• BIG CROWD SOUGHT FOR TONIGHT — There’s nothing like a rivalry game to kick off the new year.
McPherson High’s basketball teams make their 2014 debuts tonight when they host arch-rival Buhler at the venerable Roundhouse.
Now I know it’s a Tuesday night, but c’mon people. This is Buhler we’re talking about. The team just 15 minutes away and the Bullpups’ new arch rival since they’re not in the same division anymore with teams like Newton, Hutchinson and the Salina schools.
As an added attraction, the Bullpup boys are now No. 1 in Class 4A Division I. A team that is the best in its class certainly deserves a big crowd.
And the Bullpup girls need your support because they’re considered underdogs going into their game against an undefeated Buhler team that will come in breathing fire. The Crusaders are 5-0 and MHS is 1-3, yet the Bullpups are ranked two spots ahead in the 4A Division I poll.
People are probably tired of being at home. The cold has kept many of us in, but tonight it’s time to get out and stretch your legs, not to mention your lungs. The weather is supposed to be much warmer today and college football is over, so there are no excuses.
I’ll be sadly disappointed if we don’t have a big crowd. Buhler will certainly bring one and we can’t let the visitors believe their crowd in on par with ours. Get out tonight and support the Bullpups.
• GREAT TITLE GAME — A furious finish Monday made the BCS National Championship Game between Florida State and Auburn one for the ages.
Upstart Auburn came out on fire, mounting a 21-3 lead and seemingly on its way to one of college football's biggest upsets in recent times. The Tigers entered the game a double-digit underdog, though I found that somewhat surprising since Florida State plays in the mediocre ACC and doesn't play the competition that SEC member Auburn does.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston hardly played up to Heisman Trophy standards for three quarters and looked very much like the redshirt freshman that he is. But when the game was on the line, he directed the Seminoles to the winning touchdown in the closing seconds and they were able to end the SEC's stranglehold on the national championship.
I had not watched Florida State except for early in the season and honestly I wasn't that impressed. It did have some tremendous athletes, but didn't have a great running game and Winston's numbers were rather pedestrian. He was under 200 yards passing until the final drive, which was aided by some poor Auburn tackling.
You really had to feel for the Tigers. They were the better team for nearly the entire game, but just couldn't seal the deal.
Winston has no choice but to come back next year since he's not eligible for the draft, so chances are the Seminoles will be the preseason No. 1.
• DEVIROUS A REBOUNDING MACHINE — There may not be a basketball player in the country who gets more done than McPherson College's Devirous Johnson.
The 6-3 senior from Brooklyn, N.Y., is having a fabulous season that should earn him a passel of postseason honors.
Despite giving away several inches of height inside, Johnson continues to lead the entire country in rebounding with a 12.8 average. He has extremely long arms as well as hands as soft as butter in terms of shooting touch, but vise-like when snatching rebounds. He is an expert at using his leverage and is masterful in blocking out opponents.
Johnson is coming off a monster week in which he scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds against Baker, and then followed that up with 26 points and 13 rebounds against Haskell. His efforts earned him KCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second time this year.
Johnson has been remarkably consistent. He has scored in double digits in 10 of the last 11 games and averages 15.6.
• MANGINO IS BACK — Former Kansas football coach Mark Mangino, whose tenure ended in controversy amid accusations he treated his players poorly, is back in the Big 12.
It was announced Monday that Mangino has been hired as offensive coordinator at Iowa State. It was a position he once held at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops.
Mangino was at KU for eight years, including the memorable 2007 season that ended with an Orange Bowl victory, earning him AP Coach of the Year. But it wasn’t too long after that it all came crashing down and he was gone.
Ever since he left, I’ve always wondered had he survived the allegations of abuse, would he have allowed the program to crash and burn the way it has under the guidance of first Turner Gill and now Charlie Weis?