Bullying, Marquee Matchup, Cat Scratch Fever and the Shocks
Where is it written that degradation, humiliation, racism and bullying are necessary ingredients for a rite of passage in sports? The situation in Miami with Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin is a painful reminder of how elusive decency can be. Not only could this cost the two players their careers (both are damaged goods for very different reasons), but also elements of the coaching staff who, reportedly, prompted Incognito to ‘toughen up’ his teammate. Where this leaves a football team with playoff aspirations remains to be seen, but it can’t be a very welcome distraction.
Beyond the aberrant behavior, what’s really odd about this story is that Martin was a starting offensive tackle for the Dolphins---what more did they want out of him? He was good enough to start for a contending NFL team, but he needed to toughen up? Isn’t this the kind of thing that NFL teams spend hundreds of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars vetting prospects warding off this type of dysfunction? You mean to tell me that through the scouting combine with its famed Wonderlic test and subsequent interviews that the Dolphins didn’t know exactly what they were getting in Martin? They certainly knew what they had in Incognito, a talented guy with a troubled past—a guy who’d been run out of every place he’d ever been dating back to college. To cut him loose without any reins was a disaster in the making and that’s exactly what the Dolphins have.
Big stuff in the Big 12---
Oklahoma’s trip to Baylor tonight offers the best matchup the Big 12 can conjure, so how pathetic is it that Oklahoma is as much as a 15 point underdog? The Sooners at #10 are probably the only top ranked team that Baylor will face this year (Oklahoma State is still a possibility), so it’s unlikely that Baylor could get into the National Championship picture without a lot of losing help from teams in front of them. By the way, Baylor can be had, but OU, amongst other things, has to run the ball consistently, without that it’s a boat race.
Is K-State coming?
In a game playing well under the radar this weekend K-State travels to reeling Texas Tech, looking for a signature win to help define its season. As I expected, the ‘Cats have taken some leaps the last couple of weeks and with Tyler Lockett and Tremaine Thompson back from injury and are suddenly a team to be dealt with. Bill Snyder seems to have found some balance in his quarterback system and defensively they’ve become downright stingy. Win this one in Lubbock and the ‘Cats have a great chance to run the remaining table and, yes, I know they still have Oklahoma to play.
Let the games begin---
With all due respect to Emporia State, the Shocks first work of interest comes at midnight next Monday against Western Kentucky. Normally, I would be cautious about the pre-season hype, the national ranking, the talk that you could run unbeaten through the conference---but I really like this team and as long as they can rebound and defend across the front they can meet and even surpass those expectations. They need to stay healthy, although did they need to stay healthy last season? Gregg Marshall knows how to win, what’s better—he loves to win.
Should you need to find me this weekend, I’ll be on Sooner Sports TV on the Fox Sports Network tonight doing their in game and post-game show for the Sooners matchup with Baylor. Friday I’m in Manhattan doing color on FSN for the telecast of the K-State-Northern Colorado hoop game. Saturday, I’ll be like so many other Wichitans—catching the Shockers opener against Emporia State. You can follow me on Twitter at the cleverly tagged @BruceHaertl, or just check in right here at kwch.com.