Some weekend of televised sports action!

KU Hoops

For the first time all year, I bailed on a game. Well, partially. After a truly atrocious first half in Manhattan, which saw them trailing Kansas State by 16, I moved the KU game over to the laptop, sat it on the coffee table, and put the Bengals-Titans game on the TV.[1] I had zero interest in the football game, but I couldn’t stand watching KU continue to play the wretched basketball they played through the first 20 minutes. L’s team guards their opponents better than KU guarded K-State in the first half.

Lawrence Central high school’s Nigel Pack looked like Steph Curry, going insane for 22 points without trying very hard. Five-foot-one guard (OK, 5’8”) Markquis Nowell was blowing past KU’s guards like they were dribbling drill cones, and then throwing in circus shots that had about a 2% chance of going in when they left his hands. It was everything you expect from an upset: the favored team looked listless and confused, seemed to be doing five different things on defense, and even when they did something properly saw it somehow turn into a positive for the Wildcats. The home underdog was playing with massive confidence, making every hustle play, and was rewarded by hitting tough shot after tough shot.

Yep, I didn’t need to be all-in with this nonsense.

Long time readers probably already have a question in their minds. The answer is, no, I never fully reinvested. But I also didn’t go all Colts-Chiefs game, either.

I could see that KU sliced the deficit in half before the first TV timeout, but I kept the laptop on the coffee table. I knew K-State wasn’t going to keep shooting 800% from the floor (I checked the math, and that is indeed what they shot in the first half), but figured they would play good enough defense that making up 16 points (17 at one point) was going to be insanely tough.

Every so often I would pick up the laptop and watch a play or two closely, but that never seemed to work. Thus it stayed on the coffee table until the final moments of the game. It was indeed in my lap when Ochai Agbaji hit what became the game-winner, although it nearly tumbled to the floor as I screamed and yelled.

Since I didn’t watch the game super closely I can’t say much about the game’s details. Obviously K-State is really solid, and the fact they are scoring more easily makes them a legit tournament team. I love ripping Bruce Webber because of all his weirdness and public insecurities, but he is also a really good coach, especially when he gets the right mix of players. Which he seems to have this year.

A gutty performance by KU, especially by Ochai, Jalen Wilson, and David McCormack. They played their asses off in the second half. If the team, as a whole, had shown even half the effort in the first half they showed in the first half, that’s a relatively comfortable win. Instead it became a momentary classic.

That’s a new term I just coined. I like it. Everyone wants to call any exciting game an “Instant Classic.” All-too-often these games are forgotten a week or two later when some other game equals/exceeds it. Not every game can be a classic, folks. So how about Momentary Classic? KU fans are going to buzz about it for awhile. It was good highlight/discussion material for national media outlets for a day or so. I’m sure workplaces that have KU and KSU people mixed together are interesting this morning. The highlights will be fun to look back on for years to come. But odds are this game will be a footnote when we get to April and look back on this season as a whole.

Big 12 Refs

One thing Big 12 fans can agree on are that the referees that do conference games have a lot of issues. We can disagree about what those issues are – well, I’m sure we all think they call too many charges – but we would agree they make glaring errors every game.

I tend to think these errors balance out, and a fan who is pissed about a call in one game will likely see his team benefit from a crappy call in the next game.

Listen, I think the refs flat-out screwed up the call when a K-State player fouled Ochai Agbaji while shooting a three-pointer late. They called the foul, but only gave Agbaji two shots, saying it was not a shooting foul.

Big 12 director of officiating told the Kansas City Star that the call was correct because Agbaji had landed before he got hit in the legs. Which is absolutely ridiculous because every replay showed Agbaji was still in the air when he got hit.

I’m less upset about the call – KU won! – than about the explanation. How hard is it to say, “We messed up. We made this call thinking he had landed, but the replays clearly showed he was in the air and it should have been three free throws. Our bad.” But, no, the league has to “protect” the refs by providing an explanation that is clearly false.

And why isn’t this reviewable? They review whether a toe is on the line on a three all the time. Anytime someone gets accidentally hit in the face it turns into a 10-minute review that the refs often turn into a wrong call. But this isn’t reviewable? Maddening.


Man, ESPN+ sucks. The production values are always at about a C. The crowd audio is always terrible; it often sounds like you’re watching through an old telephone connection. Are there 8000 people in the gym, or 80? The graphics package is always glitching or lacking information. I swear, every single game I’ve watched this year they’ve had the score wrong at least once. Saturday they gave a KU basket to K-State then had the score wrong three times as they tried to correct their error.

And the announcers are just the worst. I think Saturday was the third time KU has had the combo of Bryndon Manzer and Ted Emrich. They suck.

Well, Manzer isn’t terrible. He understands hoops and often does a good job of explaining things. He just takes awhile to get there. And his style is so understated that he can get lost in what else is going on. He also tends to rely on “When I played…” examples too often. I give him a solid B.

Emrich is what really pulls them down. As understated as Manzer is, Emrich is the opposite. Over-the-top about the smallest plays, acting like a short jumper midway through the first half that turns a two-point lead into a four-point lead is Jordan dunking from the free throw line. He has that overly affected, modern sports broadcaster voice that sounds like 58 other people, all of whom sound like they’re trying too hard. Nothing sounds genuine about the way he broadcasts a game. Too many announcers like him fail to understand that the people watching at home understand what plays are important. We get those cues from the crowd and the players and the situation. Not every moment in a 40-minute game needs to be treated like the game-winning play.

Because of them, I watched the first half with the volume turned down about as low as I could and still hear the crowd and whistle. Which, as I said, wasn’t easy since ESPN+ apparently uses one crowd mic. And I kept the laptop muted until after Ochai’s game winner.

Sadly, since the Big 12 and ESPN LOVE to put KU on ESPN+, this won’t be the last time I have to deal with them.

NFL Playoffs

Greatest playoff weekend ever, right? Every game was mega-interesting. Every game went down to the final play. Every game held huge significance for the future of the league. I didn’t watch every minute of every game, but I was greatly entertained.

While I had Cincinnati-Tennessee on the TV Saturday, I wasn’t really watching very much. Tennessee always felt like a false #1 seed since they hadn’t been at full-strength since November, so I was not super surprised that the Bengals got the win. Not saying I would have picked them, since this was Cincy’s first-ever road playoff win. But still not surprised.

I still don’t understand how Green Bay lost to San Francisco. They destroyed the Niners on the first drive of the game, and never sniffed the end zone again. The Niners had guys hobbling off the field the entire day, yet somehow kept making plays. Jimmy Garappolo tried his hardest to piss the game away and the Packers refused to take advantage.

I have to think there was some kind of weird karma at play here, and has been for awhile. As Robbie Gould’s game winning field goal sailed through the uprights, I was trying to think who legendary quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ career should be compared to. He won a Super Bowl, so he can’t be Dan Marino or Dan Fouts. I’m leaning towards John Elway, since both were ridiculously physically talented quarterbacks who constantly made jaw dropping plays. But Elway not only won two Super Bowls, he went to three others. Rodgers has a long history of losing to lower seeded teams in the playoffs at home. I guess that makes Rodgers unique, which suits him and his personality just fine. We’ll see where he ends up next year.

I saw the first and final thirds of the Rams-Bucs game. It seemed like the wackiest, most mood-swinging game in recent memory, for about three hours. The fourth quarter was just nuts. So many plays that made no sense at all. It was all set up for Tom Brady to do some Tom Brady shit. And he damn-near almost pulled it off. Until, for some reason, the Bucs decided to let Cooper Kupp run right down the middle of their defense and catch a long ball. For the second time in the game!

The Rams are a wild ride, so I love that they are still playing. I don’t care if they win or lose, I just enjoy the craziness that comes with watching them for 60 seconds. Now we get to see what happens with Brady going forward.

And, of course, the nightcap Sunday, which has to be one of the best playoff games ever played. Forget my Momentary Classic comment above: this was most definitely an Instant Classic. There will be NFL Films shows about this game. It will be a constant call-back for any crazy, back-and-forth game.

All the ridiculousness of the LA-Tampa game got amped up about 50 times in this one. I didn’t care who won – well, I was leaning Buffalo but I don’t really have any love for the Bills – and was screaming as both teams traded punches in the fourth quarter. So many massive plays by both teams. So many tiny things that could have changed the outcome without it getting to the overtime coin flip. Just a magnificent game to watch, unless you’re from western New York. Even then it was pretty great for about 59:47. Mahomes-Allen is turning into the new Brady-Manning.

Pretty good weekend for my KU-Chiefs people.

NFL Overtime Rules

Here we go, the instant complaining about NFL overtime rules. Which I get, because these rules suck. A winner-take-all game should not be determined by the vagaries of a coin flip. But the NFL seems wed to these rules. They’ve only very slightly tweaked them in, what, 60 years? The NFL being an uber-conservative organization isn’t going to throw out the rules tomorrow because of the game yesterday.

Going to college rules would be silly. Because the college rules, as entertaining as they are, are no way to decide a playoff/championship game.

I’d lean towards just playing a 10-minute quarter in full. I get the concerns about turning an NFL game into a five-hour marathon if no one has the lead after 70 minutes. I strongly believe both teams should have a chance to score, though.

I’m intrigued about the idea of one team picking the spot on the field where the ball will be placed and the other team getting choose whether to play offense or defense. But that seems gimmicky and weird and I’d have to see it in action to form a full opinion on it.

Overtime rules are strange in most sports. Basketball and (playoff) baseball stick closest to their normal rules, but fouls and number of players left on the bench can throw both of those into nutty territory. But at least they’re playing the same game, with both teams having an equal chance to win what was an even game at the end of regulation.

It feels like football is destined to be flawed no matter what system us used.

  1. I also switched seats.  ↩