, it’s been quite a party, ain’t it?

Big 12 rankings, Week 10: Border War, Part II

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Missouri's faith in Haith has translated to a 25-2 record.

We’re one game from the ultimate Border War. Two rivals, both ranked in the top five, for the conference championship. It doesn’t get any better than that.

1. MISSOURI (25-2, 12-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma State, Texas A&M | THIS WEEK: Tuesday vs. Kansas State, Saturday at Kansas

THE RUB: Assuming the Tigers get past the Wildcats, Saturday’s game might rank as the biggest in the rivalry’s history.

2. kansas (22-5, 12-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Kansas State, Texas Tech | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Texas A&M, Saturday vs. Missouri

THE RUB: If Dash Harris returns for the Aggies, Wednesday looks like a trap game for the jayhawks.

3. IOWA STATE (19-8, 9-5) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Baylor, defeated Oklahoma | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Texas Tech, Saturday at Kansas State

THE RUB: One more win should lock up an NCAA Tournament bid.

4. BAYLOR (22-5, 9-5) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Iowa State, lost to Kansas State | THIS WEEK: Monday at Texas, Saturday vs. Oklahoma

THE RUB: So much talent, so little heart.

5. KANSAS STATE (18-8, 7-7) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas, defeated Baylor | THIS WEEK: Tuesday at Missouri, Saturday vs. Iowa State

THE RUB: HUGE win for the Wildcats. The reward? Back-to-back games against Missouri and Iowa State

6. TEXAS (17-10, 7-7) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma, lost to Oklahoma State | THIS WEEK: Monday vs. Baylor, Saturday at Texas Tech

THE RUB: The Longhorns need two wins this week to secure an NCAA bid.

7. OKLAHOMA STATE (13-14, 6-8) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Missouri, defeated Texas | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Oklahoma, Saturday vs. Texas A&M

THE RUB: Nineteenth-year senior Keiton Page had a game for the ages Saturday with 40 points.

8. TEXAS A&M (13-13, 4-10) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas Tech, lost to Missouri | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Kansas, Saturday at Oklahoma State

THE RUB: The Aggies have had a miserable season but could put a dent in the Big 12 race Wednesday.

9. OKLAHOMA (13-13, 3-11) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Texas, Iowa State | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday at Baylor

THE RUB: The Sooners are in free-fall mode with six straight losses.

10. TEXAS TECH (8-18, 1-13) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Texas A&M, Kansas | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Iowa State, Saturday vs. Texas

THE RUB: Saturday’s game against Kansas looked like an NBA team playing an NAIA opponent.

I’m into fitness, take 18: Beating the plateau

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A few weeks ago after a seven-mile run.

Two-hundred and fifteen. That was my plateau weight. And it was one hell of a plateau, as in a four-month plateau. No matter what I did, how many miles I ran, how well I ate, I simply could not get over that hurdle.

The fact that I’d gain weight with any letdown made it even more frustrating. As I wrote a few weeks ago, my weight climbed as high as 223 during Christmas vacation (Of course, I did indulge in a cheese coma on Christmas day).

When I returned to work and got back into a routine, the answer seemed obvious: Working harder. Running farther, lifting more weights, continuing to count calories. As I’ve said many times, there is no quick fix. To lose a ton of weight, you’re going to have to work your ass off.

So, I pushed myself. In the middle of January, I went from running three miles a day (about 400-500 calories burnt) to running four miles a day (about 600-700 calories). By the end of the month, I’d clocked my first 10K and was averaging close to five miles a day.

Toward the end of January, the weight started coming off again. First, back to 215. Then, to 212, the lowest weight since 2001. Then, in early February, I hit 210. As of today, I weigh 207.8 pounds. That’s 15.2 pounds since Dec. 26.

Last weekend, I set a personal best with an 8.2-mile run. Had it not been 12 degrees (windchill of about 8 degrees), I might have run 10 miles.

SETTING GOALS

As I’ve written many times, I don’t necessarily love running. I love what it does for my body. But there are days where I don’t enjoy it. I avoid burnout by setting goals, and lofty ones.

Last week, I tried to run five miles a day for five days, or 25 miles. This week, I’m trying to run 40. Through four days, I’m at 23.5 miles, nearly six miles a day. I’ll likely burn more than 9,000 calories this week.

That’ll lead up to my goal for the spring: to run an official 10K, then a 10-miler.

After six miles on the treadmill at the gym, shirt drenched in about three pounds of sweat.

THE FINISH LINE

I can finally see it. Nearly two years later, I’m eight pounds from 200 and nine to 20 pounds from the ideal weight for someone my height (5-foot-8) with my frame (large).

The weight loss total is at 102.2, which is great. But the best and more important part is that I feel great, healthy. In fact, I feel better at 35 than I ever have. And it doesn’t hurt that I actually look good!

Big 12 rankings, week 9: Tigers, Jayhawks pulling away

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Flip Pressey’s 19 points spearheaded Missouri’s rout of Baylor.

No change at the top, as Missouri and Kansas all but eliminated Baylor from the conference championship race with back-to-back beatdowns of the Bears.

1, MISSOURI (23-2, 10-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma, Baylor | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday at Texas A&M

THE RUB: The Tigers are rolling, but that loss to Oklahoma State continues to loom large and will unless Kansas loses before the Feb. 25 rematch.

2. KANSAS (20-5, 10-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Baylor, Oklahoma State | THIS WEEK: Monday at Kansas State, Saturday vs. Texas Tech

THE RUB: Scott Drew vs. Bill Self is a little like Alvin the Chipmunk vs. Chewbacca.

3, BAYLOR (21-4, 8-4) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas, Missouri | THIS WEEK: Monday vs. Iowa State, Saturday vs. Kansas State

THE RUB: The Bears, like the Ukraine, are weak.

4. IOWA STATE (18-7, 8-4) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oklahoma State, defeated Texas A&M | THIS WEEK: Monday at Baylor, Saturday vs. Oklahoma State

THE RUB: All that’s separating the Cyclones from first place are closes losses to Missouri (at home) and Oklahoma State (in Stillwater).

5. TEXAS (16-9, 6-6) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas A&M, Kansas State | THIS WEEK: Tuesday at Oklahoma, Saturday at Oklahoma State

THE RUB: The Longhorns slide past the Wildcats into fifth (and in the NCAA Tournament picture).

6. KANSAS STATE (17-7, 6-6) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas Tech, lost to Texas | THIS WEEK: Monday vs. Kansas, Saturday at Baylor

THE RUB: The Wildcats need a win Monday to secure an NCAA bid. Otherwise, they’re looking at a 17-9 (6-8) record going into a revenge game at Missouri.

7. OKLAHOMA STATE (12-13, 5-7) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Iowa State, lost to Kansas | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Missouri, Saturday vs. Texas

THE RUB: The Cowboys continued to be a factor in the Big 12 race with a win against Iowa State.

8. TEXAS A&M (12-12, 3-9) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Texas, Iowa State | THIS WEEK: Tuesday at Texas Tech, Saturday vs. Missouri

THE RUB: Injuries, health problems in the coaching staff, close losses all over the schedule … awful year for the Aggies.

9, OKLAHOMA (13-11, 3-9) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Missouri, Texas Tech | THIS WEEK: Tuesday vs. Texas, Saturday at Iowa State

THE RUB: The Sooners produced a dud Saturday, losing to a terrible Texas Tech team by 20.

10. TEXAS TECH (8-16, 1-11) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas State, defeated Oklahoma | THIS WEEK: Tuesday vs. Texas A&M, Saturday at Kansas

THE RUB: Somehow, someway, this team actually won a conference game.

I’m into fitness, take 17: So I lost 100 pounds

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There have been several milestones during my fitness makeover: Getting below 300 pounds, 50 pounds lost, weighing less than 250, etc. But it really hits you when you reach triple digits in weight loss.

That’s right, I hit 100 pounds lost last week. After months of hovering around 212-215 pounds, I broke the 210-pound barrier on Tuesday. After a 10k on Saturday, I weigh about 208. I’m sure that’s up a bit after a trip to Five Guys on Saturday and plenty of beer during Missouri’s win against Kansas.

So why did the weight finally start dipping again? Pretty simple answer: I started working out even more. I’d been running about three miles a day for four months in January. A few weeks later, I average five miles a day. During the last two weeks, I’ve run a 10k or more four times, including a seven-miler on Thursday.

Hard work pays off. I could barely walk up a flight of stairs without breathing heavily a few years ago. Now I can run seven miles. As I’ve said, if I can do it, anybody can.

A number of folks have asked about before and after photos. There aren’t a lot of before photos at my worst. Seriously, who likes their photo being taken at 300 pounds? Anyway, I’ve posted several below through the past few years. Enjoy.

JULY 2009 
On my 33rd birthday with Charles. Weight … about 300 pounds.
 SEPTEMBER 2009
Final movie night in Newport News with Sean. Weight … Over 300 pounds.

JANUARY 2010

 

At my worst … more than 300 pounds.

JUNE 2010

About 50 pounds lost, in the 260s.

NOVEMBER 2010

About 240 pounds.

MAY 2011, PART I

With Rory at Rodeo Days, about 240 pounds.

MAY 2011, PART II

With the girlfriend at her 20-year reunion. Weight, about 240.

SEPTEMBER 2011

September 24, not long after my first 5K. At about 220 pounds.
 OCTOBER 2011

With the boys at about 220 pounds.

 
NOVEMBER 2011
Trying on a tux for the Bow Tie Ball, about 215 pounds.

FEBRUARY 2012

At 209 pounds, lowest since 2001.

Big 12 rankings, Week Eight: Eye of the Tiger

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Marcus Denmon became a Tiger legend Saturday with a dazzling clutch performance for Missouri.

You couldn’t have asked for a better game to close out the Border War in Missouri. The Tigers staged a comeback for the ages to remain on top in this week’s rankings.

1.  (21-2, 8-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas, Kansas | THIS WEEK: Monday at Oklahoma, Saturday vs. Baylor

THE RUB: “We are Mizzou, so who you?” Anyway, Marcus Denmon became a legend, willing Missouri to a stunning comeback. This is a huge week for Mizzou with a trap game at OU and a home game against Baylor

2.  (18-5, 8-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Oklahoma, lost to Missouri | THIS WEEK: Wednesday at Baylor, Saturday vs. Oklahoma State

THE RUB: The Jayhawks were a little more than two minutes away from essentially wrapping up the Big 12 championship.

3.  (21-2, 8-2) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas A&M, Oklahoma State | THIS WEEK: Wednesday vs. Kansas, Saturday at Missouri

THE RUB: If the Bears are serious about winning the Big 12, they’ll win both games this week.

4. IOWA STATE (17-6, 7-3) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Kansas State, Oklahoma | THIS WEEK: Tuesday at Oklahoma State, Saturday vs. Texas A&M

THE RUB: In case you missed it, the Cyclones are a game out of first place.

5. KANSAS STATE (16-6, 5-5) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Iowa State, defeated Texas A&M | THIS WEEK: Tuesday vs. Texas Tech, Saturday at Texas

THE RUB: Will Spradling finally found a slump-buster in the underachieving, injury-riddled Aggies.

6. TEXAS (14-9, 4-6) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Missouri, defeated Texas Tech | THIS WEEK: Monday at Texas A&M, Saturday vs. Kansas State

THE RUB: The Longhorns wasted another opportunity last week against Missouri. Winning two this week is critical to Texas’ NCAA hopes.

7. OKLAHOMA STATE (11-12, 4-6) | LAST WEEK: Defeated Texas Tech, lost to Baylor | THIS WEEK: Tuesday vs. Iowa State, Saturday at Kansas

THE RUB: One more time: Keiton Page was not fouled on the 3-pointer late in Saturday’s game. He pump-faked, then leaned into the defender on his shot. That is not a foul.

8. OKLAHOMA (13-9, 3-7) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Kansas, Iowa State | THIS WEEK: Monday vs. Missouri, Saturday at Texas Tech

THE RUB: Something tells me the Sooners are going to play well Monday night.

9. TEXAS A&M (12-10, 3-7) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Baylor, Kansas State | THIS WEEK: Monday vs. Texas, Saturday at Iowa State

THE RUB: Hard to believe this team was a co-favorite to win the conference championship.

10. TEXAS TECH (7-15, 0-10) | LAST WEEK: Lost to Oklahoma State, Texas | THIS WEEK: Tuesday at Kansas State, Saturday vs. Oklahoma

THE RUB: I got nothin’. Only so many ways you can say a team sucks.