On Sunday, Christmas Eve, the Kansas City Chiefs clinched the AFC West title by beating the Miami Dolphins 29-13, for their first-ever back-to-back division titles. Then, Head Coach Andy Reid dressed up like Santa Claus for the press conference and after-game parties. Now, I ask you, who in the entire NFL looks more like Santa Claus than the bespectacled and mustachioed round man of the Chiefs? I mean this guy is Saint Nick’s double! They look so much alike I bet Rudolph hangs out at Andy’s house during the off season!
There is a lot of money in sports, we all agree. Did you know, though, that a tennis player is “King of the Mountain” when it comes to money? Roger Federer won $764,000 at the ATP Finals in London and with that he eclipsed the record that was held by Tiger Woods. Federer has now pocketed a cool $110,617,682!
What is the best conference in college basketball? The Big 12 is building a strong case. Let’s skip total records because everybody has a number of cupcakes on their schedule. Instead let’s focus on games against Major 7 opponents. The Big 12 leads the nation with a 27-14 (.659) record. The ACC, considered by some the epitome of excellence in college basketball, comes in second at 34-22, followed by the Big East and the American Athletic Conference, of which Wichita State is a member.
Speaking of Wichita State, the Shockers are one of just five schools that have won a game in each of the last five NCAA TOURNAMENTS, joining North Carolina, Kansas, Oregon and Gonzaga. Going back to their Final Four season in 2012-13, the Shockers 152 wins and .840 winning percentage are second nationally only to Gonzaga!
Wichita State’s four 30-win seasons over that five-year stretch is the most of any team in college hoops. It has been matched just five other times in NCAA history. The Shockers’ string of eight consecutive 25-win seasons is one of Division I’s five-longest active streaks. The Kansas Jayhawks lead that parade with 12 consecutive 25-win seasons followed by Gonzaga (10), Duke (10), Wichita State (8) and Virginia Commonwealth (8).
Coach Greg Marshall has built a powerhouse in Wichita that has turned heads throughout the nation and moved the Shockers into a big-time basketball conference that will only make things better for Wichita State fans.
You will note that the Kansas Jayhawks were also mentioned in every one of those “Top Teams” categories mentioned above. The guys of coach Bill Self are one of just eight schools nationally to make the NCAA tournament in each of the last seven seasons. The others are Duke, Cincinnati, Gonzaga, Michigan State, North Carolina, Virginia Commonwealth and Wisconsin.
The Cats got prickly in the second half of the Cactus Bowl. I must admit, at halftime, I thought this might be one of those “bummer” performances by the Big 12, once again , as Kansas State trailed 17-7 and looked confused by the speedy Bruins of UCLA. The Bruin defense certainly didn’t look like a unit that had been giving up 285 yards rushing per game. UNTIL the second half. K-State would outscore UCLA 28-0 by piling up 345 yards rushing.
At halftime it looked like the Big 12 would lose their third straight game of this bowl season, as Texas Tech and West Virginia came up stumbling. Thank goodness, the Wildcats turned it around at halftime. Perhaps, in the UCLA dressing room at halftime, their interim coach used the famous words of soccer coach Steve McClaren who said, “We’re not as good as we think we are. We need to go out there and prove that.” The Bruins did just that!
Buddy Tabler is a guest columnist for the Great Bend Tribune and his views don’t necessarily reflect those of the paper. He can be reached at email@example.com.