Now, that I've come back from my bar-exam induced hiatus, it's time to jump back into the important things in life. Specifically, college football. Even more specifically, Big 12 football.
And even more specifically, the interesting proposition put forward by Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe that the conference is considering moving the football championship game to Dallas' new Cowboys Stadium permanently. Beebe said that the last time the issue of future championship sites came up, and the new Cowboys Stadium was mentioned as a possibility, the conference decided it wasn't interested in permanently locking up championship sites.
Apparently, that has all changed now. Without a doubt, the new Cowboys Stadium is an incredible edifice. For the $1 billion it cost to build, I sure as hell hope it's incredible. I'd hate to think that $1 billion doesn't buy much anymore.
But I guess I just don't see the point. I watch that video linked above, and I wonder who goes to these stadiums so they can sit in a sports lounge and watch the game on TV. Maybe I'm old fashioned, but when I go to a venue for a football game, or a baseball game, or a basketball game, I really don't need much other than a seat where I can see the action, a bathroom, and a place to get an overpriced drink and some overpriced food occasionally. I'm sure the new stadium in Arlington has much nicer shitters and much more overpriced food, but does that really make it a better venue for the Big 12 championship game?
Also, if you watch that video and think "ooh, those sports bars and lounges look sooooo nice!", then just remember that at a Big 12 championship game, there won't be any alcohol served in the public areas of the stadium. So those sports bars and lounges will be a beautiful place to go get a Coke, and watch the game that you paid $75 to attend on TV while you wait in line.
One of the primary arguments that's being made in favor of moving the game to Dallas is based on the weather. Both Beebe and Texas Tech's Mike Leach brought that up recently.
Beebe: "Part of that means trying to play in the national championship game and I think we would be at risk the first time when we have a blizzard somewhere when clearly the team that's No. 1 in the country slips and slides and loses maybe to another inferior team in the conference, and then we forgo the chance to play for the national championship."
Leach: "It stabilizes the weather situation, if that's important. I don't know how important that is, because there was a year a while back where it was a big issue.
I want to know what year it is that Mike Leach is talking about. During the first four years of the Big 12 CCG, it rotated between domed stadiums in St. Louis and San Antonio. Finally, in 2000, the conference decided to play football out in the elements, as the game was meant to be played, when Kansas City's Arrowhead Stadium was chosen. The high that day was 37 degrees, but it didn't seem to affect the South Division representative, Oklahoma, who beat K-State on its way to a national title. After that, the title game was played semi-outdoors in Texas the next two years, with the North and the South splitting games.
So far, so good, right? In the three years the game had been played outside, including a chilly evening in KC, there was no complaint that the weather played any role. Of course, in 2003, the "greatest team in the history of college football" came to KC on a chilly evening (high of 39, low of 28) and got stomped by K-State. However, if anyone wants to seriously argue that Oklahoma lost that game because of the weather, I'll be happy to step in front of any neutral arbiter and have that one out with you. K-State won that game because it had playmakers on offense like Ell Roberson and Darren Sproles, a stout defense, and OU's Jason White was playing on one good knee. On top of all that, it's not like it was historically cold or anything. Granted, if you're from the south and you're a really big vagina about cold weather, I'm sure 30 degrees sounds pretty awful, but trust me, if you put enough layers on and wear a damn stocking cap and gloves, you'll be fine.
Oh, and just in case anyone forgot, the next year the title game was played in KC again, and the high was 60 degrees that day. After a short detour to Houston for Vince Young's throttling of Colorado, we came back to KC in 2006 for what still stands as the coldest Big 12 CCG. In 2006, Nebraska met Oklahoma in KC -- in front of more than 80,000 fans, by the way -- with temperatures at game time in the mid-20s. The cold temperatures didn't seem to be much of a problem for 10-2 Oklahoma, as the Sooners dispatched 9-3 Nebraska by the score of 21-7. After one more trip to that inglorious domed structure next to I-35 in San Antonio, the title game returned to KC last year for OU's DISRESPECT! showdown with Missouri. The high temperature that day was 45 degrees, and the Sooners laid waste to the Missouri's True Sons.
So the grand tally of Big 12 CCG played outdoors at a "North" venue comes to five. In those games, the South is 4-1, with only Oklahoma's loss to K-State in 2003 as a blemish. This only furthers my conspiracy theory that Texas' players are so soft, they intentionally throw their season in the years the title game is played in KC so they don't have to risk playing in the cold. OK, obviously that was a joke, but most of the whining about cold weather comes from south of the Red River, so I couldn't resist.
The point of the preceding four paragraphs is that Beebe's contention that weather could be that big of a deal is unfounded. Teams from the South have played in cold weather in the North and won. What's more, I've played in a lot of golf tournaments, and because I'm from the Great Plains, I've played in a lot of golf tournaments on days when the wind was howling. Of course, the wind wasn't just affecting my shots, it was affecting everyone's shots. Weather doesn't play favorites, it's the same for both teams that are outside playing in it. Also, considering that most of the North teams have a lot of players from Texas, Florida and California, it's not like these teams are trotting out lineups full of local boys who grew up in the bitter cold of Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, or Missouri. As to his comment about "slipping and sliding," do the teams from the South need to get better cleats or something? Do the teams from the North have non-skid shoes? If so, where do I get a pair of those shoes?
To put my feelings into the most blunt form I can, if your team blames losing a conference title game on the weather, you're a bunch of mental midgets who don't deserve to be playing college football. What's more, despite Beebe's fear that a little cold weather and some snow might derail the national title hopes of a conference team, I highly doubt that a team that can't win a game in adverse conditions is likely to defeat the champion of another conference. As to the "blizzard" comment, it's asinine to think that a football game would be played in a blizzard. If the weather was anything even approaching blizzard conditions on the day of the game, it would be delayed and played later, for the safety of the players and fans who are trying to travel to the game.
Moving on to other arguments against playing the title game in Kansas City, let's address a few more of Dan Beebe's and Mike Leach's comments:
Beebe: "I think Houston did an outstanding job and so did San Antonio," Beebe said. "I think when you get outside of the reaches of that-the I-35 corridor or Houston, then you have a little more problems with Denver and St. Louis, because it's just harder to get to for a lot of the fans. We had a great experience in Houston and a great experience in San Antonio. Kansas City and Dallas are certainly more in the centralized area, but I don't think we can forgo anything right now."
Leach: Some of the teams in the North don't like it, but I think if you look at it objectively, it's easier for a lot of the teams in the North to fly to Dallas in a whole bunch of the North locations, and then moving into the same spot every year is pretty good."
Has anyone heard of the Interstate Highway System? It's this little thing that a president in the 1950s by the name of Eisenhower dreamed up. Crazy idea, basically wanted to build wide, controlled-access, uniformly designed roads across the nation to improve interstate travel. It's really been a smashing success, too. As I look at the map of Interstate highways, I notice that Texas Tech is the only school in the conference that doesn't have direct interstate access to pretty much anywhere else in the conference. It's ironic to me that the good captain Leach is talking about how easy it is to fly into Dallas, considering that he had to be given a special tour of the sprawling DFW airport last year after he called the place "a confusing mess." Of course, North fans could always fly into Love Field, and enjoy the nauseating cross winds on approach and the neck-snapping landings as the pilots bounce onto the runway.
Either way, it is absolutely not easier for most of the North teams to fly into Dallas than it is to drive to KC. Nebraska fans would have to drive to Omaha, K-State or Mizzou fans would have to drive to KC, Colorado fans would have to drive to Denver, and then they'd get to board a plane to Dallas. Frankly, I'd rather just drive to KC and watch the game there, thanks.
I don't really buy that having the game in the North or the South's territory is really any great home-field advantage in the sense that it's played on a neutral site and tickets are held for both teams. But in terms of travel, one of the ideas of rotating the sites is that teams and fans should have the opportunity to have the game relatively nearby as often as it's down in that foreign country to the south of Oklahoma.
Anyway, based on all the arguments that are being advanced in favor of moving to Dallas permanently, I don't see much merit in any of them. Of course, I think Beebe is being PC and not mentioning the fact that a game at Jerryworld, with its overpriced parking, tickets and food, is likely to be a cash cow for the conference. Of course, we could never mention filthy lucre in talking about why we would make decisions, but anyone with a brain knows the Cowboys have more money to throw at the Big 12 than do the Chiefs.
So I suppose we should resign ourselves to the possibility that we are looking at annual sojourns to Dallas each December to watch our teams play in the Big 12 CCG. However, I don't think this is anywhere near a done deal at this point. As such, I think it's critical that all fans, administrators, and coaches of North schools make it clear to the conference office that, if we indeed are going to be stuck in Dallas each December, then the rest of the conference is coming to Kansas City each March. And yes, I said each March, not two out of every three, or two out of every four. Every single men's basketball postseason conference tournament had better be in KC if football is going to Dallas. It's a crime that KC was deprived of the tournament at any point, considering that it was the traditional home of the Big 8 tournament, and we added four schools that traditionally don't give a shit about basketball. But given that Kemper Arena was falling apart and politics in KC -- go figure -- delayed getting a new arena built, I can understand it.
No more, however. While I understand that the Sprint Center is not the ZOMG epitome of American excess that Cowboys Stadium is, it's a beautiful facility in a town that cares about basketball. Beebe talks about wanting to build a local ticket base by anchoring these things. Guess what, Dan? You already have that in KC. The residents of this city got accustomed to having the tournament in town each year, and to watching teams such as K-State under Jack Hartman and Lon Kruger, Mizzou under Norm Stewart, KU under Larry Brown and Roy Williams, Oklahoma under Billy Tubbs, and Oklahoma State that they came back every year. You should have seen the furor created when the Big 12 tournament came to the Sprint Center. They had to hold a lottery for the tickets...in the upper deck. I happily paid $300 per seat for an all-session pass despite being a broke-ass law student, and my girlfriend was more than happy to pay that much, too.
Kansas City cares about the postseason basketball tournament. Of course, Oklahoma City will tell you it does, too, but it really only cares when OU or Oklahoma State are playing. Granted, it's better than Dallas and the stunningly empty American Airlines Center, but it's not Kansas City.
My hope is that the schools of the North bind together and throw down the gauntlet in front of Beebe and the Big 12's board of directors. If football is going to Dallas, then basketball is going to Kansas City. Period. Anything else is an absolute non-starter.