RANKING THE STATE

Texas Div. I football rankings: A&M falls as SMU climbs

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Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio and Sports. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!

12. RICE

This week Rice is playing at UTSA and while they probably won't win but here's the thing, if they do win, they are actually right back into contention in the Conference USA standings. They're only two losses behind first place Louisiana Tech (although they did lose to them so that doesn't help) so if Rice gets off this six game skid, they could in theory still save their season. I'm not sure if that's good news or bad news, but there it is.

11. UTEP

After an off week to sit and sulk in their losses, they now get a chance to play some meaningful season saving football. Just like with Rice, we're still early enough in conference play that a win saves the season and in theory rights the ship. Now they are massive underdogs going on the road to Florida International, but hey, maybe.

10. UTSA

UAB came to town and played the kind of good football they normally do. Last year's conference champs put a hurting on The Roadrunners but honestly it was expected. This week Rice comes to town and this is a chance to actually start climbing some rungs on that Conference USA ladder.

9. NORTH TEXAS

So it turns out North Texas was still trending downward last weekend and the losing has continued, now 2-4. Middle Tennessee State University has done The Mean Green the favor of coming down to Texas and probably will lose to North Texas, unless the school with the most words in their name gets spotted a touchdown.

8. TEXAS STATE

After a stretch of success, Texas State dropped a much-needed game against UL Monroe and now they're off this week. Hopefully they're watching game film, studying tendencies and avoiding the mentality that they have to sit around and stew in a loss, which as regular readers have noticed I think is the hardest thing for college teams to deal with because ultimately they're kids. Winning feels good and losing hurts, then having time off to think about whatever happened the weekend before can be a bonus or a detriment. Let's see which way they go with this time off.

7. TEXAS TECH

Poor, poor Texas Tech. Losing a heart breaker to Baylor in the second overtime, that if you're a Red Raider Alum should never have happened after a fumble recovery was waived off by the officials as an illegal snap (I honestly can't remember the last time I've seen that call in an important moment in a game) that would have given the ball to Tech needing only a field goal or touchdown to win. But now here they are, upsetting Oklahoma State and one play and a score away from a second upset in as many weeks, going from potentially being at least No. 21 where Oklahoma State is now to unranked where Tech is currently. But there's no time to whine, a win against traveling Iowa State at least keeps Texas Tech in striking distance of the top of the Big 12 standings.

6. HOUSTON

This team has become like a telenovela my Dad's mother-in-law watches. So much drama, where do we even begin? Ok, how about we set aside the recent news of an offensive lineman leaving the team and destroying them on twitter after being told his commitment to the team was being questioned while playing on a medically bad knee? How about we set aside the audacity of a program questioning the commitment of their student-athletes (who are still unpaid) while having "star" players red-shirt and bail on this season to be ready for another campaign next year while everyone else is still dressing and playing and bleeding and sweating for this program for this year? They lost to Cincinnati in a game that while they weren't favored I think they could have won if two quarterbacks hadn't thrown four picks and a backup running back (who wouldn't be playing if you were in the game with all your players on the roster still) coughed up one also. If you lose by 15 points but spotted the other team five possessions, then you could have won. The Cougars travel to the Huskies where they should win, but does it matter?

5. TCU

After getting drummed by Iowa State and then having a week off, The Horned Frogs travel to Kansas State for their last warm up game before they face Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma in the following five weeks. This game is their last dress rehearsal before every snap counts with their season swinging in the balance. I don't think the second half of this season goes well so I hope for the program's sake they win this week.

4. TEXAS A&M

In some ways it feels unfair to punish Texas A&M for having one of the harder schedules in the state but that is the plight of an SEC team that also schedules Clemson (yikes) as an out of conference opponent. Three losses after only six games isn't a great place to be in, even if two of the three losses were to the number 1 team in the country at the time and the other loss was to a top ten team at the time. I totally respect the program for scheduling tough opponents but moral victories don't count in the standings. This week The Aggies visit Ole Miss and should get themselves back over .500 for the season.

3. SMU

Coming into this week ranked in the top 20 and looking at a remaining schedule full of winnable games, The Mustangs have got to be feeling pretty proud of themselves. However, before anyone just hands them the American Athletic Conference Championship, let's see if they stay focused and take care of business against visiting Temple. They should, but this is why we actually play the games and not just pick winners and losers, let's see what happens.

2. BAYLOR

So Baylor beat Tech but it wasn't in the convincing sense I expected to see. Baylor, who had been rolling most opponents and winning by more than in a touchdown in all but one game coming into last week looked very beatable against The Red Raiders. It wasn't the kind of game you would expect from a highly ranked, Big 12 leading, trying to make the playoffs type of team. This week they travel to Oklahoma State, who has been off since their upset loss to Texas Tech. This is where college sports can get weird, Oklahoma State is currently ranked higher than Texas Tech who they lost to, and if they beat Baylor who did beat Texas Tech it's only going to get weirder ranking wise. This is going to be a must watch game for fans of the Big 12 because Texas and Oklahoma and TCU will also have much cheering to do if Baylor loses.

1. TEXAS

Speaking of oddities in the ranking system of College Football and conference play, Texas is the best team in Texas right now without a doubt, however coming off a loss to Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry they are now 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play, putting them a few spots behind Baylor and only just ahead of Texas Tech and TCU in the Big 12 rankings. This weekend Kansas University comes to town and Texas gets to feel much better about themselves if they win.

Feel free to check out my brand new comic book Another Day at the Office or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help people struggling with cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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