Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ready to Get Started

Well, everyone has finished lunch here at the Crowne Plaza and we're ready to get the program started.

LSC Commissioner Stan Wagnon has welcomed the crowd and the gathered media, detailing some of the great successes in the long history of the Lone Star Conference. Surrounding the room are banners of some of the great programs and athletes in the history of the LSC. Two ACU banners are prominently displayed featuring former Wildcat running back Wilbert Montgomery and former track and field / cross country standout Nicodemus Naimadu.

Just about to get started with the announcement of the LSC North Division poll. I'll reveal the poll in reverse order because that's the way the poll is revealed here.

LSC North Division
Pre-season Defensive Player of the Year -- Broderick Mondy, DB, Northeastern State
Pre-season Offensive Player of the Year -- Marcus Johnson, QB, East Central (Abilene High graduate)

Pre-Season Poll
6. East Central
5. Northeastern State
4. Central Oklahoma
3. Southwestern Oklahoma State
2. Southeastern Oklahoma State
1. Texas A&M-Commerce

Of course, the Lions of A&M-Commerce will be in Abilene on Sept. 13 for what should be an important game for the conference championship hopes of both teams. East Central, led by Marcus Johnson, will be in Abilene on Oct. 4 for the Tigers' first visit to Abilene since the 2000 season.

Coach Kurt Nichols just fired off the first salvo of the season, saying that his East Central team would beat some people in this room that picked his team to finish last in the LSC North Division.
First-year head coach Kenny Evans of Northeastern State said he looked at Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine just last night and saw where the RiverHawks were picked to finish last in the LSC (out of 13 teams) and said he wasn't sure what to think of that.

Central Oklahoma, trying to recover from a couple of seasons of trouble with the NCAA, has a first-year head coach in Tracy Holland, said he is excited about the challenge. The Bronchos' first four games might be the toughest four-game opening stretch in the nation: at Pittsburg State, vs. West Texas A&M, at Texas A&M-Kingsville and then home against Tarleton State. Three of those four teams could be nationally ranked when the season starts.

Coach Ryan Held of Southwestern Oklahoma State just mentioned that how his team hasn't matched up with the LSC South very well and that after analyzing the situation came to the conclusion that they didn't have enough playmakers. He said they feel like with the guys they've brought in they have closed the gap.

It's 12:23 p.m. and Coach Held just became the first coach to throw out the "Take One Game At A Time" cliche'. Good job, coach.

Coach Ray Richards of Southeastern Oklahoma State -- which hosts ACU on Sept. 20 -- mentioned that the Savage Storm picked up a Texas Tech transfer on the offensive line (Josh Allmon) and believes the O-Line will be a strength of the team. He also said the team will be predominantly sophomores and juniors, most with 2007 playing experience.

It's 12:30 p.m. and Coach Richards just used the "One Game At a Time" cliche. We're on a roll.

Texas A&M-Commerce head coach Scotty Conley has his team positioned to win the LSC North title. His quarterback, Terry Mayo, is a real threat with both his arms and his legs, which ACU fans will be able to see first-hand on Sept. 13 in Abilene. Conley said he feels good about his receivers and most of his defense, but that the offensive line would be short on depth.

Coach Conley just said that he had been talking to his basketball coach, Sam Walker, and said that Walker told him he would like to score as many points on the basketball floor as ACU does on the football field.

Next up is the LSC South ...

LSC South Division
Pre-Season Defensive Player of the Year -- Jared Brock, LB, West Texas A&M
Pre-Season Offensive Player of the Year -- Bernard Scott, RB, Abilene Christian

Pre-Season Poll
7. Eastern New Mexico
6. Angelo State
5. Texas A&M-Kingsville
4. Midwestern Sate
3. Tarleton State
2. West Texas A&M
1. Abilene Christian

Well, for the second straight year the defending conference champion has been picked to finish behind ACU in the conference pre-season poll. WTAM actually had 10 first-place votes and had 111 total points, while ACU had eight first-place votes but 113 total points.

That Oct. 18 game in Canyon between ACU and West Texas A&M just took on an entirely different complexion.

Coach Mark Ribaudo is talking about the excitement being generated by the conference, especially at Eastern New Mexico where the Greyhounds are scrapping the triple-option and going to the "Air Raid" offense, saying, "Apparently you've got to score 70 points to beat Abilene Christian." Last year he said his team didn't throw a forward pass against East Central. This year, he said, they might not run the football.

Coach Dale Carr of Angelo State said everyone in the league is glad that ENMU is going away from the triple-option because you won't have to have different personnel on the field for different schemes. He's predicting a much better defensive effort throughout the league. He also said there's a lot of excitement in San Angelo because of the experience the Rams return to the field this year. They do have one of the best running backs in the league in Daniel Thomas. He also said "this is by far the best team we've entered a season with." He said he wouldn't be surprised if the Rams surprise some people with a season like they had in 2005 when the Rams went 9-3 and reached the NCAA Division II playoffs.

Coach Bo Atterberry of Texas A&M-Kingsville just mentioned transfer quarterback Billy Garza from Illinois, who will probably be the Javelinas' starting quarterback. Javelina fans are looking for big things from South Texas native Billy "The Kid" Garza in 2008.

Coach Bill Maskill of Midwestern State just answered the question of how his team will fare without former quarterback Daniel Polk by saying that the Mustangs might line up for the first game with a quarterback who's never taken a snap in college football. He does believe, however, that his team will be as talented as it's ever been. Maskill said this is probably the lowest his team has been picked (4th), but that going into the season he agreed with where the Mustangs sit in the pre-season poll.

Coach Sam McElroy of Tarleton State has helped the Texans be part of eight straight winning seasons with the Texans, and he's one of the most respected coaches in the league. He also just asked all of the LSC South coaches to not vote WTAM anywhere but No. 1. He said he knows that doesn't do anything but make head coach Don Carthel mad and serves as motivation for the Buffaloes.

Coach McElroy talked about how proud he is of his quarterback, Scott Grantham, talking about not only what a great player he is, but what a great Christian man he is. Also talked about how he believes his offense will be as good as last year, but that with only two players back on defense he knows those guys have a lot of work to do to get ready to play against the teams in the LSC.

Coach Don Carthel of West Texas A&M said the key thing for the Buffaloes the last three years is the passion his team plays with each week. He said he believes they're finally at the point in their program where they're going to have to depend on younger players that they've red-shirted the last few years. The Buffs have 30 players in their senior class, which is the largest of his lengthy coaching career. He said the offensive line is the key to how the offense performs. If it gels, he said, it could be as good or better than last year's. If not, he said, it could be worse.

Coach Chris Thomsen of ACU is the final speaker of the football portion of the program just introduced his three players who are here with him -- Sam Collins, Joseph Thompson and Johnny Knox. He also joked that with everyone talking about offenses in the league that the Wildcats were going to play Johnny and Bernard Scott at cornerback. Got a pretty good laugh out of that one.

Now that football is complete, we'll move on to volleyball and then soccer and tie a bow on the day by revealing the cross country polls.

LSC Volleyball
Pre-Season Defensive Player of the Year -- Sara Contreras, WTAM
Pre-Season Offensive Player of the Year -- Laura Prinsen, WTAM
Pre-Season Setter of the Year -- Katie Rickwartz, Setter, WTAM

Pre-Season Poll
14. East Central
13. Eastern New Mexico
12. Texas A&M-Commerce
11. SE Oklahoma State
10. SW Oklahoma State
9. Angelo State
8. Tarleton State
7. Cameron
6. Texas A&M-Kingsville
5. Texas Woman's
4. Abilene Christian
3. Midwestern State
2. Central Oklahoma
1. West Texas A&M

LSC Women's Soccer
Pre-Season Defensive Player of the Year -- Alli Miller, Central Oklahoma
Pre-Season Goalkeeper of the Year -- Patricia Nardy, Northeastern State
Pre-Season Offensive Player of the Year -- Elizabeth Markussen, WTAM

Pre-Season Poll
11. SW Oklahoma State
10. ENMU
9. East Central
8. Northeastern State
7. Abilene Chrsitian
6. Texas Woman's
5. Angelo State
4. Texas A&M-Commerce
3. West Texas A&M
2. Midwestern State
1. Central Oklahoma

And, finally, here are the cross country polls. As we mentioned in a previous post, the Wildcats are the overwhelming favorite to win both championships. The ACU men collected all 18 first-place votes, while the women collected all 26 first-place votes.

9. Texas A&M-Kingsville
8. West Texas A&M
7. Eastern New Mexcio
6. Angelo State
5. Texas A&M-Commerce
4. Cameron
3. Tarleton State
2. East Central
1. Abilene Christian

LSC Women
12. Southwestern Oklahoma State
11. Texas A&M-Commerce
10. Eastern new Mexico
9. Texas A&M-Kingsville
8. Midwestern State
7. East Central
6. Angelo State
5. SE Oklahoma State
4. West Texas A&M
3. Central Oklahoma
2. Tarleton State
1. Abilene Christian

More to come later. We've got to facilitate some interviews with Coach Thomsen, our players and several of the media here.

Lance Fleming
Sports Information Director

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Football Season Is Here

Hard to believe, but the 2008 college football season officially kicks off Thursday in Dallas when the Lone Star Conference hosts what is now an annual pre-season Media Day.

We're here at the Crowne Plaza Suites where the event will take place. Each school will be represented by its head coach, and some schools will have players on hand. For ACU, wide receiver Johnny Knox and offensive linemen Sam Collins and Joseph Thompson will be on hand for the festivities.

The conference office of Stan Wagnon (commissioner), Melanie Robotham (media relations director) and Jay Poerner (compliance coordinator) deserve a ton of praise and credit from LSC fans for their work in promoting the league. Last year's Media Day was a big success, and this year's will be even better.

Don't forget to check the blog at around 11:30 Thursday as we'll be blogging about the pre-season polls in football, volleyball and men's and women's cross country.

Early prediction from here is that West Texas A&M is the pick to win the LSC South Division in football and to win the LSC volleyball championship, while ACU will be the runaway pick to win both cross country championships.

Last year the Buffs took great exception to the fact that the league's two-time defending champion in football was picked fourth in the division in the pre-season football poll (behind ACU, Midwestern State and Tarleton State). In fact, "We're No. 4!" became the rallying cry for WT fans after each of their wins.

It'll be interesting to see their reaction Thursday if ACU or Tarleton State is the upset pick to win the division title. I guess we'll know in a few hours.

Lance Fleming
Sports Information Director

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Welcome to the ACU Sports Blog!

This is the first entry in what I hope will be a pretty frequent conversation with ACU sports fans during the 2008-09 school year.  We've got some pretty good ideas for ways to use this blog to make some of our broadcasts more interactive, and we'll be sharing those with you in the coming days and weeks.

Hard to believe but the school year is right around the corner.  The football team reports on August 7 with the women's soccer and volleyball teams reporting on August 10.    Don't forget that the football team opens its 2008 season with a big-time showdown at Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, Mo., on August 30.

We'll have much, much more on that game in the coming weeks, as well as reports on all of fall sports.  We'll also have some other news of interest that you'll want to be sure to know before the school year kicks off.

Keep watching the blog – and the ACU athletics Web site at – for all of your information on ACU athletics.  We'll talk to you soon.

Lance Fleming
Sports Information Director