Expanding the Big 12

As a BYU fan, the news on Wednesday that the Big 12 was openly exploring candidates to expand by 2 or 4 teams in the near future was very exciting. For years I’ve hoped that BYU could get into the Big 12 and there could never be a more obvious opportunity for them to do so than this.  I have long believed (and possibly even publicly stated – I can’t remember right now) that the Big 12 needed to get to 14 members, both to be level with the SEC and Big Ten and also to have some wiggle room if the power conference landscape shifts in the future.

Looking at the current landscape I identified what I believe to be a very good expansion scenario. Here are the four schools I think they should add as full conference members (in order of strongest to weakest addition).

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Trump is a master manipulator

Donald Trump didn’t have time for political correctness. That being the case, neither do I. I’ll summarize my message by committing the PC crime of declaring that Donald Trump shares a key trait with Adolph Hitler. I’m not suggesting that Trump would incarcerate or attempt to exterminate Jews or any other sect of the population, nor am I suggesting that if we make the mistake of electing him he would invade or annex Canada. What I am saying is that, like Hitler, he is a master at manipulating people and working the media to simultaneously display and distort his public image.

In wanting to understand those who support Trump I decided to buy his book and pay more attention to what he was saying rather than what was being said about him. What I found was disturbing because it became clear to me how deft he was at manipulating his image and his message to sound appealing despite his obvious personal deficiencies (like the most basic level of human decency).

I no longer wonder how people can support Trump but I’ve also read Mein Kampf, and while Hitler’s worst traits are fairly obvious in that work when read in 2012, they would have been much less obvious to the people of 1932 Germany who were suffering economically and angry from the fallout of WWI, who nearly elected Hitler to lead their nation that year.

I am absolutely confident that if we choose Trump in 2016 those who supported him will find themselves consistently disappointed by what he does, both in those things where he deviates from his campaign rhetoric and in those things where he sticks to his campaign positions.

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Real solutions require internal change

Mother of Exiles
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When I read Ann Coulter’s endorsement of Trump I knew I couldn’t stay silent any more. I shouldn’t have been surprised that she might endorse Trump, after all, Ann has never been one to shy away from a confrontational approach on issues she cares about (although she spends more time being right on the issues she speaks about than Trump does) so his style shouldn’t be a huge negative in her eyes. The only reason I read her article was that the title was intriguing (“I was hoping for a taller honest man”) and I wanted to know her reasons for deciding to hold her nose and choose Trump. When her message was a complaint that people either dislike him or feel they have to hold their noses to vote for him combined with an emphasis on his approach to immigration I knew it was time to speak out about how the GOP at large is missing the mark on immigration –¬†which is why the childish plan from Trump’s imagination (“Mr. Putin, we’re going to build a wall and make the Mexicans pay for it to boot.“) has so much appeal among party members. Continue reading

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How the Big 12 should structure their conference championship

With yesterday’s rule change on holding conference championships the Big 12 has an opportunity to get their “13th data point” but they can structure it so that they only hold a championship when they don’t have a clear champion already. The way to do that would be to only hold a championship game when the team with the best conference record doesn’t have at least a two game lead in both their conference record and their overall record. (They might make an exception to the two game rule if the conference leader either lost to the team two games behind them or won on their home field.)

The two game rule means that most years they would be holding a championship game but it allows them to avoid a trap game for their conference champion when they already have a clear winner. (That 13th data point doesn’t mean much when 12-0/9-0 #1 team beats 9-3/7-2 #2 team again but it sure hurts the whole conference if they lose.)

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Carly Fiorina

Photo by Gage Skidmore

Even as I begin writing this I haven’t decided where I stand on Carly Fiorina. She sounds like a strong candidate when she speaks – I can understand Holly’s enthusiasm based on what Carly says – but I’m not yet convinced of how much substance is behind the rhetoric. I’ve had concerns about her performance at HP because that’s the only real sample we have of her capacity to lead. Carly declares on her campaign website that “her record as CEO speaks for itself” and some of her critics would undoubtedly agree (while arriving at the opposite conclusion that her supporters do). After consideration I have concluded that her record as CEO doesn’t speak for itself any more than the data in a scientific study speaks for itself. Data is data but without context (or with incomplete context) the same data can lead to vastly disparate conclusions.

If the question before me were “should Carly Fiorina be our next President?” the answer would have to be I really don’t know yet. Thankfully the question right now is simply, “does Carly Fiorina deserve serious attention as a candidate?” The answer to that one is yes she does. I endorse Carly Fiorina for president – she brings an important voice and perspective to the debate and may yet prove to be our best option.

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