Live On, University

This was always my dream.

Since before I could ever even think of wanting anything, going to and getting a degree from the University of Oklahoma has been an enormous goal of mine. Through the highest and lowest points of my life, the goal of earning that degree has pushed me through it all.

Today, I will officially receive my Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism for Public Relations. A Sooner forever.

I fell in love with OU as a kid riding on my Dad’s shoulders through Fall leaves the way many young Oklahomans do: watching Sooner football. The university is in my family’s blood, going back through my Dad’s mom’s side as far back as you can look. Much like my college years, following the football team as a kid took me from Pasadena to Miami, experiencing legendary players and moments along the way.

While my dreams of playing for the Sooners died in high school (5’8, 145 fullbacks don’t cut it at Heritage Hall), my passion for the school didn’t. Through what truly were the most difficult years in my life, I somehow scrapped out a decent enough GPA to let my good ACT score vault me into the school of my dreams, getting admission into the University by a hair in late April 2014.

I arrived on campus in August with potluck roommate, a few basic decorations for my room and a Wii U. I’ll never forget the moment my Mom left my dorm after setting it up and feeling so completely overwhelmed with how alone I felt. Thankfully, my close friends from back home who also went down to Norman were there to help ease the transition. Without them, I don’t know if I’d have the confidence to go out at meet the great people I did at OU.

After a few weeks of realizing I was missing out on Greek Life, I found a family with Sigma Nu, a group of guys who I’m incredibly proud to call lifelong friends and brothers. From setting up tailgates weekly to the random weekday hot tub sessions at Crimson Park, the moments with these guys freshman year are some of my most cherished memories. That set up some tremendous years.

When I wasn’t in class or messing around in Norman that first Fall semester, I was on the road, following the Sooners. No trip sparked my love of road game travel more than that first road game in Fort Worth with Blake, who was years away from sailing the high seas. The game ended in a loss (which would turn out to be the one true road loss I would see), but without that experience I don’t know if I would have ever gotten the spark that made this website.

Fort Worth also spawned a second home for me, and it would be an omission if I didn’t shout out the TCU boys and for showing me around. My life would be much poorer if I had never drank a Wild Acre, had Haim brisket or enjoyed an evening at The Pub.

Over my years, I put over 100k miles on my dear old Honda Pilot in road trips and from the long road trips to every little hop down to Dallas, I enjoyed every trip in every city. Yes, even the Lubbock ones. I’ll always cherish moments like the wild New Year’s Eve in Miami, the thriller against Baylor in the pouring rain, escaping death in Lawrence, spending a weekend in an RV Camper in Ames, and without need for comment, the epic that was Columbus.

I’ll miss Norman deeply. From early morning Bagel Cafe, to nights at O’Connell’s with pitchers and Ranchhand Burgers, leaving the food here will leave a hole in both my heart and stomach. I’ll miss the way the trees turn in the fall, the long walks from Chautauqua, not having to pay for parking on gameday and summers at The Cottages pool. After five years, Norman has truly become more of a home than I’ve ever had.

As leave OU, the one project I am most proud out is this very website. When I started this project, I did so as a leap of faith. I wrote, but wasn’t a writer. I had considered doing something like this, but it wasn’t until days before kickoff that I just went and did it. I’ll never forget writing that first article on my phone at Das Boot, terrified about showing my work to the world, laying my talents bare. The same fear was ten-fold for the launch of The Schooner Pod last August.

While the clicks, views and listens have never been world-breaking, it was never about money or clout. It was just about making something and having them enjoy it. If even one of you have, I consider all this a success. If we ever do blow up someday, that mission will remain the same. I’m looking forward to keeping this thing rolling into my post-grad life.

As for what I’m doing next? All I know is that there are big things on the way.

I cannot possibly thank everyone who has supported me along the way enough for all they have done for me. It means the world to me. Because of your support, at some time today after 4 PM, the little kid who rode on his dad’s shoulders will achieve something he’s wanted all his life. I guess there are only two phrases left to say.

Thank you and Boomer Sooner!

Big 12 Tournament: Finals

Welcome to conference tournament season. It’s March, which means two things: basketball and gambling. Here’s your guide for today’s Big 12 action, starting at 5:00 PM on ESPN.

Kansas vs. Iowa State (EVEN)

You have to be kidding me. Freaking Kansas, who I faded a few days ago, lucked into getting into the finals. To make matters worse, Iowa State, who has been red hot in tournament, isn’t even getting any points from Vegas. Oh well. Give me the Cyclones to redeem my tournament preview. Iowa State

Big 12 Tournament: Semifinal Spread

Welcome to conference tournament season. It’s March, which means two things: basketball and gambling. Here’s your guide for today’s Big 12 action, starting at 11:30 AM on ESPN 2.

Record: 4-2 (3-1 on Day 2)

Kansas State vs. Iowa State (Even)

Ohhhh Jesus. I have been trying to figure out who to pick on this one since last night and settled on just picking the underdog straight up. So what does Vegas do? Make the odds even to make it harder on the world.

Both teams are well represented in KC, both are good squads, however Iowa State looked overly impressive in a romp over Baylor while Kansas State struggled to put away TCU. Give the Cyclones three or four points and I would be tempted to pick them, but in this situation I’m going with the better team off a tough game. Kansas State

Kansas vs. West Virginia (KU -10.5)

Of course this would happen to Kansas basketball. Their worst team this decade is handed a first round win by an incompetent Texas team (0-6 in the final 2:44, yet somehow UT hit the last field goal?) and then they happen to get a 10 seed in the semifinals? Of course Jayhawk luck would prevail.

This West Virginia team is scrappy and two unlikely wins away from actually making the damn tournament. However, their luck and energy are probably going to run dry in Phog Allen East tonight. Here’s hoping it doesn’t. Kansas *gags* wins, but the Mountaineers cover the spread. Let’s keep this cover train rolling. West Virginia, +10.5

Big 12 Tournament Day 1 Spread

Welcome to conference tournament season. It’s March, which means two things: basketball and gambling. Here’s your guide for today’s Big 12 action, starting at 6:00 PM on ESPN U.

#8 TCU vs. #9 Oklahoma State (TCU -4)

 I cannot emphasize this enough: hammer the Frogs here. I know TCU has completely stumbled down the stretch, losing six of their last eight (including a bad loss in Stillwater), but this is a team fighting for their tournament lives.

I know, Oklahoma State has shown the ability to surprise (they beat SEC champion LSU) but with all due respect to their scrappy band of student managers and mid-season walk-ons, Jim Dixon and the Horned Frogs should easily get this win and the cover. Otherwise, they deserve to get faded out of the Big 12 forever (Sorry, Blake). Frogs -4 is too much of a tasty treat to not take. TCU, -4.

#7 Oklahoma vs. #10 West Virginia (OU -6.5)

Vegas is weirdly high on the Sooners, as evidenced by this relatively high line. I know the Mountaineers are bad, but Jesus do we really trust this OU basketball this much with 6.5 points? I felt the same way a few weeks ago during the last matchup between these teams and Oklahoma pulled off a comfortable cover.

With that being said, I still feel more comfortable with this game being a closer win from OU or a West Virginia upset. Neutral court matters and I think the Sooners cool off a bit away from the LNC. From here on out, the biggest thing for the Sooner success is hoping that any combination of Jamal Bieniemy, Aaron Calixte, Brady Manek and Christian James get hot and help out Kristian Doolittle for once.

Figuring out if this Oklahoma team shows up against decent competition is nearly impossible, but thankfully we have that overzealous Vegas line. Go with West Virginia here and consider sprinkling some cash on the moneyline for the highest value upset bit of the tournament. West Virginia, +6.5

Big 12 Tournament Preview

I know I dropped a Welcome to March article on March 1st, but on Wednesday the real show begins. The start of conference tournament season ushers in the official coming of March Madness, where college basketball games are played from early morning until midnight and the drama could not be higher.

As conference tournaments go, you couldn’t ask for a better one than the Big 12 Tournament. With eight teams currently projected to make the Big Dance and two of them barely teetering on the bubble (per ESPN), this will be a highly competitive tournament. Hell, even Oklahoma State and West Virginia, the two weakest teams of the conference, are capable of making a wild run and upsetting the order of things.

from the Big 12 Conference
Via Big 12 Conference

The Favorite: #1 Kansas State

Kansas State was one of two teams to do the impossible; win a Big 12 regular season basketball title as a non-Kansas team. Yes, the Big 12 finally changed, thanks to the combined efforts of the Red Raiders and Wildcats, however, Kansas State is the team I think is most likely to come out on top in Kansas City.

The K-State side of the bracket lines up fantastically. Their first opponent is the winner of Wednesday’s Oklahoma State/TCU matchup, two teams Kansas State handled with ease in the regular season. In the semis, K-State would play the winner of Baylor and Iowa State, who the Wildcats went a combined 3-1 against.

kstate champs
Via K-State Sports

Not only does Kansas State have a highly favorable road to the finals, but they have strong motivation too. The Wildcats are currently projected as a four seed, bogged down by bad non-conference losses to Texas A&M and Tulsa. Winning the tournament could possibly boost the ‘Cats into a more favorable seed and potentially a better first/second round location in Des Moines or Tulsa (currently projected in San Jose by ESPN).

The Wildcats will be a highly motivated, highly talented team that no one will want to face. The senior duo of Barry Brown and Dean Wade are as good as any in the country and will be a massive problem for anyone in their way. Texas Tech will also be a tough out, but with a tougher side of the bracket and less upward mobility, the favorite edge goes to Kansas State.

The Dark Horse: #6 Texas

Sure, the Longhorns have faltered down the final Big 12 stretch and their non-conference was awful. However, with the return of leading scorer Kerwin Roach from suspension, Texas is poised for a much-needed conference run. While the ‘Horns are projected in the NCAA Tournament, they are without a doubt on the bubble. An opening win against Kansas (who the Longhorns have played very well this season) would solidify their case, but I see Texas as a team that could potentially get hot if things get weird elsewhere around the bracket.

tcuUT.jpg

The Team With the Most to Gain: #8 TCU

The Frogs desperately need a win over Oklahoma State to even stay alive in the tournament. Without that, it’s time for ol’ Jim Dixon to prep for another NIT run. They should beat Oklahoma State as they are coming off a big win in Austin over Texas and are playing desperate, but they’ll find no breaks in round two against Kansas State. I think they keep that one close, but I don’t see them pulling it off.

Fade ‘Em: #3 Kansas

Look, I know it’s a bad idea to bet against the Jayhawks. But Kansas is just not the same team they’ve been in the past. The losses of two stars in Udoka Azubuike and Legarald Vick have made KU merely mortal. The shooting has been mediocre at best in the back half of the season. Not only that, the Jayhawks are in a side of the bracket riddled with matchup issues, as they have looked abysmal against both Texas and Texas Tech.

If you believe in logos, go for it, pick Kansas. I dare you.

Be Afraid: #7 Oklahoma

I really do hate to say it, but I don’t know if I can trust this OU team in this tournament. In mind, the Sooners got an awful draw against West Virginia. Despite being the worst team in the conference, there is just something scary about Bob Huggins’ tiny stool, the full court press and, of course, Country Roads. Plus, last time we played in KC, the above video happened, which still makes me upset.

Other than superstition, I just think these Sooners don’t match up well against the Mountaineers. They’ve lost one game against West Virginia already in Morgantown and in their recent win against the ‘Neers they shot lights out from three. Shooting tends to die away from homecourt, which makes this neutral site game worrisome. A win here for Oklahoma would be big going into the NCAA Tournament, where momentum is key.

Around the Big 12: Week 13

Last Week: 3-2

Overall: 43-17

 

Ah shit. Thanksgiving week got the better of me. With that being said, the show must go on with picks, so here is what I thought about the last week of the regular Big 12 season.

Baylot @ #12 TCU (TCU won, 45-22. The spread was TCU -25.5.) 

I had TCU winning this game, but failing to cover. And, by the grace of Gary Patterson, the did exactly that! See you in Arlington, Frogs.

Kansas @ #19 Oklahoma State (OSU -41.5)

OSU really laid an egg last week against K-State.  The fact that they are a measly 2-3 at home is both sad and hilarious for what was supposedly their best team ever. Don’t expect them to drop this one to the Jayhawks though; they will be out for blood. OSU, 45-3

Texas Tech @ Texas (Tech won, 27-23. The spread [that I got, anyways] was Texas -10.5)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Iowa State @ Kansas State (KSU -1.5)

I’ve honestly forgotten about both of these teams. This one is going to be a real snooze fest. I’ll go with Iowa State I guess. ISU, 21-17

West Virginia @ #4 Oklahoma (OU -23.0)

Can we just kickoff the Big 12 Championship already? OU will win, but not without it being needlessly difficult against a mediocre Mountaineers squad without their best player in Will Grier. OU, 35-20

Around the Big 12: Week 12

Last Week: 5-0

Overall: 40-15

Hey! An undefeated week! Not too bad, especially with how tight the matchups were.

Championship November takes a break this week as the contenders are playing the mediocre and downright bad teams of the league. But don’t dismiss that 5-5 teams just yet; the fight for a bowl berth is still in play. Look for these games to be closer than the experts think.

#12 TCU @ Texas Tech (TCU -7.0) 

This is actually a tricky spot for TCU. How are they going to handle the death of their playoff hopes from last week? Going into a rivalry game (or at least that is what the TCU kids last weekend told me) on the road, especially in Lubbock is hard. However, it’s 11 am so absolutely no Tech kids will be there in the first place. I’m 1-0 on this theory. TCU, 24-10.

Kansas State @ #13 Oklahoma State (OSU -20.5)

Whooooooa the disrespect towards the Wildcats! OSU favored by freaking 20.5? I know the Wildcats aren’t great, but that’s a high line, even when going against that Oklahoma State offense fighting to stay in the Big 12 championship race. Expect Kansas State to keep this one close, but not too close. OSU, 28-14.

Iowa State @ Baylor (ISU -9.5)

Poor Iowa State. They had a damn good run, but this Big 12 is just too good to survive in if you lose to teams like Texas before you randomly decide to be good again. Hey, at least they get in a bowl, which would have made most ISU fans season if you told them that in August. They’ll beat the snot out of Baylor this week. 31-7

Texas @ West Virginia (WVU -3.5)

Alleged “best quarterback in the Big 12” Will Grier goes up against a Texas team just trying so hard to get bowl eligible. Texas does have a good defense, but I just don’t see them winning this one in Morgantown. And picking this week is really, really, really boring.

#4 Oklahoma @ Kansas (OU -37.0)

This one is just going to be a bloodbath. However, get excited for Kyler Murray in the 2nd half. I’m actually really excited to see him unleashed. That part is going to be great. The rest? I’d rather watch the OU spring game. OU, 65-3.