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The Red Raiders (and Wildcats) of the Lost Ark

By Joshua Brisco

You know that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indiana Jones swipes the golden idol, dodges a handful of traps, escapes the rolling boulder and gets out of the temple, only to have the idol taken away by the bad guy? Well, the good news for Kansas State and Texas Tech fans is that your teams feel like Indiana Jones right now. That’s almost a compliment.

First, semantics: The Big 12 title isn’t the golden idol for K-State. They’re going to win their share. The idol is keeping Kansas from winning their 15th consecutive. In five years, no one outside of Manhattan or Lubbock will remember 2018-19 as the year K-State and Texas Tech shared the Big 12 with Kansas. It’ll be the 15th feather in KU’s cap, building on the most impressive streak in college sports. In five years, it could be remembered as merely the closest call in recent memory as KU zeroes in on number 20. For this year to be a success for K-State, Texas Tech, or the rest of the Big 12, Kansas can’t get a trophy. The Wildcats had a chance to deliver the kill shot on Monday night, and they missed.

Defeating Kansas in a must-win game in Allen Fieldhouse is obviously a tremendously tall order, but so is winning the Big 12. Kansas failed at a similar tide-turning opportunity in Lubbock on Saturday, getting demolished by Texas Tech. After that game, Kansas lost all margin for error. After losing in Lawrence, K-State has lost theirs.

Still the favorites in a crowded conference, the Wildcats can end all of this conjecture with three straight wins. They get Baylor at home, go to TCU two days later, then host Oklahoma to end the year. Texas Tech would be tied for the lead in the conference with a win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday before going to TCU, hosting Texas and playing at Iowa State.

Those are all winnable games for both teams. Even as the boulder is gaining speed, it’s more or less a foregone conclusion that K-State and Texas Tech will escape the temple alive — just like we knew that Steven Spielberg wasn’t going to kill the title character in the opening sequence. But that’s not the question anymore. Now we all wait for the surprise twist. Assuming that the Wildcats and Red Raiders escape the booby-trapped Big 12, will they take the trophy back to Manhattan and Lubbock, or will Bill Self be there, hands outstretched, looking for his share? There’s a lot of basketball still to be played, but the last 14 installments of this franchise have all ended the same way.

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Veach Quotes With Soren Petro

Chiefs GM Brett Veach spoke with Soren Petro on The Program on Thursday. Read what Veach said with Soren.

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach joined our Soren Petro Thursday on “The Program”. Here are some of the highlights.

 

On Patrick Mahomes’ playing pick-up basketball:

 

“Yes, I did see the tweet of Pat Mahomes playing basketball. We did address it. As soon as I saw it, it probably took me two seconds to call his agent and tell him that was a big no-no. So, I think ‘The Kingdom’ can rest assured that we have that under control. No more basketball for Pat.”

 

On Justin Houston and Eric Berry:

 

“(New defensive coordinator) Steve (Spagnuolo) is cranking tape as we speak. He’ll do so without any interjection from me or my staff. Once Steve gets through his assessment, we’ll come in and share our thoughts and opinions with him and then factor in all the contract stuff, money stuff, what we have, what can do. We have some tough decisions to make but we also feel really good about some young guys we have. We have a first round pick, two twos and a three.”

 

On possibly getting Chris Jones and Tyreek Hill extended this offseason:

 

“We’ll have discussions. I think it is good business to see if we can get something done earlier than later. Certainly, both of those players have done a fantastic job for us. We’re going to be active to retain players that we’ve drafted and cultivated, and I expect them to be a part of our future moving forward.”

 

On Dee Ford’s contract situation:

 

“When we go through and see how we’re structured for (Spagnuolo’s) scheme and the different things that Dee can do, that will factor into this decision. We have some time. I don’t think we’re going to rush to make any decision. There are a lot of options in regard to potential free agents, what we have in regard to draft equity. Trade stuff will start picking up.”

 

On Dee Ford’s ability in a new defensive scheme:

 

“He’s always been able to bring speed off the edge and pressure the quarterback. He’s developed as a student of the game. He’s been able to stay healthy and that’s a big deal. He came into camp in phenomenal shape. It’s hard to find guys who can rush the passer at the level that he does; they’re a premium in this league. He’s a fantastic player and I look forward to getting with Steve (Spagnuolo) and drawing up a game plan for Dee.”

 

On the team’s free agents:

 

“We’d like to have them all back; the reality of it is that it won’t work like that. You can’t everyone pay top market; you’ve got to be selective in how you put this roster together.”

 

On Eric Berry’s health:

 

“No one is more competitive that Eric Berry and no one was dying to get out there every single game more than Eric Berry. It was very encouraging to get him a week of practice before the New England game and to come out of that game in good order. Once we compile the information with Eric, we’ll sit down and lay out a plan for him moving forward. We’re certainly looking forward to having Eric out there leading the defense and doing his thing.”

 

On whether they’ll go defense-heavy again in the NFL Draft: 

 

“We’re always going to be a team that strives to draft the best player available. If the grade discrepancies are close, it will lend itself to filling a draft need but you don’t ever want to give up a first round wideout for fifth round defensive player. I don’t think we’re going into this process with the mindset of (taking) only defense. We’re going to draft the best player available to continue to add talent and bring playmakers to Arrowhead on Sunday.”

 

On being the favorite to win Super Bowl LIV:

 

“I like it. I love it. I think it’s exciting. We have a bullseye on our back. I think that’s gonna keep us sharp this offseason. I think it motivates us all to know that, every week, we’re gonna get a team’s ‘A’ game. We’re not gonna surprise anybody this year. There’s going to be a lot of nationally televised games; we welcome that. It’s great for our fans; it’s great for Kansas City.”

 

Patrick Mahomes celebrates in the Chiefs' playoff win over the Colts, 31-13 Photo by John Sleezer of the Kansas City Star

With Mahomes, this Chiefs season is different

After the Kansas City Chiefs won their first home playoff game in 25 years, it’s time to believe that this version of the Chiefs is unlike any you’ve ever seen before.

By Joshua Brisco

“This year will be different.”

For a quarter-century, this has been the chorus of optimists, ultimately proven wrong. It has been disappointment after disappointment for the millions of Chiefs fans who have entered Arrowhead Stadium over the last 25 years, continuing to hope that maybe, just maybe, this would be the year where January brought more joy than heartbreak.

It never was. Until now. Now, the Chiefs have the quarterback that changes everything else.

On Saturday, Patrick Mahomes didn’t even throw a touchdown pass. The only score he was directly involved in was his rushing touchdown, diving for the pylon. But his impact was evident in every element of the game. A 129-yard game from Damien Williams doesn’t happen without a quarterback deserving of the defense’s utmost respect. The much-maligned Chiefs defense delivered its best performance of the season, in their home stadium that has been so beneficial to their production. The Chiefs do not earn that home game – or the next one, against the Patriots – with anything less than the NFL’s MVP at quarterback all season. And by the way, Mahomes’ measly 278 passing yards included roughly a half-dozen highlight-reel throws, countless perfect readings of defenses and a total command of the game. 

So, yeah. This year is different.

Noting that Mahomes is the The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy-style answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything, some of the specifics of Saturday’s win over the Colts deserve another look. A lightning-fast start from the offense with a scoreless 3rd quarter and a game-sealing drive in the 4th? That’s pretty much par for the course. Not the most complete offensive showing, but standard procedure for this team. The defense delivered the stunning performance of the day.

A few of the specifics shouldn’t surprise anyone who has watched the Chiefs all year. Chris Jones, Justin Houston and Dee Ford all made big plays. They’ve been the saving grace of this year’s defense. But it wasn’t just the big plays from the best players. The Chiefs brought a complete and total defensive domination against one of the best offenses in the league. Andrew Luck, behind a stalwart offensive line, was a worthy challenger for this top-shelf pass rush and the not-quite-so-top-shelf secondary. And still, dominance. So what was different?

First, and most importantly, the Chiefs continually got the Colts off the field quickly. Indianapolis was 0-for-9 on 3rd down conversions on Saturday. The Colts were best in the league at 3rd down conversions this year, converting 48.6%. The Chiefs allowed conversions of 41.5% of their 3rd downs, eighth-worst in the league. This is an enormous disparity with no statistical way to bridge the gap. So now what? Anecdotes? Sure, let’s do anecdotes.

Even without Eric Berry and Dorian O’Daniel, two of the most high-octane players on this defense (when healthy), the defense seemed to be playing at a higher gear. The only other similar performance came against the Bengals, at home on Sunday Night Football in Week 7. Where has that been since then?

You can make an argument for primetime/playoff Arrowhead, but you’d have to make an exception for the Thursday Night Football meltdown against the Chargers. You can make an argument for some sort of tweak from Bob Sutton, but that feels a bit far-fetched to debut in January after months of defensive struggles.

Instead, credit both sides of the ball for extremely hot starts. Two straight three-and-outs forced by the defense led to two straight touchdown drives from the Chiefs offense. At 14-0, the Colts were immediately playing from behind. If the Chiefs start that way against the Patriots and, perhaps, the Saints or the Rams, they’ll end up Super Bowl champions. Because this year is different.

Photo by John Sleezer, Kansas City Star.

Reading List: Get ready for Chiefs vs. Colts

Get ready for Saturday’s playoff matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and Indianapolis Colts by making your way through our pregame reading list.

By Joshua Brisco

You can hear all of these writers and many more throughout the week on Sports Radio 810 WHB and ESPN Kansas City.

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Bukaty: Reviews Royals Draft

Nate Bukaty reviews the Royals draft, and likes the direction they took with pitching.

        If you spent any time listening to the Border Patrol on Monday morning, you can probably guess that I’m a fan of the direction the Royals took during their first day of the 2018 draft. With five picks, and more allotment money at their disposal than any other team in this year’s draft, the Royals needed to “make hay while the sun shines” so to speak. This is a vitally important draft as the Royals look to build the next wave of prospects that will make the Royals competitive again.

            The Royals’ farm system is in desperate need of pitching, which is a refrain that I repeated several times on the morning of Day One of the draft. There is a nucleus of position player talent at the A-ball level, with the likes of Khalil Lee (with an OBP of .420, 10 steals out of 11 attempts, and a rocket for an outfield arm), Catcher MJ Melendez (Slugging .544 at 19 years old in low-A ball), Seuly Matais (another 19-year-old, with 17 homers in just 150 AB’s at low-A.)

            By selecting college pitchers with all five of their day-one picks, the Royals made it clear that they are looking to add pitching prospects who can blend right in with these exciting position players. Dayton more says this was all a part of the approach going into Day One of the draft, “It just felt that these were the best available pitchers for us, and we wanted to make a concerted effort on getting some college pitching we felt had high ceiling and that could move quickly.” It’s a tricky approach, trying to line up an entire group of prospects who can move through the system in sync with one another, and then hopefully be ready to win at the Big League level together. But it’s something that this Royals front office has proven that they’ve been able to execute in the past.

            There are a couple of things to keep in mind when it comes to these five college arms: 1) Not all college pitchers are created equal when it comes to their upcoming minor league progression. Some of these guys will be more “Major League ready” than others. Granted, all five of these pitchers competed a big universities, which should bode well for the potential for at least some of these guys to skip the rookie ball step, and jump right into A-ball along with those aforementioned position players. Still, some of these pitchers will be able to move more quickly than others. 2) Some of these pitching prospects might be able to help the Royals without ever pitching a single day in the Majors for Kansas City. Remember that the 2015 Royals acquired some of their most important pieces by trading away former college pitchers whom they had drafted, like Sean Manaea, Brandon Finnegan, and Cody Reed (drafted out of community college.)

            As for this group of five pitchers, obviously the first pick, Brady Singer, will get most of the attention. MLB Pipeline had him listed as their number two overall prospect for this year’s draft, yet somehow he was still available when the Royals drafted at 18. He’s got an electric  mid-90’s fastball, and a devastating slider. He throws from a lower arm slot than is typical for right-handed starters, so it will be interesting to see if his third pitch develops enough to keep left-handed hitters honest. He’s a feisty competitor, who has a strong dislike of inclement weather: https://ftw.usatoday.com/2017/06/florida-pitcher-brady-singer-tantrum-tirade-rain-delay-wake-forest-super-regional-college-baseball-video. You can view this tirade through one of two prisms: either he A) is a nasty competitor who simply demands the ball every fifth day, or B) he’s emotionally fragile, and gets himself worked up over outside influences which he can’t control. Time (and his pitching record) will tell.

            Singer is considered by many to be very close to Major League ready, so it will be interesting to see at what level the Royals choose to start Singer’s pro career, and how quickly he moves.

            As we all know, when it comes to the baseball draft even more than in other sports, these pics are all a bit of a guessing game. I, for one, like the fact that the Royals are throwing numbers at their pitching problem. Dayton Moore says “each one of these guys have something left ceiling-wise,” which means he believes there is some potential start power in this group. It’s been pointed out that Moore’s regime does not have the best track record when it comes to drafting and developing starting pitching, which is a fair criticism. But I would counter that the Royals have had success in flipping their pitching prospects for value at the major league level, and moreover, just because you’ve failed at something in the past is no excuse to stop trying at that endeavor in the future. The next youth movement by the Royals will not likely look exactly like the last one. Having young, controllable pitching at your disposal is a major benefit. The Royals made a bold attempt at acquired such a strength with Monday’s draft. Their ability to return to the post season in a few years might well depend on how successful they were on this day.

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Program’s Big 12, SEC Awards

Read Soren Petro’s Associated Press ballot for Big 12 Awards, and also The Program’s rankings of coaches in the Big 12 and SEC.

2017-18 AP ALL-BIG 12 MEN’S BASKETBALL BALLOT:

 NAME OF VOTER:  Soren Petro

FIRST TEAM
1) Trae Young, Oklahoma

2) Devonte’ Graham, Kansas

3) Jevon Carter, West Virginia

4) Dean Wade, Kansas St.

5) Mohamed Bamba, Texas

SECOND TEAM
1) Barry Brown, Kansas St.

2) Keenan Evans, Texas Tech

3) Sviatoslav Mykhailuk, Kansas

4) Udoka Azubuike, Kansas

5) Sagaba Konate, West Virginia

COACH OF THE YEAR:Bill Self, Kansas

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Trae Young, Oklahoma

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR (Freshman or player in 1st season w/Big 12 team):
Trae Young, Oklahoma

BIG 12 COACHES

ROB

  1. BILL SELF- KANSAS
  2. BOB HUGGINS- WEST VIRGINIA
  3. CHRIS BEARD- TEXAS TECH
  4. LON KRUGER- OKLAHOMA
  5. JAMIE DIXON- TCU
  6. SCOTT DREW- BAYLOR
  7. BRUCE WEBER- KANSAS STATE
  8. SHAKA SMART- TEXAS
  9. MIKE BOYNTON- OKLAHOMA STATE
  10. STEVE PROHM- IOWA STATE

 

SEC COACHES LIST

  1. JOHN CALIPARI- KENTUCKY
  2. RICK BARNES- TENNESSEE
  3. MIKE WHITE- FLORIDA
  4. BRUCE PEARL- AUBURN
  5. BEN HOWLAND- MISSISSIPPI STATE
  6. MIKE ANDERSON- ARKANSAS
  7. CUONZO MARTIN- MIZZOU
  8. FRANK MARTIN- SOUTH CAROLINA
  9. BILLY KENNEDY- TEXAS A&M
  10. AVERY JOHNSON- ALABAMA
  11. BRYCE DREW- VANDY
  12. WILL WADE- LSU
  13. MARK FOX- GEORGIA

 

BIG 12 COACHES

SOREN

  1. BILL SELF- KANSAS
  2. BOB HUGGINS- WEST VIRGINIA
  3. LON KRUGER- OKLAHOMA
  4. SCOTT DREW- BAYLOR
  5. JAMIE DIXON- TCU
  6. CHRIS BEARD- TEXAS TECH
  7. BRUCE WEBER- KANSAS STATE
  8. SHAKA SMART- TEXAS
  9. STEVE PROHM- IOWA STATE
  10. MIKE BOYNTON- OKLAHOMA STATE

 

SEC COACHES LIST

  1. JOHN CALIPARI- KENTUCKY
  2. MIKE WHITE- FLORIDA
  3. RICK BARNES- TENNESSEE
  4. FRANK MARTIN- SOUTH CAROLINA
  5. BRUCE PEARL- AUBURN
  6. BEN HOWLAND- MISSISSIPPI STATE
  7. MIKE ANDERSON- ARKANSAS
  8. CUONZO MARTIN- MIZZOU
  9. BILLY KENNEDY- TEXAS A&M
  10. BRYCE DREW- VANDY
  11. AVERY JOHNSON- ALABAMA
  12. MARK FOX- GEORGIA
  13. WILL WADE- LSU

 

BIG 12 COACHES

KURTIS

  1. BILL SELF- KANSAS
  2. BOB HUGGINS- WEST VIRGINIA
  3. LON KRUGER- OKLAHOMA
  4. SCOTT DREW- BAYLOR
  5. JAMIE DIXON- TCU
  6. CHRIS BEARD- TEXAS TECH
  7. BRUCE WEBER- KANSAS STATE
  8. SHAKA SMART- TEXAS
  9. MIKE BOYNTON- OKLAHOMA STATE
  10. STEVE PROHM- IOWA STATE

 

SEC COACHES LIST

  1. JOHN CALIPARI- KENTUCKY
  2. RICK BARNES- TENNESSEE
  3. BRUCE PEARL- AUBURN
  4. FRANK MARTIN- SOUTH CAROLINA
  5. BEN HOWLAND- MISSISSIPPI STATE
  6. CUONZO MARTIN- MIZZOU
  7. MIKE WHITE- FLORIDA
  8. MIKE ANDERSON- ARKANSAS
  9. BILLY KENNEDY- TEXAS A&M
  10. AVERY JOHNSON- ALABAMA
  11. BRYCE DREW- VANDY
  12. WILL WADE- LSU
  13. MARK FOX- GEORGIA
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Petro’s AP College Football Ballot

Check out Soren Petro’s ballot for the Associated Press College Football Top 25!

Petro’s AP Top 25 Ballot

9/10/17

 

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Penn St.
  5. Washington
  6. USC
  7. Florida St.
  8. Ohio St.
  9. Wisconsin
  10. Oklahoma St.
  11. Michigan
  12. Kansas St.
  13. Georgia
  14. Miami
  15. Auburn
  16. TCU
  17. Louisville
  18. LSU
  19. Florida
  20. Washington St.
  21. Oregon
  22. Virginia Tech
  23. UCLA
  24. Stanford
  25. Tennessee

 

  1. Notre Dame
  2. South Florida
  3. Utah
  4. Georgia Tech
  5. Nebraska
  6. West Virginia
  7. South Carolina
  8. Colorado
  9. Houston
  10. Texas A&M
  11. Mississippi St.
  12. Duke
  13. Maryland
  14. San Diego St.
  15. Iowa