Friday, March 23, 2012

TCU-New Mexico Preview

I didn't get a chance to type up a big comprehensive preview for this weekend's series against New Mexico, but here are few notes to prepare you for your watching/listening/gametracker following:

-Stefan Crichton, who has been nothing short of fantastic in his first five starts, will again be pitching in the Friday night slot. Andrew Mitchell, who has struggled some, will start Saturday- hopefully he can rebound enough to make Schlossnagle's pitching choices tough going forward. Freshman Brandon Finnegan will again fill the Sunday slot in the rotation.

-The Lobos are hitting .292 as a team and are averaging just over 6 runs per game. Sophomore D.J. Peterson is far and away New Mexico's leading batter- he is first on the team with a .457 average, 5 home runs, 21 RBIs, an .800 slugging percentage and a .518 on-base percentage.

-UNM's three starting pitchers for the weekend (Sam Wolff, Austin House and Rudy Jaramillo) have combined for a record of 3-5 and an ERA of 4.99. As a team, the Lobos are allowing 6.4 runs per game and are allowing opposing batters to hit at a .303 clip against them. Jaramillo is the son of former Rangers hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo senior, but House is NOT the son of former Rangers pitching coach Tom House.

-Freshman first baseman Kevin Cron, who has not played since the season opener against Ole Miss, is set to return to the lineup tonight. It's not known yet whether he'll play first or just be the DH. Junior third baseman Jantzen Witte may also make an appearance as a pinch-hitter this weekend.

Lessons in SMU Hate: Arrogance.

If Red were alive, SMU would call him a shoo-in.

Ooooooooooooooooooooooh, SMU. Truly TRULY the gift that continues to give, ad infintum. In case you missed it - and considering it was about as much of a blip on the radar as TCU's CBI result, you probably did - SMU fired the much maligned Matt Doherty shortly after the end of basketball season. Despite taking SMU's small corner of Dallas by storm upon his arrival, all Doherty has to show for his his six seasons of effort was a 80-109 overall record with one trip to the CIT Tourney. That's bad, even by the un-lofty standards we have set for ourselves here at TCU. Doherty, once college basketball's Coach of the Year, realized the same thing June Jones has: SMU is all hat, no cattle when it comes to athletic prowess.

So now, SMU finds themselves in a bit of a predicament. They have the only arena in America that can rival the DMC in shittiness - although I believe ole Moody Coliseum has renovations planned in its future - and a program that lacks any sort of significant history or momentum. Say what you will about TCU and Jim Christian, but at least we're entering the Big 12 in a position of stability. The Ponies will serve one more year in CUSA exile before entering the Big East in 2013, so now was clearly the time to fire Doherty, but you can't imagine suitors will exactly line up at the SMU employment offices for consideration.

Just don't tell them that.

So let's harken back a few years to June Cometh. At the time, SMU's decision to stop being absolutely godawful and pay big bucks to hire a proven commodity was a major revelation in the college football world. If we're being honest, anyone not living in the 817 area code was kind of rooting for them, if only to prove that the evils of Craig James COULD eventually be defeated. Sure, June was clearly it in for the money - why on EARTH anyone would move from Hawaii to Dallas besides financial considerations simply does not compute - but in a sport FILLED with mercenary head coaches, who could blame him? And June has been great for the program - they've made bowl games, beaten their rival once, joined CUSA+ and... well, not much else, but I'm trying here.

Then something strange happened. June realized that money can't buy happiness and sustained success and briefly jumped ship to Arizona State. Despite the modicum of strides June had made in Dallas, despite saying he wanted to lead SMU into the Big East, he decided, "Nah" and made another in a line of selfish moves. Of course, he was almost immediately rebuffed by the ASU board and, in an ironic twist, replaced by the greatest mercenary of all in Todd Graham, but the message had been sent: You can only rise so high at SMU, but once there, the fall will be infinite. Of course, the most humorous thing about the whole situation is the way SMU welcomed him back with open arms like a battered woman, but that's the reality of their situation. SMU has a ceiling when it comes to success, and it involves losing to Army in bowl games and having your coach sniff around at second tier Pac 12 jobs.

So, after the clunkiest segue ever, you can see how SMU operates. They believe that by throwing lots of money at a situation, they can improve their lot in life, and that's exactly how they see this basketball situation playing out.

When Doherty was first let go, the DMN, as they are prone to do, made their own list of potential candidates, which you can view HERE. Some of them made sense. Staying small, there was UNT's Coach, UTA's Coach and UTSA's Coach, guys that all make sense because of their proximity to SMU and because a Big East job would offer more prestige, not to mention the financial windfall. Moving up the ladder you have a hodgepodge of retreads - former Nebraska Coach Doc Sadler, who was just run out of town with torches and pitchforks - assistants - Former OU Head Coach/current Duke assistant Jeff Capel who will likely be a candidate for better jobs after the season, Marquette Assistant Tony Benford and Indiana Assistant Steve McClain - and rising stars - Drexel's awesomely named Bruiser Flint. VCU's Shaka Smart got his name tossed around a bit in other circles, cut considering some of our own fans were delusional enough to think he would be a candidate in FW had Christian left, I shant cast stones.

Then there was the name that REALLY stuck out to me, at least until today - FORESHADOWING- in Xavier's Chris Mack. Following Sean Miller's departure for the Arizona gig three years ago, Mack has kept one of the mid majors heftiest trains rolling, taking the Musketeers to the Tourney in each of his three seasons. In fact, the Muskies are looking to knock off Baylor this very evening to earn their first Elite Eight bid since 2008. In other words, Mack has not only sustained the success his predecessors built, he may have actually improved upon it. If that weren't enough, Mack has held his team together this year despite one of the more notable brawls in recent NCAA history between his team and crosstown rivals Cincinnati, a brawl that resulted in multiple suspensions and, for the time being, threatened to wreck Xavier's season. So he's clearly a fabulous Coach, committed to his program. But the icing on the cake of the entire thing? Mack is Cincy native, played ball at Xavier - he left Skip Prosser's Wake Forest staff back when the Deacons were ranked #2 in the nation in order to take a lesser position at Xavier - and just signed a contract extension through the 2017-2018 season. Call me crazy, but methinks he's all in and ain't coming to SMU.

However, remember what I just said about Mack's name being the craziest suggest UNTIL TODAY? Well, that's because the latest name to surface out of the potential debacle that is SMU's coaching search is just beyond me. I'll give you a few clues - his team made this year's Sweet 16, plays in the same Conference SMU will be joining, is one of the most successfully stable programs in the country, once employed Dwayne Wade and he's impressively bald. Give up? It's Marquette's Buzz Williams. MARQUETTE'S BUZZ WILLIAMS! One of the better coaches in all of college basketball. A guy who makes $2 million year - Doherty made half a mil - and has a buyout so large that aggy and OU refused to negotiate seriously with the man. I don't care how ritzy SMU sees themselves, but if aggy and OU and their gobs of athletic revenue didn't consider hiring him, there's not a chance in HELL SMU will.

But what am I saying? Even if SMU DID pony up the funds - and keep in mind, they would have to pay him on par with what June is making to pull this off, plus come up with a buyout - why on EARTH would Buzz Williams give up that gig? Also keep in mind that the administration, despite rounding up the gang and paying June, basically cut the man's nuts off in recruiting due to admissions, thus not exactly keeping up their end of the bargain. These same standards would hurt Williams as well.

SMU's reasoning is that Williams has Texas ties - he's from Van Alstyne and has coached at several Texas schools - and that, if he's interested in aggy and OU, surely he'd want to come down to Dallas and rebuild one of the few programs in the country that might be in direr straits than TCU. Keep in mind, Williams went to college and coached in Oklahoma City and was an assistant at aggy, so he's familiar with those organizations and would thus be interested. Not to mention that OU and aggy, despite down years, actually have some basketball clout, fan support and winning tradition. Williams has kept Marquette at the upper tier of college basketball ever since he took over for Tom Crean and has a guaranteed tournament stamp punched for him every year. So it makes TONS of sense for him to leave a cushy job at a school where basketball is king and come start over at SMU, a school so dedicated to athletics that many suggested they should turn football into a club sport before June arrived. Sounds like a heck of a deal!

But clearly SMU still thinks its 1980 and believes you can buy your way to success so, if money is no issue issue, why don't the Ponies just hire Roy Williams? or Coach K? or Calipari? Heck, bring Bob Knight out of retirement or turn one of their on-campus meth labs into a reserach facility so they can regenerate John Wooden!

If location location location plays a role, steal Barnes from Austin or hire Scott Drew away from Baylor- that slimy asshole and SMU could not be more deserving of each other. I mean, if it's that easy, maybe TCU should hire Scott Brooks away from the Thunder? After all, he DID play for TCU for one year. CDC, get on that, who are you to doubt the SMU way?

SMU is just such a petulant child. You'd think they DIDN'T take advantage of TCU's regional success and back door their way into a "power" Conference after we turned it down. I suppose its the NCAA's fault for enabling them, but has one school ever taken such extreme advantage of an opportunity? Had Conference re-juggling happened in the Phil Bennett years, SMU would be fighting for table scraps in the WAC. As it happens, the Big East went to shit at the exact right time for SMU to get a desperation bid. And they think that makes them a major player in the marketplace? Child please.

But seriously, SMU - good luck in your coaching search. Shoot for the moon. I hear Phil Jackson is holding out on the Knicks just in case the Williams thing falls through...

And that's today's lesson in SMU hate.

Morning Dump


TCU hopes to sell 30,000 season tickets for 2012 season Star-Telegram


Frogs getting healthier as key infielders near return Star-Telegram

TCU heads to New Mexico for key conference series