Author: Wendell Barnhouse

Who’s the best freshman in college basketball? It might be Oklahoma’s Trae Young

Starting with the 1988-89 season, the United States Basketball Writers Association has presented a freshman of the year award. In July 2010, the award was named for Oklahoma’s Wayman Tisdale, who was a freshman All-American in 1985 and who passed away in 2009 at the age of 44. This season might be the first time that a Sooner wins the award named for the former OU star. While Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton, Texas’ Mo Bomba and Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. received the bulk of the pre-season attention, Oklahoma’s Trae Young has dominated the first month of the season. The 6-foot-2 freshman from Norman is the first hometown player to play for the Sooners in half a century and thus far his numbers have been astounding. He scored 43 against Oregon in the PK80 tournament; that’s the fourth-most by an OU freshman – the top three rookie point totals were posted by Tisdale. And the man who coached the incandescent Tisdale is impressed. “He has some special talents without question,” Billy Tubbs told The Oklahoman. “Trae could have made me a lot better coach if he had been around,” Tubbs said. “I don’t know if there’s a point guard I’ve seen — and I don’t see everybody — that’s any better than Trae. I was really hoping he was coming to OU.” After reaching the 2016 Final...

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Big 12’s championship game gamble pays off in revenue but could bust Oklahoma’s CFP hopes

For only the second time in the history of The Associated Press poll, Saturday will feature four games matching top 10 teams: Clemson vs. Miami (Fla.), Auburn vs. Georgia, Ohio State vs. Wisconsin and TCU vs. Oklahoma – all in conference championship games. Two of those games – the SEC and Big 12 title games – are rematches of regular-season games. On Friday and Saturday, there will be five other rematches. USC vs. Stanford in the Pac-12, UCF vs. Memphis in the American Athletic, Toledo vs. Akron in the Mid-American, Florida Atlantic vs. North Texas in Conference USA and Fresno State vs. Boise State in the Mountain West. In the Power Five conferences, there have been 64 championship games and 22 of those have been regular-season rematches. Of those 22 games, the winner of the regular-season matchup won the championship game 14 times. That’s a 63 percent success rate. Four of those winners went on to win the national championship (Oklahoma in 2000, LSU in 2003, Texas in 2005 and Auburn in 2005. Saturday’s results will help determine the College Football playoff final four and seeding. No conference and no team have as much to lose as the Big 12 and Oklahoma. The decision by the league’s board of directors to reinstate the championship game after a five-year absence was based largely on consultants’ research that the Big 12...

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CFP ranking introduces Joe Btfsplk, a new character in the Big 12’s tale of woes

Here we are in Year Four of the College Football Playoff and it’s time to introduce a character who well-represents the Big 12 Conference. That would be Joe Btfsplk. Now, dear readers, I’m sure many of you are wondering if your Visiting Professor has lost his mind (a reaction that, honestly, is not rare). Who, you wonder, is Joe Btfsplk and what in the wide, wide world of sports does he have to do with the Big 12 and the CFP? Joe Btfsplk was a character in the long-running comic strip Li’l Abner. (Younglings encouraged to Google terms “comic strip” and “newspapers” for further information). In the cartoon penned by Al Capp, Joe was depicted with a small rain cloud hovering over his head. That’s because he was a world-class jinx who brought misfortune to any and every situation. Now you get it. The Joe Btfsplk-Big 12 connection makes perfect sense. The 22-year-old league formed via shotgun marriage has produced two national championships in college football and at least two dozen issues and calamities that have plagued it on a seemingly yearly basis. Week Three of the CFP rankings have Alabama, Clemson, Miami (Fla.) and Oklahoma as this week’s top four. The Sooners moved up one – that’s right, one – spot thanks to their dominant victory over TCU (which the CFP had at No. 6 last week) and...

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With crucial TCU-Oklahoma showdown Saturday, Big 12 again defending its defenses

Time to stick a fork in this myth: The Big 12 is good at defense. But, um, the problem is the conference is good at defending itself against charges that its best teams are defensively challenged. This discussion and debate has been ongoing for the last four of five seasons but it has ramped up thanks to Oklahoma’s 62-52 Bedlam victory – called “arena football” by one pundit – and Saturday’s College Football Playoff elimination game in Norman between No. 6 (CFP ranking) TCU and the No. 5 Sooners. Bedlam offered a buffet of offense. Two senior quarterbacks (OU’s Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph) were handing off to and throwing to two of the nation’s most talented groups of skill players. Mayfield set a school record with 598 yards passing six touchdowns. Rudolph had 448 yards passing and sophomore Justice Hill gained 228 yards rushing but it wasn’t enough. The Sooners finished with 785 yards in total offense against a defense that entered the game 16th in total defense. Many outside the Big 12 footprint scoff at the crooked triple digits being posted by claiming the league’s defenses are sponsored by Kleenex. The Big 12 is all about the “o” and the teams don’t play “d.” First-year Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley’s response: “That’s uneducated.” Which is a civil way to say: “That’s stupid.” Riley’s predecessor Bob Stoops...

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Will the Big 12 have a November to remember or another season to forget?

With just about a month of the regular-season remaining, the Big 12 Conference has maybe/kinda/sorta figured out and enhanced its chances in the College Football Playoff. The CFP committee listed Oklahoma No. 5, one spot ahead of Ohio State, a team the Sooners defeated handily in Columbus in Week Two. TCU checked in at No. 8 just days after suffering its first loss. Oklahoma State, the other Big 12 CFP contender whose only loss was to TCU, was No. 11 in the initial CFP rankings. By Saturday night, the Big 12 will be down to two one-loss teams and perhaps only one. Bedlam in Stillwater matches the Sooners and the Cowboys with the loser out of the CFP race. Saturday night in Fort Worth, Texas will try to knock off the Horned Frogs. The return of the Big 12 championship game, scheduled for Dec. 2, is the main reason that Bedlam was moved from the final weekend of the season. The idea was that if OU and Oklahoma State finished as the top two teams in the standings, then playing Bedlam on the first Saturday in November would remove a rematch scenario. That might be the least of the Big 12’s worries. There’s a better than reasonable chance that the nine-game round-robin schedule will leave the Big 12 without a one-loss team. And even if a one-loss team finishes...

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TMG Guest Lecturers

TMG contributor Wendell Barnhouse moves on to basketball with a look at possibly the best freshman on the court. Read More…

Wendell Barnhouse on the Big 12 Conference Championship: will the playoff gamble bust Oklahoma’s CFP hopes? Read More…

In his first guest appearance, TMG welcomes Chris Foster, former colleague of Rankman, on cults, coaches and the power of Troy (Aikman). Read More…

The final regular season week in review from TMG Guest Lecturer, Tom Luicci. Read More…

Special contribution from USC grad student, Anthony Ciardelli, on 50th anniversary of USC vs. UCLA 1967 game for the ages. Read More…

TMG welcomes Guest Lecturer/ Fresno State Alum, Larry Stewart, for a trip down memory lane in CA’s Central Valley.  Read More...

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