Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Riverbend Classic, Pepsi Showcase create a tough choice for fans

We posted a story here last week detailing the lineup for the annual Pepsi Showcase high school basketball event in Cape Girardeau, and there's word today that New Madrid County Central is putting the final touches on its Riverbend Classic for that same weekend.

Both eight-team events help kick off the season over the final weekend of November (the Pepsi Showcase is a one-day event, the Riverbend Classic a two-day event), and both typically provide strong early-season tests for some of the area's top teams.

At NMCC, athletic director Diane Fowler said today that the final schedule should be out next week, but she confirmed the teams that will be involved, including new entry Lincoln High School of Dallas, Texas, a team coached by former NMCC coach Leonard Bishop. Lincoln replaces Byhalia, Miss., in this year's event.

The other teams: Charleston, Memphis (Tenn.) Central, NMCC, Pine Bluff, Ark., Poplar Bluff, Scott County Central, and West Memphis, Ark.

At Cape Girardeau, participants are Notre Dame, Cape Girardeau Central, Vianney, Lafayette, Memphis White Station, Ballard Co. (Ky.) Memorial, Fulton City, Ky., and Nettleton, Ark.

For basketball fans, it's a tough choice Nov. 28: Will you be at the Show Me Center or NMCC?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Where should SEMO set its sights after 2009?

Southeast isn't even four games into its football season and the blogosphere has an eye toward 2010.

Funny how a 1-2 start and an agonizing Family Weekend loss at home makes the eye wander.

Amid the buzz that Southeast will play Ole Miss in 2010 (99.9 percent unlikely), here are a few scheduling items to mull over while gearing up for the drive Saturday to Martin, Tenn.:

Ball State is penciled in as Southeast's FBS opponent for 2010. The date is Sept. 2 in Muncie, Ind., but there's a chance that date could change after Ball State said last week that it wants to shuffle its big-money dates with Purdue and Iowa (talk about a money game: Ball State stands to make $800,000 for going to Iowa City, but just $350,000 for playing at Purdue).

Southeast is down to play Purdue in 2011 for its annual FBS matchup, a trip likely worth about $350,000. That means any date against Ole Miss wouldn't come until at least 2012, but with the Rebels already booked with Central Arkansas, Tulane and UAB in 2012, SEMO would have a hard time finding an open spot that year, too.

On a side note, Ole Miss is scheduled to play a team familiar to SEMO in 2011 — Southern Illinois.

Looking at 2012, several teams within reasonable driving distance from Cape Girardeau do have home dates available for FCS teams looking for a payday game. Among them: Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Memphis and Mizzou.

Who should it be?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chicago Cubs fans give a child-sized wave to a bad season

Another sign America has lost its sense of humor.

A couple of Cubs fans decided this phony birth announcement would be the most cathartic way to put 2009 to rest and embrace 2010 — but not everybody was in on the joke.

The ad ran in the Chicago Tribune last week right alongside the real birth announcements, and it didn't take long for bloggers and critics to chime in on the stupidity of Cubs fans so enamored with their long-suffering team that they'd name their child after it.

Rest easy, anti-Cub Nation. The "self-loathing schtick," as the ads creator described to a Tribune columnist, was just that.

But at least it's good for a chuckle.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A football player's death: Is the coach to blame?

A jury decided Wednesday that a Kentucky high school football coach wasn't responsible for the death of an athlete who died under his watch.

The coach, David Stinson of Pleasure Ridge Park High in Louisville, was found not guilty of reckless homicide in the death of a 15-year-old football player in August 2008. The player died after collapsing during workouts on a day when the heat index was 94 degrees; prosecutors said the coach withheld water and ran his practice like a boot camp. The defense insisted water was available and said that the athletes knew the risk.

It's an interesting finding, especially after a New Madrid County Central football player died just Aug. 8 just four minutes into the team's morning practice. There, coaches administered CPR, but 16-year-old Raymond Tindle couldn't be revived.

The tragedies are painful, but by all accounts, the Kentucky court made the right call in determining it an unlikely accident. But will that be the ruling next time?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Is the Tour of Missouri a boost (or a bust) for Southeast Missouri?

The race itself zipped by in a colorful, European-tinged blur — a blur that, according to most estimates, cost almost $100,000 locally and $3.04 million statewide.

Ask most of the 5,000 or so people who watched the third annual Tour of Missouri whip and wind through the hills and highways of Southeast Missouri on Monday and Tuesday (with more expected to watch the tour's Farmington-area route Wednesday). They'll tell you that the tour brought unimaginable free publicity to the region in an economy when tourist dollars are harder to come by.

But a week ago, city and state leaders were gushing over the estimate that 30,000 Cape Girardeau-area fans would line streets and county roads to wave on the tour's diverse pack of riders — the sign of brighter days just a month or so after the state balked at the idea of paying its $1.5 million share of the race's cost.

Good weather couldn't produce the fans. The days and weeks of advance publicity couldn't, either. Maybe the fans didn't exist in the first place.

As the tour's vans and trucks and trailers and stream of faithful fans head to St. Francois County, then eventually west toward Kansas City, volunteers and city crews are cleaning up and, no doubt, thinking ahead to 2010.

Will the race be back? Will taxpayers and businesses and volunteers who spent time and money see a return on the investment? Will the fourth annual Tour of Missouri even happen?

And will those estimated 30,000 Southeast Missourians care?

Thursday, September 03, 2009

A 72-3 win is one way to make a statement

Tony Samuel, you got our attention.

Thirty-five unventful, ho-hum, average-at-best games into the Samuel coaching era at Southeast, the Redhawks perked up. Not three games into the season. Not seven games in. But after just a few seconds in the first game of the year.

Suddenly, an offense that last season sputtered through a 4-8 season scored 72 points and looked forceful. A defense that last season that gave up big plays and big drives way too often this time gave up just a field goal — and looked downright menacing in the process.

Sure, when all's said and done, this is the kind of win Southeast should come to expect when NAIA teams like Quincy come to town. It hasn't always happened — let's not forget last season's putrid, opening-night 35-28 overtime win against Southwest Baptist that nearly had us calling for the return of John Mumford.

But starting his fourth season with new names and faces in key positions throughout the lineup, Samuel might have taken a huge step toward wiping away three seasons worth of Samuel-era futility — for the program, for the fans, maybe even for himself.