This is it, two more rodeos on the docket for 2008. One is big and one is … well, much bigger.
Friday opens the three-day tour finale, the culmination of 26 tour stops and three preliminary playoffs to end with this weekend's final stop where $550,000 is up for grabs.
Of course, following this weekend is the 2008 National Finals Rodeo where more than 10 times that amount will be up for grabs in early December.
But first things first: The Texas Stampede. The season's top 10 in ProRodeo Tour point earnings will compete for go round and average money. Cowboys and cowgirls can win as little as nothing all the way to $20,000 give or take a few pennies.
For a couple of guys, that's going to be the difference of the NFR in person or the NFR on TV. Bull riders Howdy Cloud and Stormy Wing are both within a few thousand of punching their tickets to Vegas. Team ropers Logan Olson and Broc Cresta are in the same boat, although Cresta's about $11,000 out and he and Olson will need to be zeroed in each go round.
But the finale, hosted by the Texas Stampede in Dallas, will also pave the way for some guys to position themselves for an easier run at the world title.
Bareback riders Bobby Mote, Will Lowe and Royce Ford are all within easy striking distance of world leader, Steven Dent. Winning a go round or two or the average erases Dent's lead. Same with saddle bronc riding. Billy Etbauer and JJ Elshere are within a finale payday of world leader Cody Wright. Of course, both Dent and Wright are in Dallas as well, so nothing's going to be easy for anyone, so not much is accomplished by my scenarios on paper today.
Locally, the Minor brothers, Riley and Brady, are holding strong with $72,000 in the bank this year, $33,000 behind the world leaders, Matt Sherwood and Randon Adams, but again, it's a deficit that can be chipped away this weekend. They started the year well, winning Denver and Billings for instance, went into a bit of a dry spell, but won decent money at both Puyallup and Omaha. Maybe they rope well at the bigger rodeos, which don't get any bigger than Dallas, followed up by the NFR. Using that philosophy, the duo can't pick a better time to stay hot during the big rodeos.
While the earnings won't count for this year, the Columbia River Circuit Finals can help a guy start 2009 off well. As soon as the ProRodeo Tour Finale ends, Columbia River Circuit cowboys will head straight to Redmond, Ore., for the three-day circuit finals.
A few weeks later the National Finals Rodeo kicks off. Some people call it the Super Bowl of rodeo. I don't think so at all. The Super Bowl doesn't compare to the 10-day explosion of rodeo talent we'll get to see. I've been there before, and I can't wait.
Jon Guddat covers rodeo - from the kids to the kids at heart - with a weekly column in the Daily Record. Contact Jon at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas.