College Hoops-Looking at the Mid-Majors

Every season fans around the country are found to be rooting for a mid-major team to make a deep run in the NCAA tourney. Here are a few teams that would be considered legitimate possibilities in the 2014-2015 basketball season.

Harvard- Coach Tommy Amaker knows how to coach and recruit. Freshman Chris Egi will anchor the frontcourt at 6’9” and will be impactful for the Ivy League. He spurned Marquette and Florida to make his mark at Harvard. Siyani Chambers and Wesley Saunders return to the backcourt with experience in big game play. Amaker has put together an upgraded non-conference schedule and will likely receive an at-large spot in the tourney if they can’t take the Ivy League title. Louisiana Tech- The Bulldogs come into the season as the 15th best offense from last year at 81 PPG. Returning will be Alex Hamilton (14.5 PPG), Rahemm Appleby (11.2 PPG) and Speedy Smith with over seven assists per game. Georgia State- A complete overhaul was made but the players are experienced and primed for action. Kevin Ware was added from Louisville and returning will be R.J. Hunter with his 19.3 PPG and Ryan Harrow, a former Kentucky Wildcat, with his 17.8 PPG and 4.2 APG to lead the team. Cleveland State- Returning will be six of seven from the scoring team that finished by winning 10 of 11 to end the regular season in 2013-14. This is a balanced team and could feature a different player each night. Bryn Forbes led the Vikings with 15.6 PPG.

Mid-Majors Next in line: Murray state, Florida Gulf Coast, New Mexico State   Two perennial mid-majors were left out (Wichita State and Gonzaga) as they tend to find a way to make the tourney virtually every season.

Tom’s Tuesday Top Teams- College Football

Here is a early look at my Top 25 in College Football.

Be sure to follow me for my changes and updates on Tuesdays all season.


  1.       Florida State
  2.       Oklahoma
  3.       Alabama
  4.       Ohio State
  5.       Oregon
  6.       South Carolina
  7.       Auburn
  8.       UCLA
  9.       Michigan State
  10.   Baylor
  11.   Wisconsin
  12.   Georgia
  13.   LSU
  14.   Stanford
  15.   USC
  16.   Notre Dame
  17.   Ole Miss
  18.   Arizona State
  19.   Clemson
  20.   Missouri
  21.   Kansas State
  22.   Texas A&M
  23.   Nebraska
  24.   Texas
  25.   Florida

Best of the Rest: North Carolina, Washington, Mississippi State, Oklahoma State, TCU

Tom Knuppel twitter account

The O’Bannon Case Doesn’t Make Sense-What is a Scholarship?

What is a scholarship? Isn’t it a form of payment to allow a student to go to school at the college or university in question?

In the O’Bannon case, it appears to me the student-athletes are getting paid. They are taking a scholarship and in return the colleges are giving them and education and in return use their name and likeness on merchandise and such.

The NCAA will appeal Friday’s ruling in the O’Bannon case, which said the NCAA is violating antitrust laws by prohibiting college football and basketball players from being paid for the use of their names, images and likenesses.

I am not in favor of paying the student-athletes any more than the scholarships they enjoy due to their ability to perform at a higher level than others in a sport. What is a scholarship?

Looking at the Top Heisman Candidates

   Quarterbacks Lead the List for Heisman Trophy

In the history of the Heisman trophy there has been only one repeat champion and that was Archie Griffin back in the mid 70’s. Repeating is very difficult to do. With that being said what is the likelihood of Jameis Winston pulling it off?

There are some players that have a very good chance to become the 78th winner and walk away with the coveted Heisman Trophy. Here is a short list of them in no particular order.


QB Jameis Winston– FSU

The guy is a winner but the committee is going to expect more and more from him while the competition gets more difficult. Do they voters pay attention to off-field antics? Is so, Winston gets passed by this year.

QB  Marcus Mariota– Oregon

This was probably his last year had he not gotten injured and his team and his chances went downhill. This season he appears bigger and stronger and has shown the propensity to run the ball along with strong arm strength. If the Ducks win the Pac-12 without a loss, Mariota is in good shape to win this award.

QB Bryce Petty– Baylor

With Baylor being one of the two or three best teams in the Big 12, all eyes are on Petty to lead them to a conference title. If he can accomplish that feat, then he is on the short list to win the Heisman.

QB Nick Marshall– Auburn

The offensive numbers from Marshall will look staggering as he is likely to achieve over 30 touchdowns and 3500 yards of total offense. Now that he has a year under his belt, this QB is on the rise.

QB Brett Hundley-UCLA

Hundley is the key to success of the Bruins and will have some competition in his own conference. He is the total package and has to out play Mariota to win the Heisman.

RB Todd Gurley– Georgia

This is a talented runner and being in the SEC will give him ample exposure to the media. Since the Bulldogs have a new quarterback this season they will lean on Gurley even more than last season. Any numbers he amasses will look bright to the voters.

QB Keenan Reynolds-Navy

This will be his second season for the Midshipmen and he has turned into one of the best running quarterbacks to grace the collegiate football fields. Last year he passed for 1057 yards and accumulated 31 touchdowns but more impressive was his 1346 yards rushing. This season he will face some tough competition as Notre Dame and Ohio State are on the schedule.

QB Jacob Coker-Alabama

He is just becoming a starter but with a talented Crimson Tide team makes him a candidate for the Heisman award. Being surrounded with talented football players and all the media scrutiny will certainly lend him credence to pull this off.

“There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch”- That’s Not True

       There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch- Wrong

In Baton Rouge it was announced that 42,000 students in the East Baton Rouge Parish will be provided with free lunch for the school year. The district will take advantage of a new federal initiative that will allow schools in high poverty areas to receive a free meal without the parents filling out forms.

Known as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, it will begin to expand across the nation this year and will be under the direction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The East Baton Rouge Parish school system will be providing free lunch to its almost 42,000 students, including thousands who in the past had to pay for their meals.

For more on the article go to: Baton Rouge The Advocate

How do schools qualify for this program? If 40% of your students participate in the food stamp program or if they are living in foster care or in the Head Start program then that number counts to the 40 percent mark.

Some school districts across the country have held off pursuing community eligibility because of concerns about losing funds from the federal anti-poverty Title I program, which relies on income surveys parents traditionally fill out to qualify for subsidized meals, and other programs that rely on such information.

To overcome that problem, East Baton Rouge is shifting the questions on its meal survey, called “Application for Meal Benefits,” to a new form known as the “Title 1 Data Form.” In Baton Rouge, only students who don’t receive food stamps, or are otherwise not identified, will have to fill out these new data forms.


The opinions in this blog belong to Tom Knuppel

Can We Consolidate Number of Colleges to Reduce Cost and Student Debt?

Today, I am not giving my opinion in this blog except to say I agree with Mark Cuban on colleges, college debt and consolidation of universities and colleges. I will add some numbers I found at the bottom of the blog.

Is a four-year college a good investment today?

That question was asked to businessman Mark Cuban in an interview with CNN and he had this to say:

If you pick the right one, yes. Kids should go to school. But you should only pick a school that you can graduate from with little or no debt. You don’t need a boat anchor of college debt killing your ability to reach your goals. The biggest drain on our economy today is student debt.

Student debt is a big deal. So how do we reduce it?

Cuban had an idea on that issue, too.

We should put a limit on the amount of federal guarantees available for student loans. If we started a program that put a limit at $50,000 per year next year, then $40,000 in three years, then $30,000 in six years, down to $10,000 in 10 years, you would see the price of education drop like a rock.

Student loan guarantees are like the easy money that led to the real estate and financial crash six years ago.

On Merging Colleges:

Universities and colleges would merge and find themselves forced to be far more effective. The best analogy I can give you is that student loan guarantees are like the easy money that led to the real estate and financial crash six years ago. Schools raise tuition because they know the money is there.

What the (Obama) administration is doing now to try to slow tuition increases will have a minuscule impact. Put a cap on student loans, and you will find college affordable for everyone very quickly. There may be fewer, more efficient and more targeted schools, but it will be more than supplemented by customized education.

One anecdote: I was speaking to a large group of political supporters. People who had donated a ton to campaigns. I asked them who thought tuitions were too high. Hands went up. I asked which of them had put their name on anything at a college campus. Hands stayed up.

Then I made them realize they were part of the problem. If you donate money to build a building, you aren’t helping; you are hurting. Buildings cost money to maintain. Forever. And ever. They drain resources and don’t create any. Other than special lab environments, a desk or seat for a sociology, business, psychology or writing class works the same in every building.

We don’t need new buildings, new cafeterias, new fitness centers on the campus. Let the local markets take care of those.

What we need is a reasonable cost of education that doesn’t require students to go into debt. When that happens, not only will more kids go to college, but the economy will explode from all the money moving from debt to spending.

Editor’s Note- I have always admired the way Mark Cuban has handled business. In fact, I like his methods much better than Donald Trump. Here are some numbers I found through searching the internet on the number of colleges and universities per state.

STATE                    # INSTITUTIONS

  • Alaska                   AK          35
  • Alabama              AL           129
  • Arkansas              AR          108
  • Arizona                AZ           156
  • California             CA          1246
  • Colorado              CO          171
  • Connecticut        CT           115
  • District of Columbia         DC          33
  • Delaware             DE           23
  • Florida                  FL            439
  • Georgia                                GA          210
  • Guam                    GU         2
  • Hawaii                   HI            43
  • Iowa                      IA            107
  • Idaho                    ID            33
  • Illinois                   IL             392
  • Indiana                IN           175
  • Kansas                  KS           99
  • Kentucky             KY           165
  • Louisiana             LA           174
  • Massachusetts  MA         261
  • Maryland             MD         148
  • Maine                   ME         60
  • Michigan              MI          302
  • Minnesota          MN        169
  • Missouri               MO        242
  • Mississippi          MS         69
  • Montana             MT         54
  • North Carolina   NC          188
  • North Dakota     ND          30
  • Nebraska             NE          68
  • New Hampshire               NH          43
  • New Jersey        NJ           207
  • New Mexico      NM        61
  • Nevada                                NV          77
  • New York            NY          633
  • Ohio                      OH          386
  • Oklahoma           OK          158
  • Oregon                OR          125
  • Pennsylvania     PA          544
  • Puerto Rico         PR           161
  • Rhode Island      RI            37
  • South Carolina   SC           97
  • South Dakota     SD           33
  • Tennessee          TN          191
  • Texas                    TX           506
  • Utah                      UT          60
  • Virginia                VA          222
  • Virgin Islands     VI            2
  • Vermont              VT           32
  • Washington        WA         164
  • Wisconsin            WI          132
  • West Virginia     WV         99
  • Wyoming             WY         17

That is just staggering. Look at all that duplication of services and costs.

What’s It Take to Make the Playoffs in MLB?

     What’s It Take to Make the Playoffs in MLB?

The numbers say you need 88 wins to get in. In an article in the Business Insider it is noted that using 180 teams (since 1996) that 88 is the optimal number. Only sixteen teams have gotten in with less than 88 wins.

This makes for a dismal trade deadline as now more teams still think they have a shot to make it to the playoffs. Looking at the current landscape, twenty three teams can make it if they get hot like a 110-win team would do. That is a long shot.

With those numbers, that makes only seven teams that would be noted as “sellers” in the market. This is not a good thing for the major league trading deadline.

Decision Making- It Can Be Painful


“What’s for Dinner?” Even a simple question like that can tip the scales for a person that has been dealing with decision after decision in a non-stop fashion. It is called Decision Fatigue.

It turns out that making decisions is actually very stressful.  As we make hundreds of decisions each day on matters big and small, the cumulative stress adds up.  It’s called decision fatigue, and it can often lead us to shut down and do nothing. With our instant communication and constant information overload, we feel decision fatigue now more than ever. You know it’s gotten bad when deciding whether to “like” something, actually hurts your brain.

There are many factors that lead to this condition. Many refer to some kind of fear. What if I make the wrong decision? What if I want to do something else late? Decisions can be changed and people are allowed to change their choices.

Some fears are based on a person’s lack of abilities or perceived abilities. What if it is too hard and I can do it? People will help. The decision I make could look foolish to other people. So what? Let people take care of themselves first. Failure happens.

Probably the biggest fear may be commitment. What am I getting myself into? Will I ever get out of it? People will step up to the plate if it is too much for you.

We make decisions every day; everything we say and do is the result of a decision, whether we make it consciously or not. For every choice, big or small, there’s no easy formula for making the right decision. The best you can do is to approach it from as many perspectives as possible and then choose a course of action that seems reasonable and balanced at that time.

“Waiting hurts. Forgetting hurts. But not knowing which decision to take can sometimes be the most painful…”  ― José N. Harris


The opinions in this blog are those of Tom Knuppel

Google: Friend or Foe?

Is Google Justified in Reading Emails?

I asked that question because last week Google informed the Houston police that a man has a database of illegal and pornographic images of children. Now we can all agree that one child predator is off the streets. But are they a friend or foe in going further?

However, what makes us believe they stop there? Nothing. Most people understand that Google will use software to scan email and images in order for them to feed its advertising needs. But many people likely don’t know or were unaware, that the company is also scanning users’ accounts with the purpose of identifying illegal activity.

According to this article in the Washington Post:

While it’s hard to argue with the outcome of this particular case, the news did raise some alarm bells among researchers at the security firm Sophos, who questioned whether Google was stepping outside its place as a company and into the role of a pseudo law enforcement agency. Chester Wisniewski, a senior security researcher at Sophos, said that Google’s “proactive” decision to tip off law enforcement makes “some of us wonder if they’re crossing the line.”


Many security firms, including Sophos, occasionally find themselves in a situation where they come across child pornography among the files they scan for clients, and in those cases, those companies report those images to the police. But the difference is that Sophos and other companies don’t actively go looking for these images in their routine scans, as Google appears to have done with the software it uses on customers’ e-mails in the course of routine scanning for ad keywords and malicious software.


I think they have overstepped on this one. What do you think?

Friend or Foe?


The opinions in this blog belong to Tom Knuppel

Kansas Jayhawks- Strength of Schedule is a WOW.

Kansas Jayhawks- Non-Conference Scheduling Tackles the Big Boys

Bill Self has no qualms about scheduling the best teams in the country to prepare his team for a deep NCAA run. Last season, the Jayhawks had the toughest non-conference schedule as they scheduled six teams that advanced into the postseason. They don’t shy away from strength of schedule.

Now in the 2014-15 season they have not backed off one bit as they face some powerhouse teams like Kentucky, Florida, Utah, Temple, Georgetown and UNLV and then go on to tournaments where they could meet Michigan State, Tennessee, Georgia Teach, Rhode Island or Marquette.

What is Coach Self’s philosophy on scheduling?

He said,

“Obviously, next year’s non-conference will be very challenging. We always play a good schedule, but this past year was rated by many to be about as tough of a non-conference schedule that a team has played in years. Certainly, next year’s schedule will be one of the better non-conference schedules that anyone in America plays, as well. When you think about two teams that were in the Final Four last year with Kentucky and Florida, then you throw in the Orlando Classic, which is loaded, including Michigan State, then on the road at Georgetown and Temple along with other tough non-conference contests like Utah and UNLV, all of those will certainly prepare our guys to make another strong push at a conference championship.”

One of the tools that the NCAA Basketball Committee uses to select and seed teams is the strength of schedule which is a factor in RPI. Kansas’ RPI has checked in at No. 5 or better each of the last five seasons, including No. 1 in 2010 and 2011. The Jayhawks ended 2013-14 at No. 4 in the final RPI.

  • 11/14/2014         UC Santa Barbara             Lawrence, Kan.TBA
  • 11/18/2014         Kentucky                            Indianapolis, Ind.
  • 11/24/2014         Rider                                  Lawrence, Kan.
  • 11/27/2014         TBA                                     Orlando, Fla.
  • 11/28/2014         TBA                                     Orlando, Fla.
  • 11/30/2014         TBA                                     Orlando, Fla.
  • 12/5/2014            Florida                                Lawrence, Kan.
  • 12/10/2014         Georgetown                       Washington, D.C.
  • 12/13/2014         Utah                                     Kansas City, Mo.
  • 12/20/2014         Lafayette                              Lawrence, Kan.
  • 12/22/2014         Temple                                   Philadelphia. Pa.
  • 12/30/2014         Kent State                                Lawrence, Kan.
  • 1/4/2015              UNLV                                       Lawrence, Kan.

MORE teams need to boost their RPI through Strength of Schedule.