Remember the Alamo City
Big 12 football fans got a splendid gift last weekend in San Antonio. First, just getting to be in San Antone for the conference title game. Second, getting to compare a venue like San Antonio with a stale venue like the Big 12’s been playing in recent years: Kansas City, Houston, Irving, Texas.San Antonio is a spectacular venue for the game. The Alamodome is nothing special, although it’s certainly OK. But the city itself, with its centralized marketplace, the Riverwalk, provides a wonderful setting. Fans can mingle and congregate. It’s like no other sports city in America with the exception of
New Orleans, with a massive entertainment district within walking distance of the stadium.
And it’s a great lesson for OU and Texas fans. Compare the revelry and atmosphere around San Antonio’s Big 12 title game with the Big 12 title games in other cities. The Sooners haven’t played at Texas Stadium, but I was there for the 2001 UT-Colorado game, and it was like 2002 in Houston or any of the Kansas City games. Just a big parking lot; lots of tailgating, but otherwise fans spread all over the city until just before kickoff.
Which is exactly the difference between an OU-Texas game at the Cotton Bowl during the fair or an OU-Texas game at Jerry Jones’ new stadium in Arlington. The parking-lot atmosphere is no match for the fairgrounds, just as the parking-lot atmosphere is no match for the Riverwalk.
Texas A&M and Arkansas are starting a series at Arlington in 2009. Oklahoma State and Texas Tech have considered the same, although they also are considering a state-fair matchup at the Cotton Bowl. The in-game atmosphere in Arlington will be great, I assume. But no way will the weekend revelry match what you have at the Fair or on the Riverwalk.
Air Traffic (out of) Control
Darndest thing happened to us last Sunday, trying to fly home. We had a direct flight from San Antonio to Oklahoma City, with a stopover in Dallas. We landed in Dallas, took off again and got somewhere between Ardmore and Pauls Valley. Then we turned around and went back to Love Field.
The pilot said something about fuses blowing, which seemed like indeed a good reason to get out of the sky. But I couldn’t figure out why we couldn’t go ahead and drop us off in Oklahoma City? The plane was going on to Denver, and Southwest needed a jet to get to Denver, but even if that replacement plane was in Dallas, wouldn’t it have been quicker to send it up to OKC and keep the schedule as close to smooth as possible?
We’re up to 16 coaching changes in the NCAA division formerly known as I-A. My latest takes on the changes.
Arkansas: New athletic director Jeff Long is off to a rocky start. He went after a couple of great coaches, Auburn’s Tommy Tuberville and Wake Forest’s Jim Grobe, but was rebuffed. Which is not a bad thing. But Long also was rejected by a mediocre coach, Clemson’s Tommy Bowden, which is a very bad thing. One question: why not make a run at OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables?
Baylor: If Art Briles wins, he’ll be the next coach at Texas Tech. If he loses, he’ll be the next guy fired at Baylor.
Colorado State: Fort Collins, Colo., ranks among the top 10 towns to live in among college football locales.
Duke: Did the Blue Devils really make a run at Navy’s Paul Johnson. If so, that’s the first sign of life from Duke football in years.
Georgia Tech: Navy’s Johnson is a heck of a coach. But it’s still not for certain he can win with the YellowJackets. Option football works at the service academies. We’ll see if it works against Virginia Tech, Florida State and Miami.
Houston: Interim coach Chris Thurmond was on the John Blake staff at OU. Solid guy.
Michigan: I’ll be believe Les Miles isn’t the next Michigan coach just as soon as the Wolverines hire someone else.
Ole Miss: I think Nutt will win. Not big. Not Sugar Bowl big. But it wouldn’t shock me if Ole Miss wins the SEC West sometime in the 5-10 years. Mississippi is the only SEC West school never to win the division.
Navy: Polynesian Ken Niumatalolo replaces Paul Johnson. I assume he doesn’t count in the list of black coaches.
Nebraska: I like the hire of Bo Pelini. I like all victories of substance over style. Pelini isn’t smooth. He isn’t slick. But the Huskers don’t need smooth and slick. They need someone who will teach ballplayers to knock the snot out of the foe.
Northern Illinois: I assume you already knew that the 2007 Mid-American Conference was the greatest testimony to parity since the dangling chads of Florida.
SMU: $1.7 million isn’t what it used to be. No one seems to want this job.
Southern Miss: I’ve weighed in on this one already, if Larry Fedora gets the job. But you know what I said about Fort Collins? Hattiesburg, Miss., is the opposite. One of the 10 worst places to live in college football.
Texas A&M: You know, Dennis Franchione didn’t do a terrible job in 2007. He went 7-5, with road games at Miami, Norman, Lubbock, Columbia and Lincoln. Mike Sherman’s road foes in 2008: New Mexico, OSU, Iowa State, Baylor and Texas.
UCLA: Has anyone noticed that UCLA keeps getting worse in football? Red Sanders was a big-time coach in the 1950s. Tommy Prothro got UCLA back on track in the 1960s. dick Vermeil went 15-5-3 in two seasons in the 1970s. Terry Donahue was solid for 20 years (1976-95). Bob Toledo had his moments but had a winning percentage of just .605. Now Karl Dorrell is out after going 35-27. Not a good trend.
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