2013 FWAA All-America Nominations

Michael Sam Racers

This is the first season I have been a member of the Football Writers Association of America. Because of my membership, I have the privilege to cast a vote for the FWAA All-America team. Below are the nominations I submitted and some stats that came into play when thinking about which players deserve recognition.

Mizzou's Michael SamDEFENSE/OFFENSIVE LINE – 11/17

Defensive Linemen

  • Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh: has 22.5 TFLs and 10 sacks through 10 games.
  • Vic Beasley, Clemson: has 17.0 TFLs and 10 sacks through 10 games.
  • Michael Sam, Missouri: has 16.0 TFLs and 10 sacks through 10 games.
  • Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State: 11.0 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, and 2 fumble return TDs through 10 games.


  • Trent Murphy, Stanford: has 25 solo tackles, 18.0 TFLs, 4 QB hurries and 3 pass break-ups through 10 games.
  • CJ Mosley, Alabama: 43 solo tackles, 7.0 TFLS, 7 QB hurries and 5 pass break-ups through 10 games.
  • Chris Borland, Wisconsin: 48 solo tackles, 7.0 TFLs, 4 QB hurries and 2 pass break-ups through 9 games.

Defensive Backs

  • Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State: has 36 solo tackles, 6.5 TFLs and 3 pass break-ups through 10 games.
  • Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State: has 10 passes defended, 7 pass break-ups and 3 interceptions through 10 games.
  • Ty Zimmerman, Kansas State: has 53 solo tackles, 3.0 TFLs, 4 pass break-ups, 3 interceptions and 2 INT TDs through 10 games.
  • Cody Prewitt, Ole Miss: has 38 solo tackles, 3.0 TFLs, 6 pass break-ups and 2 forced fumbles through 9 games.

Offensive Linemen (national team stats and rankings)

  • Jake Matthews, Texas A&M: 578.0 YPG in total offense (No. 3), 180.73 team passing efficiency (No. 3) and 49.2 scoring offense PPG (No. 5).
  • David Yankey, Stanford: 0.500 on 3rd down conversions (No. 16).
  • Cyril Richardson, Baylor: 684.8 YPG in total offense (No. 1), 198.82 team passing efficiency (No. 1) and 61.2 scoring offense PPG (No. 1).
  • Cyrus Kouandjio, Alabama: 0.714 on 4th down conversions (No. 9) and 160.49 team passing efficiency (No. 11).
  • Hroniss Grasu, Oregon: 580.2 YPG in total offense (No. 2), 172.04 team passing efficiency (No. 6) and 50.9 scoring offense PPG (No. 3).

Phil Pressey’s NBA Decision Not a Surprise

Phil Pressey

The news we had all been waiting for, well if you are a Mizzou sports fan at least, finally broke on Wednesday morning; junior point guard Phil Pressey is headed to the 2013 NBA Draft. I can’t say I’m surprised. The way things ended this year weren’t great for anyone, especially Pressey.

A close road loss on Saturday meant the same type of questions he’d take from the media every Monday. As the season wound down, we started get to less and less time to talk to Phil. I could tell that with each  mention of the season’s road struggles and late second missed shots, his voice and body language all changed. He became shut off in a way; like he didn’t really have the answers or if they did they were more like secrets. He wasn’t the same Phil from last season.

Pressey after loss to Norfolk StateAs someone who has never played sports at a high competition level, I’m not sure how the mindset of a player is at times. Is there anyway that the final shot that Pressey took against Norfolk State really to win the game but missed really messed him up? I’m not trying to make excuses for him but if you look at the close game situations when the ball was in Pressey’s hand – he clearly struggled. Did he not want to make the same mistake and let his team down again so he thought if had control things would be ok? That a shot to win the game in the regular season could erase the memory of the NCAA Tournament game from 2012? I’m not sure but I know you can’t forget something like that.

I think most importantly Phil just wanted a clean break and to forget about everything that crumbled down after the 2011-12 30-5 season; a season that Mizzou fans and media members constantly compared this season to. It’s hard not to compare and I think that was one of the things that made it really hard for Phil. I think he is looking for a clean start and he’ll get one in a way. People will still talk about how he came up short this season because that is going to affect his draft stock. He can’t escape that but he will be on a new team where that won’t really matter anymore.

We also can’t forget that at the beginning of the season, Frank Haith mentioned that it was going to be the last year for a lot of guys. He slipped up and mentioned Phil before correcting himself saying he didn’t know if Phil was going – but I think he probably did know. Phil had had one foot out the door since the beginning of the season and the other foot went out during SEC play. Even though he struggled, Phil will still be missed. He kept Mizzou in a lot of games but just came up short.

Phil PresseyThis next season will be an interesting one.  Mizzou has talent but most of it is young. They’ll bring back Earnest Ross, Tony Criswell and Jabari Brown who all got valuable minutes of the court. Ryan Rosburg and Stefan Jankovic will also be back but need some major improvement for their sophomore year. They will also have the addition of Jordan Clarkson, who will most likely be the best player on the team. Of these players, I’m most interested in seeing who will take on the leadership role. My guess: Ross. He’s outspoken when he needs to be and emotional enough that he can get the guys to listen.

When the announcement Phil was leaving came, some Mizzou fans asked questions about Negus Webster-Chan and why he was gone if Phil was gone. I don’t think fans would want Negus running things. He came in with high hopes but those quickly crumbled. He couldn’t handle the ball and give Pressey a break. I do have high hopes for incoming freshman point guard Wes Clark. He will be the second best ball handler behind Clarkson and there is a good chance he takes the point guard role this year.

I’m excited to see what is going to happen this next year. How the pieces of the puzzle fit together — but for now  I’m ready for a break from basketball. After this season, I don’t want to talk Mizzou basketball again until at LEAST September. I need a break!

The Cost of Experiencing America’s Pastime

Beer & Hot Dogs

The 2013 Major League Baseball season is finally here but planning a vacation to experience America’s pastime can be a costly one. Using information from the Team Marketing Report, I’ve put together some help information that I hope will help assist you when planning your trip.

First let’s talk price of admission. Five teams kept their tickets prices the same while eight lowered prices, leaving 17 franchises with higher admission costs for 2013. The average ticket price to a MLB game is around $27.73 with premium seating (luxury boxes excluded) averaged at $90.92. Those numbers are up 2.7% from the 2012 season.

Fenway ParkHighest

  1. Boston Red Sox: a trip to Fenway Park will cost you an average of $53.38 (the highest of any team). For those seeking premium seats, the average cost will be around $172.51 (fourth highest). Ticket prices did not change for the team this year. Parking comes in around $27.00 (second highest).
  2. New York Yankees: visiting Yankee Stadium comes with an average ticket cost of $51.55 (second highest) while premium seats will cost you an average of $305.11 (highest). Ticket prices did not change see any change this year. Parking will cost you a pretty penny at around $35.00 per spot (highest).
  3. Chicago Cubs: planning a visit to Wrigley Field will cost you about $44.55 per ticket (third highest) and a premium ticket will come in around $106.88 (sixth highest). This year ticket prices for the Cubs saw a $3.8% drop in 2013 after dropping prices by 1.3% in 2012. You’ll have to pay around $25.oo for a parking spot (third highest).
  4. Philadelphia Phillies: tickets to Citizens Bank Park run on around $37.42 (fourth highest) on average with premium tickets coming in around $79.82 (12th highest). Ticket prices did not change for this team this year. Parking will only cost you $15.00 (tied for 11th highest).
  5. Washington Nationals: going to see a game in the nation’s capitol will cost you an average of $35.24 per ticket (fifth highest) while premium seating will cost you about $192.89 (third highest). The cost of tickets for a Nats game rose by second largest amount this year, with prices up 15.4% from 2012. Parking comes in at only $10.00 (tied for 17th).

LowestPetco Park

  1. San Diego Padres: the cheapest ticket this year is at Petco Park, with the average cost at $15.99. Even though premium seating is a little higher at $39.11, it is still the cheapest luxury ticket in the league. The cost of a premium ticket is 7.8% cheaper for a Padres game than a Yankees game. Parking is $8.00 (tied for third cheapest). Surprisingly ticket prices went up 3.5% from 2012.
  2. Arizona Diamondbacks: heading to warm and sunny Phoenix for a game will only you around $16.89 for a ticket (second lowest) with premium seats around $51.59 (second lowest). Just to put that into perspective the average cost of a premium seat to a D-backs game costs the about same amount as the average for a regular ticket to a Yankees game. Ticket prices did increase by 7.3% from 2012. Parking is only $8.00 (tied for third cheapest).
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates: visiting PNC Park will cost on average $17.21 (third lowest) to see a game with premium seats coming in at $57.30 (ninth lowest). Ticket prices in 2013 went up 6.8% from last year. Parking will actually cost you almost as much as your ticket, averaging about $15 per spot (tied for 11th highest).
  4. Atlanta Braves: heading down to HOTlanta to see a game is going to cost around $17.32 (fourth lowest) per person. If you upgrade for premium seats, that will cost about $46.74 (sixth lowest). Ticket prices rose 3.8% from 2012 to 2013. Once again, parking your car is going to cost almost as much as the price of admission coming in at around $15.00 (tied for 11th highest).
  5. Cleveland Indians: a visit to Progressive Field will cost an average of $19.59 (fifth lowest) per ticket while premium seating will be around $56.17 (eighth lowest). This is the only team in the top five of lowest avg. ticket prices who saw the cost go down, dropping around 4.1% this year. Parking will cost around $12.00 (13th lowest).

State of Missouri

  • St. Louis Cardinals: going to see the 2011 World Series Champions will actually cost you more this year than the year after they won the championship. Ticket prices at Busch Stadium went up about 3.7% from 2012. The average cost of admission comes in at $33.11 (sixth highest) with premium seats at around $77.26 (14th highest). Parking is around $10.00 (tied for 17th).
  • Kansas City Royals: a ticket to Kauffman Stadium will cost you an average of $19.83 (sixth lowest) while a premium seat costs $79.06 (13th highest). Ticket prices in KC actually went down by 10.1% from 2012. Parking will cost $10.00 (tied for 17th).

Now that we’ve talked tickets & parking there also comes the cost of food, drinks, souvenirs, etc.Beer & Hot Dogs

  • Beer: highest $8.25 (Nationals), lowest $4.00 (Braves/Indians), average $6.12.
  • Soft Drinks: highest $5.25 (Cardinals/Dodgers), lowest $1.00 (Reds), average $3.67.
  • Hot Dog: highest $6.25 (Mets), lowest $1.00 (Reds), average $4.14).
  • Program: highest $5.07 (Blue Jays), lowest FREE (nine ballparks) , average $2.99.
  • Baseball Cap: highest $25.00 (Yankees), lowest $9.99 (Diamondbacks), average $17.39.

According to the Team Marketing Report, their Fan Cost Index includes the prices of four adult average-price tickets, two small draft beers, four small soft drinks, four regular-size hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs and two least expensive, adult-size adjustable caps. By taking a look at the FCI for each team, a trip to a major league baseball game this year could cost you as much as $336.99 (Boston Red Sox) or as little as $122.53 (Arizona Diamondbacks). On average, a trip to an MLB game will cost you around $208 in 2013.

Win for Ware: A Producer’s Take

Win for Ware

When something goes wrong – the first thing to do is find the route that with the least amount of damage as soon as possible. While watching the Louisville/Duke game on Sunday, what went wrong was a devastating injury to Louisville sophomore Kevin Ware.

The injury was unlike anything I had ever seen before. I’m still trying to process how his leg bent that way because it still doesn’t seem possible. I don’t think I will ever actually know how it was possible either because I can’t watch it anymore. In fact, I refuse to watch it because it makes me sick to my stomach and brings tears to my eyes. As the scene developed, I somehow strapped on my producer hat and started thinking about what I would do if I were in that situation.

Ware with TeammatesIt’s something I can’t help but do. I stack these invisible hats on top of each other – all ones that define who I am. Aspects of our lives affect everything we do whether we want them to or not. This was one of the times when being a producer affected the way I reacted to an event and made me look at something differently than a lot of other people.

My first thought was to go to break. Something like this happens rarely and I was worried that it could spiral out of control quickly. CBS could replay that horrific scene too much, get the wrong angle of Ware on the court (showing his leg bent), etc. The numerous tragic possibilities started flowing into my head. I started to worry and waited to see when they would cut to break.

As producers, we are trained to constantly be thinking about everything that could possibly go wrong and how to handle it. That’s why going to break made the most sense to me at first. My mindset was to go to break, have the producers/staff tell everyone the game plan for when they came back and then proceed with caution. But what seemed like the best option to me wasn’t what they did.

Something I didn’t take into consideration at the time was the production team the producer was working with. Having a group of people that can look crisis in the face with blinking is something to be truly blessed with. I’m sure the team working the NCAA Tournament is the major league crew for CBS – which is why I don’t think they ended up going to break. They took control without even batting an eye but still managed to proceed with caution. They let the story unfold in front of America and kept it from turning into a disaster. CBS was able to feed the masses as hundreds of thousands started spreading the news on social media. They also taught me to view the audience a different way. I learned that sometimes I need to think of the viewers that I could get at any moment at the same level I think about keeping the viewers I have. By putting on my producer hat I learned a valuable lesson I might not have learned otherwise.

Win for WareAs time progressed, we slowly learned more about Ware’s injury – details so gruesome that hearing them didn’t make it any less painful than seeing it. In his post game interview head coach Rick Pitino described how despite having a bone sticking out of his leg, Ware kept telling his team to win the game. That type of passion and strength is something that everyone should admire, whether you are a Louisville fan or not. Having the ability to still put your team before yourself when you are in pain like that is amazing. My heart goes out to Ware, his family, his friends and his team. It made me become a Ware fan – even having never met him before. In that moment of pain, we got to see the true type of person he is. He is admirable and I pray that he is able to recover as quickly and painlessly as possible. I hope that the strength he had in front of his team will help in the long fight ahead of him. And most importantly I hope that Louisville is able to go to Atlanta, the home of Kevin Ware, and win the national title for him.

Louisville, I picked you to win it all just two weeks ago and I hope that to be true. Come on Cardinals, Win for Ware.

Reflecting on Missouri’s Move to the SEC: One Year Later

Inaugural Season in the SEC

As I sat down to watch the Alabama/LSU game on Saturday night, I was excited because it would allow me to watch two of the best teams in the Southeastern Conference. This year I didn’t have anyone in particular to cheer for, maybe Alabama since they faced Missouri, but for the most part I was indifferent. All I wanted was a good game. When CBS played a recap last year’s highlights they flashed the date of November 5, 2011 on the screen. This got me thinking about where I was last year during this game.

Last year I was waiting at KOMU for the Missouri Football team to return from Baylor. The Tigers had lost to Robert Griffin III and the Bears so doing my job was going to be less than ideal, but still had to be done. The team and our highlights wouldn’t be getting back for awhile so we sat down to watch the end of the Alabama/LSU game. I remember wondering if Missouri could soon be joining the Southeastern Conference and if they could potentially face one of these two teams the next year if they did join (little did I know). LSU pulled up the upset and we finally were able to edit.

Editing took until about 5 am and our call time for the show was 7 am…so much for sleeping. I remember trying to nap at the station but that didn’t work so much. The show was a success, as much as it could be with a loss. My fellow producer Travis Worsowicz, my director Jason Bowman and I went to Cracker Barrel for our weekly breakfast visit. Our sports anchor/reporter Eric Blumberg decided to join us that week. As our breakfast was finishing up, everything changed all from a tweet.

KOMU Annonces Mizzou is Heading to the SECI’m not exactly sure who I saw the tweet from or what the exact time was, but all I remember saying to everyone is there was a good chance we were going to have to keep working. We confirmed the information was true, paid for our meals and all parted our ways to prepare for what we all knew it was going to be a historic and crazy day.

Executive Producer Randy Reeves and his wife Jen, who at the time was our Interactive News Director, were about six hours away when the news broke. I had been discussing with Randy how to prepare for when/if this day came for about three weeks. I remember calling him, telling him what was happening and we started planning. He and Jen were loading themselves and their kids up and would be back at the station as soon as possible. I remember him telling me to start working on planning a rundown for our breaking news coverage and that I’d be fine. This was one of the first times that I actually felt nervous and not exactly sure how I was going to create the show I was getting ready to produce. For the most part, I knew how to handle a sportscast or a newscast but this was going to be unlike anything I had ever handled before. For those who don’t know my story, at the time I had been producing for about a year and was just a sophomore in college.

I arrived back at the station and immediately started getting the story and information to the website. With the help of the web editor on duty, Jessica Smith, we were able to publish a story and start working on gathering information for the show. We gathered highlights from games, made a list of the teams in the Southeastern Conference (we kept forgetting Vanderbilt – whoops…kinda of ironic now), and started figuring out how many reporters we were going to need.

It was all hands on deck. Our news director Stacey Woelfel sent out an email asking for reporters to come in and help. Students from both news and sports showed up to lend a helping hand. We sent one to St. Louis and one to Kansas City. We sent others to various spots in Columbia to get reaction from the community. We even kept a couple in-house to monitor reactions on social media platforms (primarily Facebook and Twitter). KOMU Sports Director Chris Gervino and news anchor Jim Riek would be staying in the studio to help provide insight and host the breaking news coverage while Eric Blumberg would be going live from the press conference.

KOMU Preps for SEC Breaking News Coverage

The clock was ticking and my heart was beating. My nerves were increasing as the press conference got closer and my rundown grew longer. Finally, Randy and Jen arrived and my nerves calmed (well…a little at least). That’s when we had a meeting in the middle of the newsroom to prep everyone with how this break-in was going to happen (well or at least how we were going to try to have it happen). As you can see the picture to the left, I look a little worried (courtesy: Jen Lee Reeves for her picture. This is one of my favorite photos because it captursa the raw emotion of what was going on.)

Our live trucks were in place, our reporters were on site and the show was less than an hour away. I will never forget the moment our director Jason Bowman walked in and realized that instead of having to code and plan for just a few pieces of a “show” that he actually had a full two-hour show rundown to code for. I know he will never forget this moment either. The look on his face (which unfortunately we were not able to capture…probably because Jen wasn’t around at the time because we know she would have got it) was priceless.

The two hours flew by, our coverage was a huge success and it all went off without a hitch. This was the moment that I truly realized how much I loved my job, how much I enjoyed the adrenaline rush that I had just felt from producing the break-in and how historic that moment was. I realized that the University of Missouri I grew up with was now forever changed. This had been a storyline we had been following for months and finally, we had a definite answer. I also realized that I was going to be blessed with the opportunity to experience the historic transition first-hand the following year. November 6, 2011 is a date that I will remember where I was for the rest of my life.

2012: Mizzou's Inaugural Season in the SECOne year later, I sit writing this from the comfort of my couch with the Alabama/LSU game on again. Missouri’s first season in the SEC is almost over and just like everyone said, it wasn’t going to be easy and it hasn’t been. I am very blessed with the job I have. I get to cover the team I grew up watching and loving. A team I know is going to make a name for itself, more so than it already has. I am still very thankful for the fact Mizzou is now in the best conference in the nation. Even though they have only won one conference game so far this season, there are still a lot of positives in my mind. Mizzou has been introduced to the great traditions of the SEC, they’ve been welcomed (for the most part) with the sweet and famous southern hospitality and they are gaining national attention (even though it’s not always positive).

Yes, the SEC has a very high bar set: their tailgators wear dresses, bow-ties and shorts instead of jeans and sweatshirts, their stadiums are huge, their fans are loud and proud and they’ve got strong defenses and offenses. It takes time. We all knew it would even if we hoped and prayed it wouldn’t. Missouri will soon be able to compete with the SEC at a higher level but it is going to take time. You can agree with me or disagree but you need to think about where the program was, how far its come and how far it still has to go. I never went to Mizzou football games when I was little. Why? Because the Tigers were awful. Yes, Missouri still has its flaws but they’ve been able to win. Growing up, it was a miracle if they got at least one win.

It’s hard to believe that a year later, I’m watching the same teams play each other and it seems like not much has changed (at least with these two), but more than I could have ever imagined has in fact changed. It makes me wonder just how much things could change to this time next year.