I can’t believe Jeff Cali is trying to turn my loyal OSU fans against me.

I’m sure they could see right through his devious ploy. I’ve always been an OSU fan — you Aggies know that — except when they play OU, and to tell you the truth I have never lost any sleep over either one. I know it’s incredible, but I have never went to bed worrying if Peyton Manning’s hamstring is healing. I’ve never rolled round at night concerned about Albert Pujols’ shoulder (unless Fat Albert was my opponent in Fantasy Baseball that week). I’ve never retired for the evening worrying about any sport. It’s a game, not brain surgery.

Every game, according to TV broadcasters and sports writers, has about 27 “unbelievables” during the outing. This might be a jock-shocker, but there’s nothing “unbelievable” about some dunk or back-handed stab behind third or some juke that left a DB’s jock strap back at the 12-yard line. The only “unbelievable” thing about sports, to me, is that athletes make millions while those who take care of our elderly make peanuts. How we rank our priorities, as a society, is more unbelievable than any long-range jumper from downtown, tape-measure home run or 98-yard kickoff return. Sports are just games, that’s all — games that people like me spent too much time watching when I could have been spending quality time with my kids when they were young. Who will win between OU and OSU? I don’t care. Hopefully, the team that plays the hardest and wants it the most.

The University of Texas Longhorns were not the “Real McCoys” Friday, rolling over like a pressured James Myers in a prediction race. Can you believe it? With all that’s happened to the Sooners this year, all they had to do was beat the Cowboys and they’re in the Big 12 championship game? If the Cowboys had win, the Sooners didn’t have any business playing for the title anyway. Of course, winning the Big 12 title this year isn’t much to write home about. Beating toothless Nebraska won’t get a team in the national championship title game. The Big 12 is probably — no, it’s definitely — the weakest conference in the BCS bowl scheme of things. There’s probably not a team in the Big 12 that could finish above .500 in the Southeastern Conference (OK, I was just trying to get you riled up for the upcoming battle).


Kragthorpe just


Tulsa football coach Steve Kragthorpe, who earlier said he wasn’t interested in head coaching vacancies at North Carolina and Michigan State, said Friday he didn’t have a hankering to take over the helm of Miami University.

Are you kidding me? You must read between the lines when it comes to coachspeak.

What Kragthorpe meant was he wasn’t interested until Miami gives him a call. Does anyone really believe he would turn down one of the top programs in the nation to remain at Tulsa? Come on, give me a break. He’d have to be from outer space to turn down such an opportunity.

Come to think of it, there has to be a school where coaches go to learn coachspeak. They should get credit for a foreign language.


Les Miles is my hero

I can’t believe all the bad press my boy Les Miles gets. Are you kidding? He’s so misunderstood!

I know I might have been just a tad uncomplimentary about Les a time or two, but I really didn’t mean it. Especially since his LSU Tigers rolled over the Arkansas Razorbacks Friday.

No, I’m not a Cajun lover, but I needed LSU to win in the worst way since I picked them and Myers took the Hogs in the prestigious AEN Prediction Race.

Les is just a complicated man. I see that now.

Do I care if LSU wins another game this century? I’ll get back to you on that one.

Consider: Les Miles is the first coach in the storied history of LSU football to have back-to-back 10-win seasons. That’s mind-boggling!

Even more incredible, my boy called the AEN after the game Friday.

Ring! Ring! Ring!

“Ada Evening News,” I answer.

“Is this Leo Kelley?” he asks angrily.

“Who is this?”

“Les Miles, coach of the LSU Tigers!”

“Why do you want to speak to Leo Kelley?”

“I’ve heard he’s said some unflattering things about my coaching ability!”

“No, you must be mistaken. That was Jeff Cali who had been bad-mouthing you! I know Leo Kelley thinks you’re a god! Cali is the one who said you’ve stained LSU just like you did OSU!” Well, my gratitude may not last but at least for one day Les Miles is my dog.


Prediction gods come to my rescue

After letting me down all season, the prediction gods finally pitched in during the first half of Week 13 in the AEN Football Prediction Race.

No. 2 Carl Albert walloped No. 1 Tulsa East Central to earn a spot in the Class 5A State finals, Jenks manhandled a tough Muskogee Roughers squad in Class 6A and No. 2 McGuinness turned back No. 1 Wagoner. The only game that the prediction gods looked the other way on was Class A’s Okeene’s big road win over Pawnee. Ouch, that hurt!

I know I shouldn’t ask them, but I really need Enid to get past Owasso tonight (Saturday). I don’t care how they do it, don’t care how many rules they break. That’s probably too much to ask, but I need to get that pesky Myers off my back and continue his choking like a mule — J.M. has had the Heimlich maneuver performed on him more times than a Red Cross dummy. If Owasso wins — and they are the favorite — we enter Week 14 deadlocked at the top.

Unfortunately, Black Friday now has a new meaning for Jeff “If I Didn’t Have Bad Luck I Wouldn’t Have No Luck At All” Cali. His 1-4 performance in the prediction race mathematically eliminated the Big Fella from his dream of winning one in the 2000’s. It ain’t right for his top-ranked squads to let him down like that!


Fire me like Coker

After leading the Miami Hurricanes to a national title and actually graduating some of its players, Larry Coker is being fired. The move came one day after Miami finished a 6-6 regular season by beating Boston College, snapping a four-game losing streak and becoming bowl eligible.

Coker, a native of Okemah, served as an assistant coach during stints at Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Tulsa after high school jobs at Claremore and Fairfax in the 1970s.

Coker received a raw deal, but you can’t fire all the players, can you?

Before you begin to feel too sorry for the old coach, there is some consolation. Coker will reportedly receive a $3 million buyout of his contract. When I was fired, all I got was escorted out of the building. Go figure.

Coker will find a job. He’s too good a coach and too good a man not to.


Please give us a playoff system

Here we are at the end of another Division I college football season, and — like every year at this time — I proclaim the present system is ludicrous.

Division I college football is the only sport without a playoff system. Even the other football divisions have one.

Sure, it’s not as easy as some might think to change a system that’s been around longer than Johnny Unitas and leather helmets. There’s millions of dollars at stake, and if the universities don’t make the cash, they will have to drop 20 other programs that the pigskin teams keep going.

The debate is sure to come around every winter because it makes absolutely no sense. BCS rankings shouldn’t decide who ends up in the national championship game.

Just look at college basketball. Last year’s no-name teams — I didn’t even know some of them existed — made a lot of noise during March Madness. Just think how exciting it would be in football.

There is a way to keep the bowls. Make them part of the playoffs, knuckleheads!

Start with eight teams. The Big 10, Southeastern Conference, Big 12 and Pac 10 champs would earn automatic bids. Use the BCS rankings to choose the four at-large bids.

The present system, unlike basketball, baseball and every other sport including tiddly-winks, doesn’t give teams an opportunity to rebound from an early loss or two. It would be ridiculous to deny the North Carolina Tarheels a chance to play for a national championship in basketball because they had a couple of losses in November.

One of these years, we’re going to end up three undefeated squads, all deserving a shot at the title. What happens then?

I believe a Division I college football playoff would be the most exciting event in sports. Take my opinions and $1.25 and buy yourself a Sunday edition of the Ada Evening News.


I don’t want to pass the Big Fella

I couldn’t help but shed a tear when I read Jeff’s comments about his three prediction titles.

Yes, it is true. The Big Fella did bring home three trophies, but we had to search the archives to find them.

In fact, back in the 1990s Jeff was dominant. When he wanted Ohio State to choke, they laid down like a cheap rug. When he wanted OU to roll over a ranked opponent, they responded. When he asked the Ada Cougars to dominate, they did. When he predicted Texas would be run off the field, they were.

But since 1999, it’s been a long, depressing dry run. Leo Kelley has taken home every title (except the two claimed by his dog, Dr. Jeremy Cantrell).

There’s many theories about the Big Guy’s demise.

Some believe his skills began eroding slowly, hardly noticeable. Then, little by little, it began to show. Now, when he pleads for a team to choke, it sticks its tongue out at him. After he begs and pleads for a win, his team now plays like slugs.

Another theory is that he upset the prediction gods, and they have taken revenge on him.

Who knows what the real reason is?

My personal theory is that it has something to do with Y2K. Remember those dire predictions back in the latter days of 1999 as to what would happen when the clock struck midnight on Jan. 1, 2000? Wackos — including the Kelley clan — stocked up on water, toilet paper and back issues of Mad magazine and Sports Illustrated. Some predicted that our computers would go haywire and that our entire nation would fall into chaos.

I closed my eyes and gritted my tooth at the strike of midnight almost seven years ago, but it turned out to be a dud. The computers didn’t go haywire, meaning I still owed everybody an arm and a leg and had no idea what I was going to do with 38,750 gallons of water, 238 back issues of Sports Illustrated and 43 Alfred E. Newman special editions.

Anyway, my theory is that Y2K somehow fouled up Jeff’s biorhythms. His Nostradamas-like ability was taken away in the blink of an eye. That ain’t right!

I know those three titles he keeps talking about were hardly as prestigious as the ones after 1999, but you can’t take them away. However, maybe there should be an asterisk put beside them so that future generations won’t be confused.

No matter, the Big Fella and I are tied with three wins apiece. Of course, my resume since 1999 includes the Triple Crown — AEN Football Prediction Race, March Madness Prediction Race, College Bowl championship in one season and two double-digit Football Prediction Race wins. Throw in a Pro Football Prediction title , a Pro Soccer Prediction championship, a Name the NASCAR champ crown and several other titles that I can’t even remember and my spot in the Prediction Hall of Fame is secure. Somebody will break Cal Ripken Jr.’s longevity streak before they earn a prediction Triple Crown.

It is for that reason that I’m considering rolling over for James Myers so that he can finally gain a little attention with his first title. It’s only fair. Besides I don’t have room for another trophy — and I wonder why people misunderstand my humility.

Come to think of it, I wish I could have seen Jeff Cali back in his glory days. It must have been quite a sight.

But I’m worried about him. After Week 12, Jeff Cali — for the first time since I’ve know him — was a man without hope. It was eerie.

“It’s over!” the Big Guy moaned the next morning. “I’m out of it and there’s no way I can come back. I may be through. My long and illustrious career might be over. It could be time for the Big Fella to hang up the old pencil and let some of the up-and-comers take over.”

I was flabbergasted. Jeff Cali without hope? I had never even imagined it could happen. I’ve seen him down 11 games with 10 games left and he still thought he had a chance if the cards fell right.

Fortunately, his pessimism — after a good night’s sleep — has disappeared and he once again believes — somewhere deep inside that devious little brain — that he has a shot. You gotta respect that! Surely, I won’t keep hanging on after I’ve lost my skills, after the prediction gods abandon me. I must leave while I’m still at the top of my game.

I can’t help but wonder what Jeff could have done to make the gods so angry. Maybe they just couldn’t take any more of his dastardly shenanigans. That ain’t right because winning the title after the Big Guy has pulled every dirty trick in the book is what it’s all about.

One thing I’ve learned over the years, you can never count him out. What underhanded, low-down, conniving move will he make next? Stay tuned.