▪ Welcome to my weekly musings. There’s a lot to write about today and I’ve seen a few of the Oscar-nominated movies. So I’ll be sharing my thoughts on those.
▪ Is Tom Brady a cheat? A liar? A scoundrel? He’s never come across that way to me. He’s never elicited my skepticism. Perhaps that’s because I have always liked and admired Brady, being a semi-devout New England Patriots fan. Let’s put it this way: If Brady was lying Thursday when he denied having any knowledge of how 11 of 12 footballs became deflated before the Pats-Indianapolis Colts AFC championship game in Foxboro, I’ll be surprised. And disappointed. Especially disappointed.
▪ Long-time quarterback NFL Mark Brunell, though, put it right out there that he thinks Brady is withholding the truth, citing his vast quarterback experience and his high attention to the way the footballs felt. I don’t know if I’m going to believe Brunell over Brady. I appreciate his role as an ESPN analyst and that these guys have to have strong thoughts and opinions. It just seems to me there’s been a rush to judgment and that Brady is the victim.
▪ You know who I really have a problem with in all of this? It’s the NFL, which apparently hadn’t even spoken with Brady about Deflategate as of Brady’s news conference Thursday afternoon. It’s been a bad year for the NFL and for commissioner Roger Goodell. And it’s not getting any better. I also think the Patriots could be more aggressive in getting to the bottom of this.
▪ Last point on this, then I’ll stop. Because we all want it to stop. I read a piece by ESPN’s Ian O’Connor, who is skeptical of Brady’s story and believes Brady should be banned from playing in the Super Bowl if it’s ultimately discovered he lied. Meanwhile, ESPN’s Adam Schefter thinks it likely the NFL will wait until after the Super Bowl to hand down punishment. Brady banned from the Super Bowl? That’s difficult to comprehend. And the NFL needs to make a ruling on this before the Super Bowl. How hard can it be to find out who is responsible for air being taken out of footballs?
▪ Tulsa, thought to be an afterthought this season in men’s basketball, currently leads the American Conference with a 6-0 record. The Golden Hurricane, blown out by Wichita State in a game at Koch Arena earlier this season, are 13-5 overall and one of the surprise teams in college basketball. Frank Haith is doing a fantastic job.
▪ How are the other non-conference opponents of the Shockers doing? Let’s go from best to worst. Utah, which handed WSU one of its two losses in Salt Lake City in December, is tied with Arizona for the Pac-12 lead at 5-1 and is 15-3 overall. George Washington, which knocked off the Shockers in Hawaii last month, is 5-1 in the Atlantic-10, tied for second place behind unbeaten VCU, and 15-4 overall. Seton Hall climbed into the Top 25, but has dropped to 3-3 in the Big East and 13-5 overall. Alabama, which blew a late lead at Koch Arena to lose to the Shockers, is 2-3 in the SEC and 12-6 overall. Memphis, who the Shockers handled in Sioux Falls, S.D., in November, is 4-3 in the American Conference, 11-7 overall. Saint Louis is 9-9 overall, but just 1-4 in the Atlantic-10 while Detroit, which gave WSU a scare, is 3-2 in the Horizon and 10-10 overall. Hawaii, which played the Shockers close in December, is 2-2 in the Big West, 14-6 overall. New Mexico State, which the Shockers clobbered in the season opener, is 3-1 in the WAC and 11-10 overall. Finally, Loyola-Marymount, which Wichita State handled easily in Hawaii, is 1-7 in the West Coast Conference and 5-15 overall.
▪ One of the most interesting games to be played Saturday is in the Southland Conference, believe it or not. Stephen F. Austin (5-0, 15-3) plays at Sam Houston State (6-0, 14-4).
▪ I’m sure Shocker basketball fans are feeling bad for Creighton, which left the Missouri Valley Conference after the 2012-13 season to join the Big East. After a strong first season in that conference, the Bluejays have fallen on hard times. They are winless in seven Big East games so far and 9-11 overall. WSU fans, no doubt, will send notes of sympathy to Creighton coach Greg McDermott.
▪ Anybody else becoming an Atlanta Hawks fan? And speaking of Creighton, former Bluejay Kyle Korver, now in his 13th NBA season (how can that be?), has been a huge reason for the Hawks’ 35-8 record and 14-game win streak. He’s averaging 13.1 points per game, the second most in his career, and is shooting an amazing 53.5 percent from the three-point line.
▪ Quick, name the Hawks’ coach. Time’s up, it’s Mike Budenholzer.
▪ I know we’re a football-infatuated country, but if you watch the Pro Bowl on Sunday you’ve got too much time on your hands. I’ll be at Koch Arena, watching Wichita State play Drake in another scintillating Missouri Valley Conference basketball game.
▪ I know things run in cycles, and it’s rare that a team stays on top for long, but the current state of Valley basketball is Wichita State, maybe Northern Iowa, and everybody else. And the bottom four of this league – Drake, Southern Illinois, Missouri State, Bradley – are atrocious. It’s not good.
▪ It’s been years since I’ve been to the Dodge City Tournament of Champions, one of the many high school basketball tournaments going on around the state this weekend. I need to get out to Dodge for some games one of these years. It’s on my list.
▪ OK, movies. I’ve seen The Grand Budapest Hotel, Boyhood, Selma and American Sniper, four of the eight films nominated for an Oscar. I didn’t like GPH, thought Boyhood was interesting but not worthy of all the hype and thought Selma and American Sniper were outstanding. Bradley Cooper is a great actor, even though the first glimpse most of us got of him was his role in The Hangover. It was a funny movie, but the last thing that came to mind while watching it was great acting.
▪ I love being in a movie theater. It’s a great place to get away for a couple of hours. I’d suggest it strongly for those of you who have never been. Anyone never been to a movie theater? I can’t imagine.
▪ Isn’t it awesome to have these warm, sunny days in January?
▪ Thanks for reading. Enjoy the Pro Bowl.