POSTED ON JULY 28, 2010:
The Hits Keep Coming
With the fall sports season approaching, let's review the summer teams
You don't know what you've got until it's gone -- or so the saying goes. The University of Tulsa lost Gus Malzahn after two prolific seasons of pass happy football. His last year was the 2008 season.
He bailed on TU for a SEC job. Golden Hurricane Head Coach Todd Graham decided to stick with the spread, trickeration offense and placed Herb Hand in charge.
The offense lost some steam the past two seasons. Was the loss of Malzahn or all-everything quarterback Paul Smith the reason for the decline?
Now Herb Hand is gone, too. Another SEC job called and another TU offensive coach jumped ship.
This scenario plays out on a yearly basis at the professional level. Success leads to assistant coaches being pilfered. TU should be happy SEC schools are taking note.
On a personal note, Hand was one of the more affable assistants in the city. As a bonus, he was a big Food Network fan and appreciated fine cuisine.
College football season is approaching. TU sent out the date and time for their annual football media day bash. Well, calling it a bash might be hyperbole, but it is a big day.
Media day is a chance for guys like me to talk with all the players and coaches in one convenient location. It's also a chance for sports journalists to eat free food. Good times.
We'll have plenty of time to talk football in the coming months, so let's hit a few other worthy topics.
A couple of weeks ago, our daily paper ran an article on ONEOK Field. "Drillers see attendance jump with ONEOK Field."
Oh, really? Amazing. Thanks for the ground breaking news story.
So you mean to tell me when a brand new facility opens it might have a positive impact on attendance. Too bad Tulsa hadn't proved this already with the BOK Center. Or did we?
I digress. I feel safe in saying sports fans (like us) have been to ONEOK Field and could have guessed a bump in attendance was likely. The bigger story coming from the Drillers is their association with the Colorado Rockies.
They extended their partnership for four additional years as the Double-A affiliate of the Rockies.
"The Drillers are extremely pleased to be able to continue our affiliation with the Colorado Rockies," said Drillers President Chuck Lamson. "We joined their organization at the right time in terms of their focus on player development, and we have seen many great players come through Tulsa on their way to the major leagues."
He speaks the truth. In 2010 alone, the Midsummer Classic showcased three former Drillers in Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Holliday and Troy Tulowitzki. Jimenez is only one of the top five pitchers in MLB today. No big deal.
This past weekend saw Troy Tulowitzki don the Drillers jersey in a rehabilitation assignment. Tulsa baseball fans understand how lucky we are in this respect. And if that doesn't excite you, then how about this little known nugget? Our new ballpark is drawing more fans downtown. Bam, hard-hitting.
Not So Shocking
Many sports fans were not crazy about the idea of a WNBA franchise landing in Tulsa. Some openly voiced their hesitation and displeasure, while others mocked behind closed doors.
If you've read this column, then you know which side I was on.
A 3-3 start to the season quickly spiraled out of control. Through June and July, the team has averaged one win per month. Tulsa's four wins are by far the lowest in the league.
Only two players average double digit points per game. Only one player grabs more than five rebounds per contest.
This is why we shivered when the team landed in Tulsa. You want to sell us on a new sport, bring us a winner. Don't recycle a team from a fledgling Detroit market and remove the top players from that squad.
Forget market research (if any was done). You could have just went to a Drillers, Oilers or Talons game and asked real Tulsa sports fans if they were interested. Hell, save your time and just ask me. You want the truth?
Tulsa craves the limelight. We want the big stage. Unfortunately, the worst team in the WNBA is not the magical elixir we were looking for. Now you know why some shuddered.
One lighter note concerning the Shock. Marion Jones, the league's most famous bench player, saw her Olympic relay teammates have their medals returned.
They were stripped when Jones tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. The IOC decided to lift the punishment against the other sprinters because, in theory, they were not aware Jones was circumventing the system.
Finally, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant is my hero. He is everything that is right with professional basketball in 2010. Here's hoping he continues down the righteous path and isn't swayed by the evil forces lurking within the league.
Who knows, maybe Clay Bennett will bestow a regular season home game on T-Town one of these days.
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