Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Joining the dark side

It's official. The people behind Big MO Sports have agreed to join forces with Mizzou Rah to form a blog more powerful than you can possibly imagine. The ramifications of this are certainly going to be enormous. This could potentially be the most explosive alliance since Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage formed the Mega Powers (the handshake at the 1:25 mark is actually identical to the handshake that was used to signify the unification of Big MO with Mizzou Rah). 

What does this mean for you, the good hardworking people that have kept Big MO alive and running for the past five months? It means instead of typing into your browser every morning you need to type

I know you're all probably feeling nostalgic and already missing the days when Big MO Sports was set as your homepage but this is actually great news for you. We've got some big things in the works for Mizzou Rah. You'll still get all of my postings plus the regular postings made by the writers at Mizzou Rah, which are almost as good as mine (I know, hard to believe but trust me). 

In addition to the postings, we're discussing trying to put together a regular Mizzou podcast, which to our knowledge would be the first of its kind. No promises but it looks pretty likely that it's gonna happen. Very exciting stuff.

So this will be the final post made on Big MO. Thank you all for everything and I hope you'll be coming with me to Mizzou Rah. 

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Happy trails, Ocho Cinco

I forgot to include this in Friday's news & notes and that's just as well because something like this deserves a post of its own.

Last week I received a call from William Palaszczuk (one of the charter members of the Greg Bracey Fan Club) informing me that the real Ocho Cinco was released by the San Diego Chargers in May and we somehow missed it until now. 

The people at Big MO obviously hate to hear that and want to wish Greg well in all his future endeavors. If he ever catches on with another team and ends up making the roster you can bet we'll be the first to be rockin' the Bracey 85 NFL Authentics. 

Good luck Greg and if you're ever in the neighborhood feel free to stop by Big MO and enjoy a cold one on the house. 

Friday, July 11, 2008

News & notes

Seems like each post brings a new set of reasons for not updating this blog more often. This week's excuses? Allergies that have me feeling under the weather and trying to finish up the last couple weeks of my internship at the Bolivar Herald-Free Press. 

But I'll let you in on a little secret. There could be some Mark Mangino sized changes coming to Big MO Sports in the very near future in the form of an alliance of sorts (that's my way of dropping a not so subtle hint). So stay tuned.

But for now we have lots of links to get to!
  • First and foremost, Sarah Becking, RIP. I had never heard of Sarah until literally a couple weeks ago when I ran across her website and realized what a truly gifted photographer she was and immediately added it to the links to your right. I had no idea she had been battling cancer. I don't know much more about her than what I've read in the past few days but she left behind a husband, daughter and son. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends. 
  • The door is now shut and locked on the Keon Lawrence era at Mizzou. I'm glad he's going to be going to school but I worry about how close Seton Hall is to his old stomping grounds. I also don't understand the attitude he gives Mike DeArmond in that story. I thought the local media always portrayed Keon in a positive light even when he was in the midst of a major sophomore slump. But after the past few weeks I'm starting to think there were some attitude problems behind the scenes we didn't hear about. But that's my own speculation so take it for what it's worth and I still hope Keon is successful at Seton Hall.
  • Get to know Keith Ramsey! I have to say, I've always hated players who call cheap fouls in pickup games. Nothing ruins a pickup game quicker than one of those guys.
  • A surge of stories have popped up on concerning the Mario Chalmers miracle three in the National Championship game including this fascinating story on former Beaker and would be hero Michael Lee (check out Smorgasboard Graves in that picture). A little odd that those are being written over three months after the National Championship game. Maybe it has something to do with them moving the three point line back? Speaking of Chalmers, I hate Kansas more than anyone but I will never understand how so many chumps including J.R. Giddens got drafted before he did. I'm admittedly biased toward players that perform well in pressure situations (I thought Acie Law was a lock to be a great NBAer and so far that prediction hasn't exactly panned out) but give me a break. Giddens?
  • This afternoon I was doing some research for a story I'm writing for my internship  and ran across some old columns by former Springfield News-Leader sports reporter Scott Puryear that are wonderfully amusing looking back on them: 1. Remember when everyone loved Pinkel before they hated him and before they loved him again? Now you do. 2. Back in 2003 Pinkel signed a talented high school quarterback named Chase who was going to keep the momentum going once The Great Brad Smith graduated. But his last name wasn't Daniel. 3. Remember that backup punter we had in '06 who wore No. 10 and the cameras used to always cut to him thinking it was Chase Daniel? Bet you didn't realize someone once wrote a column about him.
  • The latest from Zou Dave. Would enough Mizzou fans be willing to pool their money to pay Zou Dave to produce these things full-time? We should look into this.
  • Just found another Keon update. Turns out he needed to leave New Jersey for two years so he could go and grow up. But now he's mature enough to live at home again. Okay, that makes sense. Glad we cleared that up.
  • If you've been in downtown Columbia in the last few months you've probably noticed the new sandwich joint Which Which? (where Shake's used to be). Fantastic place, I'd highly recommend the house chips. When you're eating there you'll also be supporting former Tiger Will Franklin who owns 40 percent of Columbia's franchise. I'm hoping they'll let Franklin put together his own favorite sandwich and market it as "The Helicopter" or something similarly silly. 
  • By the way, I love how the KC Star is having all of their sportswriters put together blogs. Other news organizations take note, this is how blogs can be used effectively by the modern media. Two thumbs up to Posnanski, Flanagan, Mellinger and company.
That's it for now. Next week marks the arrival of NCAA '09. I'm actually planning on finally ditching the PS2 and picking up either an Xbox 360 or PS3 (really leaning toward the 360) and NCAA will probably be the first game I purchase so expect a review sometime in the near future. Although I'll probably have a new set of excuses for not writing another post until next weekend. See ya then!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Eric Chenowith days of summer

I've been wanting to write a post all week but just haven't had anything to discuss. The day the first football practice report comes out can't get here soon enough because the last week has moved like former Jayhawk Eric Chenowith. I'm going to try to come up with some original stuff to post other than just links but in the meantime things are just going to be a little slow.

Fortunately, for you Big MO diehards I was able to scrounge up a couple of interesting links to pass along and give my always thoughtful analysis:
  • Fox Sports college basketball writer Jeff Goodman gave his take on Keon's transfer in his blog. It's a little ways down the page so I'll just post what he wrote here: 
    "While Missouri guard Keon Lawrence is saying he is transferring to be closer to home, we’re hearing that he just wants more shots. No surprise. I saw Lawrence score 50 points in an AAU game and walked away in complete disgust. It was one of the most selfish performances I’ve seen in a long, long time."
I'm personally not taking a lot of stock in that. "We're hearing that he just wants more shots." Who are you hearing that from? Keon? Mike Anderson? Other coaches? And his description of that AAU game is painfully vague. This is a pretty good example of what blogs written by "credible journalists" should not be. In the games I personally saw Keon play in I did not notice any selfish behavior to speak of. I did however, see him with tears in his eyes after several tough losses over the past two years. But maybe he was crying about his low shot total. 
  • Be sure to scroll a little further down on that page and also check out this article on the chemistry that Mike Anderson's incoming freshman class are already forming. Am I the only one that breaks into a huge smile when I read that Kim English, Marcus Denmon and Miguel Paul are literally having sleepovers at Mizzou Arena? As encouraging as I find this stuff, lets not get carried away with it. These guys can be as close-knit as the Brady Bunch, if they don't have talent, toughness and good coaching it's not going to mean a whole lot. But I will say I don't recall reading anything like this about the last several incoming freshman classes. Just pointing that out. 

Friday, June 27, 2008

Farewell, Keon

I was extremely disappointed to hear that Keon Lawrence will be leaving the University of Missouri.

All season we heard that Keon had been considering moving closer to his home in New Jersey but at the end of the year it appeared that he had fully committed to MU and Mike Anderson. In fact, on Wednesday he sounded very upbeat when talking about this year's group with the Kansas City Star, "This squad, everybody’s about the team,” Lawrence said. “They’re going to give what it takes to win. Whether somebody doesn’t like it or not. They’re here to please the coach."

Keon told the Star that the reason he is transferring is to be closer to home but that was after he had taken a subtle shot at the MU coaching staff earlier in the day when talking to the Columbia Tribune, "It's not my teammates, and it's not the fans. That should tell you something."

He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch over the phone that he's not even sure he'll return to school.

Keon's past has been well documented. Gangs were prevalent in his life throughout his childhood and adolescent years. Earlier this year his brother was murdered and his sister is also reportedly deep into the gang life. According to the P-D, Lawrence will move back to Newark with his mother, who abandoned him as a child, to the streets that nearly swallowed him before escaping to Mizzou. 

"The people I used to run with know I'm coming back home and I don't know what's going to happen," Lawrence said. "But this might be best for me right now."

I'm not going to pretend to understand Keon's situation or try to say that I know what's best for him. But I can't imagine this being a good decision. Keon appeared to have overcome his past and survived, but his battle could be long from over.

I'm not going to bash him for leaving MU even though it's extremely disappointing. I do think his jab at the coaching staff was a little below the belt. And I'm not taking Anderson's side in this. Anderson could be driving the program deeper into the ground than it already is, we don't know and only time will tell. But if you're going to say something like that about your coach after you leave decide to leave the program you better be prepared to explain exactly what the problem is that you have with him. Don't hint that there was something there the public didn't know about and then refuse to answer any followup questions, which is exactly what Keon did. Either tell-all or don't tell a thing.

But that's really the secondary issue here. Keon's obviously a very troubled young man who's going through a lot of serious problems that most have us couldn't possibly comprehend. I hope he has the wisdom to stay as far away as he possibly can from the people that got him into so much trouble in his high school years. 

If you've ever seen Keon in a public setting he always seems to be having a great time. He's a guy who's always the life of the party. It's hard to believe he's been as unhappy as he says he's been. 

I've gushed about Keon as a player before and I sincerely believed he was going to be the catalyst that turned the program back around. But it wasn't meant to be. This is a significant blow to the team's Tournament chances next season but that's also besides the point. 

Right now this looks like a heartbreaking story. My prayers are with Keon and I hope he's able to find his place, wherever that may be.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

61-year-old KU superfan marries 22-year-old

I don't usually write multiple postings on one day but I've got a little free time and I found a link that's too good to not pass along.

Jimmy Neal is an avid Jayhawks fan nicknamed the "White Owl" who is 61 years old. He apparently spends a lot of time at Wescoe Beach on KU's campus shouting at students to "Wake up!" Basically, he's the complete opposite of MU's Brother Jed but just as crazy. 

The Daily Kansan says he is "known for his enthusiastic dancing and cheering at KU games." It also reports that he's set to marry 22-year-old KU student Julia Lee.


It gets better. The two have only known each other for a little over a month. The soon-to-be Mrs. Owl also told the Kansan reporter about her engagement before her father.

Neal has spawned two baby owls from previous marriages but he expects this marriage to last because "In previous marriages I (Neal) would see the reflection of my love, not their love."

He knew that he and Julia were meant to be together the first time he laid eyes on her, "I saw an injured spirit and I'm all about helping people and being a light."

It sounds like this guy has been spending a little too much time hanging out with Aqib Talib.

But don't worry, the couple doesn't plan to become sexually active until after they're married. And even though the White Owl is settling down he still plans to be a regular at KU basketball and football games. 

For the sake of humanity lets hope these two don't produce a child. 

Graham Watson headed to The Network

St. Louis Post-Dispatch Mizzou beat writer Graham Watson will be leaving the PD next month for the greener pastures of ESPN. 

Graham is an MU journalism grad (and former soccer player) who has covered Tiger athletics for the past several years. I always respected her professionalism in maintaining a level of objectivity despite the seeming conflict of interest (being a former Mizzou athlete). 

Her blog paled in comparison to the Tribune's Dave Matter but her weekly chat sessions were must reads for Mizzou fans. Any questions as to wether or not she was ESPN material were erased in the spring of '07 when she wrote two superb pieces on the rough upbringings of Keon Lawrence and Jeremy Maclin (I looked everywhere and was unable to find links to these without paying $2.95). 

It's weird how you kind of grow attached to the writers that cover your team. Mizzou's had pretty solid coverage with the trifecta of Matter, Watson and DeArmond. I think a lot of Tiger fans will miss Graham and I look forward to seeing her on the Worldwide Leader.

Speaking of Graham, she wrote an encouraging article for Tiger fans about what the only goal is for this year's team.