Come the month of March in much of our contry’s midsection and people’s attention turns to the sky and what could come blowing out of the afternoon. Early spring or late spring. Early summer or late summer. In Oklahoma, Kansas and northern Texas the tornados come heavy and they come all too often.
[cleeng_content id="343906721" description="Read it now!" price="0.15"]Tornado alert sirens pierce the night’s darkness. Underground shelters and basement rooms with thick walls and emergency supplies are used when the people receive warnings.
Nobody has to be told a second time to stay away from large glass windows when the tornados bring their destruction and death. It’s “Tornado Alley” and it’s as real as the University of Oklahoma football team scoring 45 points a game.
Once the summer days are numbered in how many of them reached at least 100 degrees, the constant lookout for tornados has a companion. By mid-July, the people’s ears go to the ground. They are listening for Big 12 football. Oklahoma Sooner football. Texas Longhorn football. Oklahoma State Cowboy football.
The tornados would get only second-place votes to football in a fictitious Associated Press poll of what’s most important on the plains.
Big 12 football.
Even if there’s only 10 teams in the league.
“Those 10 teams are big enough to make 12 of any other league . . . including that place where Texas A&M and Missouri now hang their traitor’s hats”.
So, while the “tornado chasers” are out daily trying to find a twister to take down scientific notes most everybody else is chasing down information on their favorite Big 12 team.
Morgantown, West Virginia has been called many things by many people but it has never been called “Tornado Alley”. But now the West Virginia University Mountaineers are going to be playing against the plainsmen from the other nine schools in the football-crazy conference.
Does the road to the Big 12 championship go along I-79 on one side and Bruceton Mills, Cheat Lake, and the Cooper’s Rock on the other?
Will Oklahoma be treated to another 48-28 loss like it received in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl from a raucous West Virginia team stirred to the boiling point by the snub given it by ex-head coach Rich Rodriguez?
Texas Christian comes into the Big 12 at the same time West Virginia does. The other conference members know the Horned Frogs. They are from right over there in Fort Worth. “And they’ve been telling us for years just how good they are. Oklahoma ain’t Nevada-Las Vegas, New Mexico, Wyoming, San Diego State, or Louisiana Tech”.
TCU lost a 50-48 verdict last year to Baylor. That’s Baylor of the high-scoring Big 12 Conference.
Not that they would be tempted to be the least bit quiet at a conference game, but Big 12 football audiences can’t sit on their hands at any game. Touchdowns come too often. Points come in waves. Nothing short of a 30-point lead with six minutes to play is safe.
Even Texas Tech (near the tailend of the 2011 conference standings) scores points in bunches, averaging 34 points a game to its opponents’ 39 points. The Red Raiders just give up more bunches than they score themselves.
Defending Big 12 champion Oklahoma State (12-1 overall) averaged 49 points a game and gave up 27 a game. Baylor (10-3 overall) got 45 a game. Oklahoma (10-3 overall) got 40 a game. Last-place Kansas was stung for an average of 44 points and went 0-9 in conference games.
Missouri and Texas A&M have left for the Southeastern Conference with overall records of 8-5 and 7-6 respectively.
The players at the Big 12 schools will be warned about West Virginia and its scoring punches. But if Oklahoma State is playing Baylor the week after it sees West Virginia, how ready will the Cowboys be to face the Mountaineers? Will they have the proper respect for the old gray uniforms and helmets they will see?
West Virginia will be through with Marshall, James Madison, and Maryland. The last nine games are all Big 12 matches.
Do you think a college football player can ready himself for Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Baylor the same as was needed in the Big East against Connecticut, Rutgers, Syracuse, and South Florida?
If they can’t . . . close down I-79. Leave Cooper’s Rocks to the tourists. Don’t burn the couches until basketball season comes.
The Big 12 has a wealth of talent. It has highly paid coaches with shiny records. It has several athletic departments with loads of athletic dollars and huge budgets. It has large stadiums whose pews are filled to capacity at most places. It has publicity to stoke the feelings of its fan base. And excitement and caring that brings in alumni money in oil barrels and cattle futures.
It certainly doesn’t have the corner on defensive talent.
It doesn’t have players whose efforts will be the same against Oklahoma and Texas as they are against West Virginia.
Can West Virginia successfully compete in the Big 12 this season?
If it can’t, it couldn’t have done much in the Big East, either.
Tornado Alley won’t likely see the 70 points the Mountaineers produced against Dabo Swinney and the Clemson Tigers in the Orange Bowl. But when West Virginia comes to the plains, the people might want to stay away from large glass windows because taking the Mountaineers lightly could cause breakage that can’t be swept away from the loss column.[/cleeng_content]