Every couple of years someone in Wichita announces a study, or a desire, to bring football back at Wichita State University. It is kind of a semi-annual event for frustrated Shocker football fans.
Perhaps they should concentrate on bringing baseball back. At a school that has built its’ swagger on baseball and basketball since giving up on football, all of a sudden baseball has gone AWOL. It’s a darned good thing that Frank Marshall’s basketball team has been a national power the past couple of years.
Following a 7-6 loss last Sunday to Cal Poly in Wichita, the once-storied Shocker baseball program fell to a season record of 7-16. There have been complete years that the Shockers didn’t lose that many games! 7-16 is the worst start in program history for Wichita State. Oh yes, Cal Poly took the series 2-1.
In 1978, Gene Stephenson was hired to resurrect the Wichita State baseball program. He accomplished that, and some. At the end of the 2012 season Stephenson had compiled a 1798-647 record. He had the second most wins among all coaches and ranked second, all-time, in career victories. Under his leadership the Shockers made seven College World Series and 26 NCAA Tournament appearances. His teams never had a losing season.
After 36 years, Stephenson was fired on June 4, 2013. Thanks, but so long.
Stephenson was replaced by Todd Butler who is now beginning his third season as the Baseball Boss of the Shockers. The experiment has yet to show dividends. Butler is 57-61 so far, not counting the 7-16 start to this 2016 season.
Yes, Stephenson was getting old. Yes, Stephenson was cranky and crotchety and hard to get along with and yes, he acted like he was untouchable but, he did win and, after all, don’t all winners get just a tad overbearing? Call it the price of success.
To say Butler is on the coaching hotseat at Wichita State would be putting it mildly. Perhaps at some schools being the baseball coach keeps you out of the line of fire, off the judgement list for winning or losing but not at Wichita State. The baseball program has been, and should be, a major component of their athletic package. Winning is not a nice thing, it is a key component of the athletic department.
Sometimes the best thing is to admit when you’ve made a mistake. Wichita State might just be there.
Some are calling it The “Cheaters Bowl.” That’s the semifinal matchup at the Final Four between Syracuse and North Carolina. The Tar Heels have been under investigation for several years for allowing athletes to take “phony” classes, along with other academic misrepresentations. “Ole Roy” gives that “Aw Shucks, we didn’t know anything about it” explanation and time marches on.
Meanwhile, Syracuse is coming off of a self-imposed post-season ban for improprieties and coach, Jim Boeheim, served a nine-game suspension at the beginning of the year for “failing to monitor his program.” But, hey, it’s March Madness and all is forgiven, at least until CBS and Charles Barkley are finished with us!
The other semifinal is a “Been there, done that” as Oklahoma faces Villanova for the second time this year. Earlier in the year the Sooners destroyed the Wildcats by twenty-some points.
So, in keeping with this crazy 2016 basketball season, Villanova will probably figure out a way to win and “Ole Roy’s guys will get out of the Study Hall long enough to beat that zone defense of Syracuse.
With nobody to root for in the Monday night final, I guess I will root against Villanova. Tar Heels by 9.