Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: Friday musings on Shocker football, conference affiliation, a movie void, etc.

Wichita State quarterback Prince McJunkins, one of the most successful players in WSU football history, runs an outside option play against New Mexico State on Oct. 16, 1982. The game was played at Cessna Stadium.
Wichita State quarterback Prince McJunkins, one of the most successful players in WSU football history, runs an outside option play against New Mexico State on Oct. 16, 1982. The game was played at Cessna Stadium. The Wichita Eagle

▪ Welcome to the final Friday musings of 2015. The holidays beckon and I muse infrequently during the Christmas season.

▪ The big news of the week, of course, is the announcement made Tuesday by WSU president John Bardo concerning the university’s interest in assessing needs in the athletic department. Everything, as Bardo said, is on the table — including football and conference affiliation.

▪ I’m a proponent of a change of conference for Wichita State, even as someone who appreciates the school’s 70-year history in the Missouri Valley Conference. It’s my belief that the rest of the Valley isn’t keeping up and that WSU should not be held back from higher aspirations. I know it’s a complex issue and one that will require just the right fit. But I see two good fits for the Shockers now, even without football.

▪ The Mountain West currently has 11 basketball-playing members with Hawaii belonging only for football. Eleven is an awkward number and it seems to me that the Mountain West would be a great landing spot for WSU, even without a football commitment.

▪ The same is true for the American Conference, which also has only 11 teams for basketball. Navy is a football-only member of the American.

▪ Twelve is a better number for these conferences than 11. I would think Bardo and WSU interim athletic director Darron Boatright would be aggressive in checking out these two conferences as potential landing spots for Wichita State.

▪ I don’t regard football as a necessity for WSU. And I know that will rankle some feathers of the people who believe a campus can’t be a real campus without college football. But when I start to assess the costs for starting a football program, my head begins to hurt. And it’s not even my money. I will say, though, that Bardo wants to improve college life, and Wichita life, during the fall. He said there is a void of activity on the Wichita State campus during that time of the year and the best way to fill that void would be with a football program.

▪ I wouldn’t put anything past Bardo.

▪ The Mountain West, by the way, includes: Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, New Mexico, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State, UNLV, Utah State and Wyoming for basketball. The 11 basketball members of the American Conference are Cincinnati, Central Florida, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, SMU, South Florida, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa. Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis and Tulsa are former members of the Missouri Valley Conference.

▪ Which conference tickles your fancy most? I’m sticking with the Mountain West because I think it’s a more stable conference. This is not to indicate, in any way, that the Mountain West has interest in bringing Wichita State in as a 12th basketball member. Although if you’re the Mountain West, or the American, why wouldn’t you?

▪ It’s going to be fascinating to follow this WSU endeavor over the next weeks and months. Rest assured that whatever happens, Bardo will spell out the reasons with facts to support his ultimate decisions.

▪ Really looking forward to Saturday’s Utah-WSU game at Intrust Bank Arena. I love the yearly downtown games and this should be the best one yet.

▪ Redshirt sophomore guard Conner Frankamp thought three of the five shots he took during his Shocker debut against UNLV on Wednesday night were going in. They didn’t. He was 0 for 5. Rest assured that Frankamp is going to settle in and start making shots. Lots of shots.

▪ How could anyone not be impressed early on by Kansas State’s basketball team? And with freshman Dean Wade from St. John. The Wildcats are one of the best stories around, although I don’t think anyone nationally is spreading the word. The Wildcats have a big game Saturday against Texas A&M in College Station. The Aggies won their first six, including wins over Texas and Gonzaga. But they’ve dropped two of their past three to Syracuse and Arizona State after rising to No. 18 in the rankings.

▪ I’ve heard nothing but good things about Creed or about it’s stars, Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone. You’d think I’d have made it out to see this movie already, but I haven’t. In fact, I haven’t been inside a movie theater in six months, at least. That’s embarrassing to admit, especially since I call myself a “movie guy.” But this is one I’m going to see. Soon. And several others, too. I have to get back into the movie swing.

▪ I see HBO is bringing back The Leftovers for a third and final season. It’s one of the most interesting shows I’ve seen, although don’t ask me to make much sense of it. The premise is that two percent of the world’s population just up and disappeared and the ramifications from that are what makes this show so compelling.

▪ The UFO scenes in Fargo are going to be explained, right?

▪ I’ve become a big Julianne Margulies fan and love her in The Good Wife.

▪ The Middle is my favorite sitcom.

▪ It looks like the Chicago Cubs are going to sign outfielder Jason Heyward, formerly of the Cardinals. I don’t want to talk about it. Wait, yes I do. I’m actually OK with this. Heyward is a fine player but likely not worth what the Cubs are going to pay him. And I trust the Cardinals to make the right counter move. Maybe I’m naive. Maybe I’m in denial. Maybe I’m a lot of things. But I believe this will work out.

▪ I wish I had tried harder in math when I was in school. The advanced algebra classes hit me like a ton of bricks. They locked my brain and made me quiver. It’s a shame, really. But, hey, liberal arts is what I’m all about.

▪ I’ve had a good time with my career. It’s put a roof over my head and food on the table, as they say. And if your simple goals are a roof and a pound of hamburger now and then, liberal arts is the way to go.

▪ I jest. Working in newspapers has been as rewarding as I expected it to be. It’s a lot different now than it was then, but what isn’t? I’ve appreciated the opportunity to write for a living because it’s what I love doing.

▪ No, these recollections don’t mean I’m about ready to hang ‘em up. But I do enjoy reflecting from time to time and hope you don’t mind. I’ll be doing more of that over the next months because someday this career will come to an end. And I want to share with readers some of the highlights. Not that you necessarily care. But I care. So there.

▪ Thanks for reading. Let’s continue to enjoy this amazing and strange December weather. And please have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. I’ll be back with more musings in 2016.