The Madness lurks just around the corner. The NCAA postseason voyage earns high marks all around. It is the epitome of what earning a championship is all about.
Commencing in a couple of weeks and lasting through the month, the collective eyes of the nation will fixate on buzzer-beaters, upsets and awkward high-fives from bench players. CBS will run every underdog and feel good story they can conjure up.
The inaugural tournament? 1939. But it wasn't always so exciting. For some reason, the year 1977 stands out. When the Dick Vitale of his day, Al McGuire led his overachieving Marquette Warriors (Golden Eagles) over the highly vaunted North Carolina team, it marked the beginning of a new era of college sports.
And so the nation paid attention and the bracket setup has undergone makeovers along the way. The basic concept is still intact. Chances are Billy Packer and Vitale are once again calling the action from the opening tip until someone with more charisma shows up. Not a chance.
This year's version may be a little light on local team participation. It will take a Herculean effort to close out the season from OU or OSU to secure an at large berth in the field. Let's be honest -- neither team appears poised for a Big 12 postseason championship run.
The Golden Hurricane is still a year or two away from being a legit threat in Conference USA. The building blocks are in place and coach Doug Wojcik keeps adding to the foundation.
Perhaps TU can finish conference play 8-8. Couple together a .500 record with a victory or two in the postseason tourney and the NIT might come calling.
Oral Roberts dreams will be realized this weekend. The John Q. Hammons Arena at the UMAC (Union Multipurpose Activity Center), 6836 S. Mingo Road, hosts the Mid-Con postseason tournament once again. March 3-6 will dictate whether the Golden Eagles seize a NCAA postseason slot.
An estimated Ka-Jillion office brackets will be filled out once the final teams are set in stone.
Some entrants study trends, compare conferences and refer to the RPI ratings before carefully selecting the winner.
These guys will lose to the individual in the office who was cajoled into donating their five bucks. The winner ignores upset specials and goes with one of two tried and true methods.
Pick the teams he or she has heard of or ask a co-worker what a TarHeel or Red Raider is. Regardless, sports fans will wallow in shame as we are outmatched by a novice once again.
Good luck with your bracketology. Chances are -- you'll need it.
Just In Time
Spring Training is underway for Major League Baseball. It seems like just yesterday the St. Louis Cardinals were hoisting the trophy.
Are you tired of the same old recycled storylines in baseball? Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Yankees vs. Sox. If you answered yes - then join me for some good ol' fashioned national pastime action at Drillers Stadium.
If you missed the Drillers first-half run to a championship last year, you missed a ton of talent on the diamond. Second year Head Coach Stu Cole is ready to brave the heat in Tulsa once again.
Cole was drafted in 1987 by the Royals. "I made it up to the big leagues in '91," he says. For anyone who thinks the Colorado Rockies have had a rough go of it lately -- I give you the Kansas City Royals.
"I've only been involved with two organizations -- the Royals and the Rockies. Both have treated me with nothing but respect and have been professional," he says.
The Rockies initiated a youth movement three or four years ago. Call them the anti-Yankees. To build a winner they have chosen the path less traveled. In a society demanding instant gratification, the Rockies are playing roulette with their fan base.
However, the path worked wonders for the Florida Marlins. Can the Rockies, with help of feeder teams like the Drillers, climb the proverbial mountain? The blueprint is in place.
Draft efficiently, don't overspend on free agents and let the minor leagues filter up prospects. This isn't rocket science and time will tell if the mission is successful.
"We have a lot of good, young major league talent in our organization right now," Cole continues. Most baseball publications rank the Rockies minor league system in the top three.
The sign of a successful Double-A club isn't a Texas League Championship. Look at the six Drillers called up a year ago. This is a true sign of progress. (Although perhaps one of these years the Drillers can parlay success into a championship for T-Town).
By the time you get your hands dirty with Urban Tulsa Weekly, Coach Cole will be in Tucson, Arizona. "My role is managing the club and working with the infielders. Just trying to coordinate everything as spring training goes along," he says.
Cole enjoyed a myriad of talent a season ago. The heavy-hitters are gone. We should expect additional speed to make up for the sluggin' losses.
Although the Rockies' plucking players continually decimate the Drillers' postseason chances, it's a good thing. "It is gratifying to see those guys get called up," he says.
Cole spends his off-seasons back home in North Carolina. So he is a huge NASCAR fan right? "Not really. I usually see a lot of the NASCAR on the highlights. Actually I did watch the end of the (Daytona 500) this past weekend. The best part," he laughs.
My kind of guy.
Share this article: