Well, here we are: three games left in the Big 12 season and after pounding Kansas State last night, Kansas is a game out of first place, needing to both sweep through their last three games and get some serious help if they want to extend The Streak to 15. In years past I’d say there was a 75% chance that KU would pull it off. This year, though? I think it is 25% at best.
Despite what KU did to K-State last night and despite K-State’s injury issues, I think the Wildcats will rebound at home against Baylor Saturday then match KU’s win at TCU next Monday and that should do it. Throw in the likelihood that KU blows at least one of their two road games in Oklahoma and the math just does not work.
That terrible loss in Morgantown in late January may very well end up being the difference. Which, the way KU played for most of that game, they don’t deserve to win the title.
Let’s not forget about Texas Tech, though. If they win out they will earn at least a share of the title. A K-State loss puts Tech in the driver’s seat, but they have games at TCU and Iowa State to get through, which is the most difficult path of the three teams at the top of the standings.
I’ve said since KU got waxed in Ames in their second conference game of the year and lost Udoka Azubuike for the season that same weekend that The Streak was over. I still think that’s the case. But it is nice to at least stay in the conversation until the closing week of the schedule.
I’ve been thinking all season about who I would be most comfortable with ending The Streak. Some of this comes down to my general feelings for each program. But mostly it’s about who coaches the other nine teams in the conference.
So here are my power rankings of what Big 12 coach I most/least want to end The Streak.
1 – Chris Beard, Texas Tech. Really good coach, is doing great things to build a program in a tough location, and seems like a generally solid dude.
2 – Steve Prohm, Iowa State. Probably my favorite coach other than Bill Self in the conference. I like his inventiveness and ability to get his teams to play beautiful ball on the offensive end.
3 – Lon Kruger, Oklahoma. Second-best coach in the conference. Was nice to me once. Everyone likes him. ‘Nuff said.
4 – Mike Boynton, Oklahoma State. He’s kind of the “Meh” coach of the Big 12. Yeah, be beat KU twice last year, but the Cowboys haven’t done much yet in his tenure so I have no strong feelings about him.
5 – Bob Huggins, West Virginia. I hate the dude during games, but so many people say that away from the court he’s a totally different person. He slots in here mostly because I dislike everyone behind him even more.
6 – Jamie Dixon, TCU. Dixon really should be Boynton: kind of meh. But he just seems like a straight-up dick.
7 – Scott Drew, Baylor. For some reason Bill Self has softened in his feelings regarding Drew. It may be because of the two guys below Scott joining the conference. It may be because Self’s wife told him to stop hating on Drew. It may be because Drew has made efforts to cultivate Self’s friendship. Regardless, I still think he’s a big phony.
8 – Shaka Smart, Texas. A fraud built on the worst game played by a Kansas team in the last 20 years. I hope Texas never fires him.
9 – Bruce Weber, Kansas State. At our old house we had a neighbor who went to K-State. He was not a big sports guy; he follows the NFL closely but otherwise cedes the family allegiances to his wife, who is a UNC alum. We had dinner together last year during the K-State Elite 8 game and I think I paid more attention to it than he did. I told him I hated Bruce Weber and he asked why, genuinely curious because he admitted he knew almost nothing about him. I began my answer with an acknowledgement: Weber is a really good coach. But it’s everything else about him that causes me to hate him.
It’s the standing five feet out on the court, waving his arms, and screaming during games. It’s his whining before, during, and after games (and even in the off season). It’s his easy use of excuses when something goes wrong. It’s his thin skin. It’s his inferiority complex regarding Self that goes back to his bizarre behavior the year he took over for Self at Illinois. Throw all that together and it’s just damn hard to respect him no matter what his teams do. Put that guy as head coach of your in-state rival and that all turns into hate.
Quick aside: I have a friend who played football at Purdue when Weber was an assistant there. Once summer this friend lived with some basketball players and Weber was the coach in charge of checking up on them. An assignment he apparently relished. I was hanging out with this friend a year or two back and we flipped by a K-State game. Totally unprompted my friend said, “Man, isn’t Weber just the worst?” I thought that summed Weber up nicely.
If K-State is the team that breaks The Streak, that will kind of suck. But growing up in Missouri I’ve never had super strong feelings about KSU. I hate them on game day, but I can also easily root for them if it somehow helps KU. I have K-State friends and I will be happy for them if they get to celebrate a conference title in about a week.
But Weber? Man, if he’s the coach the finally breaks The Streak? That’s going to fucking suck, because he’s going to walk around like he just won three straight national titles. Can you imagine what a smug asshole he’s going to be? I guess the only good thing about it is that Self clearly does not like him at all, and will become obsessed with just destroying K-State next year to remind Weber who is boss.